More and more people are coming forward and sharing their very personal experience of discovering a spiritual world beyond their dreams, beyond what they could have ever imagined. Meanwhile the divide today between believers and doubters of a spiritual reality is greater then ever. Each group has little room for the other. The existence of a non material reality is beyond doubt for one group while the other side has plenty of doubt that there is anything beyond what can be seen and demonstrated in a scientific lab.
Where most everyone agrees is that those who have been touched by a spiritual awakening (no matter how real or imagined) find little support and guidance to sort things out. The popular media to be "fair and balanced" takes an agnostic approach to nearly everything spiritual. Education, medicine, and even most churches are firmly grounded in the rational world meaning one's personal experience of some other realm is suspect.
A close friend of mine recently asked a leading Jewish Rabbi if he believed in Angels? Even though the Old Testament is full of stories of angels, the rabbi replied,"no." Meanwhile Pope Francis came out as a believer in angels shocking many especially the skeptical modern media.
Believers, people who have had profound personal experiences of the spiritual world find themselves isolated although they may actually be a quiet majority. Many find themselves feeling alien in this world and in conflict in their own inner world trying to figure out how to live after their spiritual awakening? The ongoing debate whether the stories of other realms are real or not is really not that interesting. What is important to them is trying to figure out what exactly did they experience and how do they now continue living? Their awakening was real,too real. They cannot shut it out or pretend it never happened. They are too deeply touched as they try to manage their new inner life with the ordinary outer life they knew before.
The spiritual realm and material world most discover are far apart, so very different. Spiritual awakening opens a door to a place of no boundaries. Awareness finds itself spreading forever in a warm and very accepting space. Meanwhile we are living in a world full of boundaries. From personal boundaries to international borders, our everyday world is all about boundaries. From a reality of spreading seemingly forever in a great peace, people who have had a spiritual awakening find themselves back into a world of fences, defenses, rules and expectations. Which world do they really belong to?
The spiritual realm is one of unconditional, an overwhelming love. Almost by definition a spiritual awakening is to find love and more love, an intimacy beyond words. Meanwhile we live in a world where love can be a one night stand, what we do or don't do for one another. Love is rarely without some condition. We live in a world where judging others is much more common then finding the humility to look inward at ourselves and find kindness and compassion for all. Spiritual awakening is discovering a world which its very essence is kindness and compassion. How does one live knowing both worlds?
There is a vastness and great freedom of thought, feeling, and movement in a spiritual awakening. Life is truly without limits. But once back in our normal world, life feels very confining with few choices. Creativity suddenly has narrowed and the physical world can be like shackles on the power of love and imagination. There is such a big difference between the expansive spiritual experience and being confined to all the rules and limits of normal living. A practical life of thinking and doing can be so contrary to a world of fiery beauty and simply being. Awareness set free in a spiritual awakening is challenged and feels compromised coming back where it is much just getting through the chores of the day. What has happened to the vastness, the infinite freedom?
During a spiritual awakening many realize they are the center of the universe and the universe is centered in them. This is not one's ego shouting from a mountain top but exactly the opposite. They are humbled by the love as it unfolds and continues unfolding from the very center of their being. Spirituality grows inside as the universe opens within, stretching out more and more, spreading forever, beyond planets and stars. Back in our everyday world, life is centered around who has authority, the loudest voice in the room, anything or one who gets our attention. More often then not, we feel as a victim of events and not the creator. This is what is most difficult for people who have had a spiritual experience to try to explain: We create and choose our own reality. In the normal world this seems very insensitive and wrong as if saying all suffering is chosen. But in the spiritual realm after finding such a large universe of unlimited being, in context of this vast self, the parts of life which include suffering are seen in a different perspective.
In the non material realm, there is no time, no hurry, no getting to or returning from. Timelessness is when minutes can be hours. What seemed like eternity may have been just seconds. Awareness so full in each moment, time ceases to exist. Coming back to this world, everything revolves around the calendar, appointments and meetings. We are busy passing time, wasting time, having no time, seemingly waiting forever. We are concerned not only with how soon or how late we are but also how much and how little there is. In the spiritual reality everything is so very present, nothing is missing. Life is more then complete. The spiritual world is wonderfully whole. All answers are present and seemingly any and everything we could want is already given. Awareness is happy and full in and of itself. When God is so present how can their be time, need, or anything separate?
The experience for many people in spiritual awakening includes meeting their spiritual family, guides, and yes, angels. They have come home. Family is reunited, found waiting and excited. It is our loving family. Grumpy grandpa and everyone else are now awakened. There is no desire to run away from home but exactly the opposite. We have finally come home and we do not want to leave. While on our Earthy plane, people are looking for their soul mate or soul family, on the other side everyone is a spiritual partner. How does one live in the normal world after reuniting with family, finding the true meaning of relationships?
The two worlds are so different. The experience of eternity can make the demands of everyday life seem superficial and without meaning. For some weeks I have had conversations with Yolaine Stout president of Aciste. org (The American Center for Spiritually Transformative Experiences). She and others who have had their lives turned upside down with spiritual experiences have much to share and teach us. They describe the challenges living in a culture that is debating whether God exists or not while they try to manage their life changing spiritual experience.
What Yolaine and others are concluding is the best way to live after a spiritual awakening is to embrace the experience. This may throw the old life into turmoil as one seeks new work, activities, friends, maybe even a new partner. But once the heart has been opened there is really only one choice and this is to receive the love and continue loving.
In a spiritual awakening colors are more bright, thoughts are more clear, the filter of the mind has been put aside opening true awareness. During the experience, doubts, worries, desires, hopes and problems, all the debris normally floating in and clogging the mind are gone. Awareness without all the stuff normally occupying it, is brilliant, light. Now there are new opportunities to meditate and continue the clearing by receiving our peaceful heart. The awakening experience is an introduction to our awareness in its natural, true state.
The memories of a spiritual awakening can be a beginning point. Seeds have been planted in our life, seeds to nourish and keep growing. In silence, meditation, retreat, taking time to receive more deeply and embrace these memories allows the love to grow inside along with new experience to come forward. The special quality of being in the spiritual awakening is being absorbed in our awareness and slowly into our personality and daily life.
Soaking our awareness in our heart's essence lifts the cloud, the dullness of this world which has settled in our mind and hangs over most of our senses. The calling of eternity is too much to ignore or put limits to. Nothing else offers such richness and joy. In the heart is a space of emptiness which is the vastness of the spiritual world to explore and wonder.
The question often is what do I do now after this experience? Many are finding the answer is to follow the truth of their joy which gives truth and joy to others. Follow your talent for this is where you are bringing beauty and good to everyone.
Life is not about the big things which our minds ponder but the little ways we lift one another. The good life after a spiritual awakening is to remember to turn inward again and again for the answers and more important the pure substance which makes life worth living. Here we are reminded we are a soul.
The inner world which many have had a glimpse of in a spiritual awakening is a message for all of us to keep looking, being, to absorb the heart essence in ourselves and in life itself. There is so much understanding and peace to realize. There is a new frontier. Life after a spiritual awakening is not how much we do in the world but how much love can do within us. We are called to be an anchor of love. The presence of love and purposefulness are one and the same.
Bruce Davis, Ph.D. is retreat leader at Silent Stay Retreats in Napa, California and Assisi, Italy where people come to explore the landscape of their own spiritual awakening.