Spiritual Emergence

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In 1981 I was sitting in meditation when, just for an instant, a bolt of lightning flashed through my mind. I began acting so unlike my normal self that a friend brought me to a hospital, afraid I was going crazy. Though I was let out of that hospital after three days, the experiences that began to unfold were so overwhelming that I was hospitalized a number of other times during that first year. I was diagnosed as having had a severe psychotic break and was told that I had a chemical imbalance and had manic-depressive illness. I was put on lithium, and at times, haldol (an anti-psychotic). I was told I would have to live with my illness for the rest of my life.

I was one of the lucky ones, as I was able to extricate myself from the medical and psychiatric establishment. Little did the doctors realize that I was taking part in some sort of spiritual awakening/shamanic initiation process, which at times mimicked psychosis but in actuality was an experience of a far different order. In 1993, after many years of struggling to contain and integrate my experiences, I started to teach about what I was realizing. I am now in private practice, assisting others who were spiritually emerging and beginning to wake up to the dreamlike nature of reality. In a dream come true, psychiatrists consult with me and send me patients.

In ancient wisdom cultures it was understood that there were certain individuals whose craziness was the sign of a passage into a higher consciousness. They realized that the person needed to be both honored and supported in their process. They knew that the person who passes through this process successfully and becomes an accomplished shaman, healer, or teacher, returns bearing incredible gifts and blessings of wisdom and healing for everyone. To quote the noted author Ken Wilber “Though the temporary unbalance precipitated by such a crisis may resemble a nervous breakdown, it cannot be dismissed as such. For it is not a pathological phenomena but a normal event for the gifted mind in these societies, when struck by and absorbing the force of the realization of ‘something far more deeply infused’ inhabiting both the round earth and one’s own interior.”

I had been doing Buddhist meditation for over a year when that lightning bolt went off inside of my brain. Within a day or two I felt like Alice who had fallen through the looking glass, finding myself “drafted” and playing a role in a deeper, mythic process, what Jung would call a “divine drama,” where everything was permeated with a deep symbolic meaning.

I felt totally unselfconscious and amazingly free. I felt the creative energy of the universe flowing through me; I was dancing on the living forefront of the Big Bang itself, where every moment was creative, magical and totally new. My kundalini was exploding; it was like a billion watts of electricity were flowing through a seventy five watt bulb.

It was like my mind had spilled out from inside of my skull and was manifesting and expressing itself synchronistically through events in the seemingly outer environment. What was happening in the seemingly outer world was magically related to what was going on inside of me. The boundary between dreaming and waking, between inner and outer, and between my self in here and your self out there, was dissolving. It was as if I had become lucid and was waking up inside of a dream.

I knew without a doubt that I was going through a deep spiritual experience, no one could possibly convince me otherwise; this was the key that saved my sanity. I felt that the more people I thought about, the more people I was able to “bring along” with me, so I began imagining the whole universe. The experience was so overwhelming that I had no choice but to surrender and let go. I wasn’t attached in my usual way to what the outcome was going to be. I was simply trusting the experience, which was clearly not only the right thing to do, but was the only thing I could do.

A spiritual awakening is almost always precipitated by a severe emotional or spiritual crisis; it oftentimes organically grows out of unresolved abuse issues from childhood- this was certainly true in my case. In a fully-flowered spiritual emergence, you magically discover how to transmute these symptoms and wounds into the blessings that they are.

To people still absorbed in the collective, mainstream trance and having membership in the consensus reality, my behavior looked totally bizarre and was very threatening. It was, I’m sure, a very difficult and problematic situation for those closest to me, as they weren’t able to understand what I was going through, as it was so far off their map of reality. Painfully, most of my friends and family were very judgemental and bought into the doctors diagnosis that I had a mental illness, as this was their way of “explaining” what was happening to me that fit into their very limited, comfortable view of the world. In the words of the late psychiatrist R. D. Laing, “Attempts to wake before our time are often punished, especially by those who love us most. Because they, bless them, are asleep. They think anyone who wakes up, or who, still asleep, realizes that what is taken to be real is a ‘dream’ is going crazy.”

The experiences and realizations were so mind-blowing, literally, that at certain points I was having trouble “keeping it together,” as my whole personality structure was melting and disintegrating, all orchestrated towards some mysterious, unknown destination where everything was clearly being integrated into a higher and more psychoactive center. Oftentimes my actions looked from the outside like typical psychotic behavior.

For example, one time I threw out all of my fathers many medications, as I felt that he really didn’t need them, as he could just tap right into the source of healing itself. At other times, I wanted to break my eyeglasses, as I felt that I didn’t need them to see, and felt they were doing more harm to my eyes than good.

One time, after I was acting so crazy that my father flew me back home to New York, he woke up from his nights sleep only to find me doing prostrations to him. Later on that morning I went out to the middle of the busy intersection near my parents apartment and was bowing to the oncoming cars, as I was recognizing that everything was the Divine.

From my point of view, I was realizing, or should I say, it was being revealed to me, that every moment was the unmediated expression of God, what I call the Goddessence. I remember turning on the radio and every voice I heard on the radio was the voice of this Goddessence. Every person I was seeing was the Goddessence him or herSelf. It seemed curious and even confusing to me that everybody seemed to buy into and be so caught up in such limited, contracted identity states, as if they were pretending and really seemed to believe that they weren’t Divine.

When you are spiritually emerging you are literally going through an archetypal death-rebirth experience, which is about nothing other than the death and transcendence of the separate self. I was having a radical shift of identity, where I was beginning to realize my unity with the whole of creation. I remember feeling that anything that had ever been invented, discovered, or created (including the whole cosmos), the “I” who I had now discovered myself to be, had done. This realization is not understandable and makes no sense as long as one is under the spell of the intellect, but was appearing to me with the force of a revelation. What I was seeing seemed totally obvious, as if I was genuinely seeing the truth for the first time. In fact I was beginning to realize who I, as well as everyone, genuinely was, which was simultaneously nothing (not a thing that can be seen as an object) and at the same time, everything.

During these experiences I got to meet and intimately connect with some of the greatest enlightened masters of both Tibet and Burma, who, like I was in a Fairy Tale, became my teachers and guides. True miracles, experiences that were completely impossible, stuff that could only happen in dreams, began happening. Any limited conceptualizations I had about the nature of the universe were being totally shattered.

Due to the ecstacy and exhiliration of the experience, there is a real temptation, like the mythic Icarus, to fly too high, which is only to set yourself up for a corresponding fall. During these experiences it is of the utmost importance to be as grounded as possible. The great psychiatrist C. G. Jung understood the importance of this during his “Confrontation with the Unconscious.” He used to keep pictures of his family around, so he could remember that he was, in his words, “an actually existing, ordinary person.”

Jung understood very well that one of the greatest dangers that you encounter during this experience is to become inflated, thinking that you are someone special. You become identified with the archetype instead of relating to it from the standpoint of a conscious human ego. You’ve literally gotten swallowed up and possessed by the deeper, more powerful transpersonal forces, falling totally into your unconscious. You can become truly insane, thinking, for example, that only you are Christ or Buddha, instead of recognizing that we’re all Christ or Buddha. This is the difference between someone who is truly mentally ill, who could be said to be drowning in the stormy ocean of the unconscious, compared to an accomplished mystic, who is being nurtured and nourished by swimming, surfing and snorkling in the healing waters of their psyche.

Jung understood that the thing which swings the balance one way or the other is the human egos capacity to confront and relate in a conscious way to these transpersonal forces. This is why creative work, in which you channel and transmute these deeper, very powerful, archetypal energies, is of the utmost importance.

At a certain point, the entire ordeal reveals itself to be an initiation for actualizing and giving expression to your true genius, or daimon, which is none other than your inner voice, guiding spirit and unfabricated true nature, which has never been lost. Like in a déjà vu, you remember, or discover your unique calling, your true vocation as a Bodhisattva who is here to help other beings. You become a master creative multi-dimensional artist whose canvas is life itself.

Of course, another great danger, which I can talk about from personal experience, is to wind up in the clutches of and be diagnosed and medicated by the medical, psychiatric community, who typically have no understanding of phenomena such as spiritual emergences. One psychiatrist even diagnosed me as having the same illness as Freuds infamous “Rat Man,” saying I would need three years of intensive psychotherapy and then I would be cured! To again quote Laing, “Anyone in this transitional state is likely to be confused. To indicate that this confusion is a sign of illness, is a quick way to create psychosis….A psychiatrist who professes to be a healer of souls, but who keeps people asleep, treats them for waking up and drugs them asleep again….helps to drive them crazy.”

My final hospitalization was in September of l982, when I was flown back to New York and put in a hospital for three weeks. Instead of seeing them as a mistake that was made, I’ve been able to see the perfection of all that has happened. I now understand that the hospitalizations were in fact an aspect of the awakening; they were part of my journey to the underworld. There is a sense of accepting and embracing whatever has happened in my life, realizing it is all an initiation into the deeper mystery of my infinite and unspeakably magical being.

This is not to say that there is not something called mental illness. I do wonder, though, how many cases of mental illness are actually spiritual emergences gone sour. We, as a society, need to recognize the existence of genuine spiritual emergences and learn to differentiate them from cases of psychosis. Thankfully, there is now even a small paragraph in the psychiatrists DSM IV Book (their diagnostic manual) titled “Spiritual or Religious Problem.” Might it be that we’re all at different stages of the spiritual emergence process?

A pioneer in the field of spiritual emergence, Paul Levy is a healer in private practice, assisting others who are also awakening to the dreamlike nature of reality. Paul is also a visionary artist and a spiritually-informed political activist. He is the author of The Madness of George Bush: A Reflection of Our Collective Psychosis,which is available on his website www.awakeninthedream.com. (See the first chapter, The Madness of George W. Bush: A Reflection of our Collective Psychosis). Please feel free to pass this article along to a friend if you feel so inspired. You can contact Paul at paul@awakeninthedream.com; he looks forward to your reflections. © Copyright 2010

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59 Responses to Spiritual Emergence

  1. I always knew and expressed that there was this massive passion and fire inside of me, like a tiger that wants to unleash on the world, now I see where the passion is arising from, I would love to talk with you about this at some point. Thank you again as this article is so tactfully and clearly written and is a treasure and gift to the world. Thank you for your work for amateurs like me who are only beginning to wake up!

  2. This article is a miracle! Thank you Paul! This has helped me so much to begin to connect deeper on the path to integrating my emergence a few weeks ago and further seeing how the reactions of others have indeed been the feedback to help trust that inner voice even more! Right after I knew enough to know I didn’t know anything, in other words I got enough of a glimpse of the unsolvable puzzle, I began to listen to others and hear how they were providing me exactly what I needed to hear to begin to learn to live and get on the path to meet the world where it is. I realized this right after my crisis before reading your article that the feedback of others thinking I was going crazy was more evidence that the world was in the dream state and afraid of my waking up. I further trusted this inner voice that I now I see the déjà vu of how this inner voice of truth has always been here in my life in my deepest and quietest moments of inspiration – when I want to change the world and spread love and joy – in those moments I can feel all the circles of negative energy and have a deep, good nature that wants to emerge and have the world hear this voice and give and move us toward that good nature with nothing needed in return. So, as I began to trust that voice and was willing to die for the beauty and absolute completeness of the present moment I was experiencing, I did actually die (I felt pulled to jump into freezing water and sink without a fight, complete surrender, to return home, it was so beautiful) and then I released some of this energy after my crisis trying to bring others along with me, all my friends, this was obviously not effective and a good learning experience and I’m glad I did this to receive the feedback and release the pressure building from all those moments of inspiration held in during late nights of writing and having realizations – it also faced another fear and was another breakthrough to explode on people and then watch the feedback – I see how the crisis plays into the opening now. I knew deep down in my intuition that the magic I was opened to was a revelation beyond the entire psych/medical establishment, beyond the monetary system, beyond anything of this world, despite a doctor “who knew” bless his heart as it was coming from that pure place of love, care and sincere concern, trying to make a judgement based on my explosions and expressions of the massive energy I was beginning to channel during and after the crisis and probably rightfully from his perspective calling it manic and recommending I go to a hospital for a few days. I sat in peace and silence as 8 eyeballs kept staring at me telling me what I needed to do, including my parents…I at one point said, “I find it funny and ironic that I’m sitting here in complete peace and silence and 4 people are staring at me, in my face, scared, telling me what is wrong with me as if they know.” Obviously there is some intelligence as to where they were meeting me as I just unleashed too much energy and had engaged in some pretty reckless behavior for the past few years leading up to this emergence. So overall, I now see my journey to now was learning to trust and not let anyone compromise my true nature, and I was and will continue to do this with an open mind of course to the gifts of others as their feedback is always a clue left behind on the journey of how to effectively channel our gifts – even if they locked you up Paul for a few weeks in a hospital – I can see how even that is a gift to a deeper realization of where each of us are on our journeys! It’s further data and confirmation of how awake the world and the establishments we accept as our consensus reality are in line with the deeper reality beyond the mind. What a miracle! Love to you and I hope I can speak to you at some point.

    And I totally resonate with the “divine drama” and how every moment is a miracle…my life flashed in front of me after I trusted my revelations and I knew for certain that every moment, conversation, and connection before was perfectly aligned to bring me to that moment – it was a miracle to metaphorically die and have this force of a revelation. I’m experiencing massive energy and am learning to ground myself with the help of others as you say.

  3. Improved recognition as well as therapy of depression in late life will certainly make those years a lot more pleasurable as
    well as fulfilling for the depressed senior citizen, the household, and carers.

  4. I had a traumatic past, constantly confronted with unnecessary conflicts and unfair circumstances. I was harboring a deepening hatred for humanity due to those confrontations and I felt that I was heading down a very dark path if I never had my “psychotic” break. My first experience happened during my birth month. The serenity, love, and joy I felt and what I saw completely healed me from all my past pains and suffering. I became a new person, full of the compassion and sympathy I had lost during my harsh childhood. As an individual who has had two near-death experiences, I can tell you that there is another realm that is just as real as our physical realm. I believe most forms of mental illness are a result of some sort of interference from that higher/spiritual realm.

  5. I believe I am at a crossroads almost two years ago I was at the end of my rope I was completely overwhelmed by depression pain and anger I gave up my 32 birthday after a partying and pouring out feelings and pain I didn’t know existed I had submitted my soul to misery I was ready to die as I slept a dream was givin to me of mountain rain when I awoke I weight was lifted I was not full I could breathe again although still cycling through depression my emy heart was humbled shortly after I began studying Christianity not commit but a surprising interest there through the bible I found a language .. A relation shortly after about2014 I started to write something I never did without thought or reason my hand began to move I found small nootes with emotions I had without pulse written sinse2012 that was light! Feb 2014 I started five spiral notebooks many poems math predictions I thought all together seven book I thought where adding to one storie but beheld by me was only a chpyer which ended yesterday marked the “dig” and tonight another book has began I do not read what is written until god tells me two I don’t write this I believe is a gift I never possessed after typing a theory given to me by the Devine that I had not commied because my mind was not yet did of the mind that plagued me because I was stuck in the cycle of depressed actions and I needed to reverse the cycle to end it a cure and my led ended the dig I have been awakened and know begin my stand to move forward I’ve had a rough time throughout my twentys DARK and I have direction through messages in my books the divine have showed me how I will find peace and unity to a separated soul its slow but this is really happening I have also been extremely sensitive to others emotional state by energy its like I can feel there souls good n bad idk sometimes I think I’m buggin but it feels good to find others as of now I am alone when try to tell friends its lil they just don’t get it they can’t fathom?????? Well divine power tells me that my name will not be forgotten I would love for some one with more awareness and knowledge to look at what I have written only to be sure that this is a journey so I will be sure it is real ty so much for your time s.

  6. im mark from philippines. im only 23. i dont know if you believe me but im actually in a state of awakening, also. im a little bit confused on what was going on to me. i dont know why i could understand the way a person feels, based on the way he acts and talks and more situations that i know today your the only one who can answer me. its like im in a deep sleep and i could say im awakened to the truth and reality. i really need guidance because im a little bit confused. im far from psychosis. im willing to go under a test just to prove that im not lying.

  7. Thanks Paul,

    I gotta say this is a great place for people to express themselves..

    Your story is very inspiring and it hit very close to home! My experience was
    much different than yours and I’m sure everyone’s is very different with multi-
    dementional aspects. I felt fine insanity part of it, as I have always been a little
    crazy.haha The major problem for me was “the fear”. It’s very hard to explain
    due to the “gray” tall parts of it. I also looked up those verses in Mathew.. And
    yes God also confirms the rich getting richer and poor getting poorer.

    I know you are appreciated in very high places.

    Praise God


  8. I absolutely agree with Brian,
    Getting back to the Bible saved me. I really thought I was going insane. I urge people of the Christian tradition who are going through SA to read Matthew 13 v10-17. In it Jesus is specifically dealing with the collective unconscious and is speaking to people like us who know that there is much more to this world than meets the eye.

    I also know that God is not an observer on Earth but is running the show. This mass spiritual awakening has probably been planned for millennia. Perhaps we are moving towards a new Golden Age.

    Best wishes,

  9. I truly believe God is the answer! If you are lost, in fear of losing your mind, or have had a spiritual awakening… Please take into account that you need to strengthen your spirit. And God the Almighty will help you overcome anything! Please find God. He is the savior of those who truly believe in Him.

    If you have fear, emptiness etc… After the awakening,. That is God telling us as a WARNING our spirit is very weak! Attain to faith in God! He is the only one who can save you!!! “I also suggest to start by reading the Bible, “the Quran” or any spiritual book that “makes sense”. And above all… Stay conscious of God! Never put h second in your life!!!
    Yours truly,
    A God fearing servant

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