Signs of Spiritual Awakening: What Does Spiritual Awakening Feel Like?
I always had this tendency to look at things from the sidelines- as if my life was not just happening, but happening to me, with me watching it, questioning it, pondering it.
I also noticed that despite the illusion that you could just live a “normal” life, with a family, a steady job, and vacations to go on…life isn’t really like that.
It is full of change, of disruptions and of endings. People get sick, or they get in an accident…then there is climate change, terrorism, global upheaval… All these things are also happening. Yet we still hold on to our daily routines, insisting life is good, or at least…it is what it is…and we can just carry on worrying about what to wear, and do I look fat in that, and wherever that next holiday is going to take place.
And I get that. We are creatures who seek pleasure and rest. We are creatures of habit. We don’t want anything to disturb us in our comfort zones.
Until it does.
And for some of us, when it does, we can’t go back to how we were before.
At 24 I got sick and needed treatments for a year and a half.
I remember that day at the doctor’s office. He was a coarse man, blunt and straightforward. He spelled it all out very clearly- my chances of living, and how I would have to undergo an operation that would probably leave me disabled.
First Signs of Spiritual Awakening
I remember a sensation that came over me, in that state of shock. I looked at him and that skeleton next to him at which he pointed to explain the situation…and suddenly felt quite vividly that I must be dreaming. I desperately wanted to awaken from the dream.
That operation really did leave me with a disability which reminds me that life can be crazy, with every step I take.
It reminds me that nothing can be taken for granted- but also that reality itself is not what our habituated minds may think it is.
In those moments, I sensed what had probably been brewing in me for a long time- that I was the perceiver of some film being screened as my life. And that it was time to walk out of the theater.
Many people call this being awakened.
The ability to look at reality and see it for what it is.
Jewish sages wrote:
“we were like dreamers” (Psalms 126:1)
Their spiritual awakening meant that they had awakened from the dream, from the illusion that is our material reality.
They came to experience the physical reality as the lowest vibration of a system of forces, interacting in an infinite dance of love.
I found their writings fascinating and deeply resonating with what I was feeling.
Rabbi Yehuda Ashlag wrote that all of reality is but a projection of one’s internality.
He explained that different stimuli reach our five senses but the processing that occurs in our mind creates a completely subjective picture. It’s as if we have a kind of screen inside our mind upon which our life is projected.
In his words: “Take our sense of sight, for example- we see a wide world before us, wondrously filled. But in fact, we see all that only in our own interior. In other words, there is a sort of a photographic machine in our hindbrain, which portrays everything that appears to us and nothing outside of us… a kind of polished mirror that inverts everything seen there, so we will see it outside our brain, in front of our face. Yet, what we see outside us is not a real thing” (Preface to the Book of Zohar).
Rabbi Ashlag explained that the reason we see this reality as a place full of chaos, and darkness, is that our own darkness projects itself that way.
Our ego, the concern for the self that keeps us separated from the whole, this inner nature causes reality to seem shattered.
The solution is, therefore, to connect, by making a shift in our inner attributes and focus, to see the connectedness of all things. It is to strive to change our attitude towards others to greater love and care.
Kabbalists had discovered a ladder of ascension, each rung bringing one closer to the state of harmony and connectedness with all of life.
The Movie of Our Life
Even before a person begins to climb the ladder of awakening, life isn’t random. It isn’t the result of a myriad of statistical coincidences.
The “scenes” in our projected life movie are all predetermined. We go through them only to be given a choice (at some point) to become conscious of this intentional process.
Through many times of stress and difficulty, we gradually begin to sense that there is a purposefulness behind our life events.
Each hardship is a lesson, another push in the direction of spiritual awakening.
“Why is this happening to me?”
(A question from a higher level of awareness quietly enters our mind).
“Why me? Why now? What does life/the universe/God want of me?”
These are the questions that are a sign of spiritual awakening. They are questions to insist to be with. Write about them in our journal, ponder them as much as you can.
The answer that I would always get, in my quiet moments was: “love”.
It was always, love.
At first, I thought it was to have more love for myself.
Later, I realized it was an invitation, a pull, to become love itself.
Awakening is Learning How to Love
Kabbalists tell us that the way out of the dream is to learn to “love others, as you love yourself “ (Leviticus 19:18) because the other is yourself.
Learning to love others above our egoism, is learning to be connected to everything else, to that system of forces of which we are part. It is returning to the state of wholeness from which we came.
And so, to be awakened is to become like God, like love, to vibrate in higher and higher frequencies that transcend time, space and even, death.
However, this is not work that one can do alone.
It is all of us who are on this journey of awakening and discovery of our true reality. Our consciousness is connected, and it is evolving as a whole.
I always looked at my life from the sidelines, thinking it was very strange indeed. But I never imagined it was so mysteriously beautiful.