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Episode Info: I’m Jacob Gotwals, and this is Spiritual Awakening for Geeks, a show for independent spiritual explorers who seek peace of mind, better relationships, and a more meaningful life. I call this episode "Awakening to the Extraordinary." In this episode, I’m going to be talking about the relationship between the spiritual, the religious, the sacred, and the extraordinary; I’m going to describe spiritual awakening as a cycle of sensing, pursuing and integrating the extraordinary; and I’m going to be talking about what kinds of problems can arise that interfere with this cycle and what we can do to avoid those problems. This is going to be another take on something that I wrote about (and talked about) in the very first episode of this podcast; that first episode was called "The Call of Awakening," and you can find it at In that episode, I talked about awakening as a journey that changes our life patterns; I talked about the cycle of awakening in terms of our life patterns, and how awakening affects our patterns of living. This is going to be another take on that cycle of awakening; instead of talking about how awakening affects our life patterns, I’ll be talking about how awakening relates to the ordinary and the extraordinary. The Ordinary and the Extraordinary The way that I got thinking about this was, I read a chapter in a book by a religious studies professor named Ann Taves. She talked about what the religious, the spiritual, the sacred and everything like that, what all those things have in common. This is something that I’d been thinking about for a while. It’s clear that religion and spirituality, the sacred—they all have something in common—but it’s hard to put your finger on exactly what that is. She did a pretty good job of that, in my opinion. She said that what they all have in common is a focus on what she would call the special or special-ness. There’s something special, something unusual that we turn our attention toward when we’re involved with the religious, the spiritual, or the sacred. That something special, I like to think of it as the extraordinary (versus the ordinary). It’s not just ordinary, it’s special or extraordinary. And there are other words that get used that have similar meanings—like the perfect (versus the flawed), the great (versus just okay), truth (versus illusion), clarity (versus confusion), or the ultimate (versus the relative). All these words point us toward something special, something extraordinary that we’re turning our attention toward when we get involved in religion, spirituality, or the sacred. Here’s an example from Tibetan Buddhism. One of the ideas in Tibetan Buddhism is Dzogchen—the great perfection. This is one name for something extraordinary. Notice that it’s not just okay—it’s great! And it’s not just pretty good—it’s perfect! It’s the great perfection. These words are pointing toward somet...
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