“Many people think that enlightenment is an altered state of consciousness. Actually, what we perceive every day through the distorted lens of ego is the truly altered state – we see things that don’t exist, we believe things that aren’t happening, and we live in a false world of our own creation.” – Adyashanti, The End of Your World (2008)
Previous articles in this series have addressed the key myths that stand in the way of awakening. For the opportunity to awaken is very real and ever present. Contrary to common belief, it does not involve awakening to something, but rather from something – the mental prison or hall of mirrors in which you currently live.
We recently witnessed the bursting bubble of Bush’s obviously flawed beliefs regarding economic, environmental, social and foreign policies. Yet, you have been equally in denial, for you too live in a bubble created and sustained by your own mind.
As Adyashanti tells us, “We live in a false world of our own creation.” Your ego, the lens through which you see the world, is composed of fictions that will only reveal themselves to you if you deeply inquire. And because you have invested so much time and energy in supporting your story, it does not come apart easily.
Most people think that awakening involves an instantaneous transformation into their more perfect or god-like nature, accompanied by the lessening of those qualities that represent their more human aspects. They sense that from that point onward an awakened person no longer experiences fear, pain or uncomfortable thoughts.
Unfortunately, this is another myth, as those who have actually woken up know. Far from a full instantaneous transformation, awakening almost always manifests as a series of deep recognitions over time that lead to the dissolution of our “false” sense of self. This is not a matter of “more” or “better.” It is simply that the vantage point, the “I,” from which you previously viewed the world disappears.
You might think that everyone would want to wake up! After all, why continue to live in a mental hell, at the constant effect of your thoughts, emotions, habits and reactivity? Especially if you can free yourself from all of this forever!
Almost everyone wants to hold onto whatever they now have – their life as it is – and still wake up. In other words, they want their lives to “get better,” and see awakening as the ultimate vehicle to accomplish this. They believe that if they could just awaken, everything will improve dramatically and instantly, including their relationships, their mental state and how people view them!
Waking up has nothing in common with getting better. It’s about searching for truth! So you can’t superimpose awakening on the foundation of your former life. It’s not possible. It would be like trying to use your knowledge of Spanish as a foundation for learning Chinese. It would be far easier to just let go of your Spanish entirely.
In the same way, it doesn’t work to build a life of true freedom upon an ego-based foundation of control, territory and limitation. And it’s not possible for you to stop resisting “what is” by listening to your ego, whose principal purpose is to resist “what is.”
Most people interested in consciousness fall into one of three categories in terms of awakening:
- The vast majority believe that awakening will just happen to them at some point in time as they continue with their present journey – if they can just find the right technique, book, teacher, realization, etc. Many assume that they are already in the process of waking up! They are constantly looking to add to their toolbox of channels, vitamins or other props that might help, for waking up always seems just around the corner. And they often adopt the politically correct beliefs or myths we’ve addressed in our previous columns: we’re all waking up together; this is a special time in which everyone who wants to will awaken; people are now waking up everywhere; no one is farther along than anyone else; and the prophecies and channels tell us that we will experience a collective awakening very soon. These are fine if you want to believe them, but unfortunately, they won’t help you to wake up. On the contrary, they deceptively reassure you that your awakening is imminent, if you’re just patient enough. That is why so few people have grasped the depth of commitment and the enormous amount of work and inquiry necessary to totally transform themselves. While many in this first group experience resonating with their deepest selves and have felt moments of oneness and ecstasy, they have never taken full and personal responsibility for their own awakening journey. Instead, they tend to view this as a universal process that will somehow drag them along with it. And although many people are shifting their consciousness within the dream state (the ego-based matrix or belief system that governs everything in their lives), only a tiny number are fully awakening from or out of that state. The rest remain very much at the effect of their conditioning, programming, habits, thoughts, beliefs and fears.
- The second group is relatively tiny. It is composed of the small number of individuals who have already woken up, together with those committed to follow their example. These individuals are willing to give up everything in their lives, even the seeming (though false) security of the dream state, to see the truth. In a real sense, they have created their own trajectory through fully realizing that they alone have the power and capacity to free themselves – that nothing or no one else (an angel, an energy, a realization, a process, a collective transformation, etc.) can or will do it for them.
- There is a third group composed of those caught in limbo between the dream state and an awakened state. While they may be aware that the mind is illusory and that their thoughts constantly deceive them, they lack the guidance, inspiration, motivation, commitment or timing to make the considerable jump required to truly free themselves.This is a very difficult place to live, for while they glimpse the light at the end of the tunnel, it continually eludes them. Still others in this group have become so disillusioned with the journey that they have given up on the idea of awakening entirely.
The message of all of this is simple, although not popular. Your awakening is truly up to you. You have set it up so that nothing or no one else can do it for you. For you have attracted the exact circumstances into your life that will challenge you to awaken
To awaken is why you came to earth – to emerge once and for all from “the false world of our own creation.” This is your design function, your birthright as a human being.
But awakening is not something you can just dabble in within your present life. It can be a fun journey, but it is not an easy one. You must be willing to pursue the truth at all costs, however uncomfortable that may be.
Your only other choice is to spend the remainder of your life trapped in the dream state, as a prisoner of your own mind. And quite honestly, that seems to be a far less-attractive option.