It is said that when the Buddha started to wander around India shortly after his enlightenment, he encountered several men who recognized him by his radiance and peaceful presence to be a very extraordinary being.
They asked him, "Are you a god?"
"No," he replied.
"Are you a reincarnation of god?"
"No," he replied.
"Are you a wizard, then?"
"Well, are you a man?"
"So what are you?" they asked, being very perplexed.
"I am awake."
Buddha means "The Awakened One". How to awaken is all he taught.
That’s what the word “Buddha” means, literally: to be awake.
Other terms often used that point to the state of Awakeness are Enlightenment, Liberation, and Realization. All of these words suggest a state of being in which one knows their True Nature beyond the ordinary, familiar egoic sense of self. A.H. Almaas writes:
“This experience of awakening operates on two dimensions simultaneously. First is the psychological one. To be awake means you are literally awake—like having awakened from long sleep, or from illusions, from dreams, from all the sufferings of ignorance. This is the psychological awakening: Now you see the truth and wake up from the lies and the ignorance that you have been living in. It also means you wake up to your true nature: You now see what and who you are, instead of what you thought you were.
The second sense of awakening is phenomenological. It is the sense of being awake, clear, and bright, as if you just woke up. Suddenly your head is above the clouds and you start seeing. So this awakening is not only a matter of awakening to some truth; it is a certain state of Being. It is being awake—you actually and literally experience yourself as a bright and brilliant presence. You have not only awakened, but you are the awakeness, you are the awake and brilliant presence."
Everyone is this naturalness. When we start calling it enlightenment and awakening, thought can use that to compare, right? But if we say this naturalness or this simple presence, thought can't run a comparison study. The whole invitation is to look prior to language, prior to concepts, prior to thought's projection.
What's looking and what's seeing? There's not that much there. There's just this simple, ordinary presence, and it is so unadorned. You can run right by it if you're looking for something fancy. It's always been here, it has no age, it doesn't really have any properties or qualities, it's just this intelligence. It's so quiet, that's why they call it silence.
~ Pamela Wilson
What is liberation?
It is to be free of personal identity.
It is to be free from the hypnosis of conditioning;
to be free from the magnetic influence and compulsiveness
of the psychological mind.
It is to recognize that you are not an object,
that this body is an inadequate representation of being,
and is only a vessel through which consciousness
and the vital force act in their portrayal called ‘life’.
It is said that the ego must die in order for you to truly live. But nothing need die; you simply need to grow up. A child does not die in order to grow into an adult. The child simply grows up; it evolves and leaves behind what is no longer appropriate. See that the ego is no longer useful or appropriate and leave it behind. Only the ego makes its own demise seem dramatic.
If awakening is to flower in you, you must truly want liberation from all that is false in you. You must want to give yourself totally to the inquiry into what is true beyond all inherited concepts, ideas, and beliefs.
~ Amoda Maa
In order to awaken, first of all one must realize that one is in a state of sleep. And in order to realize that one is indeed in a state of sleep, one must recognize and fully understand the nature of the forces which operate to keep one in the state of sleep, or hypnosis. It is absurd to think that this can be done by seeking information from the very source which induces the hypnosis.
~ G.I. Gurdjieff
It is extremely rare for an individual to have an awakening experience and free themselves completely of the conditioning that makes them suffer. Most people have to engage in some practice. If you are sitting around waiting for the magic moment to come so that you are totally free, you may be prolonging your suffering.
~ Scott Kiloby
Awakening is the process of deprogramming - enlightenment is the unprogrammed state.
~ Jed McKenna
We’re not any more special than any other people. The spiritual path we have is linked to am kadosh, which is a path that is there to help us awaken to the holiness that we always have been. It’s a holiness that’s inherent in all there is. It’s an awakening of the divine nature of all there is. Of everything and everyone. So in that sense, all the spiritual practice in Judaism is there to help you, to help me, all of us individually, to move into awakening into the holiness that we are. To move beyond ego.
~ Rabbi Olivier BenHaim
When you shall begin to question your dream,
awakening will be not far away.
~ Nisargadatta Maharaj
I'm sure you are aware of many descriptions of awakening. We need to really be mindful that these accounts serve as an inspiration, serve us as a reminder that wow, that is possible, that is available, it happens, it actually works. However, we don't want to use that as a measurement. And we don't want to use that against our own experience. If you compare, that's really useless. We have to recognize, wherever you are that's perfect. Wherever you are that's the beginning, that's the path to freedom. Where you are, not anywhere else.
Can people awaken without any spiritual practice at all? It happens. But it also just happens that like about ninety-nine percent of the people that do have deep awakenings also had a spiritual practice.
The dream we are living has absolutely no purpose other than our awakening.
~ Tony Parsons
Because it has been man's conditioning that it is only effort which could bring him anything in life, it is extremely difficult for an ordinary man to grasp the fact that nothing more than a deep understanding of one's true nature is necessary for the total transformation of awakening to take place.
~ Ramesh Balsekar
The soul informed by the ego is asleep. This is why enlightenment is called awakening -- your soul wakes up to what is really here. . . . The most evident manifestation of the soul being asleep is one's unshakable conviction in conventional or consensus reality, and in the content of one's overall social conditioning.
~ A.H. Almaas
Awakening is gradual in the sense that your progress to the edge of the cliff is gradual. There may be five steps or five thousand steps taken before you reach the edge, but the last step is always sudden and irrevocable.
You never take the last step. It takes you. The ego will not willingly go over, even though it says, "I want to be free of the burden of myself." It doesn't really want to be free of the burden of itself, it simply wants to be free of its limitations and those aspects of itself it doesn't like.
~ Wayne Liquorman
The whole idea of being here is to awaken to the truth that
you are not the body, nor the mind, nor the doer, that
you are the absolute reality.
This is really the only thing you should be concerned with.
Everything else will take care of itself.
~ Robert Adams
Awakening doesn’t mean you awaken.
It means that there is only awakening.
There is no “you” who is awake,
there is only awakeness.
As long as you identify with a “you”
who is either awake or not awake,
you are still dreaming.
Awakening is awakening from the dream
of a separate you into simply being Awakeness.
We are here to awaken from our illusion of separateness.
~ Thích Nhat Hanh
The manifestation of Pure Being is the experience of awakening. One merely wakes up and realizes one's pure nature. It is as if one is usually dreaming, but is taking the dream to be reality. Then he wakes up and spontaneously realizes the true state of affairs... There is no sense of discontinuity of experience in awakening. It is not that something that was not there is now manifest. It is more like becoming cognizant of the presence of something that has always been there, and known to be there, but ignored.
~ A.H. Almaas
Self observation is an instrument of self change, a means of awakening. By observing himself man throws, as it were, a ray of light on his inner processes which have hitherto worked in complete darkness. And under the influence of this light the processes themselves begin to change.
~ G. I. Gurdjieff
One wakes up each day from the dream....but to be free, one has to wake up from the waking state.
The last step before awakening is
when you no longer react to life and you begin to feel harmony,
everywhere, under all conditions, under all circumstances.
And then you awaken.
But if you are feeling distraught and angry and upset
and you are practicing to awaken, you will never awaken.
As long as you have those feelings.
Those feelings have to go first.
You have to harmonize yourself with the universe.
You have to reconcile yourself to the whole universe,
starting with the mineral kingdom, the vegetable kingdom,
the animal kingdom and the human kingdom.
You have to develop a feelings of love and compassion
~ Robert Adams