A definition of spiritual awakening by Roberto Assagioli from his book Transpersonal Development.
“We now come to the fifth group of symbols. These are among the most significant and effective. They are the symbols of reawakening or revival. We might describe our normal state of consciousness as a ‘dreamlike’ state in a world of illusion: the illusion of reality in the external world as our senses perceive it, and illusions produced by the imagination, the emotions and the usual thought patterns. As far as the external world is concerned, modem chemistry and physics have shown us that what to our eyes seems concrete, stable and inert is actually a seething mass of infinitesimal elements and energy charges fed by a mighty dynamism. Thus matter, as it appears to our senses and as it was understood by materialist philosophy, does not actually exist. The science of today has therefore aligned itself with the basic Indian concept, that ancient spiritual vision according to which everything we see is maya, or illusion.
There are then emotional and mental illusions affecting us at closer quarters and conditioning our lives, leading to continual errors of judgement, wrong behaviour and suffering of all kinds. Even in this field the science of modem psychology has come to the same conclusions as the ancient wisdom, namely that we are prey to inner ‘phantoms’, attachments and complexes. People live their lives seeing everything and everyone through a thick veil of coloured thought patterns and distorted views caused by their emotional reactions, by the effects of psychological traumas from the past, by external influences, and by strong psychological undercurrents, etc. As a result their minds become deformed. Thinking they are using their minds objectively, they are actually influenced by what Bacon called ‘idols’, by preconceived ideas and suggestion.
All this produces a true dreamlike state from which we can and must wake up. To achieve this we must first take the bold step of facing up to reality – we have to recognize the psychological complexity within us and the various sub-personalities in our being – we might say that each human being is a character out of Pirandello. The first step then is to become aware of everything within us that causes a sense of restlessness. The second step is to discover what we really are: the Self, the spiritual T, the Observer of the human tragicomedy.
The doctrine and practice of ‘awakening’ dates back to antiquity. Buddha placed particular emphasis on it in his teachings, to the extent of being called the ‘Perfectly Awakened (One)’. To promote this ‘awakening’ there is an effective spiritual exercise one can use: having woken from sleep in the morning and entered the so-called ‘waking state’, move on to an equally real second awakening to the world of spiritual reality. We might express this in the form of an equation: sleep gives way to the ordinary waking state as the latter gives way to spiritual awakening.”