Awakening Into Life

The term awakening is often used in spiritual language to describe an experience of utter clarity about the nature of reality. The experience is usually the result of a lot of deliberate practice and is even the final goal of some spiritual paths. 

The term awakening can be a bit misleading though. Awakening to the truth of what you are at your core does not mean, as the work implies, waking up from life to something else. Instead, it is the recognition that all of reality is a self-created experience with literally nothing "outside" of it. In other words, it has no objectively true ground to it, that is different from your very experience of life, right now and that you can wake up to. 

How do you wake up?

Better ways to think about meaning

Maybe you have been asking yourself the question: "What does all of this actually mean?" Is there a fundamental true meaning to life?

Maybe this deep question was triggered by great loss or by having had a dream shattered despite the investment of money, time, and effort. Whichever way you arrived at this that life seems to lack inherent meaning, in this article we are going to explore how what we think about the metaphysics of meaning directly influences what feel and how we act. 


Asking a question many times implies that there must be a concrete answer. In the case of meaning any absolute statement about it is going to be inadequate in most circumstances. To start this exploration, the question has to be reframed so that we can actually find worthwhile answers. 

To answer the question, what are meaningful questions to ask about meaning, we have to look at the dynamics of meaning in our everyday experience. If we are mindful of our momentary experience, do we ever experience meaning as static? Is there a meaning that we can attribute to all moments of our experience? Or is it rather the case that meaning itself is a dynamic experience, shifting and changing with the contents in our awareness? 

The answer is yes. Meanings are not fixed. One moment we are hungry and experience the sensation of hunger as meaningful. The act of eating becomes equally meaningful in relation to that feeling. When we are no longer hungry, eating loses some of its meaning. It even becomes momentarily meaningless to us. We cannot make an absolute statement about the meaning of eating. We can only say how meaningful it is in certain situations and in relation to what else is present in our experience. 

Life itself is not a fixed entity. It's a dynamic, ever-changing process. It unfolds on a momentary basis and is a blend of sensations, emotions, and thoughts. Meaning itself is one of those changing parameters, maybe a blend of emotions and thoughts. It does not stand on its own as something separate from life. It is never an objective fact that is true throughout all of time and in regard to all circumstances. 

Therefore all absolute statements about meaning are false. Understanding this prevents you from the two most common traps in regards to meaning. Through this understanding, you avoid nihilism. Reality, as we just explored, cannot be eternally meaningless. You also avoid eternalism, because reality also does not have always the same fixed meaning. Reality is neither always meaningless, nor is it always absolutely meaningful. 

How then can we practically answer whether our lives have meaning? The answer can be found in the concepts of nebulosity and pattern. 

By going back to our direct experience we can observe, that the ever-changing sense of meaning is never really graspable. Meaning just feels nebulous. Some experience arises and brings a sense of meaning with it. Meaning exists on a spectrum. We can also observe that meaning is patterned. As in the above example, food regularly and predictably becomes more meaningful to us depending on circumstances like our feeling of hunger or how much we like the food presented to us. 

Spirituality teaches us that true insights into reality lie outside of the realm of conceptual thinking. Meaning behaves in this way too. What you want to know about meaning cannot be explained in a fixed, logical, and fully rational sentence. The question may arise as a thought, but it points to something beyond its own domain. 

To find meaning in life, practice mindfulness. Observe the presently unfolding experience and look for ways in which your mind tries to fix meaning. If you find yourself thinking in absolute terms about the meanings in your life, you will have a better experience dropping those and replacing them with accurate statements that are based in your actual experience. Instead of the statement "my life is really meaningful", you would state more accurately "my life is made up of a variety of experiences, with varying degrees of meaning that come with them". 

Why is this difference important? As hinted at above, it prevents you from holding false assumptions about reality. In the case of meaning, this can have negative outcomes. A nihilist views every experience from what seems to be a meaningless context. But this is a mental interpretation that he is putting on top of what the experience actually is. This will come with emotional states that are usually felt to be negative. 

Enlightenment is the state where all filters are removed and reality is experienced immediately.  Meaning can be one such filter. A step towards that is the acceptance that meaning is nebulous and patterned. To hold this view can feel destabilizing at first, but as it is revealed that this stance matches reality, flow follows. Finding the meaning of life paradoxically involves the dropping of the search for an absolute answer. What is required instead is the acceptance of uncertainty. 

What are the benefits of this recognition? Life is approached openly and with curiosity. Genuinely meaningful experiences are allowed and welcomed without grasping at them. Moments of lower degrees of meaning are not dreaded and no attempts to erase them from one's life are made. Resistance to what is is decreased, because there is no fixed meaning that the moment has to conform to. Instead of looking for absolute answers, one looks for patterns. Those can be very helpful in predicting certain areas of the human experience. 


In short, remember to watch out for any absolute statement your mind wants to make about meaning and instead hold the view that it is nebulous and patterned. From that view, you can expect a better match with your actual experience, which reduces frustration, increases curiosity and allows feelings of wonder to arise. 

The concepts in this article are based on David Chapman's online book: www.meaningness.com.

The Awakened Mind


How can I attain awakening?

It's in the simple process of discovering how everything is Mind. Look in your experience how everything has awareness as its basis. It's not the discovery of something new. It is seeing clearly after the lenses of perception have been cleansed. Cleansed of what? 

The suffering of others


Question: 

I finally woke up through a period of egoic suffering. A dark night of the soul, so to speak. Since, I have felt almost nothing but effortless and profound peace. I see so much suffering around me, almost no physical suffering, but the same mental anguish that finally dissolved the illusion for me.

A question that I have; given that suffering can be (and was for me) such a profound teacher, how do you decide when to try to help and do something about it? With physical suffering it's easy, I intervene without hesitation. Egoic anguish however, I'm hesitant to help.

Business vs. Consciousness - An alternative perspective on the environmental crisis

The main goal of a company is survival under the given economic circumstances. As with the drive to survive of biological organisms, this goal is antithetical to high consciousness or truth. Here we will explore why that is the case and what conclusions follow. This will give us insight into how we might be able to change the current state of the economic landscape so companies can change their activity to benefit the whole ecosystem.

Are human companies like nature?

The Difference Between Real and True

We all know what is real, right? But do we know if that is also true? And do we even recognize the difference between the two? Read on to get clarity on what these words are pointing to and why it is so important to know the difference. It might help you in understanding yourself and your relationship to reality better.

Form And Happiness

Do you chase experience in the hope of lasting happiness? Form never has the power to make us happy or unhappy. But unconsciously we often give it that power. No person, thing or experience makes us happy in and of itself. It's only our interpretation that makes it appear that way.

The World appears in infinite forms

Mind-Self

Today I am. Clarity in not knowing.

I don't know who or what, yet I am. 

Not in me, not in you, not in it. I am nowhere to be found. 

Yet always present. 

Perspectives onto myself. Including the perspective. That I am.

I am perspective, one second real, next second unreal.

How do perspectives exist though? Do I exist?

A perspective from which "I" do not exist, that certainly is true.

A perspective from which "I" do exist, that idea certainly is true.

One second on, and off the next. But who makes the switch?

What is true regardless of ideas? 

What is prior to concepts?

Concepts and ideas come and go, yet I remain. 

Pure potential.

Mind-Self

How To Deal With Desire

How should we deal with desire in the context of spirituality?

Desire is as natural to our human nature as breathing and eating. This is where we start out when we start to explore spirituality. Desire is the natural way in which our mind creates motivation. Desire makes us do things, get things done and accomplish our goals. At least that is what it seems like on the surface. 


A Powerful Dream Yoga Technique

If you are practising mindfulness in daily activities, you may have noticed something interesting happening to your sleep. At a certain point, as you develop your mindfulness, the increased awareness will carry over into your dreams and sleep. And even if this has not happened to you yet, you can learn how nighttime practices can benefit your spiritual progress. Dream and Sleep Yoga are powerful meditation techniques that allow you to extend your practice.