Spiritual awakening can be experienced in many different ways. It can be useful for us to know the signs of genuine awakening, so that if it happens it can be passed through with a minimum of fear or resistance.
One experience that seems to happen fairly commonly to seekers is what in Zen is called satori. Satori is a state of no-mind, or effortless meditation, that can arise spontaneously and last anywhere from a few minutes to few months or more. My understanding is that it is not a state of enlightenment, which Zen calls samadhi, but it’s a taste of one aspect of how enlightenment may feel.
Osho says, “Oneness is samadhi – and that is the difference between satori and samadhi. Satori is getting in harmony within yourself, that is the 1st step; samadhi is getting in harmony with the total, that is the last step. In satori your conflict disappears; in samadhi you also disappear.” He also states it this way: “Satori is ½ awake, ½ asleep. Samadhi is full awareness.”
If you happen to have a satori experience, it is a good sign, but not something that can be taken as an achievement. It may end, or it may deepen into samadhi. It is said that there is nothing that can be done either way, that in fact it is by non-doing that samadhi can happen.
I’ve heard various accounts of enlightenment, and one of the recurring themes seems to be a feeling of the rug being pulled out from under the mind — as if the plug has been pulled and the self starts to unwind in a vortex of energy. This can be a frightening experience, and the natural reaction may be to cling to something to stop it. However we are told to let go completely and allow the process to happen.