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What Is An Awakening?

Updated on October 17, 2015

What is an Awakening?

The Question: What is self-realization, spiritual awakening and enlightenment?

The short answer: It is all the same and it is the direct, undeniable and irrevocable realization that you do not exist!

Sure maybe you heard from a philosopher that the world is an illusion. A hologram-like recreation in the mind by virtue of just five senses.

Or maybe a geneticist told you your personality and character is added on to you by your environment and is not genetic.

Maybe a physicist told you that the matter that makes up you and the world is not solid but transient and more like information than matter.

But if you thought that was enlightening then keep in mind that for centuries you have been tolled that even you yourself in your most subtle state as nothing more than a fact of existence, you as the I Am, are an illusion. Truth, existential nihilism, or plain madness, lets find out.


What Is This All About?

A Waking Dream

Imagine if you can, a situation where you came across a man, apparently normal, until he opens his mouth and tells you some strange things. Things like "I am everything" and "I am nothing". He attacks your sense of Identity and tells you "you are not who you think you are and your world is not real. You are dreaming, wake up". Such is an encounter that a fortunate few are privileged to. Or so it's said. However I am not an awakened being or enlightened in any way and have not experienced first hand any direct insight or glimpse into this mystery of awakening to the real. But I will present to you here a very well recognized master, who many have regarded as awakened, self-realized, enlightened, etc, and some other interesting and useful stuff for those who are interested in finding out the truth.

I don't intend to speak with any kind of authority or affirm any ideas within this lens. I am just sharing with anyone who is interested, this peculiar and quite ancient idea of spiritual awakening or enlightenment. I want to share with you the fascination and mystery that I felt when I was introduced to this topic and began to search for an answer to the nature of my being or my existence.

It's not meant to be informative as much as intriguing. It is not meant to be offensive but grounded and it's not so much meant to be comprehensive, but a tease. Well that's what this is then, and the news as presented by sages and gurus, awakened ones and seemingly normal and down to earth human beings since time immemorial that immortality and perfect happiness awaits you as your true self.

I Am That in Hindi
I Am That in Hindi

I Am That

My Personal Journey To Self-inquiry

About three years ago I was fortunate enough to befriend a curious individual on a social networking site who I only know by the first name Mike. He had a strange belief that he and the ocean were one. There were a large number of poems and songs, written quite passionately by him, always affirming this believe, or at least a very strong desire to believe, that he was somehow a direct extension of everything and vice versa. That there was no separation between him and everything else. "I am the ocean... I am the birds" and on he would go. I paid a limited amount of attention to him at first but wondering what exactly he was talking about in his poems and songs he would attempt to explain quite intensely, the realization that he had come to.

He mentioned many readings and videos and by the time I decided to look into it the only one I could remember was a book translated into what is now called I Am That - Dialogues of Sri Nisargadatta Maharaj. Thus was the planting of a seed that would take root and hijack my mind and fascination to this present day. It seems the more I look into it, the more mysterious it becomes and the desire to get to the bottom of it only grows.

Nisargadatta Maharaj
Nisargadatta Maharaj

Who is Nisargadatta?

The Beedi Baba

Described as a simple man, a householder and petty shop keeper, Nisargadatta reportedly attained awakening sometime before 1936. His tobacco addiction which lead to his death from cancer of the throat, along with his tobacco shop which he operated most of his life, also earned him the name Beedi Baba by locals as all day long he would be seen smoking Beedis. He is known more popularly for the publication of his most famous and widely translated book, a collection and translation of talks with various seekers who came to see him in his humble flat in Mumbai, I Am That.

Dr. Robert Powell:

"...Nisargadatta's style is abrupt, provocative, and immensely profound -- cutting to the core and wasting little effort on inessentials. His terse but potent sayings are known for their ability to trigger shifts in consciousness, just by hearing, or even reading them."

A small review here and there and I decided the book was worth looking into. After getting a copy and finally getting to the first chapter not knowing what it was actually about, little did I realize that I was in to be captivated by this unseeming man and his words in ways I could not have imagined. It seemed the moment I heard the words expounded by the sage, all previous knowledge was doubted and suspended and I seemed to be left enthralled by the piercing sense and lucidity of the mind that speaks as Nisargadatta (although you will encounter some of his claims that he has no mind and knows nothing).

A short video of Nisargadatta - Probably not like you imagined him

If you've made it here, then this is the time for you to understand that words and appearances are only just that... words and appearance. So take it as nothing more. Many gurus and sages say things that seem absurd and contradictory unless it is taken in context. "What is said is what the individual needed to hear."

I Am That on Amazon

Richard Maurice Bucke
Richard Maurice Bucke

The Doc

Maurice Bucke

The man in a nutshell, and not that he would fit into a thousand, would be the embodiment of the need to comprehend, verify and apply an idea such as this in a surprisingly, almost successful way. I guess he may have missed the part when almost every so called enlightened being protests to the fact that it can never be understood by the intellect, and I guess so did I when I started spending sleepless nights trying to find the answer to riddle of my being on the internet, in books and with conversations and emails with those who thought they knew it. His most famous book however did inspire allot of interest and a stronger desire for this spiritual awakening or enlightenment at a time when my life was filled with conflicting interests and desires.

Cosmic Consciousness - A classic published in 1913
Cosmic Consciousness - A classic published in 1913

Cosmic Consciousness

A Study in the Evolution of the Human Mind

According to the late Dr. Richard Maurice Bucke, formerly a progressive psychiatrist of the late nineteenth century, in his magnum opus a book titled Cosmic Consciousness, consciousness develops in three stages. Simple animal consciousness, self consciousness and cosmic consciousness. And here is where it gets interesting, because Cosmic Consciousness(CC) is supposedly the next stage in development of the human mind which seems to be appearing more and more but will eventually spread throughout humanity to the point where 'awakened' individuals will no longer be the exception and people still bound by self consciousness, which today separates us from the rest of the animal kingdom, might one day be viewed as a kind of retardation.

Cosmic Consciousness is said to be as far advanced from the self conscious level as self consciousness is advanced from simple animal consciousness. This is an important description to note because, if true, it means that awakening is not simply a higher I.Q or more smiles and longevity. No. It is something totally beyond what your self conscious mind can imagine or comprehend.

Also very interesting is the description of a large number of accounts of awakening experiences including his own and many of his contemporaries along with an outlook on many prominent historical figures who he believed to have had CC from Buddha, Jesus and Paul to Plotinus, Dante and William Blake and many more. He makes some very intriguing connections between the many figures who supposedly had this super consciousness and some religious and theological trends.

Maurice himself claims to have had a 'glimpse' at one time in his life. From this fleeting experience he described the nature of CC to have basic attributes: sudden appearance; subjective experience of light (or simply inner light); moral elevation; intellectual illumination; sense of immortality; loss of fear of death; loss of a sense of sin. If you broaden your scope of the world and it's many theories, religions and philosophies, It becomes clear now that what we are talking about is very similar to many slightly different versions of the subject as in Advaita Vedanta or Nondualism of whom the previously mentioned individual, Nisargadatta, was a proponent. At this point it's hard not to believe that you might be on to something.

Cosmic Consciousness on Amazon

The Realization of The Matrix
The Realization of The Matrix

The Matrix

A cinematic exploration in consciousness

OK, so you may be thinking,"what's this doing in here?". It's not a book and I saw this film way before I even made my friendship with mike or heard of Nisargadatta, but this one can stand on it's own.

If for some reason you have not seen The Matrix, then maybe you should since you're reading this. Sure, it has great Kung Fu and pioneering special effects. But the true wealth in this film is realized, probably after a few viewings, on a more subtle level than the high-tech, sci-fi, kick ass plot that made it one of the greatest block busters of the twentieth century.

At first it appears to embody something very new and fresh. The thing that makes a film great. Look a little closer and you see the ideas as presented in the film are nothing new at all but rather ancient, and that just makes it so much more profound. The Matrix in summary tells the story of an man, Neo or The One, a computer hacker in search of he knows not what. Neo finds himself in trouble with the law for computer crimes, a dilemma which is being used to coheres him to help catch a legendary terrorist hacker, Morpheus, who authorities know will attempt to contact Neo. Morpheus makes contact and it is becoming clear that things are not what they seem and the safety of plausibility and reality is rapidly falling apart for Neo. He falls deeper down a rabbit hole of disbelief and confusion. Upon meeting for the first time Morpheus acknowledges Neo's epistemological condition, one of looking for something as a "splinter in the mind". He then presents an introduction to the concept of the Matrix which in fact is not a concept but a quite rude fact of reality. The fact that what Neo thinks is reality is far from the truth. He then asks Neo "Do you want to know what it is?", in reference to the Matrix. This rudeness of awakening after a seeing what The Matrix really is goes much further and reaches it's zenith in the final film of the Matrix Trilogy.

What is the meaning of the Matrix? - ...whatever you wan't it to mean

The makers of The Matrix, the Wachowski Brothers, refused to be interviewed about any ideas or concepts behind the film, for the simple reason that the film is a work of art and meant to inspire thought, inquiry and debate. And there's more than enough to think about in the content of these three films.

This is a very rare occurrence I found on YouTube of a recorded interview with Larry Wachowski and Ken Wilber. So rare it's one of only two interviews I've ever come across featuring the Wachowskis and the only interview that actually entertains a conversation about the concept of the Matrix. And that's about as much as you'll get from them. Maybe Ken was wearing a wire.

My favorite quote from The Matrix

Blue pill Red pill
Blue pill Red pill

Morpheus: This is your last chance. After this, there is no turning back. You take the blue pill - the story ends, you wake up in your bed and believe whatever you want to believe. You take the red pill - you stay in Wonderland and I show you how deep the rabbit-hole goes.

BTW, if you've never seen the film, please note the pills have absolutely nothing to do with drugs.

The Matrix on Amazon

Ultimate Matrix Collection
Ultimate Matrix Collection

The Matrix,The Matrix Reloaded, The Matrix Revolutions, The Animatrix (DVD)


Awakening with 'I am' - An excerpt from the Nisargadatta Gita

Awaken with I am.
Awaken with I am.

"You are sure of the ‘I am’, it’s the totality of being, remember ‘I am’ and it’s enough to heal your mind and take you beyond." - Nisargadatta

"You are definitely sure that ‘you are’, only then everything else is! Not before that. Since the ‘I am’ lies at the very base of everything and is common to all, does it not form the totality of being?Throwing aside everything, come back to this sense of ‘presence’ or ‘being’ in all its purity and it will heal your mind. The use of the word ‘heal’ is veryimportant as it clearly suggests that the mind or whatever has been loaded on the ‘I am’ afterwards is a pain, an illness that needs to be cured. There is also here a hint towards something that is beyond the ‘I am’." - Pradeep Apte

A lesson in self-inquiry - What is self-inquiry?

The here and now, and the final destination.

Whats your take?

The walking dead
The walking dead

Below is a question maybe some of you are still asking. My answer would be obvious, since I'm currently practicing meditation but don't take things as truth unless I know it as my own experience.

Cotards syndrome is a clinical diagnosis for people who belief they are dead or do not exist.

I don't think this is what they have but it's included for those who don't like what they've just read as a channel to express their feelings. Hey, there's no wrong answer to "what's your opinion" right? Unless it's not really yours. So if you feel it's bull then let the results express the truth about how you feel about it.

Are the enlightened really enlightened, or simply insane?

See results


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    • Morgan Anthony profile image

      Morgan Anthony 

      3 years ago

      That's one awesome fckn seed he planted. Downloaded Nisarga's book. Thank you :)

    • takkhisa profile image


      5 years ago

      Your lens is awesome! Enjoyed reading A to Z :)

    • Bellezza-Decor profile image


      6 years ago from Canada

      @RLWalker LM: Meditation is good, but it should not be the only avenue. Knowledge of how the world has been run to keep us enslaved through our ignorance helps release our programming from religion, media, cabals, etc. The old structures are collapsing and the awakening has occurred for some.

      The UFO and Armageddon theories are being used by many to keep the fearful preoccupied with fear-based thinking. Compound that with 911, continual wars and collapsing economies and it becomes a real trap for many. The cabal operates in instilling fear, because when you are in a state a fear you cannot think straight.

      Part of the problem for people pursuing knowledge and truth is that they will have to venture out of their comfortable normalcy and perhaps face a truth they are not able to handle. The first step in pursuit of the "real truth" is referred to as "going down the rabbit hole". This will require strength. Meditation is good so long as it is not an escape from reality. You can only download from source what you are capable of understanding. Therefore the more knowledge and truth you possess, the more you will be able to download.

      The Age of Aquarius begins in 2012. The cabals systems are collapsing, but we must still be vigilant. The rapid changes in the next few years will be extremely difficult for those who are not awake and aware.

      Please forgive me if I came across as negating your statements. Meditation is best done alongside with worldly learning. I just wanted to impart the need to learn the Truth. "Either we remain a slave within the prison or we raise our consciousness in order to create liberty from within... Freedom is our natural right." By the pursuit of knowledge of how the World really runs, is the beginning of deprogramming (yes brainwashing). ~ Namaste

    • RLWalker LM profile imageAUTHOR

      RLWalker LM 

      6 years ago

      @Bellezza-Decor: Thank you for adding a comment.

      I must also admit that I agree with you in that there are traps all over the place. Some intentional and some not.

      You say "this New Age awakening is a decoy.... to make you contemplate your navel while while real important issues are at hand". Forgive me but I thought we were already in agreement that the real important issue was the raising of consciousness since it's out of consciousness that compassion and human dignity are born and the lack of consciousness from which they decay.

      About "contemplating your navel" can I ask you, do you sleep at night and for how long? If you spend between 6 and 8 hours a day every day with you eyes closed doing nothing should I say "there are more important issues" at hand than closing your eyes and sleeping.

      You say "New Age". If you read the lens and have did any research of your own you would see that either you've chosen the wrong wording or you didn't read it in the first place. This is nothing new. I will say only that.

      You're talking about programming as some kind of brainwashing. What if the real danger was being brainwashed into thinking that anything which even remotely resembles religion or spirituality is bogus and a great threat and danger. Being brainwashed to much that even the mere mention of an ancient subject and the slight suggestion to spend a few moments, just moments, of your day in meditation to raise your consciousness, sounds an alarm and sends you running only to fall into another trap of your own making?

    • Bellezza-Decor profile image


      7 years ago from Canada

      Since you asked ~ Remember, when you go down the rabbit hole there's lots of twists and turns. We are here to learn and we must deprogram ourselves. Simply put, by realizing you have been programmed by the media, church, gov, etc. is the beginning of deprogramming yourself. This is paramount in becoming awake and aware of this World. Remember you are an actor who has set out on a journey and now entering the labyrinth to discover the truth. The truth shall set you free, not sitting around contemplating the esoteric "I am", or your navel, Your role is in finding the truth about this world and in so doing raising your

      consciousness. Yes, in some esoteric way we are one and one with the earth and cosmos, however we are not in cooperation with our Earth because we have been led severely astray. We must raise our consciousness to take the next step in our evolution. Learn, seek knowledge and always seek the truth. The truth shall set you free. Learn why we have fallen so far and take it from there. More importantly learn of those who have deceived us. Know thine enemy! Be gentle as a lamb and wise as a serpent.

      Remember there are many traps and this New Age awakening is a decoy, as is the UFO

      phenomenom, (and events can be created for the "believers" to be trapped into believing

      another lie). These are decoys to make you contemplate your navel while real important issues are at hand and are not being seen and addressed in an aware sense. The World is the grand chess board ~ the chess board is black and white, but through our programming we now believe black is white and white is black. We have been programmed from the beginning to believe lies.

      One might ask "why be a seeker of truth afterall I am powerless. What can I do?" My answer,

      by seeking the truth you help raise your consciousness and the consciousness of the World so we can fight evil. Once you become awake and aware you will know it unequivocally.

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      A comprehensive site about Nisargadatta Maharaj with a large collection of Books, Photos, Videos and many more :

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      I like this Lens and right now, for what ever reason I keep hearing that I am very Enlightened?!? I don't know, I just write what I am feeling when I do so there's no Big Secret?!

      Anyway, I like this Lens and Really enjoyed it! :)

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      Very interesting. I have liked it and, i will come back again.

    • Mayapearl profile image


      7 years ago

      Fascinating lens, I will bookmarkit and come back for more.

    • puerdycat lm profile image

      puerdycat lm 

      7 years ago

      Very interesting! -- glad to stumble in your door--like 'n' fave!

    • Alfiesgirl LM profile image

      Alfiesgirl LM 

      7 years ago

      I would most definitely decline both the red & the blue pill, the truth is out there somewhere & I shall discover what the truth is once I discover where it is ~ if I am supposed to. If there had to be either the blue or red pill & the choice to decline both did not exist then of course I would choose the red.

    • darciefrench lm profile image

      darciefrench lm 

      7 years ago

      Remove "am" from "I am", and one is no longer the experiencer at the mercy of outer forces but the witness/observer that is awareness of inner power. Remove "I" altogether and One is enlightened of perception, and there is no need for form. The movie, the theater, the body, the mind itself no longer required for 'is-ness'. -:)


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