There are many nuances in the approach to awakening and in awakening itself. Self Realization is a watershed moment in the history of our soul. A new birth into a new way of being.
In the later article, I talked about non-abiding witnessing, abiding witnessing and actual Self Realization as 3 possible stages in the approach to awakening. Recently, Lorne Hoff spoke of the steps in another way. I realized this added a fourth possibility.
1) The mind can become alert to the uninvolved observing Self. Mind is aware of the witness. This may come up gradually or come as a distinct experience. If it remains clear, mind can notice the “watcher” at any time. Ego may use this to create stories of being awake.
This can also arise in disconcerting ways, like a sense of being watched by another within. Or becoming alert during sleep and finding ourselves unable to move the body. Happily, such episodes are not common.
2) A more distinct round of witnessing can make it very clear we are that, but if the physiology is not ready to sustain it, it will fade sooner or later. (described in the prior article)
3) A true awakening of the observer or jiva value. The alertness is permanent and sustained through waking, dreaming, and sleeping states. We are awake within but it’s still local and not yet infinite. It may feel very expansive and peaceful and eternal. But until Self wakes up to itself, it’s not quite it. We observe the person but not the Self.
4) Actual Self Realization. Atman wakes up to itself in the jiva. We become the cosmic witness, the infinite observer. We are everywhere and liberated. When you look at someone awake, you can see the same Self in their eyes. (assuming there is resonance)
Some people just wake up in Self Realization. But a few have distinctive tastes or even a jiva awakening prior. Some may even step through all 4 steps in the process though I’m not aware of any examples of that. I did 2, 3, & 4 though. 🙂