I was discussing Adyashanti’s idea of abiding and non-abiding awakening with a good friend of mine last night. He reminded me of an important observation to make on this subject. I touched on it in a follow-up post, Abide Some More, but I want to make the point very clear.
Long before we awaken we may have experiences of what might be called symptoms of awakening / cosmic consciousness /Self realization. Even after awakening, the experience of being awake may seem to come and go before it is never overshadowed. Adyashanti called this non-abiding awakening. Once it is permanent to our experience, it is abiding or lasting awakening.
What we’re talking about here though is experiences. Experiences are NOT awakening. Awakening is not about an experience. It’s about the experiencer.
This point can be a little hard to grasp as the mind can only relate to experiences. But it’s critical to understand to avoid confusing if and when. Also, most descriptions of waking you read will describe experiences. This is very simply because experiences can be described whereas waking cannot. They are often describing the experiences AROUND the awakening, not the awakening itself.
How does the eye that looks describe itself? As space? Awakening is a change in what experiences, not what is experienced. Most people find the shift is a surprise because it is never what we conceived of. It is beyond concepts.
Awakening can have many symptoms that may imply it, but they are not that. All experiences are relative, indicating changeable. Awakening is not changeable, it is permanent. It may not be fully experienced that way at first, but the actual shift is.
In awakening itself, we awaken to our reality, to our true nature. We change from a person experiencing source/Self/spirit/silence/being/Tao/Brahman/whateveryoucallit to That experiencing a person. It is a shift in being, in who we are.
We change from a relative experiencer to an absolute being. When the experience becomes abiding, that unchanging background remains. Always. We are awake even in deep sleep. Even in death.
How can one make a statement about being awake even in death? Because when we become the unchanging, permanent witness that underlies all experience, time soon comes together into the present moment. All the past and future becomes now. We see our life has continued through countless births, always awake. Deathless.
From this, we can see why awakening itself is described as being a distinct shift or switch. Who we are changes radically and permanently. We change from this floppy uncertainty to this solid being.
After that, the process continues. More experiences. More clearing of ego shrapnel, clearing the identity, the identifications, the holdings, the resistance. We also experience refinements and openings. But these are the effects of awakening, not the awakening itself.
Then we come to another, even deeper switch. Then another even deeper switch. We become ever more encompassing and expanded values of the absolute, unchanging oneness.
We become what we already are. You already are that.