Dreaming Awake

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Photo by ianhayhurst

Last month, Lori Ann Lothian posted an article about her awakening process. In it she described how she recently woke up, then realized she had lost her prior awakening during a 2-year series of difficult events. She’d been living in a kind of dream or memory of being awake but didn’t realize it until she’d woken up again.
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As is typical of Lori, it is an open, honest, and direct sharing. I agree that some spiritual teachers who consider themselves enlightened have fallen into a similar boat. For example, having to come back to Self to refresh it is not it. Witnessing alone is also not it.

However, she also suggests talk of deepening or further stages is incorrect. Yet her own shift would not have been lost through life events had she gone deeper. Not that this was a personal choice – this is simply how her unfolding is blossoming.

Update: I realized later she was referring to stages TO awakening rather than OF awakening. On that point I agree. There can certainly be “stages to” but none of them are awakening itself until there is the actual shift. There is considerable variation in what may be noticed prior to that. Plus, it’s only in retrospect that these stages can really be recognized. We don’t don’t know what is a movement towards it until we arrive.

I agree the first shift is like a switch, on or off. Some make the shift more softly, but there is a key shift in the sense of self. That shift is followed by a great deal of unpacking, integration, and embodiment. This leads to deepening plus further switches possible.

Those further shifts don’t take place unless the first is deep enough to support them. Many have not gone further than the first switch and therein lies the hazard.

You see, the ego has a three-fold structure. Seeing through the stories of a me is just the first stage. If we don’t deepen into it and clear out the emotional drivers, they can revive the ego again. Especially if someone goes through a nastier period in life such as Lori described. Or they find themselves in positions of power or other triggers to draw out their unresolved dynamics.

Deeper still is what I call the core identity. Susanne Marie called it the existential identity. It’s a deep grip in the gut that doesn’t normally become conscious until around the second switch (Unity) but sometimes not until later still. Susanne cleared hers with the third switch.

Adyashanti refers to these 3 levels as “head, heart, gut.” They’re also called the mahamarmas. Unless you clear all 3, there is the potential for the me-self to be revived. And even if that is complete, there can still be old contractions that give us trouble.

As long as we’re human, we can expect some variability. The Vedas call it the remains of ignorance, like a film of butter on your hands after you’ve handled it. Recognizing this means we’re less likely to stay in a delusion for long. Here is where relationships and peers can be valuable for calling us on or mirroring our junk.
Davidya

Update 2: Corresponding with Lori, she’s realized this may not have been a reawakening. Instead she may have had a further shift into a new stage. From that vantage, the old stage seemed like a dream. She describes a spaciousness with a “perceiving-ness without perceiver.” In the Unity shift the perceiver and perceived merge, leaving only perceiving. This takes place in an infinite “container” of awake awareness. She’s in the middle of a long-distance move so we’ll see how this settles out and she settles in. ๐Ÿ™‚

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21 Responses to Dreaming Awake

  1. Was Once says:

    David,
    This is not really related except it’s about dreams. Since I am now 5 years in two hours a day meditation, when I do fall asleep at night, when though talking with partner, I fell directly into sleep I often go straight to dreams. I know, because I will wake an hour later and retell some details to my partner still awake. They are fun and eventful, and not traumatic and often I will wake up laughing. Perhaps, more unraveling at what in previous times in life I thought was so important. There is no time in this first segment of night sleep where I enter REM first. It is not a problem, but I find it interesting. I will return again sleep, where this segment more like the normal sleep process.

    • Davidya says:

      Hi WO
      Dreams are indeed mostly an unraveling or digesting of experiences, often in comparison to prior ones. As we make progress in life a value of alertness grows which can create episodes of what some call lucid dreaming. Because we’re more alert in them, they can seem more rich and vivid.

      But I wouldn’t try to culture a certain pattern or style. Just allow it to unfold as it does and let this go if it fades. Then other styles can arise. ๐Ÿ™‚

  2. Jeff says:

    After already witnessing, I went though life assuming more and more influence in my life. In fact my horoscope shows that anything that I do will be successful. I told the person doing the chart that all I what and have always wanted is fast evolution. He said that I would evolve very quickly.

    After awhile, my positions of influence naturally started to wane. But I had never been attached to the activity. Prior to the first shift or change in my life I could feel less and charm, or joy in the activity, and I had a sense that my life would change. When it did, I never blamed others for their actions. I saw it as a play. When the time came I moved to a new path and never looked back.

    During the second loss of influence, I recognized the process and started telling people that I would soon resign an elected position. From a intellectual perpetive, retiring as the chairman of the board of a large pubic institution without a valid reason would have been severely criticized by the press and the general public. But two weeks later a series of events unfolded so that when it was time to retire, my announcement was sadly accepted and supported.

    In the long run, I have found, that when the joy of doing the work diminishes, change is coming. Nature has always supported my evolution and gently helps make each path more and more enjoyable.

    • Davidya says:

      Hi Jeff
      Great observations. Yes, I often feel change coming. Sometimes it’s clear what and sometimes less so. And yes, circumstances will adjust to pave the way and make it smoother. Things that drew us to the old will fall away.

      As Joseph Campbell used to say, follow the bliss. ๐Ÿ™‚

      Life gives us lots of clues if we learn to listen. However, we may have to clear the noise level some so the signals can be heard under the fussing mind. ๐Ÿ™‚

  3. Lewis Oakwood says:

    Hi, David,

    Does the seeing of the three aspects of ego (from your postโ€” the ego has a three-fold structure) have to come in order (1st, 2nd, and 3rd) or can there be an experiencing of elements of these aspects as if by a flitting from one (aspect) to the other in no particular order?

    Thank you.

    • Davidya says:

      Hi Lewis
      There can certainly be experiences of various related things before, like having refined perception, a heart release and so forth.

      But the process itself is driven by an embodiment of awake consciousness as it descends into the physiology. It will be sequential but there can be wide variation in the subjective experience.

      We may be more clear in some areas than others. We may not notice the process if we’re unfamiliar. They may be just seen as experiences arising along with all the others.

      I used to think they were directly tied to the stages as that had been the experience in many I knew. But over time, I’ve seen variations and for some, the embodiment lags the stages more.

  4. Deborah says:

    Yesterday, I asked consciousness what I needed to let go of in order for it to be able to experience itself through this body….a very different perspective from this end. I have previously been resting in stillness and going out to meet the field. I experience several weeks of just being, in a rich field of stillness, watching, and, waiting. Then, something….an interaction, or physical complaint, will eject me out of stillness. This is a new phenomena recently. It feels very disruptive, though I know that is just another story.
    Your blog is very helpful in helping me to recognize the deeply held beliefs and thoughts that keep me from letting go. They take me by surprise each time one comes up….I also noticed yesterday, a deeply held belief that it could not possibly happen in this person….I have previously dropped the desire to get somewhere, as being an impediment in itself. And, yet this all feels very natural, and, the only way to be in life. All arrows seem to point in one direction…..stillness, being honest and aware, and watching it all.

    • Davidya says:

      Hi Deborah
      Very nice. Don’t try to hold on to the stillness when you get bumped. This stepping in and back out again is part of the process that makes the “colour fast.” Sometimes, you’ll fall further into the mind and sometimes deeper into stillness.

      At some point, a shift will happen from experiencing the stillness to being it more fully. Then the dynamic shifts. It can still be overshadowed as described in the article, but then you’re stepping in and out of That rather than a me.

      Remember that letting go is not a doing, it is an allowing. Asking consciousness implies consciousness is other when that’s what you are. Asking questions within is fine, just be careful of the framing. You don’t want to culture separation. ๐Ÿ™‚

      (laughs) Yeah – I used to think enlightenment meant you had to be special and perfect. Nope. Just conscious.

      Allowing it to unfold as it does is the art of deeper allowing until we shift. Then that allowing goes deeper and deeper into what a teacher called perpetual surrender. ๐Ÿ™‚

      • Jim says:

        Hi David – I am cross-posting this first comment I made at Lori Ann Lothian’s site:

        “Thank you. Hi Lori, I am a visitor to Davidโ€™s blog and he referenced yours in a recent post. Yes, the depth of Being that we establish must transcend our worst nightmares (and greatest joys) for it to stick. Given the mountains of karma trailing behind each of us, it can be a steady but long process, not just dealing with the peeling away of traumatic events, but also emptying ourselves of the expectations tied to them, whatever direction life was supposed to take, and then did not.

        I like the analogy of the cliff also. Yes, the oblivion we are faced with again and again, by transcending. The breathless conclusion of all of this letting go leads to a world hiding in plain sight, as you say we become Divine functions and can freely interact and ask for help from all the Heavenly Hosts of Celestial Beings.

        Yes, we are not only supported by the Divine, we actually work in perfect concert with all of Heaven to have our own desires fulfilled. And THIS is not an analogy โ€“ It has very practical and obvious benefits, the details of which seem miraculous (if such a word even makes sense any longer), continuously, in whatever state of action or inaction we find ourselves.

        It is a tough and unforgiving journey to find ourselves living Brahman, set firmly and freely between Universal Consciousness and our Divine Mother or Source, though it is so very worth it. Life doesnโ€™t change, it simply ripens completely for us as human beings. And just like a tomato, that makes all the difference! We are not simply alive or awake, living Brahman, we are now useful, no fine print. ” ๐Ÿ™‚

  5. Daniel says:

    Hey David!
    Would you say that someone who had an awakening and “experienced” him/herself as pure consciousness a few years ago and knows without a doubt that he/she is pure consciousness, even if it is not seen clearly in every moment and identification with a person is still present a lot of the time, is awake?
    The identification is still there but there is the knowing , not as a mental construct, that one is pure awareness.
    All the Best

    • Davidya says:

      Hi Daniel
      In a word, no. We might say they’ve had an opening or a recognition of who they really are. This is an important step. The key though is that identification with a person. If that’s in place, there hasn’t been a liberation. There hasn’t been a change in being, just a change in experience.

      I witnessed for awhile before I woke up. I experienced myself as consciousness while remaining ego-identified. I was awake within 24/7. I didn’t need to come back to consciousness as it was always there. But I hadn’t yet made the shift.

      These days, waking up is much easier. There can be steps in the approach, like the clear experience of ones reality as consciousness or the deeper shift into full time witnessing. But these are steps in the approach.

      The actual shift is much deeper and more profound. The issue with labeling the experience as “awake” (as some groups do) even if it may seem like an awakening, is that it becomes a new thing for the ego to identify with. A new barrier to the actuality.

      “I am Awake” is a falsehood because the I doesn’t wake up. We wake up From the I. (of course there are nuances here – Atman is called Self because it is a cosmic I-sense)

      An experience like that does indicate good progress though. It becomes valuable for such people to spend time around people who are actually awake as that can help trigger the shift. ๐Ÿ™‚

  6. Joseph says:

    Very illuminating article, thank you David! On a somewhat related note, have you ever come across a person that has been awake their whole life, and as such never experienced the first shift (since they were already in it to begin with)?

    One time I mentioned to a teacher that I’ve yet to ever experience any sort of “shift”, not even temporary witnessing. He said to me that it’s possible I was born awake, and as such will never feel the shift that so many people write of.

    I definitely feel like a normal person in a body…but the tricky part is, if this is all I’ve ever known, maybe my definition of this is different than that of most people.

    If it is true that some people are born awake and stay that way, I don’t know how one would verify that they are awake, since there is nothing to compare it to.

    • Davidya says:

      Hi Joseph
      I’ve heard of the idea but have never met anyone born awake. Just consider simple physiology. The Vedas suggest we’re not able to sustain Unity until the physiology is fully matured at around 25. In an ideal age, children mature into enlightenment in their 20’s. You have to build the platform first.

      Some people are born with kundalini released from a prior life though. They start that process further along. We also bring forward prior development in consciousness and sattva and pick up where we left off. But again, not until after the teens does that really kick in. Many young children lose clarity as they move into the pre-teens and puberty.

      Lorne, for example, said he started witnessing when he was 4. But he didn’t wake up until much later.

      On the other hand, some people do go through a very gentle process and don’t have distinctive shifts. I joked with Rick Archer about being an “oozer” for example. I’ve seen several people who woke up (as adults) and didn’t know it because it was so gentle and not what they expected.

      But for most people, there is markers for the shifts. They’re usually very distinctive. We shift from being a person to being infinite, for example.

      Each of us also have long histories that influence our style of experience. We bring that spiritual history into the history of this bodies bloodline as well. So we all have a distinctive experience of ourselves and the world. Your definition will indeed be very different from many others.

      But simply, if you experience yourself as this body-mind having my experiences, there hasn’t been a Self Realization yet. You’re not yet living a cosmic life.

      It’s actually pretty straightforward to verify someone is awake just from their experience. I spoke to someone yesterday who has recently shifted. We’re giving it a couple of weeks to ensure it stabilizes.

      It’s happening the world over ๐Ÿ™‚

      • Ishtar says:

        Aha, the age 25 thing- I will just point the finger to that for not being able to sustain that at 23 and 24 ๐Ÿ™‚

      • Ishtar says:

        Interesting about the Kundalini- I will add that as a child I would put myself to sleep by moving energy up what I would now call the sushumna, it would move from the base of my spine (also stimulating movements from the balls of my feet and the palms of my hands) up and out the top of my head, sending me off into a very blissful sleep, waking up feeling like a million bucks.

        • Davidya says:

          Very nice, Ishtar. My sleep experiences as a child were rather the opposite.
          The kundalini seems to have already been awake but the experience was more caught in the lower chakras. Starting meditation opened the doors.

  7. Jeff says:

    With subject of kundalini coming up, I have a short story with a question. In the mid 1970โ€™s, while on a pre sidhi course, I was taught fast pranayama. Immediately after leaning, I developed an extensive rash covering my arms, legs, buttocks, and ankles. Western medicine finally decided that it was an allergy to caffeine. But avoiding any foods with caffeine had little effect.

    I finally a had a chance to see Tri Guna, the famous Ayurvedic physician on a large TM course in Washington DC and he told me not to worry about it, that I just had very hot kundalini. Decades later, I saw another Ayurvedic physician and he recommended an Ayurvedic oil for the rash, and it disappeared within two weeks.

    In your opinion, what is the spiritual cause, if any, of having very hot kundalini?

    • Davidya says:

      Hi Jeff
      Rashes like that are related to excess heat (pitta). But the specific cause can be obscure.

      An infection, an allergy, energy buildup, purification, too much hot food, and so forth can cause excess heat.

      To be clear, kundalini is specific to the coiled energy that opens and then rises up the spine. At certain points, it can build up below a knot until it bursts through. However, our physiology has thousands of channels and many secondary chakras. There are many types of energy buildup and release.

      It seems Triguna read a kundalini buildup taking place. Either that didn’t resolve as he expected or the heat created an imbalance that was not corrected later.

      It’s not a spiritual cause, it’s just a specific energetic physiology. Of course, this is just comments based on your brief comment. I’m not an Ayurvedic therapist and a proper diagnosis would be more useful.

  8. Davidya says:

    I updated the first update a bit and added a second update to the article. Corresponding with Lori, she’s realizing this doesn’t seem to be a reawakening after all but rather a new stage.

    I have seen people fall back into the mind, then “reawaken” once enough unpacking was done. Adyashanti has talked a great deal about this also. Yet any new shift will be compared to what we already know. If there isn’t reference points, it can take time to be clear on our new reality.

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