Since the time I was a teenager and read books by Hermann Hesse and Alan Watts, I have been obsessed with spiritual awakening. What is it? Is it a gradual process that takes a lifetime or a sudden process in which we find ourselves, struck as if by lightning, living in a radically new way? Or both? Does spiritual awakening occur in different ways to different people, unique to each person just as our fingerprints are unique?
In many ways, I started Sounds True at the age of 22 so that I could meet with spiritual teachers and ask them the questions that were burning in my heart. I wanted to know about their experience with spiritual awakening and how they had been transformed. Did they still fall into bouts of suffering? Was suffering somehow experienced differently after years of dedicated spiritual practice and devotion?
At a certain point, what I discovered was that other people's answers to the questions in my heart could only take me so far. What I needed more than anything was my own experience! This led me into deep study and practice within a lineage of Tibetan Buddhism under the direction of meditation teacher Reggie Ray. What I found was that it was, in fact, possible to touch the awakened state—to drop conceptual filters and open in an embodied way to endless, luminous space.
Touching this vast openness of being has sensitized me to how this recognition appears in every different spiritual tradition of the world, as well as in the creative process of artists, poets, and innovators of all kinds. I feel passionate about introducing the awakened state to as many people as possible. Once we touch it and taste it, our lives are never the same. We know that there is a great mystery—open, free, dynamic, endlessly creative and loving—that is literally pouring through us. We know that if we rest in this state, the guidance and direction we need will be delivered.
The Wake Up Festival is a celebration of awakening in all of its different forms. For 27 years at Sounds True, we have published teachings that allow people to engage in personal transformation, each in their own way and at their own pace. Now, for the first time, we want to gather the Sounds True community for a celebration of the many different faces of awakening. We want you to come and share with us your process of inquiry and discovery. And we want to delight in each other's company and shared heart.
When I began the spiritual journey as a teenager, I felt very much alone. The only other people I knew who seemed as passionate and obsessed with spiritual awakening as I was were the people whom I met through books. What I wanted more than anything was a community of people that I could talk to, a community of people with whom I could share my questions and discoveries. Three decades later, this community exists in the form of the authors, teachers, artists, employees, and customers of Sounds True. In August of 2012, we will have the chance to gather together and share the journey of awakening. It is such a joy and honor to be able to do so with you.