Spiritual awakening is always a surprise. As many of you already know, I speak of awakening as the spontaneous shift from unconsciousness to consciousness. But the light of awareness doesn’t mean that we are free from all unconsciousness. Instead, that light allows us to see unconsciousness. It allows us to have a perspective and discern the difference between unconsciousness and consciousness that may have been totally invisible before.
For someone who has been spiritual and wanted some kind of revelation or enlightenment, the arising of a spiritual awakening is a gift…most of the time. Because even with these types (and I suppose I’m in this rather small group), awakening does not bring freedom from pain. Freedom from suffering requires us to clean up our inner mess, and most people I know upon awakening find a lot of dirty dishes in their inner home. That can be surprising to the more naive spiritual people who think that spiritual awakening erases all problems and pain once and for all. While the problem-maker (the ego) may start, START to dissolve, the challenges of the world will remain. There is still hunger. There are still diseases. The world is a challenging and often painful place, and a spiritual awakening doesn’t change that. Rather, it helps you to see all of those challenges clearly along with all the beautiful opportunities.
To the point of this post, many people who awaken are not spiritual, and some don’t want to be. However, a spiritual wakening doesn’t care if someone is overtly on the spiritual path or not because all of life is ultimately spiritual. Oftentimes, I get emails from people who tell me that they’ve never been spiritual, never meditated, never prayed, nor much of anything else. And then for whatever reason they awaken.
But some people don’t want the illusion to end. Some felt comfortable in their lifestyle, and this awakening is very much an unwanted house guest. As such, they fight it tooth and nail. Today, I want to talk a little bit about that fight, what is really being resisted, and why this awakening is one of the greatest gifts you can ever receive.
The “Ah-ha” Moment Followed by the “Oh-no” Moment
Not everyone has a big ah-ha moment. Some spiritual awakenings are quite understated, but there tends to be this shifting from one way of seeing the world to another. It’s irrevocable, as far as I’ve seen and sensed. But as I said, that doesn’t clean up the inner debris someone has. It simply illuminates it and often brings with it a kind of energetic push to start mopping your soul’s floors.
But let’s pause and remember that most people don’t know about the gift that has arisen. Most people are completely mired in the illusions presented by the world. Now let’s create a scenario of someone awakening. Here is a 42-year old male in a comfortable corporate job with a wife and two kids. He has a house with a mortgage. He has a boat. He goes golfing with his buddies on the weekend, and he is content with life because this is what everyone told him he should have and he got it. “Bravo,” he thinks to himself. “I did it.”
And then one night sitting in a lounge chair, he awakens. Something dissolves, and he sees through to the truth. Maybe he gets a period of bliss. That could last for hours, days, weeks, and even months. But at some point, the “oh-no” moment comes. That’s when he realizes what is going to have to change and when he realizes all the pain and illusion he’s been trapped in.
Avoiding the Big Inner Clean-up
When someone like the man above awakens and doesn’t want to give up his illusions, he’s likely to go through a a lot of types of Self avoidance (Yes, that’s Self with the capital “S” because his true Self is stepping forward). He may attempt to go on living his current lifestyle, but the truth that his wife is a superficial, cheating tramp becomes equally apparent as well as her innate shining beauty. His neglectful behavior with his kids and how they’re developing into spoiled, contentious brats become obvious. The fact that he absolutely loathes his job is undeniable, and he realizes that he doesn’t even like playing golf. None of this is actually earth-shattering on the awakening seismic scale. These are actually just fore-shocks of bigger realizations, but to someone like this, they’re life threatening because he doesn’t want to change and is afraid of who he’d be if he started to change and give up things.
So he keeps doing what he’s been doing. Life becomes a daily grind. During the initial parts of a spiritual awakening, the energy in a lot of people tends to be very strong. This makes him feel like he’s being torn in two pieces. He may be going through moments that feel like panic attacks or a nervous breakdown. He wishes it would all go away. For some people, it will. For others, their awakened Self is too strong for whatever reason. He may start to lose energy and feel more and more exhausted. Different physiological problems may begin to arise for which doctors can’t find any reason. For some people, they completely crash and can no longer function in the world, and here we have someone in a full blown dark night of the soul.
For more on the dark night, click here:
The Harder the Ego, the Darker the Night
Even for those of us who consciously embrace our awakenings, dark nights and long periods of deep churning tend to come up. We have to go into all the dark corners of the soul to know them, to love them. Through that love, that darkness is dissolved, and we become integrated and whole.
In the scenario I’m painting, this type of individual isn’t doing any of that inner work. So he’s subjected to the same fears again and again. They don’t process. They just repeat. When he gets upset, he is wallowing in emotions such as self-hatred, self-pity, fear or perhaps even terror, and others. This doesn’t process emotions. While I talk about needing to feel to heal, we learn to notice what we are feeling and breathe into it mindfully without feeding a story around the upset emotion. This person probably hasn’t found the tools to do this (because he isn’t searching), and as such, all he wants to do is to get through this awful time period. That’s another hallmark of the unwanted awakening–the person just tries to get through it. S/he wants it to be over and done with to get on with her/his regularly scheduled life.
And the good news is that nothing lasts forever. This intensity will pass. The bad news is that this awakened awareness is one of the greatest gifts humans can ever receive, and it’s tough to say if he’ll ever fully enjoy his old illusion and ignorance even after this intensity is over knowing what he now knows.
Repercussions of Denied Self Love
At the root of awakening is love. It is self love and Self love. It is our union with our human self and our innate divinity to which we all have access. From that space, we see life with open eyes, open hearts, and easeful bodies. In this clarity, we see what is really happening in us, in others, and in society. It makes us powerful change agents, teachers, catalysts, leaders, and healers. Without clarity and when we’re still lost in ignorance and pain, we spread more pain unconsciously. We also make ourselves suffer. Unconsciousness is like walking on a broken foot when its numb; we continue to damage the foot because we can’t feel it.
Today’s example persona, who probably thinks he’s just in a mid-life crisis or something, will continue to suffer. In turn, he will continue to teach suffering through his example and through his words to his partner and to his kids. Many of the ways he has suffered will be passed on to the next generation, and more cycles of pain and suffering will continue. He will not really understand love, how to express it, how to receive it, and how to flow with it although if you asked this type of person, he’d tell you that he absolutely does know what love it. That’s horrible truth of unconsciousness:
We don’t know that we don’t know.
A spiritual awakening simply shows you what is. It helps you to know yourself. In that self-awareness, you find love, and in loving yourself, you more fully love and serve all those around you. That’s how we begin to break the cycles of pain and suffering. Without love and open eyes, all of society will continue to struggle through illusion, and suffering will be a mainstay in our collective human experience.
Giving up the Unconscious Ego
I wrote a post not too long ago called, “Giving Up Something You Don’t Want to Give Up.” For many people this crossroads comes later in their spiritual shifts, especially for those who actively follow the spiritual path. For anyone like this fellow, you have to do this letting go now. It’s the only way to continue further on your journey and to begin to heal.
And make no mistake about it; we all need to heal…A LOT. Healing is a natural part of life and the spiritual process. It doesn’t mean you’re bad or have done anything wrong (although if the latter is true for you, then healing requires penance). It is simply the fact that we have become magnets for pain. We hold onto pain, hide pain, avoid pain, and so on so that it festers and worsens within us. Lancing the wound is often a messy and uncomfortable process, but it is such an important one to come back to health.
Coming back to health is often one of the first steps after awakening. The more profound and deeper growth in our life tends to be reserved until we have created a clear space in our gardens for seeds to grow. That means cleaning up the trash, debris, weeds, and old roots so that there is room for new tender shouts to sprout. If we do that and let go of lots of unconscious illusion and pain, a renewed life can be born in this world.
The Gift of Spiritual Rebirth
I know that many of you did not ask for a spiritual awakening, but it is here. It is always here actually. For whatever reason for you, the clouds parted in your inner sky, and you saw the truth. That truth stayed. How could it not? It could never leave anyway. It could only be forgotten.
Once that opening arises inside, a great surge of you–yes you!–starts to move on its own. All I can say is to trust that surge. Trust that inner flow. Your old life will very likely be demolished, but space is being made for more love and more kindness. Denying awakening is denying yourself, who you really are, and the depth of your love and truth. It is denying reality.
If the man in my example today embraced awakening, he would be making space to be a better father, to be a kinder husband, to potentially find a kinder partner, and to go find a job he loves. He will not understand just how truly miserable he is in his illusion until he has let go of these old ways of living. And when he does, he will probably wonder how he could ever have not wanted a spiritual awakening.