by Nicole Lutz
What wakes you up at the start of your day? An alarm? A schedule? Responsibilities, goals, ambitions? Is it pleasant, or is it painful?
Personally, I get a mix of different kinds of awakenings throughout the week. Sometimes I have the beautiful stress-free blissed out weekend where I have nothing planned and nothing to do, and other times I wake up at 12:30 a.m. thinking about all the things I have to do, and can't get back to sleep until I've get up and do something, anything that I can actually cross off the list. Sometimes my muscles are sore from working out and I can't get comfortable, or my allergies are kickin', or I've got the flu. Sometimes it's other people driving by honking horns, or neighbors crashing home drunk slamming doors while trying to be drunkenly silent (you know, not silent at all and laughing loudly while shushing themselves; hilarious when you're not trying to sleep, I'm sure). Sometimes I just really have to pee, like immediately.
Spiritual awakenings come in the same variety of ways. Sometimes it's a blissful experience of warmth, love, and joy, a feeling that comes with a sense of acceptance and peace, a feeling of everything coming together and fitting perfectly, a sense of awareness that just makes sense of everything you've seen and experienced, all at once.
But most of the time, not like that.
No, most of the time it comes like every other kind of waking. Blaring noises that jar us from our slumber. Growing discomfort and irritation. Other people being all loud with their spiritual dysfunctions, getting their spiritual excretions all over us. Feelings that something isn't right, and we just can't figure out what it is. A sense of knowing there's something we're supposed to be doing. A feeling like we've forgotten something important. A dis-ease, a discomfort, an ache, a pain, a sense of longing, a fundamental inability to find even one position that's even just a little bit comfortable enough.
Why is it that we fall asleep, in the first place? What is it about incarnation that leaves us so out of it spiritually that we find sleep and awakening to be such a great analogy? Why can some folks drown out that discomfort so easily by turning on the television, catching up on Doctor Who episodes, having a smokey scotch, or getting themselves the latest Coach bags, Hugo Boss jackets, or Minkoff shoes?
Well, that's easy, says Plotinus, in the First Tractate of the Fifth Ennead:
A child wrenched young from home and brought up during many years at a distance will fail in knowledge of its father and of itself: the souls, in the same way, no longer discern either the divinity or their own nature; ignorance of their rank brings self-depreciation; they misplace their respect, honouring everything more than themselves; all their awe and admiration is for the alien, and, clinging to this, they have broken apart, as far as a soul may, and they make light of what they have deserted; their regard for the mundane and their disregard of themselves bring about their utter ignoring of the divine.We get born in the material world, we think this stuff is what it's all about, and we try really hard to be happy with it. But ... it just doesn't cut it, for most of us. I mean, sure, there are some folks who can drown out that discomfort, most of the time, with stuff.
But even the guy at the bar last week who admired my star sapphire ring, who noticed that it had a symbol of Jupiter engraved in it, with his college-football-Bud Light-pickup-truck-salt-life-sticker-rod and reel lifestyle, even he had a spiritual story to share with me when he caught the scent of my HGA coming through, finding himself explaining that he thought maybe we were actually "angels," or "aliens," some spirit from beyond the world we know and experience who manifest in the body somehow, maybe because we crashed or fell or something, unconsciously parallelling the teachings of Plato, the Neoplatonists, and Dionysius the Areopigate.
We may be strangers in a strange land, and we may try to blend in, but even at our best, most blended-in moments, we still have that awareness, that suspicion, that we're something else, something more, and that we'd know it and do it and be it, if we just woke up.
Plotinus has two methods he recommended for waking up.
A double discipline must be applied if human beings in this pass are to be reclaimed, and brought back to their origins, lifted once more towards the Supreme and One and First.
There is the method, which we amply exhibit elsewhere, declaring the dishonour of the objects which the Soul holds here in honour; the second teaches or recalls to the soul its race and worth; this latter is the leading truth, and, clearly brought out, is the evidence of the other.
I'm not into the first much. I think we can wake up and enjoy the stuff of this world, once we can appreciate that it isn't the truth that brings joy. But I'm all about the second method, teaching and recalling to the soul its race and worth:
You're a manifestation of the image of god; you're a child of god; your dad is the source of the universe, your mom is the material world, so you're both mortal and immortal, a god in the flesh; you are a divine mortal creator god living out your life, with access to amazing potential, you just have to remember, reclaim, renew your connections, and get busy enjoying it.
Cause that's what's waiting for us outside the bed. Out from under the covers. Past the momentary chill, as we wrap ourselves in our fluffy warm robes, dissolving the dregs of sleep in the caffeinated alchemical elixir of blessed coffee. We come to, and take a look around at the things we have to do, the things we have to work with, the things we want to accomplish today, tomorrow, next week, next year, and before we die.
Before I wrap it up, there's one more thing I'd like to point out...
There's always more. As long as you're alive in the flesh, as long as you breathe, as long as you fall asleep and awake each day, there will still be new awakenings. I mean, think about it, what happens to a person when they stop waking up?
I'm not dead yet. I'm still waking up to new layers of existence, new awareness, new realities about who I am, how I relate to the Source, what I can do in the flesh, and what I'm really here to get done before I bail. It never stops, that I can see, nor would I ever want it to. There's something special about the beginnings of things, the potentials, the unmanifest mysteries that we're about to experience and bring into being.
Through our awakenings.