Roshani reviews Anurag Shantam’s book: Awakening
This brief (162 pp.) and easy to read book lends a bit different perspective to our view of a complex and challenging set of topics. It tackles the ego and provides answers to the questions surrounding violence, fear and pain on the planet. It also purports to be a roadmap to and a description of a path to awakening, or what some would call enlightenment.
Anurag, who now lives and teaches in Maine, became a disciple of Osho in 1981. Since then he has worked with archetypes, exploring the inner world with tools such as hypnotherapy and sand play, until arriving at a view of how to “awaken the centers of consciousness, to restore unity, and to uncover the enlightenment already hidden within.” His goal with this book is to encourage each individual to attain a radical shift in consciousness, which he feels is the only way to change institutions and save the world at this point in history.
The book makes very interesting use of culturally Christian terminology and Western mythology to explicate the morass we find ourselves in. A fascinating interpretation of the Garden of Eden story discusses how Adam (Spirit), Eve (Soul) and even God are cast out. It further claims that every child soon after birth is internally divided analogously into three separate parts: the God, physically located in the third eye, which is now angry, judgmental and no longer grounded in truth; the Spirit, located in the solar plexus, which has lost its essential ability to trust and, instead, is lost in fear and insecurity; and the Soul, located in the area of the heart, which can no longer love, and is lonely, sorrowful and feels guilty.
The true nature of Soul inside each of us is feminine and is covered by layered veils of pain. Spirit is masculine and covered by layered veils of fear, and God, also masculine, is covered by layered veils of anger. We become identified with these veils rather than the consciousness they cover and we view “reality” only as a distortion through these veils. Further, these three centers of consciousness are bounded by what Anurag calls the “serpent veil,” a mysterious coldness and disinterest in life that separates them from “the ocean of consciousness.”
The author takes one full chapter each to describe the characteristics of and masks worn by the divided Spirit, Soul and God parts inside each of us. The book goes on to define the ego as “the beliefs, patterns, defenses, memories and bad feelings associated with your sorrow-pain states, your anxiety-fear states, and your anger-bitterness states.” That ego is, at one and the same time, our suffering and an illusion which we have created and can dis-create.
Anurag offers us a way out of this unhappy and unreal state. He suggests a technique of meditation most of us have come to refer to as “witnessing,” a focused awareness. In his own words, “All that you need to know is within you, and meditation alone is enough to lead you to it.” He suggests that pain and fear are physical sensations, from which we can detach. That detachment, the act of witnessing, will result in the disappearance of layers of sensation, or veils. It is a bit harder to detach from anger and the “serpent veil (which tends to express as irritability),” but alert watching will also work to lift these elusive veils. Anurag cautions that there will be intense sensations as we face the reality of successive layers of the pain and fear veils, but urges patience and fortitude in the face of doubt and indecision.
He assures us that success in returning to our undivided “original face” will come rather quickly, even within months or within a year. He also suggests that we engage in the journey under the tutelage of an awakened being, or if no one of that caliber is available, the formation of “awakening” groups for support is suggested.
In addition to suggested methods for awakening, Anurag describes what might be experienced along the way. He cautions that there will inevitably be some difficulty in navigating a world populated by others not interested in awakening. One might find an increased sensitivity, a need to be alone to rejuvenate, a seriousness, a sense of having one’s silence disturbed. Again, the prescription is watching and patience.
Anurag’s book concludes with a chapter on sex as a part of the natural world, a couple of illustrative diagrams and a brief conclusion, which calls to the God in each one of us to awaken, become conscious and thus save life on the planet.
Personally, I feel this book is a quick read and contains some interesting analogies and insights. I have a few mild criticisms. Surprisingly, Anurag doesn’t refer to Osho in the text, but does mention his association with Osho on the back cover. The book is a bit repetitive in parts, but then some of these concepts bear repeating.
Another criticism might be that we may not all agree with the culturally Christian flavor through which Anurag attempts to translate his own experience of awakening and the description of the way in which he arrived at that experience. However, this book will speak to many in a language in which they are steeped. If you are looking for an alternative way to view enlightenment and its discovery, this book is a good choice, a quick and interesting read.
Roshani, Osho News
Anurag Shantam took sannyas in 1981. He lives in Maine and has been teachung a “simple watching meditation” for 15 years. Buy from: amazon.com Read online: rebelliousspirit.com