I thought it would be interesting to take the qualities mentioned in the Natural Tendency song* Cosmic Consciousness and relate them to the process.
– shining within
– awake during sleep
– witness the mind from “behind”
– beyond pain
– pleasure arises within
– unshaken by change
– silent being
– life like a song or play
– beyond the sky
– beginning to see the hand of divinity
Key to understand this list – it is subjective descriptions of being consciousness rather than a separate local person. We are consciousness, discovering its own qualities and observing our person.
But this list isn’t absolutes. For example, “beyond pain” – you are the detached witness beyond the field of pain and suffering. This doesn’t mean pain is not experienced. It is simply not as personal. We do however wind down suffering – created by ignorance of who we are.
Keep in mind that we don’t have any experiential reference points for awakening. It’s not something we’ve done, even in past lives. (with rare exceptions) So it’s easy to be unclear on what’s happening and what it is. Clarity does come in time but a little pointing can be very valuable. Like finding out how to get around and where the good restaurants are in a new city.
Unlike some aspects of later stages, all of these qualities can be experienced prior to awakening. But as an experience, it is aspects of the whole but not the whole, and it will fade. For example, we may experience boundless peace for a moment or a time.
A clear experience can have a profound impact on us with a lasting intuitive sense of it. But we want to keep in mind this isn’t it. It’s a memory of an experience, not awakening. Be careful not to put too much weight on memories of experience or it will impede growth as another attachment.
Don’t be concerned if you’re not having such experiences. That’s not a “sign” and you have one less thing to let go of.
Also, don’t be concerned if experiences came for a bit and then stopped. Sometimes, experiences are triggered by channels opening. Once the energy settles, the experience fades and doesn’t return.
Such experiences may not come with the usual markers for memory and get easily forgotten. But when they return, they’re familiar.
One of the mentioned qualities is witnessing, perhaps even of sleep. Like other experiences, it can come and go. But for some people, the witness can come and stay without awakening. I’ve seen that with a few people including myself. Occasionally people confuse this with awakening.
But there’s a key distinction between witnessing and awakening. In the first, the Self has woken up within to the person. It observes life in a detached way and most of the above qualities are present to some degree.
However, it has a key weakness. The ego is still identified. We experience being the observing Self and ego both. This means we can still get caught sometimes and lose some of the above features.
From a kundalini Shakti perspective, the energy has reached makara, just above the third eye. It then doesn’t go back down again, and the witness is sustained. It is a short distance from there to the bindu of the crown chakra and awakening but sometimes, the process pauses there to prepare the vessel more completely first. Thus you have an ongoing witness but not quite awakening.
Occasionally people here are confused by the experience. They are kind of half in and half out, half awake. Some even declare their enlightenment even though still ego-identified.
Sometimes, the Self does wake up to itself here less clearly. There is a hazy shift but when the mind comes up again, it overshadows it. The listed qualities tend to come and go, much like Experiences.
A major issue in this phase is doubt. Because the qualities are not stable, we can doubt the vague shift happened. We tend to have noticed the release of the shift (like laughter or crying) more than the shift. The doubt itself creates resistance to clarity. I’ve even seen people forget they woke up until they where lead into it again.
However, at some point, clarity will dawn and Self Realization will be ongoing, as below.
Self Realization or Cosmic Consciousness happens when the Self also wakes up to Itself here. This is what shatters the ego identification. Only then can the qualities and awakening be said to be ongoing.
The depth of the above qualities become much deeper and richer without ego constraints. This is true liberation.
If there has been a witnessing period, it’s more likely to be a clear awakening. If there hasn’t been, it’s more common to see the above qualities develop over time as clarity increases.
Reading this, the differences between Self awakening to the person and to Itself may seem small. But they’re not at all. Moksha or liberation is profoundly deeper than a hazy sense of Self or witnessing alone.
Some people spend awhile, gradually getting clearer and further embodying Self Realization. Eventually, sat chit ananda dawns.
Others begin flowering into new stages in some months or even days. God Consciousness will dramatically advance the last quality and add a whole new layer of qualities. “Shining within” shows up outside in the world too.
Unity will change some of the qualities completely. For example, rather than being a detached witness, we are progressively discovering that we are whatever we put our attention on. That tree, car, table, sky, etc. The world becomes profoundly intimate instead. It can be experienced that the witness moves into the world. The “shining within” surrounds us. “Silent Being” stops being so silent. It is found to be the liveliness underlying all experience. Unity also brings other new qualities.
Quite the adventure.
*Update: the lyrics to the Natural Tendency song Cosmic Consciousness have gone off-line. (from the 1972 album Something Good is Happening)