We shall not cease from exploration
And the end of all our exploring
Will be to arrive where we started
And know the place for the first time.
—T.S. Eliot, “Four Quartets”
Many of us start the meditative journey with a big question in mind or a strong intuition that something isn’t right and needs to change.
Most people we know continue with the discipline of meditation, not because it’s cool, but because they feel they must. “There’s a splinter in your mind,” said Morpheus. And we don’t know how to get it out of there. We only know that it’s there causing serious discomfort.
At this phase you’re likely to obsess about the process of meditation and become so engaged by it that we can’t help to become one with the journey, and story of enlightenment/awakening. From there we are asked to let go of more and more of the preciousness of our story and accept how the sensations of life actually are.
A Radical Identity Shift
Upon entering the completion phase there is a radical shift in identity. It is like a glitch in the matrix of being a human. We see through certain constructions of mind and are changed forever. Our hearts and our vastness meet together in our human beingness. We are the ones that we have been looking for and the journey of our lives contains the way home.
One way to know that you’ve reached completion is that whatever originally propelled you to seek has become irrelevant. Or worse yet, totally useless! It’s as if the questions that drove us have lost their entire meaning, or have been totally reframed in a way that minimizes their importance. Interestingly, when we see others who are afflicted with the same questions, or drives, we tend to feel for them because we intimately remember being there.
Journaling practice: Write about a time in your life when your sense of identity shifted
Some extra questions to help flesh out your answer: What changed during this shift? What stayed the same? How did you know you were different?
Aside from “completion” we could also say “ending”, “awakening”, or “enlightenment”. Each of these words, in different ways, points to what happens as we reach the completion phase of our journey.
The word “enlightenment” tends to conjure imaginings of a final event in time, after which everything is different or completed. Awakening is a more process-oriented term. It’s more fluid, and typically lacks a definitive end point.
Since we learn in meditation that the sense of “I” is always changing, enlightenment or awakening can also be understood, not as something that happens to people, but as a moment- by-moment process of becoming fully embodied and present here as a human being.
The type of completion, or enlightenment, or awakening, you are experiencing depends largely on what you’ve been seeking for. It’s also shaped by the practices you’ve done, and the views you’ve found most helpful along the way. It’s hard to say exactly what completion will be like, because it is a unique process and your own life’s journey.