The general trajectory of a spiritual journey

The previously described spiritual journey which was like going up and down a mountain is my own journey. Since everyone’s path is unique, your journey is probably different. But yet, there are certainly some aspects of the journey which are common for most travelers on that path. But what are these? Here, I attempt to describe this journey in the most general terms.

Coming into alignment

Imagine Source as an octopus with millions of arms. At the end of each arm, a string is attached with more or less slack. The string represents our connection to the divine. At the end of each string, there is a little puppet which represents our individual selves.

When there is a lot of slack in the string, then the little puppet has a lot of free will and does not feel the will of Source easily.

As the spiritual journey progresses, the little puppet wakes up to a pull from within, the pull from Source. The string becomes shorter and shorter.
When the string is fairly short, exercising free will becomes more and more difficult.

When the string length is down to zero, then there is no more free will, but always movement in alignment with divine will. In the literature, this has been termed the unitive state or human adulthood.

So, basically, the journey is about coming from ignorance of Source and free will to being in alignment with Source. (Credit for the metaphor of strings with less and less slack goes to one of the Raj channelings by Paul Tuttle).

The permanent falling away of the sense of a separate self

But coming into alignment with divine will is not the end of the journey. Eventually, the sense of a separate self falls away. We are not the separate person experiencing something out there. But as the outside reacts more and more to the inside (our thoughts and emotions) , the distinction between outside and inside fades. We come to see that we are the bubble of experience.

There is the drawing Inner Perspective by Ernst Mach which I want use to illustrate this.
In the picture, we see the room through Ernst Mach’s eyes. One can see part of his left eyebrow, nose, his hands, the rest of his body, and then the rest of the room.

This is similar to what we experience very day. In the 3d world, there is always a bubble of experience or a bubble of incoming physical sensations where our body is on one side of the bubble (and labeled as ‘me’), and the rest of the world on the other side of the bubble (and labeled as ‘not me’).

But what if inside and outside or ‘me’ and ‘not me’ cannot be so clearly distinguished? What if my intent and my thoughts can not only raise my arm but what if they can also influence the weather and summon useful things (like trashbags, for example)? And what if the time gap between the thought and its manifestation in the seemingly outer world gets smaller and smaller? Wouldn’t then our assumption about our reality break down that there is such a clear divide between what is ‘me’ and what is ‘not me’ ?

If the new me is much bigger than the older version of the little me, then what is it?

Out-of-body traveler Jurgen Ziewe described in his books and youtube videos that in the higher realms of consciousness the experience is one of being connected to the content of the bubble of experience.

I think that during the spiritual journey we will come to see ourselves as the entire bubble of experience. Or as Adyashanti once put it along these lines: The normal person looks into the mirror and says ‘That’s me.’ The enlightened one looks at the wall and says ‘That’s me’. (quoted from memory). ( but compare to Adyashanti’s awakening experience :

I personally haven’t experienced this permanent shifting of the sense of self. So, what I wrote here is taken from the experience of others who have experienced enlightenment (like Bernadette Roberts, Suzanne Segal, and Adyashanti). But I had a short flash-insight about it where I felt like my consciousness was an inflated balloon skin and everything which appeared in my bubble of consciousness felt like it was painted on the skin of the balloon. It did not last long. But it changed my understanding of what I am in relation to the seemingly separate world out there.

Coming into alignment and the experience of crisis, breakdown, and breakthrough

The above description of the journey (separateness –> coming into alignment –> falling away of the sense of a separate self) is from a bird’s-eye view.

But what does it feel like from the human perspective? What happens in concrete terms for the little human self? And how does it feel for the person?

Well, for the human part (the little puppet on the end of the string), in the most general terms, the shortening of the string is experienced as a process of change. Something was there before, and then it falls away and is not there anymore. Instead, something new arrives. This can be a voluntary process or an involuntary one. The involuntary process probably feels more traumatic. During the process, on one hand, there is the challenge is to cope with the loss of what once was. And on the other hand, there is the challenge to welcome the new and to find and then follow the direction given by the current in the new phase of life.

Now, this sounds like any process of transformation, crisis, breakdown, breakthrough (here, I am thinking of events in life like burnout, job loss, divorce, illness, death of a loved one, midlife crisis). But if there has been an awakening to the spiritual dimension of life, then the new direction is hopefully not just another adventure in free will, but an alignment with the divine will of Source. For me, it felt like a journey of willfully going about my own goals in life to willingly complying with what spirit wanted me to do. From willfulness to willingness.

But there are several aspects of this journey which I think are probably relevant for most travelers on this path and at which we can look with a magnifying glass. That is what I want to discuss in the next posts on this blog.

14 thoughts on “The general trajectory of a spiritual journey

  1. I have been talking this over with my partner, for the last few days. As you say, each journey is individual, and neither he, nor I are enlightened, but we notice some things in accounts we have read, and our own openings. I will enjoy this new exploration with you.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. This is wonderful that you also have an interest in these questions.
      Exploring this is something which tickles me since some time already. For people who had a near-death experience, for example, there is a certain similarity to their experiences regarding stages and milestones (like going through a tunnel, being greeted by deceased friends and relatives, a life review, the experience of a border, the order to go back to earth, etc.) . These stages in the NDE are independent of the respective belief system. I was wondering whether we can have some similar framework for the spiritual journey. I am glad that you follow along and will be happy to hear your view on these matters.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I think we always have some free will, even if only in how we react to circumstances and events. I do not think Source is controlling us, but rather that we sign up for certain experiences prior to incarnating. I look forward to hearing more!

    hugs, Linda

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks for commenting. Good point. I have to clarify what I meant.
      While we may always have free will, at some point the choice is made to not use the free will to go against the will of Source or the soul.
      Hugs, Karin

      Liked by 1 person

  3. A very interesting post Karin. My last little adventure has me very ‘detached’ , of which I’m still…I won’t say coming to terms with but more just ‘being’…if that makes sense. I’m still unsure as it is quite different from before. When I touched death it wasn’t as a normal NDE where an experience of light, tunnel or chatting with relatives happen but a ‘knowing’ that I had been shown (not experienced) what happens at death before but this time requiring to understand the actual ‘death part’ of at that very moment. I haven’t done my post on it yet but it has been a big change in ‘me?…’I?’…’us?’ ❤️ 🙏🏽 🦋

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thanks for sharing your experience. That sounds dramatic. I am glad that you survived and were able to find some value in the experience. I wish you all the best for your health.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. It seems that to approach such a delicate subject, as how we perceive reality from personal experience, we will have to be ready to explain, define, and re-define what it is we mean, over and over. There are not ready words for this kind of thing in any language, and those used by ancient cultures do not readily translate into the modern idioms. So, I pledge to ask many times what a writing is trying to share, if I do not understand, and to answer many times as well.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Good point. I try to make things clear but please ask when something is not clear to you.
      You are right. There are often no words for certain things on this path, or the same words may mean different things to different people.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. It seems I should preface my views, at this point, before I begin publicly sharing (something I cringe from, but with Karin’s example before me, I will try). I have made up my mind to at least attempt to stand back from my ego, as I speak of what I have come to ‘see’, which does not mean ‘believe’, necessarily, but perhaps means ‘accepted personal experience’. This does not, unfortunately, prevent me from slipping and saying things in a tone that sounds didactic, dictatorial, and dufus-like. I beg forgiveness now, and ask that you call me on any such thing right away.

    My own background developed from a Christian childhood, a Buddhist young life, and a mature life that sees the benefits of Buddhist/Christian/Hindu/Sufi spiritual traditions, and looks to see the same message in them all. I am driven by curiosity as well as a desire for peace. There have been a few openings for me, during practice. I am grateful. I have a long way to go. May it be tomorrow.

    During conversations with my partner this week, we decided that there are too few examples of awakening to read, for us to make any real claims of insight (we are both educated in science, and long for that double blind study with a few thousand participants, sigh). There are some consistencies that we would like to point out though:
    1)There seems to be a profound awakening moment that causes the experiencer to feel a sense of separation from ‘self’.
    2)This moment seems to commonly be proceeded by intense time spent in practice, at some time in their life. By ‘practice’ I mean time in stillness and silence, whether due to a traditional practice or by choice in living.
    3)There seems to be a process of going beyond body/mind, beyond self-hood, and finally beyond all perceivable separation (non-duality).

    Nisargadatta tells us that this process is unperceivable, inexpressible, and can only be described by what it is not. This is talked about in Buddhism as well. (Nete-nete; not this, not that.) He reminds us that the mind is a very poor tool with which to go beyond the mind, but it is all we have.

    Having said all that, there must be many variations (the limitless Dharma doors of Zen). Adyashanti told a story during a retreat about a Canadian woman who came to talk with him. She was playing softball and completely lost her ‘self’ in the outfield. She was unhappy and wanted it back. Someone directed her to go talk with Adyashanti. He explained that she had achieved what many spent their lives seeking, but she was unimpressed and wanted to be the person she used to be. Sadly, once any of us has seen beyond the vail, there is no going back. (Should I be so unlucky!)

    A good source of opening experiences can be found in the book “After the Ecstasy, the Laundry” by Jack Kornfield. It is well written and engaging.

    I welcome anyone to agree or disagree with this small diatribe. Hopefully I have not misquoted or made other errors, but I am certainly capable of that as well. 
    Kind Regards, Kiora

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thanks for sharing your path and your view on the journey.

      That is a good approach to try to see the same message in all the different spiritual traditions.

      Coming from science myself, I can understand the longing for a large-scale double blind study. I think the closest we can come to this is to evaluate many personal accounts.

      Regarding your points, I agree that these apply to many stories of awakening. And, yes, there are many variations. (I remember having heard or read the story about the woman who played softball and lost her previous sense of self).

      The process is difficult to describe with words. It is unperceivable to people watching from the outside. But despite that, we are lucky that the ones on the path usually try to describe the process anyway and that we have many different personal accounts by now.

      Thanks for mentioning the Jack Kornfield book. I remember that I read it a few years ago, but I don‘t have it anymore. I must have given it away during a cleaning out of my bookshelf which got too crowded.

      Thanks for walking along this journey of exploration with me.

      Liked by 1 person

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