- What Is Awakening?
- The Journey Home – Part 1
Spiritual awakening is one of those things that simply cannot be described in words, for words are human and can but scratch the surface of Spirit. Nevertheless we must try, and so we use metaphors and stories as best we can to paint a picture of an aspect of what it is about. The following metaphor was first used by my dear friend Tobias, and I have expanded upon it based upon my own experience and that of others I know.
Remember that human comprehension, and therefore the stories we tell, are by nature linear, while Spirit is not, and every one of our experiences is different. I invite you to open your imagination as you read, and to allow yourself to feel the bigger picture.
Imagine, if you will, that you are an artist, and that one day you paint the most exquisite and beautiful painting ever created. The colors are so vibrant, the landscape is so real, and the stories depicted are so enticing that you just have to know what it would be like to live inside that painting. So you set an alarm to alert you when you reach a certain point, and you lie down near the painting and drift off to sleep. But it’s not an ordinary sleep, and a part of your consciousness drifts off into the painting.
The moment you enter the painting it comes alive, and instead of being paint on a canvas it becomes a living, breathing, dynamic environment. You find that you are one of the characters you painted into the scene, and that the others have all magically come alive also.
In wonder and fascination you journey through the painting, having experience after experience like nothing you’ve ever dreamed of before. You play games with the others—building empires and things, loving and battling, conquering and making peace, and exploring this dynamic painting in every way you can imagine and many you never imagined before. Sometimes the body you inhabit gets damaged or destroyed, but that’s no problem, for these bodies have a way of replicating themselves and you eagerly pop right back into a new one.
Your experience in the painting is so real and intense that you soon forget it’s just a painting, and that you are the painter, and you don’t realize that with every experience and every choice you add depth, color, vibrancy, and size to the painting. Then your experiences become more difficult, for in forgetting that you are the creator, you lose trust in yourself and become hesitant. You start to see yourself as a victim of everything around you, and the painting begins to feel like a dark and lonely prison instead of a grand and wondrous adventure.
Through experience after experience you journey, and now they’re so intense that you can’t even remember from one body to the next. Sometimes you feel a glimmer of memory, a fleeting intuition that there must be more to all this, and occasionally in quiet moments you feel a deep longing for something you can’t quite define. But then life goes on, and in the intensity you forget.
Sometimes you cry out in loneliness and desperation, and that call is heard deep within the artist asleep by the painting. Everything is OK, and is going exactly the way exactly the way it should, the message comes back, but most often you are so caught up in your own experience that you can’t hear it. Once in awhile though, in a rare moment of opening, you do hear the message, and in that moment a feeling of deep comfort washes over you.
But the message seldom gets through the way it was intended, for within the intensity of the painting you cannot comprehend how everything could be OK. Without realizing it you block that part out and distort the rest into a message from some higher power about how you need to do better, or about how everything would be OK if the people around you would just do better. Over time, as your mind replays and distorts the message even more, you come up with a grand theory of some God in the sky that you’ve displeased, and who just might let you come home if only you and the others can be good enough.
Meanwhile, the people around you are having similar experiences and coming up with their own theories, and over time a few of those theories coalesce into grand religions. But no one can agree upon exactly what God is like or what He wants, and you’ve come to believe that your very existence depends upon you and everyone else getting it right, so now you find yourself battling in earnest with those who used to be your friends and feeling more lonely than ever.
Then one day something new happens. Remember that alarm you set so many eons ago? It starts to sound, for your journey through the painting is nearly complete. A little groggy at first, you the painter begin to wake up. You sit up and look at the painting, and stare in dumbfounded surprise. While you’ve been asleep the painting has expanded to many times its original size and has taken on a vibrancy, depth, and beauty that you never imagined possible. From here you can see—and remember—the entire journey in vivid detail, and from here you can see that it wasn’t a random sequence of experiences at all, but a grand and glorious adventure that has changed the very core of you.
As you stare at the painting, it all starts to come together in your awareness. You remember things you had forgotten long before, including that grand question that drove you to become an artist in the first place: Who am I?
Now, within your journey through this incredible painting, you see the answer to that question. It’s still murky, but it’s starting to form and you see that there’s one final step left. That part of you that’s been in the painting is still there, and you have to integrate it back into you. But that’s more complicated than you might think, for you gave that part of you free choice when you sent it into the painting, and it has forgotten who it is. Now when it feels you, it thinks that you are a scary God that it must worship or a deceitful devil that it must avoid at all costs, or else a figment of its own deluded imagination. Integration with you is the last thing on its mind, and before it can happen you must win back its trust.
As you watch that part of you, you are amazed at how much it has grown over the course of its journey. It doesn’t know it, for it has been through so many intense and traumatic experiences that it has fragmented itself into a billion pieces, and now it thinks it’s just a tiny little being lost in a great big world, subject either to a scary God that could wipe it out in an instant, or to an accident of nature that will one day send it back to the oblivion from which it came.
But now you, the painter, can see the real picture, and you see that through all those experiences it has become far more than you ever were before. The journey has changed the very core and essence of who you are, for you have never really been separate from that part of you in the painting, and now you are overcome with an intense desire to reunite, and to complete your journey in full consciousness of all that you are.
Softly, gently, with great care not to frighten the part of you in the painting, you begin to call. It’s time to come home, dear one. You’ve completed your journey, and you’ve succeeded beyond my wildest expectations. You’ve never done anything wrong. You’ve never truly been lost, for I’ve been with you every step of the way. I am your very essence, and I love you more than you can ever know. Open your heart dear one, and come home.
Now, in the painting, somewhere deep within your being a glimmer of new hope emerges. The message is soft and subtle, just a feeling that your mind distorts, but your way of seeing life slowly begins to change.
Maybe, just maybe, God loves me enough to have created a way for me to come home. Maybe if his son comes and pays the price for my mistakes, God will take me back. Maybe if I meditate long enough and deeply enough, I can find my way back to my Source. Maybe if I just have enough faith, God will somehow make everything OK in the end.
At the same time the longing in your heart becomes stronger than ever, for now you’re starting to feel the presence of all that you are, and more than anything else you want that reunion. You don’t understand that in the painting, and at first you think it’s that God in the sky that you’re feeling. It doesn’t matter though, for now your life in the painting takes a new turn. You turn more inward, and a quest for reunion begins.
Slowly, often over the course of several lifetimes—which are only moments for the painter part of you—you explore this growing new awareness. Once again you dive into the old religions, one after the other, and try to fit your new awareness into their theories about God and life. It doesn’t work, but along the way you discover a few rare teachers who have a new message: The kingdom of heaven, and all that you seek, is within you. That message resonates to the very core of your being, but you don’t understand it and you use it to create brand new theories about God and whole new religions.
You spend more lifetimes battling with others over who has the right theory, or secluded in monasteries trying to make sense of it all. You know you are close. The longing for reunion is almost overwhelming now, but in all that you study the answer eludes you. Finally, in despair and confusion, you give up on the religions and turn your attention to science, and to the study of the painting itself.
Now you decide that the painting is all that exists, and you try to ignore anything that cannot be measured and proved by your five painted-in senses. The painter actually assists with this process and tones down the intensity of the call for a time, for it knows how important this stage is.
Now, for a time, you delve into science, philosophy, medicine, sociology, and all those wonderful things of the painting. Free at last of the preconceived ideas and distortions of religion you soon rediscover the wonder and beauty of life in the painting, and for a time that inner longing is fulfilled in that discovery and exploration. But sooner or later, after a few lifetimes or perhaps only a few years, even that lets you down. There are too many questions that have no answers within the painting, and now the longing comes back stronger than ever. Somewhere deep inside a part of you begins to understand that there is nothing outside of you that can save you, and in that understanding you are at last free to begin the process of your own integration.
Now begins the most joyful part of your journey, and also the most difficult. In reuniting with the painter you must also reunite with every part and aspect of you that you’ve left by the wayside, and that is a difficult and painful process. Every lifetime you’ve ever lived is a part of you that you’ve forgotten. Many you forgot because you were ashamed of them, and now you must face them and find a way to accept and love them, for they are part of you and you can no longer be fragmented.
Moreover, in every one of those lifetimes there are countless parts of you that you disowned, that you ran away from, or that simply got lost and forgotten along the way. Every time you did something that you were later ashamed of, you drove that part of you away. Every time you were raped, beaten, enslaved, or abused in any way, some part of you went into hiding. Every time something happened you didn’t understand, you sent a part of you off to figure it out, and often that part got lost and never returned. Now all those parts of you have heard the call of the painter, and slowly, fearfully, they’re starting to come home to you.
Now the call of the painter intensifies changes, for where you thought that at the end of your journey you would go home to the painter, the painter now understands that home no longer exists for you. That little studio where you first created the painting is now but a speck next to what you have become and there is no way to go back, and now the painter understands that it must come to you in the painting for reunion. In great joy, for it sees that you are ready, it sends out a new call:
You are the Creator that you’ve been seeking, and Home is inside of you. Open your heart now to all that you are, and to all that you have ever been, and you will find all that you seek.
Once again, though you may not be aware of the call and may not even believe there’s anything other than the painting, your perspective changes. You start to see yourself differently, and instead of trying to fix or get rid of all the things you don’t like about yourself, you slowly start to accept them. Partly it comes from desperation, for nothing else has worked, and partly it’s because you’re starting to see the gifts that those parts have for you, but to your surprise you find that when you accept them they transform. When you love them they stop messing up your life, and they become a strength rather than a weakness.
As you begin to accept yourself, all those old parts from the past begin to come in, and with them come memories. Just a few at first, but soon a flood of memories so real that there’s no longer any way to pass them off or explain them away. Slowly the big picture of your journey begins to form in your awareness, and now a new call goes out, this time from you in the painting:
I remember now. Come home to me, all that I am! Come home to me, all those parts of myself that I have banished, forgotten, or tried to destroy! Come home, and let me love you! Come home and let me remember you. Let me feel you, and all that you have been through! For now I understand, and I promise that I will never again try to drive you away. Never again will I be ashamed of you, or try to fix and change you, for you are part of my own being and deserve my love. You have brought me great gifts that I did not understand until now. Come now, and let me thank you. Come home dear, dear, parts of me, and be one with me again!
With that call the choice for full integration is made, and your life changes. The journey continues, and it is often painful and confusing as tired, lonely, and hurting parts of you come in. There are literally billions of them, and as they make their way home you feel them all. You’re not aware at the mental level of each individual one, though a few stand out, but at a deeper level the painter, now within you and no longer separate, is welcoming each and every one. You feel them all, and you feel what they feel, and sometimes it’s so intense that you stop them. But you’ve made your choice, and sooner or later you take a deep breath and open the door again.
With each part of you that comes home you receive not only its pain, but also the gift that it brings. You didn’t know it, but there was a reason why you sent each one out to create whatever experiences it created. Those experiences were so intense that you were afraid to let them back in, but now as you do, their missions are finally fulfilled and their wisdom and gifts are at last integrated within you.
Slowly, as the integration process proceeds, a deep joy fills your being. The longing is gone. A feeling of fulfillment and completion that you have never known fills your being, and you realize that at last you are home, and that you’ve really been home all along. Your awareness increases, and your mind, which until now could not comprehend anything outside of the painting, expands and changes, and gradually you become aware of all the other dimensions of life, and of all that you are.
Now at last the answer to that grand question that drove you to paint in the first place comes clear. It’s difficult to put into words and it can’t really be comprehended by anyone who hasn’t reached this point, but now you feel it throughout all the depths of your being, and you are complete.
Who am I? I am that I am.
And so at last you come fully awake, right here in your own creation. You are the artist, now fully embodied in this little corner of your painting called Earth, and now you are so very much more than you were when you first painted it. Now you are free to walk through your painting in full consciousness, in full awareness of all that you are and all that you’ve learned. Now you are free to love fully, to play, to express, and to enjoy this grand creation of yours however you choose and for as long as you wish, until the day comes when you choose, in full consciousness, to step out of the painting and go on to your next creation.
And what of all those others in the painting? They all began as you, for it was the painter’s essence that animated them all in the painting. But in the act of entering the painting, something magical happened that cannot really be described within the painting. Suffice it to say that each one became its own being, whole and complete unto itself. You could say that each one has been exploring its own painting, and each one will wake up to its own painter and its own fullness when it is ready. A very few already have.
You all began as that one painter, but you never go back. Now you become your own One, your own painter, and everyone else is becoming their own painter too.
Welcome home, dear God!