The Phenomenon of Awakening is a short essay around the central theme that awakening is a universally accessible psychological development. The fact that awakening is a psychological transformation means that, though awakening may historically have been first documented in the context of religion, there is no necessary link to that category, and awakening can be just as much a Christian as a Buddhist phenomenon.
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Nice cover, Derek. Recommended reading!
Thank you! And I'm about to compose some comments on your post in the other thread, which is happily related to the same theme.
Derek, I've read your preview and will purchase a copy for my Kindle.
Already I wonder why you consider this kind of awakening to be "psychological" rather than an opening of our spiritual consciousness? Do you make a distinction between the psychological and spiritual aspects of our human consciousness (as you know, I do)? But I certainly agree with your point that the kind of awakening you are describing can happen in any religious tradition.
I don't see psychological and spiritual as separate. One of the things I wanted to do in that short essay was to bring the subject of awakening down to earth, since it's been subject to so much new-agey romanticization and mythologization. Hence I chose the word "psychological" rather than the word "spiritual" to describe it. Spirituality, to me, refers simply to the presymbolic layers of the psyche. Although these are muffled with the development of symbolic thinking, they never really go away.
Derek, I prefer the more traditional understanding of "spiritual" as referring to those attributes of human consciousness that go beyond what the animals experience: self-awareness, intellect, and will. Psyche would refer to what we share with the animals: imagery, memory, temperament, and emotion. I understand "psyche" in humans to subsist in our spirit; as you noted, they are not separate. But neither are they the synonyms.
I've generally thought of enlightenment/awakening in terms of a shift to awareness of the pre-reflective (or non-reflective) aspect of our spiritual consciousness: awareness of "IS," as a friend puts it. I will read your work to see how our notes compare.
Thank you. Yes, chapter 1 is devoted to providing a precise definition of what is meant by "awakening."
OK, Derek, done! Nice job! A good, coherent accounting and explanation.
I relate to the kind of consciousness you describe and gave a detailed accounting of my own coming into it in the chapter on psychology in my kundalini book. Basically, I talked about "awareness" no longer operating in and through self-concept, but "directly," which seems much along the lines of your own description. Your use of Piaget made sense. I also know what you mean by the silent mind, loss of sense of self, etc. There has been a re-integration, in my case, though still no longer a "self" operating from self-concept, which seems to be what our reflexivity is about.
Where I differ is that I believe there is still and "I" or subject-of-attention present, though I acknowledge its cosmic openness, as you described. It's not a reflective "I," nor, less an "I" that is wed to self-concept or that is implied from reflection ("I" as the subject-, or even object-of-reflection, a "me"). "I" is, of course, a word, as you noted, but the word attests to the subjectivity that persists through all states. You will acknowledge, I'm sure, that your experience is constrained to your own mind and field of perception . . . that there is a boundary beyond which we cannot go (e.g., the mind of another). I consider this to be the non-reflecting aspect of our human spiritual consciousness, now awakened following the formation we went through in earlier phases. This is why, too, I have resisted calling this perception "Christ," as BR has. It's "Life," as you noted, but as experienced by "this person," and not another. I realize that's all a remove or two from the actual experience, but, hey, our consciousness does that, too!
In light of this kind of awakening, I came to a new understanding of God, Self and Ego that I wrote up in my doctoral project (and need to re-write). I also eventually learned how to relate to others out of this state, and it's very freeing, as I'm sure you can attest: no more projecting, openness to who they are, and receptive to the flow of love that seems to arise in relationships in a different manner than in present-moment-beingness. Some Trinitarian dynamic going on in all that, I believe.
Finally: Kundalini seems to be the liberated psychic energy, flowing to sustain this state of awakening. The aches and pains that accompany it are more about the imbalances we create from trying to get along in a very imbalanced society. No way around that, however.
I think Christian contemplatives come upon this state via the route of deep resting in love, rather than through the kind of meditative practices you described. After awhile, one becomes acclimated to non-reflective, non-conceptual consciousness, but this is not sought as a good, but is a consequence of resting in God's loving presence beyond thoughts and concepts: spirit-to-Spirit, as SJC would put it. Different route, but same result, only in a totally different context. They never seem to lose the inter-subjective perspective.
Anyway . . . nice job! And thanks for calling our attention to your work.
Thank you, Phil! I'm glad it made sense to you. Now you understand where I'm coming from.
Hey Derek, I finally got your little book open. I'll report back later when I get some time to read it carefully. Finding time to read should be a breeze, now that the world has not ended.
Heh heh ... yes, the world is still here, and the days are now getting longer.
I made a recording of most of chapter 1, if you prefer to listen to me read it:
Or with video clips and music:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Q28WL0ARzQcThis message has been edited. Last edited by: Derek,
I really enjoyed the video clip of chapter one. Pleasure to watch those lovely scenes and listen to your accented, story-telling voice. I'm looking forward to the rest of the book.
Thank you! It's only an essay, really, not a full-length book. Those surveys of the percentage of people having spiritual or mystical experiences have prompted me to make another video on why so many of these awakenings are happening: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=swNMOiWXcII
Ah the old country twang's still there, Derek. And isn't running water beautiful!
I relate to much of what you say in the second video. I've seen awakening as a cycle of contraction and expansion, pressure and release, which has been quite idiosyncratic in my own experience of psychic attack followed by times of deep awareness and oneness.
Well, I just finished a first pass at your essay. Very interesting how you pull together such seemingly unrelated people as Freud, Buddha, and Jesus! Only in American (and Canada apparently) is this allowed.
I made some notes along the way, but I want to re-read your essay to formulate some questions that are brewing.
In the meantime, I was remembering how I responded to you that time when you shared with SP that you "woke up." I referred you to Romans 12:1,
to offer your body as a living sacrifice unto God. Is this like the revelation you received on your retreat: that you were a "servant" to the Universe?
I'm amazed you remembered. Yes, I posted on SP in early April 2011, which must have been a few days after the "turbulent period" ended. During the turbulent period, I was spending most of the day flat on the couch.
I would say the difference is that "to offer your body as a living sacrifice unto God" is an intentional act, whereas the servant-experience in May 2010 was something that was just happening by itself. Absolutely no intentionality. Does that answer your question?
Sorry to leave you waiting on this, Derek. I've got a busy time ahead of me, but I'll certainly pick up with you as time/life permits.
I was wondering if you understand your servant-experience as a Grace, a kind of revelation that only God can give about your proper 'role' in relation to His Majesty? And if so, does it then follow that you would want to respond with an intentional prayer of offering your body as a living sacrifice to God? IOW, God won't force you to follow up on that revelation. The proverbial "ball is in your court" ...
Hope you are doing well.
Christ's peace and love be with you.
I don't know what to make of it. At one point in March/April 2011, it seemed to me that EVERYTHING was grace. St. Teresa of Avila does say somewhere (I vaguely recall) that God is everything and we are nothing. I've been trying to locate a source for that quote but haven't been able to do so.
It's odd, but I don't really think about that servant-experience much any more. Writing it down seems to have allowed me to move on.
Now here we come to the point that rankles Phil. There isn't actually a "you" there to own the body. "You" is a temporary mental construct.
Ha ha, Derek. Who said that?
Seriously now . . . "I" is more than just a mental construct, though that it is for sure in language. It is implied in memory and attention as well. Maybe a new topic to explore?
Could you be thinking of Catherine of Sienna?
[The eternal Father to Catherine:] "Do you know, daughter, who you are and who I am? If you know these two things you will have beatitude within your grasp. You are she who is not, and I AM HE WHO IS." Raymond of Capua, Life of Catherine of Siena, 92
There are some similar quotes in her Dialogue.
- - -
Derek, I have a few questions I've been wondering about. If you don't want to respond, that's fine.
1. Would you say the awakening experience you've described was a good thing that happened to you?
a. Would you recommend that others undertake disciplines that might help them experience this?
b. Is it still "with you" in some manner -- in the backdrop of your consciousness, for example?
2. Has your "ordinary consciousness" become re-established? Do you notice any changes compared to what you experienced as "ordinary consciousness" prior to the awakening?
3. How has this experience influenced your Christian faith? Your manner of praying?
- that'll do for now -
I can't find a reference to the quote I was looking for, but Google gave me this, from St. Teresa's "Relation II," written to one of her confessors in 1562:
"Thus I see clearly that all my gain has come through the revelations and the raptures, in which I am nothing myself, and do no more to effect them than the canvas does for the picture painted on it."
Google also gave me this, from Blessed Mother Teresa of Calcutta:
"I am nothing but a pencil in God's hand Who is sending his love letter to the world."
The recommendation question is difficult to answer, not because of any doubts as to the benefits, but because of doubts about the value of recommendations. This no-self perspective definitely makes for an easier, more free way to live. But Judith Blackstone has some wise words to say about why explaining this to other people doesn't have much impact on them.
BTW I think you'll find answers to most of your other questions in the last part of Chapter 4 of the essay.
Nicely done, Derek!
Found it. This is the passage I've been looking for for a long time. It's from the end of chapter 32 of The Way of Perfection, with my emphasis added:
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