When I say something like “without meaning”, a few things may come to mind. A common one might be that place in depression where life looses meaning and motivation. A dark place. Another might be a state of mindlessness where we experience the world without adding meaning. Oprah mentioned that on her series with Eckhart Tolle. She said that if she was in nature and didn’t name things, she experienced the world very differently.
But the sense I plan to talk about here is one I’ve seen before but have not heard as well defined as what Adyashanti does in his new book, The End of Your World.
He calls it “The Trap of Meaninglessness“.
He spends a fair bit of time talking about a very common pitfall on the journey, where we step into transcendence but are not yet ready to fully allow our humanity. We “hide” in the transcendence from aspects of self still unaccepted.
This is a perfectly natural step in the process. Why wouldn’t you want to stay in bliss when pain comes knocking? But at a certain point, we have to turn and face what remains. If we resist that, it may show up in our lives in quite grotesque ways.
One of the possible pitfalls of this “fixation” is of course to try to hold onto bliss and such. As bliss arises from getting out of the way of it, trying to hold it is not very effective. (laughs)
Another pitfall is this place of meaninglessness. This is not a negative experience. In fact, it can be very positive. Life is bliss. Essentially, when the ego falls away, some of the things that drove us to act also fall away. Obsessive behaviors might seem something obvious, but also even various hobbies and interests can fall away. If these happen to be what drives us to act in key areas of our life, much less gets done.
A similar thing happens later with identity, with the falling away of needs. Essentially subtler versions of same.
To explain more fully, the “me” is gone and the illusion of the world has been seen. What meaning is there is a dream? But as Adya emphasizes, there is still a human there having a human experience. The mind is still trying to make sense of it all. If we ignore our humanity, life will tend to call attention to itself more. (laughs)
Because there is no longer attachment to results or the same drivers, it doesn’t matter. As Adya observes, the life can be a mess, but it’s OK. I feel fine. (laughs)
Many people come to this place with a regular job, stable relationship and so forth. Meaningless can lead to some internal debate, but no dramatic changes. However, Genpo Roshi gave the example of a fellow who lost his job because it didn’t matter. If you’re self-employed or unemployed, it can be more difficult.
Throw in the fact that a profound awakening can create a space for all of your baggage to come out in. Your unaddressed emotional resistance and karma can seem to “squirt” out all over. “Hits you in the face” as Adya put it.
As always, the solution is allowing. A willingness to look and see.
“Everything wants to come up into and be transformed by the Freedom. If you let it come up into the Aware Space, which is Love, it will re-harmonize. The space that you are is unconditional Love. Unconditional means just that: everything is welcome; nothing is cast away or set apart from it.”
— Adyashanti, from The Impact of Awakening
It is of course a transitional stage. A process of integration and completion. We want to be clear on what’s happening so the ego doesn’t grab it and turn it into the first kind of meaninglessness.
It’s also worth mentioning something Genpo said. The apparent “return of karma” post awakening. This relates both to what Adya talks about above when a space is created, and to the initial sense of being beyond karma as we are no longer caught in the field of action. We forget we’re still humans.
This also reminds us that awakening is not the goal. It is just the beginning of a whole new world.
Now if you’re reading this, wondering why anyone would want to have this experience, you must keep in mind that we’re talking about a profound inner change. Life is becoming dominated by a sense of freedom, then bliss, then love. In that space, the routine human life can get overshadowed a bit until it is more fully integrated. This is not a bad thing, it’s just part of the process.
To me, honest talk about the spiritual journey is a wonderful sign. It shows not only a number of people have made this change, but that there is a growing spiritual maturity unfolding. We’re moving out of fantasy and into the reality of enlightenment.
And that’s a very, very, very beautiful thing.