Why People Don’t Wake Up (and how they can)

A reader recently asked me, “What I really want to know is what lead to your awakening? What life were you leading that contributed to this event?” He wondered if there was a certain way to cultivate a fertile ground for enlightenment, a kind of prerequisite plan.

Well, for one, by the time I awoke from the dream that I was a separate self, the enchantment of being Lori-Ann had all but worn off. Like wall paper which had begun to fade and peel, the near fifty years of living under the spell of selfhood was lifting. As this trance loosened its grip there glimmered underneath the façade of “me”, something brilliant by comparison.  Then one day the wallpaper-thin self just fell away entirely, revealling a spacious vast nothingness full of life.

Even so, a spontaneous awakening is probably not really instantaneous, even if it looks to be sudden. In my life mini-awakenings happened over the years, tremors before the big earthquake which demolished the fortress of illusory self.

What defended that fortress is interesting. I call them the last soldiers standing, my last cherished beliefs and tenacious self-identifications. It’s entirely possible, had these soldiers stood their ground, I’d still have snapped awake from the dream. But looking back, I can see four Rambo-strength beliefs that arguably had to die before the edifice of self could crumble to reveal the vibrant ground of no-self. So, in the spirit of story telling, here are the bad guys (who thought themselves heros) who went down fighting for the unreal Lori Ann.

The Ambition Soldier: As an overachieving first born A-student, I expected my life to be all about success. I measured this by how well my creativity was received in the world, particularly my writing. By age 30, I was winning short fiction awards, being published in literary journals, and had been accepted at one of the top creative writing programs in the US. And then came the next ten years of drifting in and out of dull newspaper jobs while the muses stopped talking to me. By my late thirties I felt like a failure—a housewife instead of a mid-wife to brilliant fiction. One day I simply realized that it didn’t matter if I was a worldly success. What began to matter were the ordinary moments, the richness of each breath, the inexhaustible discovery of truth. I went inward instead of outward, and began the phase of seeking God. Ambition was dead. I just hoped God was alive.

The Control Soldier: Growing up, I noticed many of my nocturnal dreams would show up as future events and many of my hunches came true. By my twenties, I was learning the art of prophecy, playing with Tarot cards and divination tools like the I-Ching and Astrology. Eventually, I weaned off props and developed pure clairvoyance. I got so good in my mid-thirties at seeing the future, I ended up on TV and radio shows, in a BBC documentary on remote viewing, and with an international client list. Then life played a trick on me: the more predictability (or control) I sought, the less I experienced it in my life. The sudden deaths of my parents before I turned 40, and the near death of my son in a car accident, assaulted my belief in control. When my son was almost killed a second time in a violent attack, I was 45 and ready to realize the obvious: control is an illusion. Life is a ride without a steering wheel. Instead of feeling scary, this came as a huge relief. Look ma, no hands!

The Sex Soldier: For years I had connected my sexuality to my lovability. I was worthy of love because I was sexually expressive and sexually available. In relationships this translated to a lot of focus on sexual exploration, play and intensity, to the point of even studying and practicing tantra. Then menopause hit and suddenly my sex drive began to plummet. This created friction with the man I live with, who had signed up for a woman who loved sex. Now I was barely interested. This created angst in me: I was no longer able to use the currency of sexuality in a barter for love. Then, just before I woke up, I attended a weekend retreat with American-born teacher Ganga-gi. In that retreat she asked us to really look at the story of self, the tale of who we imagined ourselves to be. In this, I saw with blinding clarity how I had created a sexually free and adventurous persona as an anti-script to my parents’ sexless marriage.  In all my sexual exploration, I’d never considered the territory of celibacy. Suddenly it became clear: sexually active or celibate were both equally fine options. I was okay because I was not a sexual being as much as I was being sexual. Now I could simply be.

The Relationship Soldier: Perhaps because my parents demonstrated unhappily-ever-after, I was determined to create a fairytale love life. When my 17-year marriage failed to make me happy, I divorced and embarked on a seven-year spree of serial monogamy. The perfect relationship, the one partnership that would finally stop the quest, never materialized. Instead I realized the well being I sought through relationship to other, was an illusion. This came crashing home just before I woke up, when the man I live with began signaling discontent and a desire to leave. Out of sheer exhaustion, I realized I was ready to be alone. Alone was just as good as together. Suddenly, romantic relationship fell away as a requirement for contentment. If I was alone for the rest of my life, that was okay. If I was in a partnership until the day I died, that was okay too.  Equanimity had miraculously arrived.

The last two soldiers standing, sex and relationship, fell in the two months before I woke up. They were the hold-outs, fighting to keep the edifice of self from collapsing When they gave up the battle, there was nothing to impede the movement of grace, which like a tidal wave, washed the Self away.

I dreamed one night that a meteor shower rained down on the earth, and I had no place to hide. No refuge from this fiery annihilation. And so I surrendered to the inevitable and sat on a dream hilltop waiting for death to take me.  The next morning the self I’d known for 49 years, was dead. Instead there arose an empty vast stillness and a quiet delight.

So I ask you: What are your last soldiers standing? And are you  willing to let them fall?

Awareness is Here!

Lori Ann

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31 thoughts on “Why People Don’t Wake Up (and how they can)

  1. navneel

    About the sex soldier.How does this enlightenment applies to people that are sexually impaired. They spend their lives cluttered up in there own gender problems .Can you post an article about the resistances to enlightenment more in a general way.

    Ambition has never been much of a problem for me except for freeing myself from the suffering, and maybe it too qualifies as ambition.Surely, I want to make a change in this world and free others of the sufferings that they face. Now maybe you will ask me to let go of that ambition too, but its not like I put that ambition in me. Its there from beginning.I can silence it by hammering it with questions but it wont help I guess, because I have tried that before.

    Relationship and people.Yes, I have been always afraid of relationships.I know I am dangerous and have hurt people previously and I cant take care of them.I have been also hurt by the people I have loved.Not that I carry a hurt anymore because I know its just the way of things. How can you play a game where you are already beaten off start and you know you will loose again. I dont have any trouble being alone though.Its just I dont get along with life so well.Please help.


  2. sarah

    Thank you 🙂 Totally resonates and I met with Gangaji recently – wonderful being 🙂 I haven’t – through all my being – accepted the illusion of romantic love yet, but I have intellectually. I fear that I may not be able to fully surrender until I have had more relationships. I am still a ‘romantic believer’ and addicted to thinking…. these are my last soldiers… any thoughts?


    1. Lori Ann Lothian

      Thanks for reading sarah. It’s not that you have to give up romantic love, it’s that you expand your self of self to something so large, that it gracefully encompasses everything including romance. Instead of seeking romance for completion, you are completion itself embracing romance–or no romance. Picture it this way. You are wandering in the landscape of romantic love looking for the oasis of contentment…(that’s the ego version); or you are the landscape of contentment in which the oasis of romantic love is but one feature in a vast endless landscape of possibility.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Hannah

    What about mama hood? Dispassion or lack of attachment is crucial to waking up, but being attached to your your young children is a healthy (not to mention spiritual) attachment. I am a mama to a 3 year old. She keeps me grounded to earth but also inspires me to be more aware each and every moment. Your kids are grown, I am assuming? Love to hear your thoughts on this…..


    1. Gary Hale Sutherland

      I don’t believe dispassion or lack of attachment are crucial in anyway. It’s a matter of perspective. Rather, it may be that dispassion and lack of attachment to others who are not one’s own would become an issue. Either way it is not so much about forgetting the value of self or others, but ceasing to inflate the value of expectations and desires. Consider the feelings for your own child as a window. When you realize that the passion and attachment is actually to yourself the walls come tumbling down. Then there is room for everyone, your daughter included.


  4. SimplyBegin1

    This article was A HUGE SIGN POST For Being Formerly known as KATE!!!
    That was the last one to be destroyed/slain!
    And WhAt made KATE laugh hysterically out loud was the Samurai Pictrure!
    Kate’s apparent job is a Sensei, (karate teacher for not-for-profit karate club she started in 2008)
    always she struggled with money. fear of having it, fear of not having it.

    And then of course, 4 new students appeared etc, etc, story continues, blah, blah blah!
    No more struggle, no more effort, no more fear, all thoughts rise and fall and beautiful connections and happenings occur!!


    Being formerly known as Kate 😀


  5. Pingback: Eight Possible Truths about Enlightenment | The Awakened Dreamer

  6. Gayle

    I am really interested in your experience. I am still in the phase where I am looking for my way. I see the brightness but I don’t know where to go with it. Are there any books or readings you would recommend?


  7. Brad Auzin

    My 47 years old “ride” has arm-strong-steering!. Your observations have guided me to glance down and see my own white knuckles on the wheel. Thanks for lighting the road ahead!

    be well


    1. awarenessishere

      I love the feeling of hands-free living….yet still there is the persistent illusion of control. I said to my partner today, the way I can really see there never was control is looking back at all the times I’ve said “I can’t believe I just did that or said that.” 🙂 THanks for reading Brad.


    1. awarenessishere

      I rob a bank once a year. (with awareness of course.)

      Can I ask you marcus what prompts this question. It sounds like you have a belief that being awake precludes earning income, or having financial means? Or are you just curious about me?

      Lori Ann


      1. Marcus

        You shared a number of significant changes in your life since you woke up (and at certain times before that moment).

        Because money plays a crucial role in the life of most people, and because you seem to be talking from a different viewpoint and level of awareness than where I currently am, I thought that, perhaps, things in the monetary department have changed too for you, hence my question.

        Just want to learn. 🙂


      2. awarenessishere

        Money has not been a practical struggle now or ever. So that did not change, but certainly my thoughts about money have changed. Money, sex, love, death, to name a few of the big ones, are seen as arisings in the story. Not under my control like I used to imagine. Just happenings and certainly no attachments to these happenings and they come and go like weather patterns.


        Lori Ann


  8. hervé

    Great post Lori Ann. Thank’s to share with us. The only thing I still don’t understand it’s when you write: “Well, for one, by the time I awoke from the dream that I was a separate self, the enchantment of being Lori-Ann had all but worn off”, but no I, no-body awoke. End of the dream happen for nobody in a body mind call Lori Ann. Don’t miss me I don’t want to play with the word. Awakening happen and it’s a-causal.


    1. awarenessishere

      Hi there–I wrote this recently and will share here “the wake up language is metaphoric, not literal and used only to point. The dreamer vs the dream character is what is being pointed at. In a dream at night, you will believe fully you are that self/character in the dream–only on waking do you see it’s fictitious nature. That’s all. In truth, there is no dreamer either that exists as an “I” to wake up. What remains when the dream ends though, is the vast still emptiness that is also full–call it awareness, ground of being, presence or I AM…


  9. Ginta

    Beautiful 🙂

    And how interesting -when I found Adyashanti, also I found Gangaji. Seemingly acccidentally.
    Maybe they are related somehow – Adyashanti is the process explaining father and Gangaji is feelings related loving mother.


  10. miriam louisa

    A splendid post – and beautifully written dear Lori Ann.
    You have perfectly expressed the story I used to call mine, before that free-fall into effulgent emptiness…
    ~ ml


  11. Marie

    ….revealing a spacious vast nothingness full of life. Lori Ann, I’m not sure I’ve ever heard it said more succinctly or descriptively. Yes….this is what it is for me. Thank you!


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