stages along the awakening process

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stages along the awakening process

Postby runstrails » Mon Jun 02, 2014 4:56 pm

Here is a very nice blog by Gary Weber (I'm a fan of his) on a study which looked at the stages along the awakening process as it were:
http://happinessbeyondthought.blogspot. ... a-new.html

You can substitute 'awakening' for PNSE (persistent nonsymbolic epiodes) and 'stage' for 'location', I guess.

I thought it might be fun for us to read and see where we fall along the (non) continuum!
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Re: stages along the awakening process

Postby KathleenBrugger » Tue Jun 03, 2014 1:54 am

I'll go first! I'd say I'm somewhere between 1 and 2. The line between those is a little nebulous so it's hard to say for sure.

This passage after the 4 categories seemed to possibly explain some of the discord we see here on the forum:

"I'm Enlightened and you're not"

PNSE is often accompanied with the feeling that one is experiencing a "deeper" or "more true" reality. Folk feel they have been given a deep truth and are unwilling to have these beliefs questioned.

As time passes, this often increases in strength, leading to dogmatism, particularly if they remain in their initial position on the continuum, which most do. They have difficulty accepting that others describing their experiences differently are actually experiencing PNSE.

When asked to compare their experience with those of others, they often state that Jeffery obviously does not understand what a real, valid PNSE is (i.e. only theirs is). This is less likely to occur with those who worked w/many spiritual approaches.
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Re: stages along the awakening process

Postby runstrails » Tue Jun 03, 2014 4:22 am

Hi Kathleen,
Thanks for playing. I re-read it and I agree that the lines are nebulous and the continuum may not be linear. I could relate stuff (not everything though) in all the stages/locations I also like his notion that awakening is ever expanding.

I liked the quote you posted and this one from his post:

Despite the dramatic change in how they experience themselves and the world, the outward appearance and behavior of PNSE folk changes very little, including their mannerisms, politics, food preferences, clothing, etc.

Co-workers, family and friends do not seem to see much, if any, difference. Many do not discuss their PNSE w/others, even those closest to them. When they did and saw "immense worry and concern", they never brought it up again.

The PNSEs' "personality" and their "individualized sense of self" were clearly different. Even when the "sense of individual self" disappears, the "personality" continues as before.
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Re: stages along the awakening process

Postby KathleenBrugger » Tue Jun 03, 2014 6:23 pm

runstrails wrote:Hi Kathleen,
Thanks for playing. I re-read it and I agree that the lines are nebulous and the continuum may not be linear. I could relate stuff (not everything though) in all the stages/locations I also like his notion that awakening is ever expanding.

I liked the quote you posted and this one from his post:

Despite the dramatic change in how they experience themselves and the world, the outward appearance and behavior of PNSE folk changes very little, including their mannerisms, politics, food preferences, clothing, etc.

Co-workers, family and friends do not seem to see much, if any, difference. Many do not discuss their PNSE w/others, even those closest to them. When they did and saw "immense worry and concern", they never brought it up again.

The PNSEs' "personality" and their "individualized sense of self" were clearly different. Even when the "sense of individual self" disappears, the "personality" continues as before.

To be honest, this quote didn't resonate with me. I feel like my personality has changed a good deal as I have walked my path. It didn't happen right away, in fact I would say it was years before major changes became obvious. And in the last few years family and friends have noticed and commented. (I'm self-employed so that's why I didn't mention co-workers.) The kinds of changes I've experienced: greater tolerance of others shifting now into true appreciation of the wide diversity of humankind, greater patience, slower to anger, less need to be right, compassion for others, less shy, more humility...

I'm not saying I've had a total personality re-do by any stretch, but there has been a lot of change.

I liked the idea that awakening is ever-expanding also. Thank goodness--I like growing! And: there's either growth or decay in the physical world; is it the same way in spirituality/consciousness?
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Re: stages along the awakening process

Postby runstrails » Tue Jun 03, 2014 7:48 pm

Kathleen wrote: The kinds of changes I've experienced: greater tolerance of others shifting now into true appreciation of the wide diversity of humankind, greater patience, slower to anger, less need to be right, compassion for others, less shy, more humility...

This is great and I've experienced similar stuff--but I don't necessarily think of this personality changes. These to me are reflections of a sattvic (calm) mind which has the quiet confidence of knowing its true nature. Personality to me is about likes and dislikes. I still love to run and (but now I do it on trails), I'm still competitive (but more forgiving to myself), my food preferences are essentially the same (I've always loved fruits and veg and chocolate and dessert), my mannerisms are the same, the quote also mentions politics---I do seem to have lost much of my interest in politics (but that had already happened before any spiritual seeking).
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Re: stages along the awakening process

Postby Onceler » Tue Jun 03, 2014 8:55 pm

I found it interesting that dogmatism, a sense that one has a truer experience than others, was associated with location one.

I don't notice a loss of self identified thought and conceptualization as much as a loss of fear and anxiety.....negative emotions. I am not as identified with these states. I do get the quicker processing of emotions or more space around emotional energy. I also am more aware of triggers and conditioning, but with more space around that as well.

I agree that this seems less a linear process and more like expanding and contracting in many directions.
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Re: stages along the awakening process

Postby KathleenBrugger » Wed Jun 04, 2014 12:18 am

runstrails wrote:
Kathleen wrote: The kinds of changes I've experienced: greater tolerance of others shifting now into true appreciation of the wide diversity of humankind, greater patience, slower to anger, less need to be right, compassion for others, less shy, more humility...

This is great and I've experienced similar stuff--but I don't necessarily think of this personality changes. These to me are reflections of a sattvic (calm) mind which has the quiet confidence of knowing its true nature. Personality to me is about likes and dislikes. I still love to run and (but now I do it on trails), I'm still competitive (but more forgiving to myself), my food preferences are essentially the same (I've always loved fruits and veg and chocolate and dessert), my mannerisms are the same, the quote also mentions politics---I do seem to have lost much of my interest in politics (but that had already happened before any spiritual seeking).

I'll accept the explanation that my changes are a reflection of a calm mind. :D (What was that about humility?) I guess it's just different ideas about what personality encompasses. Certainly my likes and dislikes haven't changed much.
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Re: stages along the awakening process

Postby Sighclone » Wed Jun 04, 2014 7:20 am

Gary Weber is a friend. I have seen him demonstrate many feelings. But that is "my seeing of expressions and statements and body language," not his experience of those feelings or non-experience of feelings. Nisargadatta was testy at times. Gary's personality is radiant and diverse, generally sparkling with wit and intelligence. Of course, I did not know him before his shift. The Martin study is solid so far as it can be, given the metrics and tools we have today.

I think "backsliding" is possible. I have spent about the last month revisiting my egoic-identity life. But I did it consciously. In this "conscious regression," the revisiting of "old Andy" reminded me of how empty and "self-conscious" that place was. I carried with me, on that backwards path, the Witness. I'm certainly not at stage 4 where there is no sense of agency. But I can sense it from here. The Witness is me, is "where I am" most of the time. That means that while I flow into and out of conversations, there is an awareness of all of it, and in that awareness, a kind of sense of the compassion and intimacy present or not present in the others. I think we all have that sense, surely, to some degree. But for me these days, it is kind of all that is going on in relationships. Even with paperboys. Or with appliance parts clerks on the phone. But, in personality terms, I've always been "Mr. Supernice," generally.

I agree with the sense of self not being limited to the body as being a relatively new development, say the last 6 years. It's a very relaxing sense of unity, for sure.

Andy
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Re: stages along the awakening process

Postby KathleenBrugger » Sat Jun 07, 2014 10:05 pm

runstrails wrote:
Kathleen wrote: The kinds of changes I've experienced: greater tolerance of others shifting now into true appreciation of the wide diversity of humankind, greater patience, slower to anger, less need to be right, compassion for others, less shy, more humility...

This is great and I've experienced similar stuff--but I don't necessarily think of this personality changes. These to me are reflections of a sattvic (calm) mind which has the quiet confidence of knowing its true nature. Personality to me is about likes and dislikes. I still love to run and (but now I do it on trails), I'm still competitive (but more forgiving to myself), my food preferences are essentially the same (I've always loved fruits and veg and chocolate and dessert), my mannerisms are the same, the quote also mentions politics---I do seem to have lost much of my interest in politics (but that had already happened before any spiritual seeking).

I have been thinking about personality and what you wrote here a lot, rt. I have always thought of personality as a collection of traits, and if you google "personality traits" you get a long list of positives and negatives. There's angry, cynical, self-centered, shy, adventurous, charming, etc. "Personality" is often defined as "characteristic patterns of thinking, feeling and behaving." What you got me thinking about is the possibility that a lot of these so-called traits are actually just manifestations of a disordered, overactive mind. A person doesn't have an angry personality, they are angry because they are confused about reality (insane, in my terminology). Their conditioned mind means their characteristic pattern of interacting with the world is through anger, but that's not anything fundamental about the person; it just means they're asleep.

This is liberating because when you say someone has certain personality traits, it sounds as if they're stuck as that type of person. But if on the other hand, these traits are just manifestations of confusion, we can let them go. Then what's left are the likes and dislikes you mention. Plus the "characteristic patterns of thinking, feeling, and behaving" that go along with a calm mind--love, caring, compassion, tolerance, humility, etc. Probably a lot of the positive traits on those personality-trait list would follow here.
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Re: stages along the awakening process

Postby runstrails » Sun Jun 08, 2014 12:32 am

Kathleen wrote: I have been thinking about personality and what you wrote here a lot, rt. I have always thought of personality as a collection of traits, and if you google "personality traits" you get a long list of positives and negatives. There's angry, cynical, self-centered, shy, adventurous, charming, etc. "Personality" is often defined as "characteristic patterns of thinking, feeling and behaving." What you got me thinking about is the possibility that a lot of these so-called traits are actually just manifestations of a disordered, overactive mind. A person doesn't have an angry personality, they are angry because they are confused about reality (insane, in my terminology). Their conditioned mind means their characteristic pattern of interacting with the world is through anger, but that's not anything fundamental about the person; it just means they're asleep.

This is liberating because when you say someone has certain personality traits, it sounds as if they're stuck as that type of person. But if on the other hand, these traits are just manifestations of confusion, we can let them go. Then what's left are the likes and dislikes you mention. Plus the "characteristic patterns of thinking, feeling, and behaving" that go along with a calm mind--love, caring, compassion, tolerance, humility, etc. Probably a lot of the positive traits on those personality-trait list would follow here.


Great post, Kathleen and you said it much better than me. But that is exactly what I was meaning.

A lot of what we think of as personality traits like 'angry, fearful, even courageous' are simply reflections of mental confusion when there is intense identification with the ego. After self-realization, they tend to go away as personality traits because the mind is generally calm and peaceful. But these emotions of anger and fear can still be there in situations when they are relevant. For example, I saw a bear as I was running the other day and I was certainly not going to approach it! The fear was useful there. Similarly, if one saw an animal being hit, then one would feel anger and it would be the right emotion so one might prevent further hitting. But one would not say that 'fear' or 'anger' is part of the personality anymore. These emotions come and go. Sometimes, I see fear and anger arising out of habit---but when there is nothing to feed it---it dissipates.

Then there is something like 'shyness' which may be considered a personality trait. But even that is secondary to fear and mental confusion. After awakening, most people seem to lose that shyness---as that fear (and anxiety) are gone. But they may never actively choose large impersonal gatherings (because that part of their 'likes' and 'dislikes' remains).

So the full range of emotions are always available. But they don't define the ego anymore. So you are able to use these emotions as needed and that's a good thing because we are human afterall. Even the Buddha cried when he heard his family had been killed and the Dalai Lama expressed great sadness on his brother's death.
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Re: stages along the awakening process

Postby KathleenBrugger » Mon Jun 09, 2014 9:07 pm

runstrails wrote:A lot of what we think of as personality traits like 'angry, fearful, even courageous' are simply reflections of mental confusion when there is intense identification with the ego. After self-realization, they tend to go away as personality traits because the mind is generally calm and peaceful. But these emotions of anger and fear can still be there in situations when they are relevant. For example, I saw a bear as I was running the other day and I was certainly not going to approach it! The fear was useful there. Similarly, if one saw an animal being hit, then one would feel anger and it would be the right emotion so one might prevent further hitting. But one would not say that 'fear' or 'anger' is part of the personality anymore. These emotions come and go. Sometimes, I see fear and anger arising out of habit---but when there is nothing to feed it---it dissipates.

Then there is something like 'shyness' which may be considered a personality trait. But even that is secondary to fear and mental confusion. After awakening, most people seem to lose that shyness---as that fear (and anxiety) are gone. But they may never actively choose large impersonal gatherings (because that part of their 'likes' and 'dislikes' remains).

So the full range of emotions are always available. But they don't define the ego anymore. So you are able to use these emotions as needed and that's a good thing because we are human afterall. Even the Buddha cried when he heard his family had been killed and the Dalai Lama expressed great sadness on his brother's death.

The word personality is derived from the Latin word persona, which “referred to a theatrical mask work by performers in order to either project different roles or disguise their identities.” This is how I have thought of personality: a projection by the ego-identity of an act, or role, that is shaped by our conditioning. This act is what we use to survive in a world filled with people operating as their acts—I have an image in mind of our projected personalities as jousting poles; most of our interactions are basically jousting sessions. That’s why we feel so tired at the end of the day.

As we awaken we have less need of that projection, we feel safe just being who we are; and more and more “traits,” like shyness, fall away. Christopher Isherwood (a screenwriter in the 1940s and 50s), wrote a book called My Guru and I. He said that people who met his guru, Swami Prabhavananda, all used strikingly similar language to express their experience, something like: “you could see him more clearly, because he didn’t have a personality getting in the way.”

And absolutely the fight/flight reflex is an important component of our form-survival—how cool that you saw a bear, btw! In We Are All Innocent I talk about an alternative to fight/flight: face. By “face” I mean acceptance of the way it is. It sounds like your initial sensation of fear when you saw the bear turned quickly to face; you accepted its presence and just stayed out of its way. Many people panic when they see a bear and start screaming; often this kind of reaction is what draws negative consequences.

Once I was picking blackberries and came within a couple of feet of a rattlesnake. I had been living in the country for years and had learned to look for snakes under blackberry brambles and to be calm in the woods, so I saw her before I got too close for the snake’s comfort. I also recognized that the snake had no interest in me: she didn’t want to move and waste the time she had spent camouflaging her position. So I slowly backed away as we looked each other in the eye and she never even raised her tail in alarm. But if I had panicked and started screaming, I imagine the snake would have reacted in fear also and moved to attack me.

But if you panic that doesn’t mean you have a cowardly or panicky personality, it just means you have an overactive mind!
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Re: stages along the awakening process

Postby snowheight » Tue Jun 10, 2014 2:29 am

Emotions happen.

As does the denial of them.
Stop talking. Hear every sound as background. Look straight ahead and focus. Take one deep breath. This is you. This is Now.
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Re: stages along the awakening process

Postby snowheight » Tue Jun 10, 2014 2:35 am

Hey. Anyone got PNSE envy?? Image
Stop talking. Hear every sound as background. Look straight ahead and focus. Take one deep breath. This is you. This is Now.
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Re: stages along the awakening process

Postby Sighclone » Tue Jun 10, 2014 3:01 am

The problem with personalities is that we tend to think that's who we are. They emerge and transform over time, and they are still "us." In fact, not having one is called "depersonalized," a big bad diagnosis in the DSM. When we discover that there's a lot more going on in our consciousness there is a period of disorientation, at least there was for me, and a flurry of questions. The mind goes nuts. Awakening experiences are nonmental. And can be real embarrassing...one moment you are perfectly normal, bumping along in your "life." Then suddenly you recognize that your life and everyone else's is being performed on a stage. The waking dream...a shared, agreed dream. And your personality/ego is the main player in your version of, as heidi says "the big movie." Thankfully, in that disorientation I ended up here, and got several calming PMs from the moderators. I probed kiki: "who are you?" He answered with a description of his life, beginning with the phrase, "In form, I am..." And in form, we have autobiographies and personalities and hang-ups and neuroses, etc. And a whole bunch of automatic responses to various stimuli.

There is a desperation in identifying with the solitary "little me." In Adya's latest book "Resurrecting Jesus" (reviewed soon here), he reminds us that at the Council of Nicea in AD 325, the Church clarified that Jesus was talking about a "God out there," for a people whose lives and identities are "in here," in this bag of skin...emphasizing and enforcing the separation of men and women from God. Of course, they also added Original Sin to underscore that vast distance, and created a massive fear-based power structure to hopefully move us maybe one inch closer. And persecuted the mystics. Our anguish at the separation isn't really helped by our big powerful mind, either, which grasps at and clings to one religion after another. So there we are, stuck with our persona/personality on the Big Stage of Life which offers only moments of peace and little glimpses of Unity. It's fine to walk around in all this "Andy-ness," being "me." But there is no need to confuse that with Being.

Andy
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