The truly holistic understanding of awakening is not at odds with humanness. It is not even at odds with the ego. If anything, it approaches spiritual self-inquiry via the ego – particularly the psychological shadow – because it is this that blocks out the light of infinite being.

In fact, the term “ego” has been used ad nauseam such that it has lost its potency, becoming a concept about a false self rather than the visceral experience of dualistic thinking. I’ve noticed that many modern spiritual teachers don’t use it that much anymore or use a variety of terms that get to the root of the suffering it causes. Of these, Eckhart Tolle’s “pain body” is probably the most vivid.

No doubt, this is why many modern awakened teachers either awaken through or help others to awaken through self-inquiry twinned with psychological self-revelation…. or even more simply through the dance of transpersonal being and personal relationship since personal relationships are the real testing ground of spiritual practice.

An insight of Tim Freke’s that I love is that the ego is the hero not the villain; it is the ground of awareness in this duality-non-duality dance… and to paraphrase Jung (I think?): the shadow lights the way. Adyashanti refers to this process as “fierce grace.” Of course, this process is not always necessary, e.g. look at Ramana Maharshi and David Carse. However, most of us don’t have sudden full awakenings because of our karmic conditioning.

The shadow is not restricted to the individual, it is also found in groups, organizations and societies. Traditional religions hardly ever deal with it, which is why they can be shockingly dogmatic, jingoist, sexist, homophobic, etc. in the eyes of modern society. Scott Kiloby explores the broader socio-cultural shadow that is still part and parcel of spiritual traditions in spite of awakening. So, please remember that gurus are not super-human gods; they can be full of “Being Spiritual” – or BS for short – too.

It is important to note that self-inquiry via the shadow is more fundamental than materialist psychology because it is based on the recognition that we are infinite beings that get caught up in dualistic conclusions about the world that in turn shape the world of experience into that world. Eckhart Tolle and Guy Finley discuss this in detail. This is the real meat of the law of attraction, and, in my experience, the New Thought techniques that work are based on this understanding.

Self-inquiry via the shadow to infinite being is not necessarily the same as transpersonal psychology because, like in New Thought, the transpersonal sense of Self beyond the ego is still an obstacle to authentic non-duality. Freedom from the ego is not liberation since identifying with the spiritual Light is itself subtly dualistic – Edji and Bernadette Roberts explore the differences between this state – generally known as unity consciousness – and enlightenment.

Again, holistic awakening is not about transcending the “flawed” worldly realm; it is about ending the dualistic beliefs underlying “flawed” and “flawless”.

Author's Bio: 

Mark H. Kelly has a background in applied physics, software development, and ESL teaching, although his real passion has always been spirituality. He has spent several years on a spiritual odyssey traveling the world learning from traditional wisdom keepers and modern spiritual innovators. He is dedicated to bringing the best of the ancient wisdom traditions to the modern world because the survival of both depends upon them coming together in this time of great change.

Mark has just been invited to contribute an article about Love and Oneness to the best-selling book series "Adventures in Manifesting," which will be published in September 2012.

Note: This came through, so I highly recommend it to other budding authors out there!