The notion of gradual awakening vs sudden awakening has been around for many centuries. It gained considerable focus during the 5th and 6th centuries in China when there developed what has become known as the so-called Southern and Northern Schools within the Zen tradition. The Southern School of Hui Neng (Sixth Patriarch) which supported the notion of sudden enlightenment flourihed in the South while the Northern School of Hsiu Shen expounded the gradual approach. Since then there has always been a fierce debate within spiritual circles (especially Buddhist) which of these two approaches are correct and to which extent they are mutually exclusive.
It is not my intention to expound on the basic misunderstandings within the Zen tradition which led to this schism. The above is just to point to the ongoing saga concerning gradual or sudden enlightenment. In this regard, I think weallone's statement is relevant and needs some clarification from the point of view of Spiritual Humanism.
>>The only thing that I may be misinterpreting, is that for me the wholeness cannot be gradually integrated into the life experience as you say.>>
My sense is that wholeness can indeed be integrated into into life experience. Everything depends on how it happens. In their pure form, it would be true to say that wholeness and fragmentation are mutually exclusive. When wholeness is, fragmentation is not, and when fragmentation is the case, wholeness is not. But this apparent mutual exclusiveness does not take account of the simple fact that human life is an open-ended process where things interact continuously – even wholeness and fragmentation.
The consideration I bring to this truth is that human experience manifests along a continuum from pure wholeness to pure fragmentation or dualistic vision. At any moment in our life we find ourselves somewhere along this continuum. And the only factor which determines our position along this continuum is our deluded, entranced state of dualistic vision, also known as the separate self-sense or ego-sense. And as we have seen, this separate self-sense cannot (ever) move closer along the continuum toward the experience of wholeness.The opposite is true though: wholeness can and does infiltrate fragmentation all the time. This is because wholeness of of a higher order than fragmentation, and so can, and does, outshine it, if it is allowed to.
So, as the experience of wholeness is our possibility, the question arises what could be done to have this become our present, sustainable condition of being. And it is exactly at this point where the notion of gradualness comes into play. If nothing the 'I' can do can bring it closer to wholeness, and if wholeness is always our present (albeit obscured) natural state, it would be prudent for us to discover ways by which we learn how to chunk away at the presumed 'I'-state in order to make it more transparent so that more of our undivided nature can shine through the fog of 'I'-consciousness.
Here we clearly observe a gradual process at work, as no one has ever managed to awakening instantly into a sustainable condition of wholeness right from the start. The path we all have to walk to freedom is through the misapprehension we have about our presumed ego-identity. There is no path to truth, awakening or enlightenment. The one (separate self-sense) who is concerned with the path can never get closer to the truth of undivided being. Awakening reveals itself gradually along the continuum of our human potential to the extent that we manage to see the falseness of the presumption of our separate self-sense.
This gradual process of denuding the false 'I'-sense takes time, dedication and vigilence. It is a subtle process beset by many pitfalls and vulnerable to great misunderstanding. Yet, there is no other way. We have to gain the ability to observe the processes which facilitate the appearance of the 'I'-state in action, and through such critical self-observation allow the separate self-sense to fall away gradually and quite naturally.
This gradual reduction of the apparent solidity and reality of the 'I'-state is what I refer to as integration. As the 'I' begins to wither through self-observation, our natural condition of wholeness gradually filters into our living experience, and over time brings an ever-increasing sense of undividedness to our life. Here we clearly see demonstrated the finely tuned interaction between wholeness and fragmentation along the continuum I mentioned above. As fragmentation, as the separate self-sense, begins to fade into the background, wholeness begins to reveal itself and gradually become our living reality. It cannot be any other way.
At this level, wholeness infilrates our living experience in no different way as light, dimmed by dark clouds gradually begins to filter through, when the clouds start to dissipate. The light coming through is still dimmed and partially obscured by the clouds (our ever-active 'I'-sense), yet, there is more of it than before. The sky may as yet not be blue and clear, but the greater light that shines through, brings more clarity to our vision. Gradually, things become more clear, and we begin to wake out of the dream of our presumption of separateness.
From the above it is evident that in the process of denuding the 'I' from its apparent solidity and realness, the 'I' played no active part at all. In fact, the 'I' had absolutely nothing to do with its own gradual demise. There was only clear observation of the processes which up till now have kept the illusion of the separate-self-sense alive. The 'I', as a series of present processes, was merely observed and seen for what it is. And in the light of such intelligent and clear observation it started to wither and lost its 'reality-factor'. In this way we can free ourselves from the delusion of the separate self-sense.