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The Stages of Transformation in Awakening

As one walks the spiritual path, they will undergo various changes in the psyche which result in behavioral transformation. Spiritual progress can be observed on an internal level by identifying the various stages of transformation in what is a process of awakening to higher, deeper or subtler levels of Reality. The term "awakening" refers to an enhanced ability to "see" what is true. This "seeing" happens due to the fact that we begin to "see" beyond (or transcendent to) the level of egoic consciousness and what is an illusionary mindscape. For spiritual progress to be made in the first place, one must realize that much of what they perceive is actually not Truth, but rather a projection of the mind based on our past experiences. In the tradition of Yoga, the yogi works backwards from the denser realms of perception and inwards to the very Source of Knowing, locating within their psyche what is termed "the Center beyond the center". In this process, there is an unwinding that occurs and a de-structurization of one's conditioning. The conditioned personality, which becomes a crystallized identity structure based on ideas, beliefs, memories, preferences, etc., must be made transparent enough for pure seeing to occur. Otherwise, our "seeing" is obstructed by what we think. Over time, with the right amount of skillful effort, the spiritual aspirant gradually begins to undo generations of inertia which have many of us locked in conditioned ways of seeing and believing; they "awaken" in stages to progressively greater degrees of Truth. Their personality, then, becomes more transparent to their true nature and the essence of life shines through the purified ego. As this happens, Nature begins to work through an individual on behalf of the collective. This is the goal and result of effective spiritual work.

A basic and fundamental teaching on the path of Tantra is that one aspires to move from a limited personality to a less limited personality. The "old" software systems in the psyche are transcended and upgraded into a more superior way of being. "Superior" here refers to a subjective experience of life that is feels more expansive, more free, less painful, and is, ultimately, a "better" way to live. After all, isn't it true that each human is in pursuit of a better tomorrow? Is there not some primal impulse in us motivating us to pursue our goals in life, a consistently strive to live in a better way? For each of us, we are all bound by this mysterious ambition. Spirituality and religion have been the attempts made by humanity to give us some sort of structure and guidelines to follow for how to make this happen: to live in a "better way". The problems arise, I think, when we get stuck on certain modes of being that are no longer relevant to our pursuit of a better life. We are bound by an evolutionary impulse that is driving life forward. None of us would be here were it not for some Supreme Intelligence, some "force", that recorded the details of our efforts and constantly pushed us to "do it better". One can feel the pressure of this "force" in the way that we can discern what is right for us and what is not right. At times this can be a subtle, quiet pressure and at times it can be very loud. Ultimately, we intuit its presence and are all, in some way, forced to do what we need to do to make our lives a little better, day after day after day.

What is being described here is the overall nature of the spiritual path. One begins to sense that there is something "more". This is the initial and primary step at the beginning of any "awakening" process. For some people this can happen as a kaboom moment, where they have a powerful "wake up call" and suddenly everything feels different. People leave jobs and relationships or move to new locations because they come into a spontaneous moment of realizing that what they are experiencing in life is NOT what they want. Some "thing" beckons them, and calls them forward into an unknown and unseen reality. When the call is answered, they have made the first step on what unfolds into THEIR authentic spiritual Path. There can be no change or transformation if this call is not answered. We are talking about a threshold that, as one steps through the threshold, there is no turning back to "the way things were". In many cases this threshold is denied and the call remains unanswered. To the ego, stepping into the unknown which is symbolically presented through the "answering of the call" means death. There is the necessity of courage at this stage of the process. Without adequate courage to say YES in the face of metaphorical death one will turn away and return to business as usual. However, if sufficient courage is available and one makes the initial step, they enter into a process of real human spiritual transformation. The Path has begun.

Once the threshold is crossed, a state of deep humility will likely come over the person. This humility emerges naturally as a result of one's realization that they don't know. If they knew, they wouldn't have been able to generate the motivation to seek for something in the first place. There is a similar moment that is described mythologically in the birth of the Universe through the three primary Shaktis, or the active forces of the Infinite. The teachings state that the first force which begets Creation is iccha shakti, or the force of desire/will. This universal principle manifests in the individual as the desire or will to know. It is said that the Creator created the Universe out of a primal desire to know Itself. As human beings operating within consciousness, we are no different. The initial impulse at the beginning of the spiritual path is connected to this primordial instinct to know who we are. Indeed, all forms of transformation have this in common. There are no exceptions. In order for transformation to occur -- that is, the change of one state to another -- an impulse is required to generate said change. Embedded in this process is the release of the structure of the "known" and the accompanying force that rearranges the structure of the old and assimilates it into the new. We can see this on an elemental and atomic level and all the way up to the structure of solar systems and galaxies. Surrender accompanied by action.

However, passing through the threshold is still the beginning. The atoms have yet to be re-structured. While the old geometry is being broken down, a new geometry of consciousness has yet to form and solidify. The star may have exploded but now the newly formed, raw materials need to find their place.

If one attempts to go back at this stage, they will find that there is nothing to return to. Terror can arise, and understandably; it can feel like there is no ground to stand on. Here, a quiet moment of reflection may serve the aspirant well, as they "remember" the subtle golden vibration which pulled them forward in the first place. This "vision" must be held front and center in one's consciousness as they pass through the eye of the needle. There are instances where this stage of the process feels longer and more drawn out than necessary, but remaining connected to one's initial motivation will strengthen their faith as they walk, for it is their faith which will keep them going. The fire of transformation seems to engulf the seeker as it is burning away all that is not fit to arrive in the new vibration. There can be many challenges at this level. The psyche is repeatedly tested and wrung out to dry. Impurities at the level of egoic consciousness are scrubbed clean by the friction of the effort required to pass through this stage of the journey. This is known as tapas. If one finds themselves at this level, the only thing to "do" is hold on and keep going.

Eventually, once the initiation has passed, one starts to see the "light at the end of the tunnel", so to speak. They have descended into the "underworld", or the spiritual realms where the Unknown and Unknowable forces lurk, they have been purified in their efforts, densities have been shed, and a new personality structure is starting to emerge. This person is still not out of the cauldron of transformation, yet, but the harder parts are complete. Now they must make their way back to the world of duality, since they have made the journey to the "Center beyond the center", which is the undifferentiated state of pure consciousness whose center is simultaneously everywhere and nowhere. In other words, a person who has undergone true spiritual transformation has successfully made the return journey backwards and inwards to the Source. This process can be seen reflected in nature as rocks & minerals which make the eventual return to the molten core of the Earth where they are purified and re-purposed in a new way, their atoms making their way back to the crust over time and evolving as different rocks & minerals. We are no different than Nature in this way. The cycles & principles of life exist at every level of reality.

For those who pass through the "eye of the needle", they are now returning to the "surface" dimensions of life. The world appears different, as the consciousness of the observer is different. How and what we perceive will have changed, and therefore our subjective experience of life has changed. The subsequent thoughts, behaviors, feelings and actions of the individual who has successfully made it through a spiritual transformation will have undergone a renewal & recalibration. Depending on the extent of the transformation, some things can be radically different, and some things can be only subtly different. However, a difference is present and perceivable.

The person then integrates the changes in their life and community and relationships, and ultimately everyone benefits. After all, what is the evolutionary impulse of life trying to do? It wants to CREATE life. It wants to generate new outcomes, new ideas, and a new future for all of us. We are merely in service to this Greater Will of Life. To the extent that we feel this and understand this, we will be more readily available to the calls as they come... because, sure enough, they will come.

Carry on with business as usual, but look carefully at how life is guiding you. Sometimes big changes are being asked for... sometimes little. Either way, transformation is imminent, so it's wise that we learn to flow with it.


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