Spiritual Teachers and Awakening Experiences

One of my first awakenings happened at Starbucks. 

I had met my spiritual teacher to discuss spirituality over coffee. There was a light and non-intense dialogue taking place and suddenly a realization was downloaded — I had the sudden profound recognition of the true interconnectedness of all things. I erupted into laughter like none other I’d ever experienced. Tears rolled down my cheeks and suddenly everything, even the seriousness of the business conversations happening at tables nearby, was profoundly hilarious and playful. I looked over at this moment to see a baby in a stroller, waiting as her mom ordered, staring directly at me. Suddenly one thought appeared in my mind: she’s the Buddha. We’re all the Buddha. All is of the same source. The laughter then intensified and the baby looked at me as though she totally understood the source of this laughter. Of course she did. 

It was one of the most profoundly beautiful moments of my life up to that point.

In fact, meetings with my spiritual teacher were all epiphany-inducing and wonder-infusing. Of course initial meetings were a bit more psychologically and energetically intense; I’d spent many years being heavily involved in old programming, defensive behaviors, and accumulating and being entangled in years of built-up “head trash” (unhealthy thought-patterns that made me sometimes become engaged in unhealthy patterns and behaviors). 

Through interaction with a truly present teacher, one is exposed to a kind of energetic laser beam. Through dialogue or simply being in the presence of one who is more attuned to truth, the years of “trash” and old programming start to be burned up by this spiritual laser beam. I always left conversations with my teacher feeling about 100 pounds lighter (energetically). As time went on, more and more layers of duality, old programming, and belief systems seemed to fall away on their own or were seen to be tenuous and of a false system. 

It became easier (though it was often challenging) to see through old behaviors and recognize them for what they were, whereas at one time I was so heavily involved in the behavior or thought-pattern that I couldn’t see it from a higher perspective. For instance, I once was incredibly defensive and would push others away unconsciously in an attempt to avoid any kind of rejection — any criticism I’d ever receive would create a stabbing pain in the body and I’d be unable to cope. When I was engaged in these behavior patterns it seemed to be just a part of who I was and I had no way of untangling the mess because I identified with that “mess”. 

Then, once I saw the pattern for what it was (an old, energetic pattern meant to preserve a sense of self), it was easier to disengage from it, hold it lightly, and observe it curiously. Then, these patterns had a way of lightening and disappearing altogether. 

The light of awareness is powerful. 

The  process of interacting with a spiritual teacher (guru) is a beautiful thing. Many of the greatest spiritual teachers I know don’t really like to assume the title “spiritual teacher” as they (from their knowingness) understand that what they are transmitting isn’t in any way extraordinary or beyond the average persons capabilities. Rather, they assume the position of humble wisdom-holder and simply pass on knowledge and intuitive understandings of the nature of existence. Enlightenment sounds like an extraordinary, phenomenal, super-human, mystical state only able to be achieved by a select few; however, the role of spiritual teacher is to help anyone come to remember the truth of their being by simply peeling back layers of belief, identification, and programming. 

These conversations can be intense at first as one comes to untangle old dualistic knots (feeling like a separate “self” and doing anything possible to preserve that imaginary sense of being an independent, separate entity) and if can feel like your world has been shaken — often you’ve been viewing the world from this lens of the separate self with its own beliefs, identities, flaws, roles, and neuroses, and then those lenses are suddenly (or gradually) removed. It’s a bit like Alice venturing down the rabbit hole; it’s an entirely new world, though it’s never not been so. 

When this starts to open up through the process of dialogue or on its own (conversations or interactions with a teacher aren’t always necessary), what’s revealed is what you’ve always sought through endless seeking for external bliss, fulfillment, and contentment. 

This process of awakening, for me, has been ongoing. Though interaction with a teacher doesn’t happen any longer, small and mighty awakenings happen all the time — suddenly the sound of bird chirping outside my window will penetrate the feeling of separation and in the noticing of the beauty of the sound I become that sound and there is no separation between the sound and me; intuitively it is seen, without a doubt, that heaven is here and now in this recognition of “oneness” from which you, of course, cannot be separate from. 

I once felt, most of the time, like something was amiss or something was lacking; I spent my time desperately searching for that substance, person, achievement, event, or possession that’d alleviate this anxiety. I see now that it was THIS recognition that I was seeking. 

Here, all is full and complete. Knowing this isn’t outside your grasp or capability; it’s who you are. 

What a beautiful thing indeed.