The pursuit of enlightenment is an age old quest which involves high risk for high reward; at least that is prevailing narrative. As it turns out, enlightenment is tricky business in a material world, not easily attained and rarely achieved, even with great effort.
Between ignorance and enlightenment there are varying degrees of spiritual awareness, and having a more spiritually aware understanding of the world often brings many challenges. This article will discuss some of those challenges.
What Does it Mean to be Spiritually Aware?
Spiritual awareness is what we experience when we get beyond normal sensory input, reactive thinking, and living just to function and survive. We do not just exist in our surroundings, we become conscious of them and seek meaning for and in our existence. When you question “why” regarding just about anything, you are brushing up against spiritual awareness, no matter what the topic, how hard you pursue the answer, or how often you attempt to see “beyond the veil.”
Getting beyond “just existing” may seem like a very good thing, but if that were entirely true, we would not have the saying, “ignorance is bliss.” Spiritual awareness often creates psychological, emotional, and life consequences that are not always or often pleasant, making living a life more, not less challenging.
Some of the Challenges
This list is not exhaustive, just some examples to help you understand the costs involved in developing spiritual awareness that are worth knowing, not to keep you from pursuing spiritual awareness or greater spiritual awareness, but just so you can be more prepared, safe, and perhaps, less resentful. Yes, spiritual awareness can lead to resentment.
The World is Messy, and It is Supposed to Be
I am far enough along in this life journey and many, many reincarnations to be confident enough to see that being a spiritual being having a physical experience is a constant oscillation between the physical and spiritual realms without an end goal to stay in the spiritual realm or make the physical realm a spiritual place. The coin, as they say, has two sides and it keeps flipping endlessly.
As I watch the world progress and regress at one and the same time, it is spiritual awareness that allows me to see how both are functioning and always functioning in this way across the whole of human history, written down, remembered, forgotten, and lost. There is nothing new under the sun, when it comes to spiritual beings incarnating in the physical world. We may have “moved the needle” at different times in history, like improving medical knowledge or technology, but we have not changed the needle.
All the darkness and light of consciousness keep the world a messy place in order for our souls to keep learning, to feel challenges and overcome them, or fail and fall, and learn from that experience as well. It’s not that nothing matters; its that everything matters, in different ways and to different degrees and for different reasons, for each of us.
Difference is Isolating
Spiritual awareness can and often does lead to separation, just like anything that increases specialization. Think of spiritual awareness as a form of consciousness specialization that can and will push you out of a larger pool of belonging, especially if you excel at it. Using a physical metaphor is an easy way to explain this challenge. Professional athletes are very rare when compared to the society as a whole. And when it comes to competing in their sport, they quickly learn that their competition group gets smaller and smaller as the advance to their peak performance level.
Consider American football, one of the most popular sports in the country. Nearly every high school has a program, which feeds players into the college system, where most four-year colleges have a program, which feeds into the professional National Football League (NFL). The high school starting number in a given year is just over 1,000,000, and the number of players drafted into the NFL in a given year is 256, or .000256% (https://www.nj.com/highschoolsports/article/what-are-the-odds-of-a-high-school-football-player-reaching-the-nfl/)
Spiritual awareness is very much like physical talent; there are varying degrees of it, and vast number of people who do not have the talent, desire, or circumstance to play football, or develop spiritual awareness. Those that do and pursue it to higher and higher levels will find the pool of people to relate to shrink, which can lead to disconnection from a group you were once part of because you have “outgrown them” or they have rejected you for being different.
Keeping a Positive Attitude
Certainly one of the big “selling points” of spiritual awareness is that it should or does lead to a better or happier life. “Yes” and “no,” or “not always.” Being aware can suck a lot of wind out of your sails depending on what you think about and how you feel about the awareness you attain. At best, spiritual awareness is almost always useful, in that it can help you avoid danger, be more realistic, and be “more nimble” in life. Even so, it is no guarantee for a better life. So, the challenge is, surprisingly often, keeping a positive view of life when you can see so much more of life’s many facets, both good and bad, through spiritual awareness.
At its best, spiritual awareness can offer you the potential power to turn “lemons into lemonade,” making something sour into something sweet through a chemical process that introduces additional components to turn something “sharp” into something palatable. Getting the right mixture is not always easy or guaranteed, which is why spiritual awareness can be a “mixed bag.” What spiritual awareness ultimately does is teach us that the world is complex, and that there is no single simple answer, much as we may crave one or hope for one.