A little summary from the last chapter...
On the way out the door, my friend Jeff handed me the book The End of Your World: Uncensored Straight Talk on the Nature of Enlightenment, which was written by a spiritual teacher named Adyashanti.
“I know you don’t read spiritual books, but maybe you’ll want to check this one out,” Jeff said. “I know you’ll relate to it.”
I’d read only a handful of spiritual books in my life, and all of them had been given to me at a key time. This was no exception. Reading The End of Your World validated the spiritual journey that I have described throughout The Healing Series. It also gave me a framework to appreciate the new changes I had experienced over the past month.
Adyashanti’s description of spiritual awakening matches my experience. He writes:
At that moment—whether that moment is just a glimpse or something more sustained—we suddenly realize with incredible clarity that what we truly are is in no way limited to the small sense of self that we thought we were.
For me, this shift in perception happened in the depths of pain and despair. However, suffering does not always trigger it, and it can happen in different ways and through different experiences for everyone. This spiritual awakening also doesn’t need to be magical or dramatic; it can be subtle or happen in everyday life. The key is a switch in perspective, when you just know that you are something more universal than your human identity.
For a select few, this awakening experience results in a permanent shift in perception and experience. But for the vast majority of people, it marks the beginning of a process, which I have referred to as healing throughout this series. In his book, Adyashanti describes this post-awakening path of evolving enlightenment as follows: After awakening we know that the conditioning of our body-mind is not personal; we know that it does not define us. That knowledge, that living truth, makes it much easier and much less threatening to address the unraveling of our illusions. We then have an opportunity to consciously participate in our evolution, and to release our long-held perceptions that are outside of our truth.
Adyashanti goes on to describe what I have also observed. Many people are attracted to the idea of spiritual awakening and growing in awareness because they think it is all about love, ecstasy, compassion, and union. While spiritual practices can lead to some of those feelings, truly growing in awareness is not always easy or pain-free. Most of us need to unwind what has been created in order to gradually retune the system to its more natural loving mode. It can be difficult to look with honesty and to let go of long-held perceptions, and as we grow in awareness, we often feel the consequences of acting outside our truth even more acutely.
Adyashanti describes many experiences of releasing and realigning that match the observations I have shared in the three books of The Healing Series, including the influx of energy and the relaxation of the fear-based reactions in the body. He also describes how one begins tuning in to an intuitive and innate sense of knowing and of moving with the flow of life.
At this writing, ten years after my healing journey began, energy and information flow easily through my body and mind, and I am able to tune in to this guidance. Adyashanti describes a similar state: Once we have reconciled all those opposites, and they’ve been harmonized within our system, something else moves us in life. It’s something extraordinarily simple. That force, that energy that moves us, is at the same time the very substance of our own being, our own self.
Some of Adyashanti’s descriptions of “enlightenment” or “the mature experience of awakening” mirrored my experiences over the last month of working on this book. He mentioned that enlightenment/awakening is a state of naturalness and ease, and that we find ourselves right back in our life in a simple and ordinary way. Then, we start to experience that the ordinary in life is actually extraordinary.