Posted by: Sarah Lidsey | October 7, 2009

Shattering the Illusion of Enlightenment

‘Eventually Life comes back to simplicity’ ~ Alan Cohen

Malawi sunsetThe movement that reawakened my heart’s longing for reunion with the Divine started in earnest with a crisis.  I now know that this is not at all unusual.  For some of us it takes a jolt, or serious hardship and trauma, to remind us that many of the goals that we have for a rich and full life are not really real, and that there are deeper places to go than on a hunt for recognition, or for security and material gains.  I was deeply immersed in my career, passionate about my work and keen to get ahead, and looking outside myself for things that gave me pleasure and fulfilled me.  It took a hit from a metaphorical bullet to the heart of my life, which at that point was my work, to catapult me along a totally different path, and an even deeper tremor to shatter all illusion about the nature of the path that I had chosen. 

The ego keeps us in the stranglehold of separation until we start to question the very nature of our beings, and then it fights to the death to maintain its position.  The struggle of the ego is at the core of the journey to rediscover the Truth.  That path might look like a linear journey from A to B, but it will have an order, shape, and form that is unique to each one of us.  Looking back at the signposts can be an interesting exercise in mapping out the road already traveled.  It can also help in opening to a deeper appreciation of the place where you find yourself today, wherever that may be. There is one universal movement for us all though, whenever we meet it – the journey to meet the Beloved is through the center of the heart.  There is no set pattern to this journey, to this process of awakening, though there are distinct markers.  As you read what I have shared here, bear in mind that none of it can be fully and truthfully conveyed in words. It gets conceptualized or intellectualized in the telling and in the receiving, and the Truth can get lost because this path cannot be understood with the mind alone.

My conscious journey took shape when I was seriously challenged to look at what I was creating, how I related to others, and who I had become.  I panicked!  My identity was challenged.  My ego was threatened.  My health deteriorated.  I went looking for some support as my world shook around me, and I found a healer and an iridologist to help me. The first saw to my emotional and spiritual health, the second to my physical. The two of them helped me to keep my balance through what was a tornado of transformation.  With my healer’s help I unwrapped long suppressed emotions and found that my true essence was alive, well, and that I was hungry for spiritual evolution.  Together we stroked my alarmed ego back into a place of comfort while at the same time awakening the true self that had always rested quietly behind the public persona created by the ego’s masks.  With my healer’s help I started to release feelings that I had suppressed for most of my life, and as I started to clear out the boxes of hurt which I had stored in the attics of my existence I began to rest in moments of pure joy. I had little tastes of blissful, expanded consciousness, and I wanted more of that.  I was touching on the true nature of Self, and I did this until there came a point where I got it!  I got that I had taken on values that I didn’t really hold, as part of an ingrained social expectation, and that I could no longer live that way.  With this knowing my fight for independence and success seemed far less important than matters related to the heart.  Unconsciously, at first, I became focused on my own awakening.  I embraced the new age concept of enlightenment taken from the Eastern traditions without a real understanding of what the path to meet it would require of me.  I was enthusiastic, focused, and I had a great deal to learn.  I took on the rhetoric I’d heard in the company, and through the writings, of people who were well versed in these philosophies, but until I viscerally understood each teaching my ego spun its own interpretation, including what life after enlightenment might look like.  Nevertheless, even a limited understanding served me, and as I started to change my priorities shifted, and the material aspirations that I had held melted away. 

So what are some of the pre-awakened conceptions that abound about enlightenment?  What did I think I would gain?  Here are some of those beliefs, all common to an un-awakened mind.

  • Freedom from suffering; a life full of Ease
  • Constant peace and harmony
  • States of Bliss as my default setting
  • The ability to live serenely with nothing disturbing my inner peace
  • The ability to love myself without judgment and so attract others to love me too
  • The ability to love everyone and everything else without judgment
  • A roadmap ‘home’ should I want it ( a get-out clause) with the promise of a ‘better’ life to come
  • Increased powers of healership accompanied by increased psychic perceptions
  • The ability to manifest whatever I wanted, whenever I wanted it
  • Boom!! Instant metamorphosis from ignorance, to wise woman

My pre-awakening conceptions were largely egoic.  My ego was fully engaged in my search for enlightenment, whole-heartedly believing that it had much to gain.  How ironic, seeing as how it had the most to lose!  It is already too late when the ego realizes that it has made a terrible mistake.  There is no gain in this voyage of discovery for it, because at that point where a basic awakening happens, the veil of separation that sits in the inner realms of being between the heart and all of creation dissolves and as it does so it is clear that there is no separation from the Beloved, and there never was.  That was a misunderstanding.  You were already and had always been an indivisible part of this great Force, you just forgot, and with this knowing the inhalation back to your true unified state starts in earnest.  Then the game is up for the ego.  The sense of the separate self, the ‘I’ shatters and the sheer force of creation floods in. As it does the sense of the personal goes too, and gives way to its true state as part of everything manifest and unmanifest.  Once this realization dawns the ego cannot scramble back because the structures that prevented this awareness are gone for good, and they cannot be rebuilt.

Even though the shattering of the illusion that there is something to be gained is whispered from the moment that that first veil at the core of your being goes, I didn’t experience it until my awakening moved through to a much deeper level, and I hadn’t realized that there would be so many places for awakening to occur, but I’ve discovered there are as this process continues.  The movement towards enlightenment is heralded by the continuing eroding then erasing of your structures of existence.  At the start, my response to this awakening was one of confusion.  I was able to see that the sense of ‘I’ that I knew as ‘me’ was no longer there, but I was still very aware of its echoes.  I hadn’t had that mammoth AhHa! moment of realization that I had thought I would have, but now there was Space in my system and a distinct yet subtle change, and this quickly deepened into a sure knowing of the True nature of Being.  After that, the journey was in turning the spotlight around so that my focus was on the inner.  I was able to bring the truth that I found there forward to inform my outer life, and my axis of existence shifted dramatically.  There were plenty of times that I asked myself why I continued to be triggered by those things that had really irritated me before I woke up?  I still was my worst critic, though now more compassionate in my judgments, and I certainly wasn’t going around in some love-fest state every day, but those days I did were more frequent.  I started to look at how I was feeling when I went into a reaction to something, and I realized that I really wasn’t disturbed by most situations. After all, without a sense of the personal it is hard to feel aggrieved.  I realized that I was just having a habitual response but one that without ‘me’ at its center was now devoid of truth, and so I moved away from the drama easily and quickly.  I was increasing the time that I lived my life from a place of inner contentment and peace, I just had the occasional reversal, that was all.  And I realized the truth to the statement that you are only ever as enlightened as you are in any given moment, and sometimes that felt huge to me, and sometimes it wasn’t present at all. 

From this state of awakening consciousness my passion became learning about universal dynamics, exploring the atomic nature of my being, and finding that in the subatomic particles of my existence I could change, I could evolve in ways that I had been taught at school could never happen… It was thrilling!  Like many quantum theorists, in the smallest particles of life I found God, the great Creator of everything, and then I started to search for ways to awaken the impulse of creation in every part of my being, through all dimensions.  I wanted to become only That.  I became a seeker on my path, finding the way back home through the teachers and teachings of many different lineages. 

Many more veils of separation dissolved, the embodiment of what I had already become deepened, and with it I knew that my life would never be the same again.  And then some major inner veil disappeared and with it the personal really disappeared as did the seeker, and I felt enormous grief for places I had left behind, including my long held identity with and attachment to a spiritual path.  At that moment I came to a place where there wasn’t anything to strive for – in fact, my Drivers had gone, and with them what felt like major templates for existence.  How I was in relationship with Life felt very different.  Having held a strong and singular focus on one thing – enlightenment – the impulse changed from one with an emphasis on attainment to one aligned with simplicity.  I am bringing a little balance and a little humanity back into the equation.  I am living life with more flow, exploring different possibilities and different experiences.  It may not seem big to you, but to me this is a move from one track of evolution to another that allows this being to have more of the mundane in her life, more variety, and more flexibility, together with some spiritual transformation.  The desire for union with the Beloved is no less strong, but now all I want is to live a simple life and enjoy simple pleasures fully. We are all here to create and experience Life, and in each moment we have a choice in how we want that to be.  Even when there are no drivers to rely on, there is still Life to live.  I am now awake to many different possibilities and that knowledge has given me enormous freedom.

As my orientation to life has changed, so too my illusions about what I would gain from enlightenment have gone, shattered into the rich soil of creation.  My personal wish-list is revealed to be a work of fantasy that mostly feels so limited and selfish.  I am left with a knowing that I am, above everything, totally ordinary – just another expression of life.  This is the true nature of Being, as far as I can see.  I am living from my heart in a much deeper way, centered in what is there ….even Being feels like too big a movement!  And I feel sure that there is a long way to go from here to being truly enlightened through and through.  I am just awakening to the depth of this incredible journey.  My sense is that however we experience this path, it will always be compelling us forward to meet and merge with the Beloved, until when absolute God realization dawns we can at last rest, all our illusions shattered together with all the stories, identities, expectations, and dreams that we have ever had.

©2009 Sarah Lidsey. All rights reserved.



  1. Awesome blog!

    I thought about starting my own blog too but I’m just too lazy so, I guess Ill just have to keep checking yours out.

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