Awakenings are funny things, and come in all different flavors and dynamics. Here are a few things I have noticed from my own – very limited – experience…
First, the difference between the awakeness that is always and already here, and the one that is awake to itself. Everyone -and everything – already is this awakeness, even if there is a “knot” there creating a sense of a separate I. The only difference is that when there is an awakening, this awakeness is awake to itself. It notices itself – and all of its content – as awakeness itself.
On the one hand, it is a pretty insignificant difference. It is all the play of awakeness anyway, whether it notices itself or not. Yet, on the other hand, it also makes a big difference. It is the difference between drama (being caught in it) and absence of drama.
Then, the difference between soul level awakenings and Ground awakening. At the soul level, all is revealed as God (consciousness, awareness, Big Mind, etc.), yet there is still a subtle sense of a center, a separate I, a vague sense of I-Other. There is an I here that is One with all, and that all is God. There is a sense of content of awareness – all content – awakening to itself as God.
A Ground awakening washes all of that out. The center falls out. There is not even a subtle sense of an I-Other, and what seemed like a subtle sense of a separate I at the soul level awakening does not appear very subtle anymore. This is the Ground of experience awakening to itself.
Then, the difference between tastes, glimpses and more stable awakenings.
It is quite possible, for just about anyone, to have a pretty good sense of what it is about – through for instance headless experiments, the Big Mind process, and other pointing out instructions and guided processes. It gives a taste of it, which can be extremely helpful in the process. It helps clarify what it is about. This happens in the midst of all sorts of beliefs in stories (many of them wordless, for instance in the form of images), so it is no more than an intuition or a somewhat fuzzy taste.
There can be a full blown awakening – at either soul or Ground levels, but it gets covered up again. I am quite familiar with this pattern, and it is an invitation to continue to clarify and invite knots to unravel. It is actually a very good place to be since we get to dip into the awakening now and then, and also work with the process from the other – less awakened – side. These awakenings are glimpses that can last for minutes, hours, days, months or years. And even when it is covered up, we still know very well that whatever beliefs, knots and hangups come up are really just mirages – insubstantial, creations of the mental field only.
The more stable awakenings are different only in that they seem to hang around. Since soul level awakenings have to do with content of awareness, and this content of awareness is always in flux, these come and go even if they seem to hang around for a long time. A Ground awakening is not dependent on content of awareness in the same way, so that one seems a little different.
And finally, how the awakening is expressed through this human self. Whatever awakening is there, or not, it is always expressed through this human self and the characteristics of this human self. And this human self can be more or less healed, mature and skillful.