Written by Teja Anand (Self realization guide and companion) on Quora
The simple answer is Yes. Our seeming separateness from the One Reality is an illusion; we are always one with That and could never be separate from It, so in essence, we all are as ‘spiritual’ and awake as we are going to get. We may just think/believe we don’t ‘know’ or realize that, yet…which is also an illusion. We are already One.
Going from not knowing to knowing
However, when saying “spiritual awakening,” most people are referring to going from ‘not knowing’ to ‘knowing,’ having a profound realization of that oneness. If the simple answer above was enough to make you realize, to awaken you, to the truth of your nature…question answered. You can stop reading now.
If not, here’s the long answer:
Spiritual “awakenings,” of all different levels
Spiritual “awakenings,” of all different levels, sizes and shapes, are pretty common. Since we are always one with the One Reality (whether we realize it or not,) it’s not surprising that some of that Vastness leaks into our everyday experience – whether in simple meditation, deep devotion to god or religious experiences, altered states through psychedelics, or just walking down the street or through the woods and being overwhelmed with the perfection of everything.
Everytime your sense of separateness and self absorption gives way to a more global experience of feeling the oneness and perfection of all of Life, you are having a ‘spiritual awakening.’ It can last a moment, a week or many years, and depending on how long you remain in that state or how intense it is, you may say you’re having a ‘new attitude,’ a big ‘spiritual awakening,’ or you are now fully enlightened.
But what matters is the experience you’re having, not the label you attach to it…and that last label, ‘fully enlightened,’ is almost always wrong. Other profound ‘spiritual’ experiences may follow:
Self-Realization is when you now identify yourself, completely and fully, as your Real Self, and no longer identify with the individual ego self you have overlaid on it for all these decades. You still see the ego, that sense of personal individuality, but know it’s not your true Self, and the ego starts to dissolve at this point. This level of awakening is less common
Non-Duality and No-Self awakenings
Non-Duality and No-Self awakenings are also possible. You become directly, experientially (not intellectually) clear that all phenomena are just an illusory projection, with no real substance or permanence to them. Your sense of self and being the do-er of you’re actions disappears completely, and instead of there still being a “you” that is aware of pure Being or the One Reality at the core of all illusory duality, there is only Being and Oneness.
In the No-Self experience, you can no longer find a personal identity anywhere inside or outside of you. Things are just happening, actions are taking place – the bills get paid, the kids get driven to school, the dinner gets cooked – but you can no longer locate a do-er that’s doing these things. This is much more rare, and can last for many years. Those years can be filled with ecstasy or fear & anxiety, or both, depending on how much you let go into it and avoid pathologizing it., i.e., concluding there’s “something ‘wrong’ with you.”
Enlightenment is indescribable
Enlightenment is indescribable, because all these previous experiences and levels of ‘spiritual awakening’ disappear, and in many ways, things seem very mundane and ‘un-spiritual’ again. All duality between illusion and Reality, enlightened and unenlightened, awake and unawake, being “special” and normal, even between duality and non-duality, disappears and even enlightenment itself is seen for the concept it always was. Life is just life, and an indescribable peace and surrender floods you, because you are no longer arguing with Life exactly as it is, no longer searching, seeking, looking for answers that will lead you to a better ‘state.’
Awakening into this full Buddhahood is extremely rare, but does it matter? If the simple answer I gave in the first paragraph is true, that the true ‘you’ is already inseparable from Life and True Reality, it couldn’t possibly matter less.
As Suzanne Segal once said, “If the Vastness is the Vastness, where could you go, where you could possibly exist outside that all inclusive Vastness?”
So different levels of awakenings go off all over the world’s population, like popcorn, and every person will have some, either in life or when they re-merge with that Reality at death, whether they are conscious of it or not. As an ‘individual human,’ it certainly seems more fun when you experience these changes consciously. As the One Fully Awake Reality you already are, it’s a moot point.