Table of Contents
The Simple, Yet Complete Definition
Awakening creates an immediate, permanent impact on our view of ourselves, others, and even our own personality.
Awakening sets us free to enjoy our entire life, exactly as it is, by freeing us from afflictive thoughts and emotions.
Let's unpack what these phrases mean to further clarify the definition.
Seeing is such a funny word.
It has several different meanings, all depending on how it's used.
And sometimes it's not always clear what it means.
For example, if I said "I saw Sally yesterday," does that mean all that happened was I saw her with my eyes? Or does it mean I "saw" her in the sense of met with her?
So let's clear up this ambiguity about the word "seeing" and what it means to "clearly see."
I'll use the following autosteriogram as an example of clearly seeing:
If you can look correctly (by crossing your eyes just right, or "looking beyond" the image), you will see 3D objects hidden in the picture.
I made this one especially difficult to see to help convey an idea further below.
For those who can't see the "hidden" 3D image, they can still see the 2D image just fine.
In fact, they are seeing the 3D image at the same time, since the 3D image is part of the 2D image.
But the 3D image isn't clearly seen. That is, they can't clearly discern the difference between the 3D image and the 2D image.
They can only see the 2D image.
To clearly see our true nature is to be able to not only see it, but discern clearly what our true nature is.
Beyond Head Knowledge
Don't fall into the common trap many get stuck in.
It's natural to think because we use all of these mental concepts that can be understood by the mind that Awakening is something you can know with the mind.
It is something you can know, but knowing it comes after seeing it.
Let's build off of the 2D/3D image above to illustrate this point.
If you want to know what the 3D picture is, click the button.
Me clearly telling you what the 3D image is isn't the same as seeing it for yourself.
Even if you click the button and read the description (go ahead, click it!), it still doesn't help you see it.
Not only that, no matter how much I write and explain the details of the 3D image, when you see it, you'll realize my description wasn't enough for you to understand it completely.
In the same way, "knowing" what your true nature is isn't the same as seeing it clearly for yourself.
So while I use a lot of examples to explain what true nature is, even if someone repeats them all back word-for-word and understands everything I said exactly the way I meant it - if they don't clearly see their own true nature, this knowledge won't have any lasting impact on them - no life change!
We use many words and phrases to describe ourselves.
"We're all love,"
"We're all light."
These phrases abound, but you instinctively know that they can't be 100% right.
If "I'm happy," then why "I'm sad"? These two contradict eachother.
And so do all the other descriptions we use.
Some people even say "all of these descriptions are true!"
But in making a long list, and even agreeing that it's "all true!" won't help us be any closer to clearly seeing our true nature.
I propose a simple way to look at all of these descriptions in relationship to our true nature.
Imagine if we traveled all over the world and described everything we saw. (I'll just stick to large geographic descriptions here)
"It's a mountain."
"It's an ocean."
"It's a desert."
"It's a plane of rolling hills and grain."
Just as all of these are true, so also are all of those descriptions we use to describe ourselves.
"They're all true!"
And what about the features we don't like?
Just as with Earth, you may not like being in the desert, you may also not like every word that is used to "truly" describe you (like sad, angry, upset, depressed, etc).
How can we see our true nature and own up to these negative descriptions all at the same time?
To escape from the definitions of "mountain," "ocean," etc, when describing Earth, instead of going across it's surface and describing it, we would go down, into the center of the planet.
It's the activities in the center of the planet that cause the features we see on the surface.
In the same way, our true nature isn't the surface characteristics we use to describe ourselves, it's the underlying core, below where all of these characteristics originate.
The Impact Of Clearly Seeing Your True Nature
I used to think there was some special "hard work" I'd have to do in order to be free from quirks in my personality and the effect of negative emotions, like anxiety and fear.
But I found this isn't the case.
Even prior to awakening I saw significant progress in dealing with my negative emotions just by sitting with them and "looking" into them.
I didn't have to make a special vow to "never do that again," or punish myself if I slipped up and acted out of a negative emotion.
Just taking the time to look at the emotion, and understanding how it was working in me, from the thoughts that triggered it to the underlying beliefs it was coming from, was enough to free me.
And the same is true of you.
It's my personal desire to see you living a liberated life.
Each time I sat with these emotions, they got weaker and weaker.
Truly seeing your own nature works in the same way.
Free From, Not Free Of
This is an important distinction that trips people up.
They think as soon as they've Awakened (or "become enlightened"), they live in peaceful bliss for the rest of their lives.
This simply isn't true.
We still have our entire sympathetic nervous system that triggers the fight, flight, or freeze mechanism. Many situations we're in don't require one of those three responses, but smaller, micro-versions of them will happen, all triggered by the sympathetic nervous system.
Awakening doesn't change our biology. We don't have our parasympathetic nervous system ripped out or even neutralized by Awakening.
But the effect of the parasympathetic nervous system is greatly reduced the more we see clearly our true nature and we let go of our false beliefs.
Each time we work through false beliefs, triggers, and emotions that arise from them, returning back to our true nature, our emotional baseline is lowered, moving away from anxiety to peace.
This is why I say we're free from afflictive thoughts and emotions, not necessarily free of them - they come up, but we find it easier and easier to pass them.
What you become free from:
- Your Story - you realize the story you've been telling yourself isn't important, even if it is 100% true. You see the real truth about your life. The things that are the most important to you shift from things that are negative, holding you back, to things that align with your peace and happiness that's always present.
- Your Emotions - we all have overwhelming emotions that consume our attention and "drown" us like a flood. Immediately after Awakening, many people say they have a reprieve from overwhelming emotions. Mine lasted for months, but even after strong negative emotions returned, my relationship with them was different. Even when they would surge, I would maintain my freedom from them, knowing they would pass and I could wait them out. This naturally lowers your anxiety/fear/stress baseline, making it easier to maintain calm even in the middle of the same difficulties that used to be your worst situations.
- Past Traumas - It wasn't until after Awakening that I was able to work through the results of the traumas I had from my childhood, like my Dad beating my sister and me, my mom getting killed by a drunk driver when I was 15, or the constant emotional and psychological abuse from my Dad and step-mom. The traumas don't magically go away, nor the wounds we have from them, but through awakening we have a different relationship with them and can work through them until we're completely free.
- Afflictive Thoughts - After Awakening, when thoughts come up that bother us, it's the same as with our emotions, our relationship with them is different. Prior to Awakening we may have easily believed them and gone on big rumination binges. Post-Awakening we quickly see through the thoughts, and while they may continue to pop up, with each "seeing clearly," they become weaker and quieter. Eventually they are replaced with a different view on life, one not based on the false view of all that negativity.
Common Myths And Misconceptions About Awakening And Why They're Harmful
Now let's examine common misunderstandings people have about Awakening and how they affect us in negative ways on our path to Awakening.
You Cannot Purify Yourself Towards Awakening
Most of the world's religions are based in the belief that we're impure/unclean, and as such can't go to heaven, experience god, have ultimate peace, etc, as long as we're unclean.
As such, they create long lists of "thou shalt nots" and tell you you're a sinner if you do them.
Naturally then they have to create rituals that the sinners can perform to cleanse themselves.
This view, when applied to Awakening by saying "you have to purify yourself until you're pure enough to awaken" leaves a person feeling like:
- Maybe they aren't good enough. If only they found that one "magical" thing they could do, then they'd Awaken.
- They don't know the right ritual. They go on a hunt for all these different religious rituals and experiences to find the one that will magically cause them to awaken.
- They aren't doing the rituals right. Again, an endless hunt for "the right way," and usually either arguing about "the right way to do it" or getting confused by others (because everybody has a different opinion on "the right way").
- They don't have the right knowledge. Similar to not knowing the right ritual or how to do it correctly, they get caught up in trying to learn more and more, thinking that will unlock Awakening for them.
These are all misguided since Awakening has nothing to do with knowledge, purity, or rituals.
Spending time chasing these feel good because it gives us something to do, but it's like thinking you're making progress on your trip just because you're driving.
Just like people packing up to go on a long trip who spend all their time driving around in their same town for the rest of their life, people on the spiritual journy who don't know where they're going or how to get there will spend all their life seeing exactly the same sights and working on the same insights and rituals.
Awakening Is Not A State Of Mind Or Emotions
This is common with people who study eastern concepts like nirvana.
It's easy to read about the states people enter after Awakening and thinking those states themselves are Awakening.
This is like hearing about someone who talks about how great they feel all the time because they exercise, work out, eat healthy, and sleep well, and upon hearing that we go in search of "feeling great" without doing any of those things that produce "feeling great."
The peace, calm, bliss, personal growth, detachment from negativity, etc, all come from clearly seeing our nature as it is.
Searching for peace, calm, bliss, even "self improvement," etc, will always sell you short of achieving lasting results because the causality is in the other direction.
Clearly seeing your nature creates the conditions that all these other states arise from.
Being in a state of peace, calm, bliss, etc doesn't create the condition to clearly see your true nature.
Searching from this direction always leads to disappointment, as those conditions are fleeting.
Instead of seeking these states, seek to clearly see your own true nature, and once you see it all these other states will come.
P.S. They'll also go, that's what they do, they come and go - but you'll no longer care about them, your liberation won't depend on what state you're in.
Awakening Is Not The End Of Pain And Suffering
Similar to the misconception that Awakening is a state of mind or emotions, it's common that people think they'll enter a state where they'll no longer feel pain or suffer.
A quick review on definitions:
- Pain - is unavoidable. It's the literal event that has happened. For example, someone mistreats you by saying something untrue about you. That can be painful and will hurt. (honestly, eventually you can get to where even this doesn't hurt, in which case we could use being physically hurt for "pain")
- Suffering - is optional. Suffering is the thing we add on top of the pain. This is the negative emotions we pile on after someone said something untrue about us. This is the story we tell ourselves about them, about how awful they are, about all the past things they did wrong, etc. This is us going around to all of our friends to tell them how badly we were treated both to sooth ourselves as well as "get our friends on our side." We may even scheme how we're going to get them back, or fantasize that something bad will befall them. All of this is negative suffering that is optional. You don't need it, you're better off without it.
Pain may never come to an end. People may continue to say things about us that are untrue. Physical pain is unavoidable, along with sickness, and eventually death.
Awakening doesn't stop that.
By clearly seeing our true nature, we see through the natural reactions that arise leading to all the forms of suffering.
Our relationship with these natural reactions, and even the pain itself, is changed.
With that change of relationship, when painful things happen, we naturally have a different reaction.
And even when we realize we're stuck in rumination, or some other form of suffering, we know we don't have to participate if we don't have to, and can quickly return back to our deepest state of natural peace.
Awakening Is Not An End Goal
"When I Awaken, then it will all be easy and I can sit back and enjoy it all."
While it's true you'll enjoy your experience of life more, it's not true that it instantly becomes easy.
It's like mountain climbing, where Awakening is reaching a point above all the clouds for the first time. When you were in the clouds you couldn't tell which way would be open, and which way would be blocked. You tried many different things. But once you're above the clouds, you can clearly see what works in climbing, and it's clear how to now climb to the highest peak on the mountain.
Prior to Awakening we all try so many different things.
After Awakening we stick to only the techniques that work, and the view of how we work internally makes all of our effort much more effective.
So Awakening isn't the end goal, it's the beginning of really effective progress.
Awakening Is Not External To You
Having the idea that anything we need for spiritual growth is external to us leaves us always looking outside of us, meaning we're not fulfilled just as we already are.
Not only is this sense of inadequacy wrong, leading to a feelings of never-good-enough, it's harmful because it keeps us looking outside ourselves to find our freedom.
Awakening happens as a result of clearly seeing our true nature, so any search outside our self is leading us in the wrong direction.
All religions that have us searching for a relationship with god, mystical experience, state of being, etc, they all have us looking outside ourselves, meaning our peace and happiness are dependent on things beyond our control, and worse, things that seem difficult to obtain and can change at any time.
I've developed an approach you can use to help you on your own path to Awakening, I recommend you start here to get started with the basic foundation of my approach: A Comprehensive Approach To Awakening.
Let's setup an initial consultation - I'd love to see if I can help!