Monday, September 10, 2018

What is shifting in crisis that is a spiritual awakening?

Steve Taylor in his book, The Leap, describes different kinds of awakening. People can awaken in different ways. Some awakeners are natural born, some awaken gradually, and some awaken suddenly in a crisis which Taylor calls "the shifters." Shifters are people who awaken in response to a crisis. They are people who are sometimes referred to has having a conversion experience, or a nervous break down, or have been traumatized.

The crisis precipitating an awakening can be a near death experience, an unexpected death of a loved one, a health crisis, even the loss of a job or a natural disaster. The purification, and renunciation are imposed on the person due to the external circumstances of the crisis. However, the tendency toward ethical behavior, service, and meditation were there all along. So while the awakening appears to be sudden due to external circumstances, the soil was fertile and the seeds already there. Here, at UUAWOL ministries, we call this shift, "the dawning." It dawns on people as a result of the crisis that they can not go on living the way they have been, that there must be a better way. And with this dawning the search begins.

With the awakening of the shifters, there is a clear demarcation of the before and after. After the shift, the awakened person will say that their lives will never be the same again. They can't go back to their pre-shift state. They are living in the new normal.

Unitarian Univeralism and most religions have little to say about this kind of crisis precipitated shift in consciousness. It is seen more as a psychological phenomenon than a spiritual one and yet for the individual living through the experience it clearly is felt as spiritual and they are less aware of psychological changes.

Unitarian Univeralists covenant together to affirm and promote the acceptance of one another and encouragement to spiritual growth but, as a practical manner, does very little to recognize, acknowledge, and support the awakening process in these kinds of situations other than, perhaps, with pastoral care if the pastor is at an advanced stage of spiritual development his/her self.

Here at UUAWOL ministries our mission is to sanctify the world by helping people to become holy and we recognize that crises in people's lives, while unexpected and full of alarm and suffering, can also be the catalyst for spiritual transformation in individuals who are ready for it. We also recognize that there may be many such souls among us who have kept their experiences private for fear of not being understood or their experience as being misconstrued. The enactment of the third principle calls us to nonjudgmental attendance to the sharing of one another's experience.



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