How We Awaken
OK, so you’ve read the home-page post To Awaken and perhaps other awakening information, and it resonates with you. You get it! You’ve seen the non-existing writing on the illusion of a wall, understood the Truth of non-dual Creation, so now you want to awaken. “Sign me up! Where do I start?”
Before discovering which practices or techniques may help us awaken, we need to be clear about the paradox of our seemingly-separate individual identities (we’ll call this the ‘ego’ for short) wanting to awaken, even though we’re not separate at all, and even though that awakening means our ego must see itself as an illusion that must willingly dissolve itself to experience the only real Reality behind it.
Who wants to awaken? Who wants to know how it’s done? Why do we want to awaken? Is it because ‘we’ are tired of this world of suffering, and want liberation for our self? Even though there is no separate self? If our ego-identity is the very part of us that must be recognized as unreal and dropped, in order for awakening to dawn, then how could we possibly reach awakening by pursuing the ego’s wants. Would that not merely fortify the ego’s false existence, instead of transcending it?
It’s important to do this deep inquiry of our ego-motivation before embarking upon any path or technique to awaken…and frequently afterwards, too. The very ego that desperately desires to ‘attain enlightenment’ can become it’s own biggest impediment. But fear not. It’s OK to start longing for the Truth from the ego’s or suffering’s vantage point – most of us do – and there are real practices we do as we open up to Spirit’s already-present perfection. So as you feel the desire to awaken, and start sorting through paths & practices to ‘get you there,’ remember these Truths and hold them in your awareness:
– Pure Awareness, or Spirit, or the One Reality, is already fully awake. It doesn’t need to awaken or do anything to realize it’s Oneness. Since You are really Pure Awareness or Spirit, not an individual ego, You don’t need to do anything to awaken. Your seemingly-separate ego may do things to awaken, but it doesn’t have to, and there’s nothing superior about treading a spiritual path versus living an ‘ordinary’ life. It’s all Spirit awakening to Spirit.
– In truth, this personal “you” that wants to awaken, can’t. We don’t awaken; awakening wakes up through us, when It’s ready. It just the One Reality expressing itself through this illusory temporary identity you call you…and that One is already, well, One! Already fully Awake. Not in need of any alterations or improvements like “becoming awake.” Not in need of getting to any state that’s ‘better’ than Its current state. Our seeking ‘how to awaken’ is usually driven by us wanting things to be ‘better,’ and thinking that things as they are is a problem.
– Since the One, or Awareness, is already fully Awakened and perfect, It doesn’t see our ego’s ‘plight’- “I am unenlightened, suffering and desperately want to awaken” – as a problem. It knows only It’s own perfect, completely-fulfilled Self.
You can’t become awakened, or even accelerate awakening waking up through you, through any ego-based effort on your part. Any effort. Hours of meditation and deep quieting of your busy mind; submitting to a Guru or Deity or any outside authority and praying fervently for release; years of self-sacrifice and selfless service; reams of journaling and inquiry to arrive at the core Truth. Burn it all. As long as you are doing those things to “reach enlightenment”or awakening, as a ‘future’ goal for yourself, none of that can work.
Because every effort made to “get somewhere you are not already” comes, by its very nature, from your ego-mind. That’s the only part that ever feels things need to ‘change’ or be better. Spirit doesn’t long for that. Because where you are already – this instant – is Reality, is things as they are. Resting in the Truth of that, the flow of that, is being Awake. Resisting or arguing with Reality, that life is not good enough now and should be better, less painful, more wealthy or fully Enlightened, is being not-Awake.
Arguing with, and not accepting Reality is what ego-minds do. Indeed, it is their very definition and what forms them in the first place. Because ego-minds think of themselves as separate entities, not already part of the One and complete in that Oneness. So they are constantly busy trying to protect & survive that illusory “separate being” and keep it feeling “good.” The ego-mind tells you to compete & struggle against others to ensure your survival; to experience fear & defensiveness whenever it seems like something is threatening your survival (even just the survival of your self-image;) and it directs you to reach for pleasures and, yes, even spiritual attainments like “Enlightenment” and “Awakening” to make you feel “happy” and avoid feeling the very fear & struggle it lives in all its life!
Let the truth of that really sink in. We go deeper into this paradox of the ego in all the Pathways To Awakening posts. For now, it’s enough to realize that, as Spirit, you are already whole & complete; as an ego, life is always scary, out-of-control, and in need of improvement.
So if you can’t use your ego-mind’s desire for peace & enlightenment to propel you towards awakening, because it’s that very ego-mind causing you to feel you don’t already have peace & enlightenment, then, what can you do?
One of the most powerful “techniques” you can practice is to “sense” and feel that you already have all the enlightenment, peace, completeness and Awakening that you want and need. The great sage Ramana Maharshi said, “Feel you are in bondage, and you are in bondage; feel that you are free, and you are free.” And our wonderful friend & living Awakened teacher, Adyashanti, encourages students to “allow everything to be exactly as it is.” He advocates a form of meditation where, instead of sitting down, closing your eyes and practicing a technique to “accomplish” something, like stilling your thoughts or attaining mystical states or Enlightenment, you simply allow everything to be exactly as it is, you don’t manipulate your mind or try to enhance your experience in any way. He recommends you start with this brilliant question:
“The peace & awareness that I’m seeking as I sit for meditation, is it not already here, already present?”
Yes, it is. Of course it is. Now just notice that peace, and experience it. Give yourself over to it. Simple. You’re there!
When you sit in this non-manipulative way, you just watch Awareness falling wherever it wants to – on the sounds of a bird or the wind outside, or some sensations in your body or thoughts in your mind, on pure silence. If you are just “aware” of Awareness, rather than trying to direct or control it, you notice that Awareness is pretty fluid, moving around many senses & objects at will, and if you just stay quiet and stay watching it’s movements, you will notice two wonderful things happen. The first is that you will see that you are “aware” of Pure Awareness, which is actually who you really are, so you will be getting your first glimpses of what it feels like when you’re identified with your Awareness rather than with your mind. It feels playful, peaceful and…like nothing needs to change; in short, perfect and enlightened as it is.
The second thing you will notice is that, without any mind-controlling from you, Awareness will eventually stop falling on all the various senses & objects in your field – sounds, smells, body feelings, thoughts & memories – and become very aware and interested in Itself, pure Unmanifested Is-Ness, Pure Silence. Your ego & mind will not follow Awareness there, because they can’t, so you will just be…Aware! But your mind will play an important role by ceasing focusing outward, as minds constantly do, and focus inward. “Who is that, in there? What is that part of me that is just purely aware of everything, peaceful, dispassionate and non-judgmental? Let me investigate that, instead of investigating all these thought-forms and objects like I usually do.” That is a magic moment! Turning inward, you will come face to face with pure Awareness. Eventually, even any sense of “you being aware” will drop away, and there will just be…Awareness. No you, no meditator or experiencer, just Pure Awareness, all that ever was or will be.
Practice sitting regularly, sensing into this perfect peace and neutral Awareness that’s already there, always. Practice it knowing that you can always access that, and that when you are resting ‘there,’ fully at peace with everything, you are as enlightened as you’re ever going to be, because you are experiencing the One that’s already awake & enlightened…not just having one more ego experience.
We will continue our journey onward with more ways to allow awakening to blossom, naturally, in the next posts.