Whatever awakening is, one thing strikes me as true about it: As soon as we start saying it’s this way or that way, a particular specific thing, we’ve crossed over from the direct exploration of the awakening experience into the doctrines and dogmas that sometimes characterize science, education, and many religions.
This is not a condemnation of religion or schools or the sciences. Rather a single, simple question: is this what we want? To put judgments of worth/unworth, rightness/wrongness on what spontaneously and uniquely unfolds within each of us? Certainly, many of us go through times of not quite seeing things clearly, which is natural and usually takes care of itself through time or helpful guidance/feedback. That’s not what this is about.
Some, in the zeal to communicate or formalize the awakening experience speak of this method, that path; of levels and practices as being “the way”, which only means these might be their way, or the path of someone they admire. The labels put onto the various insights and experiences can facilitate communication between us, and of course many of them are effective and valid means to insight. Yet beneath this is something that might call for a little clarification.
My experiencing, my realizations and insights are exactly right and arrive exactly on time. Yours, too. It’s simply not important that they can and do show up in different forms, or are seen in different sequences. In fact, it could be a true obstacle to imagine that things should happen in a certain linear order of occurrence, or be specific and particular experiences or realizations. This is boxing- the putting of awakening into a container, tying on a pretty bow and handing it out like a party favor. I’m not sure this serves; individual, intimate knowing and experiencing is awakening itself, and the acceptance of pre-digested beliefs a poor substitute. This is the downside of enlightenment in a box.
The upside is when the thoughtful, savvy aspirant or awakening one has confidence enough to keep some, toss some, trash the box and keep on going. Some can, some can’t. We each are responsible for this, of course. And spiritual teachers, guides and gurus also carry responsibility; it is to incessantly and unrelentingly remind their students not to blindly believe, not to silently swallow without clear contemplation; instead, to teach them to walk the territory themselves, rather than worshiping the map.
Contemporary awakening is already way, way out of the traditional enlightenment box, and is happening all over the planet. It will eventually go exponentially viral. Until it does, shall we cultize our awakenings, perhaps even ourselves, by concretizing certain steps, methods, and descriptions as “The Way”? Perhaps we might better serve those who come after by simply and lovingly passing on what could be a key that fits most locks:
“Look for yourself. Explore. Ponder. Don’t believe anything, ever. Hear what others have to say about waking up and then lay it down. They are all pointers, meant to be used and then dropped. You can and will find the answers that are exactly right.”
I would only add: “For you are the answer you seek, every single time.”