Here is a selection of possible pitfalls in an unfolding awakening.
The “bad news” is that some of these happen for many. It can trigger identifications and wounds, which can be uncomfortable, stressful or painful. And we can put ourselves in difficult or uncomfortable situations in life.
The “good news” is that whatever happens is part of the process. It shows us our identifications, hangups and wounds. It’s an invitation for us to be a good steward for our life, live with more authenticity, and meet what’s coming up in us with love and curiosity. It’s the play of life, Spirit, or the Divine (lila). It’s life expressing, exploring and experiencing itself in always new ways. Whatever happens – including what appears as a separate self, choices, actions, reactivity and more – is a temporary play of life. In these ways, they are not really pitfalls. And the idea of pitfall is an idea, not inherent in reality (outside of the reality we create for ourselves).
In general, these pitfalls comes from identification with images and words. Believing stories – about others, ourselves, the world, life. Velcro – sensations apparently “stuck on” words and images. It’s all variations on this theme.
In an unfolding awakening, there may be different pitfalls during different phases, or relating to different facets of the process.
I’ll describe some possible beliefs that can be triggered during different phases (or by certain facets) of the process. Each of these are an attempt for the mind to “land” somewhere, and find a sense of safety and security. Each of these are, at one point or another, stressful. They are stressful because they are out of alignment with reality. And they out of alignment with reality for (at least) two reasons: (i) Although there is often a grain of truth in any story, it’s also out of alignment with reality, and painfully so if we hold it too tightly. Reality is always different from, and more than, any story. (ii) Also, we don’t know. We don’t know anything for certain.
(a) The more weird, the more spiritual. Spirituality is about what’s weird and unusual. (Spirituality is becoming familiar with what’s here in immediate experience, and as who and what we are. It’s very ordinary, and the label “spirituality” falls away after a while.)
(b) I need to dismiss my human side, or ordinary life. (Our human side is part of who and what we are. That too is part of life and Spirit. Our human side and ordinary life is no more or less “spiritual” than anything else. It’s all about discovery of what’s already here.)
(c) Spirituality is about getting somewhere that’s not here. (It’s about discovering and becoming more familiar with what’s already here, and often obviously so.)
(a) This is it. This is as far as it goes. (Ignoring that insights are infinite. Life is an ongoing unfolding. And discoveries about who and what we are also seems to be continuing and ongoing.)
(b) I have made it. I am better than others. I did it. (Taking credit for what is given, a gift. Attaching it to an imagined me. Ignoring that everything and everyone already is this awakeness. Overlooking that any story I have about someone else also applies to me, and the other way around.)
(c) They don’t get it. I need to show them how it is. (Again, overlooking that any story about someone else also applies to me, and the other way around. And that it doesn’t work to preach. The most we can do is offer our own experience, if asked.)
(d) I need to move forward. I need to stabilize it. I need to clarify my insights and mature further. (Pushing it, trying to stabilize it. Not trusting that it’s a natural process of unfolding and maturing, with it’s own tempo. It’s also not aligned with our wishes or dreams, so trying to make the process conform to these is stressful.) *
Honeymoon. Same as above. Also….
(a) I can do whatever, since there is no-one here (or there) to be hurt. Nothing is really happening anyway. (Ignoring the human side of our lives, where people – including ourselves – get the consequences.)
(b) I can deal with anything. It’s OK for me to ignore my guidance, because I can deal with any situation. (Over-confidence. Ignoring the importance of learning to follow my guidance, and find love for and question any fears – beliefs – that stops me from doing so. Not realizing how eroding not following my guidance can be, at all human levels.) **
Dark night of the soul.
(a) I have done something wrong. I made a mistake. (Ideas of wrong and mistake are created in our own mind. We can also find the truth in the reversals, with concrete examples.) **
(b) This will never end. It will always be like this. (Again, these are ideas created by the mind, and held as real and true. It’s easy to project our idea of what’s here into our idea of the future. Nothing lasts forever, even if it seems that way.) **
(c) This is too much. I can’t take it. (Is it true? What’s the reality here and now?) **
And in general.
(a) I should trust this teacher or guide more than my own guidance. I need to set aside my own guidance. (A good teacher or guide will encourage you to follow your own guidance.) *
(b) I don’t need a teacher or guide. I can do it all myself. (Someone who is experienced with the terrain may offer valuable pointers and guidance. He or she may also see something about our situation that we miss, or see and don’t trust.)
(c) All is Spirit. All is God’s will. There is no-one here. So I don’t have to take into account the human consequences. (Ignoring our human side, and being ordinarily kind to the human side of ourselves and others.)
None of these types of beliefs are unique to what’s happening in an awakening process. They are, often in different flavors and expressions, universally human.
Also, each of the beliefs mentioned above have a grain of truth in them. Holding them as true, for a while, can certainly give valuable experiences and insights. And they can also be quite stressful and uncomfortable, since they are out of alignment with, or go against, reality.
I have marked the ones that played a clear role in my own path with one or two asterisks (*).
To be updated if something more comes to me, and I think of adding it here.
– identifications, believing stories, velcro – variations on this theme
– outer circumstances + how we relate to them (if divide in outer/inner, which is provisional, not solid)
– phases – each it’s own challenges, invitations
– initial awakening – (a) inflation, compensate for deficient selves, invincible, overconfident, better than others etc., (b) over eagerness, pushing, (c) assuming it’s “done”, “arrived” (mind seeks a sense of safety, even if it knows it tricks itself)
– dark night of soul – despair, struggle, anger, wounds, trauma, fear (getting caught in, living from),
– also, seeking “out there” + taking on values/goals from traditions or other people + not taking in/testing/trying on advice/teachings
– bad news – can be uncomfortable, cause-effect, face-to-face with own hangups, gnarly situation in life
– good news – is all part of the process, invitations (also, play of the divine, life, exploring itself)
– initial interest, initial opening, honeymoon, dark night of the soul,