Within the fields of the mystical arts there are many outspoken practitioners on spiritual enlightenment. In fact spirituality itself appears to be tied directly into the defining essence of our human nature, yet many of us still appear to pass from the cradle to the grave without experiencing anything that even slightly resembles a spiritual awakening. Why in a world that appears to be obsessed with all things spiritual would this be the case?
Before I propose a possible answer to this question I believe that it is essential to understand what a typical spiritual awakening involves and how it may possibly come about. I should also make it clear at this point that I’m not referring to the finding of religion, which although related is a completely different issue to the self-awakening process.
My personal definition of spirituality is that of becoming self-aware of the living energy that exists within every atom of our body, followed by the realization that the very same indestructible energy flows throughout the entirety of manifest reality. At a conscious level it is the further understanding that our sense of separation is of an illusionary nature, as we are all an integral part of the greater whole. The plants, animals, rocks, the food we eat, the water we drink and the air that we breathe all contain this same immortal spark of energy at their epicentre.
Enlightenment is more a case of steadily coming to an understanding of how this energy becomes intricately interwoven into the fabric of manifest reality. Or in other words we start to gain meaningful insights into the inner workings of the universe and the true nature of what we refer to as reality.
In mysticism there is a general agreement in regards to the order that the universe manifests. From a state of nothingness wells a sea of pure energy; this energy then steadily condenses on many levels, beginning with the ethereal realms, before it eventually reaches its further most point, the solid matter of our reality.
Enlightenment and spirituality go hand in hand and can be described in terms of being a combination of knowledge and experience. The triggers of a spiritual awakening may vary tremendously in nature. Spending time in natural surroundings such as forests, lakes or mountains may help connect you to the inner process, which was the case for a friend of mine who spends his time out in the country fishing. Alternatively it may gradually occur over time, after practicing meditation or self-experimentation with psychoactive drugs of the higher states of consciousness and a feeling of oneness that psychedelic substances have a tendency to produce. Psilocybin, which is found in the so called ‘magic mushrooms’ has recently been experimentally given to terminally ill patients as when ingested it has the ability to create an overwhelming feeling of oneness between ourselves and the universe and it has evidently helped many of the patients involved to come to terms with their impending fate.
Another sequence of events that appears to often trigger a spiritual awakening occurs when people start to question the meaning of life and the true nature of the world that they find themselves to be living in, perhaps after a near death experience or the passing of a loved one. In fact it very well may be that the true meaning of living a conscious life is to question every aspect of our experience of it.
Although this style of awakening may occur at any time during life this mental move towards self-questioning appears to be most prevalent in those that are within the 28-35 year old age bracket. I guess the reason for this is that by the time we reach our late 20’s we've experienced a great deal of what life is likely to throw our way and start to wonder is this it? This also coincides astrologically with a person’s Saturn return, which hits in the late 20's and the effects of which can be felt into the early 30's and is seen as a wake up call.
One certainty is, that once the spiritual awakening has occurred, there is no going back. At this point in life many turn to religion as a way of defining the experience, though the trouble with addressing the experience via the dogma that is associated with religion, is that in many cases it only serves to direct you away from the intense emotional power that is the essence of direct experience and self-awareness.
Once the state of awakening has become full blown it appears that most people head in one of four directions, they either accept the experience for what it is and get on with their lives, try to completely ignore it, which in turn can lead to mental health issues, find religion or fourthly and most interestingly, they enter a prolonged period of self-evaluation and try to expand on the experience via the use of the many mystical techniques that are to be found within the doctrines of the esoteric arts. In time they may even trace that energy back towards its source by following traditional methods such as the Kabbalistic tree of life.
Our direct experience of universal energy can be steadily built upon over a period of time, somewhat like peeling back the infinite concentric layers of a self-contained sphere of energy. Each layer or veil, if you prefer, has the capacity of imprinting the integral sum of its’ information directly onto the next layer. As we get deeper into the layers we are slowly guided towards gaining ever-increasing insights in regards to the universal source.
It is said that to achieve true union with the source energy we must then pass through a final barrier or void that many refer to as being ‘the abyss’. If we see the process of enlightenment in terms of penetrating these informational layers it implies that if we wish to cross ‘the abyss’ in order to become as one with the energy source, we must in turn allow ourselves to cast aside the illusion of reality that was projected into the multiple layers, together with any learned and experienced information and our sense of self-identity, without fearing what is essentially the death of the ego. When all illusions collapse we become the source.
This can also be explained in the context of levels of awareness. Our base reality is a state of waking consciousness, a realm of problem solving and ideas that pertain to our daily lives. Beyond this is the realm of dreams, ideas and the imagination and there is also a further state of unconsciousness.
Many become trapped within the realm of dreams and imagination out of fascination or become absorbed within the belief that this is as far as you can go. Yet to transcend this state it implies that we must willingly let go of all we are. It also explains why people report having mystical experiences during states of unconsciousness such as a feeling of unity with a powerful all-encompassing white light that they find themselves within. Many people who have been involved in accidents or perhaps suffer epilepsy in turn unwittingly get to experience what many spiritual occultists spend a lifetime trying to achieve. It is interesting that epilepsy is now seen as being an infliction, whereas in ancient Greece it was seen as a divine blessing, as those that suffered from it had regular and direct experience of the gods, although it could be said that this is merely an experience of pure pre-manifest energy and not its actual source.
So we now come to the question of why many of us never experience the spiritual awakening.
I think the answer to this question is to be found within the structure of our modern day cultural upbringing and the tendency towards dissociation between the natural world and ourselves. The computer driven age has already produced several technology obsessive generations who appear to be increasingly disinterested in the world they live in.
A good example of this occurred a few months ago, I was showing a friends teenage children some photos I had taken during one of my hikes up in the Scottish mountains. I said, “If you’re lucky your dad might take you up there on a holiday.” They replied, “Why would we want to go and waste our time doing something boring like walking up in the mountains when we can look at pictures of them on the computer?”
They continued to say that unless the holiday involved a beach resort where they could lay by the pool and play their video games, they would much rather stay at home in the comfort of their bedrooms with the games console, television, computer and internet access, as if they were favouring interaction with the technology rather than the natural world. This kind of ideology isn’t just affecting the lives of children; many adults also appear to be succumbing to a life that is ruled over by the very same values. When we choose to remove ourselves from nature in this way it is almost as if we are becoming ever more reliant on new technologies to fulfil the spiritual void.
Although the arrival of new technologies, such internet messaging or cell phone texting, have made it far easier to get in touch with each other, in fact it could be said that their use fills the gap that is created by our apparent yearning to be telepathic, to be connected. The truth of the matter is that we are entering a period of time where actual regular physical interaction between others and ourselves is becoming a thing of the past, and even the social interaction of talking on the phone is often replaced by the power of texting.
On a spiritual level this kind of dissociative behaviour often leads towards the decay of a sense of community and a state physical isolation. Yes, we can easily communicate with others at any given time, yet in a sense we are losing out on so much of what tends to define the human race as being socially interactive animals.
This self-propelling dissociation between nature and ourselves is in turn leading us towards a cultural trend, which is by its very nature a synthetic affair. We could put this accelerated progression down to being a natural state of cultural evolution, yet the path appears to be one that may possibly lead us blindly towards the eventual self-destruction of our species and the planet we live on.
It would appear that many people have just about zero interest in the origin or content of the very food they eat or the welfare and methods employed within modern farming techniques. Commercialism has lead towards many of us favouring processed easy cooked ready meals in order to free up time to interact with cult of technology based pastimes, in fact I've met people who have unbelievably never prepared a meal from scratch via the use of natural ingredients.
If the majority of the population choose not to question the content of the food that they consume on a daily basis, it isn't surprising that it follows that they also have no interest in the poisoning of the seas and skies, the destruction of the rain forests or the corruption and manipulation of animal, plant and human DNA.
I believe that this ‘Let’s all live for the moment and sod tomorrow’ attitude is at the very core of the problem. Living a life that is mostly devoid from interaction and respect towards the natural world is in turn slowly eroding away the connection to our own sense of spirituality. It follows that a world that is devoid of spirituality will in turn eventually become desolate wasteland.
by Richard Gordon for the Enlightening Times Magazine
All Rights Reserved 2014
All Rights Reserved 2014