My favorite story about Buddha is where he was out walking one day when a man saw him and noticed something different about him. The man asked him if he was a prince and Buddha said no. So the man asked if he was a magician and Buddha said no. “What are you?” the man finally asked. “I am awake,” Buddha responded.
What does it mean to be “awake”? In the past year I have written about the huge shift in me and in some of my articles I mentioned how I am aware that the ego (personal thought system) has fallen away from all but my conscious awareness. I can’t find its structure in my mind, only its echo—habits of seeing and thinking left in my conscious awareness, which fall away quickly once recognized. My trust in the Awareness (Consciousness/Perception) of Truth (Holy Spirit) grew over the years until the line between me and It began to blur. But I have not sustained this in my conscious awareness.
My conscious awareness is what I’m aware of in my mind and in my perception at any given moment. We think of someone who is spiritually “awake” as someone whose awareness of Truth extends in their conscious awareness so that they live in an expression of Love and Peace and Joy. Really, they live in a world totally unlike the ego’s (personal thought system’s) world of lack. But another aspect of being “awake” is being fully conscious of one’s mind as well. I have had the sensation in the past few weeks of more and more of me “coming online”. I have felt aspects of me that were put aside as their usefulness was sorted out return. I have become aware of parts of me that I have denied in one way or another. I have become aware of just how “asleep”—in denial—I have been.
Of course, conscious awareness is limited and there’s only so much you can, or need, to hold in it at any given moment. But, to be truly “awake” means to put no limits on what you are willing to have in your conscious awareness. It means having no guilt/fear blocking the way of what needs to be in your awareness so you can be wholly present to the moment as it unfolds in and extends through you.
To be truly “awake” means to be fully aware of your responsibility for what is unfolding. Let me make clear here that the “you” that is responsible for what is unfolding is not the “you” you feel you are as a “dream figure” in the dream. The awareness that you are responsible for what is unfolding is the awareness that you are not the dream figure, but rather the dreamer. You have a feeling of choosing, wanting, or agreeing with what is showing up, and though it may feel personal, you do not live in isolation from the entire unfolding story. Except maybe in flashes of insight, you will not be in touch with this awareness while guilt and fear still seem real to you. To the ego, responsibility = blame (guilt) and leads to fear of taking responsibility. But, in the Awareness of Truth, responsibility = fact, and it is empowering to acknowledge you are responsible.
I watch as I sometimes habitually choose sleep—denial. A form this used to take was dwelling on the past or fantasizing about the future. But I got over that long ago and what were left are the more subtle forms “sleeping” can take. These are what I now watch come into focus so I can let them go. They are hard to characterize for myself, much less for others, but I know what they feel like. I am not present or I am not taking responsibility for what is showing up or I imagine that at some time I will be so different that I will not feel like me anymore.
I’ve written a lot lately of watching the echo of the ego fall away in slow motion. I am learning what it was in minutiae in the process and unlearning the habits of identifying with it. What I am really saying is I am not experiencing a dramatic “awakening” where I wake up one morning and find the ego gone and my mind suddenly quiet. I am slowly, consciously, waking up.