The Basics — 13 key points about the flow of awakening

  1. You are born. You die. In the middle some stuff happens. We have trouble with the middle stuff but really it’s simple once we see that it’s all awareness. Our basic state is awareness. Everything else pops up as points of view in awareness.
  2. The only essential question is:  Is there enough joy and lightness and compassion in my life? Maybe your essential question is a little different but you know what I mean. This is it. And if there isn’t enough joy and lightness it can only be because you’re not seeing clearly. You’re not seeing beyond the wall of beliefs and thoughts.

    Bash Bish Revisited

    photo credit: BurningQuestion

  3. You already know this intuitively: you don’t have to look to an external God or the Law of Attraction or self-improvement or any complicated spiritual methodology to know that when you are light, joyful, peaceful and loving, you will naturally attract a good full life.
  4. The point of living is to live consciously, rather than in reaction to conditioning and ego and beliefs. Yet most of us are on autopilot, caught in the delusions of the mind. We live according to our thoughts and beliefs and stuck patterns. It’s much easier to live consciously, in intuitive and innocent awareness.
  5. The biggest obstacle to being conscious is identification with thought, which causes thought and beliefs to be compulsive. Attachment to thought creates an opaque and smothering curtain of concepts and beliefs and judgments. We feel claustrophobic and contracted and incomplete. This opaque wall of labels and judgments gives us the delusion that we are separate from everything else, and gives us a sense of dread and sorrow and incompleteness. Contracted in this way, we don’t see clearly, and then we have no purpose, no clarity, no intuition, and no flow.
  6. There are probably many ways to see through the delusions of Maya. The methods I talk about here are simple and easy to integrate in daily living. There are absolutely no pre-requisites and no hoops and no progression and no spiritual hierarchy. The trick is to develop spaciousness in our minds and bodies. Develop Awareness. Learn how to Release.
  7. Awareness is innate—that is it requires no belief or concept or effort to be. One good Awareness technique is to observe your thoughts. Whenever you remember, use our inner stop, to stop and watch thoughts that come and go. Don’t judge, don’t analyze, don’t get up in the stories of the thoughts—simply watch as a passive witness. This helps creates spaciousness.
  8. One good Release technique, is to allow, watch and let go.
  9. Some other things that can help: Develop a Gentle self-Honesty so you can distinguish between the thoughts of the ego and Essence. “Cease to cherish opinion” and thus uncling from concepts and beliefs. It can be helpful to know how the mind and ego and pain-body operate.
  10. There are times of inertia and confusion. During these times, we can decide to love ourselves, and be patient.
  11. These methods can take some effort in the beginning. But at some point effort too can be let go of, and then we are in the flow of awakening. It works on its own, without any interference from the “me.” In the end, all effort and methods and concepts are left behind.
  12. Spiritual Concepts: I have a simple view of spiritual concepts. They are not Truth but simple teaching devices, and in my experience it is best not to take any spiritual knowledge too seriously. Samskara is the conditioning and beliefs and ego which builds up in us, as the ego reacts to life. Karma is our tendency to live according to this conditioning. We make a choice in every moment to live reactively or to live consciously, and so karma is a choice, and overcoming karma does not require any sort of crazy ascetic payback. Overcoming karma is simply choosing to be conscious. Maya is the powerful delusion—a case of mistaken identity. Who we think we are is not who we are. Brahma is awareness—it is one and we can choose to tune into it or not. Life mutually arises with all that there is. Unenlightenment is believing the delusion that there is separation; enlightenment (yoga/moksha/nirvana) is the seeing through of the delusion. Awakening is a process. Leela is this, the playground where consciousness chooses to experience.
  13. Heart concepts: My intuitive understanding of acceptance, forgiveness, love, gratitude and surrender deepened when I realized that they are not something I do, but rather something I stop doing. Acceptance is not something we do; acceptance is when we let go of resistance. Forgiveness is not something we do; it is something we stop doing—we stop holding on to the past and we see that everyone does absolutely the best they can under the circumstances of their conditioning. Love is not something we force; it is there when we let go and allow. When there is no more to let go of, that is surrender.

36 thoughts on “The Basics — 13 key points about the flow of awakening

  1. Paul Maurice Martin

    “The biggest obstacle to being conscious is identification with thought…”

    Is it possible to state something like this and not identify with it to some degree? As usual, I basically agree with you and haven’t actually thought-through how I’d answer this question!

    1. Kaushik Post author

      Hi Paul,
      Many of us don’t see that thought, that is the voice of thought in our heads, is not a who we are. Awareness is vast and most of us have conditioned ourselves to believe that the who we are is this small, contracted voice of thought in awareness.

      I hope you are well, my friend!

      love and peace,

  2. Brenda (betaphi)

    Thirteen is my favorite number and this is my favorite post. You have simplified everything. I can remember this. The measure is joy, lightness and compassion. The method is surrender. Release all effort and just be. I can do this.

    If you use the terms in #12 again and again, I might be able to remember them. I love “Leela,” the playground of consciousness. Is it pronounced ‘lay’ or ‘lee’? Are these Buddhist terms? What is the language? I seem to want to know more.

    I’m so glad Anastasiya put this post in her Book of Wisdom. It’s a great post, and I love the picture. Congratulations, Kaushik. It’s getting very real in here.
    .-= Brenda (betaphi)´s last blog ..Me Mom & Dad =-.

    1. Kaushik Post author

      Hi Brenda,
      I think it was Mark Twain who wrote a letter to someone and then said he would have liked to make it shorter but didn’t have time. Simplicity and Awareness develop together.

      The model in 12 is the Advaita model and for me, it’s just a way to make sense of reality. Thaddeus Golas in “The Lazy Man’s Guide to Enlightenment” uses another model that I like: that we are all same beings at varying levels of expansion and contraction. We don’t need a model at all–it’s best to see reality as is.

      Thanks again for the kind words and encouragement, my friend!

      love and peace,

    2. Kaushik Post author

      Brenda, I didn’t answer your questions in the last reply. It’s ‘lee’la (sometimes spelled lila). This is a Hindu model. Buddhism does use some of the same concepts and they generally use Pali words, whereas Hinduism uses Sanskrit. Samskara and Sankara, for example.

  3. Megan "JoyGirl!" Bord

    What a beautiful list, Kaushik, and #13, especially, sang to me.

    As I look back on my spiritual progression – my journey of awakening, as it were – I can see how for nine years I’ve learned many concepts, and some I’ve mastered at different times and for different reasons. What’s happened in the past two months, though, is that all of those concepts have merged into one bigger understanding of who and what I am in this world. I no longer “do the concepts.” They concepts are operating at a cellular level most days and I simply ALLOW.

    Like learning to dance, there comes a day when all the moves a person has learned flow together and become an effortless expression of movement, rather than a choreographed production.
    .-= Megan “JoyGirl!” Bord´s last blog ..SURPRISE! Spread Joy, Have Fun =-.

    1. Kaushik Post author

      Hi JoyGirl Megan,
      My experience has been exactly the same. It seems there is a lesson and the lesson is integrated when it is no longer conceptual. It is all about letting go, letting go fear, allowing with patience, loving oneself…these lessons merge at a deep cellular level.

      Ah, yes, just like a dance!

      Thanks, Megan, I hope you are well.

      love and peace,

  4. Liara Covert

    Appreciate your astute observations and sharing. Much resonates. What truly stands out is your gentle reminder that existence is often perceived as a pursuit of happiness when it is the letting go of conditioning that reveals what you temporarily repress or deny. Love, acceptance, unconditional love never leave anyone. People simply choose to obscure or postpone their experience the truth.
    .-= Liara Covert´s last blog ..Experience the stillness =-.

  5. Jan

    I’m so pleased you’ve posted at my blog of late. Thank you. It is so good to know that you are here and I appreciate the wisdom you share. It seems we are kindred in many ways. I’m especially drawn to your “release” technique. It works wonders (takes a bit of practice at first) but when it begins to take hold, our lives are transformed. I’ll be returning… Blessings

    1. Kaushik Post author

      Hi Jan,
      It’s good to see you here. My experience with releasing is similar: at first some resistance, then practice, and then it works quietly and the realization that it has been transforming comes later.

      I look forward to your visits.

      love and peace,

  6. Sarah

    I love this post. Now I have to find a way to link to it from one of mine, like a bookmark to myself, so I can read it again in the future.

  7. Lisa (mommymystic)

    I echo everyone’s sentiments here – this really is a great list. It just gets right to the heart of the matter, and touches on every key point. And I love that there are 13, it is one of my favorite numbers, since mythologically it is often associated with women, and with being ‘outside the box’ (you know me and myths and symbols…:-)

    I like all of them, but was glad to see #3 here especially “when you are light, joyful, peaceful and loving, you will naturally attract a good full life”, since it speaks directly to the ‘trends’ out there in spirituality today (LOA vs. non-duality, and I don’t really think it is a ‘vs’ but some people do), and how they correspond. Although I guess personally I would say when we are light we ‘experience’ life as good and full, regardless of what happens, as opposed to ‘attracting’ it, because I don’t think there’s ever any guarantee difficult things won’t happen to us…the lapsed Buddhist in me, I suppose, focusing on our response rather than the external…
    .-= Lisa (mommymystic)´s last blog ..TRUTH- Quotes and Reflections =-.

    1. Kaushik Post author

      Hi Lisa,
      That’s interesting–13 didn’t occur to me as anything significant. It just worked out that way.

      From our various conversations, I think you and I have a similar view of trends and methodologies. They are simply viewpoints, sometimes very resonant and helpful, but ultimately, they are points of view in Awareness, not Awareness.

      Yes, I completely agree, we ‘experience’, not attract, and we judge good or bad, when it is just what it is, not good or bad, but experience. As the Bard said through Hamlet, “..for there is nothing either good or bad, but thinking makes it so. To me it is a prison.”

      Thanks, Lisa, as always, for your wonderful insights.

      love and peace,

  8. Patty - Why Not Start Now?

    You know, Kaushik, I come here and read and relax, sinking into the moment. I first read this yesterday but didn’t comment because perhaps I just needed to be light, joyful, peaceful, and loving. It’s almost like I feel reading poetry, not wanting to think too much about it but just enter it. Thanks for that. I hope it makes sense!
    .-= Patty – Why Not Start Now?´s last blog ..Being Alive =-.

    1. Kaushik Post author

      Hi Patty,
      It’s always wonderful to hear from you. You’re absolutely right, I too absorb best when I am still and light.

      Thanks for the keen insight. I hope you are well.

      love and peace,

    1. Kaushik Post author

      Hi Jodi,

      Honestly succinctness and simplicity in writing is developing and continues to develop. Thank you for your kind and encouraging words! I hope you are well too.

      love and peace,

  9. Liara Covert

    This is the mood, the attitude that emerges as you begin to set the self free. It is as if what is stored in your vibrational energy field is lingering and knowing you are begining to access it. This process is the alignment of conscious mind with who you truly are every moment.
    .-= Liara Covert´s last blog ..What if everything is always well? =-.

  10. Mikkel

    Happy New Year, Kaushik.
    Im returning to your incredible thoughts here on your blog once again. You are always mindblowing. What happened to me during the last year is a greater suffering dealing with something beyond myself and beyond human. Your key statement nr. 2 is the question Im asking myself right now. For my whole life I always taught others to become aware of everything and see the fire of life and its beauty, and this is certainly what stands strongest in my mind among everything.
    Is there enought joy and lightness in my life? Im just wondering if there is equally much, or more, evil in the world, as good? That idea is something I decided that I had to assume, since I really couldn´t know. It is hard to swallow and I feel that all my positive energy gets drained by its negative equivalent. Would you say, that Im just not seeing clear at the moment? My idea is, that there is equally good and evil, both representing a neutral concept of existensialism of course, and that totally changes ones conception of good, since good is kind of evil. Its not joyful, rather fiery and totally draining. Im not talking about the evil of the ego in particular, since Im already far over that. It is more like a generel philosofy that is perhabs satanic. Do you agree that there is equally good and evil, and that it is connected, since good is the ego of anything, as well as it is evil? Is it a matter of perception, and that we are supposed to get rid of the usual experience of good, that it is something not just pleasant? Im just confused and exhausted and need someone to confront.

    1. Kaushik Post author


      You have had an important insight.

      There is no truth in beliefs or ideas. Awakening is in fact a destructive process of letting go of your ideas and beliefs, and that includes cherished beliefs of good and evil.

      Awakening has nothing to do with ideas or spirituality.

      This is hard for people to accept, but awakening also has nothing to do with changing yourself. Whenever we get on the path to awakening, people have, in subtle or obvious ways, the goal to change themselves. People want to be more spiritual, or better people, more peaceful, more compassionate, better decision makers and so on. These are not bad things but they do not lead to awakening.

      Freedom is not about changing yourself. Freedom is being free of everything, including being free of the strong desire to change. Change happens on its own.

      There are a number of techniques which have worked very well for me, and so that’s what I recommend to people now. Here’s some of them:

      1. All of awakening comes down to willingness and looking. When you are willing, honesty and courage will develop. And the rest is looking, direct observation. Look, with honesty and courage.
      2. Beliefs and ideas and practices have nothing to do with awakening. “Do not seek Truth; simply cease to cherish opinion.” Notice that many people who are very attached to particular spiritual traditions are really just very attached to their stories of suffering.
      3. See that “you do not exist.” Everything you do, say, think and feel, you do for a self which does not really exist. So this is the first step.
      4. Learn the release technique. It helps us understand the nature of emotions and helps us let go of the pain-body.
      5. “Observing thought” is a good technique. It helps to slow down the momentum of thoughts and helps us see the nature of beliefs and ideas and thoughts.
      6. Surrender plays a role in awakening. I have not fully explored this, so I am not able to articulate this well yet, but letting go of the strong desire for control (and security and approval) is an important step in awakening.
      7. Some of the teachers who I find to be direct and fluff-free are mentioned in the External Resources page.

      I hope this helps.


      1. Mikkel

        Im really thankful for your support, when I need it. And for immediate responding. It all makes perfectly sence. I think the important thing for me and for others is to keep maintaining this mental sphere of letting go every morning as the first thing, because it seems to be a temporary knowledge that can only be felt after a great deal of work and time and which easily disappear if one doesn´t focus.
        Can I ask you, are you into classical music? This is my life, and what it is, is probably the most remote from predetermined human programming, as it, for many composers, builds on the rational philosofy of seaking the random as itself. Many composers spent their life to train their ability to generate sound as many faced as possible, and keep opening their mind. The beauty in random sound is actually what everything is about, I think. I have learned as well, that the ego can turn itself into whatever it will by very little effort. I have never doubted the light of waves, but suddently comes the crisis of enormous evil force and I feel…insecure. I feel insecure of my own rational thought, as if everything is flickering. I suppose that the absolute surrender is the only thing that wouldn´t flicker in such a way, though the theorization of it, which is the only part that most people get access to, certainly does.

        1. Kaushik Post author

          I do listen to classical music. Western, and some Indian. I like to listen, but my musical abilities are very limited.

          I see what you are saying about composing. It’s like giving a rational structure to something which is very free and open. I have compared awakening to feeling of flow, the natural state when we are able to let life live through us. We experience this often in music, art, sports. It’s happens because the “me” disappears.

          The ego is just thoughts and emotions. Beliefs and ideas–that’s all the ego is. It does seem like an “enormous evil force” sometimes but it only has power when we give it power.

          Keep looking, Mikkel.

  11. Kristin

    I loved the simplicity of this list. I am feeling a bit stuck though on the concept of living consciously by letting go. How much of that is sitting back and letting things happen as opposed to getting involved and impacting the outcomes? Could this look like complacency to some?

    1. Kaushik Post author

      Hi Kristin,

      I believe the skill of letting go is innate to a fully functioning human being, and so letting-go is not really a skill, it is something that you already instinctively want to do.

      Try to let go (using the release technique which I have here, or any other technique which appeals to you), and with a little experience you will see it is natural. In fact it requires mental effort to not let-go.

      The confusion between letting-go and complacency is common. I think it is the fear in us which immediately equates letting-go with complacency. It often comes up in the form of “if someone is beating me up should I just let go and accept?” The answer is a resounding no.

      Letting go is not complacency. It’s the letting go of harsh emotions and fear. It does not imply that you stop defending yourself, or that you must remain in a situation you don’t like, or that you stop yourself from taking strong action if the situation requires it. And it does not imply that you do not follow your motivation. It’s simply the letting-go of fear, negativity, and harsh emotions. When an emotion comes up in me, I see it as a message, an internal memo. When I’ve received and understood the message I no longer need to feel the emotion. And so I let go of it.


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