Why do spontaneous awakenings happen? Why did it happen “out of the blue” when I was sixteen?
In my case, it happened without any preparation or previous interest. I had an atheist worldview, although I was interested in parapsychological phenomena and had read books about the topic since I was in my early teens or earlier.
One answer is that I had a strong case of the usual teenage stress and angst at the time, and my psyche needed an outlet or release. Some find it through drugs, or they may develop more serious psychological problems. In my case, and some other similar cases, it seems that the outlet was to shift the center of gravity out from who I am and into what I am.
This happened in two phases. First, the center of gravity shifted from the content of my experience – and taking myself to be this human self – and into observing the content of my experience. The whole world, including thoughts, emotions, sensations, and so on, seemed very far away. This was unfamiliar and disturbing, and I went to several specialists to find an answer but they didn’t have any.
Then, about a year later, there was a second shift into what I am, which we can call Big Mind. I have described this other places so won’t go into details here.
So why did Big Mind become the safety valve and not some of the other, and perhaps more usual, options? I am not sure. Perhaps it has to do with deeper inclinations in my system? Biological and psychological predispositions? Past lives? I don’t know.
When I talk about spontaneous awakening here, I mostly refer to when it comes out of the blue without any apparent preparation. There is a way that all awakenings are spontaneous. Even if they are set up through guidance and practice, they are also – in a sense – spontaneous. But that’s a topic for another time.