The awakening process is without rules. It happens through the grace of source. It is Self awakening of Itself, to Itself.
As we are here for Self to know Itself in all possible ways, it should be no surprise that there is no set format for awakening. No right or wrong way ‘there’.
This can be confusing for the seeker. Particularly as some who are on a stages path can have an awakening and think “this is it”.
In A Question, Takuin asks of the value of teachers who arise after just some intellectual or superficial level or realization. A major discussion ensued. Tom Stine posts one of his responses on his own blog. This and a disconnect with someone else gave me pause to consider the subject further.
The best cure is to have an understanding of the terrain and consequences. And a common language would certainly help – there is a great deal of variety in how people use many of the worlds like space, self, cosmic, unity, ego, and so forth. I found someone who gave totally different meaning to many of the terms I use. (laughs)
In it’s essence, there is the story and ego and then there is the deep reality of oneness.
Our apparent journey from one to another can be one huge, complete step.
It can be one step, followed by some significant time of adjustment and integration.
It can take place in stages over a few days, with some integration required following.
And of course it can arise in a series of stages where there is an opening, followed by an integration period that takes months to years, followed by the next opening.
The variations are endless as are the ways it might be described. Some never see it as stages, even if the steps are apparent in their descriptions, simply because it is an ongoing process. Stages are only apparent if there is a distinct shift and a concept of the process.
I often harp on process as I’ve seen more than a few have an early waking or opening and consider themselves “there“. Yet this is only the beginning. There is no real end to the depth and fullness possible.
If we look at life from a broader perspective, we can see that the story of awakening is the story of being human. The underlying pattern remains.
During the process of birth, we separate from wholeness into differentiation.
As a young child develops, this separation is enhanced by the move away from mother.
One then cycles through tribal and individuation cycles, usually into the teen years but some begin to experience the witnessing observer during their childhood.
Once the physiology is mature and stable enough, if the inclination and opportunity is there, the spiritual seeker emerges. Some sense of desire to return to wholeness.
Gradually the deeper sense of soul or inner self emerges, different from body/mind.
Deepening this inner connection brings out the separate observer or witness.
Deeper still, one becomes aware of transcendent Self and their relationship to it.
At some point, there is a shift. The depth and fullness of this shift varies from a simple and uncertain switch to a full bodied unity switch. But in essence, one switches from a person experiencing Self to Self experiencing a person.
I’ve seen a few examples where there was unity during the shift, falling back to Self realization for a time. Adyashanti shared a story like this. And a few examples were the switch was fuller. In a post Why the Sufi’s Whirl, Katie Davis shared something of her shift.
“One extraordinary day during aerobics, I became aware of a sacred synergy that was far greater than the dancing community that I loved so dearly. It seemed like I was sensing some ethereal, new dimension. I became intensely alert and without cause, I was radically whisked from time and space altogether.
I disappeared so deeply within the body that earthly experience vanished into the divine mystery. When I became conscious, the body was somehow far above and still enthralled in the joy of dancing. I was no longer sourced in the body and the idea of “Katie” had shattered. I realized that I am the pure awareness that is purely being-consciousness-bliss. Neither thought, nor emotion, nor body is the Essence that I am and yet they are absolutely inseparable.
It took twelve years to fully integrate as the Totality. Pure being burned every trace of illusion as it arose. In fact, the aerobics studio literally burned down in the great fire of Truth! Today, I am neither in this world, nor not of it.
While the divided mind could wonder how this could possibly be appealing, we realize the undeniable truth that we are divine. The natural world is perceived within the intelligence of the Awake Heart. This extraordinary beauty is permeating all that you see and all that you cannot see. Whether with form or without, there is only the Essence that I am. We appreciate an overwhelming fulfillment, while perfect peace and wise love prevail.”
For most though, there is that simple but profound shift in who one is. A complete reversal of identification. It may be very quiet if the Self is familiar, dramatic if less so. This is called things like Self Realization, awakening and the dawning of Cosmic Consciousness.
Over time, the ego shrapnel is cleared. Satyam Nadeen speaks of a time of “deliverance“. Adyashanti speaks of a time after the “honeymoon” where mind makes an attempt to come back. Gradually, the story is seen and cleared.
As enough of the story falls away, the Self moves forward and absorbs the heart. This can be amongst the most rich times, when the divine comes to the fore. Divine love begins to flow and we find the fullness of everything we have ever sought within. This is the “Awake Heart” touched on above.
As the emotional drivers of the story are quelled by peace and fullness, the Self moves forward and the core sub-conscious identity becomes seen and released. Loch Kelly calls this the BBQ as the identity is a grip of fear, roasted in the light of love.
With the falling away of the identity, the division of “inside” and “outside” falls away and the stage is set for what can be the second realization, Oneness or Unity.
Throughout this process, there is a clearing of old holding patterns of mind and emotions. With the energy clear, there is a refinement of the physiology to support more refined values of perception. Rather than being a distinct shift, this is a process that often begins before awakening and continues indefinitely throughout. Traditionally, it typically leads to God realization between Self realization and Unity but may crescendo after Unity.
Because our relationship with the Divine varies along a spectrum of everything from deeply personal and intimate to the impersonal silence of Brahman, the variety of how this unfolds is as diverse as there are people. But at some point, the very mechanism of our being and expression is revealed.
This is another reason why we see the diversity of descriptions of what is. Not only are there these various apparent states of consciousness and process but also unique perspectives arising from the specific journey one takes. Not to mention variations in terminology and background.
I have noticed though that those with a regular spiritual practice are much more likely to find an unfolding process and some form of stages. Those for whom grace descended suddenly and completely are often caught unawares.
We might suggest this is to due to a concept of stages and personalization would tend to support this. But at the same time, awareness of a process helps make us much more aware of it, seeing it occur within the backdrop of life events. Without that, it’s just more stuff happening.
Again, if it is Self’s intention to experience in all ways, a background in the process will assist it being experienced a certain way. They call this Self-organizing. (laughs)
For example, where one might see unexplained sleep disturbances as simply a phase of some sort, others may see a process of extra clearing and release take place.
The value in seeing the process is the ability to allow it more deeply and to support those on a similar path.
This ‘similar’ is interesting. I’ve also noticed that there is a kind of “resonance” with some people. We enhance each others silence and Self speaks easily and is heard, in spite of any variations in terminology. With others, there is a less open flow and a disconnect over apparent differences in terminology. Thus, the value of many voices.
Be very careful about using any model to judge another’s progress. Unless you are able to see it, the mind is easily mislead by words and apparent symptoms. A common description may describe a brief experience of oneness, a glimpse of oneness during awakening, or a full unity shift. In the same way, some value of person remains as long as we remain human. Can we judge cigar smoking as “unenlightened?”
Another illusion we touched on in Takuin’s post is the idea that the enlightened teach. That there’s some obligation or something. But as Albert observed, only a few have that calling. It’s quite possible you know some people who are awake and have no idea. How about your bus driver or appliance salesman? The grannie or engineer? Unless they resonate with you and you are listening, you would never know.
Equally, the awakening soul can be called to teach what they have experienced. That’s a place where some get caught with a spiritualized ego. But it can help others see the process even if they do ‘flame out’. There are far too many teachers saying “this is it” when it’s not really. We could say this is a disservice, but it is also a learning for everyone. Discernment is a valuable lesson on the path.
Even in the apparent failures of the journey, there is a divine flowering taking place that may not be seen until we can see more fully.
Seek not the ultimate truth. Just look to who you are. Where this is coming from.
I’ll let the lyrics from Denise Hagan’s Amazing Space speak to this:
“Sweet million years I’ve roamed this Earth in search of who I AM
And still it never once occurred to Me that its right here where I stand…
In this Amazing Space, Amazing Space that lies right here in me
The treasure deep within my chest that I at last can feel”