Manifesting awakening in everyday life: purification and insight

buddha leaf

Question: In my experience, waking up is a preliminary step. The real work happens in manifesting that awakening in everyday life, and that is the most difficult part. Otherwise, there is a disconnect between the awakened state and everyday experience. What do you think?

Tom: In my experience it depends on the way awakening happens. I think what you call awakening, I call insight. What you call manifesting in everyday life, I call purification post-insight. Insight refers to seeing through the illusion of separation and doership and no longer believing happiness lies in gross or subtle objects. Purification refers to a process in which the habitual tendencies that are based on ignorance (ie. a lack of insight or belief in separation and seeking to derive happiness from objects) are let go of and removed.

The essential insight(s), once realised, doesn’t change, but the habitual thought patterns, behaviours and felt levels of suffering do change, and they change gradually over time for most people. Insight is like seeing something that is already here but was overlooked. It can occur like a flash, and when seen, it is realised that things were always this way but it just wasn’t acknowledged or understood to be so.

Purification is different. It is a process, one that takes time as the body-mind catches up with the insight. Purification can occur both prior to and after insight, but is generally only able to be complete once insight has occurred. In Vedanta this process is what is usually meant by the Sanskrit term nididhyansana.

However, purification is not necessarily the most difficult part – that varies from individual to individual, depending on how purified their minds were prior to insight occurring and the context of the awakening. For some it can be a very natural unfolding of the insight that occurs by itself and without prompting. For others it can be quite a difficult process in which a more formalised sadhana has to be continued in order to weed out the vasanas/habitual tendencies that are based on the root ignorance of separation and looking for happiness is objects.

This purification can also be seen as a process by which morality is instilled into the body-mind and through which ethical behaviour manifests. When the egoic I-centred tendencies fall away or are rooted out by post-insight sadhana, then what results is a naturally more ethical body-mind entity.

Either way, I do acknowledge this post-insight process is an important part of the spiritual path, and without it, in my view, the awakening/enlightenment is not complete.

Insight

Insight is not personal insight.

With personal insight, you have an insight,
You realise this or that,
You realise x, y or z.

All personal insight is based on concepts or thought,
– they are all subject to change,
– they are all subject to doubt.

With Insight it is the person that is seen through;
Insight is there without a person having an insight:
Everything is just Insight,
There is only Insight.

Like realising the lake is a mirage:
Your personal insights and doubts were just ripples on its surface;

Then the whole of spirituality is done for,
No need for any of it anymore,
What else is there to do?
What can be done when there is no doer?

Dalai Lama: end suffering by developing insight

(Photo by Oli Scarff/Getty Images)
(Photo by Oli Scarff/Getty Images)

The following excerpt is taken from the book “How to see yourself as you really are” by the Dalai Lama:

What makes all this trouble in the world? Our own counterproductive emotions. Once they are generated, they harm us both superficially and deeply. These afflictive emotions accomplish nothing but trouble from beginning to end. If we tried to counteract each and every one individually, we would find ourselves in an endless struggle. So what is the root cause of afflictive emotions that we can address more fruitfully? Continue reading

There is only freedom

Freedom is everywhere. There is only freedom.

There is no individual freedom, only freedom, which is ‘freedom’ from individuality.

You can’t even say ‘freedom from individuality’ – that’s too much.

There is only freedom.

See it at once!

A meditation: how to transcend the ego in 4 steps

girl meditating

Meditation is healing and nourishing. It is like hitting the reset button, allowing us to recharge and connect with ourselves and with life. The essence of meditation is to be silent. Why? Because in that silence the everyday activities of thought are allowed to subside. We are then able to come into contact directly with life, with what is. The distorting filter of the thought-based ego is no longer in the way. Continue reading