I was recently asked what the difference is between an opening or epiphany and being awakened or enlightened. I was also asked to clarify what the word profound means to me.
I struggled with these terms too. When I had my first awakening I wasn’t certain what it was that I had just experienced or what I should call it. I think a lot of people have awakenings and believe they are enlightened. An awakening is a huge expereince and hard to quantify when you haven’t had another bigger experience yet.
I’ve come to realize there are “openings” I might also call these “epiphanies.” These openings allow our mind to consider that reality is not as it seems. I believe that for most people it is neccessary to have an opening before becoming a seeker. Without an opening there would be no reason to seek spiritual answers. For some an opening might be that they see auras or spirits and so they become open to the idea that there is more than this reality we call life. For others its an inconsistency or a coincidence that can’t be explained or a dream that comes true. It could also be something that shifts your belief system – where you become aware that what you believed may not be the whole truth- there could be something else. Then you become a seeker.
After an opening, you can have an “awakening” – this is what I now call that moment I realized spiritual stuff is real. An awakening is a knowing that an alternate reality exists. It is an awareness that you can’t turn back from. Once your are awakened – you can’t un-know that it’s all true. I remember when I had my first awakening, I suddenly knew that there was truth in all mystical and esoteric practices and I had a visual picture of the chakras, like a memory that they are important and that I need to learn Reiki. My husband had a slightly different awakening experience. He also, woke up to the fact that there is a spiritual undercurrent to our lives but he got slightly different knowings – he was able to put into perspective the phenomenon of UFOs and aliens. I talked about it on my last podcast -it was a short 10 minute share, ALIENS – A NEW THEORY, please check it out, if you haven’t.
Then there is “enlightenment” and some describe enlightenment as a death of the ego. People I’ve met who are enlightened certainly have no ego – they also say extremely wise stuff. You can always tell the difference between and enlightened person and one who is awakened and believes they are enlightened by whether there is any ego present. A truly enlightened person is selfless. And when I say selfless I don’t mean that they dont care about themself or take care of themself or charge money for their books and works of wisdom – they do. But they do it in a way that is completely non-judgemental and offers no sense of self importance. Enlightened people say very wise stuff too. I call wise stuff profound because when you hear it – it somehow changes you.
I’ve had several near enlightenment experiences. I’ve experienced myself as a mermaid, I’ve become aware of my most recent past incarnation. The one that is most like what others describe when they become enlightened is when I realized that I was separate from my persona and that I could freely move about the universe – like I could walk away from my face. People describe enlightement as a death. They say they walked back from their life or jumped off a psychological bridge or walked into the light – whatever scenario manifests for them in their enlightenment experience. They describe it as a death. For some it can be an actual physical near death experience but for most it is an ego death. For me – it lasted only a few seconds and I didn’t fully walk away from my face (die) so I call it a near enlightenment experience. I never say that I am enlightened, but I believe I’m on a path. I’ll never forget that experience.
The Maharishi says there are many steps to enlightment and I believe this is probably true. There is Eckhart Tolle enlightened and Tich Nat Hahn enlightened and then there is Buddha and Christ enlighted. The first two say profound things and the latter two can bend time and space to create miracles. The Maharishi and other spiritual teachers say that where ever you leave off in this life (on your path toward total enlightenment), you’ll pick up in your next life. That is why some people can achieve greater spiritual progress at a younger age than others. When the Dalai Llama was born – he was expected by his followers, they knew that he would reincarnate on a certain day in a certain era and pick up from where he left off in his last incarnation.
The movie the Matrix is my favorite modern day parable of awakening and enlightenment. First there is an epiphany/ ah-ha/ opening – something that you know that goes against the mainstream. Morpheus regognized something in Neo that let him know he could awaken. He said, “because they don’t know what you know.” Awakening is realizing you’re in the matrix (you can’t unknow that). Next you get to unplug and see behind the curtain – now your walking around in the Matrix but your not plugged in -you’re enlightened. When you can bend the spoon and dodge bullets – you can manipulate the matrix like Neo, this is the stuff of miracles, Christ and Buddha.