The evolution of consciousness sometimes proceeds by spiritual experiences. ‘Spiritual’ refers to the formless, absolute, unchanging dimension of reality and when used in this sense it is opposite to form, the relative, changing part of reality. It is common to fall into a trap of finding one to be more significant than the other.
The Aware Ego Process is very helpful here as it embodies the principle that there is no need to choose one or the other side of a polarity, or to establish a hierarchy or indeed to demand reconciliation. The spiritual path may then become the development of an expanded sense of identity, which can dance with form and formlessness.
When people begin to experience presence, awakening or enlightenment it will in all probability be partial and episodic. A sense of elation can be followed by a sense of disappointment. There may be the sense that ‘it’ needs to be found again, and a frustration that comes from realising that the search is not working; even as it is realised that searching is in itself a characteristic of separation. None of these reactions signify a fall from stillness. In fact there is no experience that can validate our true nature and no lack of specific experience that can invalidate it. There is only ever a perceived or apparent separation from stillness. Disappointment and frustration arise in stillness but that is scant comfort at the time!
Hafiz writes exquisitely about these experiences.
My Sweet Crushed Angel
You have not danced so badly, my dear,
Trying to hold hands with the Beautiful One.
You have waltzed with great style,
My sweet, crushed angel,
To have ever neared God’s Heart at all.
Our Partner is notoriously difficult to follow,
And even His best musicians are not always easy to hear.
So what if the music has stopped for a while.
So what, if the price of admission to the Divine
Is out of reach tonight.
So what, my dear,
If you do not have the ante to gamble for Real Love.
The mind and the body are famous
For holding the heart ransom,
But Hafiz knows the Beloved’s eternal habits.
For He will not be able to resist your longing
You have not danced so badly, my dear,
Trying to kiss the Beautiful One.
You have actually waltzed with tremendous style,
O my sweet,
O my sweet, crushed angel.
A moment of enlightenment is easily co-opted by primary selves to expand and strengthen the very rules the ego lives by. The mind will be tempted to be wise, the control side to impose rules, the pleaser to be very accepting of diversity, the pusher to devise training methods and a centre, the world server to provide compassionate assistance to all.
A Voice Dialogue facilitator can assist the client to sit in awareness, to acknowledge that the Aware Ego Process involves standing between formlessness and form, that presence is not the opposite to anything, certainly not action and certainly not sadness. Indeed awareness is presence once awareness is no longer attached by an umbilical cord to the ego experiencing itself as separate. Then awareness is no longer claimed as ‘mine’.
The client also notices that there are still plenty of undigested habits to explore; especially separating from the primary selves who have commandeered/co-opted the spiritual experience!
Example – A Surprising Synchronicity
The Aware Ego Process is often assisted by dreams. When one’s identity boundary connects rather than separates information can come from anywhere. Here is a dream of a client that trued up his development in very synchronistic circumstances.
The dreamer (the name for the character in the dream who takes the role of ‘I’) is arriving at the airport. A parcel had been left for him to pick up and as he does he is arrested. The parcel has drugs in it although this was not known by the dreamer. He is put in detention immediately. His clothes are taken and he is given prison garb and a blanket. He is taken into a long room where he is to be interviewed. At a desk on the other side of the room is the woman who is going to interview him. She is very, very busy, and does not acknowledge him. Throughout the whole day he is not summoned for an interview. He gets more and more anxious.
On the second day he is still not summoned. He sits in his chair and waits. He begins to form an idea: if he can gain liberation even in detention he will be free. There is no confinement for an enlightened person. He enters into a deeply introspective state, a being state, a presence in which his anxiety disappears. He is no longer waiting and wondering if and when he will be called. On the third day it is the same but deeper. He is without concern.
At this point the dream ends and the client wakes. It was a powerful dream and he is still very much identified with the dreamer. He has had awakening experiences before and this time it is very strong.
The client goes to his laptop. He has a teleconference scheduled for the morning, which he organised. There are two emails one from each of the participants that say they don’t know about the teleconference and have no record of making an appointment. He is uncomprehending and embarrassed about how this could have occurred. He looks through his past emails and they are right — there is no record of the appointment!
Then it hit him. As he woke up he was identified with one part of the dream, the liberated part. But there is no liberation from one side of a polarity. He had completely ignored the hard-working woman who kept her head down, filling in forms, taking phone calls and carrying out interviews. The structure of the dream gives a very strong hint that the woman ‘over there’ is a disowned self, so it is no surprise that he identified with the blissful self which seemed to hold the key to enlightenment. The emails showed him how much he needed to honour that doing part! Liberation is not withdrawing from the world in a trance state, however powerful and however blissful. It honours form too.
The emails were being written in other countries and time zones as he was dreaming. How did a dream and an experience on the internet collude to produce a powerful lesson for him? I don’t know but let us not get distracted. His powerful experiences, one blissful, the other embarrassing, were enough to wake him up. He can continue to embrace form and formlessness as the play of consciousness continues in his life.