Waking Up to True Freedom: A Q&A With Eli Jaxon-Bear

Now Featured in the Patheos Book Club
Sudden Awakening
Stop Your Mind, Open Your Heart, and Discover Your True Nature
by Eli Jaxon-Bear

What is awakening or enlightenment?

When we realize that the sun does not revolve around the earth, even though it looks that way, we are enlightened about that situation. This is a relative enlightenment. It is shining the light of awareness where before there was darkness and ignorance. Spiritual Enlightenment is shining the light of awareness back on itself to discover its source. We are all relatively enlightened about various aspects of existence, but now it is possible to wake up to true freedom by directly realizing who one is.

Is it possible for anyone to become enlightened?
In the past it has been quite rare and when someone wakes up, like Shakaymuni, whom we call the Buddha, it has had reverberations through the ages. Now the gates have been thrown up and it is possible for everyone to wake up and be free. All it takes is the willingness to leave everything that is thought to be real behind, in the search for truth and reality.

What are the obstacles to waking up?
First, you have to know it is possible. Most people have never heard of the possibility and will die without ever hearing that it is possible to wake up and be free. They will live and die within the confines of an ignorant life. Those who hear the call will be afraid to leave the known for the unknown. There is a fear of losing attachments that keep us identified with the role of slave.

Why would anyone want to wake up?
Most people don't want to wake up, they just want a better dream. Which is quite natural. If you were born in prison and never heard that there was life outside of prison, you would naturally try to make the best life that you can within the confines of prison. So your life will be spent searching for the best position to get the most benefits from living in prison. The idea that there is life beyond the walls, does not appear for most people. We are very lucky to be alive in a time when the truth of the living possibility of direct realization is available to all of us. Then those who have a burning desire for the end of suffering, for finding true meaning, for finding the truth of existence will find that the door to the prison was always open, if you knew where to look.

How is your book useful to the process of awakening?
First, Sudden Awakening demonstrates that it is possible for everyone to wake up and be free. Once you know it is possible, it shows the steps that must be taken to reach liberation.

Is awakening sudden or gradual?
Awakening is gradual until it is sudden. Those who have not experienced sudden awakening say that it is gradual because they have not yet experienced stepping off the edge of the world into the unknown. It may be gradual until you get to the cliff and then it is a leap. Just like waking up in the morning may be gradual as you continue to hold on to the dream and desire to sleep a bit longer. But perhaps gradually you are ready and when you open your eyes it is sudden. You are no longer in the dream world. It has disappeared and perhaps you cannot even remember what you were so involved with in the dream a few moments before. Suddenly the sun in shining and you are awake in a new reality that is so much more than any dream.

Does pursuing self-realization negate social action?
Not at all. It was my commitment to social action that led to my awakening. Freedom is not conditional therefore it is free. This means activity or non-activity do not touch the truth of direct realization. You can be fully engaged in the world or a hermit, neither one makes a difference when you are investigating your true nature.

What advice would you give people who are searching?
First, find out what you really want. What is most important for you? Once you have plunged into the depths of your heart to find what will give your life true meaning, give yourself fully. Don't hold anything back. When you give yourself fully you will realize yourself fully.

What advice would you give to those who are not interested in spirituality?
Live your life fully and tell the truth. If you are happy and fulfilled there is no need to search for anything else. If you have tried everything you know to find lasting fulfillment and it has not worked, try something new.

How is your book useful for people on the path of awakening?
First my book shows that anyone can wake up and be free. If it is possible for an ordinary person like myself it is possible for you. Next the book shows the steps that lead to awakening with clear examples. Finally, for those who have tasted awakening and want to know how to keep it, the last part of my book is a series of poems that I wrote while in a hospital dying of cancer as my way of passing on something from my death. These poems contain the complete teaching of liberation.