“The wakeful state tells us that the world is not an inanimate place, that matter is not the only reality. It tells us that consciousness is not just produced by the brain but is a fundamental quality of the universe that channels into our own individual beings. It tells us that we are not isolated individuals but share the same spiritual essence as every living being, every object, and the universe itself.”
~ Steve Taylor, from The Leap
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Being awake is fundamentally different than being asleep or the in-between stage of waking up. But applying the metaphor to spiritual awakening can be problematic because spiritual awakening delivers us, not to more content the way waking up in the morning does, but to less content, to a state described by the words “wakeful nothingness.”
We use words to venture descriptions of the indescribable. For instance, these words – wakeful nothingness – represent an attempt to describe the state of balance natural to those who are spiritually awake. This is an experience that must be known for oneself; words can merely point the way.
Balance, in the holistic model of reality, is represented by the symbol of the cross. The horizontal plane relates to the polarized opposites of subjective and objective, being and becoming. The first priority towards spiritual awakening is to achieve that horizontal balance. Once you become able to sustain that, then the vertical axis actualizes. This traverses between dense and subtle energetic realms, but no substantial degree of vertical balance can actualize and be sustained until the horizontal balance first locks in. This emphasizes the importance of our daily living experience of wakefulness, not just our meditative practice when sitting.
Working towards the experience of wakeful nothingness is not something that you try to do. It happens courtesy of the orchestration of consciousness and the evolving momentum of your consciousness is the causative force. This experience will emerge for you, for anyone, at the precise moment it becomes the experience whose time has come. Along the way, egoic remnants can sustain a sense of false “doership.”
“Look at me, I’m making great spiritual progress” is a neon sign that proves the ego is still running the show. This fraudulent aberration must dissolve and can – not through any effort on the part of a “seeker” but in the alchemical gap that appears in your awareness between illusion and truth. That gap develops as you cease being identified with what’s happening and become a witness to what’s happening. That’s the key to achieving horizontal balance.
In the early stages of awakening many people report various kinds of phenomena. It’s important to clarify that this is the kindergarten stage of awakening consciousness, the early stages of the awakening experience. Epiphanies and magical moments get your attention. You may perceive something radically unusual, complete with vivid lights and colors, etc. That’s interesting, fascinating, often inspiring. And, it’s potentially distracting.
As you continue waking up, the phenomenal fades and the noumenal increases. Your attention is inevitably drawn away from the extraordinary and into the secret magnificence of the ordinary, into what all the great mystical traditions have emphasized: wakeful nothingness. The Gnostics respected this as the ultimate reality of consciousness and genuine teachers warn against letting phenomenon of any kind distract.
Phenomena of consciousness is the noisy part of the mental dimension, all your thoughts, beliefs, and stories. Post-awakening, you begin to perceive more truthfully and your stories shift from life-negative to life-positive, to truthful stories of unified consciousness that are love based.
You could say that your life story progresses from fiction to non-fiction, from noise to silence. In fact, your stories, thoughts, and beliefs reduce themselves to one essential story: There is only one.
Your dominant state of being in life becomes a formless, empty stillness. This explains why all great teachers say, “Watch your stories.” They ask, “Can you be a witnessing consciousness, watching without any opinion?”
Imagine surrendering your opinions. That might seem impossible. But we might well ask, “What’s the value of opinions?” Yes, we can argue concepts, we can defend positions, we can advocate actions. But we can accomplish even more (and a lot easier) without opinion.
In that witnessing stillness, you’ve entered a medium of revelation where what’s seen, known, and realized can be fully embraced, as the way it is and must be. As inadequate as any words are to describe this experience, perhaps these words are sufficient to inspire trading fascination with phenomena for the ego-annihilating reality of wakeful nothingness.