“Before awakening, there’s theory. After awakening you know.”
Most descriptions of Awakening (or spiritual Awakening) that you would have read are about the experiential aspect, whether it is feeling of a space or presence or feeling alive or oneness or unity or non-existence or unconditional love or so. I will not describe the experiential aspect because there are infinite ways of experiencing awakenings.
In my description, "Awakening is a moment of becoming intensely aware, a direct and completely transforming experience that can change your life forever."
Awakenings are perspective or consciousness shifts with an AHA moment that feels magical, awe-inspiring, or even terrifying. Awakening is at the core of every human's quest for fulfillment and freedom.
To explain in simple terms – let's say when we are born, we are in the state of a child consciousness, then move to a toddler, then kid, then adolescence, and into an adult. The perspectives in each of these consciousness states are different. Life experiences and conditioning can definitely alter these states. The significant thing to notice here is how our mind and body behave based on which consciousness state we are in.
Even within a human at any particular period, one can shift between consciousness states or perspectives. Your consciousness can identify with your mind or emotions (heart), body sensations, or energies. Sometimes, consciousness can be identified with the perspective of awareness. Awakening is when you move out of one state of consciousness and awaken to another state.
Let us examine the different types of awakenings we go through. If you are looking for a comprehensive description of spiritual Awakening, please see my blog on phases of spiritual Awakening:
This is a transforming moment of our personal development or personal evolution. We realize something about ourselves, and then there is a perspective shift. For example, we see through a belief system that was holding us, then we see from another belief or perspective, heal and release our holding beliefs, and then an AHA moment arrives. It feels liberating. Most self-help and personal success teachings will use this methodology to move you to an achieving place. CBT(Cognitive Behavioral Therapy), NLP(Neuro-Linguistic Programming), the law of attraction, and subconscious healing can be incorporated to bring about personal Awakening.
The benefit of this is that now we can dive deeper into that perspective and learn more about these aspects. You will advocate for these methodologies and build a community around them. You will naturally connect to those who have similar perspectives.
The downside to any awakening is the grasping aspect of the realized perspective. If someone does not awaken further, he/she can get stuck in just one state as it feels complete for a while. For example, let's talk about healing. Someone can become a preacher on healing, that there is nothing to life other than healing/rewiring your belief systems, so you can achieve more and more. It is as if there can be no other unique journey, and our sole purpose in life is to learn and heal. All their words and sentences will have healing, manifestation – you get it. I am sure you identify many around you.
Energetic and Psychic Awakening
This is when someone awakens to the energies and psychic abilities. People can sense and feel energies everywhere, as vibrations. Psychic abilities like many of the Clair* words will come online. There is a feeling that the actual reality is outside the 3 dimension world. These are called spiritual gifts and powers. Here someone can actually feel other people's feelings and see where they are stuck at as an energetic movement. It is really fascinating.
The benefit to this is that many such people become wonderful energy healers and are such empathetic and compassionate beings. They understand where each person is stuck and help them release fears and stuck energies.
The downside to this is, if energy and psychic abilities are everything, then the typical 3-dimensional human world is not seen as being important. There can be disengagement or disassociation from human and materialistic lives. Hopefully, they can expand their awakenings.
Soul or Spiritual Awakening
This is the awakening of the spirit or the soul or divine nature, aware of being the space or presence that is aware of both the physical reality and the timeless, spaceless, formless aspect. This feels very divine, very freeing. There is also an opening of the heart chakra, and everything feels just ok the way it is; everything is already in perfection. There is recognition of interconnectedness and wholeness in everything. When one reaches here, it is incredibly transformational. It is as though a significant part (or all) of what you thought you were have suddenly died.
Awakening to this part of consciousness blows out a lot of conditioning by itself. The goal and orientation is to turn closer to this truth and nothing else. We realize how much importance we had given to only one aspect of ourselves (personal self). Healing still occurs but is now considered a natural process, not what the ego does.
The downside is if you are in a realm that everything is fine as is, then there is nothing to change. Practical interests in life begin to diminish. Sometimes jobs, relationships, and connections to communities can be lost. What many don't understand here is that this aspect of absolute is only one side of the coin – the formless side. It is unquestionably freeing. People will project this state of peace, unconditional love, and absolute undisturbed equanimity in every situation. The uniqueness of an individual can be lost if one continues to hold on to this. This state is all about peace and content within the formlessness.
Yes! This is not in any way Awakening - it is moving beyond Awakening. See, in all awakenings before, we fall into a particular state of consciousness. And we hold on to that perspective for a while until it is time to let go of that and move to a higher state (not that any state is higher or lower, I only call it higher because the next state we shift into embraces the previous state too).
True nature is what remains when you remove all of the perspectives and consciousness states. What are YOU without a story? From an experiential standpoint, this is as if there is no you, you are actually missing, yet everything seems perfectly fine. You can go through all human feelings (good and not good), but there is no holding on to any state or perspective. Life happens moment by moment. You become more unique in your own way, what is true to you at any point in time. Any traumas or stuck energies automatically come to the surface and will be healed at an alarming rate, just by you being that space of awareness. The self–identity or the self-reflexive quality is missing (traditionally called the no-self experience).
This is freedom, not because you are free from all the worries, but because you can't identify with a person that worries; you can't identify with anything in particular. You realize you have lost your identity (How's that?). All states of consciousness, all awakenings, and all parts of yourself are equal here. There is no bias on the good parts of yourself versus the not-good parts. This natural way is our authentic way. It is challenging to explain unless someone experiences the loss of self-reflexive capability; however, this is the most direct and most ordinary experience we all have had and forgotten.
The downside here is the motivation issue. A big chunk of the self is lost. There is nothing that drives us much. People can get stuck at this phase, and what is needed here is to integrate back into human lives because you see, if we don't integrate, who should be leading our human life?
The realization of true nature becomes the beginning of a new journey. Integration can be a lifelong process but is adventurous. Eventually, there is a simple understanding that you are the TRUE NATURE, and you are not separable from the true nature. We are just that awareness, what cannot see itself, but without which nothing can be known. The mind comes to a rest, stops seeking, and willingly walks back to the ordinariness of life. True expression happens from here on. Our unique potential comes to light. Finally, we are at a stage where we accept all the states of consciousness and everything about ourselves and the world but still take action because we love life. Nothing is avoided.
There are some misconceptions about true nature. The liberation aspect of our true nature means we are whole, and whole means it includes everything and is not polarized. There is integrity, authenticity, acceptance, and discernment - all at the same time. The authentic expression has no bias or allegiance to any single expression, like being "kind" or "compassionate" all the time. Anger, grief, aggression are seen to be as important as expressions of peace and compassion. The difference here is that emotions of anger and grief are not driven by the ego, but aligned with life. Any expression from such a liberated individual can be felt by the community as genuinely revolutionizing and creating unforeseen alignments and wins for the society.
Some liberated characters can be aggressive, challenging, fierce. Others can be soft, loving, and accepting. However, the common thread is absolute authenticity in any expression. Other people can feel either good or bad in such an individual's presence, but the authenticity aspect would have brought in shifts in the community or to people close to these individuals when they look back.
The person does not "act" lovingly all the time or hold on to any concept that is socially acceptable (You can see some spiritual teachers do this, and you smell it is not authentic, burping Love, Purpose, Service, Meaning in every sentence). Instead, his/her action is in authentic alignment with the moment.
But the good news is, there are so many good and authentic teachers and guides who can help you to evolve and integrate, whether you are starting out or in the process of awakening. You will be drawn to the ones that your being most resonates with. And when it is time for you to integrate and heal, you will be captivated by mentors and guides who have done that for themselves. Each one's story will tell you how they overcame their inner conflicts and how they have integrated. If you are looking to bypass your deep healing and instead try to become someone "special" or "magical" or "spiritual," you will be drawn to that kind of teachings and guides. Choose wisely!