Before we get into the second part of looking at spiritual awakening, psychosis, mental illness, and shamanism (you can read the first part here) I realize that a few definitions and a basic framework for doing so should be explored. You can also now read Part Two here…
In doing so I will also talk about some of the common illusions on the path.
Spiritual awakening is a two-fold process involving:
- “Purification” (release and healing)
- “Expansion” (relational shifts)
During the spiritual awakening process, what happens is that the person releases held energy from their physical and energetic bodies. Held energies are old emotions, traumas, and beliefs from a variety of sources (from personal to ancestral, societal, etc.)
We shape who we are around our belief structures. What we believe to be true is what we interface with, and we reject what we know not to be true. We do not do this consciously (most of the time) and so our projected universe is limited by our belief structures, or what we know to be true.
People really believe an ideology that if they change themselves that the world changes– as if the universe is based on an inherent self-centered idea that they have created and are in control of the world– as in, if we only work on ourselves for long enough nobody will ever be mean to us, or cut us off in traffic. There will no longer be suicide bombers, and that there will be clean drinking water in Detroit if we only heal ourselves.
It is a nice, but inherently solipsistic thought, and furthers incorrect ideas and ideologies, as well as allows for division and illusion to placate personal fear. This means that we can blame the person for what has happened to them… because if they were “awake” enough they would be in perfect bliss, never have a problem again, and would be in complete control and have a sense of knowing about their existence.
In this state we can also judge others, because obviously the person got cancer (experienced disease, death, abuse) because they were not “awake”… even though Ramana Maharshi died from cancer… and so we can contract our energies, judge, and placate our own fears around death, not knowing, and so forth by this illusory division and separation.
But there are eight billion people in this world. We create this world together. Certainly working through our own issues has a ripple effect on the “ocean”, or our collective consciousness. Certainly people should take personal responsibility for themselves to whatever extent they are able to (and this is a big differentiator that I will talk about in the next post between mental fracturing and spiritual awakening). If many people take personal responsibility, that heals the collective.
So in some ways the world does get easier with healing your own “stuff”, because you no longer are projecting your unhealed issues and general chaos into the world. You are no longer in a state of blind reaction due to your unhealed issues, and awakening allows for the eventual capacity to look at what you are emotionally reactive to and utilize it to reconcile something that is unhealed inwardly.
But that doesn’t stop people with unhealed issues and chaos from projecting onto you.
It also doesn’t stop you from having emotions, and while you can be compassionate for someone being abusive towards you (for example), it doesn’t mean that you have to take it or that you cannot or will not get upset because you are “awake”.
Awakening allows for the full range of emotions, full emotional capacity and depth, with the realization that nothing within us, no matter how fearful or angry, is “bad”: often it is simply unheard, misunderstood, and in pain.
And it doesn’t stop you from having issues. Healing your own “stuff”, or the purification process allows for a perspective shift. You are expanded beyond your own chaos and fracturing and can begin to look deeper into more “soul-level” type issues (for lack of better phrasing) as well as begin to see outside of your limited view of yourself.
The spiritual awakening process is really the capacity to traverse your inner depths, thereby expanding into outer depths, by taking personal responsibility and becoming conscious of what beliefs and unhealed material are preventing you from realizing this expansion.
It is a state of being, a state of stillness, and a state of realizing complexity and nuance, rather than casting oneself as the eternal victim and others as persecutor.
When we are not “awake”, we are in a state of only being able to consider ourselves and our own experiences of this world. By healing or “purifying” we are able to move beyond the considerable chaos and drama that we enact.
What the awakening process creates is a state of being able to regard the experiences of others as valid (as a start), to move out of the bubble of only interacting with or considering the small realm of existence that supports your version of “truth”, and to move beyond the illusory rules and ideologies, as well as the controls, that people try to put on things like “awakening”.
In simple terms, most people lack the inherent capacity to consider anything other than themselves and their own pain. They cannot see outside of themselves, and in this state they are only able to draw to them, interact with, and consider valid people, places, and realities that are a small part of the contracted bubble that they have created.
In awakening, this bubble expands more and more until the person reconciles their inherent selfishness, begins accepting other viewpoints as valid, and can work their way past the belief systems (both their own as well as imposed by society or even the “awakening” community).
What is confusing about this is that there are plenty of sensitive people out there who are wounded and feel separated. This does not mean that they are “awake” (although they may be in the lower stages of awakening), as they lack the capacity (willingness or ability) to move beyond themselves.
Put even more simply: the long lists of “rules” and commands, what music someone should listen to, what television (or no TV), what someone should eat, read, what gender/sex, what portion of the population someone can interact with (as in, “you can only interact with “awakened” people), only working in the “light” because the dark is “bad”…are all mental illusions that can be transcended. They are inherently limiting, contract this “bubble”, and create judgment and division, thus separating the person from the whole.
In contrast, an awakened, or awakening person can interact with anyone, and has an increased capacity to interact with every part of themselves (with compassion, yes… including the “dark” without wanting to change it) because their mental limitations and needs for control are gradually transcended.
They have moved beyond basic binaries and polarities, and have moved into realizing complexity. There is no longer the reaction or automatic villainization of things that are out of the control, or beyond the experiences of the limited perspective of the individual.
All of this takes time and effort, of course, and is a process rather than something that can all be done tomorrow (another common illusion on the path).
This process of purification and expansion is life-long. As long as we are in human bodies, we have something to work on. It is a question of if the person awakening is going to believe the forces within them that tell them that they have transcended such things… or not (I refer to this in my Spiritual Awakening Guide book as “ego awakening”, which is the most common type of awakening in which someone basically stops themselves in their process).
There is also a contraction process during awakening. We are always in a state of contracting and expanding. When we expand, we eventually will contract. This is a consolidation of what has been learned in the previous expansion phase and an integration of it into all “bodies” (more on this later).
This also can be referred to as “ego death”. What happens when we expand, when we heal/purify, is that what we know to be true about ourselves and the world changes. We do not experience one ego death but many along the path.
This means that a part of us must “die” and reformulate (or go through a cycle of death and rebirth). This process can be quite difficult, especially if the person in this contraction cycle either lacks awareness of what is going on, or they fight the process.
We get used to who and what we are, and so any change in that, as well as feelings of “death” (which is a huge baseline fear of ours that is worked through later in the awakening process) is a large trigger with a lot of unhealed emotions and beliefs.
There also is the difficulty that during this process there is a “black-out”, or a return to the physical body, sometimes with a “dark night of the soul” in which someone experiences despair, isolation, and feelings of being alone, or without spiritual guidance at the very least.
Further in the awakening process, this “contraction” cycle can be realized and worked with.
In my personal framework (which is loosely derived from theosophy) we have our physical body, our etheric (our “double” or blueprint of our physical form), our astral (or emotional), mental, and then our spiritual.
Each “body” goes from densest to most expansive. So our physical body is our most contracted and densest “container”. The mental body would then hold our emotional, etheric, and physical bodies.
This is why I have so much difficulty with modern shamanism and spiritual communities, by the way… they are firmly in the “mental” container. This is where and how so many rules and definitive knowledge and placation of psychological needs (such as the need to know, to feel superior, to feel the center of the universe with everything having a specific personal meaning, and to feel in control) get developed.
While I very much understand why people may desire the container of the “mental” rather than the free-fall and move away from being the protagonist/center of the universe that happens in the spiritual, there are vast amounts of knowledge and wonder that happen in the spiritual.
It is also quite different than the mental, to put it mildly. But like all things, working on the mental can open up the clogged mental “body” so someone can experience the spiritual… if they are willing and ready to. The problem is that most people do not know, or are not ready, to move into this space.
What happens when you try to cram something into a lesser container is that it loses its magic, it loses is efficacy, and it becomes watered-down (in shamanic terms, it experiences power loss). While I do recognize that the capacity to interface with power takes time and willingness, seeing things like shamanism become a pale, mentally derived technique without power, or a soul, is still a sore point for me.
Because while the spiritual “body” is the least dense, and it holds the other “bodies”, it isn’t really a container– it cannot be contained by rules and thoughts and polarities. However much you explore, you can only explore .000000000001 percent of the universe(s), if that. The more you explore, the more that decimal point moves to the left and the more zeroes you add, by the way.
The reason that I bring this up is because treatment at the correct level or “body” is really, really necessary.
So what does this mean?
It means that if a vast majority of your unhealed energy is at the emotional level/body, working with the emotions first will often be the most helpful.
If your difficulty is spiritual, working with the “mental” body will only be so helpful. If your problem has a biological imprint (hereditary, hormonal, etc.) treatment on the physical level is often necessary.
You would ideally work with the “body” that is most out of balance first, and then proceed to look at the other “bodies” so that they are in balance. In complex situations (chronic or simply complicated) all “bodies” should be looked at, and often need to be worked with, to create a state of balance.
Most importantly, if one of your “bodies” is out of line, especially in the spiritual awakening process, the process will be much more difficult for you. It took me many years to realize that one of the reasons that my own process was so difficult was that my physical “body” was really out of balance, and to move beyond my resistance and beliefs to the extent that I could work on my physical body. This made all the difference, as this body becoming aligned meant that I could go through expansion and purification processes more smoothly.
And finally, a few quotes:
“Emotions– fear, anger, love– are as necessary for the organism’s survival as nerve impulses, immune cells or hormonal activity”– Gabor Mate
“Magic is not below our present level of knowledge but beyond it. Magic is a state of cognition that psychology has yet to attain”– Holger Kalweit
“Emotional competence is the capacity that enables us to stand in a responsible, non-victimized, and non-self-harming relationship with our environment… Few of us reach adult age with anything close to full emotional competence. Recognizing our lack of it is not cause for self-judgment, only a call for further development and transformation”– Gabor Mate