So in the last blog I talked about how difficult it can be to be “awake” or “awakening” in a world that largely is not.
This world is constructed for people who are, in fact, not awakening and unable to really critically think or question at any depth. Our spiritual communities and groups are similarly constructed– they are mostly comprised of beginners on their path (even though we are in the age of the internet “expert” who believes they are anything but a beginner), and of people who have intellectual understandings of spiritual topics without any sort of direct experience or revelation.
For clarity, anyone on a spiritual path who has gone past the “beginner” stage is going to realize that the world is largely asleep. But for even more clarity, there are specific points in the spiritual path in which someone looks out at the world and realizes that they have gone beyond a certain threshold (for a discussion of thresholds and gateways and doors and such on the spiritual path, read here) and they feel a sense of despair in the fact that the world is asleep and they no longer are.
For those who have not been to this place, it is easy to think of this place as being one of feeling superior, or a place of “ego” (whatever misguided evolution of the concept people ascribe to typically) but for those of us who have been at these thresholds, we know it is a place of despair. It is a place of deep grief, of questioning if we want to be in the world, of questioning if we want to interact with the world…
A place of looking out at the world and seeing the chaos, seeing the societal and personal loops (the traumas people keep on replaying over and over, the beliefs people construct their own individual universes out of). A place of seeing that most people believe what they have been given, that most people are replaying past traumas and subsequent beliefs without realizing it.
It is a looking out at the world and realizing that it is an illusion. Not as an intellectualism, by the way. But the profound realization that it actually is.
Looking at the falsehood(s) of the world, the lies and ignorance and sleep that the world is under, the personal and collective illusions causes a specific emotional response, a specific spiritual response.
There are of course different places that we might reach this threshold. The first time that we realize that people are reliving their traumas and are largely asleep is much different than down the road when we may see not only their personal but their karmic, past lives, ancestral woundings, and the collective beliefs and traumas that have caused for them to be the way they are in the world.
And waking up to the fact that people are largely “lying”– putting on a mask to make their way through the world– because if they were to express their pain it wouldn’t be societally appropriate, and they need to get through their days… is a much different experience to waking up to the world as a whole, or society as a whole, being essentially a blank space or a void in which millions of sleeping people have co-created a surface level reality of the Kardashians and bad spiritual books written for a fifth grade intellect (seriously, this is standard in the publishing business and I once had a book rejected because I wouldn’t write at a “fifth grade level” which that major publishing house requires their authors to write at) that all say the same comfortable illusions.
But there is a question when we reach these thresholds of what to do about them.
Again, these types of realizations can create despair. They often cause the person to retract from society, to question their spiritual path. To question how they could have personally been so sleep before. To stop being a part of groups filled with beginners.
By the way, this realization can happen at any time. Depth is not a suggestion of timing. As I mentioned in the last blog, I know of people who can achieve depth immediately, and others who have been on a spiritual path for decades (or lifetimes) and still be in beginner stage(s).
An important thing to realize is that this is, generally, a stage (if we allow for it to be). What does this mean? It means that, like any good existential crisis, it is a period of time that allows for us to question. To learn. To realize something from the experience. To recalibrate who we are, what we know now, who we are now, and re-enter into society at large.
A break from certain friends, or groups, is actually fairly natural on the spiritual path. We simply outgrow them. I have never known a group that has all members growing at the same rate, and it is naturally for some of the members to outgrow others, or to simply change. This is also true of friendships, relationships, and so forth. So it is natural to have periods of breaking off contact, or solitude, so that we can rediscover who we are and what we want from perhaps our next friendships, or next groups we enter into.
One of the unfortunate things on a deep (or even intermediate) place on any spiritual path is that you have a more difficult time finding friends, groups, and colleagues. If we go back to the percentages in the last blog, you will see why this happens. If you are in the 3 percent (or the 5 percent, or even the 15, or the .01 percent) there are simply going to be less people that are at the same place as you. There will also be far fewer people who are ahead of you (in physical form, at least) to guide you. It just happens. And it is often very difficult for people to reconcile that the groups they once were a part of, or the typical “spiritual groups” online are largely composed of people they have moved far beyond. It can also be difficult to see our former teachers, group leaders, gurus, and so forth for who they really are and realize that we have moved beyond their teachings.
But it happens…
We tend to hang on to things because we have fond memories of them. Our old books, our teachers, our gurus, the people around us. While some of this is natural (and I encourage people to stay friends with people even if they are not on a “spiritual” path like you are, or to the same depth) we go through many spiritual cycles in our lives. Yin changing over to yang changing over to yin and then yang again (look at a yin/yang symbol if you don’t get this)… but basically we are intended to have many “deaths” in our lives, changes in who we are and how we see the world. If we stop this, or hang on to things that we are full aware we should let go of, we generally do not move on to the next phase of our existence with as much energy as we could (if we transition to that next phase at all and don’t get stuck).
But let us get to the more practical issue… How do we live in a world of sleep?
So the answer to this is simple and complex at the same time. I often suggest to people that if they are in a phase of seeing all of the faults of the world, and the people in them, that they cultivate the ability to look past those faults. Each of us, no matter our masks and lies and illusions and loops we are repeating ad nauseum have an inner light. If we look at this light, we can move past the lies and illusions and traumas and chaos of the person and see their divinity (even if they are unable to see this themselves).
We can then have compassion for how much they must struggle and how much pain they must be in… how difficult it must be to be a struggling beginner on a spiritual path (even if they deem themselves an “expert), how difficult it must be to always be a victim in the world, how hard it must be to recreate the chaos of their youth again and again.
I have said it many times, but most people are doing the best they can… or the best they think they can. When we look at people and see their inner light, and then look outward at the pain and chaos they have within themselves (or surrounding themselves) we can feel compassion for them. People, despite the lying, cheating, racism, sexism, xenophobia… are just doing the best they can with the material they have been given. They are asleep, and we can have compassion for them by realizing that they are just cycling through “loops” they have been given by their parents, by society, through their education, by whatever spiritual book Oprah picked out (does she still do this?).
The other part of this is letting go of control. Once we realize the above and begin to realize where people are and how hard it must be to struggle with whatever chaos and/or trauma they are replaying, we need to let go of wanting them to be different.
This means that we accept them, both their “inner light” as well as whatever outer manifestations of chaos, ignorance, fear, and trauma they are showing.
This means that we do not want to change them.
It is difficult to not go into an “ego” (again, this is a meaningless word nowadays, but it actually fits here), superiority type complex here. If we are studying (or teach) calculus and someone wants to teach us addition, it is easy for us to go to a place of judgement (and sometimes admittedly laughter) about the person. It is much harder to realize who they are, where they are, and to let go of wanting to explain that you are a calculus teacher… or more practically… not want to tell them about calculus… or not want for them to be more advanced, different, better, or more our version of what we think people should be like.
We begin to see people simply for who they are, and what they are struggling with… which means that we can let go of investing any energy into them, wanting them to be different, or in any way wanting to control people.
It is a difficult world out there, filled with people who are in pain, filled with people who are scrambling in spiritual communities after the latest thing, and with the internet… filled with people who have very little or no experience calling themselves “experts”. The world has people in it that drive badly, hurt puppies, kill and rob and rape and relive their chaos, and the chaos and beliefs they have been given without thinking about them.
This will not change even if you change yourself, by the way. No matter how enlightened you are someone can back into your car and leave without writing you a note, or you can get mugged. This is not how oneness works… Again, perhaps another blog, but simply because we are one does not mean that we are also not separate. People with intellectualized oneness ideas don’t realize this. It is only in the experience of oneness that you realize that both are true at the same time… In fact, if you are on a significant spiritual path and you realize oneness (or are near that stage) chances are more stuff will begin happening to you because you will be balancing a lot of karmic debts… but I digress.
If we are able to recognize our own inner light, that of the people around us, and that of the world… and let go of wanting to control or change things, we can move through this phase of despair.
We can also, with seeing that inner light, realize that despite us being “awake” and others being “asleep” that we are all aspects of divinity, and engender a heart-centered space of them. It is all too common on a spiritual path to be stuck because we believe ourselves to be “spiritual” or “superior”. What we can actually realize is that all of us are divine, but only some of us are in recognition of it.
We can again participate in the world, and want to participate in the world. It is a funny thing, but people who are “awake” or truly “awakening” find one another. It can be difficult to go into groups and realize that you are far beyond that knowledge, or to look out at the world and see pain… but there are a lot of good people out there, people with depth. And one of the beautiful things about the internet is that even if you are in the .0001 percent (or 5 percent, or whatever) a lot of people in that same percentage who are living can be accessed if you are ready to do so.
There are a lot of teachers and gurus and people who can teach you, you just need to be ready for them. They are not going to be more difficult to find, but they are out there. It is important for us to have community, to have people that surround us. As we go deeper on our path some of these may not be living, breathing physical teachers, but it is always helpful to have an anchor and other people who know what the heck you are talking about (which again, can be tough but not impossible to find for people who have gone beyond certain thresholds).
So to sum up, my basic advice to people is that this phase is simply that. It is a phase. It is a phase you may go through more than once at different stages of your spiritual path in slightly different ways. But if we can totally and truly accept people, if we can let go of wanting to control other people, and the world itself with our beliefs and views, we can move through it. Truly allowing people to be themselves, and the world to be itself, without us wanting to change it based on personal gnosis or dogma is one of the greatest spiritual tests.