Awakening and Enlightenment

Endless Knot

What is Awakening?

Spiritual awakening is to wake up or become aware of some previously unknown aspect of reality. Typically, the nature of the Self. But it may be taken more generally, for example, in becoming aware of the intuition, psychic phenomena, or another aspect of reality that was previously unknown.

Awakening may involve sudden, unexpected emotional release, or an epiphany (an 'Aha!' moment) - it is a profound intuitive realisation into the nature of reality. It may also occur more gradually and with, or without either of these events.

Memorable awakening experiences generally mark only an obvious beginning of an unfolding spiritual rebirth. Realisation will often lack stability initially and may yet deepen depending on what was realised, and the confidence of realisation.

In Non-duality, an awakening marks the appearance of knowing that there is only one reality, and that reality is undivided.

Awakening is very much a door way, not a destination.

What is Enlightenment?

Spiritual enlightenment (also, Liberation) may be used to refer simply to a state of stable awakening to the fundamental nature of reality. Though the precise definition is no easier to pin down than that of awakening, this seems to be a common base.

It may be considered freedom from the Ego self. The ego is the small I, the story book character that appears to be living this life. It is a necessity for basic functioning. Beyond that, it is a hinderance to any kind of perceived productivity in the relative world, and suffering necessarily results.

As an aside, stable awakening is probably in correspondence with the Buddhist idea of nirvana, but not necessarily enlightenment.

Expectations and Pre-Conceptions

Seekers of spiritual enlightenment unavoidably develop a conceptual notion of what enlightenment is. This inevitably leads to some surprise and often even disappointment when it appears realised! Holding to this notion tightly may even prolong the search or inhibit realisation.

Further, to an 'unrealised' person, it may not be at all obvious if someone has 'awakened'. Spiritual enlightenment does not imply any specific behaviour. Stories of spriritual teachers involved in scandal are not unheard of. Though there is likely to be a tendency to respond compassionately and selflessly in a given scenario, the movements of an 'enlightened person' are fundamentally beyond comprehension - both to the observer and the enlightened!

Lived Mundane Reality

Before enlightenment; chop wood, carry water.
After enlightenment; chop wood, carry water.
- Buddha

Realisation of non-duality takes the 'sting' out of life. It does not remove the joys and sorrows, which may in some sense be felt more acutely.

Fundamentally life continues as it always did. Though your personality and behaviour may change in surprising or even alienating ways for those around you.

It is not an unending, gross experience of joy or bliss - or at least it isn't for me! But being has a fundamental peace, a new facination, and an undercurrent of joy that previously were not always available.

The incessant 'story making' of mind as 'doer' has ceased. At the same time, there is greater clarity of thinking because the mind is not cluttered up with useless garbage - narratives about who did what or why.

Integrated and abiding realisation is a play of making love - nonduality and duality merged in exquisite bliss!

How could it have ever been anything else?

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