I just came across this documentary on Netflix recently called Wake Up. Although it was produced back in 2010 so many of you might already be familiar with it. For those who aren’t, it’s about a guy called Jonas who, at the age of 37 he starts seeing phenomenon. He described people-like figures coming out from walls, bright lights, geometric shapes and particularly, the shape of a bicycle (which he later identified as a motorcycle) floating cross the top of the room, close to the ceiling and then fall to the floor. While Jonas did not understand it at the time, this vision was prophetic. Shortly afterwards, a good friend of his died in a motorcycle accident.
Jonas was raised with faith but was not overly-religious in adulthood, nor was he part of the New Age, spirituality movement. His immediate concern was that he might be mentally-I’ll. A series of medical tests and brain scans excluded potential causes of abnormalities such as a brain tumour; doctors were confident that it didn’t sound like schizophrenia or any mood disorder; it was not caused by a drug-induced state, which would have been the most obvious explanation. In short, Jonas does not fit neatly into any known psychiatric classifications.
He was introduced to an acupuncturist/healer called Abdi Assadi, who was able to offer up the following exhalation:
“Energetically speaking, something shifts in your consciousness where what traditionally is considered energy centres – chakras, which are different points in your body – they open up and give you access to different realities that we usually don’t have access to. Probably 90+% of electromagnetic phenomenon, which is what’s around us, is actually not visible to our five senses.”
Essentially Jonas is tapping into that 90+% that most of us cannot access. Abdi recommended regular, grounded meditation as this experience is not one that can be figured out by intellectually thinking about it.
Jonas then traveled to Rome to meet Umberto di Grazia, who photographs energies or spirits and Jonas wanted proof, not for himself but more so to convince others – in particular hi supportive but disbelieving partner Mara – of his experiences. The process works by Umberto taking images as people meditate. “In it’s simplest form, we all exist in dimensions that communicate with each other outside of the traditional space/time continuum.”
Umberto told Jonas that it Jonas’ friend, who died in an accident that started this whole process or experience. The pain of losing his friend was consuming Jonas.
When Umberto shows Jonas images that were taken, they clearly show shapes and warm/cool energy masses where Jonas had seen them. One image shows a face-like mass that is familiar to Jonas, he sees this regularly.
He is visibly relieved to confirm that this is happening outside of him and not just in his mind. The familiar mass is also familiar to Umberto, it is one that has been photographed on many occasions. Umberto believes that this entity/energy uses people as a gateway to see our world. It is not dangerous or evil. Umberto assures Jonas that he is not alone in his experiences. For Jonas, it is confirmation that he is not insane. In fact, while trying to convince his girlfriend Mara, he said that the worst thing for her to say would be that she believes that Jonas believes what he is seeing i.e. not that what he is seeing is actually there.
Stephen A. Schwartz of the Cognitive Sciences Laboratory, explains the phenomenon as follows:
“I think one of the most exciting things that is going on in science today is the idea that there is an aspect of us that exists outside of time/space. All consciousness is interconnected and interdependent. Jonas has simply become aware of an aspect of consciousness that most people are unaware of, that is going on around them all the time.”
When Jonas questions why this is happening and what it might mean, Schwartz has this to say:
“I would not make this the defining experience of my life. It is an interesting experience along the path but it is not the path. A year from now you will have to look back and ask yourself, what did I do with that experience? Who am I? Those are questions that are important and worth answering”.
These experiences can become launchpad for an exploration of our own inner-beingness and purpose.
Jonas definitely gets frustrated as several times throughout the documentary and meeting with all of these experts, mentors and gurus.
“There’s that old expression, ignorance is bliss; well that’s just crazy to me. I don’t want to sleepwalk through life”.
When Abdi meets Mara, he has another perspective on this. “It’s not a coincidence that the man in your life is going through this. It is to show you that there is an alternative life.”
Jonas later visits Ramtha’s School of Enlightenment, outside Seattle (run by J.Z. Knight), which aims to teach people how their brains work, how their bodies work and ask the question, what is my mind?
The documentary shows an number of exercises to prove the interconnectedness of the group, one of these exercises is blindfold archery.
“Some people leave here in greater chaos and that’s beautiful because that’s change; being in chaos means that you’re not still hanging onto your image [ego?], you know, this is who I am no matter what. He [Jonas] is good at falling apart, he’s going to be even better.”
Jonas’ enlightenment teaches him just him just how resistant he is to “join the spiritual club”. Mara is entirely skeptical here and considers this a cult – she questions whether the school is here to give to its students or to take from them…
Mid-way through the documentary Jonas concedes that his experiences are probably a wake-up call to join the spiritual path.
He then meets a Sufi mystic, or Sheikh, named LLewellyn Vaughan who takes a more philosophical approach to what Jonas is experiencing. #
“I always find it strange Americans believe in even Angels but they don’t believe in nature spirits. It’s only in the last few hundred years that we don’t do that anymore… What’s called belief in science, belief in rationalism, and so we actually developed a consciousness that cut ourselves off from the spirit world in all of its manifestations. That’s the rational mind, we actually created a veil between us and the spirit world.”
Spiritual practice gives us access to the light in us that protects us. LLewellyn warns us not to get caught up in the outer manifestation of our experiences. We don’t want to end up the people who have these amazing experiences but never really ‘get’ what they are about. We need to figures out where to are that light, that intelligence.
“Something in the human being always knows… A real experience is a complete shift in consciousness, and it’s terrifying because suddenly the parameters of your world change; the know world is no longer the known world”
Jonas asks “What’s the point is taking the world journey?”
LLewellyn replies “I’m a mystic so one would say it is to take the journey from one’s ego self to one’s divine nature … Then there is what people will call enlightenment… What is awoken in you is not a passing phase”
At the University of Arizona, Gary E. Schwartz Ph.D Professor of Neurology, Psychology and Medicine explains
“When we want to understand that everything we do and everything we are is energy, one of the ways to demonstrate this is to show that literally, the very act of moving is to create energy”.
Simply put, we are all connected by the energy we share, We are simply antennas for this energy.
It is at this point in the documentary that Mara speaks about losing a close friend of hers and how it affected her. It transpires that Jonas and Mara, despite having never met previously, shared a close mutual friend, Rob, who was killed in the motorcycle accident. They has known of each other through Rob but only met for the first time at his funeral. It is a powerful moment in the documentary when they both return to their hometown in Georgia to visit Rob’s mother, who provides great comfort to Jonas.
Jonas asks Mara to accompany him to meet Roshi Joan Halifax, a Buddhism Monk in Santa Fe. She offers Jonas the following solace:
“Most of us aren’t comfortable being with the unknown, we’re always looking for some reference point to make us feel comfortable. I would say that the thing that gets most people on the spiritual path, more than mystical experience, is suffering. This is the twenty-first century and it’s hell for many, many people. There’s a lot of grace too.”
Mara has her breakthrough moment in the Buddhist centre when sitting in the dining hall, she introduces herself to a fellow diner. Mara comments on how she is uncomfortable saying her name in the Buddhist centre as her namesake was the temptress in Buddhist lore or teachings. The fellow diner clarifies this by explaining that Mara was the one who doubted and questioned Buddha by demanding of him “Who do you think you are to have these experiences and to seek this enlightenment”. This clearly resonates with Mara who breaks down upon hearing it.
Jonas visited Princeton University to meet the team behind the Global Consciousness Project.
“We now have evidence of something that sages in all cultures or thousands of years have said; we are all one, because our consciousness is not confined to our skulls.”
The Global Consciousness Project started in 1998. The idea was that if really large numbers of people feel the same emotion and think the same thoughts, they create a real consciousness that makes the world different from what is would have been. The implication is to find out whether consciousness, intention and emotions are stuck inside your head or if they extend outward in a mind-matter connection. The project involves random number generators, using only the numbers one and zero. Mathematically, you would expect that 50% of the time they would generate ones and 50% of the time they would generate zeros. These generators work from 65 locations around the world, continuously, 24 hours a day, seven days a week. What transpired is that at times of crisis, or emotional outpouring, for example Princess Diana’s death, terrorist attacks of various kinds or the Tsunami that killed a quarter of a million people, the generator stopped producing random numbers. This is also true for pleasant events. What was found was a change from 50/50 odds to something different. When masses of people are paying attention to the same thing and feeling the same emotion, it causes these generators to stop being random and to act in a uniform way worldwide. For religious people who have witnessed the power of prayer, this will not come as any surprise. For the rest of us, it is scientific validation that we are, indeed, one. We are all tapping into a special, shared, state of consciousness.
“What this means, well beyond the data which is scientifically interesting, is that when we are brought together, either by external events or because we want to be together, we change the world.”
“There is a transition happening, we are moving into an era of global consciousness, we can’t deny that. We can’t get away from the fact that the world is one” – LLewellyn Vaughan
“We are facing perhaps now a tipping point, beyond which, things will have been set in motion that will be irreversible” – Gary E. Schwartz
“There is this deep hunger in the West for something that is real, as if people know that the civilisation we have created is like – what do they call it? – rearranging the deckchairs on the Titanic” – LLewellyn Vaughan
“You can’t change the world it’s too big, everyone has got their own world going on. What do you do? You change your life.” – J.Z. Knight
“It’s not really about searching outside, really, all these teachers I’ve met with, all their job was to turn my head inside so that I could look inside.” – Abdi Assadi
The final part of the documentary takes Jonas on a vision quest where he saw a vision of a tent-like structure, with all poles pointing in the same direction and he took that to be an analogy of religion. While, there are many differing religions and beliefs, they all lead to one universal power or entity.
It was a genuinely interesting documentary, honestly told, and what is most intriguing is how prevalent these experiences are; how often this electromagnetic phenomenon can reveal itself to us. The two take-away points for me are (1.) suffering is what gets most people on the spiritual path, and (2.) what is awoken inside is never a passing phase.
The word ‘victim’ has taken on a negative meaning over the past few decades.
Popular thinking is that you are either a victim or a survivor, however, Veritas Counseling in the US has now spoken out about ‘Parts Work’. This acknowledges each of us not as a singular being, but rather how we are made up of many parts – and these parts do not always respond to healing at the same time.
Above is the list of tenancies and behaviours that can be seen as people move (part by part) from the role of victim to survivor:
What do you think? Does this resonate with you at all..?
Spiritual awakening is not always gentle
Busy people with busy lives often miss or ignore signs from the universe telling them to look up, slow down, breathe and just be. If you miss the signs, the universe does not simply give up on you, it speaks to you in a way that you will understand; in a way that you cannot ignore. If you only understand shouting then the universe will shout at you.
When this happens, you will not need to ask the question ‘Was this an awakening?’ When this happens, it will physically rock your very core and you will be awake.
What is Spirituality in the modern age?
We need to stop looking outside of us. We need to stop chasing the picture of what we think a spiritual life looks like. The only effort on our part is to stop. Stop. Listen. Pay attention.
What is the universe trying to tell you?
The tradition of teaching and learning is strong in our quest for spiritual awakening. The need to find a guru, to follow a thought-leader, to seek guidance – and later, reassurance – from a ‘Master’ is natural. But none of these people, or books or studies can give you the answer you require. The answer you seek is already inside you. Masters and gurus, studies and research, these all have a single focus point, they will help you to ask the right questions of yourself. Knowing the right questions to ask, gets you closer to finding the answer for yourself, in yourself and by yourself. But for this you need clarity, and that, my friend, is what your search is really all about.
Understanding ego (with no capital ‘e’):
Fantasy, delusion, lies we tell ourselves – while these can be destructive, often times they are important and serve as useful tools for coping and self-preservation. But at some point we need to lose the crutch. At some point we need to stop fooling ourselves. Unfortunately, when we stop fooling ourselves, we look around and realise that we stopped fooling others some time ago. This is harsh. It is at this time that we really begin to judge ourselves and, when held up against the image of our former – but less authentic – selves, we will be found wanting.
This is a vulnerable time and a particularly difficult stretch on the path to spiritual awakening for most people. When we face up to reality we need to ensure that we are facing our true reality and not just accepting the projections of our family, our friends and of the people – albeit well-meaning people – around us.
The power of affirmations is a double-edged sword
Affirmations are another important tool, for use on ourselves or on others. But affirmations can work against us. They can help us accept with a situation that ought not to be accepted. They can help us cope with the status quo when, in reality, you deserve better. I deserve better. Sometimes, we have to say ‘No’. ‘No, I do not accept this current situation, or this current financial state or this deeply toxic relationship; Just no’. Affirming a situation gives it power, when in reality, what we need to affirm is our ability to make tough decisions and to take tough action. Affirm yourself ready for the challenge of taking that action. For example, it’s okay that it takes as long as it takes; it is NOT okay to do nothing about it.
Originally published on www.IrishCentral.com
I have never considered myself an emigrant. Yes, I have left Ireland at least three times in my life with the intention of working but I always left with the intention of returning to Ireland within a few years. On the first two occasions I returned to home soil within a few months. The first escape was to London and the few months spent double-jobbing below minimum wage motivated me to return to Ireland to study. Ten years later I tried again, this time with degrees and young daughter in tow, I made for the South of France. This move was an experiment in remote working, I was planning to work in the mornings, file work over the internet and spend the afternoons on the beach. It sounded perfect but my plan was not without it’s flaws, principally, I was running my own business in Ireland. Within a few weeks it was clear that my business was not ready for a remote owner/manager so we accepted our fate and – after an entirely pleasurable sojourn between Cannes and Monaco – we returned to Ireland. I threw myself in my business in Ireland throughout the economic crisis, however, foreign shores were calling and a holiday was never going to be enough. And that is how I found myself living in Spain with my daughter enjoying her transition year in a local school, which lurched precariously over the sea, learning Philosophy and Latin through French and Spanish. My work as a property writer and market commentator in Ireland and the UK continued remotely for a while but the unconsidered truth of the matter is that travel changes people. A new setting changes the mindset. Past goals become irrelevant and, little by little, our new home becomes us. Perhaps that it why so-called emigrants seek out the hidden Irish taverns down the side streets of foreign lands, to keep us from becoming a part of our current landscape for as long as possible; to ensure that we are wearing our Irish identity. Still, I did not consider myself or my daughter to be emigrants. With thanks to the technological advances of social media, video chats and message streaming, Ireland felt very close. Yes, Ireland felt very close, until I needed to be there…
One balmy Saturday evening, in our little corner of Spain where the desert meets the sea, I sat on the terrace, refilled my wine glass and relaxed into the view. “Jamie sent me a message, you have to contact John urgently”. It took me a moment to process what my daughter was saying; ‘Jamie’, ‘John’, ‘urgently’. Something was wrong at home. Within that moment I just knew. Of course it was bad, nothing good is talked about ‘urgently’.
I phoned my brother John, he only had to say a few words “It’s Dad. I’m sorry” I cannot remember the rest of the conversation, maybe we didn’t have one. None was needed. Dad was gone. In a single moment everything changed. I could not believe, I had seen him only two days earlier. He and my mother had spent 10 days with us in our adopted home of Spain, I had driven them both to the airport on Thursday evening. It didn’t feel like it could possibly be true.
I have always believed that every day brings with it moments that have the potential to change our lives but in my naivety, I did not understand what that meant, until now. Until that message.
The world has become more accessible in recent decades and this is a good, and important, thing for a small island nation. Spain is a three hour plane ride away from Ireland but at moments when your life is falling apart, that distance – or any distance – feels interminable. At 9pm on a Saturday night, I was in Spain when the place I needed to be was Ireland. Home.
Flights were arranged for the following day at 3pm, which felt like an eternity away. How could I not be in Ireland right now? How could my Dad not be there? How could everything be just gone? I cannot even remember that night. My teenage daughter, who was very close to my Dad, was distraught. There was no comfort and that three hour distance might as well have been interplanetary. There was no way home tonight and somehow it felt that when the world woke tomorrow, if this was real, home would no longer be home. The world would be different. This sense made me not want to sleep, as if by staying awake I could stop the sun rising and we would remain in this day, a day that my Dad had woken, and gardened and drank coffee and existed.
But morning came. Reality remained and a wave of numbness kicked in. And the numbness was a relief. It softened the feeling of being isolated. Not just emotionally, but geographically. I have been a single parent for most of my daughter’s life but that night was the most alone I have ever felt. I could not bring myself to contact friends, locally or in Ireland. I could not find the words to explain how life had changed, how this wonderful, strong, interesting man was just gone. There was no warning, no deteriorating health, no accident; he was gone. It was as simple and as confusing as that.
We got to the airport, a small, regional airport that services a handful of flights daily and we were hours early. As we entered the abandoned terminal, where not even the security personnel had taken up their posts for the day, the only other traveller was a man, who we presumed to be Irish due to his Tipperary GAA jersey. And a realisation came crashing down that I was standing in the place where where I had last seen my father. Where we had hugged our farewells and made plans for our next trip to Ireland and my parents’ next visit to Spain. If I had known that was going to be the last time I ever saw him alive, would I have said something different?
While at the airport I received a message from a cousin,whom I had not seen for many years. The message was a short one but one that was loaded with ‘journey back’. And she knew. Several years ago her mother had died suddenly. She too had gotten that sickening phone call, she too had to concern herself with comforting her children, while organising clothes and packing for home, for a funeral, just to get to the airport, the effort it takes to wait for the plane, the feelings of urgency to be home and perhaps she too felt the descent into the Irish airport as marking the end of a huge part of her life. I have often read that we only ever mature into full adulthood following the loss of a parent, perhaps this is true. Or more likely, we do not stop to think about what stage of life we are at because, up until this point the lucky ones among us have the unquestioned cushion of unconditional love and support.
Immediately after the funereal I contemplated moving back to Ireland as I thought that it would be the right thing to do, for my daughter and perhaps for my mother. ‘Home’ is not just about the economic opportunities and the price of houses. I wonder, do emigrants leaving their country and their family understand that if they stay away for a long period of time, it is very likely that they will be making this journey of sadness? Or worse, when that dreaded phone call comes, will they be able to make that journey home at all? The irrational guilt of having left hides somewhere in the back of the mind.
I realised that up until the moment my father died, I had only ever felt empathy but never before had I experienced grief. There is a hierarchy of grief, once there was someone closer to the deceased than you, the feeling is empathy not grief. Empathy is a selfless emotion whereas grief is incredibly selfish. There is a sheer indulgence with grief that you can try to fight but it will consume you; fighting only delays the inevitable. There will come a point when you have to give in, that might be for a private moment, or for a day or even a month but the way that I have come to think about grief is that it is like a tunnel that you have to go through. You might not know how long this tunnel will be when you enter but know this – there must be an exit to that tunnel. What lies that the other end will definitely be different to the life you know. And you will be different, but that’s okay. Just remember, a tunnel without a way out fast becomes a cave.
If I had known when was going to be the last time I ever saw my Dad, would I have said something different? Of course I would have said something different or at least something more, I would have said everything. I would held on so tight and never let go. But life is not like that, and death is not like that. Facts remain. For as long as I live, that little airport in the middle of Spanish nowhere will always be the last place I saw my Dad. This is now a part of my life story. This gives Spain a much bigger part to play within that story. And as more of my life evolves outside of Ireland, and less remains in Ireland, the word ‘Home’ loses some of it’s power. My home is now where I am with my daughter; but it is also where my mother is; and it where my friends and family are – right now, that is not any one country. Perhaps as the years roll on, nostalgia with exaggerate my Irishness and tug on my heartstrings, but today, this gap in my heart will not be filled by any place, but rather by rebuilding family relationships and redefining what ‘Home’ means to me.