How Far, How Fast

How Far, How Fast

Photo by “T” altered art

On a recent post, questions came up about why some seem to move quickly and some slowly on the spiritual path. Also, why some seem to go further than others.

The biggest thing to note up front is that it’s very difficult to gauge progress subjectively. Much of the progress and preparation takes place out of conscious awareness. We’re not conscious of changes the crown chakra is making, for example. We also have no idea how much work there is to do. But there are milestones on the journey.

I can’t suggest every variable but there are some typical factors that set the stage for the shifts:

1 – Cumulative. Development of Atman and development of Sattva are both cumulative from prior lifetimes. When we come into this life, we pick up where we left off (although there may be a lag while we work off some karma). We’re not all starting from the same place. Some are born ready to pop when the time is right, some have just a few things to clean up, and some have aways to go. You wouldn’t be interested in this blog if you were not well along.

2 – Karma. Some people tackle a lot of karma in this life so they can maximize progress. That can appear to be barriers and distractions. But when that karma completes, progress becomes more clear. Another reason subjective progress is difficult to gauge.

For example, I went through an extended outward stroke where I was very involved in a career, home, and marriage. Then that completed and fell away. Only then did it become clear how much clarity and integration had developed in the background, setting the stage for awakening.

3 – Practice. Do we have good practices that maximize spiritual progress? This can come from prior life practices that show up again. I stepped back into the same tradition in this life as the last two. This also relates to why being initiated in a lineage supports us long term. (Careful with energetic lineages not founded in spirituality. Some of those are more binding and may later need to be cleared.)

4 – Healing. While a good practice does wonders for connecting us to source and clearing the detritus, most of us have some harder nuts that some supplemental work will help clear. I’ve also seen how people can relax an issue, only to revive it again in activity. If we can resolve the source of these contractions, we improve quality of life and make the unfolding clearer and smoother. 
5 – Guidance. Getting good guidance at key points of the journey helps us stay on track and cooperate with the process. This relates to karma and a lineage too. For example, Eckhart Tolle famously spent two years sitting on a park bench to sort out what had changed. He had no guidance.

6 – Understanding. Good understanding that supports a full and balanced progress is important. Again, this relates to lineage and historical development. It’s much easier to get where you’re going with a decent map.

It’s also important to have language. Otherwise the mind can’t digest experiences as easily and doubts things that are vague and abstract. They can be forgotten until something similar comes again.

On the flip side, our concepts of what enlightenment is supposed to look like have to be dropped to allow the shift to happen. The map is not the road.

Poor ideas can create barriers to opening, like an expectation of required perfection to wake up. Or the idea that awakening will end all your problems.

Similarly, people awake can get stuck if they think they’re done. See More below.

7 – Timing. This relates to the timetable of the souls journey in this life and the larger cycles of consciousness. When the times comes, things just happen. The value of practices (above) is in preparing the ground for a smoother, clearer shift when grace arrives. If we’re not ready, it may be missed or lost.

Also related is the need of the time. If one soul misses a scheduled stop, then another may be called to step up to the plate. Grace works in the context of the whole.

8 – Darshan. Few people wake up spontaneously on their own. Awakening is the Self waking up to Itself here. We have no historical experiential references for this shift. Being around a living example you resonate with can help trigger it when you’re ripe. The awake Self in them can alert the same Self in you.

This is why I’ve seen many, many people wake up. I’ve been hanging around the awake for over a decade.
There are quite a few people out there who have been practicing good techniques for decades and have become very ripe. They need darshan to help trigger the shift.

There is the tendency for the teacher to show up when the time is right but if there is an investment in a certain understanding like how it’s supposed to happen, we may dismiss opportunities that arise without realizing it.

Further progress post-awakening:

Once we wake up, living life awake brings progress. It’s like we’re in deep meditation 24/7. But there are some things that can interfere.

9 – Verification. Awakening feels very ordinary and normal. (And extraordinary at the same time.) Most are surprised by that and how simple it is. The open space of awakening often causes what is unresolved to come forward for resolution, crowding the initial peace and reducing clarity. Unless someone has the understanding, and unless the shift is clear and becomes integrated, doubt can arise.

Purification also gives the mind an opening to try to regain control. It generally fails but the winding down can take time.
Experienced teachers will verify a shift but ask you to see how it stabilizes rather than making grand proclamations. This is because awakening is anything but static. There is often lots of house-cleaning plus further stages can start to unfold.

10 – Clean Up. Most people will have lots more to clean up post-awakening. If we cooperate with the process, the shift will become clearer and more integrated and further stages can unfold. If we learn to self-heal, we can support the process. If we don’t that may limit our progress.

11 – More. At various points on the journey, we can feel complete and done. If we don’t understand there is more, we can get stuck there. This is directly related to Understanding above. If we start teaching our reality, we can get even more invested in it. I’m yet to meet anyone who is “done” – even world teachers.

The sage Vasishtha mentions in the Rig Veda the importance of desiring Unity. This suggests some light intention to move forward is helpful. I would add that you need to know it’s there to desire it, part of what motivates my work. When you know, the desire is natural to continue.

12 – Surrender. Later stages require surrendering the prior enlightenment. Just as we surrender ego identification in awakening, we surrender Self Realization for Unity and Unity for Brahman. In some ways, each is a larger letting go. But Unity has a series of sub-stages that give us a lot of practice. It includes a progressive series of larger and larger inclusivity.
For some, this is natural but others are more reticent to let go. This can be even more so for some teachers who’ve invested their work in what has been here.

The Brahman shift is the biggest step as we surrender our oneness with all. It’s called the Supreme Awakening. The old texts suggest some people choose not to make that step as they want to keep the close intimacy of Unity. The challenge is in the shift itself, not what flowers out of it. Recognizing the potential of pure Divinity may help encourage that leap into nothing.

There are markers in a Vedic birth chart that show a propensity to awaken and also a tendency to move quickly through the stages. A chart isn’t fate, it’s the framework we came in with – our karma, inclinations, abilities, and so forth. As we transcend our karma, we also transcend the chart.

Having key things in a Ketu (liberation) nakshatra in the D1 or D9 is ideal. AK in a Jupiter placement helps too. Timing takes a skilled jyotishi and a very accurate (or rectified) birth time but relates to Dasha & Bhukti being Moksha house lords or Rahu or Ketu.

The ones I know who have been stepping through the stages have a long history of practice, many witnessed for years before waking (helping increase clarity), learned to let go, spend time with others very awake, and had a good understanding to support their process.

As group consciousness rises, the thresholds get lower. At one time, you had to devote your life to it. Towards the end of the 20th Century, some woke up by spending extended times with a guru in India. Now, people are waking up with simple darshan or a few weekend retreats.

The speed varies widely though. I know a few who took years just to be clear they were awake. And others who have stepped through the stages rapidly. Each of us has our own process and rate and we won’t know what that is until we can look back on it.

Do your best with the building blocks and your quality of life will gradually improve. And then one day, when you least expect it, the lights will come on. You’ll have stepped through the door of infinity and made it home.

[I’m at the SAND conference so there may be a lag in comments]

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  1. Jim

    Thanks David, another excellent list of variables and their influences!

    Regarding Darshan, it is available to all who seek it and also a manifestation of surrender. I had an unusual experience after 12 or so years of regularly practicing the TM-Siddhis program, while married with a daughter and a demanding career in tech.

    The seed was planted in 1977, with seeing a black and white photo on the inside cover of my paperback copy of Maharishi’s translation of the Bhagavad Gita, Chaps. 1-6. It was of Maharishi’s Master, Sri Brahmananda Saraswati, commonly and affectionately referred to as Guru Dev.

    A great Saint who spent many years in the jungles of India, His posture and the expression in His eyes so captivated me, and I thought, “I want to be like THAT guy!”

    I used to pray to Him and after receiving the Siddhis in 1980 He began appearing in my now open third eye. Fast forward over a decade to a day in the Spring of 1993. I was enveloped by the strongest feeling of Bliss, waves of it coursing through my body 24/7. He was clearly with me, and we had such a wonderful time, engaged telepathically, and then some. The experience lasted for three days.

    Somehow I managed to carry on a normal life during that time. Once He took me with Him into the galaxies and we sat together suspended in space overlooking the teeming stars. I had no fear at that time because His presence was so enveloping, so confident, loving and unconditional.

    Since that special event so many years ago, I innocently turned into a receiver, tuned into His energy. I have continued with the practice of TM 2x a day. My immersion in the world gained such a fierce intensity. I stopped doing the siddhis a few years later, as the momentum for purification they are meant to induce was progressing very quickly on its own, thank you very much!

    Then 12 years after that, in Spring 2005, the incredibly ornate structure of what I thought reality was crumbled completely. Not outwardly, that continued, but my inner house of cards collapsed. Just like that. As you emphasize, we are never “done” (anymore than the universe we inhabit is ever “done”), but that was the moment of awakening.

    I continued to follow my desires and work hard, and in early 2015, Brahman found me. Unity was getting tedious, being centered on the Self, and I just wanted something bigger. I read a few pages about Brahman and you were writing about it at that time also, and yay, found the whole thing.

    Thanks for creating this space!

    1. Beautiful, Jim. Thanks for sharing. Such connections are very personal and unique. Sometimes, I’ve seen stories where they “met” a teacher within and only much later found out who they were.

      Here, some have shown up to show me the next step. Others have shown up in a point of crisis. Then later it can become clear how long they’ve been part of the “team” supporting the evolution of this being.

      1. Jim

        Thanks David. Yeah, and though it has been 25 years since that meeting, I am just now putting it into context.:-)

        Also to your point of rising global consciousness, if this “bozotron” can wake up, anyone can! It is much much easier for everyone now.

  2. Joseph Weaver

    Fantastic article! This feels like an entire book’s worth of knowledge condensed into a single blog post.

    Do you have any plans to go into the specifics of how “lineage” works at some point? I know you mention the value of it in a number of places (including your book), but the mechanics of it still elude me.

    For example, if one is initiated by several teachers during their lifetime (which may be the case for seekers that go from teacher to teacher), what sort of affect would this have?

    And just what does it take to get “linked” to a lineage in the first place? Does everybody joining TM and doing the puja ceremony get linked to Guru Dev’s lineage, just like that?

    I’m sure these aren’t questions that can be easily answered in a definitive way, but maybe interesting topics to explore. Especially because of how little attention this topic gets in the current nondual landscape.

    1. Hi Joseph

      It’s a challenging topic to talk about that doesn’t sound weird. But essentially, some sort of invocation calls on it’s illustrious members still present in higher levels. Or a Shaktipat given. This can create a support connection that can carry forward into future lifetimes.

      For example, various beings here have been connected in various ways over the millennia.

      That said, there can occasionally be less supportive connections that tie one down that may have to be cleared by a very skilled energy healer at some point. Hence the comment about care in choosing connections.

      I wouldn’t say learning something with a puja nessesarily creates the connection but it creates the possibility of support and connection. I recommend that as its been useful support here.

  3. Greg

    Hi David,

    You mention the importance of desiring unity,

    “The sage Vasishtha mentions in the Rig Veda the importance of desiring Unity. This suggests some light intention to move forward is helpful. I would add that you need to know it’s there to desire it”

    What about desiring further stages, Brahman, ParaBrahman? If someone firmly believes that Unity is the final stage could that limit the progress to further stages, or would those stages unfold once Unity is established irrespective of beliefs, or knowledge that further stages exist?

    Thank you

    1. Good question, Greg

      I’d say there are no hard rules. Some people are pushed by the need of the time, whatever they believe. I’ve seen others unwilling to let go of Unity, whatever they know. But usually, at some point, the letting go happens.

      In some ways, personal beliefs have less and less impact the further you go. But resistance can go much deeper. The willingness to surrender more and more deeply becomes key. As I mention in the article, the sub-stages of Unity can give a lot of practice at that.

      I remember Lorn first talking about perpetual surrender after I’d woken up. I’d let go momentarily. But ongoing?!? (laughs)

      It’s still valuable to understand the stages are there and their general nature even if the mind garbles it a bit. We can cooperate with the process a lot more when we have a sense of whats taking place when our sense of self and the world goes through a dramatic shift.

      We’ve all gone through this before in our childhood. But we tend to get more rigid in adulthood.

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