When we notice what we are, it’s relatively easy to recognize this noticing in others.
MY OWN EXPERIENCE DURING AND FOLLOWING THE AWAKENING
That is one of the things that was clear when the awakening happened in my teens. It took a while, two or three years, before I found someone. That someone was Meister Eckhart in a book I looked at in the main library in Oslo. I could see that he (mostly) noticed what he was, even if his words were clothed in Christian terminology. Later, I suspected the same when I read some traditional Buddhist masters, although here it was partly camouflaged in tradition and traditional ways of talking about it. Later, I met someone where we immediately recognized it in each other, and this was Hanne Bertelsen (then wife of Jes Bertelsen).
It also became clear to me that people who knew about this mostly through books or teachings, thought that was where I came from when I talked about it. Since they didn’t notice what they were, or didn’t notice it very clearly, they couldn’t recognize it clearly in others. They assumed I was coming from the same place as them.
LOOKING AT THE AURA
During the initial awakening, I started seeing energy around people, animals, plants, and inanimate objects. (Different types of auras for each rough category.) And that helped me also more literally see what was going on in people. People who were mostly identified as a human being had an aura that was relatively dense, not very awake, and stretched out only a few meters from the body. People who had done spiritual practice generally had a more vibrant and light-filled aura, the aura was awake further from the body, and the aura itself tended to stretch much further from the body. The more awake, the less dense the aura was, and the awake aura stretched out indefinitely – as if it stretched out through all of existence.
Many years later, when I joined the Center for Sacred Sciences in Oregon, one of the long-time members had an awakening and was made a teacher. (I was surprised that an awakening immediately qualified for being a teacher since a lot more goes into being able to effectively guide others, but that’s another topic.) When I looked at his aura, I saw that it actually wasn’t very awake. And sure enough, a couple of weeks later this person announced that the awakening wasn’t stable and he wouldn’t take on the role as a teacher.
BRINGING IN THE PERSONAL IN WRITING ABOUT AWAKENING
I hesitate writing more personal stories like this, and I also hesitate writing about things like auras.
It’s partly to avoid distractions. Personal stories and awakening side-effects like seeing auras can be a distraction for others. This is not about me or the side effects of awakening.
It may partly be because I love academia, and scientific articles are often written in a style where they pretend there is no person behind the writing and research. (I have never liked that approach and see it as misguided and phony, so I don’t know why I am doing it here…!)
It’s probably partly because I have seen that way of approaching it from Buddhism and other traditions. People in Buddhism rarely talk about their own experiences. They talk about these things in a more general and universal way. Again, probably to avoid distractions.
And finally, it helps me not make it so much about myself in my own mind. What I write about here are mostly universals, so by writing about it in a more universal way I keep myself in the background.
And yet, as a friend of mine wrote recently, we ultimately only know the awakening process from our own experience. So why not include the personal? Why pretend there is no person here with his or her own experiences?
There are many good reasons to make this more personal.
The most obvious one is that it is personal. Awakening may be universal and, in a sense, beyond the personal. And it also happens here in this life. So by not bringing in the personal stories, I leave at least half of it out.
Bringing in the personal grounds it in a life and specifics. We already have the universal, so why not also bring in the unique and individual? Both are equal parts of the whole and the process of awakening and exploring how to live with and from it.
Bringing in the personal can resonate more with others. We can more easily recognize ourselves in it.
It fits our modern western culture better. Buddhism and other Asian spiritual traditions come from a more collectively oriented culture, so it makes sense if they tend to focus on the universal and impersonal and downplay the personal. In our western culture, it makes sense to make it more personal, honest, and transparent.