Adyashanti’s new book continues to raise interesting topics, yet I’m still only half way. (laughs)
One of the things about the awakening process that most fascinates people is descriptions of the stages of awakening or states of consciousness. The mind likes to understand so it builds concepts about the world and compares itself. Oh – I must be in this state or that’s where I want to be or this experience must have been such and such.
However, the awakening process is quite organic, so it doesn’t fit models all that well. How people follow the “steps” varies widely. And most importantly, it is never what we expect as awakening has nothing to do with concepts.
Equally, it’s common for people to have very complete experiences of states of awareness much higher than their current one. While the established state is much fuller, some of the insight and value still come though.
Because of this, it is very useful to have a sense of where we are and what we can do to support that stage of our journey. Not to hold it as some ego concept but just to bring clarity. Perhaps get a sense of the journey forward and what may best support the work needed to come to that place.
Many traditions are very specific about their framework for the process. Here are the symptoms and you’re there or you’re not. While this is very true – awakening is distinct and is a change in reality – there can be many tastes and degrees of clarity around that.
Adyashanti takes a different approach. He talks about abiding and non-abiding awakening. He considers both completely valid and real forms of awakening. One lasting, the other soon will be.
It would seem he uses the terms from the perspective of how its experienced rather than a certain state. For example, non-abiding would include both short experiences of being one with the world or being the observer as well as actual switching where the experience of being the Self may seem to come and go for a time.
I’ve also seen cases where the person has clearly recognized themselves as Self, but the realization is not deep enough to switch. The shift from self to Self doesn’t happen. There is all the symptoms to suggest an awakening, yet it fades over a number of months. As Adya has observed in prior talks, it is not uncommon for the mind to attempt to make a comeback after awakening.
Abiding on the other hand is when we’ve reached a place where the switch has lead to a place of completion. While we remain human and thus subject to variation in mood and tone, the background of silent observer remains. It is no longer overshadowed.
Adyashanti talks more generally about stages of awakening but we could easily apply this same principle to higher stages. Once awake we can have non-abiding higher stages of awakening until there is a formal switch. Then there may be some further development into abiding.
As Adya also observes, awaking itself is distinct and immediate. But the clearing of concepts, adaptation to the reality, and refinement of the nervous system take time to process. Until this takes place, the experience is incomplete and can have a non-abiding nature.
Once you’ve had a solid experience of awakening, it will shift from non-abiding to abiding at some point. In time, the timeless will merge.