There are many reports these days from spiritual seekers who have had an experience of awakening. And the most frequent question is: “How can this awakening be fully embodied and integrated?”
It is important to know that there is awakening .. and then there is the maturation of awakening. This is so often overlooked on the spiritual path. Awakening is the recognition of who you really are; in other words, the recognition of the light, your essence. It’s like the moment a little bud appears on the branch of a tree. And then the little bud has to open and become a flower. This opening is the maturation of awakening. Somewhere between the bud appearing and the flower becoming itself, there’s a lot of confusion, disappointment and disillusionment and then the question arises: “How can awakening be lived in everyday life?”
The question of how awakening can be lived in everyday life is actually premature. The answer is: wait, and let the bud become a flower. Only the full bloom of a flower can fulfill its divine destiny. Fulfilling its divine destiny means releasing its intoxicating fragrance into the world. In full bloom, the flower is fully itself. It doesn’t have to do anything. It doesn’t have to integrate its flower-ness into its existence. It doesn’t have to embody its flower-ness, it simply IS itself. There is no inner division. It is simply its essential self meeting the Totality of Life, meeting the Oneness of Life.
So, you too, in full awakening will fulfill your divine destiny. It is not yet fulfilled when the bud of awakening appears. That is just the beginning. It is not the end, it is not the destination. In the full bloom of your awakening, there is no inner division. In the full bloom of awakening, there is a recognition of awakeness in you and there is the recognition of awakeness in everything, in all things. And that which is awake in you moves through you as your life and your life is given in service to all that is awake. There is no conflict, no question of how to embody or of what “to do”. The shape and form of that flower is not up to you. It simply moves through you AS you. And then the Heart of You can meet the Heart of Reality.
And somewhere in between the bud of awakening and the full bloom of awakening, somewhere along this maturation process, there are a lot of places where the veils of ego can still come in. And it gets sticky, it gets tricky. So, it’s useful to take a closer look at this maturation process.
The bud of awakening is when we somehow are catapulted or shocked out of our normal way of seeing things. It’s a radical shift in perception. We see things from a whole new perspective. Things that we have taken as stable structures – mental structures, emotional structures, physical structures, political structures, economic structures, social structures, cultural structures, even biological structures – are suddenly seen to be impermanent. What we took for granted as reality is now seen to be the shaky ground of our own inherited beliefs, our conditioned thinking and feeling. This is a shock to the mind.
In traditional spiritual cultures this shift in perception would come from rigorous meditation or devotional practice. But these days it’s happening more spontaneously. It may come through extreme loss, or extreme grief, or extreme pain, or extreme beauty, or even psychedelics, and maybe meditation practice too. Maybe just reading a book. This is the bud the awakening. And this can be experienced as bliss or peace, a kind of deep restfulness, or a kind of high or joy or ecstasy. To be liberated out of egoic paradigms is such a thrill.
This spiritual high may last a few hours, or a few days, a few months, or even a few years. But inevitably some parts of the egoic structure, the personality structure or the world structure come back into view. As well as resting in unbounded emptiness we live in the three-dimensional world in which the ego operates to maneuver the body across the road, to take care of ourselves, to function as a full human being: this is necessary for survival of the form and for survival of the species. So, even though the truth of you rejoices in having been liberated from the prison of ego, a part of the egoic structure that is necessary for human survival starts to scramble to make sense of it all. And this can lead to confusion or disappointment, or even terror. Sometimes this sparks a psychotic episode and the three-dimensional world can no longer be coped with. The question then arises: “If there has been an awakening experience of such intensity and such beauty, such power, then why is it all not making sense anymore? Why is there still something missing? Why is it not being lived in the ordinary life? Why is it not my experience anymore?”
This very question creates a disconnect, a split, a wanting to get back to that state of bliss, to that state of ultimate freedom. And this creates immense psychological suffering. The scramble to get back to the awakened state means that seeking arises again; perhaps seeking for another teacher, or another book, or another teaching, or another meditation practice, or another spiritual “object”. There is nothing wrong with these supports, but what happens is that the ego is still employed to re-find the awakened state. In other words, there is still a “self” invested in the awakened state.
Part 2 follows…