The Two-Fold path of AwakeningFrom Awakening to Wholeness
C – The Two-Fold Path of Awakening
Consciously shifting our awareness directly from the false-self to the true-Self is almost impossible, and even if it does occur, it doesn’t always last. Before we can permanently enter the “authentic” world of our true-Self we need to neutralise the “inauthentic” charge of our false-self. This is achieved by:
- Becoming Self: This is the psychological/personal aspect of the path. It involves dissolving the psychological material (exiles, holes and ego structures) that block the unfoldment and expression of our true nature.
- Being Self: This is the spiritual / transpersonal aspect of the path. It involves aligning with our true-Self and actively expressing our true nature. This develops our association with our true-Self, so that someday we will come to realise that this is who we truly are.
When we pass through the neutral zero-point, our sense of identity spontaneously shifts from the false-self to the true-Self; then Being and Becoming unite. This book describes an integrated two-fold path of awakening that can lead us to enlightenment and beyond:
Figure 10: The Two-Fold Path of Awakening
Personal Development – Growning Up – Becoming Self
Personal development means “growing up” psychologically; i.e. freeing ourselves from the childish, defensive and egotistical programming and reactions that keep us from living fully conscious lives. Personal development is the journey of perfecting the authentic personality. It involves mastering (not repressing) our thoughts, emotions and bodies to free ourselves from the fears, inhibitions, conditioned behaviours, reactive emotions, critical judgements and limiting beliefs that prevent us from living happy, peaceful and fulfilling lives. This is achieved by dissolving the “negative” psychological material that keeps us trapped in these old patterns, and by actively expressing positive qualities in our daily lives.
There are five main elements to personal development (each of which will be described fully in Chapter 4):
- Personal Self-Inquiry: is getting to know and understand our false-self, ego structures and patterns of behaviour so that they can be healed and reintegrated. It is typically done as a standalone practice or therapy, but it can also become an integral part of our life (see Conscious Living).
- Body Awareness: Feeling the blockages, structures and holes in our psyche (with the presence of the soul) to allow our authentic personal qualities to unfold. The associated ego structures then naturally dissolve because they are no longer required.
- Healing & Reintegration: Healing our relationships with our exiled parts (the parts that hold us back and keep us in the past) and re-integrating them (and their associated ego structures) to return our consciousness to wholeness.
- Conscious Living: On-going present-moment awareness to identify the pre-programmed reactive patterns that keep us on autopilot, keep us half-asleep, keep us reacting childishly, keep us from moving on, and keep us from living life fully. It is “live” self-inquiry – identifying issues as they arise in our everyday lives so that they can be inquired into further or healed and reintegrated.
- Embodying Essential Qualities: Actively encouraging more of our essential qualities to unfold in our personality. It is achieved by actually embodying the qualities we wish to develop. For example: if we want to be more loving, we have to become the embodiment of love and actually be more loving. Consciously choosing to be more loving aligns us with the loving presence of our true-Self and allows it to filter down into our personality.
Trasnpersonal Development – Waking Up – Being Self
Transpersonal development means “waking up” spiritually, i.e. raising our level of consciousness (to connect with our true-Self) and widening our breadth of consciousness (to experience life more fully). This is depicted graphically in Figure 11.
Transpersonal development involves re-connecting with, knowing and ultimately realising the true-Self. It is not about transcending the world; it is about bringing higher levels of consciousness down into our being and expressing them in our daily lives. It is about being here as fully as we can in the present moment.
Figure 11: The Spiral Path of Transpersonal Development
There are four main elements to transpersonal development (each of which will be described in Chapter 6):
- Meditation is about presence not absence. It is about being fully present in our bodies – right here; right now. It is not about escapism or transcendence. Transcendent states may arise and the boundaries of our physical body may feel indistinct but we remain 100% present.
- Living Presence is bringing the presence that we discover during meditation into the rest of our lives. It is closely connected to the personal development practices of Conscious Living and Embodying Essential Qualities.
- Prayer: If conventional prayer is asking for something from God, authentic prayer is giving something to God. Giving our presence and awareness to God/Life/Universe to help create “what is”.
- Spiritual Self-Inquiry is getting to know our true-Self. It is not a path that leads us anywhere – it is a path that stops us in our tracks so that we can rediscover who we really are.
An Integral Approach
Personal development and transpersonal development are distinct but not separate – there is considerable overlap and integration. Developing and integrating the personal aspects of our being (mind, heart and body) helps to develop our spiritual aspect (soul), and developing and embodying the spiritual aspect of our being helps to develop our personal aspects. Or put another way – dissolving our ego structures allows our true-nature to express itself more, and embodying more true-nature helps us to discover and dissolve our ego structures more easily. Both approaches synergistically combine to help us to become more authentic and help our consciousness to evolve. The evolution of human consciousness is optimised by facilitating these natural processes.
Figure 12 (left) depicts Roberto Assagioli’s (the creator of Psychosynthesis) egg diagram:
- The upper band represents the super-conscious material (insight, intuition, inspiration, etc.) that normally lies above the reach of our conscious awareness. This is the realm of the Self.
- The middle band represents the psychological material (body sensations, perceptions, concepts, beliefs, memories, etc.) that is available to our conscious awareness. The inner circle represents the small part of this that we are normally aware of.
- The lower band represents the sub-conscious material (old memories, repressed emotions, false beliefs, reactive patterns of behaviour, etc.) that normally lies below our conscious awareness. This is the realm of the false-self and ego structures.
Figure 12: Egg Diagram – Increased breadth of awareness from practicing presence
Figure 12 (centre and right) shows how practicing presence (wide or open focused awareness that includes our entire body) expands the breadth of our consciousness, which allows us to experience more of life. Our consciousness develops and evolves through experience, so increasing the breadth of our awareness by practicing presence facilitates the development of our consciousness.
Personal self-inquiry is the conscious exploration of the sub-conscious; it brings sub-conscious psychological material into conscious awareness. If self-inquiry is practiced with open focus / body awareness / presence, it expands the natural breadth of our conscious awareness and increases the “depth” of our conscious awareness (as represented in Figure 13).
Figure 13: Egg Diagram – Increased breadth and “depth” of awareness from self-inquiry
Meditation and spiritual Self-inquiry are the conscious exploration of the super-conscious; they bring super-conscious insights into conscious awareness. If meditation or spiritual Self-inquiry are practiced with open focus / body awareness / presence, they expand the natural breadth of our conscious awareness and increase the “height” of our conscious awareness (as represented in Figure 14).
Figure 14: Egg Diagram – Increased breadth and “height” of awareness from meditation
The Dynamic Evolution of Consciousness
Consciousness is alive – it needs to flow – and if it doesn’t flow, it stagnates. Consciousness needs to flow Inwards and Outwards, which is the two-fold path. Focusing only on one aspect of life (inner OR outer) means that consciousness cannot flow freely, and the result is an unbalanced life:
- External Focus: Only focused on the ego and the material world, with no interest in the inner (psychological and spiritual) world.
- Internal Focus: Only focused on the spiritual Self and transcendent states, which are of little use in the external world.
Simultaneously focusing on both aspects of life (inner AND outer) creates polarities between which consciousness can flow:
- External to Internal Focus: The personality focuses inwards to become more aligned with the Self so that the blockages (ego structures) between the two dissolve. This aspect of the path is known as personal development (Becoming Self).
- Internal to External Focus: The Self expresses itself and its essential qualities outwards through the personality and into the external world. This aspect of the path is known as transpersonal or spiritual development (Being Self).
Figure 15: Personal Development (Becoming Self) and Transpersonal Development (Being Self)
Consciousness flows more freely as we progress along the two-fold path because there are less ego structures to obstruct the flow. The major milestones on the path are as follows:
- Progressive Awakening occurs as ego structures are gradually dissolved and exiled parts and essential qualities are gradually reintegrated. This process of refining the personality is ongoing, but it cannot be completed from within the personality.
- Enlightenment: Just as you cannot demolish a building while you are still inside it, the last of the ego structures cannot be dissolved while the Self is centred in the personality. The Self has to transcend the personality in order to dissolve the final ego structures and perfect the personality. The Self moves up from the personality triad (Body, Heart and Mind) to the soul triad to complete the final stage of human evolution. The three components of the soul triad don’t have English names, but in Sanskrit they are known as Higher Manas, Buddhi and Atma.
- Beyond Humanity: When the personality is clear of ego structures, the polarities that drive the human stage of the evolution of consciousness have been neutralised. The lack of polarity means that the Self must move onto the next stage of its evolution. The human kingdom is transcended when the ego has been transcended, i.e. all ego structures have been dissolved. From here on, physical incarnation in a human body is optional.
These topics are described further in Chapters 4 and 7. For fuller and more technical description of the higher self, enlightenment and beyond please refer to The Science of Spirituality.