Aidan’s Infinite Play 9 The Skill of Spiritual Awakening

Aidan’s Infinite Play 9 The Skill of Spiritual Awakening
Photo by Greg Rakozy / Unsplash

I still remember the day that I woke up. I was sitting in the fireplace room of my parents house enjoying a cup of coffee while reading a book called Awareness by Anthony De Mello.

The first paragraph went like this.

"Spirituality means waking up. Most people even though they don't know it are asleep. They're born asleep, they live asleep, they marry in their sleep, they breed children in their sleep, they die in their sleep, without ever waking up. They never understand loveliness and the beauty of this thing we call human existence. Most people never get to see that all is well because they are asleep. They are having a nightmare."

It felt like I was being slapped in the face. My heart skipped a beat. My eyes dilated.

As I read through the rest of the chapter my whole worldview changed. I was all alone in that room that morning, but in reality the entire world had just opened up to me.

I had woken up.

I had become aware of awareness. I realized that I wasn't the name given to me at birth, Aidan Helfant. I wasn't the childhood I had, the school I went to, the hobbies I have, the friends I associate with. I'm not even the thoughts inside of my head.

I'm the awareness behind everything. The experiencer of experience. The one that sees all.

To make the power of this realization more understandable let me tell it through the analogy of sleep.

💤The Lucid Dream Analogy

Imagine you are in a dream. This dream has no end. It goes on day in and day out. Like any dream, it runs on autopilot.

While experiencing it, you feel like you are in control but in reality you are a passenger in the backseat to the whim of the inner workings of your mind.

Only after you have woken up do you realize the experience you just went through. But by then it's too late to have changed anything in the dream and you likely forget it a couple of minutes later, probably never to remember it again.

This is how most people live their real lives.

They go through life falling for the biological and social controls they have been programmed to respond to from their childhood without realizing it's these very controls that are leading a life of misery.

Do well in high school so you can go to a good college so you can get a good degree so you can get a good job so you can support your family so you can retire and have the life you always wanted.

Some of these goals are perfectly rational. I even follow a couple. But to follow them with awareness alongside other personally crafted goals is different to following them while asleep.

When we follow the instructions of our social and genetic coding without question, we relinquish control of consciousness and become helpless playthings of impersonal forces.

Now imagine that during one of these dreams you manage to become lucid. It could be by pure happenstance, an aligning of the fates, or intentional reading and exposure to ideas of spiritual awakening.

Suddenly, you are able to control the dream you have been living your whole life. You can shape the world, create the rules, decide what to do.

You are aware that you are aware.

But like any lucid dream, you eventually wake up. And the next time you enter a dream you have to get lucid again.

This could happen for a whole bunch of different reasons. A bad day at work. A terrible test score. You see a car that reminds you of a broken relationship.

Soon you can find yourself pulled back into the unawareness most people live in.

It takes skill to bring yourself back into the lucid dream in these moments. But it's a skill that can be practiced through activities like reading, Mindfulness Meditation, Yoga and so much more.

In this way spiritually awakening yourself is a habit, a skill that you can build to protect yourself from falling back into doing things without awareness.

Why Don't We Talk More About Spiritual Awakening?

This begs the question: why isn't this talked about more in society?

Unlike communication skills, tennis skills, or academic prowess, the path toward building your skill for spiritual awakening is a largely internal rather than external battle.

You can't give someone insight into the depths of your mind. Everyone is influenced by egocentrism, our tendency to rely on our own perspectives, emotions, and ways of thinking as an indicator of how other people think and feel as well.

For this reason, I believe building your skills of spiritual awakening is one of the most important things you can do.

In fact, I believe it's the central journey of life.

This quote from a book I recently read with my book club at Cornell highlights why:

"Every person’s life is a journey toward himself, the attempt at a journey, the intimation of a path. No person has ever been completely himself, but each one strives to become so, some gropingly, others more lucidly, according to his abilities. Each one carries with him to the end traces of his birth, the slime and eggshells of a primordial world. Many a one never becomes a human being, but remains a frog, lizard, or ant. Many a one is a human being above and a fish below. But each one is a gamble of Nature, a hopeful attempt at forming a human being." - Demian from Demian

Every person's childhood affects them deeply in how they end up acting as an adult.

Your childhood leads to different attachment styles, personalities, hobbies, and so much more. Your adulthood can be seen as a journey to overcome the negative parts of your childhood and bolster the positive ones as you discover the person you truly are.

This isn't easy to do.

We Tend to Stay in Comfort and Run From Uncertainty

Many people react to change and discomfort by reverting to old habitual tendencies and comforts as a form of sheltering. This can make things seem better in the moment but ultimately it's a method of avoidance to discovering oneself.

I say this because I'm being honest. It's been two years since that faithful morning and I still have to battle with awakening every single day.

I can lose focus for just a few minutes and suddenly I'm unaware for the rest of the day. Only when I next wake up do I fully understand everything I have done while asleep.

But like I said, it's a skill. As I wake myself up more and more I get better and better. I hope one day to reach the point of constant spiritual awakening.

And now that you have read this, I hope you can to.

Here's what I would like to share this week.

📸News From The Channel!

How I Organize Obsidian with Maps of Content (MOCs): There has long been a battle over how to organize things inside of Obsidian and the PKM community. Folders, Tags, or Links. I attempt to answer this question definitively today through organizing with Maps of Content (MOCs), an idea originally put forward by Nick Milo in the Obsidian community. I take you through my exact process for creating MOCs with my Happiness MOC and discuss the advantages of organizing in this way.

Ian Helfant: Conflict and Insecurities of Notetaking in Academics: We talked about my dad's experience researching for his thesis and books as an undergraduate without modern-day notetaking tools, what makes researchers interested in their research, the conflict with freer form notetaking and publishing, and how to make your notes accessible to the public as an academic.

Decision Making MOC:: one way of defining wisdom is finding the right solution to the right problem. I recently fleshed out this MOC on decision making after reading a few books on the subject. Explore it!

💡My Best Insights:

📖Book - The Untethered Soul: this book grapples with how to actually build the skill of spiritual awakening. It's where I got the analogy of lucid dreaming from in the beginning. It delves more into the concept of the experiencer, separating from your thoughts, and learning to never close your heart. Check it out!

✍️Blog Post - The Audio Revolution: in this fascinating article, you will learn the difference between hot and cold media, the definition of information, and why YouTube is destroying peoples abilities to be comfortable by themselves. It's an incredible journey which will make you think differently about your relationship to information.

🎙️Podcast - Alonement: How to Be Alone and Happy - Francesca Spectre: Many people come to their relationships out of a psychological need. They use people to fill in the wholes in their self. To mend their insecurities. But this isn't any way to come to a relationship. You should come to relationships because you want to. Not because you need them to fill a part of you. To do this you need to become more comfortable with yourself. I believe that alonement, the skill of finding joy in solitude is one of the most important skills you can build.

📺YouTube Video - How To Build a Life You Love: this video gives an actionable plan for how to learn more about yourself and build the life you love. You identify your most important values and relationships and then conduct experiments on how to work toward building the best consistent day with that in mind.