How can some people be an awakened ass?

Hillside with donkey braying

I always believed that once you saw through the illusion of self you would automatically be a loving, emotionally intelligent being. But it turns out, no!

I’ve been watching alot of Ken Wilbur this week and I love his Integral Theory with stages of: Waking up — Growing up — Cleaning up — Showing up — Opening up.

Waking Up

is the altered state of consciousness that gives us a first person, direct experience of oneness and connection to all things. It can be increassed / maintained via the progressive path (e.g. ongoing meditation and spititual practices) or via the direct path (e.g. non dual and advaita vedanta).

Growing Up

can be segmented in different ways but has been repliacted in various places to show the general stages of development: Egocentric — interest in and compassion for self. Ethnocentric — interest in and compassion for the group (which therefore creates an ‘other’ group different to ours for which we don’t have compassion). Worldcentric —interest in and compassion for the world and all that’s in it. Kosmocentric — interest in and compassion for the whole cosmos.

Cleaning Up

is shadow work. Bringing to awareness the repressed emotional drives which were disallowed as children. Eventually these become so troublesome in life that we’re urged to act upon them. Life becomes unmanageable as we project our shadows onto ‘them out there’ when it’s in here that we need to bring our attention to. For example, when we think ‘they’re being controlling’ but the problem is coming from the projection of our own, un-owned, need for control.

Showing Up

is working in service, accepting responsbility and carving a self-initiated path to become who we are — unencumbered by the shadows we’ve been trying to keep hidden!

Opening Up

is recognising the gifts you bring, in the only way you can, and sharing them with the world. Ken talks about how we have multiple intelligences beyond the cognitive and verbal we are primarily taught in school and that those who don’t excel at those are likely to have strength in another intelligence, e.g. emotional, musical, aesthetic, spiritual.

So what does this have to do with some people being an awakened ass.

Well, it turns out that we interpret a Waking Up experience according to our stage of Growing Up.

So if you’re at Worldcentric or Cosmocentric — great! An awakened person at those levels is going to enable significant change for the good of the many.

But if you wake up at an Egocentric Level then you’re going to be an awakened ass! The self-centric behaviours are still in play and aren’t changed or developed through an awakening experience. Even at Ethnocentric, the ‘othering’ that goes on at that level with judgement about ‘the kind of people we like’ and ‘the kind of people we don’t’ will continue to play out.

I wonder though…it seems the Growing Up and/or Cleaning Up stages would happen more easily if the person was awake. If they put themselves in those opportunities, without an idea of self in the way to clog up the process, would they move more easily through the stages?

And is it in fact entirely OK that we have awakened asses, perfect just as they are to bring challenge to others and therefore beautifully equipped to help someone else go through their own process of Cleaning Up.

One last thing, if you’re seeing another as an ass, and given Cleaning Up is about recognising where we’re projecting our own shadows onto another, maybe do a bit of inquiry first to check what’s true about your own ass-like behaviour. Byron Katie’s The Work is a great place to start with that.

What do you think? I’d love to hear.

With love, Helen

I work with people who want a quieter mind and a more fulfilling life. They’re smart, passionate people who are curious about there being a better way. They’ve worked hard to get to here and yet something’s still missing: ‘is this it?’. In our work we explore and reconnect you to innate brilliance so you rediscover the real happiness, real security and real balance that you are. Find out more here.

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