“Ascension” Through the Lens of Yoga

Spiritual Awakening & the Ascension Process Seen Through the Lens of the Yogic Tradition

Avalon is a mythical island located approximately 33° north, south, east, and west of 0 point, which makes sense in context only when one is able to access the island. Herein lies its charm. Avalon bridges realities, existing both in the mists of highest perception, as well as in the densest aspects of the mundane. Avalon itself is a bridge, between the old world and the new. A bridge between what is, and what might be.

There’s tremendous power in the myth, if one knows how to read the word and apply it to purpose. Dr. Joseph Campbell only most recently extolled its virtues, but we’ve known at the heart, at 0 point, the value of the myth for as long as humans have been around to conjure them. But how can we apply them to our process? What value does a story have to the conscious evolution, the spiritual awakening of humankind? Please read on.

Ascension is guaranteed. It is one of the few things in life that is. That’s because, for all intents and purposes, time really is linear. Yes, time exists. For the purpose of this argument, as well as every other purpose in the life you currently recognize as your own, time exists. Never mind the theories; leave those to the ones doing the math. Pay even less attention to the generative matrix of imagination, the egregore, responsible for spawning all those glamorous memes that send you down the endless rabbit holes of middle earth only to find you flatly denying its existence in favor of a resolution in its flatness. You do yourself no favors with such exploration. I know. I have been at least as intrepid an explorer as you.

Do keep seeking, for you will surely find! The dream of awakening is an ever unfolding one, as sure as the process of evolution, and just like evolution, it can be nurtured, even hurried along, just a bit, with a skillful means of engagement in your process.

Every culture, now, and then, acknowledges and to some extent explores, this great awakening of human perception, within the context of so very many various fields of endeavor and interest, all exploring the limits of the embodied condition. All seeking to reconcile the dual opposing urges, the one to normalcy and the one to transcendence. The one to blissful repose, and the one to dynamic engagement. The one to be, and the one to shed all concepts of being only to merge irrevocably in luminous freedom – whatever that might mean, for truly, go that far, and meaning itself will no longer be anything of the sort.

See the mighty and quiescent Yogin, the masters of self who have given up everything to dive into the deepest layers of the ground of being, mapping every strata impeccably so that the family of humankind might know something of what we are and whence we come. The yogin immerse themselves in reality, for reality’s sake, at reality’s behest; they are free at freedom’s call, retaining innocence in direct proportion to the depth of the dive, inward, and onward to 0 point, to Still Point, awakening gradually from the dream of the outer garden, the more deeply they immerse themselves in Truth.

Yoni Mudra

Truth! It is every seeker’s dream, yes? The yogin tell us that there is truth to be known, and that it is dependent on immersion in reality, an immersion that deepens in stages, and so for more than a thousand years they have developed skillful means of engaging a path of immersion, what the moderns now call a path of ascension. It might be mind-boggling if it weren’t so intuitive. Descent into the ground of being directly correlates with ascent into the transcendent luminosity of the light of consciousness. In a sense, a good mind-boggle is exactly what the doctor orders. Something must be boggled in order that something else is allowed to achieve clarity. The yogin tell us precisely what that something is.

According to them, awakening comes in stages, just like immersion itself is engaged methodically and systematically, according to the well-defined strata of the ground of being and the celestial maps of the container which holds it. Their maps have shown us three distinct immersions, three impurities which must be rectified along the way, and three stages of awakening that mark the journey.

The first immersion, into essence nature, will be challenged by an impurity of individuality. The second immersion, into the field of total energy, will be challenged by an impurity of differentiation. The final immersion, into the field of Absolute Potential (the Divine, the Absolute), will be challenged not only by the former, but by an impurity of action, too. The process of addressing these challenges of immersion will define the characteristics of the awakening journey, as well as the method of engagement, providing signposts at every rung of the Jacob’s Ladder of Ascension, and offering a clear path forward into your process. Isn’t that what a map is supposed to do?

However, one cannot have the answer if one is not possessed of the question first. This point is paramount. It is not enough to read, or listen, or watch; one must be naturally inclined, possessed of the personal disposition. It must rise naturally from the ground of being itself before Truth will find its resonance in you. It is the resonance itself that finds affinity in you – the Divine you. It is the harmony of frequency, the frequency of Truth as the all-encompassing, and the frequency of the call itself rising from 0 point to meet its maker again! Again, because although there has never once been a separation, of reality, of all that is, of essence, still the embodied condition has been susceptible to environmental influence, in the form of life in the world of physical being, and indeed one has become lost in a wilderness of beautiful trees, completely losing sight of the awesome forest in which they grow. One slowly gets their bearings and awakens to reality again, in stages.

Tantrik Kosha Model
(N., S., E., & W. of 0 Point)

Awakening requires stability; it’s not enough to get a glimpse of essence nature, one must learn to abide in that recognition. Further, not everyone returns to the center from the same coordinates on the periphery. The stages of immersion, and awakening, will often be different from person to person. But if one were to imagine reality as a circle, or a set of concentric circles, with points marking various locales thereupon, still we might understand that directionality itself being focused on the center, will prompt a certain congruence of motion. At the very least that which supports the motion, the capacities for Will and Knowing and Action supported on a sea of Desire and Freedom, will not differ; to a wo/man we are the same in this respect. Only the current coordinates might be somewhat different depending upon from which star one has currently alighted, and when, hence the skillfully-defined engagements will hold true for everyone, and here, too, choice will become an operative necessity.

Thanks to the gods, old and new, that sages have traversed these paths before us, leaving breadcrumbs and markers for us to follow in their footsteps home. No wheels need to be reinvented, even if our modern critiques might make that which is already pristine, that much more lucid for modern audiences. The yogin tell us that what will be crucial to the journey are, in fact, those words left by those guides who have gone before us, the schools of thought formed by those words, as well as modern guides who exist to help the seeker decipher the readings of those words. Like hiring a sherpa to guide you up Everest, one still needs to make the trek themselves, with all that implies before and after, but a trusted and steady lead before you up the hill is worth its weight in gold.

Anybody who has ever experienced an awakening of awareness will surely appreciate the ground which the yogin have mapped, for the yogin were human first, before being marked for mystic by the respective cultures in which they reside. Yoga is a state of being, a state defined by repose at 0 point, at Still Point, quiescent, undisturbed by the fluctuations of mind and the stories that define those fluctuations. The Yogin reside in Avalon; they are the guardians of the bridge, and the oarsmen of the rafts that might usher you across the great waters of immersion.

First, see. You may be awakening to the self, the source central to your identification, that which calls from center – your soul, or spirit voice. It is the deepest sense of you, the vastest sense that you might ever apprehend with the mechanisms of what we call mind. You hear the voice. Your clair senses know the truth of existence at deeper, hitherto undefined levels of being. You would dive in if only you knew the route. You would happily dive in! And every sense on the surface screams at you to make that dive, all the while you are in conflict with an external environment that you have primarily identified with right up to the present moment of this reading. You are awakening. You are awakening from a story you have told yourself for as long as you remember. A story defined by everything you have ever thought or felt or experienced as real, and it may be driving you nuts to know that there is something not quite jibing with this surface apprehension of reality.

You’re waking up into a new model. You are shifting. You are ascending. And yet, this new realization is still confined within the world of thought; you’ve not yet penetrated the mists where thought cannot take you. The ground of being calls you forth, and neither will you be able to answer that call with your voice, though you can with your Will. And you can with your Knowing. From the very source of Freedom that is the ground of being of all life, you can, in fact, Act, holding fast to the unfolding of recognition as it plays out. Practicing abiding with ever more subtle engagements on the meditative field.

Intentionally you feel into the affinities. Intentionally you feel into the resonance. Intentionally you integrate Truth and harmonize the knowing at both junctures, here/now with there and whence quite presently unknowable – Avalon. A myth made practical, but you must be very quiet about it lest your word shatter the growing egg. Recognize quietly. The quieter and more convicted the better. In other words, to quote one of those wise guys from ages past, “be still, and know that I Am God”, and even that knowing is going to be revealed in stages as the truth settles, and as you integrate and harmonize the realities.

Experience will always be the key to your integration. It isn’t enough to intellectualize. It isn’t enough to think you’ve understood. It isn’t enough to be possessed of formula and means, but these must be applied and known viscerally, through experience. Similarly it is not enough to experience; the experience itself must be grounded in insight, radically apprehended with an augmented intelligence born of refined engagement. Some of these tools you might receive in a good philosophy class. Others will be shown to you by the yogin, and other guides you may meet along the way, shamans and mystics, teachers and thought leader, they who have befriended the word and the ways of mind and learned to purpose the tools of mind. For what we are and what we are not must be known. What is known and what is not must be acknowledged. What is and what might be, what can be and what is utter rubbish – these all must be differentiated, and this is the first great work to engage in a process of ascension that you might now be considering could easily span lifetimes. Yet it doesn’t have to either. Once the terrain has been torn asunder and the shift begun, there is simply no going back, even if you drown yourself in every intoxicant known to man, including bliss and every expression of ego, there is no stopping the process once begun. Ascension is guaranteed.

Kunrath’s Amphitheatrum Sapientiae Aeternae (Amphitheater of Eternal Wisdom)
Featuring “The First Stage of the Great Work”, a.k.a. “Alchemist’s Laboratory”.

It begins with the shift in identity, a reframing of what you have hitherto identified yourself to be. This shift is not always immediate and radical; sometimes it is slow and gradual, in the best case it’s lucid and gentle. In more extreme cases it can shake the foundations of your reality to such an extent as to throw your life into chaos and encourage traumatic emotional attachment to the chaos itself. Think years-long persistence in the so-called dark night of the soul, or the modern insistence of a variegated symptomatic expression labeled Kundalini awakening. The attachment to the foundational disruption itself is its own worst enemy, encouraging the enduring moebius wheel of this set of experiences. One must intentionally choose the off ramp. One must set their sights on the next rung up the ladder, intentionally, neither averse nor attached to the current state of being, the thoughts, the feelings, but with a Will and readiness to resolve in a different state. A new state. A state that will be defined by the recognition of essence nature and the new foundations built upon this view.

Shh. Quiet now. Just allow yourself to be present, and aware in your presence. Very, very quiet. You will sense it, shimmering like a golden light on the ground of being. You will feel it like a homecoming. You will know it as Truth, and you might just be willing to allow yourself, your environmentally-conditioned self, your culturally-conditioned self, to be dissolved in this ground of being. Here the yogin will share with you a practice that you might engage to this end, and you might even feel a little trepidation as the ego struggles to maintain a hold on all that you have known. Fears of fracture and dissociation, and the phantoms of the Akasha may taunt you from the edges of your realization, and you will be encouraged to pay them no mind. Unsheathe your sword of light, your powers of insight and discrimination, and slice right down through the center of duality in recognition of truth and freedom of choice at the center. You can write your own story, acknowledging yourself to be the author of all Divine acts, rectify the impurity of individuality with a dash of alchemical sulfur, and burn the storyline to the ground with a refined engagement on the meditative field.

The steadying of recognition, and the simultaneously unfolding stages of realization, harmonization, and integration, ongoing processes of bringing your house into order so to speak, will now lead you further into a deeper layer of immersion in reality – an immersion into the total field of energy wherein you will be challenged anew by the impurity of differentiation. There is still (as there will always be) the obstacle of object identification and the need to define your experience, often still at odds with first-order reality, that is, not precisely as reality is, but according to interpretation. Of course there is an interpretation! You are not a robot. You are not on auto-pilot. You maintain relationships, have hopes and dreams. Awakening doesn’t mean giving up your humanity; it means fulfilling it! Freedom is the freedom to do what you do and be as you are in whatever form that takes for you, according to your desire and your vision of joy, Here we will be tempted to call the job done, to call ourselves enlightened, to intellectualize ourselves into a slow death, buffered by bliss and satisfaction in our knowing, in our realization of truth. The impurity of differentiation will grease our lenses and fog our perception if we let it. After all, some traditions, new and old, name this initial stage of awakening as the pinnacle of attainment. The yogin say otherwise. Well, some yogin. Even within the world of classical yoga there are differences of opinion on the matter of awakening. As a matter of fact, it is one of the facets of this tradition that this author appreciates most, that is, the yogic tradition of relentless critique, vigorous debate and constant evolution of their philosophy. Verily do they stand with one foot in either world, bridging the past and the present with their resolute and impeccable insight, consistently refining intelligence and approach. We are the wizards of Avalon, taking to our devotion with rigor and dispassion.

One must allow themselves space to be human after all. Know what you know and what you don’t. Take ownership of your autonomy even as you enjoy the newness of the experience, and the body mind introduces every manner of fresh experience and insight. Beware now the ego’s tendency to bypass reality and create new and improved castles in the sky for you to live in. Resort to good teachers and teachings and allow yourself the freedom to evolve further, resisting the temptation to call it a done deal. Accept yourself, with all that you would call flaws and this and that. See the stories you have told yourself and the ones you still cling to, perhaps consciously now, for if they serve a purpose, then why not!? Authentically do you, with all that implies. Check yourself. Are you the author of your acts, or do you still move on autopilot, habitually, reactionary. Do you feel, consciously? Or are you at the mercy of your emotions still, for better or for worse? Bliss does not define awakening. Neither does stoicism, indifference, or any other extreme emotion or thought. The sage still cries, but she cries consciously. Your thoughts and emotions aren’t going anywhere, but neither will you be chained and pulled behind them either. You are clear in this respect, free to Act upon your Knowing as you Will. Neither averse nor attached, but either equally in its turn, by design. Be content to flow when flowing is best, and row when rowing is called for. When you can do that, you will be ready to engage the next stage of empowered, energetic interaction with reality.

Ascension (& the Descent of Power)
Primordial Evolution via Three Primal Energies (Will, Knowledge, Action)

Artwork by Erik Jacobsen

The impurity of differentiation is such precisely because it is the differentiation that gets in the way of experiencing unity consciousness. Now beg for a definition and delineation of the goal. What, after all, are the parameters of this thing called awakening. To where does this ascension lead and whence did it originate? Many traditions would have us believe in an All-Source, a fountainhead of Life itself, unbounded, infinite, timeless, unimaginable – God – Oneness. Differentiation is the bane of the yogin, for whom unity consciousness is the practice and the goal. For the yogin, oneness means life, and the recognition of an essential unity is the foundation of our equanimity. Life in the next stage of awakening is now to be lived with a utility of single-mindedness the likes of which far surpass any experience known to date. It is not the blinding, full-body orgasm, harbinger of life’s inception; neither is it any momentary experience of veils pulled back to reveal the light of consciousness momentarily. Consciousness is now abiding in itself, and thus useful. The worldview has been flipped entirely and one is permeated by the recognition of a single field of awareness, subsumed by reality. Synchronicity is your very own seventh sense and Serendipity your kin. Yet nothing has changed except your address. Your coordinates. In the first stage you hovered around the periphery of 0 point, dipping your toes into the water, stepping in and out, but once resolved, you move into a new home, and when you go out, you are now going out from the center.

You must go out! This is what it means to chop wood and carry water before and after the event which finds one reposed at Still Point in the Heart. Life is not going to change as long as you’re embodied. Only you’re engagement with life will change. Ascension, in the body, is an ascension of consciousness. The other ascension doesn’t even make sense to contemplate since not even one person is known to have come back with information about the other side of that veil. Avalon is not the 0 point between embodied and disembodied life, but rather the mystical Still Point at the center of every shade of this life. It is Tolle’s Power of Now and the moment space-time where Ram Das lives. If you ask me, even Patanjali began his yoga sutras in Avalon, but this is just a story I like to tell myself because it helps me make sense of something so magical, so mystical, so mythical, so wonderful that I am hard pressed to find adequate words to describe it. Avalon will do. The popularly accepted characteristics of this myth serve my story, my purpose, and the reality of the conscious state well.

Now we are resolved in the ground of being. Now we have accepted who and what we are. Now we are recognizant and aware. Now we are subsumed in reality, free to be and do in every direction and dimension. Now the mind is tranquil and awake. Does it get any better than this? There is no longer any separation or distinction to cause an undue fluctuation of the heart-mind. My senses are alert and heightened. All of them. The creative faculties of life itself guide my way; there is no my way distinct from Thy way. I flow when there is a flow, and row when directed by intuitive knowing. I am free. Why strive further? Indeed there is no one to strive, were there, in fact, something to be striven for. Liberated in the realization that there is nobody in need of liberating, and nothing to be liberated from anyway. Empowered in the truth that I was never disempowered in the first place. The yogin tell us that in the final phase of ascension, there is nothing left but to dissolve into the Divine. Who knows what that could possibly look like? From our current perspective, it probably doesn’t look much different than one who has progressed through the second stage of awakening, but how could we even know that until unless we had experienced it for ourselves?