Disclaimer: The following article contains nothing more than meandering thoughts, which are subject to change without notice. Any and all interpretation of the contents of this article as dogma is purely coincidental. Results may vary. Batteries not included. ”Enlightened Butt” is not a registered trademark.
Enlightenment or being awake is not a state that once achieved remains static and constant. It is a process, and like all processes it has stages. However, once the threshold from asleep to awake has been crossed, there is no going back. Being enlightened is a constantly unfolding experience that has no end point. There is always a new greater level to step into, or a deeper layer of delusion to strip away.
I don’t know enough about modern psychology to offer any kind of accurate commentary, but I seem to recall a great many people in the 1980’s signing up for psychoanalysis. By the 1990’s what was described as “Therapy” seemed to grow in popularity. From what I understand, the theories of Sigmund Freud and his contemporaries seemed to dominate these practices. Phrases such as “Daddy issues”, “Mommy issues”, “Sexual repression” and “Abandonment issues” started to filter into our vocabulary. I have no intention of diminishing the authenticity or validity of these labels nor the aspects of human psychology from which they have sprung. However, I am not convinced that exploring these topics from a purely mind and ego based perspective is the most useful approach.
And so it is that most people find themselves in adulthood carrying a mixed bag of “issues”. There are as many different ways in which these false thoughts and beliefs will show up as there are different people. For those who have awakened there is often an initial stage which I’ve heard described as “Transcendence”. As our awareness elevates, it can bypass the heavier and darker energies that are been carried in the mind and body. As greater spaciousness opens up within us, we have the option to dwell mostly in this new found space. We may not necessarily have dealt with our old issues, but we have risen above them. This can sometimes be mistaken for resolution, but during this stage it doesn’t matter because we feel good, and it feels good to feel good. We can experience this transcendent phase for weeks, months, years or even decades.
There is, however, a stage that lies beyond transcendence. It is a stage we tend to hear very little about. In this next phase we return to the body. Our awareness shifts from a space that feels a bit like floating above or outside of our body to a space that is deeply rooted and integrated into the body and mind of our current physical form. And on our return we may be disappointed to discover that our old issues have not been resolved after all, and are still sitting there waiting for us. But there is no need to despair, and there is no need to run back to the therapist’s office. Why? Because the spaciousness that has grown inside of us gives us the opportunity to view these old issues with far more objectivity and a lot more distance. We have all the resources of a deeper and more direct connection to our higher selves. We have answers to questions we did not even know existed before our awakening. We don’t have to bypass or transcend our issues, we can face them head-on with an open heart and wide open eyes. We can shine the light of awareness onto these old false beliefs and work through them from our new perspective. There is immense relief in no longer being controlled or terrorized by old issues. Freud can kiss our enlightened butts!
But there is a potential twist in this tale. And it is not a pleasant one. And it is certainly not one you will hear mentioned by new age gurus who are trying to sell you enlightenment. Along with the weakening of the ego that accompanies enlightenment, comes a new and profound disinterest in many of the objects, activities and interactions that used to engage, titillate, stimulate or otherwise feed our egos. What’s wrong with that?, you may ask. Well consider for a moment which aspects of your life are fully or partially based on fear, need, desire and attachment. Now imagine feeling almost complete apathy toward all of these aspects. Most of what you felt driven or inspired by your ego to pursue or engage in feels wholly uninteresting now. In some cases even repulsive. Climbing the career ladder, accumulating experiences or material possessions, impressing your friends, possibly even your interest in romantic relationships, having children, or travelling the world can fall away. As the world around you continues to feverishly pursue all it’s ego-based wants and needs, it will expect you to continue to engage with it on that same level. In fact it will more than expect it, it will demand it. You will still have bills to pay! However, for you anything less than love, connection, truth and awareness will begin to feel more and more uncomfortable and painful and exhausting. When this occurs at a stage in your journey where you thought you were heading toward less suffering, it can feel like a betrayal to experience a whole new wave of suffering. A new kind of suffering for which traditional psychology does not cater.
So on the one hand your inner world has expanded to the point where old trauma can be resolved with relative ease, but on the other hand the world outside is now so far misaligned with your inner world that this contrast can cause you immense pain and suffering. What inspired and motivated you before may now feel small and meaningless. Small irritations that were previously overlooked because of the ego-rewards that were won in spite of them, may now feel overwhelmingly frustrating. Add to this the heightened sensitivity that often accompanies a growth in consciousness, and it may all start to feel a bit too much.
I was thinking about giving this article the title “Enlightenment Sucks!”, but decided that such a strong statement would not be the best place to start. I thought it better to build up to the idea that enlightenment may not always feel like the “Rainbows and Unicorns” Utopia we thought it would. It is about time we admit this to ourselves and others. In that way we can share our experiences and offer advice and support to each other as we navigate this uncharted and often turbulent ocean. We do not choose or decide to awaken, when the fruit is ripe it will fall from the tree of delusion and into the ocean of awareness. This process is inevitable and unstoppable. But let’s stop sugarcoating the reality of this experience and work together to find new ways of coping with these new challenges. The old maps are no longer of any use, it is up to us to chart new maps.