Wakefulness

Erzengel Gabriel, Reni GuidoTo be awake. What does it mean to be awake? What does it mean to be here and now, to be completely and fully awake? Not to be awake is to be asleep, or half-awake. So much time of our daily life is spent in identification with thoughts and emotions, which inevitably bring about daydreaming. Considering all that, how much time of our lives are we truly awake? There are times when we can be, for our standards, very awake. In those moments it seems that time ceases – there is nothing else but the now, and the consciousness experiencing that eternal moment of life. When a person taps into that, they experience a true joy, possibly realizing that everything they considered happiness up until that moment is of a lesser quality, or not a true happiness at all.

We may say then that at that moment the person experienced a spiritual wakefulness, the wakefulness of life, of consciousness. What they experienced is based on their capacity to experience – what may be the maximum limit for that person could be an incipient level for a fully awakened Being.

How amazingly wonderful it is to become more and more awake, to raise up from the coffin into vibrant beauty of life. To be awake is to sacrifice those aspects within that drag us to sleep, those shadowy elements of our psyche, the heavy load. The following are the words of Buddha from the sacred text od Dhammapada, on wakefulness:

Wakefulness is the way to life.
The fool sleeps as if he were already dead,
but the master is awake and he lives forever.

He watches. He is clear. How happy he is!
For he sees the wakefulness is life.
How happy he is, following the path of the awakened.

With great perseverance he meditates,
seeking freedom and happiness.

So awake, reflect, watch. Work with care and attention.
Live in the way and the light will grow in you.

By watching and working the master makes for himself
an island which the flood cannot overwhelm.

The fool is careless. But the master guards his watching.
It is his most precious treasure.

He never gives in to desire. He meditates.
And in the strength of his resolve he discovers true happiness.

He overcomes desire – and from the tower of wisdom
he looks down with dispassion upon the sorrowing crowd.
From the mountaintop he looks down on those
who live close to the ground.

Mindful among the mindless,
awake while others dream,
swift as a race horse he outstrips the field.

By watching Indra became king of the gods.
How wonderful it is to watch, how foolish to sleep.

The beggar who guards his mind
and fears the waywardness of his thoughts
burns through every bond with the fire of his vigilance.

The beggar who guards his mind and fears his own confusion
cannot fall. He has found the way to peace.

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You will

Who will transcend this world? Who will transcend the realm of the dead, and heaven, too, with all its gods? Who will find the true and shining way of the path?

You will.

Even as the gatherer of flowers discovers the finest and rarest, so you will gather the teachings and transcend this world.

When you know that the body is merely the foam on the crest of a wave, unreal as a mirage, you will break the flowery arrows of craving. Unseen, you will escape the king of death and travel onward.

The scent of sandalwood, lilies and jasmine cannot travel against the wind, but you will travel. The fragrance of good works travels in all directions.

How brightly the lotus grows in the rubbish by the wayside. Its sweet scent lightens the heart.

So you, the awakened, will shine in the darkness around you, spreading the sweet scent of your wisdom.

– Buddha (taken from the Dhammapada)

Fanatical worship

“Ananda said to the Buddha: “I think there has never been a teacher as great as you, nor will there ever be one as great in the future.”

The Buddha asked: “Have you known all the awakened ones, the buddhas of the past?”

“No, Honored One.”

“And are you able to know all the buddhas of the future?”

“No, Honored One.”

“Then I suppose you do know this awakened one’s mind completely?”

“No, Honored One, I do not even know your mind completely.”

“Then how can you make such a bold statement? It is better to talk what you know than to speculate foolishly.”

– Majjhima Nikaya

There are many  such examples around the world. People seeing there guru/savior/god  as the most developed person that ever existed.  Usually, such blinding viewpoint can hinder a person to get to a knowledge of reality and truth, because they are locking themselves in a very limiting mindset that is ruled by illusion.

Self-observation for knoweldge of the self

This exercise is a continuation of the awareness of the present moment exercise which you can find here. Once you are aware of your external world, you gently and in a relaxed way bring your attention to your internal world. You observe emotions, thoughts and any other sensations that manifest within you. If you do that consistently, you will not only notice that those thoughts, emotions, sensations etc. are separate energies from who you really are, but you will also see how they are affecting and controlling your life.

Those inner states are in esoteric terminology known as “egos” (and more and more contemporary psychologists are using this term too). Egos are the inferior part of us – energies such as anger, pride, fear, lust, greed, gluttony, jealousy etc. They manifest in what is known as the five inferior centers of the body – intellectual, emotional, motor, instinctual and sexual center. These energies are part of the subconscious, and the spiritual work deals with transforming the subconscious into consciousness.

In the intellectual center they manifest as subconscious thoughts, which are thoughts not consciously conjured. The majority of the time it is these kinds of thoughts that go through our mind.

In the emotional center they manifest as emotions, and it is easy to notice them there. Emotions which we can feel can vary greatly. There is an enormous range of them, much more then those most commonly known. Usually it’s easy to notice big outbursts of emotions, but there are also subtle ones which can eventually snowball into outbursts or just keep us in low states without us realizing why we feel so low. Emotional center is covering big part of torso.

The motor center is located on the upper part of the back. Egos manifesting in the motor center can take control over our entire body. For example, a person is walking down the street and they hear some unusual sound in the distance. The person might suddenly turn around to see what is happening. This action will happen without the person really consciously deciding to do it. Another example is tapping your foot when waiting.

The instinctual center is a very basic one and is located in the lower part of your back. Usually this center keeps us out of danger, but egos that use it can cause a lot of trouble. The instinctual center can react with fear when there is no danger around, like for example when walking through a dark forest and imagining scary scenarios. Crippling fear then enters into the instinctive center and causes paralyzing sensations. Another manifestation is when you burn your finger on a stove and suddenly pull the finger back. Even though this instinct is a useful thing to have, it is much better when egos in the instinctual center are replaced by consciousness.

The last center is the sexual center and the ego that manifest there is lust. Sensations of lust can be easily observed and noticed, especially when an attractive person of opposite sex is seen. However, lust in the sexual center can also be triggered by fantasizing.

To be aware of what is going on within you and outside of you is really the complete practice of awareness. If you will only practice awareness of the external world, then your inner states will eventually pull you back into a daydream. The consciousness that we are is still very small and undeveloped, and it is like a piece of driftwood in a stormy sea – it is just a matter of time until it will be overridden by the waves of egos. To not allow that to happen you have to guard it by being aware of your egos and in this way you prevent from taking control. Buddha said how consciousness is like a candle flame amidst fiery winds – we need to surround that flame with our hands (self-observation) so that it doesn’t extinguish.

Similarly, like the previous exercise of awareness of the present moment, this one is also simple and after a period of time it becomes a natural way of living. It is the second foundational step towards the First Key for Awakening – elimination of the egos and their transformation into consciousness.