In his blog post, Tom Stine notes:
The only “criteria” I have for awakening is seeing, truly seeing, beyond the self, the “I”, the “me” that everyone thinks they are. When that is seen through, completely through, it is as if one has awakened from a dream, a dream of self. One then knows oneself as the Unborn as the Buddha would have said. Or we can say Emptiness, Spirit, the Formless.
However, as one great Zen master pointed out, “to encounter the Absolute is not yet enlightenment.” This awakening has to penetrate the entire being. When it does, the person knows through and through the truth: there is only One. Wherever they look, they see One. And this One has the appearance of form but is in fact Formless, Empty. When they look inside themselves, they see Nothing, Emptiness, the Absolute. All is Emptiness, all is One.
As much as I liked the content of this post, in my experience it is precisely here that both students and teachers can potentially get into trouble since this interpretation puts us just past the half way mark of the climb, so to speak. We haven’t come back into the world until we can see and know “the many” both for what it is, and what it is not.
Stine rightly points out that each teacher will approach this differently, but if any of us consciously expresses our living from the One in ways that are deeply integrated, the Many spontaneously shows up as neither distinct nor singular.
I talk about this in Chapter 3.
All boundaries fall away in [the] conscious meeting of Infinity. There is neither this nor that, we might say. All is once and forever the One and the many, all at the same moment.
Neti, Neti! Neither this, nor that!
The implications of this are huge and particularly interesting to egos that are looking for an Omega-point in this process: When am I done? Is that teacher fully awakened?
Stine goes on to say, in a follow up post that discusses Adyashanti’s view of the process
“To encounter the Absolute is not yet Enlightenment.” … The veil parts, but then more is seen through over time. To be certain, this process has been my experience. And yet. And yet, is that even true? While it may appear that a process is occurring, it also seems, to those who reach the endpoint of this process, as if the process never occurred.
There is some great stuff here, and I think Adya pretty much nails the unfolding process of Awakening nicely. But there’s never an endpoint. There are deeper and deeper levels of resonance, but no Omega to this unfolding. None of us is ever absolutely done, fully cooked, totally baked, or completely educated.
From Chapter 6:
None of us will ever be finished with this work. We won’t arrive at some endpoint and be done attaining stillness, since the Universe will keep moving, always showing us that there is more to meet. More grace and resistance to observe and then release.