Are You Awake Enough?
The oldest written records of mankind, the Vedas, tell us we are asleep. That we are not who we think we are. Amazing, isn’t it? The first entry in the journal of mankind is a call to awaken. But what exactly does awaken mean? Awaken to what? Why should I? How do I do it? And who am I, anyway?
Just when I think I know who I am—I change. Getting to “know thy Self” isn’t easy.
Ask a hundred spiritual teachers these days and you’ll hear teachings that range from “You’re here to discover your sacred Self” to “You do not exist.”
Whoever, or whatever I think I am, life is easier when I’m Awake.
Let’s consider three varying degrees of spiritual Awakening.
The epitome of success on the spiritual ascent to Nirvana is Enlightenment or Liberation.
I first heard tell of Liberation as a young mother struggling to raise two children. It sounded incredible. A liberated person is permanently at peace. He has a tranquil mind. There’s no judging, criticizing, worrying. You don’t make mistakes.
I was captivated, intrigued by the prospect.
The liberated man (or occasional woman) was freed of greed, and sensuality, and all suffering.
As an egotistical devout worrier I thought, Hallelujah! I won’t ever have to worry about my kids. As a sexy woman whose sins were exclusively sensual, liberation sounded like salvation to me.
But what chance did a single mother of two have of finding a suitable teacher with whom to live until she’s learned all she possibly could? Who had time to dedicate to spiritual exercises? I was a single mom struggling to pay the rent. I couldn’t renounce the world, abandon my kids, and devote myself to the quest. What were the chances of my being struck with a bolt of lightening, or hit the floor with deep depression, only to awake…Awakened? Permanently! Statistically, I didn’t like the odds.
Liberation, permanent Enlightenment, seemed so unrealistic. But I was hungry for spiritual experiences. I needed help to reduce my inflated ego. I wanted to be a better person. I wanted to like myself. I needed to follow my heart.
So I flew to India and landed in the ashram of Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh, later known as Osho. For me, Bhagwan’s ashram was spiritual summer camp. I became a sannyasin and surrendered — to what, I’m not sure. I had little understanding of what being a sannyasin involved. Bhagwan was a stunning role model of possibility. I fell in love with him and the teachings. Being there was blissful.
I cam home with questions. Could the search for more, for permanent Enlightenment, be a craving for a “holier than thou” status? Is the search for Liberation a treadmill that keeps spiritual seekers chasing the illusive carrot? Could the teachers be feeding the narcissistic needs of the seekers? I questioned my own spiritual experiences.
This gets us to the next stage of Awakening: transitory glimpses of truth.
Many people describe transitory glimpses of being Awake: floating into an acceptance of what IS; seeing through the glass after someone wiped the dirt away; feeling soul-to-soul with the World-mind; laughing at the absurdity of a world gone insane accepting… it’s ‘just happening; unconditional love for everyone and every thing; being carried on a journey you don’t want to end; freedom from wanting anything.
The glimpse ends and you start wanting. You want more. You want to scrub the window so you can see more of the indescribable beauty you’ve just glimpsed.
Humans always want more. I wanted more.
It wasn’t enough to stop feeling lonely, depressed, and angry –at times. Not enough to experience the wonder of Oneness–sometimes.
Glimpses are beautiful, but they are only transitory moments of Awakening.
When I stopped wanting anything more than what I was experiencing, I realized I didn’t have a clue about Liberation. How could anyone intellectually understand something that’s impervious to intellectual analysis?
I’m not a spiritual teacher. I’m a psychologist–a therapist whose often-radical interventions have helped a lot of people make the most of their lives. My work is helping people suffer less. Love has been my teacher.
Once, in Peru, a shaman told me, “Your path is the way of love.” I didn’t doubt him for a minute.
It’s been a long journey. Many years of teaching Kundalini yoga, meditating, being of service, having a spirit guide, and the inspiration from a few spiritual teachers have brought me to Now…and the third level of Awakening: Awake-Enough.
If we can stop creating dramas, stop taking anything personally, and laugh at ourselves knowing we’ll never run out of material, we’re Awake-Enough. If we can recognize that “this is it” — it’s all happening Now — and know when we’re in Presence, we’re Awake-Enough. If we know the difference between our needs and wants, can say what we want, and free ourselves of expectations, we’re Awake-Enough. If we can look at the day-to-day demands that tie us in knots and say “It doesn’t matter,” we’re Awake-Enough.
Do I still suffer? Sure…but only in homeopathic doses until I remember
“Anytime I want something to be different from the way it is, I suffer.”
My work is to help people escape self-created nightmares, find stillness, and trust the messages from the Essential Self. Those messages override the ticky-tacky thoughts that worry and weary us: they remind us that we are love. With love and compassion we tend to open our hearts, forgive, and act nice. Love is the energy that inspires us to give a damn. Love is what makes it all worthwhile, isn’t it? Love is YES, Your Essential Self.
When we’re content with being Awake-Enough—we can celebrate! We’ve dropped expectations and given up the quest for Liberation. Perhaps if we simply remain openhearted skeptics with an abundant dose of curiosity, who knows–we may become Enlightened!