by Michael W. Taft
Awakening and psychological growth are largely orthogonal. While one can definitely help the other, they are entirely different things. You can be very awake and still be a total asshole (as well as anxious, depressed, conflicted, avoidant, etc.). From my viewpoint, awakening is just the beginning of the path, and nothing like the end.
Waking up will not solve your psychological issues—which unfortunately is exactly what most people think it will do and are looking for. It will not automatically make you nicer, or make other people like you more. It won’t solve your depression, your obsession, or your narcissism.
You only need to witness the seemingly endless parade of fallen gurus—men (mainly) who have clearly achieved high levels of realization, and yet are still slaves to their flawed personalities—to see the truth of this statement.
Psychological Growth Is Very Important
That said, awakening will make any psychological work you do much easier, because you will be unattached to various habitual ego states. But these don’t often just change on their own. You still have to do the work.
Because we are social beings, entirely embedded in an intersubjective context, the psychological changes you make may be more useful, important, helpful, and ultimately meaningful than the awakening itself (however clear).
From this viewpoint, the work you do to be a kind, helpful, loving, decent human being is much more important than your individual awakening. Awakening may only be important in as much as it helps you to do that.
Gone wrong, awakening just exacerbates your psychological flaws. The worst thing that awakening can do is to make you convinced that your mental fucked-up-ness is somehow helpful and/or some kind of deep teaching for others.
So, by all means, strive for awakening. It is a good thing. But understand that even when you get there*, it is only the beginning.
What do I mean by “awakening”? Find out here.
* And, yes, I know there is no goal, nothing to strive for, etc. etc.
photo by Anissa Wood