Abide with Me

Abide with Me

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.

Last Updated on December 11, 2013 by Davidya

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  1. Ariel Bravy

    Davidya, a question for you.

    “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.”

    Yes, exactly. At first the realization of the One feels so tremendous that it’s a radical shift. Adya calls it the honeymoon of awakening.

    Eventually though it starts to seem completely ordinary, and resting as the observer seems totally obvious and natural. It’s always here, regardless of how intense its presence is. It literally can not be lost.

    There’s a concern that because it’s not as in the forefront as it was before, awareness that is, that something has somehow been lost, but that just seems to be more mindplay.

    Even the impersonal Self seems so utterly obvious that there’s nothing to find and nothing to seek. It’s just so clearly right here that it’s just normal and regular.

    hm, there feels like there’s something missing. A sense of profoundness, in a sense. The conscious realization of oneself as nothingness/everything, rather than just the observer.

  2. Davidya

    Hi Ariel
    Not sure what your question was.
    For some people, it is a radical shift. but if there has been much witnessing, it can be a distinct but simple shift – straight into the ordinary. Aside from the release that usually accompanies an awaking, there is often a surprise. As in Thats it? Thats all it was? It took me this long to get that??

    But yes, a continuum of presence that never ends.

    I’ve seen a number of people wake in groups and the awake people often feel it more than the person waking. Another aspect of themselves has woken.

    But I know what you mean about the contrast. I’ve seen people evolve past being the separate witness and think somethings wrong because there’s no longer an “other”. (laughs)

    But as the nervous system refines and more clearing takes place, clarity comes and the larger benefits begin to show up. Then deepen and deepen and deepen. Often, its first the freedom. Then happiness. As the divine heart begins to open, the love.

    What has astonished me is that this seems endless. I’ve had and seen people experience bliss so intense, it’s almost uncontrollable. Yet, this soon becomes ordinary. Then it can take another step deeper and larger. That part is more likely to come and go a bit with the winds of life and a human nervous system, but it too becomes a background, ever present. Happiness, even with physical pain or illness.

    Lorne and Lucia suggest the return of the mind after the honeymoon is not necessary but it certainly is common. I’ve even seen a couple of people really make a big drama about it. Old habits die hard.

    The profundity does come. And in a way that it too becomes unshakable. When the divine becomes part of perception, a reality unfolds that is so much more incredible than the physical world, it is mind boggling. Then the world starts to integrate with that perception and its real nature and purpose becomes apparent. The ‘stage play’ takes on a whole new meaning.

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  5. Ben

    Yes, this is real helpful! It seems I am experiencing the switching from nonabiding to abiding.

    It happens quickly and frequently which helps to understand why I am so emotionally fraught and then peaceful with independent witnessing.

    Thanks so much!

  6. Davidya

    Hi Ben
    Probably better to understand you’re having tastes or experiences of higher states of consciousness, what Adyashanti calls non-abiding. Shifting from an experience of ego awareness into an experience of expanded awareness. So yes, you are “switching” states into unfamiliar territory.

    But you’re not experiencing abiding. Abiding is when it’s continual and no longer lost. When its full and complete. This is why he uses this terminology. Abiding means lasting.

    We could say you’ve been in abiding ego consciousness and are now stepping out of that.

    In the context of this blog, I use “switch” to mean the actual awakening. The switch or “pop” when you change from a person experiencing Self, to Self experiencing a person. It’s a distinct point or shift whereas the ego tends to fall away over time. Theres another shift later for unity too.

    I plan to blog about this point shortly. One must not confuse an experience with the actual shift.

    Thanks for raising the point. It’s important to have this very clear.

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  12. Thank you for this post. For me, teachers like Adyashanti, who are living the awakened state, are extremely useful. I find that my tendency to mentally categorize becomes quieter when I spend time listening to and reading the work of such teachers. Their clarity cuts through my attempts to understand.

    I do not know anything about awakening from my own experience. I must keep a ‘don’t know mind’ about awakening. (Zen Master Seung Sahn uses that phrase)

    I also like this recent post from James Wood:

  13. Davidya

    Thanks for sharing your thoughts. I agree that we need to keep an open mind about our ideas of it all. And in fact our ideas about awakening can be the last barrier to it. That said, I consider it very important to have a good general framework about the process. Otherwise, we can unintentionally fight it or get in the way of it. It can be very reassuring to have an idea of what is taking place when some of the old falls away, for example.

    I really like Adyashanti but he does stay a little general on this. But things like his “Journey After Awakening” DVD are excellent. Its a balancing act to be sure. Not to be too deep in the idea of it nor too vague and uncertain.

    We just have to remind ourselves that stages of the awakening process are each very different experiences of life but very the same and ordinary too. We can use the example of what it means to be 8 or a teenager vs an adult as an example.

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