FFirst let me begin by stating that these three are not the same. Spiritual awakening can occur in a vast number of ways. But initially, it is what takes place once you’ve come to realize that your life is somehow divinely inspired, and that it is that relationship between your humanness and your divinity that is your paramount reason for being. But more than that, it occurs when the boundaries of your religion or the spiritual dogma you were taught to believe in is no longer enough to contain you; and you begin to hunger for your own personally connected spiritual experiences.

Your spiritual awakening is the inauguration of your ascent toward true Self-knowledge, and your eventual self-emancipation from the illusions that have imprisoned your psyche in a servitude to a false self. It can come about through a sudden shock to your psyche, a near death experience, an unexpected epiphany, or more commonly, through a spiritually stirring experience that might arrive together with a moment of sheer exhaustion; an exhaustion that was brought on through your constant effort at having to maintain your ego identity. Like a butterfly struggling to break free of its chrysalis, you suddenly find yourself struggling to cast off the limits of your previously regimented principles.

In your spiritual awakening, like a newborn, you are however left quite vulnerable. Once it starts your path will be fraught with newly emerging pitfalls, misdirection and a waiting intellectual quicksand made up of all the ambition oriented trappings that might ensnare the young initiate in the promise of a better and more powerful persona.

Enlightenment is not realized through any pursuit or becoming; it arrives through a process of effortlessly letting go, and therein stilling any pressure to be, which might otherwise be induced mentally through the desires of the ego.

But what is important now, is your crowning achievement, which is that you were able to break free of the fear that had bound you to the familiar. Your desire to know, and after lifetimes of being kept in check by enforced societal and religious dogmas, and your fear of persecution, and more importantly, your fear of the unknown, were no longer strong enough to hold you back. You took the risk! —You found your courage, seized the moment, and plunged headlong into the deep, and yet unknown, waters of possibility.

As a result, you were left without any real sense of yourself, or any of those personal familiars that you once relied on to give you your sense of belonging. And now you know, once your ego identity comes into question, then so does your entire collection of its associated limits and boundaries. Consequently, the first question that will likely ask yourself is—“Who am I?”

You’ll no doubt find ten thousand answers to that question; answers that can send you down endless corridors, all the while being haunted with your psyche’s persistent effort to help you reconstruct your effort to once again becoming someone.

And, if you haven’t ventured that far as of yet, rest assured, this happens to everyone, so it will happen to you. It’s a natural condition of the psyche to serve what we believe. In fact, the search for another, better self is a necessary rite of passage, involving a required new field of contrasts through which to learn, grow, and do good works.

So too, a kaleidoscope of new choices will suddenly be available to you. Gaining a new insight into life, some of you might start to see yourselves as righteous rebels or liberators who have been graced to fight the old dogmas, or as the groundbreakers for a new way, or alternately, as those who must search through every available book, seminar, spiritual organization and ancient tradition you can, in order to find the lost truths, so they might be returned to our forgetting world. Some of you might even find yourselves hurling towards alternate identities; trying on colorful new outfits—calling yourselves channels, psychics, light workers, shamans or any number of other associated terms that might serve your creative inspiration. And while all these things may be so in their appearances—every new label, even a new or better one, will in the end be just another boundary to cast off. Of course, good works are good works, but beware of the identity, for every new identity, great or small, also comes with a new set of set of ego driven fears and attachments—with no exceptions to the rule.

Your spiritual awakening doesn’t get its true footing until you abandon your effort to replace your old self with a new self, even a better spiritual self—and until you finally capitulate to the simple fact that you are not who you have ever imagined you were, or will ever come to imagine your self to be. In truth, that real “you” who has always been you, is already enough—and is in your limits or uniqueness still the ultimate Self.

Ideally, spiritual awakening is your transition to the next level of awareness, sometimes referred to as Self Realization. Self Realization first surfaces when the spiritual initiate transitions beyond the mistaken need to attain just another definition, identity, or imagined self, and realizes that the true high Self cannot be captured or known within the limits of the thinking mind. It begins with a simple realization: “To define the true high Self is to also fail that Self!” To pursue your high Self in an effort to merge with it will achieve little more than to create another illusion. How does one merge with what one already is, without effectively affirming an illusion of separation—the very thing that stands in the way of your true enlightenment? For many of you who have realized the futility of labeling or defining the high Self, a new path may for a while intrigue you—a path that says, do the opposite—let anything go that might be construed as an identity. This approach is referred to as neti, neti, which means, not this, not that. It’ll require you to declare, in meditation, thought and deed, “I am not this body, I am not this personality, I am not my thoughts—I am not even this mind that is thinking that I am not this.”

As strange as this may sound, neti, neti may for some initiates actually be another necessary rite of passage. After all—the genuine path to enlightenment always begins with a process of learning to let go. Gautama Buddha once told his students, “If the object of one’s spiritual practice is to let go, then surely the seeker will find the currents of bliss.” However, he didn’t say practice neti, neti; he said simply—“learn to let go.” Most serious initiates eventually discover, neti, neti doesn’t necessarily lead to Self Realization!

It is very important to learn how to discriminate the differences between what is real or what is false, but when every thought or object of one’s perception is deemed to be an illusion, then the path itself will inevitably come crashing down. Some might convincingly declare, “Aha, when the path is no more, you have finally arrived.” —Really? There’s just one remaining issue; there’s no object of perception that can be deemed to be real—no sense of anything is real—not even that place where you may be standing in the “Now.” There’s just a huge, immeasurable, timeless, gapping void.

Maybe there’s another way to see this? Perhaps there was just something missing in the neti, neti—I’m not this, I’m not that—formula? Perhaps a better formula would have been to affirm, “I am not just this, and I am not just that”—and in effect, never limiting the arrival of the truth through a process s of denial, but rather discovering its greater nature through realizing it gradually as all-inclusive. At the end of that road it’s not a void one would be facing, but a fullness that speaks of a Self that is in everything. Or, of a Self that in its unlimited nature is also able to be everything. The initiate’s process would then become one of letting go while experiencing and ever-expanding consciousness.

The Buddha gave his students a special clue as to what the letting go process might leave one with. He said, “Let go so you can realize the currents of bliss.” In other words, he said, let go, be still, and let the honeyed sweetness of your true Self reveal its luminous nature through your unobstructed mind.

Self Realization is the same as the splendor of Self Recognition! If the initiate learns to let go of any effort to be someone, or become someone, or identify with anything, then the ego attractions and aversions in the mind, which distort one’s sense of reality, might fall still—and like water that grows clear in its unsullied stillness, the splendor inducing blisslight of the true high Self might finally shine through that instrument we call the sentient psyche. —When that becomes the sole experience of the initiate, he or she has attained a state of initial Self Realization!

Many of the enlightened Masters of old drew a similar conclusion that many of you will on your own path to enlightenment—“The high Self wants to be!” Were it not so, nothing, not you, not this world, and not this universe would exist. So too, when any attempt to separate our physical, energetic, mental, and spiritual realms are no longer held separate from the indefinable and upper absolute field of consciousness—and everything that is or will ever be is finally realized as a revealing of the possibility that exists within the Divine, then the stage for truly waking into one’s inherent nature, enlightenment, comes to one’s threshold.

Self Realization is not a true enlightenment. Self Realization is the recognition of the Self. And, no matter how grand that realization may be, it will never be enough to wake you fully! No—It is the ability to allow the desire of the indefinable high Self to enduringly bring forth its intended divine manifestation—you in your true nature. Enlightenment is not the result of Self Realization; it is due to its actualization. The false self lives a false life—the true Self lives a true life—the difference is monumental! —Something that’s rarely understood in its true context until the time of one’s waking.

Enlightenment is not realized through any pursuit or becoming; it arrives through a process of effortlessly letting go, and therein stilling any pressure to be, which might otherwise be induced mentally through the desires of the ego. Enlightenment is not a product or the result of the psyche’s labor. It begins to dawn through the psyche only when your waiting transcendental bliss currents are allowed to rise up through your psyche unobstructed—and therein are allowed to engulf your heart and mind completely; thus inciting you to actualize the Will of the greater Self. When this occurs the first state of three successive states of enlightenment have found their footing—and your ultimate adventure begins.

Aaravindha Himadra

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