Who Awakens? How to Be Free From Your Freedom

Keith Martin-SmithBuddha In Therapy, Perspectives, Self-Identity, Spiritual, Spirituality, Video 4 Comments

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In this talk, Keith Martin-Smith dives into some topics of particular interest to those on a spiritual path. While Ken Wilber and others have defined enlightenment and awakening using things like the Wilber-Combs Lattice and concepts like Wake Up, Grow Up, and Clean Up, Keith orients us in a somewhat different way (although we know Keith, and he is well-versed in those Integral maps).

He first addresses the question head on: what is awakening, exactly?

To answer this, he presents the listeners with a Zen koan, or riddle:

Who awakens?

Keith presents his own observations of the awakened state by exploring his experience that “we don’t awaken. Our egos don’t awaken. They can be transformed by the awakening process, but they themselves can’t and don’t awaken.”

He goes on to provide a detailed explanation of consciousness and its highest states (“No matter how glorious, how transcendent, consciousness is always in relationship to something else, even if that something is the godhead.”) and awareness (“Not ever in relationship to anything because it is seer and seen, both”). He goes on to explore that enlightenment and ignorance, and freedom and bondage, are always bound to one another — from an egoic point of view, from consciousness.

Keith says, therefore, true awakening must be one with the bondage of the ego, one with war, one with environmental ruin, one with the horrors of sex trafficking. It’s one with those things, not above them, not turning away from them in sadness, or towards in righteous rage. Awareness is with and is the pain of the world.

He has some fun exploring why most spiritual masters will not answer the question, “Are you enlightened” in a linear or straightforward way, because the question itself displays a profound lack of understanding of the nature of awakening.

Enjoy this discerning dive into the deep territory of awakening.

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It is possible to be liberated from the suffering of this world, but the path is a paradoxical one of embracing your ego even as you let it go. If you seek true liberation and freedom from the seemingly endless strife of life, you’re in the right place.

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Keith Martin-Smith

About Keith Martin-Smith

Keith Martin-Smith is an award-winning author, writing coach, and Zen priest. He is passionate about human connection, creativity, and evolution. His books include "The Mysterious Divination of Tea Leaves", "A Heart Blown Open", and "The Heart of Zen". His most recent book is his first novel, "Only Everything", a novel that explores the promise and the pain of following an artist's path.