The Two-Fold path of AwakeningFrom Awakening to Wholeness
C – The Two-Fold Path of Awakening
Consciously shifting our perspective from the false-self to the true-Self is almost impossible, and even if it does occur, it rarely lasts. Before we can permanently rediscover 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 super-conscious 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.
After we have worked our way through the neutral “tipping-point”, it becomes possible for our sense of identity to gradually or spontaneously shift from the false-self to the true-Self, at which point Being and Becoming unite. This book describes an integrated two-fold path of awakening that can help us to rediscover our true nature and realise our true identity.
Figure 10: The Two-Fold Path of Awakening
Personal Development – Growning Up – Becoming Self
Personal development means “growing up” psychologically, i.e. freeing ourself from the childish, defensive and egotistical programs and reactions that keep us from living an authentic and fully-conscious life. It is the journey of liberating our personal consciousness (or personality) from our ego structures so we can more freely express our true nature.
Personal development involves mastering (not suppressing) our mind, heart and body to free ourself from the fears, inhibitions, conditioned behaviours, reactive emotions, critical judgements and limiting beliefs that keep us from living a happy, peaceful and fulfilled life. 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 life.
There are five main elements to personal development (each of which are 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 point 4).
- Body Awareness: Feeling the blockages, structures and holes within our psyche (with the presence of our soul) to encourage our true nature to unfold. Any associated protecting or coping ego structures will naturally dissolve when they are no longer required.
- Healing & Reintegration: Healing our relationships with our exiled parts (the wounded parts that hold us back and keep us stuck in the past), and re-integrating them (and their associated ego structures) back into the wholeness of our being.
- Conscious Living: On-going present-moment awareness to identify the reactive patterns and programs 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 daily life so that we can feel into them, inquire into them, then heal and reintegrate them.
- Embodying Essential Qualities: Actively encouraging more of our soul’s essential qualities to unfold in our personality. This is achieved by embodying and expressing the qualities we wish to develop. For example: if we want to be more loving, we have to embody 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 permeate down into our personality.
Transpersonal Development – Waking Up – Being Self
Transpersonal development means “waking up” spiritually, i.e. raising our level of consciousness (into the super-conscious) and widening our breadth of consciousness to experience life more fully in the present moment. This is depicted graphically in Figure 11.
Transpersonal development takes us beyond our personal history to connect us with our soul’s true nature and ultimately realise our 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 life. 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 are described in Chapter 6):
- Meditation is about presence and awareness – not absence or escapism. It is about being fully present in our body and fully aware of whatever is occurring within our consciousness. Transcendent states may arise, and the boundaries of the physical body may feel indistinct, but it is primarily about staying present and aware.
- Living Presence is bringing the presence that we discover during meditation into the rest of our life. It is closely connected to the personal development practices of Conscious Living and Embodying Essential Qualities.
- Authentic Prayer: Conventional prayer is asking God for something, but authentic prayer is giving our presence and awareness to God (universal consciousness), to be one with “what is”.
- Spiritual Self-Inquiry is exploring our super-conscious and 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 “right here and now”, so that we can discover 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 our consciousness to evolve and help us to become more authentic. The evolution of human consciousness is optimised by facilitating these natural processes.
Figure 12-left depicts Roberto Assagioli’s egg diagram (Psychosynthesis):
- 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/soul.
- The middle band represents the psychological material (body sensations, perceptions, concepts, beliefs, memories, etc.) that are available to our conscious awareness. The inner circle represents the small part of this that we are normally aware of. This is the realm of the personality and the ego-self.
- The lower band represents the subconscious material (old traumas, memories, repressed emotions, false beliefs, reactive patterns of behaviour, etc.) that normally lie below our conscious awareness. This is the realm of exiles, holes and ego structures.
Figure 12: Egg Diagram – Increased breadth of awareness from practicing presence
Figures 12-centre and 12-right show how “practicing presence” (wide or open focused awareness that encompasses our entire body) expands the breadth of our consciousness, which allows us to experience more of life in the present moment. Our consciousness develops and evolves through experience, so “practicing presence” to increase the breadth of our awareness facilitates the development of our consciousness.
Personal self-inquiry is the conscious exploration of the subconscious, to bring sub-conscious psychological material up into conscious awareness. If self-inquiry is practiced with open focus / body awareness / presence, it expands the natural breadth and “depth” of our conscious awareness (as shown 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 our conscious awareness. If meditation or spiritual self-inquiry are practiced with open focus / body awareness / presence, they expand the natural breadth and “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 consciousness cannot flow freely, which result in 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 we cannot entirely demolish a building while we are still living in it, we cannot entirely dissolve our ego super-structure while the Self is still centred in the personality. The Self has to transcend the personality in order to dissolve the remaining ego structures and master the personality. The Self moves up from the personality triad (body, heart and mind) to the soul triad to complete this final stage of human evolution. The 3 components of the soul triad don’t have English names, but in Sanskrit they are known as Higher Manas, Buddhi and Atma.
- Beyond the Human Kingdom: When the personality is largely clear of ego structures, the polarities that drive the human stage of the evolution of consciousness have been all but neutralised. So the Self can move on from “the human kingdom” to the next stage of its evolutionary journey. The Self is no longer karmically tied to the human kingdom, so physical incarnation becomes optional, but most chose to continue reincarnating to assist the development of humanity.
These topics are described further in Chapters 4 and 7. But for fuller and more technical descriptions of the soul triad, enlightenment and beyond, please refer to my first book, The Science of Spirituality.