29 April 2011

Post awakening experience

I need to clear something up. There are so many misconceptions about awakening, just as there are many kinds of awakening in many traditions.

In Zen, there is mention of the Ten Oxherding stages, from "glimpsing the Ox," or an initial awakening, or Kensho, through to experiencing all the stages of awareness and understanding the dharma, to finally re-entering the world once again as an equal, with an ORDINARY MIND, returning to the "marketplace," happy as a clam.

The path between the stages is extraordinary, but in the end, you return with an ordinary mind, not seeking, with an open heart, giving to the world. You are not in some exalted and extended state of "samadhi." The mind thinks, the heart feels, but you also have easy access to extraordinary stillness and certainty as to who you are.

The difference is that you have explored your mind and beingness so fully, the totality of your awareness is extremely wide and deep.

In the Advaita tradition, there is supposed to be only one huge awakening, and the misconception is that ever afterwards you are in some transcendental state.

Robert rejected that conclusion and I trust him. He always seemed to be in an extraordinary state from the outside, but when questioned about his inner experience, he always said to everyone who asked, "It is just like you. The difference is I know you as consciousness, not as an individual." Robert just loved Silence with a capital S. He had to be pulled out of it. But he was not in some, for most, unknowable state. He was in his own inner stillness.

In Silence of the Heart, the section on the Sadguru, he describes the final state, Sahaj Samadhi as a return to ordinary mind.

In several books written by Ramana's students, they talk of a gradual awakening, or opening to Ramana's teachings.

Seun Sahn Soen Sa, my foremost Zen teacher, talked about the seeker's journey as a circle with 180 degrees. Attaining 180 degrees was living in the wonder of emptiness and the void, nothingness. Then the journey from 180 to 360 was a  post awakening series of magical states, transcendental states, with all kinds of external magical happenings, openings and new awarenesses in one's life.

But then, you progress to 360 degrees, completing the circle, coming back exactly where you came from, but with a transformed mind and personality in the sense of being deeper and wider, but not essentially different or better. The differences are the world no longer stings, and you are totally responsive to the moment. You also know profoundly you are not the body, you are beyond that, and therefore death no longer holds any power over you.

You see, a master is no different from someone who never sought awakening at all. All people are his equals with not a thread of difference between them. He or she has attained nothing. If anything, the finished seeker is good for nothing, has no talents, nothing to offer, nothing wanted, with great humility for even being allowed to serve mankind and animal kind.

All the hype is in the middle of the trip.

One further example is Tibetan Buddhism. There is a famous book entitled "Stages of Emptiness Meditation" which describes various kinds and depths of experience of emptiness or the Void. The author links each kind of experience to a stage of spiritual development and a specific school of Buddhist philosophy. It is all imagination, philosophy, words, insubstantial, essentially meaningless. That is, the Void has many appearances and interpretations associated with differing philosophies of existence and knowing. That is, differing traditions dictate how practitioners will experience various truths and states.

Seeing this clearly, you see two things: The awakening and deepening experiences are closely related to the experiences of the teacher; that is, you will experience awakenings similar to that of the teacher. Secondly, all such awakenings and openings happen at at least two levels: one is what I describe in the blue site (part of http://itisnotreal.com), as discovery of imaginal space, which is an "apprehension" of knowing that is visual in nature. 

There one experiences the sight of emptiness and the Void, as well as seeing thoughts, ideas, the I thought, images, memories, and even emotions require this open space. 

The other is the level of the personal, of human relatedness. Here is where one develops humility, compassion and love.

All the other talk about ego and transcending ego is nonsense. There is no ego. There is nothing there at all but concepts, images, ideas, memories, etc., none of which are real in the sense of being permanent, unchanging or self-created and maintained.

Of course there have been teachers who have created great illusions about the state of a master. One of the foremost is Da Free John, whose teachers were Muktananda and Rudi, who constantly touted his awakening as ther greatest of all time, greater than even that of Ramana, who he considered the next to him greatest, and constantly equated himself and his inner state as the highest and greatest of all time, saying no one could touch him or understand him because his state was so fantastically beyond any human state.

It is crazy people like him who have done enormous damage to the whole world of spiritual seeking by creating an image of psychotic transcendence as the goal.


  1. Thank you for your truthfulness, clarity and down-to-earthness.


  2. Edji my dearest friend, this makes sense to me. In my own experience it is a proces of becoming aware. Awakening from what I am not. Gradualy, not with a big boom or uge flash. The same me so to speak as when I was a 10 year old boy. But, with less confusion. For confusion is seen as the mind and not real. In a way the person is become less but there are still needs and emotions. Thank God. Nothing is changed but compasion is more clear. I still have to go out to make a living, getting tyred and bored now and then. It is all a mistery to me and that is wonderfull. So thank you again I will dropp the idea right NOW of becoming selfrealised or different from any other sentience being. The only thing left is to stay focussed and dive deep within. And to me that is still the biggest challange.

  3. Dearest Edji,
    I am not realized at all and just a seeker and I am writing this in complete humbleness.

    Please Clarify something! I think your main point of this post is that Post Awkening is NOT a psychotic transcendence as you said. Plesae correct me!

    But how about that stateless Absolute state that to which NO word or name can be given and one can not know it intellectually , but only through direct experiance. That stateless state that seem to be like a goal of this spritual quest, which You and other Masters call is or real nature". That state is always there?

    I ask this in complete ignorance! Hope you don't mind!

  4. Yes, the stateless state so to speak, is known and a constant presence, just as all else is available to you as knowledge. But everyone is that. The difference is you are aware of all that you are and are not, while the "ordinary" person is stuck in a story.

  5. Thanks, you have just said it the way it sits within me.
    It is so simple and ordinary.Everything at peace-(peace only for lack of better expression, it just IS)- thoughts and emotions may come and go as they please. There is no attachment or aversion to them because they have nothing to do with me. Some teachers have promoted a bulls**t image of awakened state. Smash away all stupid ideas Edji!

  6. I think this teaching will help many... Would have helped me for sure, as I have been in much confusion about this since my first "awakening experience" thinking that the goal was to remain in that state permanently.

    I have since come to believe that maintaining an awareness of the underlying truth during "regular" life is the goal for me.

    Although I had to figure this out for myself amidst much uncertainty, confusion and some deep pain, I am relieved to have it confirmed.

    I hope that seekers in post awakening will see this teaching.

    Thanks Ed.