Let’s face it, in the end words such as spiritually awakening and enlightenment are just words or labels. However, for the sake of our deeper understanding, they can at least help us to communicate certain concepts that may be useful on one’s spiritual path. What I will attempt to describe with these words are simply two different levels of knowing and two different states of being so that when I use these words in the future, you will understand what I mean.

Many people experience a spiritual awakening, but few are enlightened. For instance, many people can tell a joke, but few of them are comedians and even fewer are accomplished at that trade and truly realize it. These few individuals emanate fun. Almost everything they do is funny and they realize they are simply just that way. However, unlike being a gifted comedian, which for those individuals relates to a core personality trait, all of us at our core are already enlightened beings, but the vast majority of us don’t realize it

The concept of realization plays a key role in this discussion, but before we get to that let’s begin with a brief characterization of spiritual awakening. Some people consider themselves to have had a spiritual awakening simply by labelling themselves SBNR. When asked in a poll if they follow a particular religion, they respond, “No, I consider myself to be Spiritual, But Not Religious.” For the sake of this discussion, I would like to consider Spiritual Awakening to be the result of having had sufficient spiritual experience such that the person no longer self-identifies as their ego.

This is a fairly stringent criterion, as the vast majority of folks, even those who have had a fair bit of spiritual experience, still for the most part, self-identify with their ego. The ego is nothing more than “stuff” you have picked up along the way as you lived your life. That stuff is your beliefs, coping strategies and thought processes. That stuff is stored in your brain. When the real you expresses itself through that stuff it often self-identifies as such. That is being ego-identified and not spiritually awakened.

Spiritually awakened, defined here, means to be self-identified as one’s soul or spirit. Being spiritually awakened means living as one’s spiritual self, being heart-centered and consciously recognizing the role and monitoring (and when necessary limiting) the influence of one’s ego.

Oftentimes, people that are spiritually awakened have had experiences of spiritual connectedness or even unity consciousness. During these experiences they feel as if there is no separateness between themselves and what they are connected to. Sometimes people that are spiritually awakened can even consciously reproduce that state of being.

Rumi said, “You are not a drop in the ocean. You are the entire ocean, in a drop.” When you fully realize at every level of your being and embrace with every thought and action, that you are the entirety of All That Is or the Infinite, then you are enlightened.

Enjoy the journey of returning to that which you already are.