spiritual awakening is amazing. For awhile, you can't imagine living any other way or in any other state of mind. But all states are transitory, and the initial awareness that runs over you rarely stays put. For some, they are so ready to embrace this awakening and the effervescent, beautiful unknown that they walk into a new life and never look back. But for most others, they really don't know what's just hit them. They know that they like it and want more of it, but because they have no real understanding of it or a way to implement it in their lives, they become stuck, holding on to two worlds. At this point, the lost years of spiritual awakening begin, and you can become lost.
Holding On To Two Horses Going in Two Directions
Your initial ego wasn't eradicated in your awakening, and you haven't been able to figure out enough of who you really are to live in the world. So, you're now trying to live two lives. I've done this. It's still kind of amazing to me because I knew that I was in a spiritual awakening, but still, I tried to have my cake and eat it too. I thought I could do the same jobs as before and develop my spiritual practice, but everything kept blowing up in my face. This went on for a couple of years. I got really energetically depleted. It was hard to get motivated to do anything. Everything felt wrong and bad to me. I lost my sense of clarity and vision, and I was really, really upset.
Eventually, the spiritual support network that I had did help me figure out what was going on and to get out of the situation that I was in (in this case, living in San Francisco--a horrible energy for me; in general big cities have very dense and negative energies that make it difficult to live in when you're fully awakened). Then it took awhile to piece myself back together. Even with all the tools that I had, the rebuilding took quite some time--about a year and a half.
So, when people talk about you can't go wrong on the spiritual path, I would say that that's ultimately true. At the highest level, all things are spiritual and love; you can't do this wrong. But in the truth of the moment, you're going to find that there are some things that are really wrong for you, and it's important to honor that.
Developing Your Spiritual Toolkit
I was lucky to have a spiritual focus. It was the golden thread that guided me through and kept me from falling into the abyss. The abyss is a very real thing. It's very different than the void. The void is the universe's womb--the place of creativity, the loving unknown. It's scary to the ego, so people can confuse it with the abyss. In embracing the void, you are embracing the unknown and every possibility in life without judgment. The abyss, however, is the downward spiral that leads to your total destruction, and this isn't the good kind of destruction of the ego-self. This is the destruction of the soul, taking you to a point where the only way out may feel like suicide or death. I've seen people play really close to that edge; it's not a pretty sight.
This is why developing spiritual practices and growing your awareness after a spiritual awakening is so important. It helps you to smooth out the transition so that you aren't lost wandering. It helps you trust your inner knowing. After a spiritual awakening, you are both in the best place to know exactly what's right for you and the easiest place to make mistakes. So many people have so much ego left over that they just try to grab back to that old way of living, and that's when the pain starts to grow. I've seen at least one friend holding on to both sides, and it's not a pretty sight. So along with developing a deeper and more embodied spiritual practice, you have to choose to walk the spiritual path and let go of who you've been before.
Leaving the Desolation and the Wilderness
Part of the pain that we feel after awakening is simply coming into awareness of how painful our lives have always been. Spiritual awakening rips off the callous that's warded off a lot of unpleasantness, and now we can feel EVERYTHING. That's intense. That's also why many people try to run back to their old lives, thinking that they can forget everything that's happened. But it doesn't work that way. You've seen too much. The only way out is the way through. And that way through is taking you right through your pain and unworked out issues. It can start to seem like you're screwed either way, but the reality is that in the path of spiritual awakening, you can clear that pain and never have to feel it again. The other way will continue to have you suffer and go through the same painful cycles in life, over and over again. So while things are now intense and difficult and you feel all alone in the wild, the truth is that that's where you've been the whole time. Now, you can actually get out of it.
Spiritual Wandering: Not All Are Lost
I do want to be clear that exploration and discovery are very much part of the spiritual path. Just because it doesn't feel like you have a clear direction or goal doesn't mean you're wandering. To someone on the outside, they may think you are, but as you trust the deeper part of yourself, you'll know that's not true. You're actually making a very clear bee-line towards something. Maybe you know what it is, maybe you don't. But you are headed that way.
For me, that way was towards the spiritual teacher, speaker, healer, and writer. I've always wondered if I was a kind of modern day medicine man (I like the alliteration of the M's =). But I was afraid to claim it. I thought I needed to earn something or achieve something, but that's not how it works in spirituality. You already are who you are. Certainly, you learn how to more fully embody aspects of yourself, but no one can tell you that you're officially a teacher, leader, healer, or any number of other core archetypal patterns that each of us carries (sometimes we carry several). If you are a healer, that's what you are. That's probably what you've been doing your whole life in a variety of ways. What tools you choose to learn in this lifetime to embody that healing (becoming a doctor, energy healer, counselor, Reiki master, etc.) may be up to you, depending on what feels true to you. But deep down, you already know who you are. Embrace that truth, and you will no longer be lost.
Thanks to Arran Edmonstone for today's picture of Columbia Gorge. You can see more of his photography on this Flickr link.