Here is another look at spiritualism from a nonreligious point of view, another guest post from Dana Horton:
What Constitutes an Awakening?
(5 minute read)
It is said that soon after his enlightenment the Buddha passed a man on the road who was struck by the Buddha’s extraordinary radiance and peaceful presence. The man stopped and asked, “My friend, what are you? Are you a celestial being or a god?”
“No,” said the Buddha.
“Well, then, are you some kind of magician or wizard?”
Again the Buddha answered, “No.”
“Are you a man?”
“Well, my friend, then what are you?”
The Buddha replied, “I am awake.”
Awaken. The more we try to describe this term, the more confusing it becomes. This usually causes the user to delve into the world of cliches, which is deeply unsatisfying (at least to the Chief Editor). But the term “Awaken” has some potential. Let’s see if we can do a little more with this one.
Caitlin Johnstone writes in the blog site Medium that “Most of our suffering and confusion stems from a fundamental misunderstanding of the way our experience is actually happening.” It’s kind of like the movie The Matrix, where we never really know what is real.
There is what we believe; and there is reality. Sometimes they get pretty close. Sometimes not. A person who is awake is able to make that distinction.
How to become awake. We would like to say we will all get an epiphany that will suddenly make us awake. Or maybe we could offer a step-by-step guide to becoming awake. But we can’t. It’s a lifestyle choice. It is something we accumulate day by day, not a one-and-done list.
However, here are a couple of ideas to experiment with. Begin with the premise that nothing we believe is true — just like The Matrix. We may come back around to the same belief system eventually, but questioning our existing viewpoint is a great place to start.
Now we’re gonna go all metaphysical. Ask the question: Do I exist. This initially sounds pretty stupid; the obvious answer is “yes.” But this mental exercise helps to identify something intangible within each individual that is the observer of all that is going on both inside and outside the body. The Observer is not the body; it is not the outside conditions; and it is not even the thoughts inside the mind. It’s … the Observer. It is the one asking the question: Do I exist?
Gawwwd, we’re gonna get all kinds of comments on that one.
How do we know if we are doing it right? Let’s assume that we’ve taken the time to get in touch with our Observer self. How do we know if that is helping us become more awake? We got a few ideas from an article written by Patrick Garlinger, also in Medium. He listed seven. We’ll take three.
- Having a dark night of the soul (not easy, but happens eventually to everyone).
- Experiencing a deeper awareness of purposes and values.
- Signs, messages, and synchronicity (we’re not sure if this is due to being attuned to a spiritual interaction, or because the self is just more aware of things going on).
Wrapping it up. We’ll end today with some thoughts from author Ryan Holiday (Ego is the Enemy and several other books). If we did one good thing a day … every day …, no matter how small, imagine what life could be in a year. To make that happen, ask:
- What did I learn today?
- What did I contribute?
- What did I enjoy?
- What can I improve upon next time?
Dana Horton is from Ohio, United States and is currently (though not for much longer) working full time as Director of Energy Markets a large utility company. In August 2019, he earned his ministerial license through an organization called Centers for Spiritual Living based in Denver, Colorado. This is a New Thought organization following the principles of Ernest Holmes. He acted as interim minister at the Columbus Center for Spiritual Living and, after eight months, he decided to leave and has no interest in returning to a formal religious organization. But he enjoys investigating spiritual principles, how they originated, and how they might be applicable to everyday living. I also enjoy discovering the history of both the Old and New Testaments, and how it differs (greatly) from the traditional Christian interpretations.