If you’re looking to learn what self-realization is, I find it likely that you are somewhere along the path of developing self-awareness. Maybe you’re wondering whether you’ve had, or having one right now.
And although the process of what is self-realization is fairly documented, very little guidance exists on some of the really challenging parts of navigating life after having one. Believe me, I’ve been there.
SO it’s time for me to fess up…
A really big setup is happening right now. And talking about this “set up” is hard. It’s tricky territory…
Let me ask you, does this sentiment sound familiar?
“Emptiness is all there is!”…
When I get comments and e-mails that resonate with this, I break out into a rashy irritation.
Because my friends: It’s a set up…
“Realizations”, as I call them, are real causes for celebration. Genuinely amazing. And I am very aware of how final and complete the “realization” can feel. That deep insight into what a self-realization is is so delicious, and pure and wonderful… And everything gets so clear…and perfect and aligned and peaceful. But then this habit of exclaiming from the roof tops and trumping every conversation with your “realization’ is the beginning of a rather horrible set up. Innocent and natural, but also an invisible trap.
What is self-realization?
A realization is like getting to the ballpark, at the opening stadium where all the excitement is. And there can be so many juicy realizations… such a beautiful thing. The first significant setup of what a self-realization entails can authentically feel like your playing ball. However, you’re not even on the field yet.
That’s the thing, it feels like you have arrived. Awful pain can stem when it stops feeling so expansive and juicy a few days, months, or for some lucky/unlucky folks, years later. See Jeff Foster: 10 years here!
A genuine glimpse feels so free and amazing, which catapults us towards the other setup. Imagining the whole journey towards enlightenment and beyond enlightenment as one massive hit of realization. Endless juiciness. Eternal happiness and bliss... Some crap like that. In due time, after that first real peek, you can’t turn back!
The big setup is that now you’re in the park…the ease and innocence causes you to become single-mindedly focused. And now, once you’re in the park, everything in your life becomes focused on playing ball!
Self-realization is not full enlightenment
The game, in my analogy, is the full enlightenment or spiritual awakening. What I define as completely waking up from mind, from emotion, from body. And that is a very, very different experience than what a self-realization is. Ironically, realizations are not juicy or emancipating or expansive. It’s much more bloody and traumatic. They fill you with disorientation, profound fear, and the deepest unknown. Your life feels as though it’s falling apart, as in completely falling apart. Usually, a substantial break with your family or community ensues. Often, the experience is harrowing and profoundly isolating.
Ultimately, you encounter your death. And, you are freedom and bliss. And liberation and fulfillment. But, the dance is complicated. And you don’t know until you’re there. Here we come to another arc of the set up. With each step that you are not there, you feel as though you’re so close. Almost there or maybe you are there. Perhaps, you desperately think, if you just get a genuine enlightened person to confirm it, you’ll be able to settle a bit more. And that’s the unfortunate territory of this great set up.
The realization process
Going back to our baseball analogy, subsequent to hitting a home run, is what I call beyond enlightenment or embodiment. Here your community and family and world come back, but none of the old ways of living embody it. No one embodies it.
Instead, a timeless, present unknowing, creates this very worldly expression moment to moment. And that road is long, very long. That passage is both thorough and arduous. Every pattern, including every habit, every muscular impulse, even your DNA gets wiped out and re-forms. No, you’re not in for a smooth ride. Actually, the most arduous part of the journey exists here. And currently on this planet, voyagers of this route are very, very rare.
I have seen it present as two years in substantial injury followed by two years of living homeless on the street. Then followed by 6 more years of instability.
I have seen it look like three years of profoundly debilitating illness, then three years of slowly rebuilding health and vitality. All followed with a flourish of 15 more years before the balance is found.
Alternatively, a divine partnership and divine business and divine health prosper for five years, and then all of it crumples and falls to unbearable lows.
Personally, for me, I endured two years of being an almost complete non-functional mess, followed by three years of disorientation and trauma. After that, I experienced another two years of profound rigor with periods of fairly extreme isolation. And as my friend and mentor Adyashanti has commented….my personal journey of unfolding was actually moving at light speed!
This is going to hurt
Extreme and arduous, this long path breaks you down and rebuilds you right back up in stages. All with unimaginable lows and highs and time outs. Ironically, no one’s there at all to move through it. Nobody, as you are pure bliss moving through pure hell. And well, perhaps a few more highs and much more lows. It is not at all like the sales pitch of unlimited bliss and permanent happiness. And also it is….it’s complicated.
And the most prominent set up in the whole gambit is the very innocent idea that, say, hitting a home run, or being in this game, is the ultimate experience for a human. The way to end all the pain and suffering in your life. The highest possible expression. The only way we can be free. Which is so innocent because it sure can feel that way, because those insights are so darn juicy…but woven into that feeling is the set up to become profoundly, single-mindedly, focused.
Help is out there
The good news is that there is a ton of other ways to live a peaceful, fulling, and free life. Pretty much as many ways as there are unique and authentic expressions of each one of us. We can emancipate our pain any number of ways…..via healing, and awareness, and especially a willingness to find our authentic voice and move in our authentic rhythms. Even just a willingness to put in the time to tenderly hold the pain inside of us and let it unwind some can get us to much more satisfying life experience. There are many ways. Say, for instance, your own authentic voice and action and story, your own beautiful face and body.
And that can become so very obscured when you’re so infatuated by the ballgame… Hooked by an innocent interpretation that freedom, ultimate freedom, is the only option to ease your suffering. Noticing simple ways to get a peace ride is tricky from this vantage point.
Sure, some of us play the game, and hit home runs…and that is totally awesome. But unnecessary and inessential for you to be free and happy. Or for you to be awesome.
Watch out for the set up
Watch out for the measurements, the comparisons, the deeply held assumption of some kind of hierarchy that puts enlightenment at the top….!”
One fully experienced realization, and you may well think that playing this game and hitting home runs is something everyone should aspire towards. That others are missing their highest expression –– Blah, Blah, Blah!
Realizations rock… they inspire and emancipate and reveal, which is great!. But once you have one, you start to get hooked… You relentlessly fixate on those bliss-filled silent spaces. Or start following some idea that you will eventually dissolve into one permanently.
And if you don’t see the set up, you start racing unconsciously for this single-minded goal. The home run. Tragically, you begin to miss the greatest moments, the moments of your life right now. Your own unique expression of love, of freedom, of peace.
Your own unique dance with love, life…pain. and pleasure. It’s so easy to miss.
All because of the setup.
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