Disclaimer: This essay is talking about something that cannot really be talked about. It is a pointer, so please do not get too hung up on the words.
It is an attempt to clarify the difference between spiritual awakening and the development of human potential, as they are often mistaken to be the same thing and have become deeply enmeshed. For a person who truly wants to wake up, this distinction will prove to be helpful.
True spiritual awakening is sudden, direct and irreversible. It is the death of an illusion. It is called “awakening” because it is very similar to waking up from being a dream character within a dream. It is not difficult to awaken except for the fact that it is the dream character that is attempting to awaken by using dream assumptions, experiences and beliefs, all of which are part of the dream and are being dreamed. At a certain point, this dream character realizes that if awakening happens, it, as it dreams itself to be, will disappear. When this insight occurs to the dream character, it usually turns back towards having a better dream, a better autobiographical experience. And there is nothing wrong with this. It is what dreams are all about!
Within the dream, the human being has an amazing ability to develop many skills and capacities. Without a doubt, it can evolve, transform and live a very fulfilling, exciting and meaningful life. This is a very good and important thing to be aware of. It is a very good idea to figure out how to have a great life and it is quite possible. There are many ways to do this.
But for someone who wants to wake up, it is important to see that just about everything that passes as a spiritual path towards spiritual awakening is, in fact, part of the dream and a way of developing human potential within the dream. This is fine. This is what most people want. If the path requires beliefs, practices, systems, levels, dimensions, beings on other planes of existence, evolution, past, future, reincarnation, karma, and past lives, then it is a path of human potential. Without a doubt, it is great that humans want to evolve and develop their capacities to be kind, compassionate, aware, intelligent, wise, helpful, loving and supportive. There are excellent systems and technologies for doing this. I personally recommend Dzogchen, The Landmark Forum, HeartMath®, Transactional Analysis, Non-dual Tantra and Zen for doing this, as all of these have escape hatches built into them. Dr. Eric Berne, the creator of Transactional Analysis, has described the autonomous person as being aware, intimate, spontaneous, game and script free, and living in the present. Not too bad for a psychiatrist!
If a person truly wants to awaken to the truth of their being, all paths and systems are a distraction, road-side attractions. Many people have spent much of their lives following spiritual paths and wondering why they have not awakened. It is because these paths do not lead to awakening. They are all functions of the dream, part of the dream character’s autobiographical process within time.
When awakening has happened, the human instrument continues to exist and function as before. The difference is that the intelligent awareness that lives the instrument is no longer identified with an autobiographical self and thus no longer seeking meaning and significance within the dream. The human will continue expressing its natural born inclinations until it dies. Some of these inclinations may be part of the development of its human potential such as continuing to meditate, practice yoga or be politically involved. These things are now an expression of being, not a seeking of being. The person will naturally become compassionate as it is clearly seen that everything and everyone is a reflection of its own being, in fact is its own being.
When you dream a dream at night, you are the source of the dream. You are the source of the “you” that is the dream character, and the source of everything and everyone else in the dream. Without you, the unseen dreamer, nothing in the dream would be happening. It is all you. You are the first fact upon which all of the other facts of the dream are based.
If you really want to wake up, the fastest and easiest way is to find a teacher who is awake and thus not perpetuating a belief system. They will directly point you to the truth of your being. It is self-evident. Initially, it is difficult to recognize the utter simplicity of this truth, as everything is interpreted through the distinctions, assumptions and knowledge of the dream character. “Jnanam bandaha” – dream knowledge is bondage. But the teacher will be patient and continue to point to this first fact. Unborn, deathless, formless, yet everything and eternally present. This is It.
Once awakening has happened, everything is seen with a new perspective. The fascination with human potential shifts as it is seen that no matter how much you get of what you don’t need, it will never be enough. Seeking and struggle are gone. Now life is a direct and dynamic expression of what is without the secondary overlay of a made-up, imaginary autobiographical self trying to get somewhere or be someone. There is no longer “you,” and everything else. There is just life happening spontaneously, the only dance there is.
“The Tao that can be spoken of is not the true Tao.” – Lao Tzu
“The Way to Do is to Be.” – Lao Tzu