So when you heard about spiritual awakening or enlightenment, what was the prize that you wanted in the end? What was the story that got you hooked?
Perhaps it was something about experiencing endless bliss and joy, or maybe it was the end of suffering, or perhaps it was about experiencing constant Oneness with the Divine. Maybe it was the answer to all your questions.
It may be something else entirely, but whatever the case may be, I m sure the bait was very shiny and attractive, yes?
It turns out that they don’t give you the full story when you start playing the game. What I am about to share isn’t meant to discourage people on the path, but simply to help them be conscious if and when these things start occurring. These things don’t necessarily mean that something has gone wrong, although it may certainly seem that way. A helpful book to those who are experiencing the following symptoms is You are Not Going Crazy You’re Just Waking Up!
Now, if spiritual awakening was to come with a series of warning labels, what would be printed on those labels?
Warning: All your beloved attachments are going to be taken away from you. Everything you hold near and dear to your heart you must be completely and utterly willing to lose them. The more you hold onto them, the more you will suffer. It is only in the willingness to let go that find your freedom. By the way, letting go as a technique to trick the universe into granting your freedom, as in saying that you let go while peeking over your shoulder to see whats to come, that doesn’t cut it. You cant B.S. your way there. Believe me, I have tried No one else has been able to pull that one off either.
Warning: You will experience dark nights of the soul. You will experience your entire world crumbling down. You will experience intense emotional roller coasters, to the point where you literally may feel like you are going crazy.
Warning: You must let go of all of your judgments and false sense of worth. You know all those accomplishments you have achieved in this lifetime? What do you brag about? You must let go of holding onto any of them as a way to enhance your self-worth and boost your sense of self. Your trophies and medals, while certainly valuable in their own right, they must lose their importance as something that makes you feel better or worthy. You are not valuable because of anything you have ever done or ever will do. You are valuable simply because you are. Because you exist. All the blows to your pride and are ways to help you let go of your false sense of worth and open up to the realization of your true worth.
Warning: You must let go of all your ideas about God. In order to find God, you must quit telling yourself you already know God. All the ideas that you have grown up hearing, being taught, holding onto, or rejecting, all of them have to be let go of in order to be seen through.
Warning: You will find yourself entering a place with no rules, no shoulds and shouldnts, no technique, no strategies, and no room for all of your egoic stuff and the energy of division.
Warning: Your ego will throw fits. Your pain body will go crazy. Your buttons will get pushed. Your ego will throw out every trick in its book. When you start learning how to get past its tricks, it will become more sneaky and subtle. As you advance, your ego advances. It all happens to bring more awareness to the energies within, to help you let go of that which you previously have been unconscious to.
Warning: The egoic dangers do not end after awakening. In fact, as Adyashanti points out, the dangers after awakening get more dangerous and there is much more of them. For example, one can settle in to seeing the Absolute as the only valid perspective and disregarding the world of the relative because its all illusion. This can lead to some very unconscious behavior and a letting go of changing that because it doesn’t matter and there is no one to change it. Remember, the world is illusion, yes. Brahman alone is real, yes. BUT, the world IS Brahman. This is true non-duality: seeing the Reality in the so-called illusion as one.
Warning: Just because you wake up, that does not mean that everyone will love you and you will never have any struggles in life again. Just look at Jesus if you have any doubts about that one.
Warning: You must come out of hiding. All the dark stuff within you that you have not been wanting to look at and be truthful about, it will all come up to the surface. All that stuff you hide from other people, the things you do not want to show to others or to yourself, your inside will become your outside. There is no hiding ANYTHING from anyone. Its a deep deep level of vulnerability, sincerity, and self-honesty.
Warning: All your life lessons will come to the surface. You will have to look at and accept everything. There is nowhere to run and nowhere to go. You can only be here, now. There s no one to become. Waking up is not a self-improvement course. Although it may appear this way on the surface, the point of waking up is not to become more spiritual, more loving, more enlightened, or more acceptable in the eyes of God. Its about Self-realization, about realizing who and what you really are. You return back to your natural state and be who you really ARE, that which does not have to be created, manifested, or maintained.
Warning: The farther you go, the more painful it becomes to deviate from the Truth of your being. Think of it this way: If you walk into a tree at 2 mph, its no big deal. If you whack a tree while running as fast as you can, its gonna hurt. The deeper you go into Being, the more painful it is when you lie even just a little bit, hold back your Truth, don’t allow yourself to be who you are, resist what is, judge another, or in any way violate natural laws. You get a lot less slack. In Zen they call it walking the Razors Edge. Deviate even a little bit and you quickly get cut.
Warning: You have to take complete and total responsibility for everything and everyone that shows up in your life. As your consciousness begins returning back to its natural state of timelessness, manifestation starts happening much more clearly and the link between inner thoughts and vibrations and outer manifestation becomes REALLY clear. No longer do you get the luxury of blaming others or judging others. Everything you see as a problem in others instantly gets turned around and becomes your problem. You will begin taking on a lot more pressure once everyone’s problems start to become yours. The world truly is your mirror. All the problems you really have with others really are problems you have within yourself. Get to work on surrender. It becomes a much more necessary skill later on.
Warning: You must accept that you will never get there, that you will never arrive. You could spend an entire lifetime on this journey and never wake up. Indeed that has happened to many people. In fact, so long as you cling to your desire to get somewhere, you will never actually wake up to whats already here. You must surrender completely your desire to succeed in your path of awakening. You must accept the fact that you may embark on the journey, never to actually get enlightened.
Warning: You may feel very connected and One with Source/All That Is at times, and you will also experience yourself feeling totally disconnected, lost, confused, and cut off. Its a horrible feeling. Its the experience of pure separation, they very illusion we are trying to see beyond.
Warning: Even if you get a glimpse of the Truth of your Being once or twice or a hundred times, the egoic structure may rebuild itself, leading to the experience of being unenlightened, or what we call a non-abiding awakening. Adyashanti reports that it usually takes people anywhere from 3-15 years for the momentum of awakening to settle in. Although it does not happen in the future and can only happen in the now, don’t expect an overnight insta-fix.
Warning: Just because you have a clear seeing of who you really are, that’s not the end of the journey. The first question is Who Am I? Once that’s discovered, it now becomes a matter of how what I AM manifests itself in this world. The second question upon realization is, How then shall I live? Its not enough to have the inner realization. That realization must express itself out through the totality of your being for it to become a living realization.
Warning: You must completely and utterly let go of control, of even controlling your survival, much less your destiny. You must be willing to die, to face the fear of death and surrender into it without attempting to stop it or control it in any way. The fear of death and the unknown become your friends. No longer will you be running from them.
Warning: The more you begin living in the moment and letting go of the domination of your consciousness by your mind, you may begin experiencing memory loss. Whole blocks of memory will begin falling away. Its not exactly like Alzehimers, but there very well may be some significant loss of short-term and/or long-term memory as you begin relying less upon memory and more upon a deeper intuitive knowingness.
Warning: You may have intense kundalini awakenings to where it will feel like your entire nervous system is being overloaded. Many people have literally gone insane from this. It can be helpful to seek out some helpful resources including other people who have experienced similar symptoms, various practices you can do to work with the energies, and even a guru to help guide you safely through the process.
Warning: You may experience cycles of confusion and clarity. In one moment you may be very wise, deep, loving, and compassionate, and in the next moment the cloudiness of the veil will return and you will no longer have a clue as to whats going on. You may become sucked right back into your ego, experiencing your deepest and darkest fears.
Warning: There is tremendous value in working with others, but you must learn to stand in your aloneness. Many of your relationships may change. Friends and family that have been close to you your whole life may be let go of. Some people will come, others will go. Some stay for the long haul. Which ones will stay and which ones will go? Who knows? The flow of the river will determine that more than any conscious decision. You can try to make it a conscious decision, but that will actually be more of a resistance to the flow and a desire to control than anything else. You don’t get to control the process. It happens. The you you think you are doesn’t make it happen.
Warning: You don’t get anything as a result of awakening. There is no thing you get as a prize such as a good feeling such as a constant never-ending wonderful enlightened experience or a boost to your self-esteem. (What self would we be talking about anyways who has a self-esteem?) You get nothing, but BOY what a nothing it is. By seeing that you ARE that nothingness, and that you ARE the entire universe arising from that nothingness, you realize that what you ARE is already more than anything that could ever be wanted, as Gangaji so beautifully puts it.
Now as I say all of this Im laughing. In certain moments it can be a crazy, wild, intense, OMG-Im-gonna-die experience, yes, particularly when youre in the heat of the moment, but its like waking up from a dream at night You recognize that it was all just a dream and it doesnt feel like it was actually all that real. What you ARE is infinitely more real than anything that appears in this world. Those experiences will begin to feel so distant and faded, like a memory that you can only partially and vaguely remember, as if it happened to another person entirely in another far-off world.
That said, its worth it. Its all SO worth it. The direct realization of who and what you really are is SO worth all of the bumps and jolts that we experience along the way. Things to lighten up as you do.
Note: All of the above pictures were created by my dear friend Patty LaPlante. The quotes come from the book Oneness by Rasha.
Not everyone will necessarily experience every single thing listed above. For some people, some experiences may be more profound than others. In fact, there are many other things that one may experience that have not been listed in this post.
Either way, there is a book Id HIGHLY recommend that people check out titled You are Not Going Crazy You are Just Waking Up! by Michael Mirdad. You can read my full review of it here.
For those of you who have also been walking the path for a little while now, what warnings would you give someone who is getting started and does not know what to expect?