The term awakening covers a range of experiences and changes in consciousness that span from ‘coming to’ in the morning after a night’s sleep right through to awakening into spiritual enlightenment.
If we view these two, waking up in the morning and enlightenment, as the two endpoints on a wide continuum of consciousness, then in between are a plethora of experiences and awareness, a vast field of consciousness and a whole range of ‘waking up’ possibilities.
For most of our history this continuum has only been partly explored, and yet our location on this can have the profoundest impact on the kind of life that we each experience and, ultimately, significant implications for the long term future of our human species.
Examples of awakening might include a person watching a program on the forests of the world out of general interest and suddenly ‘waking up’ to the fact that the natural environment is in trouble and begin to look more closely at sustainable energy sources.
Someone else may be at work one day and ‘wake up’ to the fact that their job is no longer, and hasn’t been for some time, what they want to do anymore. This leads them to seek out ways to transfer to a more fulfilling and inspiring type of work.
In each case the people concerned can be said to have come to see something that was already present but that they simply hadn’t recognized beforehand, and once seen there is a change in their life.
This change in perspective is one of the natural aspects of waking up, or awakening,
Waking up is not nessarily a one off static event either, sometimes it can occur gradually over time.
Someone may find that a friend means much more to them because there has been a gradual change in their relationship and at some point they wake up to this.
What all awakenings have in common is a change in awareness, whether from sleep into wakefulness or from the unknown to the known, and with this change of awareness there is a corresponding change in perspective…the person is now able to see and experience themselves, events and life differently.
Spiritual Enlightenment involves the same process, that of an awakening into something that is already there, but previously unseen.