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Conversation on Spiritual Awakening

Conversation on Spiritual Awakening
Conversation on Spiritual Awakening

What Spiritual Awakening Really Means

Sage: Getting started, the first concept we’re going to learn about is what spiritual awakening really means. In the simplest terms, a spiritual awakening is a process of reconnection with your authentic, higher self. It’s a shift in consciousness where you move from your mind-centered state to a heart-centered state, recognizing the oneness of all existence.

This process of awakening is characterized by a profound sense of self-discovery and self-understanding, inner peace, and a sense of liberation or freedom from mental and emotional constraints. It’s like emerging from a dream, realizing the deeper reality of who you truly are.

Have you understood this introductory concept of spiritual awakening?

Student: Yes.

Sage: To check your understanding, let’s start with a simple question, can you describe what spiritual awakening means to you in your own words?

Student: Spiritual Awakening is a shift in understanding regarding who I truly am. The shift is from mental based understanding to heart-centred understanding.

Commonalities Reported Among Those Who’ve Experienced Spiritual Awakening

Sage: That’s a great understanding! Now, let’s go a bit deeper.

Even though spiritual awakening is a deeply personal and subjective experience, there are some commonalities reported among those who’ve experienced it. Such common experiences include a sense of interconnectedness with all beings, heightened empathy and compassion, transcending beyond ego-based consciousness, peace, and a sense of freedom.

Now, based on these commonalities, if you were to rank these experiences from 1-5, with 1 being what you think is the least important aspect of spiritual awakening and 5 being the most important, how would you rank these:

  • A sense of interconnectedness with all beings
  • Heightened empathy and compassion
  • Transcending beyond ego-based consciousness
  • Inner peace
  • A sense of freedom

This is just to understand your perspective better on the integral components of a spiritual awakening.

Student: Here is how I would list these commonalities:

  • Transcending beyond ego-based consciousness
  • A sense of freedom
  • Inner peace
  • A sense of interconnectedness with all beings
  • Heightened empathy and compassion

I would add at the top of the list that spiritual awakening is not freedom for the person; rather it is freedom from the person.

Spiritual Awakening as a Journey or Pilgrimage

Sage: Fantastic! Your ranking indicates a good grasp of the interconnected elements of spiritual awakening and your addition is an excellent way of stating the highest ranking component. Now, let’s move on to the next concept: the journey of spiritual awakening.

Many compare spiritual awakening to a journey or a pilgrimage. It’s not an overnight transformation. The process can be slow and gradual, sometimes even tumultuous. It’s akin to a pathway, winding its way through various landscapes of the self — exploring shadows, dealing with unresolved issues, and revisiting past traumas. It unravels layer upon layer of who you think you are, and in this unraveling, you eventually come to realize your true nature.

Does this help you to understand that spiritual awakening is a process or a journey, rather than a singular event or a moment of realization?

Student: Somewhat. I feel that it is a process that unfolds over time and that there is also a singular moment of insight where the shift in understanding happens. It is akin to an apple ripening and the moment it falls from the tree.

Sage: Fantastic metaphor! Indeed, it can be very much like an apple ripening and then falling from the tree. The ripening is the journey, which involves growth, change, and evolution. It’s a process of maturation that prepares you for the eventual shift in consciousness or the “fall”, which is, in itself, an event.

The journey might involve practices such as meditation, mindfulness, Yoga, or even life experiences that set you on the path of self-discovery. The ‘fall’ is the moment of realization where everything comes together, and you perceive your true existence beyond the realm of duality.

Does this align with your understanding of the journey and event aspects of spiritual awakening?

Student: Yes.

Sage: I’m glad you found the explanation helpful. Now, let’s dive into a theoretical question to ensure understanding.

You talked about spiritual awakening being akin to the ripening and eventual fall of an apple from a tree. Can you elaborate on what practices or experiences might contribute to the ‘ripening’ process in the context of spiritual awakening?

Student: Yoga Nidra is a guided relaxation meditation wherein the practitioner is relaxed yet alert. This meditation fosters an experiential understanding of one’s true nature.

Sage: That’s correct! Yoga Nidra indeed plays a crucial role in the spiritual awakening process. It assists individuals in peeling away layers of their personality to access their true, core self.

To go a little deeper, can you outline the stages of a traditional Yoga Nidra session and explain how each stage contributes to this ‘ripening’ process of spiritual awakening? This task might require a bit more research or personal experience and understanding.

Student: The first step is the Sankalpa or resolve and intention. The resolve is to remain awake while relaxing the body and mind into a deeper level of consciousness that is akin to deep sleep. The intention is to remain alert such that a knowing via being is realized. This is the realm of insight that may be described as sound silence.

Sage: Very well defined! The Sankalpa, or determination on a deep level, sets a firm belief in the mind and leaves a strong impact, pushing one towards achieving the goal or desire.

The second stage is rotation of consciousness through the body to build awareness and disconnect with the external world. This disconnection allows the practitioner to draw his/her attention inwards. This deepens the state of relaxation and begins the process of moving from the conscious mind to the unconscious and ultimately the subconscious mind.

Do you now understand how the rotation of consciousness helps deepen the relaxation, bring awareness into the body and set the stage for the journey into deeper layers of self?

Student: Yes. The resolve and intention are realized as the practice unfolds through the stage of the rotation of consciousness..

Sage: You’re on point. Now, let’s further assess your grasp on the topic.

Conscious Separation

What role do you think the conscious separation from the external world plays in sparking the process of spiritual awakening?

Student: The conscious separation from the external world allows the conscious mind to fall silent such that there is no mental labelling or comment on experience. In this light a silent mind does not mean the absence of experience, instead it means the experience of absence, which is Presence – that is the insight!

Sage: That’s a brilliant insight! Conscious separation indeed acts as a bridge, connecting us with deeper layers of our being. It allows us to experience the subtler dimensions of our existence beyond our sensory perceptions.

Presence

Sage: Now for a slightly more complex question: Could you explain how this presence or experience of absence might transform one’s day-to-day life, particularly in terms of reactions to daily life phenomena or interactions with others? This is to understand the applied aspect of spiritual awakening in practical life.

Student: What is truly absent is the mental formulation of identity. The absence of that identity means that things are experienced as they are instead of being filtered through the lens of mental identity. In this light there are no reactions, there is Presence and authentic action that is appropriate to the moment is what unfolds.

Sage: Absolutely correct! You have clearly grasped the concept. By dissolving the conditioned identity, one begins to perceive reality as it is, not filtered or distorted by personal biases or concepts. This allows for authentic, spontaneous responses that are aligned with the present moment, which is a significant aspect of spiritual awakening.

The Experience of Oneness

Sage: Moving onward, the next important step in our discussion about spiritual awakening is the experience of Oneness. This is an important milestone in the spiritual awakening journey where one realizes the interconnectedness of all existence. It’s a stage where the perceived boundaries between self and others start fading away. A state of consciousness where one realizes that at the most fundamental level, everything is interconnected and part of the same whole.

Do you now understand how the perception of Oneness forms an integral part of the spiritual awakening experience?

Student: Yes. There is One Thing appearing as many things. Truly it is not a thing, yet we speak of It as a ‘thing’ in order to be able to speak about it at all. It is as the Buddhas said, ‘Form is Emptiness and Emptiness is Form‘ – these appear to be two things as a consequence of labelling them – truly they are not-two.

Sage: You’ve described it beautifully! Indeed, at the heart of spiritual awakening, there’s a shift from the illusion of separateness towards an experiential understanding of Oneness.

To gauge your understanding, let’s consider a theoretical question. Elaborate how perceiving this sense of Oneness may impact one’s actions and interactions in day-to-day life?

Student: Perceiving this sense of Oneness may impact one’s actions and interactions in day-to-day life as in the following example: You witness someone in a life-threatening situation, maybe a person is drowning – you act to help them without thinking about the consequences, even though you may not be a strong swimmer.

Sage: Indeed, the realization of Oneness often brings along a deep sense of compassion and love for others. You’re right in saying that it can cause spontaneous actions to help, or at least prevent harm to others, even when there might be personal risk involved.

Challenges that May Arise

Sage: Going deeper now, can you imagine some potential challenges or difficulties that someone might face in their daily life as a result of this newfound sense of interconnectedness? This may involve thinking about how a shift in perspective may affect relationships, career choices, lifestyle, etc.

Student: Yes. When one acts selflessly in a world that has been conditioned to be selfish, such a person may be considered odd or unfit to be in a meaningful relationship.

Sage: Rightly expressed. Given societal norms and structures often operate within a dualistic framework—us vs. them; mine vs. yours—a sense of Oneness can feel challenging or confrontational for someone experiencing spiritual awakening. This could indeed lead to estrangement, misunderstanding, or conflicts in relationships and societal interactions.

~ ~ ~

The Dark Night of the Soul

Sage: Continuing our Conversation on Spiritual Awakening, it’s important to realize that spiritual awakening is not a constant high or a state of eternal bliss. It involves confronting shadows, deep-seated fears, and stored traumas, often bringing them to surface. This phase, often referred to as ‘the dark night of the soul’, is a crucial part of the spiritual awakening journey. It’s a journey through darkness to emerge into light, a kind of psycho-spiritual crisis that results in profound personal growth.

Please let me know if you now understand this darker, more challenging aspect of the spiritual awakening process.

Student: Yes, there are many layers of mental identification that have been imprinted via life’s experiences and our global cultural conditioning.

Sage: Excellent! You’ve understood it well. Now, let’s move to a question that explores this concept further.

Sage: How do you think facing our ‘dark night of the soul’, the stored traumas, and deep-seated fears can ultimately contribute to our spiritual growth and understanding of our true nature?

Student: Facing our ‘dark night of the soul’ ultimately contributes to our spiritual growth and understanding of our true nature, because through it we see that one’s mentally generated identity is purely fiction. In this light when the unreal is seen as unreal, there is true seeing. In other words it is the nature of an error to cease once it is seen.

Sage: Indeed, confronting and processing our deep-seated fears and traumas can expose the illusory nature of our ego-based identity, resulting in a clearer understanding of our true nature.

Now, for a more complex question: Can you envisage any practical techniques or exercises that might support someone during this confronting ‘dark night of the soul’ phase, particularly ones that facilitate the process of releasing these old traumas and fears, and clearing the path for the realization of their true nature?

Student: A Conversation on Spiritual Awakening like this one can be a helpful technique for one who is confronting the ‘dark night of the soul’.

Silence is another practical technique at this time, because it starves the mentally generated identity of energy, which is its substance. In the absence of that energy source the ‘mentally generated form’ dies of starvation.

Sage: Correct! Both dialogues like this one and cultivating silence certainly play a powerful role in traversing through the ‘dark night of the soul’. In particular silence starves the mentally generated identity of energy, enabling the potential for self-realisations to surface.

Transcendence

Sage: The next concept is the notion of ‘transcendence’. Post the ‘dark night’ experiences, one tends to attain a state of transcendence. This is a state where one no longer lives solely from the confines of the ego-self. Instead, one moves beyond this limited perception to connect with a sense of a larger Self, often perceived as connecting with divine consciousness or universal energy.

This transcendence implies living from a place of loving awareness, wherein each action is rooted in love and consciousness, rather than reactive patterns of the ego.

Do you perceive how transcendence and living from a place of loving awareness form a critical part of spiritual awakening?

Student: Yes. This is one’s true nature. It acts. One’s apparent form is Its instrument.

Sage: Your understanding is spot-on! Indeed, in the state of transcendence, there’s a realization that we’re merely instruments through which the larger Cosmic Consciousness operates.

Changes that come with Spiritual Awakening

Sage: To verify your grasp of the concept, let’s move on to a simple question. What changes do you think an individual might observe in their daily life, once they’ve achieved a state of transcendence and loving awareness?

Student: The greatest change is the absence of seeking and struggle. There is an ease of being as that which is appropriate to the moment unfolds, there is uncaused joy and lasting peace..

Sage: Well said! Transcendence certainly reduces the sense of struggle and seeking, replacing it with enduring peace and joy.

Now, considering the transformative impacts this newfound state of consciousness might have on one’s life experiences, could you highlight some possible changes that might occur in one’s relationships or career paths after achieving spiritual awakening? This deeper question requires an understanding of how these inner changes can potentially affect one’s outer life.

Student: The inner changes of spiritual awakening affect how one interacts with the so called outer world and relationships. Primarily this appears as an openness, a welcoming for all that arises. It is the way of Love.

Sage: You’ve described it beautifully. Yes, the inner transformation of spiritual awakening often reflects in the ‘outer’ aspects of life, leading to more openness, acceptance, and a deeper sense of connection with others in day-to-day life.

Living Awake

Sage: Next is the concept of ‘Living Awake’. This is a term often used to describe living with an awakened consciousness. It means living a life that is attuned to Reality as it is, beyond the illusions of ego and separateness. It involves being aware and present in each moment, honoring the interconnectedness of all beings, and acting from a place of loving-kindness and compassion.

Does this clear up the meaning of ‘Living Awake’ and how it is a reflection of an awakened state of consciousness in everyday life?

Student: Yes. As stated earlier it is the way of Love and it appears as ‘Welcoming’.

Sage: You understand it well! Indeed, living awake incorporates an embracing attitude that is grounded in love and openness.

Now, here’s a theoretical question to assess comprehension. Can you share an example of a daily scenario wherein ‘Living Awake’ might fundamentally alter the way one would typically react as opposed to an unawakened approach?

Student: Yes. A person in a drunken stupor encounters me in a deserted street. That person aggressively runs toward me and raises a fist to intimidate me as he approaches. I calmly observe the situation without any fear. My calmness and lack of the reaction he expects confuses the drunken person such that he stops his aggression and wanders off, puzzled by the encounter.

Sage: That’s an excellent example! The calmness and non-reaction coming from a place of love, non-judgement, and presence would indeed disarm the situation and potentially defuse any danger.

As a follow-up, can you explain the internal process that might have taken place within you during this hypothetical situation? How might concepts we’ve covered like transcendence, the experience of Oneness, and the result of the ‘dark night of the soul’ contribute to the depicted response?

Student: Yes. It is the difference between doing and being. When one’s is spiritually awake being is doing rather than ego-driven doing.

Sage: Absolutely! Spiritual awakening is indeed about ‘being’ rather than ‘doing’. This ‘being’ is your natural state of presence, free from ego-driven actions, which naturally flows into right action when needed.

The Embodiment Phase

Sage: As we move forward, let’s discuss the concept of ’embodiment’ in the context of spiritual awakening. Embodiment refers to the stage where the spiritual awakening transition has fully integrated into your physical experience, becoming a lived reality. It’s not just about understanding or having insightful realizations, but about living those insights in every moment of your life. Embodiment is like the fruit of the spiritual awakening journey, where the transformation has fully seeped into your very being.

Does this help you to understand the concept of embodiment as an integral part of the spiritual awakening journey?

Student: Yes. Embodiment is Living Truth.

Sage: Exactly! Embodiment is indeed about living the Truth, rather than just understanding it conceptually.

Now, to ensure comprehension, let me pose a question: Can you reflect on how ’embodiment’ might look differently from ‘transcendence’? In other words, what extra elements does embodiment bring into the spiritual awakening process, beyond the stage of transcendence?

Student: The extra elements that embodiment brings into the spiritual awakening process, beyond the stage of transcendence, is the living nature of embodiment. Transcendence can be momentary while embodiment means lasting peace and happiness. Embodiment means that one is established in the understanding of one’s true nature.

Sage: Well expressed! While transcendence is about experiencing a state of consciousness beyond the ego, embodiment is about living from that transcendent awareness consistently.

Now for a slightly more complex question: how do you think the embodiment phase of spiritual awakening could impact various areas of everyday life? This could include aspects like personal values, career choices, hobbies or interests, relationships, etc. How might they be transformed as a result of full embodiment?

Student: The embodiment phase of spiritual awakening might impact various areas of everyday life, because the lived understanding of one’s true nature determines what one values most. In this phase one’s priorities change from those formed during the ego-driven phase. A spiritually awake being is practical and helpful, yet not predictable.

Sage: Well expressed! Yes, the embodiment phase of spiritual awakening can indeed lead to shifts in values, priorities, and practical life decisions.

Nonduality

Sage: Moving ahead, let’s talk about a pivotal concept related to the final steps of the spiritual journey: ‘Non-Duality.’ Non-Duality, or Advaita, refers to the understanding that there is no separation in existence. It is the recognition that the perceived duality of ‘me and the other,’ or ‘me and the world’ is an illusion created by the mind. In the state of non-duality, one sees everything as an expression of the same underlying reality.

Do you now understand the concept of non-duality as it relates to spiritual awakening?

Student: Yes. What I truly am and how I appear are not-two things.

Sage: Exactly! The essence of non-duality is understanding that our true nature and what we perceive as our external existence are expressions of the same reality.

Now for the comprehension question: Can you explain how the realization of non-duality could potentially influence one’s perception of self and other in day-to-day interactions and experiences?

Student: The realization of non-duality could potentially influence one’s perception of self and other in day-to-day interactions and experiences due to the understanding of one’s true nature. This has implications for all aspects of life, because one’s identity is no longer formed via the content and activity of the mind. Instead there is a knowing in not-knowing that is a welcoming for all that is and action flowers out of this heart-centred understanding.

Sage: Beautifully described. Indeed, the realization of non-duality changes the perception from an ego-centered perspective to a heart-centered one, embracing everything as it is.

Now, let’s dive deeper: If you were to counsel someone who’s struggling with adversity, loss, or grief, how could you explain the principles of non-duality in a way that might help them better navigate their difficulties? This task might require some empathy and a delicate balance to ensure the traditional wisdom on non-duality doesn’t come off as dismissive of their real-life struggles.

Student: The way to help someone who is dealing with adversity is to be available. Demonstrate that you stand with them. Your Presence is what helps the so called other.

Sage: You’re absolutely right. Sometimes the most powerful way to help someone is simply to be there for them, offering your presence and understanding. This reflects the principle of non-duality – recognizing the oneness in each other’s experiences and offering an empathetic space.

Enlightenment

Sage: Moving ahead, to close the circle, let’s touch upon the concept of ‘Enlightenment.’ In the path of spiritual awakening, enlightenment is often spoken of as the ultimate goal. It is often referred to as a state of perfect knowledge or wisdom, combined with infinite compassion.

Traditionally, enlightenment is seen as the eradication of all forms of ignorance, leading to a state of ultimate bliss or Nirvana. In other interpretations, enlightenment isn’t considered a state to be achieved but the realization of what one always is.

Is the idea of Enlightenment as part of the spiritual awakening process clear to you now?

Student: Yes. Enlightenment means living in the light of the understanding of one’s true nature.

Sage: Excellent! You’ve grasped it well. The essence of enlightenment indeed lies in the recognition and living of one’s true nature.

Now, for a comprehension question. How do you think the pursuit or understanding of enlightenment could influence a person’s life, both in daily routines and in their approach to larger life decisions?

Student: The pursuit or understanding of enlightenment can influence a person’s life, both in daily routines and in their approach to larger life decisions, because that pursuit begins as a movement away from current reality, which means that there is dissatisfaction and daily routines are unfulfilling. In this light the pursuit itself is a problem because of that movement. Instead what is required is stillness, space and silence whereby one’s true nature is realized.

Sage: Well said! The pursuit of enlightenment, when approached from a place of longing or dissatisfaction, can indeed perpetuate further dissatisfaction. But when seen from the perspective of stillness, space, and silence, it can guide one towards the realization of true nature, which pervades all aspects of life.

Now, for a more complex question. Highlight some possible ways an individual’s relationship with themselves and others might change after attaining enlightenment. Consider how daily realities like interpersonal relationships, self-perception, handling of conflict, etc., could transform in light of the realization of one’s true nature.

Student: Self-Knowledge manifests as Self-Love. Only one who has attained this understanding can truly Love another.

Sage: Beautifully put. An inner state of enlightenment and self-love can indeed radiate outward, fostering a deeper, more compassionate connection with others.

Spiritual Unfolding

Sage: For the final part of our discussion on spiritual awakening, let us explore the notion of spiritual ‘unfolding.‘ Once the spiritual awakening process has occurred, and even after reaching milestones like enlightenment or transcendence, spiritual growth often continues. It is comparable to a lotus flower continually unfolding its petals.

This unfolding doesn’t necessarily mean reaching higher stages of consciousness. Instead, it is about further deepening into one’s true nature, further integrating the insights into one’s life, and continuously living out the lessons learned.

Sage: Does the concept of spiritual ‘unfolding’ as an ongoing journey resonate with you?

Student: Yes. Spiritual ‘unfolding’ means the flowering of the living understanding of one’s true nature.

Sage: Beautifully put! Now, to ensure comprehension, I’d like you to attempt to answer this question: How can the concept of spiritual unfolding apply to everyday life, particularly when it comes to personal growth and dealing with life’s many changes and challenges?

Student: Spiritual unfolding applies to everyday life because the understanding of one’s true nature manifests as Welcoming all that is as it is. Growth and development is part of the nature of being. There is no attempt to ‘push the river’ yet there is the understanding that the river is flowing and there is gratitude for the journey.

Sage: Your response beautifully ties up our discussion on spiritual awakening. Indeed, the idea of spiritual unfolding isn’t about forcing change or resisting what comes. Instead, it’s about accepting and embracing the flow of life, and being grateful for the journey, knowing that any personal growth or life changes transpire naturally as part of that journey.

Final Thoughts: Conversation on Spiritual Awakening

Sage: As we conclude this dialogue on spiritual awakening, it’s important to understand that this is an intricate and deeply personal journey that manifests uniquely for every individual. The concepts we discussed are not linear stages but rather aspects of an interconnected process that tends to spiral, often revisiting the same points from deeper levels of understanding.

Thank you for your open-minded and insightful participation! If you have any more questions or other spiritual topics you’d like to discuss, feel free to ask.

Student: Namaste’

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