First off, this article is specifically written for people after a spiritual awakening. This article isn't for people who are feeling disconnected from their hearts or for those who are feeling generally frustrated at knowing that this world is screwed up, but not knowing how to change it. This also isn't addressing depression nor is it meant to speak to chemical imbalances or a variety of legitimate mental health issues. If you have a mental health issue or are concerned that you might have one, then I strongly recommend connecting with a therapist. This article is speaking to people who have awakened and touched deep divine connection.
After a spiritual awakening and/or other significant spiritual shifts, the things that you once thought were important no longer are. New interests may not be readily apparent, and so the individual finds him/herself in this gray space. Nothing is really interesting anymore, and a sense of indifference can take over a person. It’s not actually a bad place, but few people are ready to handle this kind of neutrality and sit with it. Instead, it kind of shocks the remaining ego. I say "remaining ego" because it’s rare for the entirety of someone’s ego to be gone after one spiritual shift. Dissolving the ego is much more like peeling an onion, and few egos like being in a place of apathy and watching their interests dissolve away. Because of this, people can react negatively to this experience, and that can lead to all kinds of strange states and experiences right when a deeper dissolution into spiritual freedom is possible.
Connected in Oneness But Indifferent
There are two over-arching kinds of spiritual apathy. One involves deep connection, and the other involves disconnection. Primarily, I’m focusing on the sense of connection. However, the sense of disconnection kind of requires some level of knowing around what connection is. Without it, the person is too unconscious to know that they’re disconnected.
For the apathy that arises when we are connected, a lot of that has to do with no longer being attached to desires and ideas that only supported the ego self. So a man who loved sports suddenly loses all interest in it after awakening. For this individual, sports were a means of establishing and maintaining his ego identity, which involved things like winning, masculinity, male community, and other things. But the insecure ego that needed to prove he was a man, a success, and have certain types of friends is gone in the space of oneness. There is just this spacious being. That space doesn’t need those things, and without the need, the interests dissolve.
However, as I said before, it’s rare that the whole of the ego goes. If was entirely gone, he would not be bothered at all by the loss of his desires. Instead, most of the ego is generally still around, and it causes this man to wonder what happened to his interests in football. He may wonder why he doesn’t want to go out drinking with his buddies, and his friends are probably calling and asking the same. For those brand new to the space of oneness, it’s strange. The more he drifts back to ego identification, the more he'll become troubled by these lost desires.
Returning to Ego Identification
It’s very common for people to seesaw into ego identification and out of it. In one of the simplest and most profound spiritual practices, we practice witnessing our thoughts, feelings, and sensations. When we are the witness, we have disidentified with the ego. When we get caught in our thinking and feeling, then we have seesawed back into identification with the ego.
Despite the power of awakening, this seesawing is very common. It also tends to be more extreme after awakening now that an inner energy is driving the dissolution of the ego—aka the spiritual awakening process. Sometimes people feel kind of manic as they go from deep spaces of peace to deep anxiety, frustration, or apathy (the types of emotions that arise depend on the individual ego). This roller coaster gets worse—as it usually does—the more someone re-identifies with the ego and tries to hold onto their old sense of identity. It’s like holding onto two freight trains travelling in opposite directions. At the very least, it’s deeply draining.
Indifference Arising from Energy Depletion
Another form of apathy that can arise is simply from energy depletion. It’s a lot of work at times to dissolve deeply held issues and ego attachments. With a true spiritual awakening, a lot of stuff gets pushed up all at once. It requires a lot of energy to process what is being understood on the mind, heart, body, and energy levels all at once. With all your energy dedicated to this transformation, you may find that you have no energy left to be interested in much of anything else.
However, as some of you probably figured out, this isn’t a true apathy. There is an interest. In this example, the person is interested in their awakening, and their attention is placed there. The issue is more around if the person thinks they should have energy to be interested in other things at this time. To be fair, there are a lot of demands people can have in their lives, and it can be jarring to no longer be interested in working, child-rearing, and other things. This is not a loss of interest in any sort of cynical way or avoidance. It simply is like when a caterpillar is in a chrysalis; she’s not doing much else.
Dealing with Indecision
In the form of spiritual apathy regarding indecisive, your old self wants one thing, and your new sense of self wants a different thing. This happens a lot. The old impulse to drink wine with your girlfriends comes up, and another impulse to go to a new yoga community gathering comes up. They both have an attraction to you, but it makes it hard to decide. The old ego still wants to do what it always has. The new desire to investigate a yoga gathering isn’t that strong yet, and it probably is running up against the fear of the unknown. So the person feels very indecisive.
In general, the fear of the unknown creates a lot of problems for people. New interests do arise after major spiritual shifts. They usually are around exploring spirituality more fully, and that often means stepping outside of your comfort zone to try new things. That space outside your comfort zone is the unknown, and most human beings have a lot of fear of that.
The Fear of the Unknown
Additionally, there are a lot of inner spaces that a person must investigate, and the fear of the unknown can make people want to avoid them as they are afraid of what they may find. Very often fear and avoidance fuel this sense of indecision. There may actually not be any indecision; there may only be fear. But the longer someone avoids things, the more things slow down to a halt. This can make the person feel particularly indifferent and lost in a gray haze of feelings.
Disconnected and Apathetic
After awakening, it’s hard to fully disconnect, but it is possible because anything is possible in a universe of infinite possibilities.
When someone disconnects from the awakened energy that is moving them, they feel truly lost. A part of them will probably remember what it is like to know and feel the truth, but they’ll try to be content with their old illusions anyway. They may reside even more in spiritual apathy because some of their desires got washed away in the initial awakening flood of energy. But they didn’t do the surrendering that was necessary to wash the ego more fully. So the vibrancy of life in the present moment is missed. Life just seems gray and meaningless. They’re stuck.
Getting Stuck and Incomplete Spiritual Awakening Integrations
The way out is to figure out where you resisted the inner changes and possibly avoided some external changes that were needed. If your ego is confusing you too much, get outside support in figuring this out. However, you are going to need to be ready to hear the truth. If you have disconnected yourself from the flow after awakening, you probably put forth a tremendous amount of resistance to do so. That probably felt horrible, and the way to jump start this whole thing again is back through that resistance, which will probably feel terrible as well.
In general, the problem with apathy is that it’s not really that bad. A dark night of the soul will drive someone to change because they don’t want to stay there. But living in a space of apathy and probably a certain degree of numbness is manageable. More than a few people even manage to convince themselves that they are happy again with their old desires.
The Illusion of Disconnection
Ultimately, we are never disconnected from oneness, but we can focus our energy on illusions. The more we focus on separation, the more disconnected we'll feel even if we ultimately are never disconnected.
Early on someone’s spiritual path, they are generally still entranced by the many illusions of their ego. They’re entranced by romance, body sensations, adventures, emotions, ideas, and all kind of things. They are in a trance living in an ego fantasy. A true awakening shakes people out of this trance for a short-term, but depending on the person’s initial experiences, they may get entranced with something new.
A peaceful, blissful spiritual experience after awakening is one way people get entranced again. Their ego thinks they can feel this way all the time, and it decides that anything else is boring, not-good-enough, not-spiritual, or something else. So the ego may become apathetic towards deeper states of peace and neutrality that come up because they are not this blissful feeling. In this instance, apathy is a sign of ego rejection. It has decided that it knows what a spiritual experience should feel like, and it just wants that one type of experience again and again and again.
But this is not possible. Wanting only one type of spiritual experience is a form of rejection. It is rejecting the infinite number of other experiences we can have as well as holding onto the idea of an experience that is now in the past.
Going towards Truth and Losing More Interests
In the short-term, people may find more spiritual interests as an apathy phase ends. These new interests can go on for awhile. They may build spiritual communities around themselves and work with spiritual teachers. They may learn how to do self-inquiry and a host of useful spiritual tools. A lot of new interests that feel truer to them may spring up for a time, and this is useful for a certain phase of ego dissolution.
But the further you go, the less you have interests in anything, including any kind of overt spirituality. Why? Because of all of life is spiritual. There is not one single atom in this universe that is not part of oneness. You can’t go anywhere without being enmeshed with this truth and with spirituality. As someone lets go of deeper ego layers, they more fully realize this. In such a spiritual realization, more ego interests—including those spiritual interests—drop away.
At Peace in Neutrality
The truest form of love is a kind of all-encompassing neutrality. Everything is embraced, and the person is at peace with life as it is. But unlike the blandness of apathy, peaceful neutrality is alive. It is vibrant. It is.
This space has always been here, but our ego fixation on having life be a certain way got in the way. The ego spends so much time unconsciously judging everything that it never really sees and experiences the present moment. In the deeper states of spiritual realization, we do see and experience the present moment. We are at peace with it, and the sense of ego apathy that often arises in the beginning of dissolving the ego after awakening is melted away into peace and inner stillness.