Forms of awakening: ordinary, amazing and neutral

 

Sometimes I wonder if these large-themed posts have much value. But then I notice that although these themes have to do with the big picture, they also reflect what is alive here now, in immediate awareness.

The human self, yes, right here, with its thoughts, sensations, emotions, actions in the world. The soul, yes, also right here, as the alive presence (more or less in the foreground, and filtered in different ways.) The spirit, yes, also right here, as the stainless awareness all of this is happening within and to, and even as. Even if it is temporarily identified with its content, forgetting about itself, the spirit level is still here. It is just spirit temporarily forgetting about itself.

One of the big picture themes is the different forms of awakenings… to our human self, to the soul, and to spirit.

An awakening to our human self is an awakening to the evolving whole of who we are as a human. This whole which is reflected in everything in the wider world. All I see out there, I can find in here.

An awakening to the soul is an awakening to the alive presence, filtered in innumerable ways, yet always with a sense of aliveness, vibrancy, timelessness, transparency into the void.

An awakening to the spirit is an awakening not only to, but as emptiness, as the void, the ground of all form. It is an awakening as the void, which is the same everywhere and always. To the awake void, which is timeless and spaceless, pure seeing. To the awake void which is no other than form, absent of a separate self anywhere.

The first type of awakening is a deepening into our humanity, a healing, development and maturing into becoming a more whole and mature human being. It is a deepening into our individual humanity, which is also a deepening into our shared humanity, opening for a real sense of intimacy, recognition, fellowship, empathy, compassion, and understanding. I recognize in myself what I see in you, and in you what I recognize in myself. In many ways, it is a deepening into ordinariness, becoming a more thoroughly ordinary human being, to whom nothing human is foreign.

The second form of awakening is an awakening into the extraordinary… into the alive presence, the luminous blackness, the fertile darkness, the indwelling god with is infinite love, intelligence, receptivity and its guidance, the alive luminosity, the brilliancy… all of this, which seems to extraordinary when we are used to identifying exclusively as a human being.

And the third form of awakening is a strange one. It is an awakening into and as void. As the void all form, all content of awareness, anything at the soul and human levels, arises within and as. In some ways, it is completely neutral. There is, literally, nothing there. No content needs to change for this awakening. Pain, fine. Bliss, fine. Even confusion, fine. It can all be there. The void can still awaken to itself, as void, and as emptiness dancing as all these temporary forms.

Together, there is the deepening into the fullness and ordinariness of a human life, the amazing qualities of the soul level, and the utter neutrality of the ground.

Consciousness and energy

 

I am reminded of a great article Ken Wilber wrote on consciousness and energy: Towards a comprehensive theory of subtle energies.

It is a while since I read it now, but what I got from it was a clearer sense of how consciousness and energy interacts and support each other at each level of our being, and in the awakening as well.

If we see ourselves as body (physical, chi), mind (emotions, thoughts), soul (alive presence, luminosity), and spirit (awake emptiness and form, Big Mind, Brahman, Tao), then we can find a pairing of consciousness and energy running through all these levels.

The diksha, and similar energy transfers in the shaktipat family such as Ilahinoor and what happens in Waking Down, is working at awakening from the energy side, functioning as a catalyst for changes on the energetic side, which in turn invites corresponding changes on the consciousness side.

These changes seem to happen at all levels. At our mind level, there is less being caught up in knots. At the soul level, there is an immediate experience and perception of the alive presence filtered in different ways, including the fertile darkness, luminous blackness, and as the alive and infinitely loving and intelligent presence in the heart area – the indwelling god. And at the Spirit level, there is the growing noticing of all as awake emptiness and form, absent of any separate self.

Changes at the energy side supports changes at the consciousness side, and the other way around.

This also reminds me of the slightly expanded integral practice grid, where we have our levels of being on one dimension, and self/other on the second. Some of the practices we do on our own, we put our own work into it, such as yoga, meditation, inquiry and physical exercise. And others are given to us from somebody else, such as massage, Breema, and the various forms of energy transfers mentioned above.

Together, there is our own work, and the gifts of others. Which there always is, of course, only more noticed this way.

Oneness at the three levels

 

Over the last couple of days, a lot of things have come up for me around the three levels of being (Spirit, soul and human) and how particular qualities show up when filtered through each. These are generalizations from how it (seems to) show up in my own life right now.

In terms of oneness

Oneness at the Spirit level

At the Spirit level, oneness shows up as awake emptiness and form, absent of any separate I. This is what we discover through the headless experiments, the Big Mind process, or other forms of inquiry, or through meditation (allowing the content to be as it is), or even spontaneously. It is the ground, awake emptiness and form as awake emptiness, so it embraces and goes beyond one and many.

It is one, in that all forms are revealed as a thin surface of the same awake emptiness. It is many, in that it includes all the many forms of the world. It is neither, in its emptiness aspect.

In itself, it is absolutely impersonal, yet becomes personal when lived through the life and relationships of an individual human.

Oneness at soul level

At the soul level, oneness shows up in a different way. I can only speak about my limited experiences here with the alive presence, fertile darkness, luminous blackness, and the indwelling God.

Oneness appears in slightly different ways for each of these.

The luminous blackness emerges out of the same awake emptiness as anything else, and is somehow intrinsically interwoven with all form. The same is true, although to a lesser extent, with the fertile darkness (which is more of a composting ground for rigid patterns of the personality.)

The alive presence and the indwelling God have a oneness quality in that they too emerge out of awake emptiness, sharing this ground with anything else. At the same time, they are both alive around, in and for this particular individual (and for any other individual, whom I assume will experience it in a similar way.)

Each of these soul aspects have an universal and a personal quality, maybe most clearly noticed with the indwelling God – which appears as a fragment of God particularly for this individual. It is universal, since it is God (Existence itself), and it is intimately individual and personal, since it is an aspect of God for this particular individual, centered in the area of the physical heart.

Oneness at human level

The oneness at our human level also takes several forms. There is the oneness of all form, arising out of the same awake emptiness, and belonging to the seamless whole of existence.

And then there is the oneness of the mirroring, of finding in ourselves any quality we see out in the wider world. What I see out there, is what I am here. The more we work with this, and become familiar with more and more of our own qualities as individuals, the more it is all revealed as universal. I see any human quality out there in others and the world, and also know it from my own life. We are all in the same boat. We all share everything it means to be human, and are one in that way.

Impersonal and personal

Oneness at each of the three levels is both impersonal and personal, universal and particular to an individual.

At the Spirit level, it is impersonal in that all is revealed as awake emptiness, inherently absent of any separate I. Yet, it becomes intimately personal when this is lived through a human life, in the world, through relationships with other individuals and the wider world.

At the soul level, it is impersonal in that it arises out of the same ground of awake emptiness as anything else, and is available to any individual. Yet, it is intimately personal, especially the alive presence and the indwelling God, in that it is a fragment of the soul level of Existence in, around and for this particular individual.

At the human level, it is impersonal through the seamless whole of the world of form, with everything having infinite causes and infinite effects, and anything happening around and through this individual representing movements of the larger whole. It is also impersonal through finding anything here that I see out there, realizing – in my bones -that we are all in the same boat, it is all just part of being human. At the same time, it is all by necessity intimately and uniquely personal, filtered through this human being.

Spirit and soul allowing a shift from tragedy to comedy

 

In periods, and especially so over the last year or so, my experience of myself shift… Partly, it because space & awareness goes into the foreground, partly because the soul (alive presence) goes into the foreground, and partly because this human self is shifting and reorganizing.

Sometimes, there is also a discrepancy of the experience of myself and how this human self presents itself in the world. I see old patterns acted upon (often in quite innocent ways) and then surprise comes up. Wow – I haven’t seen that one for a while, and it is certainly not how I experience myself…!

These are typically patterns formed early on in life, coming from more contraction than what seems necessary now. Coming up, there is an opportunity to see them, and holding them in awareness while feeling into it (the witness/feeling into combination that gives an engaged teflon mind.)

When I taught a Breema class last night, this came up quite strongly: seeing the personality behaving in ways other parts of it is not so happy with, with less fluidity, warmth and engaged presence than it would like (I have been physically off for a few days, and it invites some of the older patterns of awkwardness to come up.) It is quite clear that there is no doer in this. It just happens. Materializes out of thin air. Sometimes to the embarrassment of the personality itself. And that too just happens.

Since it was a Breema class, the Spirit (awake emptiness and form) and soul (alive full presence) were in the foreground, which allowed more space around it. The personality happens as ripples of the surface of the vastness of Spirit and soul. And this makes for more of an amusing show than anything else.

What my personality takes as a tragedy, the presence of Spirit and soul reveals as comedy. When the personality is in the foreground, and the Spirit/soul levels are distant, it takes itself very seriously. When Spirit and/or soul is in the foreground, the habitual patterns of the personality not only softens but is also taken, in a friendly way, as comedy.

This seems to happen whether Spirit or soul, or both, are in the foreground. But it happens in slightly different ways.

Spirit allows for a cool detachment. It is impersonal. The personality arises as no other than the awake emptiness itself, so cannot be taken as very solid, substantial or absolutely real.

Soul is an alive presence, and – depending on which aspects of it surfaces – gives a sense of fullness, warmth, nurturing, being held, soft bliss, intimacy. And this warmth and fullness offsets any hardness and habitual patterns of the personality. The patterns of the personality softens, including the way it judges itself. The edges are rounded. It soften, relaxes, releases. And this not only makes it more comfortable right here now, but also allows these patterns to reorganize over time.

Aspects of seeking, longing and wanting

 

Another rambling post, this one of some of the things that come up for me when I explore longing in my own life…

Resolved at three levels

Seeking, longing and wanting can be resolved at (at least) three levels.

First, they can be met, and partially and temporarily resolved, at our human level.

Then, they can be met, and more deeply resolved, at our soul level.

Finally, they can be ultimately resolved at our Spirit level.

And these three are in no way mutually exclusive.

What we seek

Some of the things I find myself seeking include sense of belonging, sense of home, intimacy, love, acceptance, allowing, wealth, abundance, fullness, peace, rest, excitement, being fully alive, experience and live life fully, freedom from suffering, joy, happiness, fulfillment, understanding.

Examples of resolution at three levels

So how is any particular longing resolved at the three levels?

A longing for intimacy

Is partially and temporarily met and resolved at my human level in three ways: through intimacy with others, with the larger whole (nature, earth, universe), and with myself. It can take the form of friendship, intimate relationships, physical intimacy, transparency, sharing of more of all of me, connection with nature, exploring and embracing more of what I am.

At my soul level, it is more deeply met and resolved in two ways. First, when the alive presence surfaces as 2nd or 1st person (you or I/me) there is inherent a deep and profound sense of intimacy there (I am not sure how to describe it more clearly, but it is certainly there.) Then, as there is an awakening of the soul level, there is also a deep and profound sense of intimacy with the wider world as well, with others, nature, the universe as a whole. It is all shimmering with and as alive luminous presence. And this alive presence, right here, in this individual, this personal presence, is of one piece with the alive presence out there, the personal alive presence of others, and the impersonal alive presence everywhere throughout nature and the universe.

And as with any other longing, it is ultimately resolved at the Spirit level. It arises from a sense of I and Other, of separation, which gives a sense of lack, of something missing (which is true.) So when the field of what is, of seeing and seen, of awake emptiness and form, when this field awakens to itself as a field, without any center, without any separate self anywhere, then any longing is resolved. There is only identification with longing when there is a sense of separation. In the absence of separation, there is also an absence of identification with longing (it may still arise, but without identification.)

A seeking of a sense of belonging

Is partially met through all our human ways we find belonging, such as belonging to a place, a community, a landscape, a family, a culture, a nation, a planet, an universe.

Is more deeply met and resolved through awakening of soul as alive presence and all the other ways it arises. In second person, there is a deep sense of belonging, and as first person, it deepens even further. There is a recognition that this is who I really am, at an individual level. In my immediate experience, am far more truly this soul, this alive presence, than I am this human self and personality.

And again, at the Spirit level, there is a more ultimate resolution. Here, I find myself as awake emptiness and form, and as the Ground of all form. It is complete. There is no Other anywhere that can add to it. There is no Other that can provide any further sense of belonging.

Soul level

I could go through a large number of longings, and the ways they are resolved at our human level is pretty obvious from our own experience, and the way they are resolved at Spirit level is always the same (absence of I and Other)…

But the ways they are resolved at our soul level is more interesting to me right now, maybe especially since my formal background is mostly from Zen, and this seems to be largely left out of Zen.

At our soul level, either finding soul as second or first person, all the longings I have explored so far, for myself, are naturally resolved. The many qualities of the soul is exactly what I long for…

The alive presence seems to be filtered through the three centers in different ways, as light split through a prism. It is filtered through the belly center as fertile darkness and a luminous blackness, deeply nurturing, holding, allowing anything in this human self to be composted. It is filtered through the heart center as an alive presence in the heart, infinitely loving, intelligent, receptive, responsive and personal. It is filtered through the head center as clarity, awake emptiness, form as no other than awake emptiness.

Through the belly center, there is a deep sense of stillness, nurturing, healing and maturing. Through the heart center, a deep sense of God as personal (whether second or first person) and infinite love. Through the head center, nondual wisdom and a release from suffering.

Together, there is a deep sense of aliveness, belonging, nurturing, acceptance, allowing, peace, rest, stillness, fullness, wealth, richness, excitement, intimacy, understanding.

Embracing all three levels

The alive presence – in all its many aspects, as this individual and the wider world – really fills all my needs, it is everything I ever was looking for. And yet, it does not preclude also finding it at my human level, and it does not preclude finding the ultimate resolution at the Spirit level.

There is a deeper longing which is the embrace of all three levels, of finding what we seek at our human, soul and Spirit levels. Why leave anything out?

And some other aspects of this…

Surrender

There has to be a sense of surrender at each of these levels.

One form of surrender has to do with impermanence…

At our human level, it is obvious. Everything is in flux. Things happen. I may seek something particular, and it doesn’t come along. I have what I want, and it goes away. Something comes along I don’t want. That is just human life.

And so it is also at our soul level. The alive presence may be very much present in some phases in our life, and then retreat and seemingly be completely gone. That is the relationship with our soul, at least in the early phase.

The same is the case for the Spirit level. We may have glimpses of various clarity and duration, and then they are gone. Again, this is our relationship with Spirit, until it awakens fully to itself.

Another form of surrender is of what we take ourselves to be…

At my human level, I may find myself as more than or different from what I thought I was, and particular identities are surrendered. I may have ambitions that do not come to fruition. I may find in myself things I didn’t want to see. I may have gifts I didn’t know was there. Ways of being I was not aware was there come up in different situations and emerge over time.

Finding myself as soul, my exclusive identity as a human being (and with the personality) has to go.

And finding myself as Spirit, any identifications has to go.

Each of these is a death, and a rebirth. We die as what we thought we were, and are reborn as something else.

Adyashanti’s inquiries: tracing back, and not already here?

It is helpful to clarify what we seek and long for, and one way to do it (recommended by Adyashanti) is to make a list of everything we want, from the most grand to the most petty, from the most spiritual to the most mundane. Then, go through each item and ask what do I hope to get from this? And continue until you find the seed want (for me, it usually ends up as happiness, and freedom from suffering.)

Then, ask yourself is it true that this is not already here? Usually, I can find it present, at least as a grain, at each of the three levels. Any longing presumes that it is not already here, so this is a way to notice that it may already be here.

Spirit, soul and human self

If we awaken to ourselves as what we are, as Spirit, then everything is rest, peace, even in the midst of great activity and turmoil. There is the I without the Other, so automatically rest, a sense of completeness, of nothing missing. No matter what happens at our individual soul and human levels, the peace and sense of completeness is there.

If we awake to ourselves as soul, to any degree, then there is a continuous sense of alive presence, of profound and vibrant aliveness, nourishment, richness, fullness, sweetness, intimacy, being home. And this infuses our human life, no matter how this human life shows up (if it goes bad, this gives comfort and relieves some of the suffering, and if it goes well, this gives an added sense of vibrancy and aliveness.)

Distinct, fused and not two

 

We can split what and who we are into two, and then three.

Spirit, then individual

First, what we are as Spirit, the field of awake emptiness and form absent of center and separate I. This is what is absent of I, or the I without an Other.

Then, who we are as an individual, which in turn is an individual soul and human self. This is the individual self that is inherently selfless, as the rest of the world of form is inherently selfless. It is that little speck within the form aspect of Spirit that it, somehow, mysteriously, is functionally connected with, its vehicle in the world of form.

In other words, we can say that what and who we are is Big Mind (Buddha Mind, Brahman, Tao), soul (alive presence) and human self (personality). And all of it is inherently selfless.

In my own experience of this, I am struck by how these three are simultaneously distinct, fused, and also not two.

Distinct

Each of these three are distinct.

Spirit is this field of clear awake emptiness and form, with no center, no separate self. It is a what. Impersonal. Universal. The I without an Other. The field of seeing and seen, as a field, without any center.

Then there is the individual soul, which is experience as an alive presence and can be filtered in many ways. As infinitely loving and intelligent. Infinitely receptive and responsive. As luminous blackness. As the indwelling God, an alive presence in the heart region. As the alive full presence around and in this physical body. And so on.

And then this human self. This body-mind, functioning within the world of physical form, and with a particular personality. This brings the joys and stress of being physical, including the longing, seeking, wanting, fear, happiness, sensual pleasures, contractions, hangups, and much more. It is the little vulnerable animal trying to make its way in the world.

Fused

In addition to being experienced as distinct, they are also fused.

Spirit infuses the individual soul and human self, especially as it awakens to itself as Spirit. It realizes that all form, including the individual, is no other than itself. The blind identification is taken out of the individual, allowing the individual to reorganize free from the burden of being identified with and in the context of all as Spirit.

The soul, the alive presence, infuses the human self, allowing it to untie knots, heal, mature, and develop in a far deeper way, into a more mature, whole and rounded human being. Ironically, the soul presence, brought into the human self, allows the human self to become more deeply and thoroughly human. It gives the safety and sense of nurturing which allows the human self to relax, to give up some or all of its struggle with itself, and to become more familiar with all of what it is, and embrace and own it all.

And the human self is infused with Spirit awake to itself, and with soul, working on and within it.

Not two

At the same time, there is no I and Other here. These are not two, nor three.

They are all just Spirit, the field of awake emptiness and form, arising as Spirit awake to itself, and functionally connected with this individual soul and human self. Already and always centerless and selfless.

Trinity

These three are a trinity, such as the trikaya of Buddhism. One yet distinct.

And with the potential of being more deeply fused, placing our individual soul and human self under the influence of Spirit, and our human self under the influence of the soul.

Resistance as essential for embodiment

 

Resistance seems essential for embodiment.

First, it is what allows the world of form. It is what allows Spirit to not only find itself as formless but also as form. Resistance is inherent in the world of form, as divisions, boundaries, friction. Without these types of resistance, inherent in Spirit as form, there would be no form. Resistance is the mechanism for Spirit to become form… galaxies, solar systems, planets, living planets, individual beings, experiences, thoughts, culture, cities, this universe. It is what allows form unfolding in space and time.

Then, it is what allows Spirit to awaken to itself while functionally connected with a human being (or any other being for that matter, where Spirit awakens consciously to itself.) Resistance is what allows Spirit to fully embody in, through and as a body, conscious of itself. It is the gritty process of embodiment, of allowing everything about our individual self to reorganize within the new context of Spirit awakened to itself… our physical body, our energy system, our emotional level, our heart, our view, our relationships, our life and engagement in the world.

Resistance is inherent in embodiment. It is Spirit exploring itself as formless & form and the unfolding relationships between the two, including what takes place when the form is reorganized within the context of the formless awakened to itself.

So why resist resistance? Why not makes friends with it, embrace it, see that too as God’s will, as God itself, as an essential part of the embodiment process. The more resistance, the more gritty the process is, the fuller and richer the process and the eventual embodiment.

Resistance gives rise to struggle and suffering, and resistance to resistance is no different. It is God resisting itself, so that is not surprising. And allowing gives a sense of release, spaciousness, of all as Spirit.

As with anything else arising, we can deepen into seeing, feeling and even loving resistance as Spirit itself, as always no other than Spirit.

The essence of The Secret

 

Well, I keep being reminded of The Law of Attraction around here (in a small hippie town on the US West Coast, which incidentally reminds me that it would be nice to live in a larger city where more people are a little more sophisticated…!)

Apart from anything else that can be said about the law of attraction, the essence of it seems to be this:

One want: Spirit

There is one want behind all our diverse wants, and that is Spirit.

Or more accurately, it is the happiness, contentment, abundance, sense of coming home and freedom from circumstances and suffering that comes from shifting the center of gravity into the Witness, from tasting Oneness, and finally to realize selflessness.

And this Spirit, as Ground of seeing and seen absent of any I anywhere, is always here now. Indeed, what is experienced as a separate I is Spirit itself temporarily mistaking itself for a segment of itself.

All the many wants of Spirit boils down to one: for it to remember itself, who it really, already and always is. The Ground of seeing and seen, of experiencing and experiencer, absent of I anywhere. The Big Mind beyond and including all and any polarities. The emptiness that is form, and form that is emptiness. The freedom from form that is the fullness of form. The emptiness full of the whole world.

Unraveling wants, and notice what I want right here

For me, I see I have a huge diversity of wants and wishes, and when I explore these I find that each one leads to the same essential wants: happiness, and freedom from suffering.

And is it true that this is not already here? When I look for it, I can find it in the wakeful clarity that is always here, independent of an unstained by the always shifting content of experiences.

By noticing this, over and over, I can become more familiar with it. From being more in the background, often unnoticed, it can shift more into the foreground. I can notice it, independent of whatever else is going on. I can find myself as it, then as the oneness of seeing and seen, then as seeing and seen already absent of any I anywhere.

Is it possible to make a mistake?

 

Here is one way of looking at the question of mistakes from different filters…

Ground and Big Mind

Ground is inherently free from any notions of mistakes or no mistakes. It allows any forms to come and go as Ground itself, as emptiness dancing.

Big Mind, as Ground as emptiness and form, is similarly absent of any notions of mistakes. It is beyond, yet includes, any ideas of mistakes or no mistakes, and anything these ideas point to.

When Big Mind awakens to its own nature, there is the realization that any and all forms are inherently free from mistakes/no mistakes.

Spirit exploring itself

Moving slightly into the relative, yet informed by the absolute, we can say that everything is Spirit exploring and experiencing itself.

I eat icecream, I stub my toe, I sleep, I miss a deadline, I get praise, I forget the name of a Breema sequence when teaching, I decided to stay in the US instead of going back to Norway, I get sick and can’t do much for a couple of days, I fail a test of some sort.

All of these, and anything else in any human life and existence as a whole, is Spirit manifesting, exploring and experiencing itself – as emptiness and form, experiencer and experienced, seeing and seen.

And this happens independent of the particulars of the content. No matter what form is doing, it is still Spirit experiencing itself. There is no mistake there. It is inherently free from the possibility of mistake.

Beliefs

The sense or experience of mistakes only come in, and is inevitable, when there is a belief in thoughts. Existence should look this way, so if it conforms, it is no mistake, and if it does not, there must be a mistake somewhere: you made a mistake, I made a mistake, God made a mistake.

Soul Practices

 

There are probably as many, or more, ways to deepen into the soul level as to Big Mind.

For me, the heart prayer, Christ meditation and Breema are the ways I work with the soul level.

The heart prayer and Christ meditation is a second person practice, awakening Spirit – in its Christ aspect – as Thou, and also awakening soul as first person, as I or me.

Breema is a first person practice, awakening soul as I, me or mine.

With the Christ centered practices, there is a sense of deep fullness and richness, of unspeakable beauty, bliss, pain, longing, joy, and sometimes of losing any sense of separate self in an immensity and infinity of bliss and radiance.

In Breema, there is a similar sense of fullness, depth and richness, yet with an absence of the longing, pain, and intensity of the prayer. There is just a sense of calm fullness, of being home, of no separation, a quiet bliss and joy, and of being participation – of all of me participating.

So the fullness and quiet bliss of soul is there in both cases, yet with the Christ practices more intense and transcendent (although also very much in and through the body), and with Breema more quiet and body centered.

Soul & Spirit

 

Another rambling post…

In reading The Void by A. H. Almaas, my curiosity about the relationship of soul and spirit comes up again.

Soul, as that part of us that continues between human incarnations, the F7 and F8 levels in Wilber’s framework. Bringing this level into awareness gives a sense of richness, fullness, meaning, direction, joy, bliss and so on – all causeless, or more precisely not dependent on conditions apart from bringing the soul level into awareness.

It is individual, seems to evolve, yet also has the same essence across individuals. It has many names, such as essence and being.

Awakening to or glimpsing the soul level opens for nature and/or deity mysticism experiences. It allows for experiences of intimacy with all there is, of everything as God, of oneness and unity, of no separation. Yet, there is still an I and Other here, even within the unity. There is an I placed on the soul level.

And Spirit, as the Ground of it all, Big Mind, the nondual level in Wilber’s framework. This is the completely detached view, completely impersonal, allowing it all to be as it is. It is a shift in context, from a sense of I to a clear absence of I anywhere.

Soul, then Spirit, and the other way around

As Almaas mentions, some traditions – such as Buddhism, focus on nondual awakening and then bringing in the soul level. And other traditions – such as Sufis, focus on bringing in the soul level, and then nondual awakening.

Either is of course fine. And as this differentiation appears to us, it is just about inevitable that different traditions will approach the two in a different sequence and with different emphasis.

This is clear in for instance Breema, which clearly emphasize the level of soul, essence, Being, and briefly and indirectly acknowledge the nondual. It certainly makes it more accessible for more people, and the benefits are immediate and clear.

Soul awakening vs. nondual awakening

Yet, any awakening to soul level is bound to be temporary, unless eventually grounded in clear nondual awakening.

A soul awakening not (yet) grounded in a nondual awakening seems similar to the god realm as described in Buddhism – wonderful, possibly long lasting, yet eventually leading to a fall. Some of us learn that the hard way…!

If our sense of identification, our belief in the thought “I”, is placed on the soul, it seems wonderful for a while. Until there is a fall. Until that too goes away. And then it can lead to a suffering that easily matches any other form of suffering. We have lost that which was most beautiful to us, most meaningful, most blissful.

Only a clear nondual awakening is “stable” because it does not rely on any conditions within the world of phenomena. And the soul level seems very much within the world of phenomena, just as everything else. Bliss comes and goes. Causeless joy comes and goes. A sense of connection, fullness, meaning, direction and guidance comes and goes.

A Ground or nondual awakening allows any content to come and go. Bliss and boredom. Joy and sadness. Meaning and absence of meaning. Fullness and void. Guidance and no guidance. Everything is clearly revealed as absent of any I. There is an absence of any final or absolute identity.

Soul and Spirit

So bringing the soul level into awareness is more accessible and easily enjoyable than working on the nondual awakening. Yet, it is also incomplete, temporary, inviting to a fall – if a nondual awakening is not also present.

Working on a nondual awakening is certainly more difficult, maybe less appealing, yet also the only lasting awakening. And the soul awakening and development can – and will? – certainly continue within a nondual awakening.