WOW! experiences & other myths about awakening

Headless experiments and the Big Mind process can lead us to notice what we are, and can do so relatively easily and quickly.

Some may find what they are, and yet dismiss or not follow up on it. Why is that?

Reasons we dismiss it when we (genuinely) have a taste of what we are

There may be several reasons we dismiss it even if we genuinely notice what we are.

We may think that what we are looking for has more bells and whistles. We may confuse awakening with the occasional side-effects of awakening. Sometimes, glimpses of what we are come with a lot of bells and whistles – peak experiences, ecstasy, visions, seeing energies, and so on. Those are side-effects and can distract us, whether we have them or hear about them, from what it’s really about.

We may think it’s too easy. Again, stories from others may mislead us. We think it requires several lifetimes of work, and having it pointed out and finding it in a few minutes seems too easy. The reality is that noticing it can be easy while living from it takes a lifetime of work.

We may think it’s only for special people, and we are not a special person.

It may not come from a trusted source. We think that if it doesn’t come through specific practices, teachers, and traditions, it’s not the real thing.

We may notice what they are, and not see the use of it. We choose to not keep exploring it, how it is to live from it, and what happens when they do.

Mislead by myths about awakening

There are several myths about awakening: It will solve all our problems. Our human life will be free of challenges. It’s a state of bliss. It’s a state of something. It doesn’t exist.

And… It’s only for special people. It requires lifetimes of work. It must come through very specific practices, teachers, and traditions. It’s a big WOW experience.

Believing the last category of myths makes it difficult to take it seriously when we notice what we are guided by headless experiments, the Big Mind process, or similar forms of pointers and inquiry.

My experience

How has this been in my process?

For me, it did start with a lot of bells and whistles. The awakening came out of the blue when I was sixteen, and it came with an explosion of bliss, insights, seeing energies, and so on.

At a more conscious level, I was aware of the distinction between what the awakening is about and the side effects. But something in me wanted more of the side-effects and I was secretly chasing them for years.

I have been very fond of the Big Mind process and the Headless experiments from the beginning. They help me notice and clarify what I am and explore living from it. I was at Kanzeon Zen center when Genpo Roshi started developing it, and some years later, a friend recommended On Having No Head which led me to the Headless experiments.

The part of me chasing the side-effects seems to have quieted down, although it’s a fair guess it’s still there to some extent. That’s completely natural and not inherently a problem. It points to something in me at a human level that’s not quite healed, including a (near universal) sense of lack.

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