The Map of Awakening
Although many traditions and schools of enlightenment have attempted to draw objective maps of awakening, from our standpoint these maps do not reflect a true model of wholeness, for they fail to accurately describe the stages of our evolution into the inner state, the awakening of the soul and the soul’s multidimensional movement into the beyond. Not only do most available teachings lead to a partial realization at best, they create imbalances by stressing particular aspects of evolution while ignoring others. Certain schools point to an awakening in which only one aspect of the inner state is embodied, while others overlook the realization of the soul and focus exclusively on transcendence. Some even misconstrue abidance in the inner state or the realization of one of many mystical states for enlightenment. Perhaps the most misguided of all are those who suggest that everyone is already enlightened.
Incomplete teachings can seriously limit or even cripple our spiritual vision. Without a holistic and complete map of awakening that clearly reflects the fundamental laws of human evolution, a seeker has little chance of finding his way towards the fulfillment of his ultimate potential. The plane of enlightenment is so vast and intricate that unless a new, higher level of conceptual detail is brought to bear on its description, it will never be seen for what it truly is: a relevant and tangible reality directly connected to our natural growth towards wholeness.
Although we often use the terms ‘enlightenment’ and ‘awakening’ interchangeably, it is important to note that they do not signify the same level of spiritual attainment. When we refer to an enlightened state, we point to self-realization – transcendence and the actualization of wholeness. Awakening, on the other hand, indicates a singular expansion beyond the mind within the total course of one’s evolution. To have arrived at one of the many states beyond the mind is far from enlightenment in the ultimate sense of the word. It is only by traversing various dimensions of awakening that one finally arrives at complete, multidimensional enlightenment.
One must also be clear that after experiencing an awakening to one of the various states beyond the mind, there is a need to stabilize and then integrate that state. Seldom, if ever, does sudden awakening result in a lasting inner realization. Unless the state we have awakened is stabilized, its fluctuations prevent it from becoming a permanent foundation of our existence. Once stabilized, the state must also be integrated so that it can reach its final depth and purity and become energetically and existentially attuned to the body, mind and other aspects of our whole being.The map presented below is a very condensed description of the awakening process that is extensively and fully explicated through the teaching of Anadi. Not all the states of awakening are mentioned here, nor do they always manifest in the same sequence. However, this model does provide the necessary framework within which to grasp the fundamental laws of the awakening process.
The realization of pure consciousness is the foundation of the soul’s awakening, her entry into reality and emancipation from the construct of the mind. Pure consciousness is the living light of our intelligence and the illuminative power of cognition. It constitutes the solidification of identity beyond the mind, the true birth of I am, putting an end to the ignominy of forgetfulness.
Because few teachers and seekers are able to pinpoint the exact energetic location of consciousness, it is often confused with the experience of being, or an overall sense of presence. It is essential, therefore, to understand that the correct realization of pure consciousness is experienced exclusively in the headspace. The state is initially recognized as the sense of I am in the middle-to-back of the head when the eyes are closed, and in the depths of the head when the eyes are open. As it matures, the state naturally expands to fill the entire headspace and the area around it, while its horizontal depth with eyes open is rooted in the space behind the head.Consciousness is awakened through initiation by a spiritual guide or, in rare cases, by self-enquiry alone. It is then stabilized through the practice of self-remembrance, which eventually yields its unbroken continuity. The awakening of consciousness is of immense significance, for it represents the soul’s entry into the realm of pure subjectivity and her freedom to begin the process of extricating her existence from the collective state of unconsciousness.
Consciousness alone cannot enter the inner realm unless it becomes absorbed in the stillness of being. Being is that which enables us to rest in existence – the intermediary space that links consciousness with the source and maintains the gravitational equilibrium between creation and the original void. As both the impersonal ground of the beyond and the true foundation of meditation, it is being that allows the depth of reality to be divulged to our consciousness.
Being is felt all over the body as an energetic expansion, with its main energy flowing downwards. The primary means to reach and deepen the experience of being is the practice of meditation in the mode of non-doing or just sitting, which opens us to the gravity of the now so that the energy of the soul can be absorbed into a state of repose. This practice can be supported by belly breathing, which balances our energy and assists the sense of I am to descend towards the unmanifested.Although it anchors us in the now, the experience of being does not have the quality of complete, unconditional rest prior to the realization of the absolute.
the absolute state
In the realization of the absolute, the soul transcends the fluctuations in her experience of being and moves into a state of unbroken rest. In the pure rest of the absolute, the motionlessness of being reflects the perfection of universal stillness. The absolute state represents our union with the unborn, uncreated source. It is the ground of oneness through which we reach unconditional absorption in the beyond.
The doorway to the absolute is tan t’ien, which is the centre of the vital force in the lower belly. Concentration on this area through breathing can gather more life energy. However, in order for it to serve as a gateway to the unmanifested one has to cultivate vertical surrender. In order for that surrender to be properly directed and have the necessary empowerment, the pure me of being must be met and embodied. It is the pure me of being that is first to enter the domain of absence. As with other states of awakening, after the initial opening, the absolute state must be stabilized and integrated through the cultivation of constant surrender.
In the absolute state, one experiences unity with the source only within the being aspect of I am; the mind and the consciousness of the soul have yet to merge with the source.
The heart belongs to the realm of the beloved, love and grace. No one can reach completion without actualizing its essence. While the opening of the spiritual heart is necessary to reach wholeness, it is impossible unless we have first solidified our identity beyond the mind and become absorbed in the source. Paths that limit their view of spirituality to love and devotion cannot serve as a bridge to reality unless they are grounded in consciousness and being. Without the foundation of the inner state, the heart has no reality apart from emotion. In order to open us to the dimension of the soul and the divine, the heart must be met beyond emotion in a space of clarity and stillness.
The heart has several layers. Although it is linked to our deeper existential emotions, it is actually the higher center of feeling in our body. True feelings such as love or sadness are experienced only in the heart. While most feelings are related to our human psychological reality, as we dive deeper into the space of the heart we awaken to the very essence of feeling, to feeling in itself, which is the I am of the heart, the depth of intimacy with the light of creation, the state of love. Apart from being the feeling center of the soul, the heart is also a doorway to that aspect of the beyond which we call the divine dimension. After the light of the heart is embodied through pure me, further surrender leads one to merge with the universal heart of the beloved.
The initial phase of our journey into the heart’s essence is its energetic opening, which brings us closer to the experience of oneness with creation. The complete enlightenment of the heart requires the purification of one’s intention and the realization of the soul.
Awakening of pure me is the first step in the realization of the soul. Pure me is the existential bridge between the personal and the impersonal, between the dimension of me and the universal I am, through which the universal can be embodied as our higher self, our sacred individuality. Though simple in its essence, the realization of pure me is difficult to grasp and as such is virtually unknown. Meeting pure me is a flowering of the deepest intimacy with our innermost existence. Pure me is the very essence of who we are. One of the prerequisites for the realization of pure me, in addition to possessing the essential spiritual sensitivity and the capacity for intimacy with one’s innermost self, is having a sufficiently developed conscious me. Most humans are not really conscious in the sense that they do not possess conscious me. Conscious me is the deeper, awakened dimension of the observer; it constitutes the connective sense of self between the mind and pure me. When the observer becomes aware of itself in separation from thought, arrives at the condition of abidance within the now and acquires a sense of being, the first level of pure subjectivity is born – conscious me. When conscious me is sufficiently solidified, it creates enough substance of identity to serve as the base for the awakening of pure me. Pure me comes into existence as a result of the surrender of conscious me into I am – it is but the consciousness of the unity of identity between conscious me and I am.
the state beyond polarities
The state beyond polarities is the first step of transcendence. It is the meeting of oneness and non-separation – the heart and the absolute – that manifests when consciousness enters the realm of vertical realm of surrender. Through a radical integration of consciousness, heart and being, in which all the three aspects of I am merge into a single state, one moves beyond the polarities of inner and outer, here and now. By the power ofthis unification, a deeper surrender and absorption in the beyond takes place.
The state beyond polarities is a transitional state between presence and absence. One has stepped into the beyond, but not yet moved fully to the other side.
the transcendental state
In her first entry into the absolute, the soul reaches unconditional absorption in the beyond through the gateway of being. Her consciousness, however, still remains outside the absolute. The transcendental state can be seen as the second entry into the absolute, for here the consciousness of the soul, her I am in the mind, shifts into the dimension of absence. The mind, ego and sense of separate identity are uprooted so that the soul, as pure me, can move freely into the divine realm.
There is still a long journey between the initial shift to the transcendental state and its complete realization. The shift into the realm of absence is not transcendence itself – it is merely the initiation of the complex process of ego dissolution through which the soul gradually renounces her human personality and surrenders her existence to the beyond. In order to reach transcendence, the soul must fully extract her true identity from the construct of her subconscious me. Only then does she have enough force to cross over into the realm of absence with her whole existence and re-embody her original state.
The transcendental state is the ultimate frontier of our human expansion into the inner plane – the final portal through which we pass to liberation. Yet, as mere abidance here can divert us from our ultimate goal, it can also be seen as the last barrier. In the transcendental state, the soul reaches her deepest absorption in the beyond, but the human is still bound to the earth; he maintains his grip on the soul, blocking her complete release from the dimension of forgetfulness.
samadhi: the state of surrender
Prior to realizing the true goal of the transcendental state – liberation – the me of the soul has not yet merged, and continues to exist as a separate entity within our consciousness. To fully embody the transcendental state one has to reach the supreme state of surrender, samadhi. The state of surrender transcends all states, as here not only consciousness but our very me becomes absorbed in the realm of absence. Samadhi is a unity of being and non-being, presence and absence. It is the never-ending dissolution of consciousness within its constant creation, a state of infinite repose, the fathomless absorption of me in I am and I am in I am-not. It is an exalted union of the two primary aspects of soul-realization – self-actualization and complete surrender. Culminating the process of the soul’s re-absorption into reality is the unconditional fusion of her me with the heart of the beloved. Samadhi is the true foundation of our liberation from separate consciousness, the ground of our dissolution into the source of creation.
Liberation is the ultimate fruit of samadhi: the very merging of the personality with the soul. It is the total dissolution of the I-construct in the mind. Far more than the attainment of another, deeper energetic state, it is our radical transcendence of illusion and the end of incarnation into the dimension of separation – the state of no-return.. Liberation is the end of the process of the soul’s transcendence, for here she fully exits the plane of the forgotten self at last. Emancipated from her human identity and earthly consciousness, the soul returns to the abode of universal intelligence and, from the depths of original absence, reclaims the light of her primordial presence.
the measure of evolution
It should be noted that one’s level of evolution cannot simply be seen as a linear progression through various states of inner expansion. The inner state is merely the internal space requisite for the awakening of the soul. The true measure of the evolutionary value of any awakened state is how conscious the one who embodies that inner reality is. Hence, someone who has profoundly realized pure consciousness may in fact be more real and evolved than someone abiding in the absolute state. It is not what has been attained that matters most, but who has attained it. This ‘who’ is the quality of our consciousness, intelligence and love: it is the existential depth of our very soul, the true subject of all stages of awakening.
evolution into wholeness
The map of awakening we have described applies strictly to the internal evolution of the soul. The purpose of evolution, however, is not only to reach self-realization but to become whole, which must also include completion in the human dimension. Far from being an escape from the difficulties of human life, the way to wholeness involves the completion of many aspects of our human existence: purification of the subconscious mind, emotional healing, psychological maturation, the development of a harmonious connection with the world, the fulfillment of core desires and the ending of karma.
Purification and healing are essential in order to release the burden of the past, and accompany the entire course of our inner awakening. These extremely delicate processes cannot be completed by willpower alone; one has to be in touch with the light of the soul and open to the dimension of grace. Only the creator of the soul can fully transform and ultimately remove the many layers of subconscious tendencies, blocked energies and emotional wounds that exist within us. Still, each soul does have the capacity to develop ways to deal with those areas of her existence that are incomplete. She must take responsibility for her own growth, facing all the suppressed, unconscious and immature areas of both her internal and external reality with courage and wisdom. By exercising her free will and cultivating qualities that reflect a dignity of intelligence, true sincerity, purity of intention and honesty, she prepares the ground to receive assistance from the beyond.
As the weight of the past gradually lifts and we continue to evolve through further life experiences, the soul gathers enough internal space for her intelligence and emotional body to reach the necessary degree of maturity and fulfillment in the human dimension. To arrive at this relative psychological completion is imperative for any seeker on the path. Only when she has been freed from the grip of her human identity and the pull of earthly existence can the soul fully expand into her potential and become her eternal self once again.The psychological evolution of the human and the internal evolution of the soul are mutually supportive along the path. To reach psychological completion as a human, one must awaken the states beyond the mind and the soul, and for the soul to expand into the beyond, one must reach a deep sense of completion in one’s human life. Only a human who is over and done with the earthly dimension is ready to experience the freedom of the soul; and only when the soul is free can she embody an awakened human existence.