Walking any spiritual path takes courage. There are several scary but true spiritual truths that anyone with a deep desire to 'wake up' will usually encounter along the way. But be warned, these truths are not for the faint-hearted or those only interested in dabbling in spirituality as some kind of hobby. They are also not for people that are content with only gathering ego-pleasing concepts on enlightenment. The ego may reject or dismiss these truths and provide convincing reasons for doing so, or they may inspire some pretty challenging questions or possibilities. But for those of us who are genuinely serious about self-awakening, they offer a helpful guide for knowing you are on track and doing the inner work required.
1. Who you think you are doesn't exist
You are the permanently present underlying Self that exists beyond the temporary identities conjured up by the thinking mind.
Most people are having an identity crisis because they believe they are someone or something that, in reality, they are not. They think they are the voice in their head and, as a result, rely on what it says to an unhealthy degree for defining who they are and what they’re capable of. They think they are what they emotionally feel. They think they are their body, having identified with it from an early age. Or they think they are their relationship status, job title, religious affiliation... or the other labels they’ve found to help define who they are. As all of these identities are temporary and can change they are not and have never been who you really are. Instead, you are the permanent and unchanging Self and any true spiritual path will be focused on enabling you to Know Thy Self.
2. You need to be willing to be nobody
Your ego needs to be somebody - to be important, powerful and gain possessions, praise and prestige. Your real Self knows it is nobody and one with everything.
The ego is a collection of thoughts from which we gain our identity and therefore, our sense of self. The ego can be very convincing at telling us who we are. 'When on a spiritual path, it is vital that we are willing to let go of any and all mental constructs that create the impression of being a separate somebody. The ego is petrified of not existing and will go to great lengths to try to convince you that if you let go of the ideas of who you think you are, then your demise will quickly follow. In the simplest of terms, to spiritually awaken one need to be willing to be nobody. But there's no need to worry, when you let of the ego-based ideas of the separate mind-made self, you experience the love and wholeness of the unified-real Self.
3. You are not an individual you
You are one with source, life, creation, 'God'. When you know and experience oneness, all of your ego-fuelled fears, identities, resistances and attachments can fall away.
Separation is a mind-made illusion that stems from believing you are the voice in your head that sounds like you. The more you identify with the voice in your head, the more the illusion of a separate self is created. If there is a separate 'me' then there's a separate 'you' and a separate external 'life'. But here's what you need to know about that voice in your head and your mind-made version of being a separate self. It is just thoughts. As you continue on your spiritual path you will recognise that you are not your thoughts, that you can let them go, and in doing so, rest into the permanently present unified Self.
There has never been a time or will be a time when you are not one with everything. As you let go of who you think you are, the one consciousness that connects and lives with all of ‘us’ is revealed. By withdrawing your attention from your ego-mind, to instead be fully attentive to the presence of the present moment, your attention becomes aligned with source, life, creation, God. You discover that separation was just an idea and the reality at the heart of life is oneness. Experiencing oneness leads to gentleness, compassion, peace and freedom. You never fear being alone and never need to prove yourself as better, wiser or more special. You see the world with clarity through compassionate eyes – full of love and wisdom. You discover that the ultimate love affair in life is oneness with the still silent infinite presence of the unified Self.
4. You have no past or future
You need to stop defining yourself by your past or relying on the future for hope. Waking up involves living with an undivided awareness of the reality of now.
The holy grail for anyone on a spiritual quest is to live in the here and now. So far as to say that any true spiritual path will have learning how to be present at its heart because waking up is about going beyond the illusions of the thinking mind. Time is a mind-made construct that, in reality, doesn’t exist. Yes there is day and night and time can be useful for catching a movie, yet there is ultimately no such thing as 9 a.m., for example. The past is a collection of memory-based thoughts and the future is only ever fictitious fantasies, also conjured up by the thinking mind. When you recognise that there is no past or future, you stop giving so much attention to past or future based-thoughts. In doing so, you let go of the concept of time to return all of your attention to now and go beyond time's linear borders and boundaries to experience the timeless reality of the present. I often refer to it as ‘real-ity’, as a reminder that this moment is the only ‘time’ that is real.
5. It doesn't matter how you feel
Only your ego-mind cares about how you feel. Your awake Self doesn't care about temporary feelings because it is a permanent presence of peace.
Emotions are also remnants of the past. Shadows of how your mind was made to feel a few moments ago. Take a moment to notice it requires a subtle ‘checking out’ of the present-moment reality to know how you are feeling. For you to know that you are happy or sad, anxious or frustrated, involves engaging in some form of mental activity, i.e. by asking: What am I feeling? and then assigning a mind-made label to the energy. When thinking, your attention leaves the present-moment reality to instead focus on thoughts about the past.
Emotional energy may be within you now. But it exists because of something that happened in your mind a few moments ago. With all of your focus on this moment, you can be aware that you are feeling something, but without the mental constructs of ‘positive’ or ‘negative’. This higher-level attentiveness to the here and now makes you far less interested in or concerned about the temporary emotions passing through. You stop being so fixated on your feelings and therefore don’t have to manage and control them. You become free from having to constantly keep your mind happy. You see, the only part of you that cares about how you are feeling is your ego and you are waking up to live free from the problems produced by this very same ego. An enlightened relationship with your emotions comes from being so filled up by this moment that you don’t care how your mind feels about the past or future. When that happens you are emotionally free.
6. You are not in control
Control is an illusion that stems from the idea that you are an individual that is separate from source, life, creation, 'God'. Thy will is always happening.
Although it can be comforting to think that you are in control, in reality, control is an illusion that comes from the idea that you are not one with everything. I appreciate me saying you are not in control flies in the face of the many self-help books that are encouraging you to 'take control of your destiny' - and the thought of having no control can be rather scary. But before you freak out and try and control some more, take a moment to consider how much easier and enjoyable life might be if you could stop being such a control freak.
Most people invest a huge amount of time, energy and money in trying to control their thoughts, control their emotions, control their physical body and control their external world. They try to control their careers, money, relationships... almost everything - all so they can create a life that they believe will make them happy and safe, eventually. How's that strategy worked for you? Has controlling everything been relaxing? Has it taken you to a place of peace? Does it make you truly happy? Are you free?
What if there is an intelligence (that you are already one with, which is far more intelligent than your individual thinking mind) that is operating through you? An immensely powerful and infinitely creative intelligence that has got your back and is tirelessly creating all that is happening? What if all your attempts to control everything is actually preventing you from more easily having a life beyond what you dream is possible? It boils down to a 'my will' versus 'Thy Will' type-scenario. When you let go of the idea of there being a separate 'me', you are one with source, life, creation, God. From that space of infinite potential and grace, you can see life is unfolding before you and your job is to notice, appreciate and enjoy creation - in all its weird and wonderful ways.
7. You need to surrender everything
You need to be willing let go of your temporary thoughts, feelings, actions and circumstances to fully discover the permanently present underlying Self and reality.
Learning to let go is an absolute must and surrender is at the heart of all true spiritual paths. Learning to let go is a key part of meditation and being calm, happy, well and free. In being willing to let go of your temporary thoughts, emotions and circumstances you can discover what remains permanently. Also, by being willing to let go of any fixed ideas about how your mind, body and life should be, you can fully embrace the love and grace that continuously flows through every moment of existence.
By letting go and letting this moment be, as it is, your mind will naturally be more still. You need to make being calm more important than being right and make peace more important than things going to your plan, for example. If something unexpected or ‘bad’ happens, then do your best to deal with it gracefully and without any rejection of reality. Wishing things hadn’t happened only attaches you to a past that cannot be changed, while pushing back at life only tires you out and puts your peace and prosperity on hold. Surrender is the secret to being still and enjoying a truly successful life - one that you love.
8. Your life may not go to your plan
You need to be willing for source, life, creation, 'God' - which you are one with - to take you to places you don't think you want to go.
Linked with the 'You Are Not In Control' and 'You Need To Surrender Everything' spiritual truths, you need to be willing for your life to go in directions that sit outside the parameters of what your mind may have mapped out. You may think you want to have a house, a life partner, two children and a dog... and end up with none of it. You may think you want to live in a certain town/country, drive a particular model of car, have an ideal amount of money in the bank and a specific type of social life. And again, none of these things may materialise. You need to be willing for any and all life eventualities to happen. Does this sound unappealing?
It depends on what you want. Do you want what you think will make you happy or do you want to be happy? I'm not saying you can't want/have any of these things or work towards achieving them. You can still make plans. But to be spiritually free you need be willing for life to not go to your plan. When you relinquish control and open up to the unexpected, life becomes one big adventure and you experience true abundance. The key is to not be attached to any of it ever happening and let the loving hand of life guide you. Then anything that happens in a bonus and you can't help but align with, and fulfil, your life purpose.
9. There are no external signs of enlightenment
There is no rule book for what an enlightened person looks or acts like. Evidence of awakening is all about the inner experience of your Self.
It is common for us to pick up a vast array of ideas about what 'enlightenment' looks like. Accidentally, we can end up trying to live up to a rather large list of criteria and completely miss the point. We can end up creating a spiritual identity or judge others who we believe can't be conscious due to some external evidence. They can't be enlightened if they aren't vegan. They can't be enlightened if they don't do yoga. They can't be enlightened because they aren't always calm, they don't wear the right clothes, don't have enough crystals or drive an expensive car. Letting go of the ideas you may have relating to the external signs of enlightenment can be a big relief. But even more importantly, recognising that enlightenment is all about the inner journey of exploration of Knowing Thy Self, you stop distracting yourself with external fluff and free your time and attention to work on what's really matters - your inner experience of oneness with source, life, creation, God.
10. Some people may not get you
You may press some people's buttons and they may judge you when you step outside the societal status quo or their ideas of what's 'spiritual'.
Truth isn't always popular, isn't of much interest to the mainstream, yet, and can press some people's buttons; making them uncomfortable - causing them to sometimes project out with negativity. Misery loves misery, like attracts like, and happy people tend to piss off those who are dwelling on what's wrong. I get it, its hard to hear about peace, perfection and heaven if you're anxious, judging everything and living one hell of a life as a result.
Accepting that some people may not get you can be a tricky one. With many people quitting their spiritual path because they don't want to rock the boat and in order to maintain certain relationships. The truth is that you may find certain people (that you love or want to be loved by) may not want to take any kind of spiritual journey with you. They just want a safe and relatively comfortable life. They are happy with hating their a 9-5 job, they are willing to have a few weeks holiday a year to 'get away from it all' and stay within the societal status quo.
Despite this, I urge you to stay committed to your path and not stop, even if some relationships stop being what they used to. Everyone and everything benefits from your choice to wake up.
11. You can't do it on your own
It is wise to have a Teacher so that you don't only rely on your ego-mind to tell you how you are getting on waking up from your ego-mind.
To keep control the ego-mind may try to convince you that you can do it on your own and you don't need a Spiritual Teacher. It will often tell you that you don't want to give your power away or even that the 'era of the guru' is over. To be honest, this is complete bulls**t. There are only a few ways to truly spiritually awaken. One is to be born enlightened. If you didn't, then I'm sorry to say you've missed that boat! Another way is to have a spontaneous spiritual awakening. These kinds of awakenings are more rare than being stuck of lightening so I wouldn't wait for that option either. The third way to wake up is to find someone who already has, and be humble enough to receive on-going guidance from them on how they did it.
My advice would be to find a Teacher who wasn't born awake or didn't spontaneously awaken because they don't necessarily know how they did it. It just happened. So all they can really tell you is what life is like from the 'other side'. This can be helpful, to a point. However, more useful is to learn from someone who knows how they did it. Personally, I wanted someone who had been there, got the t-shirt, lived a 'flawed' life and was humble enough to know they are still on a journey. Every day I'm grateful for having a Teacher in my life who doesn't want to take anything from me, but just wants to give me the most calm, well and free experience of life possible. I know it can be a dent in the ego to admit that you can't do it on your own, but at the same time, how wonderful that you don't need to.
12. You can't figure it out
You may gather cool spiritual concepts along your journey, but you need to go beyond them all to directly experience the truth.
Waking up can be a real head f**k at times! To experience enlightenment is to go beyond the thinking mind and rest in the still silent presence of your awake Self. We are so used to using our mind to think our way through life; to think about how to fix, change, improve and achieve stuff. We are so used to the idea of 'good things coming to those who wait' and believing anything good must involve effort, doing, and the passage of time. But to wake up, we are less mind-and-time-orientated and more present-moment-experience focused. It takes no effort to be what you natural Self. It takes no time to arrive to the now.
You need to be willing to let go of thinking and the past and future otherwise spiritual awakening can become very confusing and only a gathering of spiritual concepts. With some spiritual concepts being very enticing to think at length about to fully 'understand', it can be easy to believe that you need to find the 'missing piece of advice' that will finally make everything clear and catapult you into enlightenment. The truth is there is ultimately nothing to understand. There is nowhere to go. There is no concept that you need. There is nothing you need to figure out. You need to be more attracted to the moment, than your mind, and stop waiting until later.
13. Your spiritual path has no end
Source, life, creation, 'God' is infinite. There is always more peace, love and joy to be experienced. Your exploration of your Self is therefore endless.
Be weary of anyone who tells you they are enlightened. How would they know, really? 'Yep, I'm enlightened, I've arrived at the destination', says the ego mind. How rubbish would it be if you did all that 'work' to wake up and then you reached the limits of love or the outer parameters of peace? That would suck! Isn't it a more appealing prospect to know there is always more? Yes, when you have transcended the limitations of the ego-mind and are resting fully aware of the divine presence of the present moment, you tend to experience peace, love, joy, freedom and oneness... But there is no concept of 'I'm enlightened'. In reality, you realise that the 'me' that you once thought you were didn't become enlightened.
When living from this free space, you don't care if you are enlightened or not. You have no desire to leave the moment to engage in any thought. You are empty. Zero. Yet, you are full and infinite. It makes no sense, it no longer needs to. This one conscious and alive space, that you now know you are, has no end, and it is so exciting to wake up every day to keep exploring.
SUMMARY : The 13 Scary But True Spiritual Truths
Who you think you are doesn't exist - You are the permanently present underlying Self that exists beyond the temporary identities conjured up by the thinking mind.
You need to be willing to be nobody - Your ego needs to be somebody - to be important, powerful and gain possessions, praise and prestige. Your real Self knows it is nobody and one with everything.
You are not an individual you - You are one with source, life, creation, 'God'. When you know and experience oneness your ego-fuelled fears, identities, resistances and attachments can fall away.
You have no past or future - You need to stop defining yourself by your past or relying on the future for hope. Waking up spiritually involves living with an undivided awareness of the reality of now.
It doesn't matter how you feel - Only your ego cares about how you feel. Your awake Self doesn't care about temporary feelings because it is a permanent presence of peace.
You are not in control - Control is an illusion that stems from the idea that you are an individual that is separate from source, life, creation, 'God'. Thy will is always happening.
You need to surrender everything - You need to be willing let go of your temporary thoughts, feelings, actions and circumstances to fully discover the permanently present underlying Self and reality.
Your life may not go to your plan - You need to be willing for source, life, creation, 'God' - which you are one with - to take you to places you don't think you want to go.
There are no external signs of enlightenment - There is no rule book for what an enlightened person looks or acts like. Evidence of awakening is about the inner experience.
Some people may not get you - You may press some people's buttons and they may judge you when you step outside the societal status quo or their ideas of what's 'spiritual'.
You can't do it on your own - It is wise to have a Teacher so that you don't only rely on your ego-mind to tell you how you are getting on waking up from your ego-mind.
You can't figure it out - You may gather cool spiritual concepts along your journey, but you need to go beyond them all to directly experience the truth.
Your spiritual path has no end - Source, life, creation, 'God' is infinite. There is always more peace, love and joy to be experienced. Your exploration of your Self is therefore endless.