The answer to the question, “Is Spiritual Awakening Dangerous?” is “Yes, it is,” and “No it is Not.” For anyone identified with yourself as a separate entity the answer is “Yes” it can be dangerous.

For you who are more identified with yourself as “Soul” it is the ultimate freedom.

The question is, “Do you want to take the risk of experiencing the ultimate freedom?” Are you prepared to take the Red Pill, leave the Matrix, and see just how far down the rabbit hole into wonderland you are prepared to go?

So let us explore the Call to Adventure that is the journey into the wonderland of spiritual awakening both as process and as revelation.

Why Spiritual Awakening is Dangerous

To answer the question, “Is spiritual awakening dangerous?” let me begin by listing several reasons we might consider such an awakening dangerous in a negative sense.

By the word ‘dangerous’ I do not mean that the experience is life threatening in a physiological sense. Spiritual awakening is dangerous in the sense that it threatens the personal sense of who you think you are.

It can be dangerous in a psychological sense because it can shatter who you think you are. If you have very rigid beliefs systems in place, then the experience of awakening can be very threatening to your sense of personal self.

So lets look at each of these threats/dangers in more detail.

Who Do You Think You Are?

spiritual awakening from the sense of the personal self

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Most people on this planet if asked, “Who do you think you are?” might react with suspicion at being asked such a question.  They might wonder at the strangeness of this question.

Once they get over the shock, they might tell you their name, what they work at, where they live, where they were born and many other things “about” themselves. Put all this together and this is who they claim to be.

These collective aspects of themselves we refer to as “Me, my, myself and I.” This is who we recognize as our personality with all their beliefs, emotions, memories, etc.

This is the sense of the personal sense of self with all its hopes, dreams, drama and trauma. This is also the suffering self. This is the self that gives rise to most of the unnecessary suffering that happens in all our lives. Freedom from this sense of personal self is the end of this unnecessary suffering.

Many people would resist the idea that this personal sense of self is what I refer to in different ways as The False Self. This does not mean that you are a lie or that you live a false life. It means that this is not the essence of who you are.

Contemporary theologian and author Father Richard Rohr discusses how we can reconnect to our true self by overcoming the many ways in which our ego blocks our path. A Franciscan priest for more than 40 years and founder of the Center for Action and Contemplation in Albuquerque, New Mexico, Father Richard has firsthand understanding of how silence and meditation, deeper spiritual intuition and the inherent experience of love can lead to transformational discoveries within oneself. According to Father Richard, within each of us lies the true self and the false self. The true self, he says, is what religion often calls the soul—your eternal essence. The false self is the persona you create for yourself. Father Richard believes your goal in life is to find and manifest your true self.

The experience of awakening means you realize (real eyes) yourself to be more than the personal. You are the Universe expressing through the form of the body as a unique individual expression of the one Life.

You are the Universe (The Infinite) expressing as individuality (The Finite). The experience of awakening shatters the idea that you are a separate individual. This shattering threatens who you think you are. It feels threatening if you do not recognize what is happening.

In the awakening experience, you disappear as the personal sense of self (The False Self) into the infinite sense of the Self (The True Self).  In reality, there is no disappearance, although for the uninitiated this is what it feels like. There is nothing lost. We gain everything.

The threat is that it feels like you are becoming nobody. This feels very real, and many have wondered if they are going mad. This feels threatening even to those who you might think would recognize the experience.

Franciscan Priest Father Richard Rohr tells of fellow priests who experienced awakening and were as a result transferred to a mental hospital. I suspect that they were so identified with the literal teachings of Christianity that their minds could not accept the enormity of the experience that blew their belief systems apart.

You Will Be Troubled

the trouble with spiritual awakening

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In the Nag Hammadi Library text The Gospel of St Thomas states

Jesus said: He who seeks, let him not cease seeking until he finds; and when he finds he will be troubled, and when he is troubled he will be amazed, and he will reign over the All. – Gospel of Thomas – Saying 2.

The Gospel of St Thomas is a list of saying from the Master Jesus Christ.

My experience of spiritual awakening did not trouble me. It amazed me.

This I believe was because I knew when it happened what it was, I was experiencing. I longed for this experience with my whole being and was graced the KNOWING of what it is to feel as an awakened individual on this planet.

I was reading and studying the teachings of different wisdom teachings and at the time the writings of the modern mystic Jiddu Krishnamurti. The revelation of awakening happened while reading some of his writings.

For those who do not understand or have no interest in such spiritual experience (as distinct from religious experience) such an opening might well leave them troubled.

I know that this was the experience of my elder sister Mary.

She was graced an opening while walking alone on a beach in Donegal in the West of Ireland. She later came to me while I was living in Leeds to explore what this experience meant. It troubled her. This was because the religious group she belonged to were fundamentalist in their Christian beliefs.

The group dynamic assured her she was opening herself up to the devil by going off alone. This was while she was on retreat. So she shut down the experience. She never spoke about it again.

Going Into Exile

spiritual awakening into exile

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A spiritual awakening experience is threatening because it will take you into exile. This is the meaning of the story of the Flight of the Jews from Egypt.

You are metaphysically speaking a Jew.

Meta. Jews in their highest aspect symbolize divine ideas, or spiritual consciousness. Each individual has his formless and his formed mind, and they seem in the present race consciousness to be hostile one to the other. In Scripture these are referred to as Jew and Gentile. –

You are one of the chosen people. You live in slavery to the dictates of the personal mind—the voice in your head. This metaphorically speaking represents your living in slavery in Egypt. The Pharaoh is your personal mind—your ego.

Then comes the Call to Adventure represented by Moses who is the wisdom KNOWING inside you that calls you to venture into the unknown to find the promised land (THE TRUE SELF).

Egypt represents how you have are taught to think by family, tribe, culture and collective human experience.

Exile from Egype challenges you to leave behind your once excepted belief systems. It will call you into the real experience of authentic faith. This is your willingness to go into the unknown in order that you might be KNOWN THROUGH.

It will challenge you to give up a family, friends, colleagues and groups that you have found support from. This is the meaning of the rather strange instruction by the Master Jesus when he says:-

If any man come to me, and hate not his father, and mother, and wife, and children, and brethren, and sisters, yea, and his own life also, he cannot be my disciple. – Luke 14:6

This seems a rather harsh invitation from the Master of Love.

In this wisdom teaching you are not being invited to hate all those you love. You are, however, being asked to give up any of the unexamined beliefs that come to you from such relationships.

It instructs you to come to discipleship empty. You come empty of self. This is a real challenge because most of us are so attached to what we believe and who we think we are.

The poet Mary Oliver speaks about the necessity to move out of Egypt into the unknown in her poem The Journey

The Journey

One day you finally knew
what you had to do, and began,
though the voices around you
kept shouting
their bad advice —
though the whole house
began to tremble
and you felt the old tug
at your ankles.
“Mend my life!”
each voice cried.
But you didn’t stop.
You knew what you had to do,
though the wind pried
with its stiff fingers
at the very foundations,
though their melancholy
was terrible.
It was already late
enough, and a wild night,
and the road full of fallen
branches and stones.
But little by little,
as you left their voice behind,
the stars began to burn
through the sheets of clouds,
and there was a new voice
which you slowly
recognized as your own,
that kept you company
as you strode deeper and deeper
into the world,
determined to do
the only thing you could do —
determined to save
the only life that you could save.

Mary Oliver

Entering the Shadowlands

spiritual awakening and the shadow

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The grace (or otherwise) of a glimpse of the enlightened experience does not mean that everything in the world becomes rosy. The journey of integration of this revelation begins.

It amazes you that you can be part off, but never apart from, the glory of Love’s forever becoming. The reality, however, is that more often than not, you will return to Egypt and you will once again become enslaved to the overthinking personal mind.

However, if your experience is like mine, you never forget. You have glimpsed the Promised Land, and that is what will forever call you into exile.

After the experience, the cleanup begins.

This is the long period in the desert. This is where you get lost.  I got lost in the addiction to alcohol. This doesn’t mean you will become addicted, but most people get addicted to something even the addiction to spiritual growth and development.

Cleaning up your personal drama and trauma is a lifelong journey. This is the entry into the Shadowlands. It isn’t lovely. However, it teaches you self-love and compassion.

This is provided you do not sink as many do. Witness the epidemic of addiction in all forms from drugs, alcohol, sex, mobile phones and social networks, to name a few.

Shadow work is the work of integration of those unloved aspects of yourself that you use most of your energy in denying. We need this energy of suppression for the experience of abiding in the energy of Presence.

Rumi says this about Shadow work:

Your task is not to seek for Love but to remove all barriers you place in the way—Rumi.

Your identification with the personal sense of the self is the key barrier in the way of love. Your task is to integrate that sense of separateness into Oneness.

Rumi again.

You re a drop in the Ocean and the Ocean in the drop.

You are both personal and universal.

This is the KNOWING of the awakening experience. However, many people get swept away when they the Ocean of Oneness enters the dewdrop, they think themselves to be.

Losing Your Life

spiritual awakening means losing your life

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For those who are ill prepared for the awakening experience it feels like you are disappearing in a personal sense. This is what the mystics refer to as “Dying into Life.”  This is the invitation from all mystics of all times and traditions.

The modern mystic Eckhart Tolle writing in The Power of NOW invites:-

Die before you die so you know there is no death.—Eckhart Tolle

Can you see how popular that invitation is? You don’t hear it preached from the pulpits. Not good for church attendance.

This, however, is also the invitation from the Master Jesus when he says:-

For whosoever will save his life shall lose it: and whosoever will lose his life for my sake shall find it. – Matthew 16:25

We are all trying to maintain our sense of personal self.

This is very understandable because this is who most of us believe ourselves to be. Everyone identifies with the senses and the body.

Spiritual awakening is a paradox.

There is less of you and more of the Universe as you. There is no loss here. You still feel yourself to be you, but it is more infinite than finite. You become an individual of two worlds:-

  • Time and Eternity
  • Personal and Universal
  • Finite and Infinite

This is what will leave you amazed provided you as the dewdrop can withstand being filled with the Ocean. This is the oceanic experience of unconditional love.

You might think you would love to be embraced in the totality of infinite unconditional love but for your ego and your personal sense of self it is death into Life.


Is Spiritual Awakening dangerous

Why Spiritual Awakening is NOT Dangerous.

Tony Cuckson
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