What Spiritually Woke Folk Look Like (and how to spot a faker)


This morning, while thumbing through my brand new copy of Buddha on a Bull (one of the most startlingly honest books on enlightenment out there) I landed on this:

“Our minds have a lot of ideas of what an awakened human being looks like. But what if your teacher is not ….a vegetarian? … doesn’t sit in a pretzel all day? …doesn’t greet everyone in the local grocery store by saying Namaste.  What if she is…married and affectionate with her mate? … drinks wine and talks politics at dinner with her friends? … works in a corporation or trade stocks at night?”

What author Elena Nezhinsky points to here is relevant not only to self-proclaimed teachers, but the to myriad every day folk who have awakened. Awakening is defined, in this case, as the recognition of true nature — and by default the unplugging one’s identity from the personality based separate character that most people assume is who they really are.

Why this paragraph stands out right now for me, I suppose, is my own journey through the awakening process (with the sudden irrevocable jolt in 2011 that changed everything) and how recently a friend contacted me with the earnest question: “How come you aren’t teaching about enlightenment?”

I wrote back “Because I am chopping wood and carrying water as a Hellenistic astrologer.”

I am chopping this wood because I delight in the chopping. I am carrying this water because it brings me joy to serve others with this celestial and ancient divinatory wisdom. Frankly, I’d be bored stiff sitting in the front of a room with flowers around me, delivering sagely sat-sang-isms.

It’s that simple, really. Spiritually woke folk are not all running around teaching, and truly, it’s near impossible to instruct someone to wake up. The best that can be hoped for is a teacher will point in the direction a student might best stumble into grace.

Nezhinsky goes on to write, “What is correct for an awake, conscious being is purely individual, spontaneous, comes from a natural interest, and involves a certain equilibrium of the mind with an efficient use of energy and biological resources. Like a child who plays spontaneously, the awakened one is in a similar state of play with life’s demands and events. There are no spiritual and unspiritual activities. There is simply a spontaneity and playfulness with any activity.”

So what about the fakers? Well, I put that in the title as a bit of a hook to grab you, but in general it’s easier to tell that someone is not awake than awake. The tells?

If that person is a teacher, and supposedly awake, they are faking it if they:

Tell you that you need them to wake up. 

Shame, blame or guilt you for ANYTHING. 

Do everything they can to keep you from leaving their orbit.

Insist you to give up your money, your family or your job to follow them. 

I’ll end with this sweet tidbit from Buddha on a Bull, that gets to the heart of waking up. (I’ve always said, it’s like orgasm, you can’t mistake that it happened. The only difference it happened without you.)

Writes Nezhinsky, “Let me be straight forward here. Enlightenment may happen at any moment, and at the same time enlightenment can’t happen to you. YOU can’t get enlightened. It is not possible for you. For the YOU who is identified with the person you are (the one who is seeking), it is not possible. Enlightenment is possible but not for the seeker. “Liberation is never FOR the person, it is always FROM the person,” said the famous teacher Nisagargadatta.”

I would add this. A teacher can’t hand you this freedom. Nor can readIng about it, meditating on it, or seeking after it, get it for you. There’s the grace factor, which sometimes makes it look like the teacher was the local source of an awakening — but if anything, that teacher was at best, a force that helped clear the way for grace to enter stage left.

Now, I am going to have a glass of Chablis premier cru, chef up some bacon and brussel spouts, and maybe watch some netfilx.

Awareness is here, domestically blissed.

PS: You can buy the critically acclaimed Buddha on a Bull at Amazon.com here.  And you can check out Elena’s website HERE. 

PPS: I have a big sale on my astrology readings right now, one third off, that ends October 8th PLUS a new offering called Your Lucky Stars. Find out more HERE.

DISCLAIMER: I am using the word “woke” liberally. These days it means everything from woke to 1. social injustice 2. cabals 3. Five D reality 4. The Mandela Effect. In general, woke up to what most people are asleep to. In this sense, in awakening to who you really are, it applies.

45 thoughts on “What Spiritually Woke Folk Look Like (and how to spot a faker)

  1. rayoflight144

    The true teacher/guru (whatever label you want to give it) serves those commonly labelled student/seeker/disciple by providing the space for self realization to happen, space which the student/seeker/disciple does not have within them.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. JohnnyNoOne

    It’s seems obvious to me that considering oneself a “teacher” is in fact an ego trap that can derail further evolution and awareness. I love how Paulo Coelho puts it:

    “Everyone’s looking for the perfect teacher, but although their teachings might be divine, teachers are all too human. Don’t confuse the teacher with the lesson, the ritual with the ecstasy, the transmitter symbol with the symbol itself. Pity those who seek shepherds instead of longing for freedom. What is a teacher? …it isn’t someone who teaches something, but someone who inspires the student to give their best in order to discover what they already knew. The true [teacher] gives the student the courage to throw their world off balance. There is only one difference between student and teacher: the latter is only slightly less afraid than the former.”

    Like

    1. Lori Ann Lothian

      HI Vince, this content feels genuine to me, not a cult as John suggests. It is the same information I have been given by the voice of the Creator, especially about the Great Waves of Change. To me, it’s quite clearly true.

      Like

      1. John Lamenzo

        My research went very deep. The structure of this organization fits the profile of a ‘cult’, specific to the adulation of the leader. One can agree that the message may or may not be authentic depending on one’s perception. Personally, I can point to numerous examples of similarly structured organizations and prefer to avoid them.

        For instance, check this one out…and the financial outlay required: https://agnieickermann.com/privacy-policy-2

        It is what it is but in this cusp period between the Piscean and Aquarian ages, anything goes while also requiring sincere discrimination and discernment: the age of the external guru may very well be ending…but probably not in India. The trick to navigating this complex terrain is to never encourage others to give their power away.

        Liked by 1 person

  3. JohnnyNoOne

    This is an important message that needs to shared as often as possible! One of my life purposes is to illustrate this to spiritually “woke” people and “seekers”, to help them shake this idea that being awake means you adhere to specific practices or aesthetics. I break all the molds so it’s much harder for people to see my authentic self, but it also helps me challenge the image of what being awakened looks like.

    While I’m happy to see so many people starting to wake up, it’s hard for me to watch them embrace all of the things outside of themselves with almost dogmatic obsession. I understand this is part of the journey for most, and an easier way to embrace concepts while their egos are still intact, but we definitely need more examples out there of how true liberation manifests itself.

    Thanks for this great explanation!

    Liked by 2 people

      1. rickarcher

        No guarantee, but I think there’s a correlation, however loose it may be. More often than not, teachers who egregiously misbehave are not liberated, although they may think they are and claim to be.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Lori Ann Lothian

        Awake folks are not saintly — but the “do no harm” (ahimsa) comes naturally, along with the natural impulse to act with kindness. Those who purposefully cause harm to others and act maliciously are clearly not awake….and that applies to a surprising number of self proclaimed enlightened teachers/gurus.

        Liked by 1 person

      3. John Lamenzo

        …so right on! Proclaiming ‘awakeness’ without a finely tuned moral compass and ethical intuition is, simply put, black magic. I could cite examples, but why waste time and energy on this? What I learned from my dance with a dark master is this: how NOT to do it.

        Liked by 1 person

      4. John Lamenzo

        ASI is awesome…long overdue! We should chat sometime. I’m going to link a lot of my colleagues to ASI…I see a huge support for this building, gathering. I just subscribed so you have my e-mail.

        Like

      5. rickarcher

        Thanks, John. Had you known about the ASI or did you just discover it? Lori Ann is a member, I believe.

        Like

      6. John Lamenzo

        You just told me about it…first time I’ve heard about ASI. Great potential…buttons will be pushed!

        Like

      7. rickarcher

        Do you live in the Bay area by any chance? We’re going to have a meeting there on the afternoon of Oct. 24 in San Jose, before the SAND conference starts.

        Like

      8. John Lamenzo

        Rick, I live in Santa Fe, NM. I might be able to make it to the Bay Area on the 24th. What do you have in mind?

        Like

      9. rickarcher

        It does. I would add that those who seriously harm themselves are probably not awake. Chogyam Trungpa and Alan Watts, who drank themselves to death, are cases in point.

        Like

      10. amaryllisequistra

        Rick, re: “those who seriously harm themselves are probably not awake. Chogyam Trungpa and Alan Watts, who drank themselves to death, are cases in point”, I have a question about, not an argument against what you’re saying, which is, if someone has truly seen that they are not the agglomeration of thoughts/feelings/body parts that they have taken themselves to be, and they are drinking heavily (or whatever), I can’t see how their behaviour alters what they understand about their fundamental identity…

        I wish it was the way you are suggesting, but I don’t see any evidence for it. (Of course we have not yet defined the term ‘awake’…).

        Like

      11. rickarcher

        I agree that defining the word “awake” is important, but another time. I was thinking about the Buddhist monks who immolated themselves to protest the Viet Nam war. They appeared to maintain equanimity as they burned to death. I couldn’t do it. Perhaps they were “awakened” to a significant degree, and perhaps their sacrifice served a higher purpose. If so, they would be an exception to my point.

        But as a general rule, my perspective is that the nervous system is an instrument through which we “understand … fundamental identity”. The refinement of that instrument improves our ability to understand/experience. The destruction of it handicaps that ability. If you’re in a drunken stupor, it’s unlikely your understanding about anything, much less the subtlest strata of existence, can be very clear.

        Also, many awakened beings have grown into the perspective that they are instruments of the Divine, servants of God, or however you want to phrase it. There’s little or no personal self left. It’s a blessing to be able to function as such. My vision is admittedly limited, but I don’t see how destroying yourself and harming others in the process serves a higher purpose. The characters who have behaved that way have apparently been very self-serving.

        Liked by 2 people

      12. JohnnyNoOne

        In my personal experience, which is all I (or anyone) can speak to, my desire to look to outside things like drugs or alcohol for comfort disappeared. There is no longer a void to fill, suffering to alleviate, or a need to be in one physical state over another. I still enjoy most of my “earthy comforts” when I have them, but don’t miss them when they aren’t there. A symptom like drinking oneself to death suggest there’s still significant ego conditioning in control, unless the person did so joyfully and with full recognition of it being a conscious choice…

        On one hand, waking up changes you fundamentally in ways that you can never undo. You can never completely close your eyes to the understanding you have. But I also experience awakening as a journey and a spectrum. I had to do significant inner work for a number of years in order to overcome some of of my deeper conditioning, and will also need to keep working in order to keep my ego from seducing me into justifying my actions for it’s own benefit. I feel a lot of great teachers have succumbed to this because being considered a great teacher and consciously engaging others as one is a very seductive ego construction.

        Liked by 2 people

      13. Rick Archer

        Thanks. Responding to a bit of what you wrote: Having had an alcoholic father, I don’t think you can “joyfully” drink yourself to death. And if you really dwell in inner joy, you would have no inclination to. Of course, Nisargadatta smoked himself to death, but towards the end of his life, he gave it up. While going through nicotine withdrawal, he was too restless to remain sitting, so a path was cleared from the front to the back of the satsang hall, so he could pace back and forth as he taught.

        Liked by 1 person

      14. JohnnyNoOne

        That was pretty much what I was saying, though technically a person who was experiencing a consistent state of non-duality could engage in any dual experiences without those experiences having a good or bad value since our duality is an illusion. I can’t imagine why an enlightened person might choose that option, but since all choices would be equal there’s no “reason” not to either…hence the unlikely caveat.

        Liked by 2 people

      15. rickarcher

        I wouldn’t say that all choices would be equal. Oneness does not obliterate relative values. Kindness is preferable to murder, no matter how unified one’s perspective. Maybe even more preferable than for the average population. Hence the association of saintliness with enlightenment.

        Liked by 2 people

      16. JohnnyNoOne

        I understand and appreciate the lens through which you’re perceiving this, and agree with you on the whole in regards to awakened people. Yet non-duality means that neither kindness nor murder actually exist; having preferences is just ego-play. Non-duality does mean there are no relative values, by definition, because there is nothing outside of us to relate to or give value. Concepts like life and death have no meaning as we (One Consciousness) are manifesting all possible experiences, none of them being “right” or “wrong”.

        I also agree that person operating at this level would have no motivation to murder someone and so would be extremely unlikely to take that action (although compassionately assisting with a suicide to allow someone to choose to escape their suffering would be considered murder to many, kindness to others) but at the higher states of Enlightenment a person could be just as unlikely to engage in kindness since everything is perfect. When there is no identification with or attachment to the body, at the higher levels one wouldn’t even bother taking care of oneself, hence the hermetics who lived in bliss in caves or other physically detrimental circumstances.

        If you haven’t read the story of ten bulls/ox it’s a great way to conceptualize the different stages of enlightenment, but as the concept of spiral dynamics illustrates (also highly recommend reading if you’re not familiar), it is very hard to give credit to the stages above or below the one you’re experiencing at the moment because our ego becomes conditioned to the subjective values of our respective stage.

        Thanks for the in-depth conversation! It’s a great illustration that an awakened person is difficult to identify because we all have our different perception/experience of what that would/could look like. This is mostly because we each apply our subjective level of understanding, but can also be because each level of awakening looks significantly different from the others. The understanding that Enlightenment is a rich and nuanced journey, as opposed to being a static destination, is not common even in awakened people…so that confuses the issue even more!

        Liked by 3 people

      17. rickarcher

        “Yet non-duality means that neither kindness nor murder actually exist; having preferences is just ego-play.”

        That may be the strict Advaita view of things, but other traditions are more nuanced. Even Advaita uses the term “mithya” – dependent reality. It doesn’t say that pots don’t exist – there is only clay. Pots exist, but clay is the substratum or common denominator.

        “Non-duality does mean there are no relative values, by definition, because there is nothing outside of us to relate to or give value. Concepts like life and death have no meaning as we (One Consciousness) are manifesting all possible experiences, none of them being “right” or “wrong”.”

        Do you think Ramana would have said that? As I understand it, he was adept and teaching to the level of the student. In running his ashram, he was adamant about maintaining certain standards. He was so opposed to wasting food (or frugal) that he would crawl around on the kitchen floor picking up dropped rice grains.

        “I also agree that person operating at this level would have no motivation to murder someone and so would be extremely unlikely to take that action (although compassionately assisting with a suicide to allow someone to choose to escape their suffering would be considered murder to many, kindness to others) but at the higher states of Enlightenment a person could be just as unlikely to engage in kindness since everything is perfect.”

        That doesn’t seem to be the general track record of enlightened beings. Of course, the central story of the Gita was that Krishna, supposedly an Avatar of Vishnu, was encouraging Arjuna to go ahead and kill his relatives in a “battle in accord with dharma”.

        “When there is no identification with or attachment to the body, at the higher levels one wouldn’t even bother taking care of oneself, hence the hermetics who lived in bliss in caves or other physically detrimental circumstances.”

        True, although not universally. It’s possible to be in a very high state and yet take care of the body. But Ananda Moi Ma, Neem Karoli Baba, and Ramana Maharishi all went through periods, some of them for decades, where they wouldn’t eat unless fed, would wander off into the jungle unless watched, would sit in samadhi and let insects gnaw their flesh.

        >If you haven’t read the story of ten bulls/ox it’s a great way to conceptualize the different stages of enlightenment,…”

        I’m familiar with the ox-herding pictures. Keep in mind that in the last one the man has come full circle and enters the marketplace (the world) having mastered the bull. He doesn’t continue to hide out in the transcendent (one of the pictures earlier in the sequence).

        “but as the concept of spiral dynamics illustrates (also highly recommend reading if you’re not familiar), it is very hard to give credit to the stages above or below the one you’re experiencing at the moment because our ego becomes conditioned to the subjective values of our respective stage.”

        I’ve interviewed Ken Wilber, and was a student of Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, who often emphasized that “knowledge is different in different levels of consciousness”. Here’s a great essay on that topic by Timothy Conway, who has been on BatGap twice: https://www.enlightened-spirituality.org/3_levels_of_nondual_Reality.html

        “Thanks for the in-depth conversation! It’s a great illustration that an awakened person is difficult to identify because we all have our different perception/experience of what that would/could look like. This is mostly because we each apply our subjective level of understanding, but can also be because each level of awakening looks significantly different from the others. The understanding that Enlightenment is a rich and nuanced journey, as opposed to being a static destination, is not common even in awakened people…so that confuses the issue even more!”

        I fully agree. We, or at least I, cannot accurately judge another’s level of consciousness or degree of enlightenment. So to a degree, I’ve been speaking in generalities here. And there are exceptions to every generality.

        Liked by 1 person

      18. paradoxtabernacle

        The opening verse;

        “The Great Way is not difficult for those who have no preferences”

        and the closing verse

        “Words!
        The Way is beyond language,
        for in it there is no yesterday, no tomorrow, no today”

        of the Hsin Hsin Ming.

        Liked by 1 person

      19. amaryllisequistra

        Suzanne Segal’s words ring true to my experience:

        “There are many ideas about what …[one is] supposed to look like once the Vastness is constantly being seen for what it is in everything. Nothing goes according to any ideas about how anything is supposed to look. There are many spiritual systems and traditions that say you should only live like this, you should only eat these things, you should dress like this, you should be celibate, you should this and this and this. They’re saying that if you are seeing with the eyes of the Vastness this is what your life will look like. One of the most important things that I think my life has been put here to convey to the West is that it doesn’t look a certain way, that everything is there, too. Most of the spiritual traditions say, “If there is fear there, then she doesn’t have it or this is not the Vastness because fear is there.” The presence of the fear never for a minute brought back a personal reference point. It never for a minute obstructed the view of the Vastness for Itself.”

        https://realization.org/p/suzanne-segal/suzanne-segal-interview.lumiere-wins.html

        Liked by 1 person

    1. paradoxtabernacle

      Love Adyashanti. Truth is what IS. My favorite quote of his is…
      “If in the deepest place within you, you want and desire Truth above all else, even though you go astray in a thousand different ways, you fill find yourself somehow, again and again, being brought back to what is true. And if you do not want and desire Truth above all else, well, you already know what that leads to.”

      Liked by 3 people

  4. John Lamenzo

    ..great piece…I’ve coined the term ‘fake awake’… apply it liberally! Psychic powers (siddhis) may or may not be part of someone’s ‘awakening’ or ‘enlightening’. But, one will always be tested by the allure and seduction of the ‘siddhis’. Pass that test, and you know you’re on the right journey. Get captured by them, and your consciousness becomes one of ‘hellish karma’. …I should/could write a book about this…

    Liked by 1 person

    1. paradoxtabernacle

      Ram Dass used to talk about folks that were “phoney holy-“….and then…..once they did get a glimpse of a higher truth but went back to old ways…they became “phoney un-holy”..the idea being, once you have awakened to reality a bit more……polished your lens a little bit….you simply cannot go back to being the way you were in your awareness prior to having gone through that awakening. Course…..we don’t have to worry about ever “arriving” at a perfect state of awareness, as there will always be some aspect of our act to clean up.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. John Lamenzo

        In the past 60 years I have met a diverse gathering of mystics, shamans, gurus, monks, swamis, lamas, et al, and came to the conclusion that the more any of them claimed ‘supernatural powers/knowings’, the more schizophrenic they actually were. But they were good at what they did: trap people in their self-made con of self aggrandizement and narcissism. You know, wear the pretty white robes and gold chains studded with priceless gems preaching health, happiness, and holiness by day, and sexing with the slaves in the harem by night, and sanctifying all of the above by saying: ‘there is no wrong’! …and the followers just keep drinking the kool-aid. Those in this diverse gathering are not all con artists, as many of them are bathed in humility, awe, and honesty…

        Liked by 2 people

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