Due to the ecstacy and exhiliration of the experience, there is a real temptation, like the mythic Icarus, to fly too high, which is only to set yourself up for a corresponding fall. – Paul Levy
Life after spiritual awakening is not going to be the same and yet it is going to be the same. Those who have had a genuine experience of spiritual emergence will begin to understand the paradox of that statement.
Before the experience of awakening life was much like this: –
- Time is time.
- You are the person you think you are.
- Everything is separate from everything else.
Spiritual emergence, or spiritual awakening, is an experience that changes the way you view the world.
Within the spiritual awakening experience the world looks like this: –
- You are the Timeless living within the boundary of time.
- You are Presence expressing through the personality.
- You are the All One dancing in myriad forms.
Moving into Spiritual Growth
You cannot stay in this grace experience of the Timeless and the All One. It is too refined.
You return to earth to do the work of integrating what it is you have been graced to KNOW. You begin life after spiritual awakening which is the work of spiritual growth.
Spiritual growth is the way in which you consciously and committedly integrate this grace experience of awakening. It may not feel like a grace experience to some or even to many. There are other people better able than me to write about what has been called spiritual emergency.
I can only authentically share with you what this experience of awakening was for me and, equally of great importance, what it was, and is like, for me after this awakening experience.
Life After Spiritual Awakening
In this article I share some of the experience I had after spiritual emergence.
A key focus of this website is to share with others the spiritual awakening journey. I do this through my favourite things. This is sharing through storytelling, poetry and song.
Much of this storytelling, poetry and song reflects my Irish culture and upbringing. You need not be Irish to appreciate the invitation.
In sharing this life after awakening experience I will be sharing a song with you and then taking you through a reflection of the lyrics of the song.
This song is entitled To Close to Heaven. It is written by Mike Scott and performed by The Waterboys.
Listening with Attitude (Gratitude)
I recommend that you begin reading this article, listening to this song with a practice of sacred intention. This practice of sacred intention is the foundation on which you learn to integrate the spiritual awakening experience.
This practice of sacred intention begins the process I refer to as Companioning YOUR Greatness. This phrase “Companioning YOUR Greatness” is taken from a William Butler Yeats poem entitled These are the Clouds.
The way you do this is simply to make a commitment to consciously listen to the song and consciously read the reflection of the song with a given intention. The intention is to invite the material to connect you to that which is beyond the limitation of the personal self.
Get Ready for the Journey
This is a longer post than many I have written. This is because I love this song and I love this topic of the journey of life after awakening.
If you feel, however, that time is limited and you are in a rush then it would probably be better to either forget the invitation or come back to it at another time.
Alternatively, take a break, make a cup of tea or coffee, sit back, relax listen to the song and read the invitation.
Part of the process of integrating the experience of spiritual awakening is to practice commitment, discipline and patience. In this way you honour the Timeless experience you have been graced and are created to bring into this dimension of time and space.
So I hope that you enjoy listening to and reading about the life after awakening experience shared in the song To Close to Heaven.
A Personal Story
For anyone who has had a spiritual awakening the fall to earth can be, to say the least, disheartening.
I remember that moment on one Monday evening. I was walking down Deansgate in the City of Manchester in the North of Enland. The night sky was clearand full of stars. As I looked up I heard myself say to a friend who was walking with me, “I’ve just lost the Universe.” That is the way it felt.
May those of us who yearn to merge with the divine or live in the vast space of greater and greater love, die to who we really are. – Jason Gaddas
I knew why I had lost it. I wanted if for myself. It is what happens to those who are newly awakened unless they are very old souls who recognise what is given and why it is given. It is given for the glory of the Divine.
You come back down to earth because you cannot stay to close to Heaven. It will burn up your nervous system.
The Fall of Icuras
Lament for Icarus by Herbert Draper
The story that tells of getting to close to Heaven is the story of Icarus. This is a story of Greek mythology. Like all mythology it speaks about the journey of the soul.
To make the story very short. Icarus escapes his island prison by crafting wings of feathers and wax. He is advised by his father not to fly to close to the sun otherwise the wax will melt and he will fall to earth.
Icarus is a young man. He thinks he knows better and ignores the advice of his father. As foretold the wax melts when Icarus gets to close to the Sun and he falls to earth.
Knockin on Heaven’s Door
Some fly to close to the Sun through the use of psychedelics. Others have done it via extreme spiritual practices. However, this is not really authentic awakening which always happens by way of grace.
You can go Knocking on Heaven’s Door but is isn’t you who will open it although it opens inside you. This awakening experience is just to radical for you to imagine. I had been knocking on Heaven’s door for a number of years when the door opened.
I could never have imagined what it would be like. However, I had been reading enlightened material which then lead to a transmission of KNOWING what it was to awaken.
Lovely as this is -which is a gross understatement – I couldn’t stay there even though I so wanted too. One thing that the experience gives you is everything you feel has been missing.
So it is hard to lose everything and come back down to earth. You have the work of integrating what you have been graced to KNOW. You become a wanderer in the hollow lands and hilly lands of time and space.
For a star to be born, there is one thing that must happen: a gaseous nebula must collapse. So collapse. Crumble. This is not your destruction. This is your birth. Anonymous
The Loneliness of Spiritual Emergence
The problem for me, and I think it is a major problem for many, was that I really had no one who I could talk too about this heavenly experience. I talked with counsellors. I talked with those employed in religious organizations.
None had any idea about what I was sharing. It was an extremely lonely time and it lasted a long while.
Tell a wise person, or else keep silent,
because the mass man will mock it right away.
From The Holy Longing by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe
So I identify with this song written by Mike Scott called To Close to Heaven. I image it to be the conversation I would have liked to have had when I was a young man newly awakened by a too Close to Heaven experience.
The rest of this article shares with you my appreciation of this song and how it guides the person who has experienced spiritual emergence.
So the first thing to do is to listen to this song. I hope that you do.
To Close to Heaven
I play this song by Mike Scott of the Waterboys to remind myself of who I was as a young man who felt so lost and alone. I felt there was no one who had any feeling for what I had been through.
I share this reflection on this song in the hope that anyone who has had the To Close to Heaven experience will find hope in recognizing that you are part of an extra-ordinary journey.
Every day is a journey, and the journey itself is home. – Matsuo Basho
This is the journey of union into separation into Union. You are on a Return Journey to Love.
You will be Amazed
This song is a conversation of the wanderer with the Mentor. The Mentor is one who has quested and can answer your questions. They understand the loss. They understand spiritual loneliness. They are not afraid for you because they know it is the prelude to the experience of ALL ONE NESS.
The opening lines of To Close to Heaven are: –
All your trouble will be over so will your pain. You are gonna see those blue sky’s bursting right through the rain.
This is real encouragement. It comes from, and can only come from, one who has experienced spiritual awakening and taken the journey of integration. Otherwise it is an invitation to false hope.
This does not mean you will not be troubled. In the Gospel of St. Thomas logion 2 says: –
Jesus said, “Let him who seeks continue seeking until he finds. When he finds, he will become troubled. When he becomes troubled, he will be astonished, and he will rule over the All.”
Neither does it mean you will never experience pain. It does mean the foundation from which you view the world has changed.
You know beyond all else the sky is always blue beyond those everyday clouds of aloneness and separation. In that blue sky the radiant sun of Presence shines.
The sun never says: -Even after all this time the sun never says to the earth, ‘You owe me.’ Look what happens with a love like that. It lights the whole sky. – Hafiz
This is the KNOWING of the Mentor the guide to the blue sky that bursts right though the rain of the sorrow of personal separateness from Love.
The Language of Paradox
The Mentor speaks in a strange tongue. It is the language of paradox. It is the language beyond logic. It is the language of the two in the One. This is not the language of more information but of transformation.
The higher you climb the lower you fall.
This depends on how you are climbing and what you are climbing toward. To a large extent you are falling upward into a higher KNOWING of Love.
You, as one who has experienced spiritual awakening, need to be careful who you share this experience with. There are many out there who would close you down. They have interests in making you a believer rather than acknowledge your breakthrough into KNOWING.
This happened to my older sister Mary. She had a kind of awakening while walking a beach in Donegal in Ireland. She was told this was not part of the teachings by a man who had no such awakening but who was convinced, he had.
The Holy Longing
The German poet Goethe was aware of this danger for the newly awakened wanderer.
The Holy Longing
Tell a wise person or else keep silent
for those who do not understand
will mock it right away.
I praise what is truly alive
what longs to be burned to death.
In the calm waters of the love nights
where you were begotten, where you have begotten
a strange feeling creeps over you
as you watch the silent candle burning.
Now you are no longer caught
in the obsession with darkness
and a desire for higher lovemaking
sweeps you upwards.
Distance does not make you falter,
now, arriving in magic, flying
and finally insane for the light
you are the butterfly, and you are gone.
And so long as you have not experienced
this: to die and so to grow
you are only a troubled guest
on the dark earth.
~ Goethe, translated by Robert Bly and David Whyte
The Need for Discernment
This practice of discernment is a very necessary part of the quest. It is to find companions who know what it is to Companion YOUR Greatness. This is so that you can declare, as did the Russian poet Anna Akhmatova
The Secret of Secrets is inside me again.
The Mentor will cherish you. They invite you to lay down your weary head. This is especially the voice in your head that keeps you in the prison that is The Cave of the Skull.
Fear is the cheapest room in the house. I would like to see you living in better conditions – Hafiz.
After the spiritual emergence experience there is the necessary work of integration.
You are too hard on Yourself
In the Soundstrue audio program Radiant Heart – The Radical Teachings of Jesus and the Christian Mystics Andrew Harvey likens this process to a damp log burning in a fire. There is a lot of smoke. The smoke represents those aspects of yourself that you do not love.
In the song lyrics of To Close to Heaven Mike Scott declares:-
You are way too hard on yourself.
The Mentor knows that feeling. They have been there. Otherwise they have no real authority. This is not the everyday experience of the hollow lands and hilly lands of time and space that is the personal self.
These are the places of loneliness and forsakenness before the breakthrough into beyond.
The Mentor has been, not so much close to Heaven, but close to deep despair. They have wondered if life is worth the candle. Many have considered ending it all. This is even though they have been blinded by the light and heard that sweet voice.
I know you can’t help but run when you hear that sweet voice call.
This is not the voice inside your head. It is your soul calling you into the experience of unity. It is your name before you were born.
When you hear it you, more likely than not, will run toward it. It is the voice of unconditional love but even then, you may be frightened. It will make you into a listener. You listen to the voice from the deep heart’s core.
It’s Your Road Alone
The Mentor has: –
Walked a mile for you baby.
They have taken the Road less travelled by. (Robert Frost) On the way they have entered the dark wood where the way was lost. (Dante) The way has to be lost so that you can find your true way.
All the wanderers and mystics have walked the way in their own way. This is why they do not dictate to you how you should travel. This is why they warn you against sharing your experience with those who would discount it. You go alone into the ALL ONE.
It’s your road, and yours alone.
others may walk it with you,
but no one can walk it for you.”
Which is not to say that you are not blessed with companions along the way. Recognize, however, that in all likelihood such companions are very few.
Not a Caravan of Despair
The Mentor says: –
I’ll walk a mile for you Baby. Smile for me Baby
This becomes a mantra. It is a sacred phrase that you repeat. For a time it ceases the Madman in the Cave of the Skull that is your never-ending internal dialogue. The mystic poet Rumi reminds you of the journey in this way.
Come, come, whoever you are.
Wanderer, worshiper, lover of leaving.
It doesn’t matter.
Ours is not a caravan of despair.
Come, even if you have broken your vows a thousand times.
Come, yet again, come, come.
Only those who have experience spiritual emergence, like the butterfly emerging from the cocoon, can affirm such a radical KNOWING. Theirs is not a belief but knowledge founded on the rock of experience beyond belief.
Slow Process of Integration
I hope this song To Close to Heaven will invite you into an awareness of a stage, and a necessary stage, of the spiritual journey that follows awakening. It is that long and slow process of integrating what has been graced to you and as you.
This is where you learn to become a living smile and walk a mile for everyone. This is an inward smile. It arises from KNOWING who you are and why you are. It arises from Presence.
Sometimes you need to sit lonely on the floor in a quiet room in order to hear your own voice and not let it drown in the noise of others.”
― Charlotte Eriksson
You don’t own Presence. It does not own you. It is fullness of everything arising from NO-THING. It is the closeness of Heaven. It is closer to you than breathing. You will fall but you will not forget your glimpse of Heaven.
Thank YOU for Reading
I hope you enjoyed this sharing of my love for this To Close to Heaven song. If you have any comments or questions please share them in the comments section at the end of this article.
This song connects to another song. This is the poem The Song of Wandering Aengus which is a central part of this website and the invitation to Companioning YOUR Greatness.
I share that poem by W. B. Yeats below for those who have not heard it, or do know it but would like to hear it again.
Please share this invitation to spiritual emergence with anyone who might be encouraged on that often lonely and frightening stage of the spiritual journey after being To Close to Heaven.
There is a 5 star rating at the bottom of this page. Maybe you would be kind enough to bless me with a fair rating for this article.
There are more invitations to the journey of spiritual awakening through poetry, song and storytelling at this site. Most importantly there are the practices that invite integration of the great experience of having been To Close to Heaven.