Spiritual Awakening

If you’re wondering what spiritual awakening is all about, here’s the scoop.

Spiritual awakening is waking up from the dream of a separate self. The person you imagine yourself to be is not who you are. In fact, there is no “you” to be anything at all.

Most people live in a world constructed by their thoughts. The “I” or ego acts as the center of this constructed world. This perspective forms a filter through which reality is perceived. Forces within the mind — the defense mechanisms and conditioned habits — are continually constricting awareness.

This is not the only way of constructing reality. Some people awaken from this way of seeing. This is why it is called awakening.

The moment of awakening is often filled with unusual experiences. These aren’t significant in themselves, even though they can be strange and colorful and exotic. It’s the transformation of perspective afterward that counts.

In the oldest parts of the Pali canon, the process is compared with crossing a river. An ordinary person is on the near shore. An enlightened person is on the far shore. Awakening is the point of stepping into the river. In the ancient texts, this is called “stream entry,” and one who steps in the river is a “stream enterer.” This is not the end of the process, but the beginning of a new phase.

At the same time, with awakening it becomes apparent that there’s another way of seeing things. From the point of view of eternal life, nothing has really changed. Before awakening: chop wood, carry water. After awakening: chop wood, carry water.