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Spiritual Awakening / Enlightenment [Meaning & Explanation]

Spiritual Awakening / Enlightenment [Meaning & Explanation]

What is spiritual awakening or enlightenment, and when were you spiritually awakened? In this article, let’s zoom in on the meanings of awakening, your spiritual awakening and how you can ‘achieve’ this. 

Want to awaken spiritually? Then we have to awaken twice every day

Awakening does not only mean getting out of bed … Even when I wake up in the morning and am completely fresh and awake, I still sometimes have thoughts in which I am in a different time and space. So actually, just like when I am sleeping at night, I am not awake during the day either, even though I am physically 100% awake.

We don’t just dream when we’re tired and in bed. So we have to wake up twice in a day. This is the awakening we are talking about here.

Where exactly do we wake up from?

spiritual awakening

One of those dreams that we awaken from is the dream of the pain body, or ego . That ego does everything it can to blind us, and it even gets ‘satisfaction’ from being unhappy and isolated. This story of ‘yourself’ (ego) is dreamed by consciousness, and the good news is that consciousness wants to wake up!

When that ‘waking up’ happens, you realize: you are not the character. You are the dreamer of the character, the creator of the character. You made it all up. Know yourself as that consciousness. You are the dreamer. So you are not the dream. So you are not your thoughts.

How do we wake up from the dream?

The dream seems so real too! How do we get out? Below we will discuss a number of perspectives and methods for spiritual awakening. However, they all have one thing in common: only  the present moment can set us free. That is the awakening. And in the here-and-now you can come through meditation , among other things ! Anyway, let’s start with the different angles of awakening …

Meaning 1 – Awakening is actuallt not to engage with awakening

spiritual awakening

You cannot wake up spiritually. It’s impossible. Awakened people and enlightened people do not exist. Anyone who thinks he has, or will be, awakened is far from awakened.

You become “spiritually unhappy” when you see yourself as enlightened.

Because with the thought ‘I am awakened’ there is an ‘ I ‘ in the game that ‘ awakens ‘. “I” and “awakened” are two separate things.  There is then immediately no unity anymore.

That ‘I’, or ego, actually does not exist. The separated individual does not ‘exist’. Therefore it cannot awaken. The concept of awakened, enlightened people is still part of the dream. Feeling awakened is a dream awakening . It is an illusion .

Don’t strive for it. It’s already there. Here. Now. And there is no ‘someone’ doing that ‘awakening’. Awakening is everywhere, here, now … as oneness.

So “I am awakened” or “I am seeking awakening” is a dual thought. In order to determine that someone is awake, there must be a ‘someone’ who is awake. So there is a separate  “someone.” This is by definition a split, or dual, or non-one. So anything but awakening. You can read all about this in this article about non-duality.

If you say, “There is no self here” or, “There is no ego now,” then there must be a “self” to be able to say that. An ego that knows something about itself. So it is by definition dual.

The moment you think you are awake, you are not. Because then there is a ‘you’ who experiences and thinks that. It is split / dual. Because then thought / self consciousness is back again, instead of one, mere consciousness … consciousness itself. 

Babies ‘see’ this. They do not live in separation, but in connection. And they don’t even feel that. There is only what happens. No one says, “I feel connected and one with everything.” There is pure spontaneity … awareness … that which happens.

Just let the unsolved mystery be there. Just don’t know anything. Running out of words, thoughts and concepts for things. No more reference points. Like a newborn baby. Then you cannot possibly know that you are awake.

Non-duality is a free fall into not knowing. It’s wonderful: have no idea what’s going to happen. There is nothing to understand. Let life surprise you. Wake up every morning like a newborn with no past. Everything will happen today exactly as intended.

There are absolutely no words to describe the feeling of connection. Shocking, bewildering, liberating, enlightening, connecting, ecstasy, deep amazement … All those words do not do it justice.

– Jeff Foster

Liberation is therefore not an experience, because liberation is the disappearance of the experiencer. There is only this, here, now. Liberation is relaxed in this, here, now .

To say that I am happy would be a relapse into duality. For example, if you were depressed, the depression would not have disappeared, but the feeling of ‘I’ – a separate individual – has disappeared (and yet it is still there). Total freedom arises.

How does enlightenment feel? That is impossible to put into words, because when that happens – that is, when your separate self falls away – you simply are not there to experience it! There is only consciousness itself. Just what happens. An intimacy beyond words.

The belief that you would finally be enlightened – or even now finally become enlightened after years of meditation and self-understanding – is just another belief. Another concept. An actually enlightened person – which doesn’t even exist – would never even briefly claim to be enlightened. That ‘he’ is then again an ‘I’ that is separate from others … It is just another selfish act of violence that maintains the sense of a separate self .

Don’t be ‘spiritual’. Most spiritual people don’t pretend to be spiritual. The more common, the more spiritual. God hides in the obvious. 

And even this paragraph is completely wrong. This entire article is completely wrong. Because they are just words and concepts again.

You cannot engage in it. Don’t strive for enlightenment or feel enlightened, just be . Do not believe the words of this article, such as, “These thoughts am not me.” They are just strings of words. Once it becomes a concept, it is no longer true.

Please don’t understand this article. Otherwise you would just be someone who has collected some concepts of awakening / oneness / non-duality. What should you do then? Rather the opposite: falling into not knowing. In that falling your ego disappears.

Read these words – which are therefore about nothing – with no purpose and search in mind. That search would create yet another pursuit, obscuring the perfectly clear moment now .

You will find what you are looking for when you stop looking.

Incidentally, not striving does not mean that you do nothing. Choose to contribute rather than strive. Striving is about the outcome, contribution is about the way.

Meaning 2 – Spiritual awakening is realizing that the world is your mirror

the world is your mirror awakening

You probably know one of the most powerful role models who has spiritually awakened from a deep ‘sleep’ : Byron Katie . Her awakening has a lot to do with realizing that the world is your mirror. In her book  she presents 4 questions that help you with this awakening, and the 4th question is: “Is your thought about the external object just as true about yourself?” Why does this crucial ‘turning point’ lead to spiritual awakening …?

One of the angles of spiritual awakening is that you realize that everything you experience in the world is actually happening within yourself. The world is your mirror in this way. How does that work?

You probably know the saying: “What you say, you are yourself!” You will be surprised how true this is! If you only see the good qualities in someone, then those good qualities are actually (also) in you. Otherwise you could not have recognized them. If you see bad qualities in someone, those qualities are actually (also) in you.

Everything you experience in the world actually happens within you. Let’s take the example of an object you can see in the world:

  1. Light falls on an object.
  2. The light is reflected.
  3. The light passes through your eye lens.
  4. The image is flipped in your retina.

So where do you see the object? Where is the object now? In you. Where do you hear the object? In you. Where do you see the whole world? In you. Have you ever experienced anything outside of yourself? You experience everything in yourself.
– Sadhguru

Everything you see is a projection that the projector inside you generates. The well-known statement that goes with this is: perception is projection.  It is not that you are here looking at what is there, as if you are photographing it with your eyes. But the thing is, if it weren’t there, you wouldn’t be there either.

Meaning 3 – Spiritual awakening is realizing that you ‘create’ your reality – and therefore the world

spiritual awakening meaning

This is actually a follow-up to the previous angle of spiritual awakening. If you understand the principle of ‘The world is your mirror’, you can meditate and contemplate this a step further … You will then get a sense of spiritual awakening when you realize that you are actually letting the sun shine (because see / project), and that you can actually create peace on Earth by seeing / projecting peace.

you choose (unconsciously) what you see and what you ignore. In principle, what you ignore does not exist for you. And if you are actually one with all other life on Earth, then what you ignore does not exist for all other life on Earth. So when you choose to see / project positive and peaceful things, the world suddenly becomes positive and peaceful. You can see this as a kind of ‘creative power’, and this is where the realization comes from that we are actually God.

Meaning 4 – Spiritual awakening is bringing acceptance to reality

Let’s return to Byron Katie. Her 4 questions lead to an extra realization that you spontaneously awaken: reality is friendly. What happens should be! This can be a somewhat uncomfortable realization, because we often resist reality …

For example, we want our kids so much to tidy up their socks … And because they don’t (reality), we’re going to yell at the people we love the most! The awakening that Byron Katie is talking about is that those kids just let their socks swing and that’s the friendly reality. Then you can ‘create’ the reality in which socks are cleaned up by setting a good example yourself.

The bottom line is that the struggle and resistance cease (“It should be so and so!”) And acceptance and peace develop . Only by having a love for reality. There is quite a difference between an explanation of a few sentences and a full article on Byron Katie’s angle of awakening. Luckily, you can read her complete method in Byron’s article on Katie’s 4 questions  .

Meaning 5 – Realize you’re love and that everything and everyone has a loving intent

spiritual awakening meaning

Another angle to spiritual awakening is when you realize that all behavior of all people ultimately has a positive intention. Namely, fulfilling the basic need for love. However, the ways to experience love can be valuable or worthless.

Once you realize that even the most ‘bad’ behavior of all people has the motive to experience love, you will look around you, feel peace and tranquility in yourself, feel peace and love for everyone, and feel that everything is okay . This is an awakening of love and the illusion that people are bad and not loving his .

We will elaborate on this in a later sense …

Meaning 6 – Spiritual awakening is the purest form of not-thinking

When you realize that there is a voice in your head pretending to be you, you awaken from your unconscious identification with your flow of thought . Awakening and freedom then arises when you realize that you are not the voice of the thinker, but that you are the consciousness behind it and aware of it.

Spiritual awakening is awakening from the dream of thoughts.

Energy that was absorbed in thinking is then released in the now. That is spiritual awakening. You awaken from identification with thinking, forming matter etc. You may also notice that your compulsion to label your experiences and senses disappears. You can then see, hear or touch something without immediately labeling it, naming it something, having a conclusion about it, comparing it to something … You can be by a tree or flower, and just look .

You can see that labeling as the finger pointing to the moon. The lighting of the moon, that’s what it’s all about. You can do and feel that relief . So don’t talk about it. Read more about this in this article about ‘pointing to the moon’.

Awakening is expressed in your actions, among other things. If you want to be so spiritual, generous and of service to the world, then do so. Add action to the word.

Being in spirit ultimately manifests itself in action, thanks to your infinite energy, strength and confidence. There is then no doubt and fear. You act without fear and you dare to go for it!

Meaning 7 – Spiritual awakening is realizing just how ecstatic life really is, here-and-now …

here and now awakening

Reality, existence, is actually beautiful! It’s pure joy. For example, look above you. The stars are a fireworks display: they are a celebration!

You will get a feeling of awakening from a dream. ‘Haven’t I been here before? ‘And then you suddenly decide to step out, in ecstasy and freedom.

Awakening is the realization that the here and now is the answer to all life questions. It is quite clear. This, this moment, is the answer of the answers. You are already in the now. Easy, you just have to realize that raindrops are tapping on your roof now. We are one with that – unity!

But there is no point in holding that. We purposely forget what we really are so that we can experience this awakening again.

Meaning 8 – Spiritual awakening is to detach, accept and embrace the pain & joy of life

The essence of awakening is a deep  embrace  of the imperfect, painful, messy, struggling, and relative nature of human life. Light lives even in this darkness.

Spiritual awakening has everything to do with:

… so that we can discover that we are nowhere near as limited as we thought. That our inner joy does not depend on external things. Stop seeking and discover that by nature you already are happiness – regardless of the ever-changing external things. We are love.

What awakening looks like? Suddenly you let go of everything (ego) …

Jeff Foster aptly captured this in the title of his poetry collection: “The Free Fall in Life.”

Everything will ever dissolve. Your money, power, fame, success and maybe even your memories. Your appearance will become less beautiful, loved ones will die and your body will also fall apart. Life will gradually, or not so gradually, dismantle everything it can dismantle. Awakening means that you face that reality with open eyes.
– Jeff Foster, from ‘The Free Fall in Life’, free translation.

So without resistance. Just fall into that free fall of life, and embrace everything that occurs in it.

Why do we dream the unpleasant dream at all?

spiritual awakening

Why do we dream that unpleasant dream?

Maybe the dream should have been dreamed so that revival could take place and God can know himself through the people, as God. So that It first lost itself in shape, and then woke up from it. And that waking up is so beautiful, that need to wake up.

– Eckhart Tolle

And so the dream is meant to become unpleasant , sooner or later. That unpleasantness is the built-in alarm in the dream: and then you turn to spirituality, and spirituality says, don’t you realize this is a dream?

Awakening is unlearning everything you have learned so that you discover who you really are.

Awakening is actually playing hide and seek: the game of games

What is the first game learned with a baby …?

Hide and seek is the game of life. When our soul landed in our human body during conception, we lost a lot of higher consciousness. This was done completely on purpose so that we could rediscover our higher consciousness. We play hide and seek for it.

We came from the source, and forgot we came from the source so that we can rediscover it.

Only this is a discovery – which no one else makes – which is in fact not even a discovery, because nothing has been found: nothing was ever lost. You have just spent your life searching in all kinds of places and times, while ignoring the absolutely obvious: Awakening / The grace of God / Love has always been in the present moment – welcoming you unconditionally.

There is nothing to realize. It has always been here and it will always be here.

You are already looking at the brilliant light. It is already there now. Suddenly you see it. The experience that you have which is just daily consciousness while pretending to be “it” is “it.”

There is no path to here, because you are already here.

How do you get Satori, enlightenment, Nirvana, liberation, awakening? You already have it. Wanting to get it keeps you from getting it. But it is a privilege to hide from your real self, that is your life game, that is why you think you are your ego so that you can wake up, and when you want to wake up, you will wake up.

What is the effect of spiritual awakening in your daily life?


Your spiritual awakening does not mean that the dream disappears, but the dream does become more pleasant. You don’t lose yourself in it anymore. Your personal life continues (the story of me) but there is now a deeper dimension present. Now you no longer fully believe in the absolute reality of those forms. You no longer look for yourself in the dream. That’s the relief . You let the dream unfold, but you no longer look for a stronger or more complete self in the dream and as that character in that dream. The dream cannot do that for you.

You wake up in the dream and realize that it is a dream, but of course the dream continues. You continue to play the character, but you no longer fully believe in that character of temporary forms. You no longer lose yourself in it. And then you see how pleasant the dream is!

Cosmic Consciousness, Mystical Experience, Moksha, Bodhi, Satori, Nirvana … They all just happen in your daily life.

Nirvana (awakening) is no different from ordinary life. If you think, “Now I have achieved it, now I have succeeded, now I have captured the secret of the universe … And thus now I have peace,” then you only have a false peace: a new illusion.

You do n’t have to go anywhere to find Nirvana. In fact, it was never lost. It is not even an ‘it’ – not an object – but the space in which there is the possibility that there may be objects at all. Nirvana is where you are, that is, if you don’t mind.

Awakening / enlightenment is the state we have always been in – just this, here, now – the state we lose when we look for it in a future where we try to ‘find salvation’ in ‘peace, happiness or freedom’ that must be ‘achieved’. Let the search for happiness fall away from the happiness present in every now moment of your daily life.

Can awakening be learned from a teacher?

The answer is yes, and it is important to understand what I mean by “teacher.” A teacher is not necessarily a person. A teacher / guru can also be an object, situation, book, nature, event or friend. Above all, you can be your own teacher. Ultimately, you project everything you see and learn for yourself …

Once upon a time there was a man who was looking for a guru. He went to a lunchroom, sat at a table, saw a man and thought to himself, “This man looks wise,” and then projected onto this man the idea that this is a guru. He then walked over to him. “I feel there is something special about you.” ‘Oh really? There’s really nothing special about me, I’m just a regular insurance salesman. ‘ “Wow, isn’t it fascinating how modest he is!” The following weeks they met regularly because they had lunch in the same place. And he really is an insurance salesman, and knows nothing about spiritual awakening, and in the end it still leads to the enlightenment of the man who projected him as guru.

Why is a teacher sometimes needed for awakening? It is surprisingly difficult to surprise yourself, and yet being surprised is a wonderful thing. But you cannot plan a surprise for yourself. Someone else can do that for you. The teacher does that.

What is the task of the teacher? The teacher / guru effectively shows the researcher that he already has what he is looking for. Who you really are. Sadhana (meditation) is all about this: stepping out of the illusion that you are only an ego encapsulated within your skin boundaries,

Suffering and waiting is not at all necessary to awaken!


Suppose the teacher says: you are actually the Great Self (Consciousness). Then there is a good chance that you will say that you know intellectually. The problem with this, however, is: you do n’t feel it. You don’t want to feel it because of fear (the ego). You want to continue to suffer and not yet awaken.

You get a method, an exercise, to be able to postpone the awakening and then you say, “Then I will be on the road for a long time and then I may be worthy of it after I suffered long enough.” We were brought up in a society in which we have to earn what we get. “The price of all good things is suffering,” you have learned. Everything is then postponed, because you are afraid of experiencing it right here and now.

True spirituality is not a quest. It’s a way of being.

If you really dared it, you saw it immediately. That alone would be terrible because I should actually be a ‘pathetic little me’ who worked hard for it even longer. I play that role. And to be Buddha, to be something great, I have to suffer for it. ‘

And you can do that suffering. There are ways for that! Those ways have nothing to do with realizing that you are the fundamental Self. You just have access to it now . All you have to do is get off  (of the ego)!

You then find out after an agony that you cannot arrive where you are. You did not dare to be yourself: the Self. So you wanted to get a step higher. Work harder for it. You put it off. And you can postpone it further and further …

Just like the hare who wanted to catch up with the turtle. What slows down the hare is not the hare itself (it can run fast though), but our calculations about how we approach it. We make the calculations more and more complicated the closer we get to the turtle. It’s only the calculations that delay it. The hare can run and overtake the turtle, but the closer it gets to the turtle, the more complicated it makes his calculations.

Likewise, you can calculate yourself out of liberation / awakening, and put it off forever by inventing new intermediate higher steps. But when you get it, you don’t get it but suddenly you see it. It happens instantly. You can see it immediately, whether you have practiced for 30 years or 3 minutes.

You decide how quickly you want to wake up

spiritual awakening

You can wake up at once. From one second to the next. These people laugh at themselves. “Get off, you’re not that man (ego).” The teacher may let you come off.

It doesn’t matter how long you have been traveling in the wrong direction. You can always turn around immediately.

However, if the teacher sees that it doesn’t work, he’ll let you go through the assignments at your leisure. So that, after having suffered enough suffering, frustration and discipline for a long time, you give up and realize: I was there from the beginning and nothing could be realized.

But the teacher is smart: if the long way is the way it should be for you, then that is the way it should be for you. ‘You asked for it. You came to me, I didn’t invite you. You said I want to learn Yoga. Yoga is oneness (non-duality), and you are that. ‘ “I don’t understand that, I don’t feel that, I just understand intellectually.” ‘Oh, you are one of them! I have to satisfy you: the customer is always right. I have to give you all that work to do. ‘

The real crime is you don’t want to admit that you are It (God). (Not in Jehovah’s sense, but metaphorically.)

Some masks have a thin border. An easy method is sufficient for that: ‘Listen, get off (from the ego). Don’t pretend you’re this person, I know who you are! ‘ But most people have thick edges, and they can certainly be cracked.

Alan Watts can speak best of awakening

It is a pleasure to read the words of Alan Watts. He has an eloquent way of talking about awakening. Take a look at his books.

Let’s start a dialogue about spiritual awakening and being spiritual!

You should now have a clear picture of what spiritual awakening is. Above all, let’s turn this into a dialogue. If you want to tell something beautiful, feel free to leave a comment!

About The Author


Hello! Thanks for reading these articles. My intention is to make happiness as simple and clear as posssible. By the way, excuse my English. I am not a native English speaker since I live in Amsterdam. Much appreciated if you use the comments to make suggestions on my grammar. See ya in another blogpost!

1 Comment

  1. Wouter

    Waaaah! Fantastic!
    The world around me is proof of my existence! Never looked so beautifully at a trash can.
    Delicious insights! Thank you