Definition of spiritual awakeness

These days, some people think "spiritual awakening" is a bunch of pseudo-mystical mumbo-jumbo, and I don't blame them, with all the charlatans out there selling snake oil. I'm all for the demystifying of spirituality. So here's maybe the simplest definition of being Awake (bodha, or bodhi) that I've been able to come up with:

Awakeness is no longer looking to the contents of your mind (thoughts and emotions) to define yourself; no longer investing emotional energy in preferences and mental images; no longer projecting your beliefs about reality onto reality (or even no longer having beliefs); in other words, no longer seeing through the lens of the conditioned mind anymore.

This state is real, and many have "attained" it (or, more accurately, "relaxed into it"). It's an innate possibility within every human. Even the above description is easy to misunderstand, however. It's not a state that dismisses the value of the mind (for practical purposes), or that is anti-thinking in any way. It's not even a state, it is just a mode of being in which your set of beliefs and thoughts don't seem any more important, or valid, or real, than anyone else's set, or than what happens to be on the radio at any given moment . . . and certainly not more important than the sound of the rain or the feeling of the sunlight. If something useful pops up in your mind-stream, you use it, just like you would if it popped up on the radio. But you don't let the radio be the primary determining factor in your experience of reality.

When this shift happens to you (which usually takes a few years to complete itself, if it does), you discover, to your delight, that you don't actually need beliefs to navigate the world, and that in fact beliefs got in the way of a much better navigation tool: a feeling-sense of the "currents of energy" (for lack of a better English phrase) in any given situation -- pratibhā, in Sanskrit. Religious folks might call it "letting God guide you" but you don't have to believe in God to experience it. Beliefs, you discover, were standing in for something much more powerful: direct experience. That, at least, is the best I can say it right now.

For more on this topic, see the posts on "The Purpose of the Spiritual Life", dated June 24 and June 27.