A few times recently, the subject of experiences vs being has come up again. Often, people will have profound experiences of higher states of consciousness prior to actual awakening. These experiences are very valuable as they can give a person a sense of where they’re going plus confidence and encouragement in the process.
However, it’s important not to mistake those experiences for “how it is”. A true awakening is not an experience but rather a change in who we perceive ourselves to be. A change in Being. This causes our perception of reality to change significantly as well.
Experiences can also bring new knowledge. Again, while this can be valuable, it’s important not to get too caught by the idea this is “truth”. Holding to the experiences as “reality” can get in the way of becoming.
Mind likes to have goals or targets to reach but in many ways, the awakening process has no goals or end game. While we may list stages of an awakening process, these are more signposts. Awakening is a shift in being, followed by integration and a series of sub-stages, leading to embodiment.
By the time we get part way along the integration, we begin opening to the next stage, past the first series. Growth and development is not a tidy, linear affair but rather a process taking place on many fronts. For example, for the newly awake it is common to struggle with a few areas that tend to get recaught by mind and in other areas be tasting unity and divinity.
To offer a sense of this process, here is a breakdown of some of the major sub-stages that may arise in integrating Self Realization or Cosmic Consciousness. Some of these can begin or be experienced prior to the switch but may not be continual until after. Then they deepen considerably. In some cases, dramatically so. Some may come with awakening itself or they may unfold over time later.
Sometimes, these are described as symptoms of awakening, but the key is the change in being, not the experience.
When we shift from being a person caught up in our lives to an observer or witness, separate from events, even from the body/mind. Witnessing can be experienced 24/7, even during dreams and deep sleep.
(Note that this is one feature of CC that is lost in higher states. The contrasty separate witness collapses into wholeness)
The experience of never-ending Self, that always is and has been brings a sense of eternity to the experience. We have a sense of being immortal. The fear of death falls away.
The experience of being unbounded and limitless Self arises and brings with it a profound sense of freedom. Combine that with Witnessing and all stories of limits begin to fall away.
The nature of the silent Self also brings a deep inner peace. Combined with the above, it is the end of suffering.
Contrary to what you might think of these descriptions, waking also comes with a sense of ordinariness. Of it being completely normal and natural. Indeed, more normal than suffering.
As the dust settles, the above becomes increasingly integrated, and more of the resistance falls away, one of the most profound benefits of awakening shows up. A deep, enduring happiness beyond anything you may have imagined. And this becomes the dominant “tone” overlaid on all experience. The movement of life through your body, mind, and experiences is all the movement of bliss. Life is bliss is a literal statement, not just of experience but mechanics.
As this further integrates, the experience continues to deepen more and more. Deeper peace, greater freedom, and rapturous bliss. Layers and layers of it.
This is Sat Chit Ananda, absolute bliss consciousness. The full embodiment of Cosmic Consciousness.
You can see that this is a very different experience of the world than that of typical waking state. A completely different reality unfolds.
More remarkable, this is just the beginning. There are several even larger shifts that follow, once Self realization is established.
God Realization is a series of unfolding of more refined perceptions of reality and the opening to the divine, particularly to divine Love. Our perception and understanding of the world changes dramatically. Indeed, the world is found to be a much larger place than previously thought. The mechanics of how it comes to be are revealed, along with the astonishing richness of life. Love comes to overshadow even rapturous bliss.
Unity or Oneness follows, unfolding in a series of reality changes described in the mandalas of the Rig Veda, until the depths of truth unfold as a living reality. Only then have we come to Vedanta, the end of the Veda, the end of knowledge. Only then is it true Advaita, non-dualism, in compete Oneness.
Our journey is far more profound than what car, career or mate we might choose. And we’re living in a time where many more can begin to “graduate” to higher levels of being. This is the remarkable beauty of our time. Cool, eh? (laughs)