By Gary Ferguson
During this stage of introspection, immense personal and spiritual growth starts the conscious evolution through self-discovery. In Stage 2, we rebelled against the external world with little or no success in relieving our pain, suffering or discomfort; so now, we retreat as we begin to seek answers inside ourselves. We start to disentangle from mass consciousness releasing many limiting beliefs that were programmed into us piously by parents, teachers, culture, society religion and the media. As we release these beliefs we start experiencing both relief and grief; as if we spent a lifetime imprisoned in beliefs, that caused emotional suffering physical hardship and lost happiness. We may grieve for the life we never had and at the same time, we feel great relief as we break free from limitation recognizing how asleep we have been. We can clearly see that most people we know are still asleep. We tried to wake them up but our attempts were seen as judgmental and self-righteous therefore being met with deaf ears. Now, surprisingly with our eyes wide open, it is common to experience greater judgment of other people, friends and strangers alike. Society and the world start feeling our judgment and defensively respond with their own judgment of us. We are seen as different, weird, even crazy and sooner or later we decide to keep our growing awareness to ourselves; rationalizing, at this point, it’s better to be silent and not be judged. We don’t have a lot of hope that others will wake up while we are still focused on everything that is wrong in our lives, in the world and at the same time we have resistance to letting go.
During this stage, the process of letting go is (most often) the work and as we learn to let go, Stage 3 is where we leave unsatisfying jobs, intimate relationships, families, friendships, religions organizations and any disempowering way of life. We disentangle from the roles we have played, reject our past identity and possibly, there may even be a total withdrawal from society. Our former model of the world is failing and we no longer see the world in black and white, good and bad or right and wrong. We start to experience as – “One Consciousness”. There may be a growing sense that we are all connected but at the same time we feel completely disconnected from every other human being. In many ways, we are faced with the dichotomy of life and our existence. The most common attribute during Stage 3, is loneliness. In a room full of hundreds of people you feel like you are the only one awake and no one understands you. With no one you can connect with, at this point, you begin questioning the question, “ Why did I ever begin this journey?” “What’s the point of waking up, if you are all alone and lonely?” Afterall, you might have been unhappy when you were asleep but at least you had friends, family and people who cared about you and now there is no one.
During this stage you consider going back and you wish you could forget about everything you now know, just so you can be part of a family or community. You yearn for normalcy in order to fit in with others, but you also know that it is too late. You cannot forget what you have remembered and despite your loneliness and your desire to fit in you wouldn’t go back or undo your path. Even if you could, issues of worthiness often surface during this stage because of the ways in which we proved our worthiness no longer works, or are no longer available because we left the job or situation that once made us feel worthy.
We continue to seek approval, acceptance and appreciation; or to have other emotional needs met by those still in our lives. But this doesn’t fulfill us, as it once did, and we are left feeling empty; forced to deal with feelings of unworthiness on our own. Our desire to fit in and be accepted is slowly being drowned out by our desire to be free and awake in our quest for answers and relief from our emotional pain. We may embark on some sort of spiritual practice such as meditation, yoga or mindfulness. If we are not using the practice to avoid something its purpose is likely to get us somewhere, or accomplish something, while we wake up. During Stage 3, we experience the first sense of our real power but if the ego claims this power, we will have challenging and humbling experiences to overcome.
By now, we are able to see the connection between our thoughts and beliefs systems and the creation of our reality; as a result, we try to control our thoughts. This is a difficult process because old programs are still running the show and they’re driven by the ego. We no longer look outside ourselves for happiness but we don’t yet know how to find it from within. Peace and freedom may also take precedence over happiness. Stage 3 is often the longest stage, and almost always the most challenging, but it is also the most important in terms of awakening. This stage is marked with the swing between resistance and letting go, with moments of clarity and enlightenment; but they don’t last. It is very common to have multiple experiences of awakening, in this stage, and even to believe that each one is the final awakening only to find yourself back in your old construct of reality (hours, days or weeks later). With each experience of awakening the sense of your higher self grows stronger. You are unknowingly making room for this real self to emerge in your consciousness and integrate itself into your life. During Stage 3 it is common to experience a fear of losing oneself, or a struggle to maintain a sense of self; but ultimately, moving towards the end of this stage and death of the ego. It is inevitable that when the ego loses hold, there is often a realization that there is no point or purpose to life. This can be liberating like a breath of fresh air, or it can be devastating resulting in hopelessness and despair. Without point or purpose, we no longer know how to live our lives and nothing is ever the same. There is a foreboding sense that your awakening will cost you everything yet at the same time a greater sense that something inside you is waking up.