Visitors to India, having already created the idea of enlightenment, also created a junior grade known as awakening. Awakening means you’ve had a very big and special spiritual experience, and you belong to a very special, elevated strata of humanity, but you don’t quite have all your shit together yet. As one of the awakened explained to me, “I already had the big one. The cord’s been cut. Now I’m just consolidating the experience.”
The mantra of the awakened is: I’m not a seeker, I’m a finder! In fact, all that appears to have happened to most of these people is that a very special glaze has been added to their personality: a smugness, like plexiglass, encases them.
It is effortless to make fun of the awakened, but it is easy, too, to see how they ache. Someone told them once, many years ago, that they were tremendously special and, although it has not solved their problems, they cling to it, like a struggling, aging actress who won an Oscar in her youth. Is it not glorious to win an Oscar? Is it not gruelling, the way life goes on and on, so generous with its pains and insults? When my envy passes, I can feel pity for the awakened. It’s obvious that it gets lonely in there, beneath the clear glaze which, contrary to appearances, is every bit as hard as stone.