John Lennon’s beautiful “Imagine” is like an awakening song for the entire world. By now, most of us have heard it and know it well.
“You may say that I’m a dreamer, but I’m not the only one. I hope someday you’ll join us, and the world will be as one”
What you may not know is that before John Lennon was able to sing those words, he had to move through an entirely different stage. During that he sang (in “God”)
“God is a concept by which we measure our pain”
I don’t agree!… yet it is strikes a chord of something, doesn’t it. We all know pain. We’ve known it since forever.
As children we just tried to survive it, to cope
Later, as adults, it led us to questioning.
“Why is this happening to me? Why do I have to suffer? If there is a God why does She~He~It let me suffer like this? Can I bring the suffering to an end, once and for all? How?”
How we respond to these questions defines perhaps how we relate not only to pain but to life as such. It defines our path and how we walk it. The awakening path.
From pain to joy: the awakening journey as seen from above
I’m currently writing a book about this journey. Maybe it’s my way of responding to the questions above… Or a way to ask more questions. We will see!
Quite to my surprise, the book led me into what I now see as 8 stages of the human journey.
While most people are not aware of these stages, and some will call them other names and numbers, we move through these stages nevertheless. And not necessarily seamlessly.
I suspect that moving from one stage to the next is quite a challenge for most. Each time we move from one stage to the next…
It’s like moving through mysterious gates.
As we pass a gate, we find ourselves in unknown territory. In that new territory we cannot quite use the experience we gathered before we crossed the gate.
Also, there can be is a sense of loss, of going it alone. We rarely cross a gate together. More often than not some of the people that were our companions on a previous stage of the journey don’t follow us to the next stage.
What we can do though is find support from people that have traveled here before us and who can SEE a path through it.
This all does sound quite mysterious, doesn’t it. But perhaps if we take a look at each of these stages it becomes a bit more concrete.
Forgive me for making it so brief. There will be so much more insight, nuances and inspiration in the book (with the working title “Awakening To Joyful Living”). For now, I hope the overview below will give you a sense of it.
Stage 1: Love, joy and oneness
As newborn babies we have a strong sense of our oneness, of our endlessly loving and joyful nature. But then, pretty quickly, life happens and we lose most of it. It feels like we get pushed (and sometimes kicked) out of paradise.
Stage 2: Into separation
It happens through wounds and traumas, it happens through upbringing and cultural influence, and it happens because it’s meant to happen.
It happens through energetical and emotional cuts. They separate us from our oneness, from our source, from ourselves and everyone else.
The gate of separation is deep, and it is painful.
Stage 3: Fighting the pain
Most of us don’t understand where that pain really comes from. We experience it each in our unique ways, we relate it to our personal stories and we give it all kinds of names, including loneliness, fear, depression, unworthiness and more.
What we have in common is that we try to fight the pain the best we can. We try to find relief. We search for solutions.
And solutions we find. But they’re never sufficient, or they’re sufficient but only for a limited time. They can only take us so far. And then we’re stuck. Stuck with pain.
Sometimes, it makes us want to give up living altogether.
But then something completely unexpected happens and we find ourselves moving through a very different gate.
Stage 4: Divine intervention
It’s a miracle . A glimpse of unbelievable grace. A divine intervention reminding us that life is bigger than our pain, and that we’re not alone.
An awakening begins to happen.
Yet for most of us it doesn’t last. It comes in glimpses and we never know if and when it will come back.
But then again the very fact that we’ve seen the magic happen gives us a sense of possibility and a sense of direction. In fact, it leads us to the next gate.
Stage 5: Making peace with life
Having experienced that miracles exist, that God~Source~Spirit (or whatever other concept works for you) exists, and that life therefore must be what it is for a reason (even if we don’t necessarily understand what that reason is), we are now motivated to make peace with life as is. To love life even, more and more.
But we cannot stay there forever. At some point the time comes to encounter a very different gate…
Stage 6: Making peace with death
For many people, the journey through this and the remaining gates/stages happens very quickly – sometimes within minutes even.
For some of us, however, it takes many, many years.
Frans of Assisi didn’t call it awakening. He said:
“It is in dying that we are born to eternal life”.
Sooner or later we have to make peace not only with life but also with death.
We make peace with death is to willingly surrender our ego~persona~human identity to The Bigger, to the Soul~God~Source~Universe~Spirit…
At some point of that process we cross yet another gate…
Stage 7: Reuniting with the One
Our awakening intensifies into a direct knowing ourselves as the One. God~Soul~Source is no longer a concept. It’s more than a heart connection, and the feeling is different from devotion.
It can be experienced as a deep energy alignment, affecting all aspects of our existence, from the cells of our body to the way we feel, think, relate, work, and simply are. It’s powerfully liberating.
During this stage the journey is all about an increasing unification with our Oneness while at the same time living a fairly normal human life.
In Meister Eckhart’s words:
“The eye through which I see God is the same eye through God sees me. My eye and God’s eye are one eye, one seeing, one knowing, one love”
And then, at some point, it’s time to cross the last gate of the human journey:
Stage 8: The End
This is the only stage that I haven’t entered yet (it would be impossible for me to write this if I had!…), but that’s the sense I get of the 8th stage: it is the Grand Finale. Although to be continued in another dimension.
None of us is there yet. Now, it is all about living and journeying. And for that:
Three important keys to the journey from pain to joy
Having painted a journey with the 8 gates and stages, there are 3 things that are super important to understand:
1. Life is not a school. It is a journey that you are making for and with God~Oneness. Wherever you are on this journey, you are there because your Soul~Higher Self ~Source wants to experience that exact gate and stage of the journey, through you and at this exact time. Where you are right now is perfect! and one gate/stage is not better than the other, in any way.
2. Each gate/stage has its own set of challenges and its own ways of meeting those challenges, its own set of tools so to speak. Most (but not all) of the tools and approaches that are helpful during one stage of the journey are not what is working best on another stage.
3. You are not the journey. You are not any of the gates or stages. You are the traveler experiencing them, the dreamer dreaming them and gradually awakening from your dream while still dreaming it. You are the One. You are Love. You are Peace. You are Light. You are Joy.
Wherever you are there’s support for your journey
There is, always, support from your Soul~God. In this sense you never ever travel through life alone. And, there are also people out there to support you along the way, and tools and modalities that you can use to move forward. I’m one of them and here’s how the Awakening To Joyful Living coaching works