The Awakening Guide
The experience of waking up is not a mystical event, although it may occur in the midst of one. It is often said to be no experience. It is a ground level shift that occurs right now, right here, and whether it lasts a minute or a lifetime, the Truth of who you are is known. This is a significant aspect of self-realization, and essential to the liberation of consciousness from the confines of a limited personality structure.
Other spiritual experiences can be rich, ecstatic and deeply satisfying while they last, but are subject to coming and going, leaving behind much frustration in the person who felt them, and stimulating the ego to expose itself to more and more experiential stimulants in order to regain what it feels has been lost. In simpler terms, we become addicted to seeking high experiences. We strengthen the spiritual ego when this happens, and this may profoundly improve the way we live our lives, but we may stay in a cycle of pleasure and loss for many years, and miss a precious opportunity to find total inner peace. On the other hand, experiences can motivate a person to keep going with spiritual practices until fully awakened.
Waking up is what happens in response to the question, “Who is having these experiences?” and searching neither thought nor emotion to find an answer. It is not the process of having an experience, however ecstatic and profoundly mystical it may be. It is the kinesthetic and intimate understanding of that which has the experience, or that which lives through us and is eternally present through all time and experience.
To wake up we have to give up the idea that we are a personal identity who is seeking experiences, and begin to wonder what is true underneath, and behind, all human experiences.
Many westerners who have followed spiritual practices for a long time have a history of sporadic mystical experiences; some of them, unfortunately, even suffer from the naive belief that they did something bad to cause them to go away. But all experiences pass. That is the nature of experience. We are blessed with the joy, or the insight, or the expansion, as if it is a taste of something beyond our comprehension. And it passes. There is little understanding of the dynamics of spiritual process, and so people create beliefs about what is happening that do not help them move more deeply into Truth. I know this is so, because I did it for over twenty years.