What is Awakening?Jun 14, 2022
There are many definitions of awakening and over the years I have come to realise that a lot of the time when people are speaking about awakening they are talking about very different things. So this article is an attempt to bring some clarity as to what I mean when I am talking about awakening.
In the way I use the word I am pointing toward a shift in identity, a transition from being identified with the mental projections to something that is prior to all thinking processes and conceptualization.
The shift of identity occurs as a result of a negation, by negating everything that I am aware of in my experience as not myself, I am eventually left with the very essential quality of who I am.
All objects that I can be aware of can not be what I essentially am, simply due to the fact I can be aware of them. This process eventually leads us to a sense of “I” which is not the same “I” that we are so used to being identified with.
This is the “I Am” before it becomes “I Am Matt”. Essentially awakening is a shift from identity being experienced as an object within perception called “me” to experiencing “I” as the space of perception itself, it is a shift from the content in consciousness over to the context, the realisation of who we are as unconditioned conscious aware presence.
Prior to this shift of identity we are primarily existing as a story, a bundle of unconscious habits, memories, compulsions, images, beliefs and assumptions all held together by our name, this is our self image.
This sense of self is really just an image created in the mind living in an imagined continuum of past and future, this self image has been traditionally called the ego.
In my exploration of this I have found that the foundations of this sense of a self image develops throughout our early years and is quite simply an adaptation to our environment that we have mistakenly identified ourselves with, and innocently never questioned.
In the negation process we begin to look and we see these patterns arising in our consciousness, we can see that our mind is creating images, words and sensations on the screen of our consciousness, which create the appearance and feeling of being a separate individual person, as well as projecting the appearance of “other” individuals outside of us.
It is as if in that moment we have taken a step backward out of the mind and perhaps for the first time we can see our mind and our body as something separate from ourselves.
This backward step where we are able to observe the mind is a very important shift in consciousness and the first step toward a realisation of a much deeper and more essential identity, though it is not yet awakening.
The identity shift that can occur at this point can be brought about by a very simple yet effective kind of self inquiry. “Well, if I am not my mind then what am I?”
Without drawing any conclusion, without coming up with an answer or a response to this question the invitation here is to just look. To look as if we were looking for a watch that we had misplaced.
If everything in my experience that I am aware of cannot be myself then what/where am I? What is left of “me” when I negate my self image? The very thing that is looking is what we need to become aware of, it is not a “thing” or an object of perception, it is the perceiver of objects.
It is the perceiving itself that becomes aware of itself. The one that is looking for itself recognises itself as what is looking, the seeker was in search of himself, and is now seen to be the sought. We will not find an answer in the past, we will not find an answer in the future.
We are what we are right Now, as direct as our feet on the floor. The experience is immediate, direct, and absolutely certain and there is no doubt anymore about what we are. We simply are, our Being has been recognised.
This moment in many spiritual traditions is termed "Self Realisation", it is a realisation of our Essential Self as the primordial Awareness/Presence which precedes all phenomena.
At this moment the feeling is that we have woken up from a dream, not “we” the person woken up but the Presence itself has woken up from being identified with its own projection, and we see that in essence, who we are was never the person we believed we were.
At our core, we, along with all other beings have always been and will always be this essential Presence. This recognition, which can only happen right now is what I call awakening. We wake up from being identified with past or future concepts and who we are is experienced to be inseparable from the timeless dimension of the present moment.
This experience is a remembering, a waking up to an already established fact and a recognition of something that has always been the case, it is not an addition or something that we acquire or a result of changing anything about ourselves.
It is like a fish swimming around its whole life looking for water, trying every trick in the book to recognise the existence of water, then one day waking up to the fact the water has always surrounded it.
Contrary to many beliefs this experience is not the end, it is the beginning of a whole new development that occurs within the dimension of Being itself. This experience of awakening does not necessarily resolve many of the details of our human experience, in fact it can force them upward into consciousness and amplify them for a time.
All this recognition means is that we know who we are beyond the body-mind. It does not automatically mean we have resolved our trauma or our childhood imprints, it does not mean we don't have a shadow, it does not mean we don't experience reactivity, it does not mean we are finished any more than it means we are now automatically astronauts or physicists.
We may be surprised to find ourselves dealing with many of the same human issues that we experienced prior to this shift, our body-mind remains with much of its conditioning even though we are experiencing ourselves as beyond it.
Self Realisation is actually the first opening of a long period of integration and maturation, the essential presence that we are is felt as pure spaciousness, love, embrace and openness and for it to become established and for one to really live an embodied realisation, there is a process of all the unconscious energies that are still in opposition to this realisation being forced to the surface to be purged, integrated and unified back into Being.
From here we move from Self Realisation into more unified states of consciousness.
The process that ensues is infinite and never ending, which is a topic for another day as this can be a very long and difficult journey in itself.
Peace & Blessing,
Matt Kay (Co-Creator of Embodied Processing)