Surviving the Awakening

by Stephen Jourdain

stephen_jourdain_2_origGilles Farcet: There you are, awakened and good for nothing according to the usual criteria of our society. Didn’t you want to retreat from the world? After all, if the only thing that interested you was maintaining that private flame . . .
Stephen Jourdain: No, I never felt the desire to retreat . . . Ah, explaining oneself isn’t easy! I insisted on the profoundly, supremely human character of that experience—if one can call it that. Thus, it is legitimate to speak about the repercussions on the human level; but, at that same time, it’s extremely delicate when the awakening suddenly happens; it’s as if you have left earth and found yourself in the center of a black hole, another dimension where all the laws of logic are overturned. All the foundations of the human spirit are in a primal and unknown state; logic itself takes a wallop. The most extraordinary thing is that in the very center of the strangeness befitting this spiritual “black hole,” not only does one remain human, but one gains access to the plenitude of one’s humanity. Therefore, on the one hand, there was an enormous distance—you might say I was light years away—at the same time, since nothing happened, no kind of distance existed in relation to the young man I was. I was still on the same level of the reality of coffee and croissants. But from the moment that it was no longer a question of accomplishing an act as simple, holy, and sacred as that of dunking my croissant in a cup of coffee at a bistro table, from the moment it was necessary to demonstrate a more elaborate intellectual comportment, I was faced with a quasi-impossibility. Nonetheless, I never felt the temptation to retreat. On the contrary, I mostly felt an extraordinary hunger for life. A second before the awakening klonked me on the head, I felt very much alive. In fact, I was, according to all usual criteria, a young man full of life. But, come the awakening and I discovered I was dead, that I lay recumbent, stunned, inside myself. The awakening provoked an immense surge of life. I felt huge hunger pangs.

GF: In the figurative sense?
SJ: Yes, but above all in the literal sense! I, who had had little appetite, began to devour. Additionally, the awakening created an unprecedented amount of energy. This was a completely secondary phenomenon, but the truth is that one finds his energy augmented to a considerable degree. Lastly, I’ll mention the reverence towards existence itself. My love for life was multiplied by ten thousand. I recognized something absolutely sacred in it. Consequently, the awakening does not alienate one from life, it reintroduces one to it.

GF: You say sacred. A number of people supposedly awakened, or presenting themselves as teachers, deliberately create around themselves a fairly religious environment—a climate particularly fitting for meditation and vigilance. But here, there’s nothing like that and one could even say you’ve taken the opposite standpoint.
SJ: Right. There is indeed neither structure nor ostentation. Nevertheless, the word “sacred” retains its full sense for me. Awakened, I encountered the infinite value compared to which the most precious pleasures and moments are merely straw. This should seem like a legitimate comparison but, in fact, it’s almost heresy, seeing that the difference is immeasurable. All that to say that the sacred is definitely there. The mobilization of a human being is around this infinite value of an unparalleled intensity. Each and every fiber of your being celebrates and gives witness to that infinite value. Thus, I feel definitely well-centered in it. Yet, that cannot detach me from my humanity, in the ordinary sense, because the heart of that infinite value is nothing other than the human essence.

GF: Sixteen . . . That’s the age of first crushes . . . How does one deal with his adolescent sexual impulses when he happens to be awakened?
SJ: As far as that’s concerned, the awakening didn’t change anything. I was constantly chasing girls, sometimes successfully, never as successfully as I hoped. Nothing changed except that the awakening gave a never before known luster to life in general and my love life in particular. Quite simply, all that became a game. Not that life became light, or that love became unimportant; it’s just that everything took on a playful aspect.

From Radical Awakening: Cutting Through the Conditioned Mind, by Stephen Jourdain. Copyright © 2001 by Stephen Jourdain and Gilles Farcet. All rights reserved. An InnerDirections Publishing book.