I’ve spoken of the process of awakening quite a bit on this blog – everything from the 7 states of consciousness and Perspectives to the Veda of Unity. Recently, on Models of Awakening, I mused on the challenges of modeling such an organic process.
One could easily chart hundreds of steps or openings people will tend to have. Many go by without even being noticed as they are simple, natural shifts. Only when they are more flashy or cause a larger perception shift do we tend to notice. The trick is, the sequence for any given person is too “messy” for any chart or checklist.
Mother Meera puts it well.
“Q: What are the stages of the path?
MM: It is better not to say – people may think wrongly that they are at one stage or another and may thereby delude themselves. As people grow, they will know how far they have come in their development. Their own experience will tell them how far they have reached and how far they still have to reach.
Q: Is there suffering at every stage of the path?
MM: In one way, yes. But joy becomes greater than pain. And pain becomes joy because it is offered and understood.
Q: It seems that a further stage of this yoga unfolds just when one thinks one is done.
MM: You must stop nowhere.
Q: There is no end to real knowledge, is there, because there is no end to the journey into God?
MM: Yes, no end. One common mistake is to think that one reality is THE reality. You must always be prepared to leave one reality for a greater one.”
— Mother Meera, Answers Part 1
In Models of Awakening, I also commented on the difficulty of naming conventions for our awakening to soul and Self. I thought it would be worthwhile to define them a little better so the meaning is understood.
The soul or jiva is that inner spark of divinity within. The key detail is that it has a boundary or quality of uniqueness. An individual soul. Typically it is experienced as a golden or white point of light in the heart. Some experience it as a wave on the ocean. Or simply as an inner spirit.
A typical sequence might be an experience of it, a recognition of it as our divine seed, and more deeply, a recognition of it as our essence. It is the point the cosmic infinity collapses into. Some taste of this is what often begins the path of seeking.
When that point is seen as the infinity of the whole or Self, we see it’s unbounded quality. We will first get a taste of that, then step into its fullness (or emptiness). Later comes the recognition that I am That. But the ego self remains. So there is a Self and a self both. Atman and jiva.
“Jiva, then, is individualized cosmic existence; it is the individual spirit within the body. With it’s limitations removed, jiva is Atman, transcendent Being.”
— Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, from the commentary on verse 2-18 of the Bhagavad Gita
Finally, we switch. We shift from a person experiencing Self to Self experiencing a person. This is awakening.
How you will experience this will vary widely. Other terms like divine seed or spark may feel better. The mind will want to place itself on this continuum as Mother Meera said. Better to use it to confirm your experience than rate yourself. Speaking from personal experience, trying to rate yourself is not only delusional, it leads to confusion as nothing ever plays out like its ‘supposed’ to.
Enjoy your journey. What’s happening now is the goal, not some future achievement. You and your truth are only right now.
PS – it may seem contradictory to talk of stages and refer to stages leading to delusion, but this is the balancing. Showing the perspectives. I have been greatly helped by understanding the journey, especially at points of transition. Equally, I have been confused by models not fitting and have had to shed my ideas of it several times. They are the most help around the time of change, to help with what is happening and verify it afterward. They are the least help when we try to conceptualize something several steps away or judge ourselves. Wjen the connection with source within becomes deep enough, we become our own guru.