The world becomes transparent

 

When there is a spiritual opening, a more thorough awakening, or just an in-depth exploration of the mind, it’s as if the world becomes transparent.

Spirit. One way the world can appear transparent is when all is revealed as Spirit. Spirit reveals itself to itself as all there is, including the world of matter, this human self, and anything else. All is revealed as Spirit, including what this is revealed to, so there is a sense of anything else – any appearances and labels – are transparent. They are ephemeral and “thin” compared to all as Spirit.

Exploration. Another way the world can appear transparent is through exploration. Specifically, an exploration of how the mind creates it’s own experience of the world and itself. As we become more familiar with these dynamics – for instance how thoughts and sensations combine to create identification and the appearance of something real – it’s as if the world becomes more transparent.

More about all as Spirit. When Spirit reveals itself to itself as all there is, it may happen in different ways. In a spiritual opening, Spirit may reveal itself as all there is as a glimpse which stays for a while and then fades. It won’t be forgotten, but the immediacy of it may fade. Often, it becomes a guide and inspiration for further exploration and awakening.  That may lead to Spirit recognizing itself as all there is in a more stable way. And that happens partly through embodiment. The different parts of us become more aligned with this reality of all as Spirit, and we live from it with more ease in more and more situations.

When there is identification with ideas about ourselves and the world, there is a “forgetting” of all as Spirit. And that impacts and shapes our psyche including through additional identifications, wounds, and trauma. These parts of us are no longer aligned with the reality of all as Spirit. So when Spirit reveals itself to itself, these parts are invited to heal and realign. They are invited to more closely align with all as Spirit. And this looks like quite ordinary healing, maturing, and kindness.

I should also mention that when Spirit reveals itself as all there is, that includes anything that can be labelled me or I. Nothing is excluded. This human self is still here. A soul may still be here. And so on. And it’s all Spirit. There is no actual separate me or I anywhere in it.

More about exploration. I have written about this form of exploration in other posts on this blog. See, for instance, any posts tagged inquiry, living inquiries, the work, or identification.

Dark night and recognizing what’s surfacing as Spirit

 

During a dark night of the soul, unprocessed psychological material tends to surface.

I often write that it’s so this material can be seen, felt, loved, and healed. And that’s true enough, if we chose to relate to it that way.

But there is another invitation in this process. And that’s to consciously recognize this material as Spirit.

During the illumination phase, there is typically a recognition of all as Spirit. All is and happens within and as consciousness, love, wisdom, and – if depending on what we wish to call it – God, Buddha Mind, Big Mind, Brahman, or just Spirit.

And for some of us, when unprocessed psychological material surfaces, it may take a intentional noticing of this too as Spirit. In my case, I knew that that too is Spirit. I could see and recognize it if I looked. And yet, it took some time and conscious intention for it to sink in more fully. It was and is an ongoing process.

Unprocessed material does, of course, surface at any time in any of our lives. And there is an invitation to see, feel, love, and find healing for it. When it happens following an opening or initial awakening, there is the added invitation to recognize it as Spirit.

Just to clarify: A dark night of the soul, in a more technical sense, tends to happen following an initial opening or awakening (illumination) and a dark night of the senses.

The initial opening or awakening is a glimpse or recognition of all as Spirit. The dark night of the senses is a withdrawing or seeing through of strong identification as a human being. And the dark night of the soul is a deepening and maturing of both.

The dark night of the soul can take many forms, but it seems that loss is a part of it, as well as this processing of previously unprocessed material. As Evelyn Underhill points out, it’s a deeply human process. And it can be very painful and uncomfortable, depending on how much in us resists it.

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Awakening in Vortex Healing and in other contexts

 

Vortex Healing is a path of healing and awakening.

When I first encountered Vortex Healing (VH), I was curious about how awakening within the Vortex Healing context is similar to and differs from other traditions I am more familiar with. I still have that curiosity, and here is some of how it looks to me now.

Similarities 

Same awakening. What’s described as awakening in the VH context is the same as how it’s described in the many spiritual traditions of the world. It’s Spirit awakening to itself and out of its temporary identification as a separate being. (Spirit = consciousness, awakeness, empty awakeness etc.)

Gradual. Awakening is a gradual path. There is a continuing clarifying and deepening. There is an awakening out of identifications, and as the fullness of existence beyond and including all polarities.

Sudden. Basic awakening is sometimes sudden. It can happens in a flash.

Embodiment. Awakening requires embodiment. It requires our human self to realign with this new reality. It requires healing, maturing, and realignment.

Ripening. Awakening requires a readiness and ripening. And we can set the stage for and support this readiness and ripening. There are certain things we can do to invite it in.

Work. Awakening requires work. Ripening, clarfying, and embodiment requires attention, sincerity, and work. That’s the same for all paths I am aware of. (The type of work can be somewhat different, although much is similar.)

Differences

Reliable and consistent ripening. Ripening happens in a relatively predictable way through any serious path, but it does seem to happen in a more reliable and consistent way through VH than what I have seen from other paths.

In VH, the ripening happens thorugh the courses we take as VH students, and it happens in a predictable way so all have basic awakening after a certain number of courses. I am very aware that this sounds like a naive assumption, and I was extremely skeptical for a while. Now, I have seen and experienced enough to say that it seems accurate.

Basic awakening happens at a certain predictable phase of the process, and it happens for everyone who makes it that far. (And it’s not even that far into the process. It can easily happen within two years.)

Unique paths. Each unique path brings something unique. The practices we engage in builds a certain set of skills, insights, and experiences. And we bring those with us into and within the awakening. For instance, in VH, we practice attention, intention, sensing, surrender, being guided, and transformative magic. (I know the word “magic” can be off putting. It was for me in the beginning, and I still rarely use the word. I guess I am getting somewhat used to it, and I also see that it’s a pretty accurate way of describing what’s happening.)

I should also say that in VH, the basic awakening is very precise and limited to releasing the core sense of self or an I. In other traditions, a sudden awakening may clear out a good deal more in the process. In VH, that clearing tends to happen more gradually through taking the courses and receiving healing sessions from oneself and others.

One of the things I find very helpful about VH is the gradual ripening and healing. It’s a gentle process, for the most part. I feel in safe hands. And it’s helped me heal things that went a bit haywire from earlier openings and awakenings.

I know that this can be a bit upsetting to some who have invested a great deal of time in traditional spiritual practices. There is another path where they can have basic awakening within two years? And it’s easy to dismiss it, as I did at first. It seems to easy. And yet, it’s not really. To be attracted to the VH path, we have to be pretty ripe already. Other traditions have a great deal of gifts in them. And it’s not one or the other. Most people combine other paths and practices with VH in their lives.

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Awakening & deep, primal and visceral fear

 

There is a quite common pattern of (a) an opening or awakening, and (b) a deep primal fear happening in connection with each other. Some experience the deep, primal and visceral fear first, and others the opening or awakening first.

For me, there was an initial awakening without the fear, then a second one followed by that primal fear that was more a dread and terror. It was very strong for about nine months and has surfaced now and then – or stayed relatively stable at a lower level – for some years after.

I see it as related to trauma, and a very primal survival fear, and the two go hand in hand and are really the same. Some say it comes up since the imagined self fears for its life. It goes when there is a more clear awakening so it naturally fears for its life. (There isn’t any “it” there to fear for its life, but the mind makes it seem and feel that way through velcro and beliefs.) That may be true enough. The other reason, which makes as much or more sense to me, is that for the human self to deeply heal, that deep primal survival trauma needs to surface and find healing. This allows that part of the human self to realign more consciously with reality, with this new context of all as presence, love, Spirit, or the Divine.

Having this primal fear surfacing has been among the most challenging experiences of my life. It feels like every fiber in me resists it, and yet I know that what’s called for is meeting it in presence, feeling the sensations, and look at the imaginations connected with it. It’s been a long and difficult process for me.

It does feel like something just needs to run its course. Even as I also work with what comes up in a more intentional way.

This primal fear calls for a few different things, and what it is may be different for each of us and at different times in our process. For instance, it may be meeting it with presence, kindness, and patience. Exploring the associated mental images and words. (As mentioned above.) Recognizing it as coming up to protect the imagined self and coming from love. And the presence and love recognizing itself as this fear and trauma, surfacing in that form right now.

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Byproducts of awakening vs its essence

 

This is something I have been exploring and that many talk about.

There is a difference between the byproducts of an awakening or opening and its essence.

The byproducts can be quite varied. It can be a mix of bliss, love for everyone and everything, a deep gratitude, new abilities such as being able to see auras or do healing, download of information, and inspiration to write or make art. I experienced all of these and more during the initial opening or awakening.

The essence is something we have to find for ourselves and it often clarifies with time. We are invited to use the opening or awakening as a pointer to find its essence, to find what it has revealed that remains through the  shifting states and experiences.

Many or all of the byproducts and experiences associated with an awakening fade and go away with time, and it’s easy for the mind to freak out and think that something essential has been lost. But that’s not the case. It’s the non-essential that has been lost so that the essential can be revealed and recognized more clearly.

And what is it that’s essential. What does the awakening, and the coming and going of its byproducts, point to? What remains through the different states and experiences? What’s still here from the awakening, even when the byproducts are all gone?

For me, it’s a recognition of any state and experience as what everything was revealed as in the initial opening or awakening. As presence, love, Spirit, void, or whatever the mind calls it. That’s really all. It sounds very simple, and it is. And it can be quite difficult to remember and notice when the mind creates temporary identifications and beliefs and stirs itself up.

What supports this recognition is meeting shunned parts of my experience with presence, kindness, and patience. To invite it to heal and align more with reality. These parts were formed in a different context, in a much more painful one, and they still exist within that reality, so meeting them in this way when they come up invites them to heal and realign with the reality discovered through the awakening.

As a mentor of mine once said, the initial awakening was free, and the continued clarification requires work.

I should also mention that there is a dark night connection here. If the mind holds onto the byproducts of the awakening as something essential, it can easily create a dark night for itself when they inevitably go away. The mind can go into despair, struggle, and even depression. That’s why it can be helpful to be aware of this before it happens. And it can also be helpful to practice recognizing the essence of the awakening through different states and experiences while it’s still relatively easy. That may not prevent the despair and struggle that sometimes happens when the byproducts go away, but it can at least provide a pointer and a direction for how to relate to and make use of that transition.

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Adyashanti: That may sound easy, but when it’s actually happening it’s more gritty and real than the description suggests

 

As we go through our trials and tribulations, outer circumstances seem to be exquisitely put together specifically to test each part of our realization. These trials and tribulations will also occur from the inside. Your unconscious at some point will start to reveal itself. In the unawakened person, the unconscious never fully comes into conscious awareness, but with awakening our means of suppression and denial are either torn apart completely or wounded so severely that we can’t repress as much.

The unconscious elements of our mind come into conscious awareness, and that is another kind of trial. What’s being asked of you is to meet all of that inner material from the standpoint of divine being, from the standpoint of eternity – to meet it, to understand it, to resolve it. That may sound quite easy, but when it’s actually happening it’s a little more gritty and real than the description suggests.

You could think of these inward and outward trials as a form of purification. You’re purifying the vehicle: body and mind, the same body and mind that you woke up out of when you awakened. Now this vehicle has to undergo its own purification so spirit can fully embody your humanity. And this is where the story of Jesus again provides a powerful mirror, because Jesus is someone who embodied in his humanity the divine impulse, divine being.

– Adyashanti, Resurrecting Jesus

This very much fits my experience.

Awakening includes rude awakening

 

If you have a rude awakening, you have a severe shock when you discover the truth of a situation.

– from The Free Dictionary

An awakening process can be a rude awakening.

Some parts of the awakening process is what our personality likes. It aligns with what our personality likes and wants. For instance, an early and temporary transcendence gives us a taste of freedom from trauma, pain, and hurt.

Other parts may be more difficult for our personality. They can challenge or clash with habitual patterns our mind initially created to stay safe. These include but are not limited to:

Disillusionment. Awakening includes disillusionment and especially disillusionment about what awakening is and what “we” get out of it. We may hope for a state of eternal peace and bliss, and what it’s really about is awakening to and as that which already allows any experience and state, including sadness, anger, and pain.

Awakening to the shadow. Awakening means awakening to everything, including our own very human pain, trauma, and hurt. At some point, this comes to the surface with an invitation to question the unquestioned stories holding the hurt in place, feel the unfelt feelings and emotions, and love all of it as it is including any reactions we have towards it.

Most people have a lot of misconceptions about awakening or enlightenment. This is partly inevitable since awakening is a change of the context of our experience rather than a change within our experience, and most of us are only familiar with the latter until there is an initial opening or awakening. These misconceptions are also partly encouraged and perpetuated by some spiritual traditions and teachers, either for strategic reasons (which I happen to not agree with) or because they don’t know better.

It’s difficult to know in advance how much of the trauma is healed or cleared up by the initial awakening, or any practices we engage with before or after the initial awakening. It’s also difficult to know how much is there in the first place. A lot of it is “collective” trauma passed on through the generations and by our culture, and some may also be due to epigenetics. I was certainly surprised by the amount of pain and trauma that surfaced for me.

What do I mean when I say that awakening is a shift in the context of our experience? It’s because an awakening is an awakening to – and then as – what experience happens within and as. This is sometimes labeled awareness, presence, Spirit or something similar, although any label will make it seem more discrete and like an object than it is. Content of experience doesn’t have to change at all, although it often does as a side effect of this shift in context.

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What does awakening mean?

 

Awakening can refer to three slightly different things:

It can mean an initial awakening or opening. An initial recognition of what we are of itself, as all there is.

It can mean the ongoing awakening process, which includes an ongoing clarification and more stable recognition, and an ongoing reorganization of our human self within this (new) recognition.

It can also refer to how we are when the awakening process is a bit more mature, and there is more clarity and stable recognition, and our human self is more aligned with it.

I usually use awakening in the first sense. If I talk about the awakening process, I usually call it “awakening process”. And I mostly don’t use the word awakening in the third sense, since it’s really an ongoing process. There isn’t an end point for this process, at least not until we die. It seems misleading to suggest otherwise.

This is taken from the previous post on Myths About Awakening.

PS. I am aware that the word “awakening” is sometimes used in other ways. In this post, I focused on what it means for me and how I use it.

Myths about awakening

 

There are a lot of myths about awakening in our culture, and perhaps other cultures too. I suspect most of them come from wishful thinking. They are what we – when there is less clarity – wish for and dream for. They are a “dream of the ego”.

Of course, many have done what they can to dispel these myths, and it seems that these days, most teachers do. In all of us, there is something that value what’s real and practical more than dreams and fantasies.

First, a brief description of what awakening is, in my experience:

What we are – that which our whole field of experience happens within and as – recognizes itself, independent of any content of experience. And this may be described as presence, awareness, love. (A presence, awareness, love, which recognizes itself as this content of experience, as it is here now.)

An awakening can happen easily and quickly. It’s what we are recognizing itself. The awakening process can be longer and ongoing. It’s a clarifying and stabilizing of this recognition, and a reorganization and realigning of our human self within this new context.

Awakening can be used in three different ways. (Sorry.) (a) It means an initial awakening or opening. An initial recognition of what we are of itself, as all there is. (b) It also means the ongoing awakening process, which includes an ongoing clarification and more stable recognition, and an ongoing reorganization of our human self. (c) It can also refer to how we are when the awakening process is a bit more mature, and there is more clarity and stable recognition, and our human self is more aligned with it. (I usually don’t use it in this sense, since this part for me is also ongoing. There isn’t an end point for this, at least not until we die.)

The myths about awakening seem to fall into two general categories:

What it is.

What it means for our human self.

And here are some more specific myths, and what seems more real to me:

What it is.

Not already here. Is it true that what I am seeking is not already here? Is it true the peace is not already here? The love? (Even if it seems very faint?)

A state. It’s not a state of experience, where our content of experience somehow is fixed. It’s more of a state of recognition. What we are – that which our whole field of experience happens within and as – recognizes itself, independent of any content of experience. There is a recognition of the peace, love, and joy that’s always here, even if it’s more faint, and the rest of our field of experience shifts and changes are before, including sometimes going through the full range of emotions, pain, and more.

Either/or. It’s not so much a binary shift, although it can certainly be experienced that way – especially in the beginning. What we are is always here, and we do often notice it, often without recognizing its significance. And even when the recognition is more clear and stable, there may be times when attention is absorbed into thought (or when there is identification with a thought and a viewpoint) and that recognition goes in the background or is temporarily “forgotten”. There is a big middle zone here, in my experience. And I suspect that there will often be some shifts, even if the recognition is much more established.

An end point. It’s an “end point” in the sense that what we are recognizes itself. It’s not an end point, since what we are keeps revealing itself to itself. It’s also certainly not an end point in how we live from it, or how our human self can transform within this recognition in terms of healing, maturing, and more. Life keeps on going.

Difficult. It’s not really that difficult for what we are to recognize itself. It can happen quite simply and quickly through following pointers, for instance from the headless experiments, the Big Mind process, the Living Inquiries, and more. It may indeed take time for this recognition to clarify and stabilize, and for the rest of us – our human self – to reorganize and align with this. That seems to be an ongoing process. And parts of this process may be experienced as quite challenging.

Pleasant. An awakening and awakening process can be relatively simple and easy. And it can also involve a lot of struggle, pain, and even suffering. It seems very individual, and each phase can also be quite different. For me, the initial phase was somewhat challenging although not hugely. The second phase was generally quite pleasant. And the third phase, the dark night of the soul, has been very challenging and at times painful.

What it means for our human self.

No problems. The “dream of the ego” is that awakening means no more problems. Reality is often different. The awakening process itself can be quite challenging, and bring up a lot of previously unloved and unquestioned trauma, wounds, pain, and more. (As our human self reorganizes and realigns.) And our human life will tend to have the universal human challenges, including what comes up in relationships, work, money, health, and more. We continue to live very human, and sometimes messy, lives. Just look at what happened to Jesus, and any number of other saints and teachers. Their lives were often not easy.

Perfect health. This is another “dream of the ego”. When we are less clear, perfect health seems like an ideal and a dream. Most of us will naturally have that preference which is perfectly fine and even healthy. And yet, illness and physical problems is part of being an ordinary human, and an awakening very much means being an ordinary human being. For some, or perhaps all, of us, illness in in our human experience. It helps remind us we are very human, just like anyone else. It can even be a part of an awakening process. For instance, a kundalini process will sometimes include periods of poor health and physical problems. And just being human means illness sometimes comes our way. The difference is that we see it’s OK. If it’s here, we may even find the gifts in it.

Perfect wisdom, love, insight, teachings etc. This is very similar to what I mentioned above. We are still very much human. We have our preferences, wounds, hangups, blind spots, perhaps even trauma. What we are is, in a way, perfect love and wisdom, and this gets “filtered” through our human self, with all its idiosyncrasies and shortcomings. (I don’t like that way of talking about it since it sets up a duality that isn’t really there. I think I wrote it more because it’s similar to what I have heard others say. And that’s a good example of a very human shortcoming!)

No pain, sadness, anger, grief etc. Again, as above. As humans, we will have the full range of emotions. These may come up during the awakening process, as a reaction to what’s happening, or as part of the reorganization of our human self. And they come up just because we are human. There is nothing wrong in this. And most of us, if we are honest, wouldn’t have it any other way. What’s different is that when there is some recognition of what we are, these experiences can flow through with less resistance, and we may even recognize them as what we are – as presence, love – and be perfectly OK with them as they are here. They are honored guests.

And an additional one:

Living in the present. This is often misunderstood. Awakening does indeed mean to “live in the present”. And that’s because we recognize that “the present” is all there is for us. Everything happens here, including any thoughts and feelings about the past or future. (It doesn’t at all mean to try to avoid or suppress any thoughts about past or present. That would be stupidity, to put it bluntly.)

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Things to keep an eye out for in the awakening

 

Early on in an awakening, and even much later, there may be several things that are a bit “off”, and that’s part of the process too. It seems that most or all (?) of it is from (a) holding certain ideas as true, and (b) projections. Here are some of these:

I am here to save people, the world. They need me to save them. They need to be saved. (Don’t recognize that no-one really needs to be “saved”, and that a simpler way is to make myself available to support when asked.)

I need to share my insights. I need to tell others about it. I need them to “get it” too. (An attempt to hold onto and solidify any insights and seeing that’s here. Fear of losing it.)

I am awake, they are not. (Don’t recognize it’s all already awakeness, and that awake is an idea.)

Humanity is on the verge of mass awakening. (Projection of what’s here. A projection of the awakening here onto “the world out there”.)

I am special, chosen. They are not. (Don’t recognize how we are all chosen, in a sense.)

Other people bore me. They are caught in delusion. I don’t find them interesting. (Projection of delusion on others.)

There is only emptiness. Only awareness. (Holding ideas of emptiness, awareness etc. as solid and true. “Stuck in the absolute”.)

Life will take care of me. I don’t need to take care of my own life the way society tells me to. (Don’t recognize that we are still invited to be a good steward for our own life.)

This is “it”. I have arrived. This is a full awakening. There is nothing more. (The mind is trying to find a sense of security and safety in these stories of “permanence” and having “arrived”. Don’t recognize that (a) we don’t know, and (b) the unfolding – of reality revealing itself to itself – seems to be ongoing.)

It’s possible, and even quite common, for there to be a mix of awakening (reality awake to itself, to some extent) and beliefs, wounds and deficiency stories. These wounds, beliefs and deficiency stories seek the light, they seek to be loved, felt, and seen through. Note: I listened to an online satsang, and saw a few of these from both the main person and the people calling in. It’s all happening within my own world of images. It’s all reflecting me as a human being. It’s all for me to look at here, and in my own life. (more…)

Adyashanti: The stages of awakening as lived out by Jesus

 

In Resurrecting Jesus, Adyashanti talks about the typical stages of a spiritual awakening process. Here is a brief outline:

Calling. The calling can take many forms, including as a curiosity of or a draw to Spirit, love or truth. For me, this may have happened in early childhood when I had memories of how it was before incarnation. (A golden light, sense of infinite belonging, wisdom, love, home, aka “heaven”.)

The awakening. The initial awakening, life awakening to itself as all there is. A transcendence of the ego. In my case, this happened “out of the blue” following a year of (what I now see as) a dark night of the senses. I was consciously a hardcore atheist at the time.

Trials and tribulations. Our new realization is put to the test. We find ourselves in situations that require us to act from our realization, from our deepest nature we have awakened to. Also, what in us not aligned with love and clarity surfaces to realign. This is a purification of our human self. This is what I am still in, it seems. (Jesus in the desert. Dark night of the soul.)

Abiding tranquility. An deep equanimity in the face of whatever content of experience happens to be. An inner unification. (Equanimity.)

Transfiguration. A further deepening of realization. Infused with radiance, vitality, becoming the radiance. This may include a clearer sense of one’s life purpose and path.

Relinquishment. Death of the ego. Feeling abandoned by God just before and as this happens.  (Crucifixion.)

Transmutation. What relinquishment makes possible. Being truly selfless, in the sense of no self. What’s left is to be a benevolent presence in the world. Out of death springs a new life, a new orientation. (Resurrection.)

I assume some of these may happen simultaneously? And also that there may be previews of each of these.

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Being up front about the possibility of spiritual emergencies

 

Spiritual emergencies can take several forms, including kundalini awakening, a spiritual opening turning one’s world upside-down and inside-out, a dark night, wounds and trauma surfacing to be healed, a “dry period” of lack of interest in the world, or more.

These spiritual emergencies may happen “out of the blue” without any prior spiritual practice (as it did for me), or they may happen as an apparent consequence of a spiritual practice – whether this practice is a form of meditation, yoga, chi gong, shamanic practices, or prayer of the “true” or “dangerous” kind (for awakening, be shown what’s left, etc.).

So just as a medical doctor will inform a client about possible side effects of a medicine, especially if these side effects are common and can be severe, it’s good practice for a teacher of any spiritual practice to inform the students of possible side effects of their practice.

To me, it seems reasonable to – at the very least – offer….

A map of the terrain, including (i) the typical phases and facets of the process, and (ii) common and less common forms of spiritual emergencies and their symptoms.

And guidelines for how to navigate this terrain in general, and spiritual emergencies in particular, in the most skillful way possible.

Knowing the map will help students recognize the symptoms when they occur, and see that they are common and even to be expected. It helps prevent or reduce an additional layer of distress, bewilderment, and either inflation (f.ex. kundalini awakening) or thoughts that something “went wrong” (f.ex. in a dark night).

Practical pointers can also be invaluable. For instance, how do I prepare to reduce the chances or intensity of a future spiritual emergency? And if one happens, how do I relate to it in the best possible way? How I ground myself during a kundalini awakening? How do I help see through the distress of a dark night?

In addition, being open and frank about this up front has several benefits. It may help some students decide that a particular practice is not for them, at least not at this point in their life, and they may chose something else that’s gentler and more grounding. It gives the students an idea of how well the teacher knows about and understands spiritual emergencies, so they can chose to go to them – or someone else who is more experienced – before a spiritual emergency takes place, or if or when it takes place. And having more information about these matters out in public makes it easier for people who have a spiritual emergency “out of the blue”, without any prior practice or interest in spiritual matters, to find information, support and guidance.

In terms of education, it seems reasonable to include information about the spiritual terrain and spiritual emergencies in the school system, and in the training of medical doctors, psychologists, priests, and – obviously – teachers of meditation, yoga, chi gong and similar practices. It is already happening, to some extent and in some places, and it may be more widespread in the future, especially as there is more research in and public knowledge of this topic.

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Differences in the ease of the path

 

Why does some paths to/in awakening seem easy and some hard, and some quick and some slow?

This question sometimes comes to me since I know many who seem to have a relatively quick and easy path to what appears to be a stable awakening. And for me, it’s been long and – at least the last several years – painful and difficult.

Here are some things that come up for me:

For people with a lot of trauma in their system from this life, the process can be more painful and prolonged. As the wounds surface, the trauma can get retriggered, and we get into a cycle of surfacing wounds and reactivity. This makes it more difficult to see through it and allowing it to heal. It’s also possible that patterns from previous lives surface to be seen, felt and loved, and people may have more or less “baggage” here.

There are different “levels” or phases or awakening, or different “soul centers” that awaken. For me, the head and heart awakening happened relatively quickly and easily. And the belly awakening seems to be much more challenging. That’s where wounds surface to be seen, felt and loved, and that’s also where reactivity gets triggered on my part to what’s surfacing, which often makes a real resolution challenging and elusive. At the very least, the reactivity makes the process more painful and drawn out.

For me, there may also be some resistance to the process. I tell myself I didn’t ask for it. It just came out of the blue in my teens, uninvited. And I didn’t ask for life to give me “lessons” so I could “awaken” or “mature”. As I write this, I notice a deep resentment towards life for putting me in this situation. And all of this is good to take to inquiry.

A part of the invitation here is to question my ideas about it – my ideas of time, difficulty, ease, struggle, reactivity, delusion, awakening, an end point and so on. What do I find when I investigate my thoughts about it? (The Work.) Can I find any of these when I look? Can I find time? Struggle? Ease? Reactivity? Resistance? Awakening? An end point? Can I find the one who is having a difficult time? The one who is struggling? The one with reactivity? The one who is not clear enough? Another for whom it’s easier? (Living Inquiries.)

I see that it’s all lila. It’s part of life (Spirit, Buddha Mind, Brahman, God) exploring and experiencing itself in its richness, in always different and new ways.

And I see that I really don’t know. It’s a mystery. All of these thoughts, and any other I have about it, are just my own images and thoughts. It’s all created by my own mind, in an attempt to make sense of it and perhaps find a temporary sense of comfort and security. None of my images or thoughts about it are inherent in reality.

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Shift of allegiance

 

Three facets of the process of consciously aligning with reality or Spirit:

(a) An initial awakening (opening, glimpse), and a continuing clarifying of what’s real, our true nature.

This is Spirit awakening to itself, revealing itself to itself, noticing itself, and new facets or layers may continue to be revealed. For instance, Spirit may notice itself as awareness distinct from the world, then the world as awareness, then as capacity for all of this, etc.

There may also be a continuing exploration and clarification of how Spirit temporarily prevents itself from noticing itself, by identifying with certain images and thoughts.

A sudden awakening may lead to an ongoing clarification, and an ongoing clarification may lead to a sudden awakening (and be punctuated by sudden awakenings).

For me, the initial awakening happened quite early in life, and the clarification is ongoing. 

(b) Shift of allegiance from identified to non-identified mind.

This may happen on a daily or even hourly basis. And there may also be a more significant and stable shift, and a deepening of this shift.

For me, the shift happens on a daily or hourly basis, as I remember and notice. 

(c) Reorganization of our human self to align more closely with reality, with all as Spirit (awakeness, love).

The parts of us aligned with identified mind (images and thoughts taken as true) surface to realign with non-identified mind (clarity, all as Spirit / love). This is an ongoing process, at least for as long as this human self is around.

For me, this is also ongoing. Bubbles of worried love surface to be seen, felt, loved. Images and thoughts held as true, consciously or not, surface to find liberation from being held as true. 

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Elements of the process

 

There are perhaps two main elements of the process of awakening. One is Spirit recognizing itself as all there is, and the other is the human self reorganizing and realigning with reality, with all as Spirit.

It seems that the first one, Spirit recognizing itself as all there is, can happen instantaneously (clear right away) or more gradually (veils thinning), and that it can happen without any prior spiritual practice or interest, or following a period of spiritual practice or interest.

And it seems the second, the human self reorganizing and realigning with reality, with all as Spirit, can happen before Spirit recognized itself as all there is (through practices, morality, etc.) and it can happen after (through practices, through a natural process of reorganization).

The path most commonly referred to is the one of an initial phase of practice, allowing the human self to reorganize to some extent, and perhaps the veils to thin, then a sudden awakening, followed by a continued realignment and reorganization of the human self, and also a continued revealing of Spirit to itself. As some say, first there is a “path to God”, then a “path within God” (and it’s all of course within God, it happens within and as God).

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Ego putting up a fight?

 

Some folks talk about the ego putting up a fight, especially as it’s about to be seen through more thoroughly.

I understand it can be seen that way. And yet, something else seems more true to me, at least right now.

The “ego” may lose it’s footing in a few different ways: (a) An opening or early awakening may make it clear it’s all Spirit, and no thought is really true. It can only have temporary value as a question, a practical pointer or guide. (b) The “veils” may thin – for instance through practices such as meditation, prayer or inquiry, and only a bit is left. (c) Through some form of inquiry, such as The Work, many of the surface and even core beliefs may have been seen through, and only some are left – often held at an emotional level. For me, it’s been some of each of these.

And as this happens, whatever beliefs are left tend to surface and may do so quite strongly. In my experience, many of these may take the form of wounds and beliefs held at an emotional level, formed early in childhood.

So it may seem as if the ego is fighting for it’s life. And in a sense, that’s true.

What’s more true for me about this are two things:

There is no ego, at least not as an entity or something fixed. What may be called ego is simply the dynamics created when a thought is taken as true (the answer to question 3 in The Work), and perhaps also the tendency to take a thought as true in itself. I tend to avoid using the word for that reason.

And it’s not really fighting for it’s life. It’s more that there is a more open mind here, so the remaining wounds and beliefs surface to find liberation. They seek to be seen, felt, loved and seen through. And this more open mind is fertile ground for them to find what they seek – their liberation from being held as true.

So there is not really anything fighting for it’s life, apart from what I imagine myself to be. And there is no fight, apart from the resistance the remaining beliefs are met with, and this resistance comes from some of these remaining beliefs.

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Attention released out of beliefs vs thoughts released from being taken as true

 

There is a big difference between (a) attention released out of beliefs, and (b) thoughts released from being taken as true.

Attention released out of beliefs

When attention goes away from a specific belief in everyday life, it may be briefly released out of beliefs in general, although it may also go directly into another belief. The first may happen when enjoying sensual pleasures (sun, swimming, yoga, food, touch, sex), music or while reading or watching a movie. The second tends to happen when we are caught up in hectic thinking.

Attention may also go out of beliefs in general during an opening or awakening experience, or through practices such as sitting (shikantaza), labeling, prayer, or even practicing a more stable attention. Here too, as long as certain thoughts are taken as true, attention will eventually go back into these beliefs.

Thoughts released from being taken as true

Thoughts can also be released from being taken as true, and this seems to require a more intentional and finely grained inquiry, for instance through The Work or sense field explorations.

By investigating a belief surfacing in a specific situation, I get to see and feel – through simple, clear and real examples – that the thought is not true. There is nowhere the thought “this thought is true” can stick. Just as taking a thought as true is lived in view, emotions, body and life, a thought released from being taken as true invites a reorganization at the level of view, emotions, body and life.

My own experience

During the initial opening or awakening in my teens, attention was released out of beliefs in general. All – without exception – was revealed as Spirit. And I have noticed the same happening during sitting.

I also see that attention sometimes still gets caught in beliefs, and even if thoughts are recognized as thoughts and not true, there is still an emotional charge around some of them. They are taken as true at an emotional or energetic level.

And that’s where a more intentional and finely grained inquiry seems helpful, and perhaps why I am drawn to it.

There is a big difference between attention (temporarily) releasing out of beliefs, and specific thoughts finding release from being taken as true.

Awakening process

 

Here are perhaps a few characteristic phases and elements of the awakening process, some from own experience (A-D) and some from what I have heard from others (E).

(A) An initial draw, interest, curiosity. This may happen through a crisis of some sort, or just be a curiosity. I didn’t have this phase, or you could say it was initiated by (C) and happened parallel with the other ones.

(B) A dismemberment, reorganization, setting the ground for (C). This one happened for a year before (C) for me, in the form of a mysterious illness, and continued in a more intensified form within (C). This is also called a dark night of the senses and may be experienced as being pulled apart and put together differently.

(C) An initial awakening, glimpse, opening or expansion. This is the carrot, the honeymoon. For me, this happened early in life, was intense and lasted for many years.

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El Collie: Branded by Spirit

 

Branded by Spirit is an online book by El Collie on the awakening process as it unfolded for her. Since that’s where I am myself, I especially find chapter 14 – Darkness before dawn – interesting and helpful. It’s a huge relief to know that others have and do go through a similar process and she writes about it with a great deal of wisdom and insight.

Update: I have now read all the chapters, and it’s been very helpful to me. She writes with a great deal of wisdom and insight, and it’s all from her own experience, informed by informed extensive reading on the subject. I have to admit I am familiar with most of what she writes about from own experience (including much unmentioned in this blog), so although I have never thought of my own process as a kundalini process, that may be one way to describe it.