A Responsive, Integral Path
In general, Awakening in Life leans towards being a responsive path of awakening, but it makes use of reliable development models of structures and stages that at times, can be incredibly effective for practice.
By being both responsive and making use of linear, development models when helpful, Awakening in Life can be said to be an integral path of awakening.
A purely prescriptive path says: ‘this is how reality is, this is the exact path and the exact practices you need to do in order accomplish the path and results of the path, and you need to do them in this order’.
Not only that, in a purely prescriptive path your personal subjective experience is only useful in a diagnostic way, to assess how your progress is going in the predefined path, versus your personal experience being a source of deciding what practice it is you need right now in life, regardless if it lines up with a measure of progress on a linear model of awakening.
Note: prescriptive paths of awakening are not necessarily stage based. There are paths that emphasize sudden awakening vs. gradual awakening, which say something like ‘this is how it is and you don’t need to do anything to experience it, stop trying to get anywhere’.
On the other hand, in a positive, meaningful way, prescriptive models of awakening can provide wonderful reference points for us to consider, to orient ourselves in practice, to find validation and solidarity, and to inform our responses in choosing practices at any given moment.
Even more so, if we make use out of more than one model, we have richer perspectives and information to consider on our path of awakening.
A responsive path of awakening encourages us to let our living experience and intuition guide us to what we most need on our path at any moment.
This allows us to embrace a more intimate relationship with our lived experience, which only deepens the insight and capacities we cultivate in formal practice, and we can more fluidly integrate them in life. A responsive approach to awakening allows a deeper connection to any practice we engage, and hence is more pragmatic in the results that unfold.
On the other hand, to be critical of a purely responsive path of awakening that actively ignores and resists any attempts at linear, predictive stage models of awakening: this approach can lead us to ignore time-tested, communal experiences of peers and teachers to help us in our intuitive, responsive path. We can more easily avoid looking at certain dimensions of life due to habit and bias. Exposing ourselves to other models, even if descriptive and prescriptive, can be incredibly useful.
It is common for practitioners to begin a path of awakening to choose to follow a prescribed path. The reason being is that it helps one to establish a practice and receive guidance for what might at first feel unfamiliar. In essence, this removes a lot of stress and overwhelm and allows a practitioner to dive more deeply and easily into practice.
However, as one deepens in their practice, the path becomes more and more responsive over time and decidedly non-prescriptive, and ultimately one could say the path becomes spontaneous. This is because, in order to truly live a path of awakening that feels integrated with our life, it must be responsive to life.