If Enlightenment Came with a Warning Label…
So when you heard about spiritual awakening or enlightenment, what was the prize that you wanted in the end? What was the story that got you hooked?
Perhaps it was something about experiencing endless bliss and joy, or maybe it was the end of suffering, or perhaps it was about experiencing constant Oneness with the Divine. Maybe it was the answer to all your life’s questions.
It may be something else entirely, but whatever the case may be, I’m sure the bait was very shiny and attractive, yes? :lol
It turns out that they don’t give you the full story when you start playing the game. What I’m about to share isn’t meant to discourage people on the path, but simply to help them be conscious if and when these things start occurring. These things don’t necessarily mean that something has gone wrong, although it may certainly seem that way. A helpful book to those who are experiencing the following symptoms is You’re Not Going Crazy… You’re Just Waking Up!
Now, if spiritual awakening was to come with a series of warning labels, what would be printed on those labels?
Warning: All your beloved attachments are going to be taken away from you. Everything you hold near and dear to your heart you must be completely and utterly willing to lose them. The more you hold onto them, the more you’ll suffer. It is only in the willingness to let go that find your freedom. By the way, letting go as a technique to trick the universe into granting your freedom, as in saying that you let go while peeking over your shoulder to see what’s to come, that doesn’t cut it. You can’t B.S. your way there. Believe me, I’ve tried… No one else has been able to pull that one off either. :lol
Warning: You will experience dark nights of the soul. You will experience your entire world crumbling down. You will experience intense emotional roller coasters, to the point where you literally may feel like you’re going crazy.
Warning: You must let go of all of your judgments and false sense of worth. You know all those accomplishments you’ve achieved in this lifetime? What do you brag about? You must let go of holding onto any of them as a way to enhance your self-worth and boost your sense of self. Your trophies and medals, while certainly valuable in their own right, they must lose their importance as something that makes you feel better or worthy. You are not valuable because of anything you have ever done or ever will do. You are valuable simply because you are. Because you exist. All the blows to your pride and are ways to help you let go of your false sense of worth and open up to the realization of your true worth.
Warning: You must let go of all your ideas about God. In order to find God, you must quit telling yourself you already know God. All the ideas that you’ve grown up hearing, being taught, holding onto, or rejecting, all of them have to be let go of in order to be seen through.
Warning: You will find yourself entering a place with no rules, no shoulds and shouldn’ts, no technique, no strategies, and no room for all of your egoic stuff and the energy of division.
Warning: Your ego will throw fits. Your painbody will go crazy. Your buttons will get pushed. Your ego will throw out every trick in its book. When you start learning how to get past its tricks, it’ll become more sneaky and subtle. As you advance, your ego advances. It all happens to bring more awareness to the energies within, to help you let go of that which you previously have been unconscious to.
Warning: The egoic dangers don’t end after awakening. In fact, as Adyashanti points out, the dangers after awakening get more dangerous and there’s much more of them. For example, one can settle in to seeing the Absolute as the only valid perspective and disregarding the world of the relative because it’s all “illusion.” This can lead to some very unconscious behavior and a letting go of changing that because “it doesn’t matter” and “there’s no one to change it.” Remember, the world is illusion, yes. Brahman alone is real, yes. BUT, the world IS Brahman. This is true non-duality: seeing the Reality in the so-called illusion as one.
Warning: Just because you wake up, that doesn’t mean that everyone will love you and you’ll never have any struggles in life again. Just look at Jesus if you have any doubts about that one.
Warning: You must come out of hiding. All the dark stuff within you that you haven’t been wanting to look at and be truthful about, it’ll all come up to the surface. All that stuff you hide from other people, the things you don’t want to show to others or to yourself, your inside will become your outside. There’s no hiding ANYTHING from anyone. It’s a deep deep level of vulnerability, sincerity, and self-honesty.
Warning: All your life lessons will come to the surface. You’ll have to look at and accept everything. There’s nowhere to run and nowhere to go. You can only be here, now. There’s no one to become. Waking up isn’t a self-improvement course. Although it may appear this way on the surface, the point of waking up isn’t to become more spiritual, more loving, more enlightened, or more acceptable in the eyes of God. It’s about Self-realization, about realizing who and what you really are. You return back to your natural state and be who you really ARE, that which doesn’t have to be created, manifested, or maintained.
Warning: The farther you go, the more painful it becomes to deviate from the Truth of your being. Think of it this way: If you walk into a tree at 2 mph, it’s no big deal. If you whack a tree while running as fast as you can, it’s gonna hurt. The deeper you go into Being, the more painful it is when you lie even just a little bit, hold back your Truth, don’t allow yourself to be who you are, resist what is, judge another, or in any way violate natural laws. You get a lot less slack. In Zen they call it walking the Razor’s Edge. Deviate even a little bit and you quickly get cut.
Warning: You have to take complete and total responsibility for everything and everyone that shows up in your life. As your consciousness begins returning back to its natural state of timelessness, manifestation starts happening much more clearly and the link between inner thoughts and vibrations and outer manifestation becomes REALLY clear. No longer do you get the luxury of blaming others or judging others. Everything you see as a problem in others instantly gets turned around and becomes your problem. You’ll begin taking on a lot more pressure once everyone’s problems start to become yours. The world truly is your mirror. All the problems you really have with others really are problems you have within yourself. Get to work on surrender. It becomes a much more necessary skill later on.
Warning: You must accept that you’ll never “get there,” that you’ll never “arrive.” You could spend an entire lifetime on this journey and never wake up. Indeed that has happened to many people. In fact, so long as you cling to your desire to get somewhere, you’ll never actually wake up to what’s already here. You must surrender completely your desire to succeed in your path of awakening. You must accept the fact that you may embark on the journey, never to actually get enlightened.
Warning: You may feel very connected and One with Source/All That Is at times, and you will also experience yourself feeling totally disconnected, lost, confused, and cut off. It’s a horrible feeling. It’s the experience of pure separation, they very illusion we are trying to see beyond.
Warning: Even if you get a glimpse of the Truth of your Being once or twice or a hundred times, the egoic structure may rebuild itself, leading to the experience of being unenlightened, or what we call a non-abiding awakening. Adyashanti reports that it usually takes people anywhere from 3-15 years for the momentum of awakening to settle in. Although it doesn’t happen in the future and can only happen in the now, don’t expect an overnight insta-fix.
Warning: Just because you have a clear seeing of who you really are, that’s not the end of the journey. The first question is “Who Am I?” Once that’s discovered, it now becomes a matter of how what I AM manifests itself in this world. The second question upon realization is, “How then shall I live?” It’s not enough to have the inner realization. That realization must express itself out through the totality of your being for it to become a living realization.
Warning: You must completely and utterly let go of control, of even controlling your survival, much less your destiny. You must be willing to die, to face the fear of death and surrender into it without attempting to stop it or control it in any way. The fear of death and the unknown become your friends. No longer will you be running from them.
Warning: The more you begin living in the moment and letting go of the domination of your consciousness by your mind, you may begin experiencing memory loss. Whole blocks of memory will begin falling away. It’s not exactly like Alzehimer’s, but there very well may be some significant loss of short-term and/or long-term memory as you begin relying less upon memory and more upon a deeper intuitive knowingness.
Warning: You may have intense kundalini awakenings to where it will feel like your entire nervous system is being overloaded. Many people have literally gone insane from this. It can be helpful to seek out some helpful resources including other people who have experienced similar symptoms, various practices you can do to work with the energies, and even a guru to help guide you safely through the process.
Warning: You may experience cycles of confusion and clarity. In one moment you may be very wise, deep, loving, and compassionate, and in the next moment the cloudiness of the veil will return and you will no longer have a clue as to what’s going on. You may become sucked right back into your ego, experiencing your deepest and darkest fears.
Warning: There is tremendous value in working with others, but you must learn to stand in your aloneness. Many of your relationships may change. Friends and family that have been close to you your whole life may be let go of. Some people will come, others will go. Some stay for the long haul. Which ones will stay and which ones will go? Who knows? The flow of the river will determine that more than any conscious decision. You can try to make it a conscious decision, but that will actually be more of a resistance to the flow and a desire to control than anything else. You don’t get to control the process. It happens. The you you think you are doesn’t make it happen.
Warning: You don’t get anything as a result of awakening. There’s no thing you get as a prize such as a good feeling such as a constant never-ending wonderful enlightened experience or a boost to your self-esteem. (What self would we be talking about anyways who has a self-esteem?) You get nothing, but BOY what a nothing it is. By seeing that you ARE that nothingness, and that you ARE the entire universe arising from that nothingness, you realize that what you ARE is already more than anything that could ever be wanted, as Gangaji so beautifully puts it.
Now as I say all of this I’m laughing. In certain moments it can be a crazy, wild, intense, OMG-I’m-gonna-die experience, yes, particularly when you’re in the heat of the moment, but it’s like waking up from a dream at night… You recognize that it was all just a dream and it doesn’t feel like it was actually all that real. What you ARE is infinitely more real than anything that appears in this world. Those experiences will begin to feel so distant and faded, like a memory that you can only partially and vaguely remember, as if it happened to another person entirely in another far-off world.
That said, it’s worth it. It’s all SO worth it. The direct realization of who and what you really are is SO worth all of the bumps and jolts that we experience along the way. Things to lighten up as you do.
Not everyone will necessarily experience every single thing listed above. For some people, some experiences may be more profound than others. In fact, there are many other things that one may experience that haven’t been listed in this post.
Either way, there is a book I’d HIGHLY recommend that people check out titled You’re Not Going Crazy… You’re Just Waking Up! by Michael Mirdad. You can read my full review of it here.
For those of you who’ve also been walking the path for a little while now, what “warnings” would you give someone who’s getting started and doesn’t know what to expect?
By: Ariel Bravy
i would say to remember that it is the journey not the destination because your not getting there; this life time anyways.
This is so great, thank you for posting this. I began this process so so recently (a few months) and it, in a way, tares your life apart. I’m not saying I am on the fast track to enlightenment, but even just the process of waking up… You have to reevaluate what really matters, who matters, who your friends are. You feel constant battling between your true nature and ego self. I’ve felt like I’m going crazy on multiple different occasions. And yes, between the beautiful oneness and connection and realizations comes a deep feeling of being completely, utterly alone. Especially when there is no one near you going through the same thing (which is why I love this website as an outlet so much).
But would I trade this process for going back to blissful ignorance? Never. This journey has contained more moments of bliss than I ever felt before. And the journey of knowledge gives me more fulfillment than ever before.
I feel like some of these things at times, I’m into the whole enlightened stuff but i’ve never really tried it, well you could say I’m doing it but by myself just without the whole meditation and stuff, also there is a strong will to be just as i have always been. Do you all think that what mentioned is something totally different or probably the same thing
that is true w are already there we just haven’t realised it yet.
so what has been the hardest things for any of you to deal with on this quest for what we have lost and i guess already found but haven’t figured out yet? mine would be feeling alienated.
If you have any goal or intention behind getting enlightened you will never be enlightened. Goals are set up after you’re enlightened.
And all this stuff about the ego getting even more of a problem post-enlightenment sounds very weird to me. As long as your ego is rampant you are not enlightened, when you are enlightened your ego has no will of its own.
And why would there be warnings? If you consider those things/events bad you will never be enlightened. And there are no reasons to not become unlightened. The only things that people should be warned of are their egos, their attachments and the people they trust with their lives (government, religious leaders, society.) There is nothing bad or painful about enlightenment, that’s simply delusional.
I look at these “warning labels” not so much as what happens when or before or after you become or feel enlightened, but as something that our minds may go through as we begin to wake up from ego filled lives, and as we begin to see the world in a different way. It’s not so much that the ego is more of a problem, its that, at least for me, I am MUCH more aware of it. This is of course not a bad thing, because this gives me the ability to look at myself from another angle and work on the things that will lead to a peaceful mind. ya know?
The waves of change can be hard to swim through, some of us are only just beginning to see the calm waters ahead.
@questioneverything, Great post! Although I have my doubts if I will ever want to become enlightened as sketched by your post (obviously there are various definitions of what enlightenment really is).
Do you really want to experience a state of oneness, a state of absoluteness, a state of monotony, wherein nothing what we have ever experienced or learned in this physical world wherein we are born (or at least our physical bodies) matters anymore? In fact, wherein it does not even matter that it does not even matter, where nothing and everything become one, where there is no comparison anymore.
I am content with the life I live, the life as I know it, the life as life has taught me to be, living in the present moment, in the now, but still with dualities. I do not want to give that up, and for me that is enlightenment, I need my dualities, I need my attachments, I need my emotions, I need my ego, I need everything I experience in the present moment to live life as I live it. If it would be different, then I would need that.
I think Martijn with one sentence perfectly sketched what I mean.
There was a time I was scared. Really scared. I still sometimes am. I got through a session of cranio-sacral therapy session done by a mystic who used my own body to move me… And a few days after I (think I) awakened… for a moment.
Warning: If you experience something out of ordinary and get afraid, do your best not to hold it back… You’ll surely regret it later on…
Just to make it clear, this particular view of enlightenment and how to get there is not some sort of universally agreed upon thing. The Buddha of the Pali Canon (the earliest Buddhist texts) does not speak of finding one’s true self. He even says this of the following view:
“The universe is the Self. That I shall be after death; permanent, stable, eternal, immutable; eternally the same shall I abide, in that very condition’ — is it not, monks, an entirely and perfectly foolish idea?” (MN 22)
I’m not claiming that there can’t be “enlightened” individuals in different spiritual traditions, but the notion that all enlightened ones point to seeing the self is just not the case. Not with the Buddha anyway.
Also, to the the OP: What is your definition of emptiness? Is this what you mean by “nothingness” in your post. I have a feeling you use it differently than proponents of Madhyamaka do.
All the best,
@questioneverything, thank you for posting this. im feeling a lot of these nasty symptoms after 30 years of meditation and recently giving it all up. now im hanging in outer space and especially feeling like
what you say… dark nights of the soul. You will experience your entire world crumbling down. You will experience intense emotional roller coasters, to the point where you literally may feel like you’re going crazy.
yes i feel really crazy these days, as if indeed all the things im attached to are tumbling down. my ego is going nuts and im an emotional wreck
lets hope it is true that these are symptoms of my soon to be enlightened state!!
ahhh letting go. good idea!
“Warning: The farther you go, the more painful it becomes to deviate from the Truth of your being. Think of it this way: If you walk into a tree at 2 mph, it’s no big deal. If you whack a tree while running as fast as you can, it’s gonna hurt. The deeper you go into Being, the more painful it is when you lie even just a little bit, hold back your Truth, don’t allow yourself to be who you are, resist what is, judge another, or in any way violate natural laws. You get a lot less slack.”
god damn that just hit me like a ton of bricks, so fucking true, and so encouraging!!!!!!!!!!!!
Enlightenment is amazing, especially as a woman. Emotions and feelings we feel throughout the day really can make or break you. You MUST be willing to feel uncomfortable. Its a yin/yang situation. in order to see how the world SHOULD be, you must see how it REALLY is currently, in order to really grasp how much change needs to take place. Enlightenment ISNT an easy thing to overcome, but it is sooo worth it to be awake and to share opinions and beliefs with others who really have no clue. It is a beautiful experience. and for those long nights when you feel as though your world is sitting on your shoulders, we have these amazing things called TEAR DUCTS in our eyes lol tears are beautiful. they help us express emotion when we dont know how to express ourselves any other way. The universe blesses us with tears so we can get it all out in times of high stress or sadness. Also, if anyone is familiar with their spirit guides’ presence, they help alot. focus on love and it becomes apart of you. i feel my pineal glan open after a pleasantly long emotional cry! my spirit guides push me to express myself even when im alone. its like this for everyone, you just have to believe its there and tap into it.
it is very different for a woman in many ways. im not saying its better but its definitely different. its hard to understand probably, mainly because women are NOT equal in society and we are viewed as sex symbols. it is drastically different i assure you! i see us all as completely equal im sure as you do too. but i think that one of the biggest changes that could globally occur is the age of equality of men and women. when a beautiful woman walks by and men dont look her up and down, and instead focus on whats going on in her own universe, we will know true equality. even these words arent showing enough expression. men dont typically see the true picture of how women are treated as sex symbols instead of people of important change, because we have grown up in this place. people arent even aware of the degree
This is maybe awesome to read but it’s too long for my priceless time so I’ll just say that enlightenment is not just liking trains but loving the too-toot sound of locomotives. Don’t panic! So long, so long, so long and thanks for the fish and thanks for the paragraphs which caught my eye you almost 3 year old thread, you.