Recognition of our true nature or Atman, Awakening and Self-Realization
In our journey towards Self-realization we pass through various stages of inner development and maturity. Recognition of our true identity and awakening are two very important stages in this journey and they play a very crucial role in the process.
When we have a broad knowledge about our true nature, through books or the words of a spiritual masters and we achieve to recognize our true identity then recognition of our true Self take place. This is only recognition and not awakening because we as an ego perceive the inner silence or the empty silent space which is the most obvious characteristic of our true Self. In this ´state´ we probably haven´t a clear and deep perception of our Self because the mind is not sufficiently pure, clear and sharp and the egoic energies cover the space of silence which is very subtle. In this state we continue to live as a separate 'I' experiencing pleasure and suffering, but we are in a position that we can enjoy our beingness more consciously.
When in an unexpected moment happens a shift in our consciousness and we realize that we are the consciousness itself and not the body-me that we thought we were up to this moment, then awakening happens. We perceive that we are the inner silence itself and that the ego is an object in this inner silent space. In this state the ego continues to function in our psyche and we continue to experience pleasure and suffering but since the ego´s strength is reduced and the presence of the Self is more intense we experience the peace and the joy of our being more often, for longer periods and more profoundly. But due to the fact that the ego is alive in us, at this stage we are not established in awareness and we cannot rest as awareness without a brake. We have to make effort to keep our mind steady and centered in the silence within. To experience the peace and the joy of our Beingness it is necessary constant effort, although it may be very subtle, and continuous practice until the total dissolution of the ego. Only when there is no ego there is no in and out of the state of Self-awareness and there is no need for any effort because what causes forgetfulness of the Self and identifications does not exist anymore.
As I said before in this state we are not free from the ego. So if we are not vigilant and committed to our practice we can have a terrible fall and become asleep again experiencing pleasure and suffering as we did before. In addition as the great masters declare after a fall like that, it is more difficult if possible at all to recover the higher state of consciousness.
Self-Realization or Liberation is achieved when the ego with all its branches is fully dissolved and the mind merges in consciousness and we remain without any effort, established in awareness as awareness. In this case there is no possibility of falling or losing this liberated state because there is no ego that could cause this falling.
In the state of liberation, we experience without a break and without any effort the peace, freedom and bliss of our true Self or Atman, we are free from all kinds of suffering and we live in unity and harmony with all.