There are many ways to envision the future of awakening.
We may explore how it fits into maps of the mind and society (integral maps). We can see it as a part of the evolution of the universe. We can explore ideas of collective awakening. And so on.
Here is how I imagine it may look in society, if or when awakening is commonly accepted and is an ordinary part of our collective life.
I’ll write from the perspective of someone living in that world.
Awakening is commonly accepted as real and valuable. Since scientists and academia accept it, and many know people who have benefited from exploring it, most people in society also accept it.
Of course, people are interested in it to varying degrees, as with anything else. That’s good since we need people to specialize in different things.
UNDERSTOOD IN DIFFERENT CONTEXTS
And there are a few different ways to understand it, which is also good.
Some see it in a spiritual context, or in the context of their own religion.
Others understand it in a more secular and psychological way.
And for those interested, there is a lot to learn from each of these perspectives. Each of them contributes something valuable and unique, at least to some extent and in some areas.
Awakening is also generally demystified, at least to the extent that anything can be demystified.
Most people understand the general theory behind it.
The general understanding is a variation of this:
We don’t “have” consciousness. If we “have” consciousness, then to ourselves we ARE consciousness. It can’t be any other way.
Similarly, to us the world happens within consciousness. It happens within and as the consciousness we are.
To us, the waking world is similar to night dreams in that it all happens within and as consciousness.
The consciousness we are is one. It’s a seamless whole. So to us, the world and all of our experiences happen within and as oneness. (We may not notice since we get caught up in mental representations of boundaries, but the reality that’s always here for us is oneness.)
The consciousness we are is a no-thing that allows our experience of all things.
The consciousness we are may take itself to be an object within its field of experience, and as a separate self in the world. Or it can recognize itself and metaphorically “wake up” to itself as consciousness and oneness, and what the world – to itself – happens within and as. And its metaphorical center of gravity can shift from the first to the second, often over time and through intentional exploration and living from this noticing.
Of course, most may not be interested or familiar with all of the intricacies here, but they have a very general and rough understanding of it.
THE ESSENCE OF WHAT MYSTICS DESCRIBE
It’s also generally understood that awakening is what mystics across times and cultures have described.
The essence of awakening is the same, and the way it’s talked about varies across traditions and cultures.
AVAILABLE TO ANYONE
Awakening is available to anyone. As much as playing the piano or learning any skill is available to anyone.
It’s something we can explore. It’s something we can have a taste of for ourselves. And having a taste is not necessarily very difficult or something that takes a lot of time. It can happen easily and within minutes, if guided by someone familiar with the terrain and effective techniques.
And as with anything else, getting proficient with it takes dedication and time. Those drawn to it can get very familiar with the ins and outs of the awakening process.
In the past, awakening was typically the domain of certain religions and spiritual traditions.
These days, it’s treated more as learning anything else. Depending on how we approach it and what our intention with it is, it’s treated similarly to learning a sport, painting or drawing, playing an instrument, or even learning a profession.
We approach it with a combination of theory and practice, typically with the guidance of a coach, someone familiar with the terrain and how to guide others. And exactly how that looks depends on how much in-depth we wish to go, and if it’s for our own sake, to use as an element in our profession (therapy, education, etc.), or if it’s part of training to become a coach.
We have a collective exploration of which approaches and techniques are most effective and appropriate to different groups and individuals. Coaches are generally expected to keep up with this and to learn and apply current best practices. There are, of course, individual differences and flavors, and some specialize in some aspects of awakening, in working with particular groups, or in using and developing some particular approaches.
This process is also, to a large extent, demystified and secularized.
The traditional approaches are still around and available, although just as the secular approach is informed by the traditions, the traditions are now often informed by the secular approach. They often include some of the approaches and techniques developed by the secular approach.
RESEARCH AND ACADEMIA
Awakening is generally studied by a few different branches of academia, including psychology, medicine, sociology, anthropology, and religious studies. Most universities have also created departments specifically to study awakening, and these are typically interdisciplinary and use an integral approach.
They study any and all aspects of awakening: Psychology. (Mechanisms and dynamics, common phases and aspects, challenges, benefits, how it can transform people’s perception and lives, and so on.) Biology. (Changes to the brain and nervous system, changes to any part of the body.) How do most effectively coach and support people in the process. And so on.
EDUCATION AND ECOLOGY
Meditation and approaches to give students a taste of awakening is incorporated in many schools. For most schools, it’s one of many topics the students explore, and other schools specialize in it and make it more central. Students who want to go deeper have electives or can find classes and coaches in the community.
Awakening is also often used as an aspect of sustainability and understanding of ecology. It helps people have a direct taste of oneness, which tends to transform how we perceive and relate to the wider world.
THE BENEFITS AND DRAWBACKS OF DEMYSTIFYING
There is also an ongoing discussion on the benefits and drawbacks of demystifying awakening and approaching it in a more secularized way.
The benefits are obvious: It makes awakening available to more people. It removes some of the old misconceptions about awakening. It grounds our understanding and approach.
And it does have some drawbacks. The traditions do have valuable insights and ways of doing things (praxis) that may not be picked up by the secular approach. Some assume that secular understanding is accurate and sufficient and limit their perception and explorations.
That’s why there is a smaller movement to revive and support the traditional approaches, and this is very helpful in the bigger picture. The traditional approaches are (in)valuable aspects of the larger exploration of awakening.
ABOUT THIS VISION
What are some of the limitations and benefits to envision these kinds of futures?
One of the limitations is that we cannot predict the future. This particular vision is an extrapolation of what we are already seeing in some western cultures, especially on the west coast of the US. (Where I lived for a while and was involved in these types of communities.) It assumes a kind of linear progression, and what unfolds is rarely linear.
If one thing is (mostly) certain, it’s that the future won’t be like this. Reality is far more messy. For instance, we may see this in some subcultures and some areas of the world, while other subcultures and other areas of the world may be completely different. That’s the diversity we have seen so far through history so we can assume it will be like that in the future as well.
This is not about predicting the future. This is about envisioning itself. It’s about bringing up in me what I would like to see in the world. It’s a way to inspire me to help bring it about, even if it’s in very small ways.
- the future of awakening
- there are many ways to envision the future of awakening
- how it fits into maps of the world (integral maps), a kind of collective awakening, etc.
- here is one that focuses more on how it may look in society, if or when it’s commonly accepted and an ordinary part of our life
- accepted as existing and valuable
- disentangled from religion and traditions
- subject of science
- research, academic training, coaches, schools, therapy, ecology,
- drawbacks of demystifying too much (?)
- already seeing all of this, is a kind of linear prognosis which is inevitably wrong,
- the value of these mental explorations