Talking about awakening

Omkaradatta's picture

Average: 4.4 (5 votes)

Talking about 'awakening' is almost impossible these days (on the Yahoo! lists in particular), thanks in part to Western neo-advaita and the notion that talking about awakening is egoic. A shallow culture based on instant gratification could only produce a shallow advaita, based on the same.

Everybody wants to be enlightened, but nobody wants to admit it. Few care to look deeply at themselves, begin peeling away the layers of the onion that make up 'me and my issues' and releasing those issues -- letting go of wants and needs, desires and dreams. When the 'me' dissolves, it is unmistakable -- there can be no doubts. This is because the 'me' is itself doubt, unsureness, a sense of lack, a sense of something missing. When this is gone, fear, desire and doubt goes with it.

Everyone wants to stick with this 'me', despite the fact that the life of the ego is dull, feeble and empty compared to its absence. It is comfortable, familiar, safe; people will do anything to stay with this. Awakening is simply the dissolution of the subconscious mind, that which we are not conscious of, that which we think and do mechanically. Awakening is completely active, living, supremely focused in the present. Ego is asleep, based on thought and desire, wishes and needs and fears.

Everybody wants one foot on each side of the fence, wants to keep their personal quirks and issues, feel safe and secure, while also being 'enlightened'. It is ridiculous. The 'me' has to be let go of, released, surrendered in order to be free of it. When it's gone, the sense of lack goes with it... it's not like something goes missing, but the sense of something missing actually vanishes. In a way, the 'me' is an absence rather than a presence. It is our absence from reality.

If we cannot talk about awakening, normalize it, it will remain a subject regarded as "egoic", something reserved for highly regarded spiritual masters. As long as this is so, folks will tend to continue denying that it's possible, or wanting to keep one foot in spiritual sleep and one foot in waking. Let's open things up wherever we happen to talk to people, discuss this subject together and see where it takes us.

Phroggy's picture


Everybody wants one foot on each side of the fence, wants to keep their personal quirks and issues, feel safe and secure, while also being 'enlightened'. It is ridiculous. The 'me' has to be let go of, released, surrendered in order to be free of it. When it's gone, the sense of lack goes with it...

Thanks for that clarity. That's the bottom line, and you would think that would be where the focus is instead of more techniques to explore the nature of reality and decades of 'sucessful' meditation, but it really doesn't seem to be the case.

Phroggy | Fri, 10/24/2008 - 07:12
Omkaradatta's picture


Ahh, but inventing techniques is fun, not to mention getting recognition for them ;-). Hey, look at me, I came up with something that might actually work. This one is REALLY going to be effective this time. OK, I couldn't stick with it. What's next?

P.S. there's no intention here to continue replying / commenting on techniques-based bloggings, fwiw... it seems pointless, as those who are 'into' the techniques just don't seem interested in anything else, aside perhaps from praises for the wonderful new technique. Granted, at times I've been ignoring the unspoken rule that blog comments ought to be on-topic and specific.

If you feel like posting a blogging yourself on the aforementioned issue, it might be interesting to see how many respond to it...

Omkaradatta | Fri, 10/24/2008 - 08:30
Omkaradatta's picture

Nisargadatta's commentary on this...

"You need maturity of heart and mind, which comes through earnest application in daily life of whatever little you have understood. There is no such thing as compromise in Yoga.

If you want to sin, sin wholeheartedly and openly. Sins too have their lessons to teach the earnest sinner, as virtues -- the earnest saint. It is the mixing up the two that is so disastrous. Nothing can block you so effectively as compromise, for it shows lack of earnestness, without which nothing can be done." -- from "I Am That"

"The common things of life: I experience them just as you do. The difference lies in what I do not experience. I do not experience fear or greed, hate or anger. I ask nothing, refuse nothing, keep nothing. In these matters I do not compromise. Maybe this is the outstanding difference between us. I will not compromise, I am true to myself, while you are afraid of reality." -- from "I Am That"

Omkaradatta | Fri, 10/24/2008 - 09:08
george's picture

coexistence of different spiritual theories

I agree with you.

All approaches are acceptable: those who claim that the mind's wish to get enlightened is pointless as well as those who claim that setting goals is possible.

Regarding issues of which we don't have a personal direct experience, we should let all different approaches be heard. But trying to negate one theory with another. Trying to compare and compete one theory with another - that is certainly pointless and counterproductive.

If we don't let different approaches coexist with regrad to things we haven't experuienced yet (e.g. maya, god, etc.) then we are no more that disguised orgenized religions, it means that deep down we are not truely spiritual.

george | Fri, 10/24/2008 - 09:42
sisi's picture

who (is it that) wants to get enlightened?

I saw this sloagan on a t-shirt in McLeod Ganj:

"Who wants to get enlightened?" with the following addition inserted after the "who": "is it that"

Thus it transforms the original question into:

Who is it that wants to get enlightened?

I think it sums it all. And it somehow a tragedy as the this "I" that wants to get enlightened has no idea what it is really feeling and above all, this "enlightenment" means its death.

It's a death wish then and whoever wants to commit suicide, if he really can, let us allow him... :-)

sisi | Fri, 10/24/2008 - 11:46
Omkaradatta's picture

Conceptual models...

It's hard to find a valid conceptual model for 'awakening' -- clearly, the desire to get enlightened doesn't work so well :-p.

One I particularly like is that of "resorption"... in other words, the true Self (pure Nowness) reabsorbs the 'small self', those dreamy desires and fears and neurotic habits, such as the need to be in control. Just having a zest for life, a focus on the 'now', is making a beginning.

I also like to use the example of 'losing ourselves' in a movie, or in music, or a good book... we get so absorbed that we forget ourselves for a time, stop thinking of the past and future altogether. We are following the plot closely, focused completely in the Now, neither remembering nor predicting anything. Is this unpleasant, like a death or something? Or can we go ahead and allow ourselves to be absorbed into life itself in the same way?

Omkaradatta | Fri, 10/24/2008 - 10:34
mayasurfer's picture


I don't like comparing the model of losing yourself into a movie, music or a book or whatever to the model of the ego being re-absorbed into the ego-less totality. Isn't it rather the opposite? Coming out of the movie or the piece of music or the story back into reality would be a much better model. How can you compare awakening with falling asleep, what a joke. All models are a joke, but, I guess, at a certain stage they have their place... reading Eckhart Tolle's "The power of Now" or any of the thousands of books on the subject or listening to lectures or tapes etc. All so interesting but just theories, concepts, mind stuff, models like... sniffing around the apple instead of biting into it, worshipping the sign-post instead of following the direction, dogs barking at the moon... No model will ever do...but some models come closer to the truth than others. To compare being absorbed to awakening doesn't make much sense to me. Personally I can be absorbed for hours doing my garden. I lose all sense of the wider world. Can I awaken in that stage? I doubt it. I have to find back to my usual self again before I can tune into the wider world, into the wider Self. Being absorbed or being asleep cannot lead to being free. So it is not a good model. No model can ever BE the Truth. They can point to the truth but only until the seed of surrender begins to flower and the mind is re-absorbed into the real Self.

mayasurfer | Tue, 12/02/2008 - 07:56
Phroggy's picture

You will be absorbed.

I agree, absorption in a movie or book doesn't seem to point in the right direction. I suspect it's because such activities are a narrow focus of attention, and in this 'tunnel' a very distinct 'me' and 'other' is automatically formed by implication and the mind is engaged.
We can imagine the same narrowing of focus as a typical survival response. Say you're meditating and relaxed with little or no thought and a very expanded attention, and a car backfires. Immediately, your attention narrows onto the source and the mind goes to work on it. Clearly, this isn't conducive to awakening.

I don't believe that there's no 'me' involved while watching a movie or reading a book. Everything experienced likely has a subtle or not so subtle self focus or it wouldn't be interesting or entertaining. Hehe.
Some kind of intense creative endeavor may be different in that it's more actively engaging and more effective if there is no 'me' present, and the focus may be more expanded for the same reason.

Phroggy | Tue, 12/02/2008 - 11:19
Omkaradatta's picture

Ahh, well...

I like 'absorption' as a model, but am tired of pointing out why, and even more tired of 'defending' unimportant stuffs on the Net. If it works for ya as a pointer, great, if not toss it out and move on.

Omkaradatta | Tue, 12/02/2008 - 15:53
Phroggy's picture


I think you see it as useful because you figure it brings you into the present moment, but being 'in the present' isn't just about focusing on something going on right now. It's all going on right now, but when mind is stimulated, the thoughts are engaged and we are no longer present. Watching movies and reading books stimulates the mind.

Phroggy | Tue, 12/02/2008 - 23:07
Phroggy's picture


Yes, it's a conundrum; the seeking itself formulated on the basis of a delusion. I would say the best that can be done is to throw everything that mind thinks it knows into doubt. Mind can never know, it can only tollerate it's own uncertainty. That may be enough.

Phroggy | Fri, 10/24/2008 - 10:15
Wayne's picture

That's beautiful, "I" love

That's beautiful, "I" love that, who exactly would wear the T-Shirt?

Wayne | Sat, 08/11/2012 - 07:03
slenten's picture


Nis' stuff (in spite of cultural/lingual translation hassles) just rings like a bell, don't it?

Thanks for posting those quotes!

slenten | Fri, 10/24/2008 - 11:21
kalgo's picture

Great post

I truly don't yearn to awaken. I don't really know what it means. No one really knows. Until it happens, if it happens.

The concept we have of awakening - this is what we are yearning for. And it does not necessarily equal to the awakening itself.

Meanwhile there is so much disinformation about this concept. Maybe the same level of disinformation as the concept God has.

I think I yearn to be happy, to be free of worries and fears. This is something I can relate to.

kalgo | Sat, 10/17/2009 - 09:13
Toltec Logic's picture

More time...

Wish that I had more time to read through all
these great post. But it is true, on almost every
corner of the wed there is some new method or
technique to add more info to so many cups
already filled to over flowing. Yes awakening
or enlightenment can be comparable to total
transmutation or death which is a choice some
us may one day may choose to make. However, in
the mean time there is the work of constant
consistant gradual practice, and it doesn't
matter so much what form this might take.
Being Here Now happens suddenly without forced
effort, it is what we choose to do with it that
makes all the difference. And that seems to be
where all the difficulties begin.
There is this notion of the seven times restored
elixir in particular taoist teachings that operates
on the principle of triplex unity better know as
the firing process or I Ching. Where most pop
cultural teachings go wrong is in assuming that
enlightenment or awakening is an end in and of
itself and nothing could be further from the
truth. Awakening is only the beginning of actual
learning where enlightenment is to be developed
through applied effort in the midst of the world
or dragon's pool.

“When the fundamental is established.
the path develops.”

“Once you recover your potential, it is like
it was always there…”

Taoist I Ching


It is somewhat of a misnomer to think or say
that enlightenment is the end of anything
when it is actually only the beginning
of learning in necessary hidden practice.

“When a summit of life is reached, when the bud unfolds and
from the lesser the greater emerges, then, as Nietzsche
says, 'One becomes Two,' and the greater figure, which one
always was but which remained invisible, appears to the
lesser personality with the force of a revelation.
He who is turly and hopelessly little will always drag the
revelation of the greater down to the level of his
littleness, and will never understand that the day of
judgement for his littleness has dawned. But the man who is
inwardly great will know that the long expected friend of
his soul, the immortal one, has now really come… a moment
of deadliest peril!”

C. G. Jung


Inside Out

If we are constant within change
like the Sun which remains
bright even in secret at night
not only upon it's rising
then contentment is supreme
without the weeds of desire
clogging the portal of awareness
Blind allegiance selfish and uncaring
will never rise up to the heights
Gradual development is the surest way
where as prompt delivery
gained in haste is soon wasted
If you know the firing process
for the gold elixer of illumination
then you have the quality of humilty
with great power in virtue
This is the Spirit of Tao
not detached but engaged on principle

This Burden

I did not ask for this burden
when one becomes two
In a moment
everything changes
that is when a teacher is needed
- chop wood carry water -
this is only the beginning
As the old Shaman will tell his
'I am sorry that you have become
Now get back to work'
Waking up is nothing
living it free and undetected
in a world without vision
that is the real challenge…
How do you speak a laungage
that has no words?


Complex creatures of imput
or simplistic vessels of spirit
Which is better or worse?
We live, we learn or die
with or without knowing
and who is to say
but for regret
who we were?
but a moment
in an eternity

Restoration of the celestial
within the temporal is the return
of basic nature to natural innocence

Toltec Logic | Wed, 01/27/2010 - 16:04