Awakening for Atheists
For the sake of discussion, let’s divide reality into two domains: the exterior, or objective world, and the interior, or subjective world. The study of the exterior world is considered to be science, the aim of which is to understand the fundamental mechanics of the material world, primarily in order to control and manipulate it. There are sciences of the interior world – e.g. psychology – which are generally considered less scientific (except maybe behavioral psychology), and therefore less real.
Under the scientific worldview, only that which can be directly observed and measured has any validity. Predictability is key – results must be reproducible. “Real” is that what can be seen, measured, monitored, manipulated, predicted, and understood by reason.
What tends to happen is that the rules, laws, maps, and theories that seem to enable us to make these predictions are then assumed to be The Truth. Current scientific theory turns into fact, and becomes embedded in collective worldview. It can take an awful long time for any contradictory information to become the new fact (how long did it take people to accept that the world is round, not flat?).
However real external reality may be, and however well science can predict, control, map, explain, and measure it, there’s no way to get around the fact that each and every one of us has an internal reality as well. In the western world, the methodical exploration and explanation of this interior, subjective dimension of reality, is called psychology. Eastern spiritual traditions have mapped interior human experiences for thousands of years, while the western version of this young science has been around for only about 100 years, ever since Freud pointed out the radical, but in retrospect glaringly obvious, existence of the unconscious dimension of our psyche.
Just as objective science has theories, maps, and explanations for observable external phenomenon, subjective science has theories and maps and explanations for common, reportable, experientially valid dimensions of inner human reality.
While there may not be a physical way to measure the inner experience of sadness (and external science is doing a lot of work to correlate physical measurements to inner experience), no one can argue the fact that sadness is a common, recognizable experience. The validity of sadness comes from the validity of the experience itself, and that other humans experience similar feelings.
The validity of these interior maps lies in the coherence they have with direct subjective experience. For example, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder is a name given to a set of common symptoms that are reported by survivors of trauma. While some of these symptoms can be observed externally, the validity of the PTSD label lies primarily in our collective, subjective experience of it.
Some, but not all, of the inner experiences that constitute PTSD can be correlated to physical measurements (e.g. increased heart rate, increased adrenal response, etc). But just because objective science has not come up with a physical correlation to other aspects of the inner experience, it doesn’t mean that they don’t exist, or that they have no validity!
As I mentioned earlier, although the West’s approach to mapping interior reality – psychology – is fairly young, there are other schools of subjective exploration that have been around for a long time. They’ve asked and intensely explored key questions such as “what is the mind?”, “what is the self?,” and “what is the true nature of the human experience?”
For centuries, people (mostly men) isolated themselves in monasteries and put their focused attention on the internal domain: feelings, sensation, thought, subtle forms of energies, explorations of consciousness, mind, etc. They charted these experiences, gave them names, and devised theories to explain what they saw. Buddhism is an example of an old, sophisticated map of the subjective realm.
The validity of these maps and cosmologies came from the direct experiences of the collective. The territories are valid in the sense that they are distinct, recognizable experiences. I could go up to a Buddhist and say, “I’m experiencing such-and-such,” and they would probably be able to place my experience on their map. And if someone else was in that territory too, then that person and I would be able to share and recognize similar qualities of experience.
So, how does Trillium Awakening fit into all of this?
From this above perspective, Trillium Awakening (TA) is just another map, or interpretation, of subjective reality. It discerns and describes aspects of subjective experience that are identifiable and recognizable by many people. It points to a particular, valid, recognizable, discernible experience called the recognition or “realization of embodied consciousness.”
To me, there’s nothing “woo woo” about it. A deeper embodiment of consciousness seems to be what naturally happens when we stop defending ourselves from life. TA maps some of the common experiences that people have as they relax in this very fundamental way and open to an embodied consciousness realization [aka whole-being realization]. Trillium Awakening’s maps are not belief systems, they are descriptions of actual, direct, lived experience.
As such, TA is not dogmatic and there is no need or requirement to believe anything we say. Rather, the Trillium path is a powerful and highly catalytic context for experiential, spiritual self-inquiry. In Trillium, we extend an invitation to deeply explore the essential dimensions of our Being, and offer some lenses through which to understand and relate to it.
Our subjectivity may, or may not, include experiences that we would call “mystical.” Profound peak spiritual experiences may, and often do, happen for people in the Trillium Path, but they are not required, nor are they the goal.
The main purpose of the TA approach is to help us drop ever more deeply into a conscious, direct, embodied, and undefended relationship with reality, as experienced through our unique psycho-physical subjectivity. This approach honors in the fact that every person’s awakening process is highly unique, yet ultimately brings us to a common experience of whole-being realization which is marked by several key characteristics: recognition of the self as a paradox of a limited, local body and and unbounded, infinite consciousness, and recognition of the paradox of being a distinct “uniqueness” while also being non-separate – unified in and as the Totality of All.
If you’re not drawn to this work, there’s no problem at all. We trust that you will find a path or map that resonates for you and supports your awakening process, and we trust the perfection of your journey wherever it takes you.