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RE: [Meditation Society of America] Levels Of Spiritual Awakening

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  • Aideen Mckenna
    Thank you for posting this. Aideen From: meditationsocietyofamerica@yahoogroups.com [mailto:meditationsocietyofamerica@yahoogroups.com] On Behalf Of
    Message 1 of 2 , Aug 26 4:39 PM

      Thank you for posting this.



      From: meditationsocietyofamerica@yahoogroups.com [mailto:meditationsocietyofamerica@yahoogroups.com] On Behalf Of medit8ionsociety
      Sent: August-26-11 3:23 PM
      To: meditationsocietyofamerica@yahoogroups.com
      Subject: [Meditation Society of America] Levels Of Spiritual Awakening



      By Rabbi Alan Lurie on the Huffington Post 8/22/11

      The goal of all spiritual practice is to help us see
      that we are more than temporary and meaningless
      collections of automatic emotional and physical
      responses. All spiritual practices are designed to
      lead us to see a higher reality -- that we are, in
      truth, eternal consciousness, occupying physical
      form for a purpose, animated and connected to the
      creative and sustaining source of everything.
      Spirituality is, in essence, the experience of
      waking up to this higher, truer reality. And the
      birth of religions stems from individuals who have
      glimpsed this reality, have known that most human
      beings are trapped in a false, destructive dream,
      and have attempted to free others by sharing their
      experience of a better way.

      Of course, as we all have seen, religions can
      quickly -- and at time horrifically -- distort
      this initial impulse. The experience of higher
      realities, by its very nature of being more than
      most people's normal vision and containing
      knowledge that often defies verbal description,
      must be told in metaphor, story and allegory.
      Followers who do not understand this may, in an
      honest but childish effort of devotion, concretize
      these subtle teachings in to literal and rote
      dogma, thereby losing the original intention and
      beauty. But the initial impulse to communicate
      the experience of higher reality for the benefit
      of others is the fire that sustains and renews
      the great religions, and that shows us the possibility
      of being more fully awake.

      Whether the Buddhist experience of Bodhi, Christian
      rebirth, Jewish d'veikut, Zen kensho, Hindu moksha,
      or Sufi nafsil mutma`inna, most religions are
      designed to point us toward an awakened state
      of being. We may think, therefore, that spiritual
      awakening is like physical awakening, with only
      two states -- asleep or awake -- and that we can
      attain a state of being fully awake or enlightened.
      And we may think that this is the end goal of
      religious and spiritual practices, and may work
      to reach this enlightened state as though it is
      an object of attainment and possession.

      The truth is, though, that spiritual awakening
      happens gradually, across many stages, with --
      as far as we can tell from our current perspective
      -- no end. Once we think that we have finally
      awakened, another possibility, which was previously
      hidden from sight, appears and pulls us forward
      to higher levels. A sure sign of spiritual derailment,
      usually caused by the ego's hijacking of the process
      in order to feel superior and therefore safe, is
      the belief that one has reached the end, knows the
      truth and is done.

      The realization that awakening is a never-ending
      process is a core spiritual insight taught by all
      great religious teachers, and these teachers have
      left us a map of the stages of awakening. The
      following is a brief and general outline of some
      of these stages, utilizing the Hebrew Bible -- the
      religious text with which I am most familiar --
      as well as other religious traditions.

      Awakening to Self-Awareness:

      Many living things are conscious, but as far as
      we know human beings are the only creatures that
      are conscious of being conscious. We can ask
      the fundamental questions: Why am I here? What
      does my life mean? The story of Adam and Eve
      is a mythical telling of this evolutionary
      moment, when the light ignited in our eyes and
      we looked at the world from a new viewpoint,
      knowing that there is difference between good
      and bad, and aware of our own nakedness -- of
      our limitations and mortality. Almost all Homo
      sapiens have reached this basic level of awakening.

      Awakening to Meaning

      We can stay stuck at the first level, seeking
      only to satisfy our needs for security in the
      face of uncertainty and shame. Then, often suddenly,
      we discover that our life actually has meaning,
      and we are radically changed. This happened to
      Abraham, who, in a flash, sees that he has been
      created for a purpose and must leave the meaningless
      life that he has led to create a new way of being
      that is centered on the struggle to honor that
      purpose. This is the beginning of the spiritual

      Awakening to Sacred Service

      We can awaken to the knowledge that our own life
      has purpose, and yet never reach the obvious
      conclusion: If my life has purpose, so must everyone
      else's! This is a huge shift, when one first moves
      beyond self and connects deeply to others. In this
      connection is found the call to service, as illustrated
      by Moses, who dedicated his life to liberating
      others, without seeking reward or recognition.
      At this level one discovers true humility and
      gratitude. All those who have changed the world
      for the better have awakened to this level.

      Awakening to Freedom

      Two thousand and six hundred years ago, Siddhartha
      Gautama awoke to an essential truth: that we cause
      our own suffering through our desire to make permanent
      that which is inherently transient -- possessions,
      fame, certainty, power, health -- and that we can
      end our own suffering by liberating ourselves from
      this insane cycle. Then we can see that we are not
      our minds, not our bodies and not our emotions.
      These, instead, become objects of curious and
      compassionate examination rather than the unconscious
      drivers of our lives. With this we can experience
      life, people and events as they are, free from the
      need to control. This is the level of awakening
      that many associate with enlightenment.

      Awakening to Spirit

      The life and teachings of Jesus are demonstrations
      of a radically simple but endless truth: We are
      spirit made flesh. Jesus knew that God is not a
      being "out there," and we are not feeble creatures
      "down here." Instead, we are God incarnate; the
      physical vessels of an infinite, loving creative
      force. And when we see the face of God in another
      human being we are seeing our true nature. This may
      sound appealing, ridiculous, obvious or meaningless.
      That too is the lesson from Jesus, because this
      level of awakening moves us beyond the restriction
      of our physical senses and provokes strong emotions
      from the ego. But with this awakening comes healing
      and rebirth to our true selves.

      Awakening to...?

      The next stage of awakening appears to be emerging
      now. I certainly can not see it, but my sense is
      that it will be one in which we know that
      consciousness is the structure of physicality
      and that we can deliberately connect to the
      forces of creation in order to elevate life.

      The very reason that we are here is to gradually
      awaken, and by doing so transform the world into
      heaven on earth. This transformation is completely
      in our hands to do, and with courage and humility
      we will.
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