I was sitting outside a café with a friend some time ago, and we were talking about ‘consensus reality’ as he put it. He was wishing that he could be free of its influence. I sympathised with his POV but pointed out that we aren’t actually bound by it, and it’s enough to recognise one’s existence as prior to the arising of conceptual frameworks, false notions of reality, etc., to see that were already essentially free of such influences, when another friend, an older lady, came and sat with us.
This lady is a devotee of a nondual guru whom I count among my own spiritual teachers and with whom I spent time at his ashram as part of the sangha. So this friend sat and listened for a while, and after I’d finished speaking she said, with a ambivalent look on her face, “you speak the knowledge very well”. I smiled and made a few more comments in the same vein as before, but I could now sense a subtle closing down of her attention; I got a kind of “I’m not letting this in“ feeling.
It struck me that I’d seen this before, and I’m calling it the ‘not-me-and-not-you syndrome’, and it’s all bound up with what our expectations about what Self-realisation looks like and the contexts in which we expect or even allow ourselves to encounter it. You see, this friend had decided at some level that enlightenment looks like something in particular – mostly like an old, charismatic guy with a beard talking to a room full of devotees. The trouble is that once someone has internalised expectations like these, no matter how much the guru might exhort that “I am That, YOU are that, EVERYTHING and EVERYBODY is That!”, even when faced with the recognition of your own true nature, and seeing it expressed in other, less exotic individuals, this will be dismissed because it doesn’t comport with ideas you’ve adopted about what it will and should look like when it comes.
This syndrome is playing out when they hear someone talking “the knowledge”. I could see it in my friends face as I spoke; that what I was saying was resonating with her, but she was confused that it wasn’t coming from where she expected. So she effectively dismissed it as just words and then shut down her listening apparatus, better to avoid the cognitive dissonance of meeting some regular person who knows their true nature and expresses it but isn’t some exotic guru figure.
Bottom line, one has to see that this whole spiritual awakening thing is about YOU. And that at some point (anytime, now!) you need to RECOGNISE, confirm, and finally ADMIT that you are, in fact, awareness itself, and live as that. And see that this is entirely normal and increasingly common.