As a teacher of Direct Awakening, one of the questions I hear most often is, “Is Enlightenment really possible?”
Of course, it doesn’t always come phrased in such simple terms.
But, however it is expressed, the question so many of us are asking is, “Can I really elevate my consciousness and my life into a consistent, sustained expression of the profound depth I’ve glimpsed in my most sacred moments?”
Is it possible, in other words, to be truly free, unconditionally awake to the sacred depth that is our own true nature beyond the mind and ego?
When we started out on the spiritual path, most of us had a sense that an extraordinary spiritual transformation was possible—a radical realignment at the deepest levels of our being that would not only liberate us from personal suffering but would infuse our life with a sacred, cosmic sense of meaning, purpose and wholeness.
Yet after years or even decades of working on ourselves, many of us have begun to doubt whether that initial intuition of our higher potential was more fantasy than reality.
As a spiritual teacher, I’ve come to realize that one of my jobs is to remind us all of the unimaginable potential that we know in our heart of hearts to be real, yet that we all too often forget in the face of life’s challenges, disappointments and complexities.
So, I’m writing today to remind you that the highest possibility you’ve glimpsed, the most glorious potential you’ve sensed, is not a figment of your imagination but a real living possibility.
And even more than that is possible.
It is possible for life to make perfect sense. It’s possible for your life to make perfect sense.
It’s possible to come into such profound alignment with the moral and spiritual axis of the universe that every moment of your life is a walk in grace, and a living demonstration of the mysterious, inherent goodness of the life process itself.
It’s possible to awaken so deeply to the sacred evolutionary impulse at the heart of existence that our words, actions and choices become a dynamic expression of the highest possibility there is.
And in this transformation, it’s possible to discover an unimaginable and abiding liberation from the suffering of the confused, neurotic, separate sense of self.
It’s possible, in other words, to be truly free.
What I’m speaking about is a completely different kind of human life than most of us have ever encountered.
This is not simply about “being in the now” or “loving and accepting what is in every moment.”
It is not about simply accessing a more expansive state of awareness or being able to stand back and abide as the “witness” of all that arises.
All of these are good experiences to have and important capacities to cultivate. But I’m speaking about something more.
I’m pointing to authentic spiritual awakening in which the ego has been radically overridden by the Ultimate principle, by the creative force of the cosmos, by the infinite depth that is none other than our own true nature.
It’s a life in which our endless quest for self-fulfillment has been replaced by a passion to give everything to bringing our life into alignment with the sacred perfection we’ve discovered in our deepest moments.
In this ultimate submission to and alignment with the Absolute, we become a living, breathing force for higher evolution and awakening.
This changes our relationship to being alive in unimaginable ways.
Experientially, we find ourself in a state of profound receptivity and openness. A deep and abiding simplicity pervades our life, and an ongoing sense of flow permeates every moment.
We have let go of identification with the mind and abandoned any attachment to the self, enabling us to live as a transparent, vibrant vessel for the Infinite.
Amidst this profound openness, there is remarkable mental clarity at times, but there is no clinging onto that clarity.
Insights come and go, but there is the knowledge that “I can’t hold onto any of this,” and so there is no grasping onto certainty.
Yet in moments when clarity is needed, it miraculously appears, integrating all of our knowledge and lived experience in a flash of intuitive knowing.
Spiritual experiences come and go, too, but there is no longer any clinging to ecstasy, bliss or love. We have discovered the source of all these things, and so feel no compulsion to cling to them.
More importantly, and contrary to popular belief, we awaken to a profound awareness of what we might call the heart of the cosmos.
We feel, in a sense, for the Whole of Life. We feel the pain of the whole and the joy of the whole as our own pain and our own joy. We become a seeing, sensing, feeling organ of Reality itself.
And at the center of our being is a burning passion for evolution and transformation, a calling to transform the world into an expression of the great perfection we have discovered to be its source.
All of this may sound very lofty and beyond reach, but I want to make it clear that this is not a pipe dream drawn from ancient books.
This is a real and living possibility for each of us. This is what human life—your life—can become.
Now, just because it’s possible to awaken to this radically different kind of life does not mean that it’s easy. Indeed, what
I’m describing is without question the most challenging endeavor a human being can undertake.
We have to recognize that, even if we feel deeply that we want to Awaken to our true nature, there is a big part of us that wants nothing to do with that. A part of us that desperately wants to maintain control, to keep our life small and manageable and safe.
So, if we want our life to change that profoundly, we have to come to terms with what we’re doing here. This means cultivating a clear and unwavering intention to awaken and to bring our life into alignment with what we discover in that awakening.
Cultivating a profound intention is one of the pillars we work with in all of my training programs, and is the starting point of my upcoming Practice of Direct Awakening course.
But you can begin this inquiry on your own right now by experimenting with the following exercises. Any of these exercises can be engaged as a silent contemplation, as a journal exercise, or as a dialogue with a trusted spiritual friend.
- Tomorrow morning, before you do anything else, take 10 minutes and contemplate what you are really living for. Ask yourself: what is the most important thing in life? What is of ultimate significance? And what do I need to do to align with that—to be an expression of that in the world? Don’t simply ask these questions with your mind. Ask them with your whole being, as if your life depended on it.
- Then, tomorrow evening, take another 10 minutes, and again ask yourself: What is the most important thing in life? What is of ultimate significance? Did I do everything I could today to live in accord with my own deepest knowing of what matters most, to align with my highest potential? Where could I have given more? Then, ask yourself: What would I need to give up or let go of to be able to align with my own deepest knowing of what is most important? When will I be ready to leave that behind?
- If you have a meditation practice, engage the following contemplation practice prior to meditating: Reflect on the reason you entered the spiritual path in the first place. What was it that compelled you to seek a deeper, more meaningful, more enlightened life? What did you sense was possible for human life? What was it that pulled on your soul? Allow yourself to be naked before the purity and vulnerability of this calling. Does this longing connect you to something larger than yourself? Can you recognize that, in its essence, this longing is not your longing to bring something into your life, but is in fact a profound and sacred mystery longing for your participation in its unfolding in the world? Allow yourself to feel the deepest yearning of the Cosmos beckoning for your attention, calling to you to become a vessel for its manifestation in time and space. Enter into your meditation practice rooted in the intention to give all of yourself to the practice in surrender to this greater calling.
Cultivating a powerful intention to Awaken is one of the most important foundations for any genuine spiritual practice.
Even for those of us who have done a great deal of spiritual work on ourselves, taking time to continue to reflect on the extraordinary significance of awakening—not just for ourselves, but for the potential it represents for all of us—can be a powerful source of fuel for our practice.
If engaged consistently and in earnest, these practices can propel us far beyond the obstacles we currently perceive to be blocking our way, and into a dynamic living awakening to the immense sacred potential that called us onto the path in the first place.