Here’s the funny thing about this question: it presumes an “unawakened” is the natural or normal state of human beings. In my case - and for many others I have known - something like the opposite occurred. When I was a child, I was not in school or any structured environment in a regular way until about age 11. This meant I spent most of my youth - from my earliest years - in trees and woods, on beaches, exploring abandoned buildings, and interacting with wild animals and environments. My contact with other people - and other children - was fairly regular, but I could not understand the ordered, constrained, narrowly focused way they went through the world. For me, although I did not call it “spiritual” at the time, the entire experience of life was overflowing with a spiritual dimension. It was normal to sense the life flowing in tree, or pick up on someone’s unspoken intent, or communicate on an emotional level with animals, or even perceive a unifying Presence or individual spiritual intelligences in the world around me. These were my “normal” as a child, and the family I lived with at that point completely understood and accepted this as “normal” as well.
But then, when I moved to a new place, to live with different members of my family, I was put in school and had structure imposed on me in ways I had never tolerated well before. Along with that structure came a strong dismissal of my “spiritual” perceptions and experiences by both my teachers, my new immediate family and my peers. While a few people were curious, most thought I was just “weird.” It was like I spoke a different language. I was then introduced to many disciplines and interests I hadn’t known about before: I learned about electrical theory, acoustic theory, biology and mathematics. I learned how to operate complex audiovisual equipment, how to build hi fidelity electronics, how to domesticate and train horses, how to repair and rebuild a bicycle, how to fix simple combustion engines, how to garden and maximize produce yields, how to build and race go-carts, how to shoot a rifle well, and so on. And all of these took place in an environment where Nature was fairly domesticated, ordered or pretty overrun with human activity. In essence, the wildness - and the spirituality - of my earlier life was replaced with mechanization, rational empiricism and practical analytical skills. It was like a part of my mind “awoke” that I didn’t know was there…and that was really hungry.
I would say that, up until about age seventeen, about the only connection I retained with my earlier relationship with Nature was through reading. A lot. Looking back, I think it was that more “aware” part of me that was trying to stay alive by reading poetry, fantasy, and esoteric fiction. But even in my reading, I eventually veered into philosophy and books about science, so that even that one pressure relief valve wasn’t available anymore. Which is why it probably made sense that an encounter I had at seventeen felt like such a powerful “reawakening,” when I felt the Presence again as I knelt in the ocean at night, arms and heart open wide. But it was just that: a reawakening of a connection I had felt in my youth…not a new experience. It was familiar ground that had been drummed out of me in the years of formal education and living around hyperrational skeptics. Sadly, it would take me almost twenty additional years to arrive back at the level of spiritual awareness and nourishment I had so effortlessly experienced as a younger person. I don’t regret learning how to think critically…it comes in very handy. But I do regret that I was forced to abandon an equally viable mode of being just because it wasn’t accepted or recognized in a materialistic, empirical, mechanistic culture.
My 2 cents.
From Quora post: https://www.quora.com/How-would-you-describe-your-first-real-spiritual-awakening-experience/answer/T-Collins-Logan
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