Last week, I wrote about gradual spiritual experience. It is so named because it comes about so slowly that you don’t realize that it has happened. Often, it’s only when you react differently to an experience that you recognize that something within you has changed.
This week, I am going to write about another type of spiritual experience; one of a sudden nature. This experience is referred to as a “spiritual awakening.”
A spiritual awakening can also be as different as the many folks who have had this experience. But make no mistake about it. It is a direct contact with the Divine.
One can experience this awakening in many ways: through a vision, a thought, a physical manifestation, and other ways. They can take a religious form, meaning one can experience visions of a particular saint, avatar, or hear/see these visions direct them, touch them, heal them. Or it can be a non-religious experience, e.g., a vision of light or lights, seeing the eternal light of others, hearing voices or having feelings of outer body experiences.
Having experienced “awakenings” myself and hearing about the spiritual awakenings of others, I know that, yes, they do change your life forever. But it’s not like you become a saint or can now walk on water.
These experiences are life changing, but they also give you insight to be “In this world, but not of this world.” What I mean is that they help you not become overshadowed by the events that continue to happen in your life, such as abuse, additions, death, illnesses, etc., as I described in the September Ah-Man Newsletter.
Having had as many as twelve near death experiences (that I am aware of), I have experienced intense light, heard voices giving me directions, and experienced intense emotional feelings that have left me both as “high” as a kite and so drained that I could hardly move or talk.
I have also experienced this awakening even when not knocking on heaven’s door. One of the first times I remember experiencing such an awakening was while I was a monk in the Hare Krishna ashram I lived in for several years. While chanting and gazing at the Deities on the altar, a peace came over me like a warm blanket, and tears just rolled out my eyes. All of my external thoughts were gone, and nothing existed but me and the Deities. I felt a peace that enveloped my whole body and consciousness.
Bill Wilson, co-founder of Alcoholics Anonymous, had a spiritual awakening that propelled him into continuous sobriety until his death. Following is Bill W.’s account of the last time he checked himself into a hospital for alcoholism treatment.
“Lying there in conflict, I dropped into the blackest depression I had ever known. Momentarily my prideful depression was crushed. I cried out, ‘Now I am ready to do anything – anything to receive what my friend Ebby has.’ Though I certainly didn't expect anything, I did make this frantic appeal, ‘If there be a God, will He show Himself!’ The result was instant, electric beyond description. The place seemed to light up, blinding white. I knew only ecstasy and seemed on a mountain. A great wind blew, enveloping and penetrating me. To me, it was not of air but of Spirit. Blazing, there came the tremendous thought, ‘you are a free man.’ Then the ecstasy subsided. Still on the bed, I now found myself in a new world of consciousness which was suffused by a Presence. One with the Universe, a great peace came over me. I thought, ‘So this is the God of the preachers, this is the great Reality.’”
Sometimes we try to rationalize this experience and/or deny it, just as Bill W. did, as he describes:
“But soon my so-called reason returned, my modern education took over and I thought I must be crazy and I became terribly frightened.”
This frightening feeling didn’t last. He relates his conversation with a doctor about his experience:
“Dr. Silkworth, a medical saint if ever there was one, came in to hear my trembling account of this phenomenon. After questioning me carefully, he assured me that I was not mad and that perhaps I had undergone a psychic experience which might solve my problem. Skeptical man of science though he then was, this was most kind and astute. If he had of said, ‘hallucination,’ I might now be dead. To him I shall ever be eternally grateful.”
Thank you so much for reading this week’s blog. Please click the Comment link below and share with me your spiritual experience and/or awakening.