Myths about awakening

It is very popular these days to talk about “myths of awakening”, so I thought I would remind myself of a few of them….

It is very rare and special
Not really. It seems to happen far more frequently than most think. We only hear or see the tip of the iceberg, the few who also have an inclination to be a public teacher. There are quite a high percentage who have an intuition or glimpse of what they are, or even periods where it is very clear. And still quite a few where what they are recognize itself clearly and stably.

It happens once and for all
Sometimes, but usually not. It seems that for most, it happens first through glimpses, in periods or through a thinning of the veil, before it happens in a more clear and stable way. And as Byron Katie points out: We are awake – or not – to a thought. To the thought that is right here and now. Any stories of a stable awakening is just a projection into an imagined future.

We will get something out of it
That would be nice. But it is not entirely true, for two reasons. First, an awakening is a recognition that there is no “I” and never was, so there is no “I” to awaken or get something. Also, what we do get, in our human life, comes more from the process leading up to the awakening – through practice, maturing, healing and learning.

We need to follow a particular tradition
It can be helpful, but it is not necessary. A tradition is just a toolbox, and it is fine to use tools from several different toolboxes. Whatever works.

We are automatically perfected through awakening
Well, there is a recognition that everything is inherently perfect as is. But as a human being in the world, there is always a lot further to go. There is always room for more healing, maturing and learning. We are not “perfect” in any way as a human in the world, even if this life happens within the context of awakening.

We will know everything through awakening
Quite the opposite. The only thing that is “known” is that there is no “I”, and that stories are tools only – helpful in some situations, less helpful in other. Any other form of knowing is just as for anyone else – dependent on and limited by culture, traditions, experience and so on. And ultimately utterly wrong, in the sense of incomplete, and as just one of many possible equally valid and useful perspectives.

We can start teaching, and be helpful as a teacher, without training and internships
In some cases, that seems to be true. Byron Katie is perhaps the best example I know of. But for most of us, we need a long period of training, feedback and guidance before we can be very useful as a teacher. It is a skill, as anything else. And as any other skill, it really helps to be guided by someone far more experienced, and to gain experience through training. (Maybe the most obvious reason we need guidance is that we know only one path, our own, and each student will have their own unique path and process. An experienced teacher can pass on good pointers for how to work with a diversity of paths.)

It is always a painful process / easy process
Don’t make it into a plan. It can happen in many different ways, and always uniquely in each case. For some, it can be a short and easy process. For others, a long and painful process. Or it can be short and painful, or long and easy. Life doesn’t seem to limit itself there. After all, it is God exploring itself in its infinite richness, so why should it look one particular way in all cases?

And then a possible myth about this list, and any similar ones: it is true. Not at all. At best, it can be helpful for some and in some situations. And at worst, it can come from a poor understanding of the dynamics, even in a conventional sense. It always comes from very limited experience and knowledge, and especially so for this particular list.


– myths about awakening
— very popular these days…
— something rare and special
— happens once and for all (instead of first glimpses, periods)
— will get something out of it (recognize is no “I” here and never was, so no “I” to get anything + whatever “get” is more from the process leading up to it – the practice, maturing, healing, learning)

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