Living Awakening: Behind the Veil

Of course, it's important to realize that awakening is not the end of the story. Interpretation matters. The way we interpret our awakenings depends on our belief system and our level of consciousness. For people at what Ken Wilber calls an ethnocentric level of consciousness, the thinning of the veil may be interpreted as evidence that only their religion is true. For someone who is filled with fear, the opening of their vision may look like evidence that they are going crazy. A person steeped in the mystical teachings of Christ or Buddha will feel it as an inspiration to offer love and compassion to the world. Each of us brings our own history, our beliefs, and our aspirations to the table, and this is as true in our approach to Spirit as in our approach to work or marriage or health.

That means that if our awakenings are to be truly fruitful, we need to understand them in the widest possible light. We need the kind of wisdom that comes from a deep commitment to the growth of consciousness and the compassion to see all beings as part of our family. This is just part of what our times demand from us. Seeing through the veil is useless unless we live up to the largeness of our most awakened moments. An awakening asks us not only to seize the opportunities we're being given, but to let them inspire the way we live.

During challenging times, or when I'm tempted to fall back asleep, I've taken to asking myself a question: How does my awakened self live? How does she eat? How does she handle this particular challenge? How does she handle a bad mood? How does she talk to people who irritate her? Moment by moment, what does she let go of? And what does she hold close?

For all of us who have sensed the thinning of the veils, this is the real question: Not so much "Can you see through the veil of separation?" But "Can I live the truth of what I see behind the veil? Can I live the truth I glimpse in my most awake moments, the highest truth I know?"

7/30/2014 4:00:00 AM
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  • Sally Kempton
    About Sally Kempton
    An internationally known teacher of meditation and spiritual wisdom, Kempton is the author of Meditation for the Love of It and writes a monthly column for Yoga Journal. Follow her on Facebook and visit her website at
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