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Robert Oakes

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Robert Oakes

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Are You Awake?
by Robert Oakes   
Rated "G" by the Author.
Last edited: Saturday, April 21, 2007
Posted: Saturday, April 21, 2007

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We all talk about Enlightenment, but what does it really mean?

Are You Awake?


Enlightenment has to be the most misused and abused word in our western lexicon. If someone is caring and kind and aware of spiritual issues we tend to call them enlightened. But of course this is not the real meaning of enlightenment.

There is no path to enlightenment, nor can you achieve enlightenment.

Now I am not trying to be cryptic; I am just trying to clear away some of the new age flaky understanding of this state of awareness. Having said that, Enlightenment is the most profound non-event that you can experience.

To be awakened is to know your true nature; to see life in its basic Truth. I said there is no path to enlightenment because there is no where to go. I said you cannot achieve enlightenment, because you do not gain anything; in fact, you lose everything you think mattered.

When we talk about losing everything, people get scared. I remember my own apprehension knowing that it would be the end of my ego. Would the end of my ego be the end of me? Would losing my separation consciousness mean that who I believe to me would no longer exist? Of course not. You don’t simply fade away into the cosmos because you are enlightened. All that really happens is that you lose the drama attached to being you. And you are not going to lose your Ego completely; it is simply no longer going to be running the show.

Maybe we should back up a bit and clarify a few things. First off, the state you are in now is called duality. There is a sense of separateness between what you see as you, and what you see as the rest of humanity, creation, the universe, God or the Divine. Your ego is fully in charge and you identify as being “I” or “Me”. You see yourself as a separate entity from the person standing next to you. You see the drama of your life as being Truth and reality. You may even have the disadvantage of being part of a religion that enforces the concept that you are a separate entity from the Divine. This is the most dangerous of all concepts as it instantly divides humanity with no hope of releasing the separation consciousness.

So I can see the question forming already. If I am actually part of God or the Oneness, why do I experience pain, suffering, and all those horrible reality TV shows? Well, have you ever played hide and seek? Do you remember how much fun it was to search out and find the person? Well God likes to play hide and seek. How can you know yourself if everything you experience is yourself? The only way is to create separation from yourself, and then experience finding yourself again. That is a very simplistic way of understanding what is Enlightenment.

Now I have used the terms Enlightenment and Awakening in this description. Basically in my teaching they are very similar terms, and can be seen on a spectrum of experience with basic Awakening at one end, and full Enlightenment on the other. Basic Awakening is the instant that the veil falls away that has been keeping you blind. It is almost like a hole gets punched through your perception and you can now see the Truth behind the curtain. Awakening is also the death of the search. At this point you still have a lot of conditioning to work through, so you will experience times of utter clarity followed by periods of total engagement with your stuff. This is normal. Ram Dass once said, if you think you are enlightened then spend a week with your parents. On the other end of the scale is full Enlightenment, where all human conditioning and separation consciousness has dropped away. That is Nirvana.

Now the great thing about achieving Awakening is that all your problems in life simply disappear. You sit under a tree in the backyard and dispense sagely advice to followers in white robes. I had you fooled until the white robe bit didn’t I? Hmmm…have to work on that one. Truth is that your problems, trials, desires change very little when you Awaken. The difference is that you now have perspective on them. To an outsider you may appear to be cold and callus when listening to their drama of the week but in reality you just have better perspective. Consider the show Desperate Housewives. Pre-awakened state you believe you are a one of the character on Wisteria Lane; post-awakening you realize that although Eva Longoria is a hottie wearing a thong, it is just a show and you can sit back and enjoy it.

I mentioned that Awakening is the death of the search. Well once you are Awakened there is nothing to look for. The answer is there (as it always was) and now your only job is to sit in that Truth and release layers of your conditioning. As Eckhart Tolle is famous for teaching; all you have to do is be in the Now. There is no where else to go; no one else to be.

So one of the big questions that I am sure is forming is “Robert, how do I Awaken?” Well good question there Timmy. One answer you may get is that you need to have proper posture to open your yogic channels, sit in the full lotus position with your hands held thus, chant some mantras, and oh yeah, meditate like for a gazillion years. Does this always work? Well no it doesn’t; just look at the multitudes of practitioners that spend a lifetime(s) doing just that only to have open yogic channels and a sense of self still in separation consciousness. Now I am not discrediting these traditions, only I am saying that these practices will only help facilitate awakening; they will not create awakening. Awakening starts with a decision to awaken. It entails a willingness to dissolve the sense of “I” as a separate entity. Everything you do and experience in life is only a trigger or facilitator to get you to awaken. This just so happens to be the underlying teachings in Vajrayana Buddhism and is in opposition to the severity of practice in say Hineyana Buddhism. In Vajrayana you could embrace all the experiences and vices of the world as long as it leads you to enlightenment. In Hineyana you better be ready for many a long hour of meditation. Which one is the “right” practice? Neither and both, although I have to admit Vajrayana can be more fun. Seriously though, what ever it takes for your Ego to relinquish control is the right practice for you. Some need the regimented discipline of Hineyana while others may need the coyote foolishness Vajrayana can embrace. I have seen many people with poor meditation posture Awaken (including myself), and many with excellent posture still sitting in separation. For some they will need different practices at different stages of their development. For me it was this way and I have drifted though various traditions including Hineyana, Mahayana, Vajrayana, Thereveda, and Zen. I think that for most people they will need the mental discipline of structured tradition so that they can move past it and embrace a more coyote style. But then again, maybe in your last lifetime you already wore out your mala beads and are ready to let go of all your beliefs in this lifetime. Whichever tradition you follow, in the end though you still have to sleigh the Buddha.

Did Robert just say “I have to sleigh the Buddha?” Yup. Burn the heretic! Oops, wrong religion. This actually forms the biggest stumbling block of anyone trying to achieve enlightenment. The only way you can awaken is if you let go of all your beliefs, teachings and concepts that brought you to this point. I always like Adyashanti’s talks about spirituality being a disease, and Awakening is the cure. Why do people spend decades in practice and never Awaken? In my opinion, it is they are hanging onto their beliefs. Your beliefs may have brought you this far, but they are also that which will deceive you and stunt your growth. I remember before my own Awakening I was shown such beautiful images of a spiritual life, but they were all traps. Your ego is no dummy. Your ego realizes what is happening so it grabs onto the spiritual bandwagon and charges the horses forward. Your ego figures if you are going to go through with this enlightenment game then it might as well lead the charge. It knows though that it can always find another turn to keep you in the house of mirrors. Spirituality and psychic awareness CAN be the biggest traps for your Ego. So in the end you are alone. No beliefs, no tradition, no teacher, no pony.

Now I mentioned that there are many experiences that can help you Awaken. Alone, none of these will make a politician’s difference to your Awakening until you have made a sincere decision to do what is necessary to Awaken. But coupled with that intense desire to Awaken they can be the needed trigger. Some of these would include:

 meditation
 prayer
 yoga
 chanting
 ecstatic dance
 psychotropic/entheogen plants with the intent to awaken and see the Truth of existance
 sex (with the intent of connecting beyond yourself)
 deprivation
 excess
 energy work with the intent of clearing the separation consciousness and conditioning
 introspective awareness (going within)
 extreme grief
 extreme joy
 being in a Divine field (in the presence of say Amma or the Dalai Lama)
 shamanic journeying with the intent to see the Truth
 being aware of the soap opera around you


In the west we tend to divide the world up into good/evil. This of course only creates a greater sense of separation. There is no source of evil other than absence of Divine light. This is the same as a darkened room; there is no source of darkness in the room other than the absence of light. So if there is nothing other than the Divine then all we can experience is the Divine…even if that is the Divine in separation. Got it? In other words someone in deep separation consciousness, fully run by their Ego is still Divine, they just don’t recognize it. There is no duality other than what you create. You weren’t kicked out of the Garden of Eden; the gate was simply open and you wandered off, and you can return at any time. The original sin wasn’t that you ate the fruit (which isn’t an apple by the way) but that you entered in duality and forgot you were Divine. In this way there is no sacred and profane other than what you create. You don’t work for Creator/God; you are God, and so is the person you see as your enemy. You do not have a spiritual sacred life separate from your mundane physical world. Everything in the eyes of creation is sacred. This includes that little BDSM fantasy you had about Eva Longoria last night. Bet you thought I wouldn’t know about that.

This brings us to a little story; gather round children. I remember being swooped down upon by a bible thumper while I was sitting next to the ocean enjoying a sunny day. He must have felt I was a soul needing saving as he launched into his scripture. He was complaining about pagans that they worship nature and that he thinks it makes more sense to worship the painter and not the painting. What the poor man in separation didn’t realize is that the painter is the painting. End of story.

So, like Keanu Reeves in Little Buddha you have your Awakening moment and say “Whoa, dude”. Now what? Well if Hollywood has taught us anything I believe you find a tree (preferably a Bodhi or something from the fig family) and sit under it until you fade away into the ether. End of story.

Hmmm, you are a little more savvy than I gave you credit for. Well if truth be told, what you do after Awakening is the probably same thing you did before Awakening, although now you will have one of those annoying all knowing smiles. One of the basic teachings of Buddhism is “Joyful participation in the sorrow of the world”, which kind of points to the activity after Awakening. Although most people in the west consider Buddhism to be an escapist philosophy of removing yourself from the world, it is in fact the polar opposite. In Buddhism once you have Awakened you have integration. Eckhart Tolle talks about this being in the world but not of the world. Your goal when you are born whether you know it or not is to Awaken. Your goal once you awaken is to help all other sentient beings Awaken. You don’t achieve this by preaching the gospel (or writing dry witted articles on Awakening) but by living a life of service and loving compassion.


So that is everything you always wanted to know about Awakening but couldn’t be bothered to ask. Your only thing left is to WAKE UP!

Web Site: Path to Harmony - Homepage of Robert Oakes


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Reviewed by H Cruz 4/24/2007
Interesting analogy; I have toyed with it all but still am struggling to be a nice person who genrally gives a shit about others. I want to love unconditionaly but wherever I go there I am, screwing things up always trying get my two cents worth in. If I could bottle Nirvana I would probably just mass market it, in fact I think this was tried back in the 60's and they all got arrested. I just wish after long periods of techniques thhe old self didn't bounce back so damb fast making it all seem in vain. Anyway great insight, every bit helps in the battle for mind, body and spirit!
Reviewed by LadyJtalks LadyJzTalkZone (Reader) 4/22/2007
(or writing dry witted articles on Awakening) that made me laugh for I so believe in allowing others to learn perhaps from my example. I know that many and more recently must feel I am cold hearted for I don't grieve at many events that have happened lately. I enjoyed reading your dry humor this morning. Refreshing it was actually to read something different then the norm. Thank you for feeling the need to write this. Have a great day. Lady J



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