When Do You “Realize” a Spiritual Awakening

I’ve lived the life of a mystic for thirty-five years, twenty of those on and off in Japan and the Himalayas on the path of the yogin, and I still don’t know that there was ever a realization that a spiritual awakening had begun.

When I was just a little boy, perhaps all of four or five, I spoke to God, before I’d been indoctrinated into the religion of my parents, there was a presence that I felt kinship with. I didn’t call it God, but I’ve got no other word for the experience even looking back now with all my vocabulary to support me. I certainly didn’t realize anything like a spiritual awakening to be happening.

By the time I was nine or ten, and life experiences had begun to shape me and wrap themselves around me, I began the strangest night flights, astral projections of Self into the strangest phantasmagoric replica of my waking reality. I called them dreams, but they were so horrifically lucid. I’d still no idea that there existed anything like a spiritual dimension existing outside or apart from me.

Growing through my teenage years with an acute sense that something was off in the world around me, that suffering and rage and fear couldn’t possibly be the norm, that education was sorely lacking for its incessant focus on the external creation, for societies’ borders and cultural distinctions, for the obvious disconnect in people’s communication, I still made no connection between this disconcerting reality and any other that could possibly be something called spiritual.

It was only when I left the States after high school, now in search for the first time for this experience of what I’d read is called spiritual, in search of a relationship with a God I once knew intimately, before I began thinking about it, that something vaguely resembling an awakening had begun to occur. Studying Kabbalah with Chasids in Jerusalem, I was introduced to concepts that expanded my perspective of the reality I lived in, sure, but I don’t know that I’d begun to awaken in any way.

Bedouins introduced me to hashish and showed me yet newer experiences of mind, and I knew hitherto unexplored dimensions of feeling, but still, was I waking up to something?

I moved on to Japan several years later and walked my first pilgrimage with the Buddhist mountain monks, discovering distinct synchronicities of circumstantial effects seemingly based on mental causes – the world around me began shaping itself to my intention, and yet, I did not equate this experience with any kind of spiritual unfolding.

And I met the Jupiter King in an old shopping arcade and he gave me his library of books, seven-hundred of them to be precise. And among those books were very occult titles by authors like Paracelsus and Agrippa. I holed up in a cave for several years reading the histories of the world. Herodotus and Plato taught me how my forefathers thought about the heavens and the earth. Mystical scribblings from every corner of the earth widened my eyes to a vast array of thoughts and concepts. Is this a spiritual awakening?

I knew I had to be in the Himalayas, like Yogananda before me. That Yogi wrote of mystical experiences on his journey that were very fascinating to me and I wanted to replicate them precisely. So I went and I did, but did I awaken? Vivekenanda implored: wake up! Wake up! But from what state was I to awaken? I knew what he was saying already. Perhaps I’d not yet been to sleep?

And when I met my master on the path, in that picturesque little hamlet in the Kullu Valley, and He welcomed me into his home with a warm hug of deep friendship, I knew immediately that heaven verily existed on earth and that I was home and love really wasn’t based on condition after all but was a state so Natural, like cool stream water nourishing a parched body. And still, I cannot say that I was waking up either. Nor could I describe any of my experiences over the next two decades to be contributing to an awakening.

Being Silence. Completely merged in Darmamegha Samadhi, Sat, pure consciousness or being, was not an awakening. Tat Tvam Asi – for we are and have always been That – there is no awakening.

Perhaps, just perhaps, the closest I can acknowledge to coming into a spiritual awakening is the realization of the normalcy of the life cycle when my child was born and I realized for the first time that something bigger than myself really does exist in the form of something to live for, unconditionally, that has no relationship at all to my personal experience. Nothing to seek, nor to be. I really do not know how to describe this one… This relationship with my little girl, who is off to her first day of elementary school today, does indeed appear to be the source of my first real spiritual awakening. And it’s an unfolding in progress, so I’m really, for the first time in my life, left rather speechless and profoundly in awe of this particular miracle – and I’ve seen many! – what people might call the miraculous. But this one, oh my, yes, maybe this is the beginning of my spiritual awakening, because it really is the most powerful experience I’m yet to know and I can hardly think what to call this. So maybe this is it…that ephemeral spiritual awakening.