“Enlightenment is the crumbling away of untruth. It’s seeing through the facade of pretense. It’s the complete eradication of everything we imagined to be true.”
Ten years seems like a long time to me. Perhaps for most people. Do you remember what you were doing ten years ago? I can name a few highlights, but it would be hard to say much about what was on my mind in the Spring of 2013. I know I wasn’t out looking at the Spring bird migrations. That has become “a big thing” for me only since the pandemic. And I know I wasn’t thinking about spiritual direction, coaching or my wedding officiation business because I hadn’t yet started those businesses. For the most part, 2013 is a blur to me now.
What I do remember is that I was in trouble at work. I was the head of the center for teaching and learning at a small downtown professional school and my heart just wasn’t in the work. I’d taken the position in the Fall of 2010 and then, out of the blue, I had experienced a major spiritual awakening in early 2011.
The narratives around spiritual awakening tend to highlight the positive aspects, of which there are many, and the dramatic elements. And there was some drama, for sure. In the days following my awakening everything was alive with a special vibration and presence. It was as if I could perceive “God” or Source or pure consciousness in everything. I say “it was as if,” but my experience was that I was now perceiving God in everything. I vividly remember the first time I went to the men’s room at work, post-awakening, I stood in wonder and awe at the resplendence of the urinals, which were pulsating with the presence of God. It was as if every place were the most sacred place, the Holy of Holies. During this time, I similarly saw God in everyone, effortlessly and as a simple matter of fact. I remember seeing God especially in the homeless that lined the streets of downtown Chicago where I worked. In the bankers and well-healed, I often saw a layer of pain that seemed to be covering the God within, but God was still there. God was in everything and everyone. Everywhere, that is, except in my work.
And so I spent much of the first year post-awakening sitting in my office not doing very much. I guess you could say that I was integrating my experience and trying to come to terms with the reality that all my motivation that job had vanished. Hello non-dual realization, goodbye motivation! What a trade-off. I couldn’t even force myself to act like I was motivated. There was simply no gas in the tank for that kind of work. And so I bided my time, integrating and waiting for direction. Looking back, I was experiencing what spiritual teacher Adyashanti was writing about when he wrote the book “The End of Your Life.” One life came to an end for me and another was being born. And there I was, like a newborn, gawking at the world with big, open eyes. Seeing and feeling, tasting and smelling it all as if for the first time. I was launched into my new life, awaiting its unfolding.
There is so much garbage written about awakening. Yes, it is wonderful. And yes, in my case, it was the fulfillment of literally decades of spiritual seeking. Yes, it was the end of a certain kind of ego-centric striving. But it was also the beginning of a new kind of spiritual path-walking. You could call it awakened living, but there was still so much to integrate and clarify. I didn’t know it at the time but I was about to be let go by my employer – a victim of a combination of decreasing enrollments and a loss of motivation due to spiritual awakening. Awakened living, I was to learn, is not for the faint of heart. It is a true “hero’s journey.” And I was just getting started.
P.S. The is my first blog post in over a year. What to say? A lot has changed in 18 months. I needed a break from the routine I had created for myself. A routine of weekly posts and programs that I loved until it became too much. As I start up again, I’m feeling my way forward like a man in the dark. I’m trying to use my Jedi senses and let “the force” guide me. This is the first in an imagined series of posts on awakening and awakened living, but time will tell if this series really wants to be written. Or read. If you enjoyed reading this post, I hope you will click “reply” to let me know. If you don’t care for it, you are also invited to reply and let me know. Chogyam Trungpa once said, “be yourself and the world will give you feedback.” Your feedback will help me find my way here.
As I write, I’m finishing up a 5-day course in VortexHealing, a form of divine energy healing which is opening up new ways to be with my clients. I plan to share about Vortex in the future. On Monday, I am flying out to California to spend a week with my parents, Bob and Sarah Epperly. I’m sure to be super-busy for the next ten days, but I’m hoping it won’t be 18 months before my next post.