There are moments in life when you get a slap from life to wake you up from the deep delusion that you have been dreaming. The delusions that were created by society to mask people from the real truth. It has been like this since we were all children. Most of the things we were taught in school or learned from family are just beliefs passed down from prior generations.
Most people never question the whys of how things are. We just passively follow along with our animal nature. That's how it usually goes for most people until an event so drastic that shakes the depth of a few lucky individuals to actually wake them up from the dream.
Waking up from depth of a slumber is hard to do in our normal sleep. But waking up from delusion (maya) to the truth is even harder because we have built up our entire identities upon it. This means we would need to confront our ego attached with those identities. Just like the dreamer can dream within a dream, we have layers of dreams to wake up from.
I have experienced several layers of my own waking up process in life. First, it was when I was in college. After graduating high school without much social skills, I was determined to get better with girls. I had joined a faux-frat in order to expose myself to more opportunities for that goal. It wasn't until one day a classmate of mine had invited me over to her place to study did I realize how bad I was at this.
I remember we were in her room studying and at one point I had playfully push her down. She gazed at me with longing eyes and I just froze. Instinctively I knew she liked me and wanted me to make a move to proceed further. But I didn't do anything and just left. After getting back home I immediately googled "how to seduce a girl". This led me down the rabbit hole into the world of pickup.
The pickup world has its own lingos and jargons which I thought was cool. I read day and night on articles pickup artists and newbies alike had wrote. It was almost like a new religion for me to study as much as possible while making the minimal amount of effort in actual school courses. There is this term
red-pill that gets thrown around quite often. The term was coined from the movie "The Matrix" when Morpheus gave Neo a choice between a blue pill and a red pill. The red pill signifies the truth and swallowing the red pill means swallowing the truth.
My notion about romance and the opposite sex came solely from Disney and other romantic movies. Those stories usually paint the girl as pure angels without many blemishes. It wasn't just those movies but society in general promotes this falsehood notion about how attraction between opposite sex actually happens. I could now see it everywhere once I had swallowed the red pill.
Unfortunately, sex is a taboo subject so hardly anyone talks about it out in the open. This was primarily why a whole cult of pickup artists was developed and congregated on the internet forums. Swallowing the red pill was not easy. I needed time to process these new found truths as well as observing the world from this new perspective. After I had accepted this new perspective, I had to put myself into action.
This took years of continual trials and errors. I had to discipline myself into taking actions and not just doing mental masturbations. It was really hard at first because like learning any new skill, you suck at it in the beginning. The learning had a direct feedback mechanism because I was interacting with a girl each time. It was brutal for the ego to take the continual lashes but I was determined. I had woken up from the dream casted out by society.
The second layer of waking up came to me several years after I had graduated from college. I was bouncing between careers. Even though I had graduated with an engineering degree I never found a traditional job to go with it. Instead I had my own hustle I started in college which I parlayed into real estate. After several years in the real estate business, my mom wanted me to be in a stable job so she insisted I find a stable job working for the government. I reluctantly agreed.
The job was awful in the sense I didn't like the dead-end environment and I felt I was a prison. Fortunately, I had a side hustle selling weed to boost my creative entrepreneurial ability. At the same time, I was chasing tails whenever I had free time as I had ended a long relationship and smoking generous amounts of weed in my spare time. It was the culmination of those factors that led me to an existential crisis. I didn't know who I was anymore. This led to me to experience a breakdown of mild depression.
I saw a few therapists but intuitively I knew no one knows me better than myself. I was one step away from taking anti-depressant pills but my neighbor warned me about the zombie-state aftereffect. The storm of life lashed at my mind a cacophony of negative thoughts which I can never turn off. The constant negative noise greatly sapped my energy and I felt lifeless as I couldn't recharge my lost energy. I actually contemplated why people commit suicide and put myself in their shoes. I can relate in those dark moments.
On the brighter note as I reflect back, even during those dark moments I knew I wasn't those negative thoughts. I knew I was the observer watching those noise passing by. Unfortunately, I lacked the skills and the tools to deal with those incessant negativities effectively.
As I googled around other people's depression experiences online I found something related to Ayahuasca. This led me down the road of taking a trip down to Peru to partake in Ayahuasca ceremonies with shamans. From the very first ceremony, I felt like I had been revived. Mother Ayahuasca had brought back the kid in me when I was full of energy filled with curiosity. The other three ceremonies cemented the love for myself and how we connected we all are as part of that love. In essence, I was enveloped with love. I had woken up from the dream of my own mind.
The last layer of waking up came to me gradually after my first Ayahuasca retreat. Life had brought me a restart in life in the literal sense as I had moved to a new city to start a dev bootcamp. There was a gym that I go to which had yoga classes in the evenings. I started attending those yoga classes and found myself enjoying them. Slowly my life was moving in the direction of yoga and meditation.
Around the same time, I had listened to a book called "The Surrender Experiment" by Michael A. Singer. I had to listen to the book several more times after I had finished it the first time. I felt his life's story was very similar to mine and I was in awe listening to his story about surrendering to life's message instead of his own mind's thoughts. This inspired me to reflect back in my own life to see the synchronicities between each event that had transpired.
It would be a few years later and after my return from a mini sojourn in Europe to take a trip to see Micky at Temple of the Universe. I had once heard someone said "If a person is important enough, you would fly out to meet him in person". I took that advice and drove over there instead. Interestingly enough, according to Google Maps the journey was exactly 1000 miles.
The journey of a thousand miles begins with one step. - Lao Tsu
It was also around this time I had started reading "The Autobiography of a Yogi" by Paramhansa Yogananda. This book had always been around and I had encountered with it a few times in my life too but I just never got interested enough to read it. I did try to listen to the audiobook once but my mind was not receptive enough to take in the deep teachings. Micky had also read the book decades earlier and had became a disciple of Yogananda. So I was determined to read it.
I had begun reading it as well as listening to the audiobook when I was driving. This time the story totally captured my attention and my mind was very receptive to the deep teachings poured from Yogananda. The story told by Yogananda was even more awe-inspiring than Micky's story. I still hadn't finished the book by the time I had arrived to the temple. But I was excited to meet Micky in person.
I arrived on Saturday night and somehow found the place in the dark. Two girls also came to meet Micky for the first time. We chatted for a bit and waited for the evening service. After the chanting and meditation we went around to introduce ourselves. I stayed behind to chat with a long-time resident and we connected well. I told her that I had listened to Micky's book about 33 times. She was amazed and later asked if I would like to take a walk with Micky and her. I excitedly jumped at the opportunity.
Micky gave me a tour of his offices where he had built his software company. I told him about my Ayahuasca experience and he related to me the metaphor of watching a show on TV but always remember who the watcher is. He told me to remember at every moment what this spiritual practice is all about. I asked for a hug and left soon after.
After I had finished the book, I wanted to continue on my spiritual path and the only way I felt was to learn Kriya Yoga. I searched online around and found my way into Ananda. Later I found out that Micky had also went to Ananda for his Kriya initiation. There are four steps to go through and the process takes about a year. It was a good thing that I had been practicing meditation by myself for a few years already.
It was here did I realize yoga is more than just the postures (asanas). Yoga is a wholistic teaching on how to live and meditation is a big component of it. The word yoga means union. Union with whom? Union with God.
For me the concept of God was nebulous and distant. I never really thought about God in the grand sense but more from the religious sense. If someone had mentioned God to me back then, I would imagine a bearded figure nesting in a part of the Universe creating and controlling everything in existence.
Yogananda freely spoke of God as his breath flowed. God is as real and tangible to Yogananda as a physical table. His words and energy behind his words brought God into my daily life as I started to seek the deeper truth of Life. Thus I had became a disciple of Yogananda through Kriya initiation. From his profound wisdom, I'm slowly but surely waking up from the dream of God.
I'm still continuing on my spiritual path (sadhana) as I'm writing this. The journey is a long one but I'm enjoying the moments along the path. There are still moments in my life where I feel like I'm asleep in the sense I feel like I'm ignorant of the truth. During those times, I'm probably making unwise decisions which will have consequences down the path.
In every decision we make and take actions with, we inevitably will have the consequences to go along with it - whether it be "good" or "bad". This cause-effect is called karma. When you experience a difficult event at a particular moment, do not get swept up by that flow of energy. Trust that the flow of events will carry you into the path of waking yourself up.
The first step towards waking up is to be aware. You're more than half way there if your awareness can pierce through the identities your ego has accumulated. When you become curious enough to take that first step, you are also taking the first step on your spiritual path. Now wake up!