Ascetic or Exuberant Awakening?


inner void in the awakening

This post is inspired by the ‘intensely tranquil’ inner world of a handful of women who live between Europe and Asia. These women have been purifying themselves spiritually for many years (through sadhana and healing work) and are now in a state of neutral inner silence.

They describe it also as an inner emptiness, an introverted state of being without any wishes or interests, yet awake and present, and connected to nature. They are in a deep quietude and have no impulse to do something, no attachments, no emotions or desires. They feel free from the common object-subject-separations and good-vs-bad-judgements, and have zero resonance with the usual identification models (both the secular and the spiritual).

Conventions and social concepts might make us think that this is rather strange. That there must be something wrong. Those ladies should utilise their lives, do something useful, be active and productive, shouldn’t they? Even if their condition is not ‘normal’, the women themselves are not worried. Because this pure at-peace-being is natural. It is a profound existential degree of maturity – part of a graceful unfolding, which has nothing to do with will-power or with laziness and indifference.

The women are highly charged in terms of energy vibration and perception power. And in a peaceful way. Carried by the numinous wings of existence. They feel unagitated. Observant. Consciously and benevolently holding space. Like attentive guardians.

They experience their introversion also as a counterbalancing and antithesis to all the turmoil in the outer world. They feel like antenna systems for anchoring cosmic high frequencies into Earth. (Surely there are men who experience this too.)

Yes, we can indeed be active and have different emotional states, while present moment awareness and pure consciousness remain consistent. We are outwardly involved and inwardly free and detached.

Unfortunately the West has no term to describe these states of being (simply because soul evolvement and self-realisation are under-represented amongst people). But the Hindu culture offers adequate expressions: Turiya or Samadhi (there are different levels). And the Buddhists speak of Dharmakaya or Shunyata. It is better not to hold on to these concepts and definitions though, and instead keep head and brain malleable. Ultimately, these internal constitutions can only be directly experienced by an individual, not intellectually grasped.

The other side of the coin

I speak from my own experience when I say that this inner neutral emptiness is a valuable and important stage of development, even nourishing. However, if this sense of stillness spans across two, three or more years, one might begin to doubt oneself and the chosen path alltogether. Then it feels as if you were stuck in a no-man’s-land.

When I was given the description of Sunyata in a phase of unease, I felt great relief. And I was able to open up to the flow of life again.

With this experience something else was shown to me: that there were certain imprints in me, from the collective consciousness as well as my own past lives, in particular those lives in which I was associated with religious schools or teachings that connected awakening and enlightenment with a strict, nihilistic and ascetic view of the world.

The belief system which shaped me at that time, still had some residues hooked onto my subconscious. There was data of awakening and oneness in me, but the data of an ascetic awakening was dominating, not the data of a lively awakening. And so it became clear to me that I had to release myself completely from any and all patriarchal structures which glorify dogmas, abstinence or renunciation.

Neutral silence and tranquil emptiness are ok, but they do not really make you feel blissful. And yet it is a heartfelt fire and enthusiasm that gives us strengths and creative powers. The state of emptiness is what it is. There is no attachment or entanglement. Everything is neutral and free of emotional charge, but in this neutrality we also do not feel inspired, creative and passionate. As if we were not fully participating in life.

So those of you who have been hanging in Shunyata for years, might be hosts to old imprints that prevent your progress. Shedding the light of consciousness onto this issue helps to resolve it.

It is interesting to note that religions hardly seem interested in activating the full potency of their faithful followers. The female, intuitive, exuberant and wild aspects of existence are suppressed. To help contacting divine source without intermediaries AND connecting to one’s own individual creative powers, would render obsolete the role of the loyal sheep that is awaiting salvation. People would be truly empowered and could disengage from their religions.

In Buddhism is the goal of all spiritual practice is Nirvana, and in Yoga (Hinduism) it is Moksha (or Mukti / Jeevanmukti). Both terms represent the liberation from the eternal cycle of death and rebirth. Buddhists describe liberation with an emphasis on the inner void (no suffering and no joy; freedom from all mental restlessness), contrary to yogis who accentuate the triad of truth-consciousness-bliss (Sat-Chit-Ananda).

Buddhism is satisfied with the state of Turiya (self-realisation), the emptiness of the pure spirit through the dissolution of the I / me. Nirvana means absence of suffering, but also absence of bliss. Hinduism however goes beyond this, transcends it, namely with Turiyatita (self-dissolution): the infinite wealth of serene oneness. The one who practices detached beingness (Sat) and realises unity consciousness (Chit), in him / her, by divine grace, the inner happiness of the enlightened will arise (Ananda).

I’m aware that there are various interpretations and also controversies in this context. I just outline my observations of particular tendencies in the buddhist and yoga traditions. Please only take what resonates with you and pass over the rest. On the journey ‘back home’ probably some people have to focus on one side (nothingness) and some on the other side (fullness) for igniting their enlightenment.

From my point of view though, it is about everything. Emptiness and abundance, neutrality and bliss, focus and expansion, crystal-like sharpness and gentle softness, ‘individualness’ and oneness, heaven and earth, consciousness and creativity, Shiva and Shakti – IT is all about these synergies. After all, pure consciousness is worth nothing if not flooded with love. With good intentions and cultivated heart qualities. This requires, above all, the liberation of  the goddess, the divine feminine powers. And to open ourselves to the bliss is a first important step. But how is this possible, if ‘neutral blank’ has taken hold of us?

Perhaps a comparison with the ocean is suitable. According to the tide, the sea pulls back in the evening and surges up again with the sunrise. Equally, the state of serene inner void is a phase that comes before the next big developmental step. Emptiness is the necessary space so things can grow, move and change.

And until this happens, there are only a few things to note:

  1. Accept what is and enjoy feeling complete within with gratitude;
  2. Stop blind activism that wants to push progress, i.e. don’t make any lukewarm decisions and don’t initiate anything that is not motivated by your conviction;
  3. Refine your personality – be truly conflict-free und incorruptable;
  4. Detect even the smallest signal of joy in you. Note when you sense positive affinity and go with what feels good. The tiniest spark of joy can be your guide.
  5. (Co-)create something positive and let existence operate through you, i.e. if the Shakti forces push for creative expressions, channel consciously those impulses.

The self-realized individual does not perform any rituals or rites, nor chant mantras, discriminate against or for others, and is beyond the Turiya state of consciousness. In the Paramahamsa state, he is devoted to non-dualism, is always soul-driven, is Brahman and Om. T. M. P. Mahadevan


alive and exuberant awakening, instead of ascetic awakening

This article was originally published in German on 22. September 2017.

1 thought on “Ascetic or Exuberant Awakening?

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