Monday, January 11, 2016

Talk 20 - What Is Awakening?

Some views on awakening from a decent sample of fairly awake people.

From Buddha At The Gas Pump, 14 people discuss the theme "What Is Awakening", starting after a 7-8 minute introduction. 

From Sounds True, interviews with 34 people on "What Is Awakening".  Seems a bit expensive here, but this was initially available as a freebie for people trying out Audible.  Also, it weighs in at a prodigious ~23 hours.  This collection contains some big names like Tolle, Adyashanti, Kornfield, Wilber, Brach and includes some science friendly types like Hanson.  I really liked Mukti's direct pointing, Hanson's reasonable approach, and Adyashanti breaking down in tears.

I think it's useful to get a lot of different views, and although there are indeed a lot of different perspectives, I think what is important are the similarities that cut through all of it.  Jeffrey Martin's work on surveying and studying these type of people is useful as well.

[Addendum: from Conscious TV, conversation "What is Enlightenment" with Freke, Weber, etc.]

For myself, at one time I posited that awakening is something like the degree to which one has re-trained the mind metaphorically "back" towards the original, bare, pre-conceptual awareness style.  Which I would still substantially agree with.  Some people bristle at the metaphor of the original mind, because we leave that behind with the conditioning of language and culture, and we can't ever quite put the genie entirely back in the bottle.  But I still think it's a good pointer.

I think now I might want to point a bit more at the relative degree to which the mind is unattached to objects of awareness.  In my opinion it's that constant direction of letting go, of relaxation, that is the essential benefit of awakening.  Letting go of attachment to thoughts, self-identity, emotions, so there is an internal flexibility and openness and ease of being.  Internally, one stops fighting and arguing with reality and leaves things be.

In a conversation the other day, I noticed towards the end I was trying to make a certain point, which is fine, but I was grasping a bit, and that kind of thing really sticks out to me in recent years.  In that moment, I was fighting a little bit internally, like I wasn't completely okay with the outcome if I didn't get this point across.  And that's where the practice is for me, to see that internal grasping and to let go of that and if possible, any beliefs that might be causing it.  I can still make points, and could even do this very emphatically if that is what is actually flowing without internal resistance, but to be clear the path I am taking is towards where everything is just happening as it is, without the arguing or grasping or resistance.  An ease of being.  Ultimately to be more okay with everything.  In that sense awakening is just kind of adjusting to reality, to what is.


  1. Agree about the grasping bit. Practice _really_ gets interesting when we see that the "one who could or could not grasp" is itself something grasped, and can be let go.

  2. Right. It's all just happening. The universe is happening, the organism is happening, the selfing processes are happening, and the relative grasping/resistance is happening. Practicing awareness and practicing letting go seems to cause these to become relatively dominant processes.

    It's curious that the selfing processes seem to eventually erode pretty well regardless of the practitioner, while other much crazier beliefs often remain.