I like to demystify what can be demystified – including awakening. Why not try to describe it in simple and ordinary ways that others can check out for themselves, and that doesn’t rely on references to what’s outside of most people’s experience?
So what is awakening?
Awakening is what we are awakening to itself.
Independent of our worldview, it makes sense that what we are – to ourselves – is consciousness. Even within a materialistic view, it’s hard to not admit that to ourselves, we are consciousness.
All our content of experience – including the world and ourselves as a human being – happens within and as consciousness.
Typically, we identify with a particular content of our experience. We identify with and as this human self, and as an observer, doer, and so on.
Awakening refers to noticing that we are consciousness that this content of experience happens within and as. The initial noticing can be called an initial opening or awakening.
Sometimes, that’s all it is. And sometimes, the process continues.
We notice. Identification releases somewhat out of content of experience. Consciousness wakes up to itself as all there is. (To itself it’s all there is.) This noticing becomes more ordinary and continues through more and more situations in daily life. Our human life reorients and transforms within this new noticing and context.
Why are not more people interested in it?
We may not have heard about it.
We may not have been exposed to it in a way that makes it seem possible or attractive to us.
It may seem too mysterious, obscure, and distant.
It may seem like it’s for other or special people, not us.
We may not see how it’s useful.
It may seem like something we already know, intellectually.
Why are some people really into it?
We may have had a glimpse or opening and wish to continue to explore it.
We may intuit that there is something and set out to explore it.
We may be drawn in by traditions or teachers speaking about awakening.
We may seek to avoid suffering and have heard it will help.
It may happen out of the blue and stay and we keep exploring this new context for our human life.
What are some of the effects of awakening?
Mainly, our human self reorients and reorganizes within this new context.
This involves a lot of different changes and processes and lasts a lifetime.
It typically involves healing of emotional issues and hangups. Examining old beliefs, assumptions, and identities. And changing how we relate to others, ourselves, and the world in general.
How do we live within oneness? That’s the question, and the transformation of our human self can be more or less thorough within this lifetime.
What about spirituality?
Isn’t awakening about spirituality?
Yes and no. Yes, spirituality is often about awakening. And no, awakening doesn’t requite religion or traditional spirituality.
At the same time, there is a lot of practical and valuable information in spiritual and religious traditions.
Small and big interpretation of awakening
This article is mostly about the small or psychological interpretation of awakening. We talk about it a way that (can!) make sense independent of whatever worldview we have.
There is also the big or spiritual interpretation of awakening. Here, we use the more familiar language of God, Spirit, the Divine, and so on.
We may say that awakening is God (Spirit, the Divine) awakening to itself locally through this human self.
Spirit temporarily and locally took itself to be an ultimately separate being (this human self), and then woke up to itself as all there is.
How can we explore it for ourselves?
Mainly, we need to find one or more approaches that make sense to us. Perhaps they feel intuitively right. Or someone we trust recommends it. Or we happen to have a local awakening-coach and join for a while.
There are some approaches that within minutes can give us a glimpse or taste of what awakening is about. The two I enjoy the most is the Big Mind process and the Headless experiments.
Is there anything I need to be aware of?
Mainly, the usual guidelines for exploring and learning anything applies here too. It helps to have the guidance of someone you trust and who has experience. Trust yourself and what feels right to you. If the approach you use has little or no effect, consider trying something else.
When I said “consciousness” earlier, it was to make it more understandable. The mind may label what we are “consciousness” but that’s just a label. That label and all our ideas about it also happen within and as what we are.
The awakening process, and the approaches we may use on the path, tend to open our heart and mind, and that can open for whatever unprocessed psychological material is in us. If that happens, it can feel confusing, scary, disorienting, and overwhelming. So it’s good to find an awakening-coach who has experience with this, can take some precautions, and knows how to help you through it.
It can help to set aside what you think you know about awakening, especially the myths and ideas from religion and traditional spirituality. Make it simple for yourself. This is about noticing what you already are. There are ways to help you notice it. And there are people who can help you with it. It’s not so different from learning or exploring anything else in life.
Is awakening important?
Yes and no. If it happens, it may be the most important (no-thing) thing in your life since it becomes the context for everything. It can also help transform your human self.
And yet, most human beings live without having a (conscious) taste of this and that’s fine. You can have a very good life without conscious noticing of what you are.
If what you mostly want is a good life, and that’s the case for most of us, another strategy may be more direct. For instance, focus on self-compassion and healing the most obvious emotional issues. Nurture nurturing and important relationships in your life. And, in general, be a good steward of your life. And there is no problem with including this in an exploration of what we are. They work very well together.