Awakening from the relentless control of our primitive ego is a process that begins, for most of us, when we have the opportunity to experience a life crisis (eg. death, divorce, life threatening illness, job loss) that challenges the illusion we have the power to choose what life brings us. In that moment, we fall from the top of the mountain into a pain and suffering we would never have chosen voluntarily.
If we are able to stay present to the experience, the fall from the lofty heights of our self-absorbed primitive ego has the power to awaken us to the reality that we are not as “in control” of our life as our primitive ego would like us to believe.
All of history’s great spiritual teachers and mystics remind us, it is the fall to earth, not success, that awakens our consciousness and begins our spiritual journey toward our authentic, or true self. Unless we encounter the pain and suffering of failure, there is a good chance we will never achieve the awakened consciousness that leads to authentic spiritual growth.
Awakening begins with the pain we experience from life’s many crises, but authentic growth is a subtle process driven by the awareness that there must be more to life—-the awareness that what we thought would bring happiness and a sense of meaning to our lives—-is not enough.
We begin to hunger and yearn, not for more, but rather for depth. Meaning. Purpose. We experience the sense that we are homesick for something just outside of our awareness. We begin to search for something just outside of our ability to name.
When this awareness enters our consciousness we begin a journey that will profoundly change the way we “see” the world.
The Outer Journey
One aspect of this new journey will take us out into the world. But what we will “see” are not more opportunities for success or paths to fame and achievement. We will begin to “see” the reality of a world that has always been present. We spend more time outdoors. We begin to “see” the beauty of a sunset. We “see” children playing. We begin hobbies like photography that sharpen our ability to “see” the subtleties of the world that have been just outside of our ability to “see”.
We take up playing a musical instrument that sharpens our ear to the amazing “music” of reality. We go for walks in nature and marvel at all the things we can now “see” for the first time.
The Inner Journey
The journey toward the mystery that calls us is also a journey into the “self”——an inner journey toward self-awareness and the awakening that comes when we shine the light of our attention into the shadows of our unconscious primitive ego—-when we begin to explore the beam in our own eye.
We begin to intentionally pay attention to the energy we are sending into the world. We begin to explore the childhood primitive ego beliefs behind that energy. Silence and slowing down become more important. We begin to contemplate incorporating spiritual practices into our lives that will help us to deepen the growing awareness that we are not who we thought we were. Over time we become aware that we are more than our ego—–we awaken to the reality that our true self is pure observing consciousness—–that we are the evolving universe becoming conscious of itself.
Two Journeys, One Path
As we journey into the depths of “self” and into the depths of the “world” that surrounds us, we begin to “know” that both journeys; the inner and the outer, are essential if we are to discover the mystery our soul is yearning to discover. For the first time, we experience a sense of coherence or harmony between our mind energy and our heart energy——the wisdom that awakening, enlightenment, and authentic spiritual growth all require a deep commitment to both the inner and the outer journey.
As our consciousness awakens and our ability to “see” deepens, we begin to live our life as a spiritual practice. We begin to drop our dualistic, either/or judgments and learn to step outside of our “self” so we can simply observe and try to understand what we “see”. We learn to be satisfied with less and enjoy what we have. We let our senses come alive. We are learning to enjoy and celebrate life.
How do you know when you are fully awakened? You don’t. It just doesn’t matter any more.
What does matter is opening your heart to the quiet voice of your soul—-the voice that has always been calling you to grow and become the person you were meant to become. What matters is knowing that you have somehow come home. What matters is knowing that it’s not what you look at in life, it’s about what you “see” in your looking. It’s about knowing that you and everything in the universe is in the process of changing into something else; that just observing life and letting it unfold is more important than attempting to control it.
Awakening is about trusting that life will provide the crises that unravels the narcissistic power of your primitive ego and sets you on the journey toward your authentic or “true self”—–so the creative urge to “become” that resides in you can consciously and co-creatively move into coherence or harmony with the Evolutionary Impulse of Infinite Becoming incarnate in all of creation—-the creative impulse we call Spirit.