For much of our lives, we’ve been having experiences and confirming stories that explain those experiences. While this is a normal part of living life, we need a different approach to awaken.
Awakening is a shift that happens in consciousness, in our very being. We go from an individual experiencing the world to consciousness experiencing the person experiencing the world. It’s like we take a step back into what is experiencing itself and gain a more universal perspective.
To get there, we take a step out of the mind and ego to touch into source, into our universal nature. We can’t get there through experiences or concepts.
But because of our long history of experiencing and explaining, many people think either:
a) if they have the right concepts or beliefs, they’ll “get it.” Here, the seeking takes the form of collecting better concepts or beliefs, such as following a teaching or faith.
b) if they have the right experiences, they’ll “get it.” If we’ve had a profound experience or two, we may try to get an experience back again. Or get what we heard someone else describe.
When you look at spiritually oriented web sites (including this one) or go to satsangs and retreats, you’ll see descriptions of experiences you may like the sound of and philosophical approaches that can be collected. But neither of these will get you there.
For the first, there is value in having a sense of the road, a map. The map can help us on the journey but if we confuse the map with the road, we’ll stumble. The map is not the journey. And if we hold onto the ideas or beliefs as “reality,” it will keep us stuck in the mind.
For the second, it’s valuable to have experiences but if we see them as what we’re seeking, we can get caught in a loop. Experiences always come and go. They never stay. What someone else experiences is not the same as how it will show up here too.
What we’re looking for is what stays, what is behind those concepts and experiences.
This can even be confused in awakening itself. While awakening never meets our concepts of it, it can cause experiences and purification. But these are effects and not what has awakened. If that’s not clear up front, it will become so in time.
Your best bet is using techniques that bring you beyond the mind and into your source or true nature. Then source will become conscious and familiar.
This approach of dipping into the ocean, then coming out again over a longer period may seem the slow way. It may not be clear there is progress if there isn’t flashy experiences. But if you’re touching source, it will progressively get integrated into your day-to-day experiences and quietly grow to become part of your reality.
This process will bring not only conscious presence and awakening but refinement and clarity, leading to a full flowering of enlightenment. That won’t come from chasing or holding concepts and experiences.