Myth: Awakening is an exit door out of this duality gong show where you get to leave behind identification with emotional content and plot-thickening storylines such as betrayal, abandonment, jealousy, blame and shame.
Truth: Awakening is more like entering a fast track through some of the most crazy-ass chaos you will ever encounter, a manic, magnified and hyperbolic suspense-love-thriller story rolled into one massive and irreversible point of view shift.
Let me explain.
If we use the fiction narrative as a metaphor for awakening, you could say that pre-awakening you were living a first-person life. You saw the world through the closely identified “I” point of view. As in a novel, every happening is seen through the prejudices, filters, personality and thoughts of the first-person protagonist. It’s a tightly bound perspective that in real life we tend to call the Ego.
Then, one day, an awakening shift occurs.
Suddenly you see the world with new eyes. You are spacious and serene awareness. All the limitations and turmoil of that ego-viewpoint fall away (for some completely, for some others, partially). You are seeing things as if you are now a third-person narrator, that fiction convention where the author describes the thoughts and actions of each character from a more distant “he and she” perspective.
This is being the witness of your life. In the weeks after my awakening I was even prone to speaking about Lori Ann in the third person, as if she was a character outside of me. I was now perceiving myself as the watcher of all the characters around me and especially of the thoughts and feelings that happened to pass through the character of Lori Ann.
There eventually emerges a third shift in point of view. This is the equivalent of fiction’s omniscient narrator—it’s where the author shares the inner life of all characters in the story line, as if from a God’s eye view.
At this point in awakenings the witness-self fades into an increasing intimacy with all of reality. It’s a kind of merger that you could say is like the Vulcan mind meld from star trek. But you don’t merge with something (that implies a twosome process). Rather there is a giddy sense of the allness-oneness of life. (This is not my every day experience, but rather it seems to be a perceptual shift that is gently and slowly taking over.)
Back to the Soap Opera of Sainthood
People imagine that awakened beings are free of discord and upsets. That they wander the world in a bliss state, profoundly and permanently peaceful.
This is just not true. And there is reason for it. This reality breathes, in and out, and in the sense we are timeless beings playing in the illusion of space-time, there will always be a contraction for every expansion.
This means, in the beginning especially, most awakenings are one big in breath. It’s the sweet inhale of Self where we experience our stillness. Here is when and where old reactive patterns dissolve. It is where we laugh easily even when the storms of life rage around us. This equanimity and peace is a part of the awakening of Awareness to itself.
But this peace cannot last. For me, it lasted a few months. For some, it’s mere hours. But the out-breath will arrive. And suddenly your awakened life might look like a shit-storm.
A Real Life Tale or Two
After four months of impenetrable peace, I felt the first wave of the out-breath. It was the smallest thing that moved me from this equanimity to feeling angry for the first time since the awakening. All it took was some bitchy-attitude from my teen daughter to trigger the out-breath.
Next thing I knew, irritation, annoyance and frustration began to show up, punctuating the witness stillness with episodes of emotional reactivity that I’d assumed I’d be free from forever. My husband used to joke that I’d lost my enlightenment and I’d wonder myself: Where did the perfect peace go?
Then, just when I thought the enlightenment gig was up, another in-breath would sweep me with a tidal like pull back to the deep stillness. Eventually, I saw this pattern was somehow intrinsic to awakening itself.
When later I was to encounter a spiritual teacher, one who platformed on his enlightenment being what TM’ers call “Unity Consciousness” or the highest state of awakening, I expected this would be someone free from that tidal pull of expansion and contraction.Yet, despite the palpable grace that emanated from his presence, over the year I spent in proximity to this man (who lived in my home for 40 consecutive days), I was witness to normal human contractions. Just one example.
After immersions, where this teacher was known to toss shakti balls around and activate bliss, kriyas and kundalini in a room of students (also known as shaktipat), he would often physically collapse for up to two days afterward. Migraines, exhaustion and frailty would show up in the aftermath of what would appear to be robust, potent and vital force demonstrations of presence. To the eye, he looked like a pale ghost of himself and for that reason I suppose, tended to hide out in bed until his vitality had been restored.
This physical pendulum swing was mirrored too, by the emotional. He got angry at people and situations, just like the rest of us. (How do I know ? Because he demonstrated anger the way we all do by shouting in reaction, storming out of the room, or by cold withdrawal).
If we consider the tale of Jesus screaming at the money changers as true, then it should be no surprise that gurus also have bouts of contraction that show up as anger, blame, attack and even in some cases downright emotionally abusive behaviours. (Note: I am not suggesting that this teacher was abusive, but rather am speaking about gurus in general.
The point is simple. No matter how “awake” a person claims to be or truly is, no one is exempt from this in-breath and out-breath of consciousness. This excerpt by enlightenment writer Jerry Freeman is useful:
“The thing is, there’s a natural cycle. Ego is engaged, ego is silent.
Then ego is engaged, then ego is silent again.
People think the ego engaged phase of the cycle is bad and the ego silent phase of the cycle is good. They wait for the ego engaged phase to go away forever, but it never will. They think the ego silent phase is what enlightenment will be when it finally becomes permanent, but the ego silent phase NEVER becomes permanent.
Ego continues to arise and pass away, endlessly, in the natural cycle of engagement and letting go. It’s how a human life functions.
What does happen is, ego thins out, becomes compliant, becomes less self-important.”
Here is a pictoral representation of this phasing ego process. Make of it what you will. It’s a nifty tool for understanding. (This drawing is copyright Jerry Freeman, used with permission).
Awareness is here, breathing in, breathing out,
PS: Did you know I created a 20 minute free guided meditation called Enter the Synchronicity Portal? Over 500 people have tried it so far and reported that it awakens a whole lot of magic in their lives. Click HERE to download.
PPS: Every now and then my video blog has a instalment that looks like a comedy show. In this episode, after burning a bird in high magic, I manage to step into chaos in the most unusual ways. Oh yeah, Adult Content: I do a fair bit of cursing in this clip.