When Awakening first happened, I considered it to be the end of a long spiritual search to know the truth of my own nature. In the Mandukya Upanishad the Sanskrit phrase, transliterated as “Ayam Atman Brahman” brought me to the intellectual conclusion that This Individual Consciousness is the Divine Consciousness, which is the translation of those Sanskrit words. My own experience in meditation introduced me to the pure space of Transcendent Consciousness as the fundamental reality of existence in this body. The intellectual and experiential meshed, my teachers validated the realization, and to put it simply, Awareness Awakened to Itself in this body-mind complex.
In reality, the Ego doesn’t awaken to the truth that Jonathan is Awareness Itself. In fact, at first my ego was only too happy to try to appropriate the ‘achievement’ of spiritual awakening as a new attribute of itself. However, the set of mental and emotional processes that make up the Ego were entirely subsumed and pushed out of the ownership of this body-mind at the moment of awakening. However, the Ego is only too eager to try to keep establishing its centrality, and its right to oppose What Is, and the way Reality shows up, at any time it can.
As time went on it became clear that the Ego dies a slow death in most of us. Only the rarest has an instant Ego death upon awakening. The whole body-mind complex then begins a journey of eventual surrender to the truth that Awareness/Consciousness/God/the Divine/The Absolute, whether experienced as ‘internal’ to my body-mind or ‘external’ to my body-mind, is what ‘wins.’ The Ego is a set of temporary processes that arise in Awareness. Awareness doesn’t arise into the ego. Ego wouldn’t be experienced without Awareness but, Awareness doesn’t need ego to exist. Therefore, ego eventually becomes less and less important.
As the Truth sinks into the body-mind, then, a transformation occurs. The body relaxes whenever the mind stops fighting with Reality as it is. The relaxation process, for me at least, has continued over many years and is still proceeding: it’s a cumulative process. Also, the body is the vehicle through which the Divine is ‘experienced’ and so: body awareness, emotions, and the thought-producing mind never permanently disappear. Our awareness of the body, emotions and thoughts may be subsumed to the underlying experience of Awareness over time but, they never disappear. We develop a dual focus: the imminent world of the ‘here and now’ and the Transcendent aspects of Consciousness, which could be viewed as two halves of the whole.
If God/Consciousness/etc. wanted to appear as a ‘wispy’ ‘transparent’ thing, it wouldn’t have picked a solid, corporeal body to Realize itself in, as and through. So, contrary to my early ideas of the process of Enlightenment, my body and its pains and pleasures, my thoughts with their attractions and aversions, and my emotions (whether based on true events or false thought-forms) have continued.
Enlightenment doesn’t bring the end of any of these, merely their transformation. The common idea of spiritual awakening and Enlightenment is that it’s a one time event that leads to a constant, lived state of bodily bliss, permanent open-heartedness, and freedom from all false thoughts. This is a fantasy. Awakening changes the point of organization of the body-mind from Ego to Awareness or Brahman (or the other thousand names we could use). Then transformation and deepening occurs as a result of the Awakening. This transformation or purification is a process that we can both actively and passively participate in.
Over time, the transformation occurs because the Realization gets embodied. How the Realization got embodied for me? I’ll write about that next week.