From a conventional view, it’s easy to think that awakening has to do with spirituality. After all, that’s the context we most often hear about it.
It’s not wrong. But it’s also not entirely right.
Awakening means to awaken out of the trance of taking thoughts and mental images as true. It means to notice that what we are is what all our experiences happen within and as. It means for what we are to notice itself and wake up out of the trance.
And that’s not exclusive to any spiritual tradition or spirituality in general. It belongs to life. It’s more fundamental than any tradition or anything humans do or talk about.
We can wake out of the trance of specific thoughts in many ways: Through life experiences showing us another side of reality. Through conversations with someone who has seen through it for themselves. And through our own explorations.
We can glimpse what we are in many ways as well. We can experience is in nature, through drugs, out of the blue, or through being guided to notice.
I imagine a place where awakening is part of our culture, and where it’s not tied to any particular human tradition. It’s understood to be more fundamental than that. It’s studied and researched through science. And the different traditions are valued because they each have some valuable insights, pointers, and practices.
This is already happening. I suspect it’s a natural approach in a culture that’s largely secular, values pragmatism and science (although that’s eroding), and a culture where a wide range of traditional approaches are available.
The only physical place I know of like this is perhaps the Bay Area in California. And, who knows, maybe this more pragmatic approach will continue to gain momentum.