“Arise! Awake! – and stop not till the goal is reached.”
– Swami Vivekananda (after the Katha Upanishad)
As we progress along our spiritual journey, we each perceive our goal according to our background, spiritual practise and inner proclivity. While some seek liberation, others may aspire for enlightenment or only God-satisfaction.
Just as we must wake up in the morning before we can pursue our daily tasks and activities, common to most paths and traditions is the concept of spiritual awakening, as a necessary precursor to conscious growth and progress. While this awakening may be observed outwardly through a ritual initiation or baptism, the inner awakening arises from a stirring of the soul, whether induced by the inner touch of a spiritual Master or the fortuitous breath of grace.
As a single spark may start a monumental forest fire, or a tremor under the floor of a distant ocean results in a massive tsunami on another continent, so the daybreak of our inner awakening – though we are likely unconscious of it at the time – is the singular moment of destiny in our lives, leading inevitably and inexorably to the complete and radical transformation of our entire consciousness.
We are the same person, whether asleep or awake: only when awake, we are more conscious. Even so, while spiritually asleep amidst the wastelands of ignorance, delusions of desire and errors of ego, all our limitless capacities, soaring realisations and stupendous achievements lie coiled within us, dormant.
We imagine it is necessary first to awake before we arise. Yet Swami Vivekananda’s injunction is first arise, and then awake. Before thinking of enlightenment, liberation or realisation, we must first arise, take up our action stations of prayer, invocation, meditation and self-giving service: only then awakening dawns, and our inevitable God-realisation – petal by petal – blossoms.