Determining the amount of spiritually awakened people in the world is a tricky endeavor because “spiritually awake” is a subjective term.
According to the research on spiritual awakenings, between 34% and 41% of people have had a spiritual awakening in their lives. However, experts estimate that only 0.0001% of the population is fully enlightened.
According to Google trends the term “spiritual awakening” has been getting consistently more popular as a search term. More people are interested in spiritual awakening or have had a spiritual awakening than ever before.
Clearly there is at the very least more interest in spiritual awakening than in the past. I also suspect, there are more people who have experienced a spiritual awakening than ever before as well.
Defining Spiritual Awakening
How do you determine the difference between enlightenment and spiritual awakening? Let’s take a closer look at the two terms.
When we talk about spiritual awakening we’re talking about specific events that cause profound shifts in consciousness that are spiritual in nature.
The scientific literature calls these Spiritually Transformative Experiences aka (STEs).
STEs are defined as: “a mystical experience involving feelings of expansion (including conscious awareness leaving the body), energy rising up the spine, a sense of being enveloped in light, love or part of a unified energetic field.” (see source here)
Learn more about the signs and symptoms of spiritual awakening here.
Enlightenment on the other hand is the spectrum of how spiritually awake someone is. Spiritual awakenings lead to an increase in an individual’s enlightenment.
Full enlightenment is an incredibly rare occurrence, and is completely different from single spiritual awakening experiences.
The amount of fully enlightened masters is thought to be extremely small.
Spiritual Awakening Statistics
So what does the data say? Let’s take a look at some of the numbers from research, polls, & experts in the field.
|Has had an STE (according to research)||Has had a spiritual awakening (reddit poll)||Fully enlightened according to experts|
|Percentage of the population||41%||34%||0.0001%|
The Scientific Literature
One study released in 2022 researched how prevalent spiritually transformative experiences (STEs) were in the population and sought out to describe what those awakening experiences were like.
The study used prior research from a Gallup poll that found STEs to affect around 41% of the population.
This particular study also found that the average age for a spiritual awakening is around 28.7 years of age.
My Independent Research
I felt like 41% was a pretty high number, so I decided to run a poll of my own. I asked a general reddit community r/polls “Have you ever experienced a spiritual awakening?”
Here were the results:
I received 61 responses, of which roughly 34% said they had experienced a spiritual awakening.
This could be an artificially high percentage as 195 additional people viewed the poll but did not vote. It’s possible the poll is biased, as people that didn’t know what spiritual awakening is simply didn’t vote.
If we redo the math and assume that those that didn’t vote hadn’t experienced a spiritual awakening we get 8.2% (the math being 256 total ÷ 21 that experienced a spiritual awakening) which seems to be a more realistic number.
I suspect that if everyone voted on the poll the true percentage would be closer to 10-15%.
And even that number is higher than I expected! Before I dug into the research I would have suspected only around 5% or less of the population to have experienced a spiritual awakening.
According To Experts
Aside from research and polling data, we should consider what the spiritual experts say about how many people are spiritually awake/ enlightened.
Spiritual expert Ken Wilber estimates the number of fully enlightened individuals to be around 0.0001% of the population, or 1,000 totally enlightened masters from every 1,000,000,000 people.
This estimate is only taking into account fully spiritually developed individuals, not the average person that has a one-off STE or spiritual awakening experience.
Statistical Causes Of Awakening
Another area of awakening that has research to back it up is the causes of spiritual awakening experience. Steve Taylor published a research paper in which he calculated the causes of spiritual awakenings.
Taylor surprisingly found that the #1 cause of spiritual awakenings was psychological turmoil like depression or traumatic events at 23.6%.
Out of 161 reports of spiritual awakenings here were their causes:
|Causes of spiritual awakening||Number of people||Percentage (%)|
|Watching an Arts Performance||21||13%|
|No Discernable Trigger||11||6.8%|
|Participating in Creative Performance||7||4.3%|
|Reading Spiritual Literature||4||2.5%|
Surprisingly, Taylor’s research indicates that the number one cause of spiritual awakenings are actually things considered psychological turmoil like depression, anxiety, and traumatic experiences, while the least common way that spiritual awakening occurred was through prayer.
Things To Consider
Spiritual awakening is a difficult thing to measure, and all estimates and polling data should be taken with a grain of salt. Spiritual awakening is a subjective and personal experience that may be different for everyone.
Polls are subject to a lot of bias and their results aren’t always accurate to the true population.
I think the takeaway here should be that spiritual awakening is on the rise as noted by the google trends data, and that it’s likely that more people have had spiritually profound experiences than we might have previously thought.
There tends to be a cultural taboo around talking about these spiritually transcendent events, but the truth is that it’s far more common than initially thought. With spiritual awakenings on the rise, it’s important to know you’re not alone.
It’s also important to note how spiritual awakening and enlightenment are different. Full enlightenment is a rare phenomenon, but spiritual awakening experiences seem to be quite common.