The Journey to Awakening

It  always  starts  with  profound  discomfort,  or  a  nagging  psychological  itch,  or  a  genuine  crisis.  Something  within  us  becomes  aware  that  there  is  something  more,  something  we  are  not    figuring  out,  something  just  out  of  our  reach  but  its  there,  very  surely  there.  It’s  like  our  heart  knows  something  that  our  brain  does  not  and  that  creates  an  imbalance  that  makes  us  very  uncomfortable.  What  is  it  that  I’m  missing?

When  the  question  becomes  powerful  enough,  the  answer  arrives  in  the  form  of  a  book,  a  discussion  with  a  friend,  or  a  teacher.  Usually  this  first  level  answer  is  some  sort  of  “fix  it”  type  answer.  We    find  some  solution  to  our  crisis,  or  we  learn  how  to  deal  with  our  anxieties,  how  to  make  more  money;  or  we  are  trained  in  the  language  of  psychology,  success  coaching,  self improvement  or  personal  development.  Some  people  jump  into  more  spiritual  matters,  but  even  then,  usually  in  the  beginning,  the  answer  is  “ fix  it”  variety.

At  this  point  we  usually  become  happy  for  a  while  thinking  we  have  found  our  solution  to  all  our  questions.  However  this  happiness  rarely  lasts  very  long,  usually  no  more  than  a  few  months  to  maybe  a  year  or  so.  But  it  serves  its  purpose;  it  whets  our  appetite  and  shows  us  the  path  to  our  inner  world.  The  Seeker  has  been  born,  now  the  seeking  begins.  The  Seeker,  in  all  its  varieties  of  seeking,  has  one  ultimate  agenda:  how  to  become  One  with  the  true  Source  of  power  (some  call  it    finding  God,  some  call  it  returning  to  the  Source,  some  call  it  becoming  enlightened).

The  Seeker  looks  around  and  sees  the  world  in  its  appalling  misery,  his  or  her  own  less  than  per  perfect  life,  and  says,  “There  must  be  a  solution  to  this!”  and  the  heart  concurs  “Yes!  There  is!  Keep  seeking.”

The Journey to AwakeningThe  next  level  answer  usually  arrives  in  the  form  of  some  “white  magic”  type  spiritual  knowledge:  how  to  make  the  universe  do  what  I  want  it  to  do.  People  learn  about  the  law  of  attraction,  power  of  thought,  mind  power,  or  even  full  on  magical  rituals.  And  guess  what?  Lo  and  behold!  It  works!  These  are  the  happiest  days  of  the  Seeker!  It  has  learned  how  to  control  the  Universe.  It  feels  it  has  found  that  thing  that  everyone  is  looking  for  and  it  feels  now  it  can    finally  begin  to  party  in  life  full  steam  ahead.

Unfortunately,  like  all  honeymoons,  this  also  ends  at  some  point  and  Life  somehow  teaches  the  Seeker  that  not  all  things  are  subject  to  its  mind  power  and  magic,  in  fact  the  more  the  Seeker  uses  those  powers,  the  more  life  becomes  complicated.  The  more  the  Seeker  rigidly  tries  to  hold  on  to  magic  and  mind  power,  the  more  suffering  it  experiences.

At  some  point  the  Seeker    figures  out  there  must  be  some  other  better  way,  and  so  the  search  continues.

In  the  next  level  the  Seeker  learns  the  futility  of  control  and  is  trained  to  surrender  instead  of  trying  to  make  everything  go  according  to  its  own  will  and  volition.  The  Seeker  learns  that  the  less  one  pushes,  the  less  one  fights,  the  more  one  allows  things  to  unfold,  the  more  harmonious  life  becomes.  This  is  a  hard  les  son  for  the  Seeker  to  learn  but  once  one  learns  it,  life  becomes  easier  again,  with  less  conflict,  struggle  and    fight.  One  learns  the  art  of  Glowing,  the  art  of  surrender.

For  a  lot  of  people  this  level  of  learning  is  associated  with  a  return  to  religion  and  an  act  of  surrender  to  God  and  His  will.  Since  most  religions  speak  of  surrender  to  Gods  will,  the  Seeker  believes  that  the  an  answer  must  be  in  the  religion  itself.

Some  people  stay  stuck  in  this  level  forever  because  religion  brings  a  tremendous  sense  of  psychological  security…  heaven,  afterlife,  a  sense  of  familiarity  due  to  one’s  own  childhood  conditioning,  and  not  to  mention  the  sense  of  solidarity  with  all  other  members  of  the  same  religion…  and  psychological  security  is  the  ESSENCE  of  what  the  Seeker  was  seeking  all  this  while.

But  no  matter  how  much  psychological  security  the  Seeker    finds  in  surrender,  that  nagging  discomfort  of  not  knowing  does  not  go  away.  And  at  some  point,  after  suffering  ten  years  or  ten  life  times,  in  one  moment  of  total  honesty,  total  surrender,  with  the  power  of  all  consuming    fire  of  total  suffering,  the  Seeker    finally  asks  the  root  question,  the  question  that  collapses  all  other  questions:  Who  Am  I?

At this point, the Seeker realizes this profoundly uncomfortable thing: I don’t know who I am, and since I don’t know who I am, I cannot possibly know what anything means and all my beliefs and ideas are nothing but shadows! Everything I think is good, bad, real, unreal, are all based on the faulty premise of who I think I am and who I think I am is nothing but a summation of conditioning: social, cultural, religious, economic, personal and collective conditioning; conditioning that has been my filter of life since the day I could begin to think verbally, and everything I think I am is nothing but the voice of this conditioning, and this conditioning is nothing but sum total of all manmade assumptions that is at the root of all the suffer ing of the world, that is passed down from generation to generation. The moment the Seeker truly realizes this uncomfortable fact (not as a theoretical discussion but as an actual observation), he wonders: since I don’t even know who I am, how can I know what anything else is?

This is usually referred to as the Dark Night Of The Soul, but what it really is, is the dark night of the Seeker, the ego. This “dark night” can last for days or months and as long as it lasts it’s very painful and even depressing. Yet ironically enough, the “dark night” lasts only as long it takes for the Seeker to get sick and tired of playing around and trying to avoid that final confrontation with Infinity. The “dark night” has one purpose, to show the Seeker the futility of faking it!

And so, one day after the long journey of seeking, after the painful period of not knowing anything, after questioning and thereby tearing apart every belief and ideology, after suffering so much that one can’t suffer anymore… the next level answer arrives!Spiritual path


The Seeker realizes this: there is NO Seeker! The one who has been seeking all this while is not a real per  son, it’s an IDEA, it’s a network of thoughts created through a process of years and years of conditioning: childhood, social, religious, economic, geographic, ethnic, psychological, spiritual conditioning! There is not even one Seeker, the one with the name (put your own name here), but only a movement of thought that creates an illusion of individuality. There is no continuity of the Seeker either (one me that was born and has grown to be an adult today) but again another illusion of continuity created by memory. In reality the Seeker is just another face of the same underlying thought based entity, popularly known as the Ego. Sometimes this ego becomes a loving father, sometimes a selfish businessman, sometimes a blind political supporter, sometimes a spiritual seeker; and all these different faces pretend they are all the same, one person, but they are not. There is no One Me inside! The illusion of one Me is created by the support of one name (which is your name) and inherited neurotic thought patterns.

So, the Seeker, for good reasons, tries to run! Run as far away as possible from this realization. Of all the things that the Seeker thought enlightenment would be, this was not on the list. The Seeker wanted to be enlightened, to know the deepest secrets of the Universe, to sit on the right hand of God… but not this!

At this point, if you are in the hands of a good teacher, before the Seeker is able to run away, the damage will be done, the Seeker will die, the seed will be planted, awareness will awaken, true spiritual awakening will happen! The One who is behind all the seeking, behind all the ideas and knowledge, behind all the conditioning, behind all the filters… has awakened. This is not the “me” who wanted to be enlightened, but something far deeper than “me”. This is not the Seeker, whose death is the hallmark of true awakening, meaning genuinely we are no longer seeking anymore. This is the nameless, limitless One Life… the background consciousness that is the Source and life force of all reality, which is within each of us and yet beyond all that is manifested.

However, no matter how good the teacher maybe, no one can keep you bound forever, and one day you walk away from the retreat or the ashram, or if it happened to you through your own efforts then your own meditation room. And after a period of blissful inner peace and unthinkable freedom you find that even if the Seeker is dead, the egoic consciousness is very much still there. And you wonder how is it that the ego still survives after such profound experience of awakening? (The ego is that that state of consciousness that allows you to perceive time and duality with the support of collective conditioning and knowledge, it is the voice of the “me”.)

The  answer  of  course  is  that  the  ego  is  very  much  a  necessary  component  of  this  physical  world.  It  has  its  functions  like  clothes  and  cars  have  their  functions.  You  need  the  ego  to  have  social  relationships,  to  make  a  profit  in  a  business,  to  play  a  sport  and  all  that  involves  you  perceiving  duality  in  any  shape  or  form.  The  ego  is  your  lens  through  which  you  perceive  duality.  The  problem  of  course  happens  when  you  get  IDEN–‐  TIFIED  with  the  ego  TOTALLY  and  believe  that  the  egoic  view  of  the  world  is  the  ONLY  view  and  that  is  the  ABSOLUTE  truth  rather  than  a  point  of  view,  like  a  world  seen  through  a  colored  lens,  which  is  what  it  really  is.  When  you  get  IDENTIFIED  with  the  ego,  you  lose  your  perspective  as  the  One  Life  beyond  duality,  you  begin  to  feel  everything  and  everyone  is  separate  from  you,  and  life  is  basically  you  against  the  world.  If  you  think  through  this,  you  will  find  out  that  the  moment  you  get  identified  with  the  ego,  is  the  moment  true  compassion  and  empathy  ends,  and  every  action  you  perform  gives  birth  to  conflict,  within  and  without.

truth in our heart

The  next  problem  is  that  because  this  is  a  journey  of  evolution,  and  because  we  have  spent  millions  of  years  or  fifty  thousand  years  or  fifty  life  times  (whichever  you  find  easier  to  believe)  in  the  grasp  of  our  ego  (which  means  a  specific  way  of  using  our  brain),  its  very  easy  for  us  to  fall  back  into  the  egoic  mode  of  perception  from  our  awakened  state  which  is  a  very  recent  evolutionary  achievement.

And  so  the  rest  of  the  journey  for  the  Awake  One,  as  long  as  we  are  here  on  this  earth  in  this  body,  is  to  play  this  game  of  cars  and  credit  cards  and  marriages  and  children  with  as  much  fun  as  possible  remaining  as  awake  as  possible.  In  an  ideal  situation,  we  play  our  game  of  duality  intensely  and  passionately  with  integrity,  impeccability  and  style,  all  the  while  remaining  aware  of  our  true  identity  in  the  back–‐  ground,  which  is  the  One  Consciousness  itself  through  one  and  all,  experiencing  itself  within  the  multitudes,  the  Unity  within  multiplicity.  If  we  are  awake,  truly  awake,  we  play  this  game  of  duality  as  long  as  it  is  fun  and  enjoyable  and  when  it’s  getting  too  serious,  we  simply  snap  back  to  our  original  state.  We  do  what  we  need  to  do  but  we  never  forget  the  truth  in  our  heart.


This post is an excerpt from the book “Awakening to the Infinite” by Shafin de Zaine


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