I write this to state as clearly as I can what is possible for those who want to live honestly, fully, in and as awakeness.
First, there are two conditions necessary. For one, you must know that you’re lost, at least somewhat lost. You must see that something is off, that something doesn’t add up, that there’s got to be a better way somehow to do “this,” (“this” being LIFE.) The other is that you must truly desire to remedy this situation, and the desire must be greater than the habit of living in this accustomed, seemingly safe, but actually often lost and uncomfortable way.
When these two conditions are present, you can wake up to a new way of living. You can see the value of living as your true self, your natural self, that which is not attached and confused by the habit of being lost. Once you experience living as your natural self, you are waking up.
You can experience awakening right now. Locate yourself in a relatively quiet place for a few minutes. Lower or close your eyes, and begin attending to the spaces that occur between thoughts arising in your mind. Don’t worry about the thoughts, what kind, the content, how charged, anything. Let thoughts be. Only continue attending to the spaces between thoughts. Attend in openness to the quality of being you experience when no thought is happening.
Experiencing the quiet between thoughts may be fleeting at first, just glimmers of space between the busy output of thinking that has been cultivated in you and that you habitually experience as yourself. This is not a problem. Relax and be willing to let the momentum of mind spin it’s energy out. Trust that the spaces are there now, and that your ability to attend to this quiet, to experience your natural self, will grow as you attend in this way.
Continue attending to your natural self. Move your attention gently in this direction as often as you sense the possibility, the invitation to do so. Over time you will observe that it’s possible to attend in this way not only sitting quietly by yourself, but also when you’re in company with others and even as you are involved in movement and conversation.
Along with attending to your natural self, you must become curious about how much you are still lost, how often, how long, how deeply. You must be willing to observe that instilled in you is a deeply held belief in yourself as a person who only knows being lost. And, you must be willing to question this belief, and remember the new experience of living as your natural self. You must remember the desire for, and the enjoyment of living in the relaxed openness that you have discovered. You must remember that the desire to live in this awakened way of being is greater than the habit to live in the old accustomed, uncomfortable way.
Evidence of living in the lost state includes experiences of fear, anger, self-judgment, frustration, greed, superiority, judgment of others, futility, depression, inferiority, jealousy, despondency, annoyance, worthlessness, and also includes the behaviors that come from acting out of these states. The defining characteristic of the lost state is discomfort, unsatisfactoriness, that old sense of something not being right. The reason it has always felt as though it’s not right is that, it’s really not right! When these states are observed, please don’t make a problem of experiencing them as they continue to arise. They have a lifetime’s worth of momentum carrying them, so it takes time for them to spin out. Just as with allowing thoughts to arise without becoming caught up, you must allow these experiences to arise, be met fully, and pass away, without becoming caught in them. As experiences come and go, simply continue to attend to your natural self as often as the space arises to invite that. This is the way that the habit of being lost naturally, spontaneously falls away. Making a project to actively dismantle the habit of lostness only directs your attention toward the old ways, which is how the habit of lostness gained such power in the first place. Don’t succumb to this temptation! Simply notice having been lost, notice this without judgment, and redirect attention to the growing, ever-strengthening association with the natural self.
Judgment of yourself for not being “awake enough” or clear enough, or kind enough, or fill-in-the-blank anything enough, is evidence of living in the lost state. Judgment of others for not being “awake enough” is, equally, evidence of living in the lost state. Everyone is lost sometimes. We are all either living out some state of being lost, or we are living as the natural self available to each of us equally. When we are lost, we have no control of it. If a person could awaken in any given moment of being lost, they would and they do. Having experienced the movement between being lost and awakening, this is recognized about all others, and compassion arises. It’s painful to be lost. It’s like if you’ve experienced the pain of a certain illness. When you hear of someone else with that same illness, your heart just goes out to that person fully. When you are living as your natural self, seeing someone experiencing that condition of being lost that you yourself know so well, your heart just goes out.
As the awakening process continues, you will experience awakeness and the experience of feeling lost. As you continue to live out periods of feeling and acting lost, you must continue to cultivate the new habit to direct your attention toward living as your natural self. At any time as you experience the habit of being lost, this habit of believing yourself to be lost can be recognized. This is the perfect moment just as it is, without any reason to analyze or judge having been lost. It’s perfect because the recognizing is the waking up. Now you are awake, or better said, you are living as awakeness. You are living as the Awakened Presence that you are. There is no need to take any further action in terms of waking up. So you can relax.
Your natural self is Awakened Presence. You are Awakened Presence. There is no separation, no you that is different from Awakened Presence. You = Awakened Presence. This equation is equally and absolutely true for all beings. And as you more and more clearly associate with Awakened Presence, you know that each life around you is sharing in this Awakened Presence. All = You = Awakened Presence. When you are experiencing connection with another, this is Awakened Presence recognizing and enjoying Awakened Presence. This is profoundly delightful when known in its full context. It is impossible to overvalue this experience.
When you begin to live as Awakened Presence, you will start to feel the ever-shifting energies of that begin to move through you, through your life movements. Different life conditions call out different aspects of Awakened Presence to move through you. The names we give these energies are love, compassion, joy, kindness, connection, wisdom, generosity of spirit, clarity, humor, equanimity, peace. They are all natural facets of Awakened Presence. You have experienced these purely many times, so you can rest assured that you have lived spontaneously as Awakened Presence many times without understanding it in this way. Now the invitation is to live constantly as Awakened Presence, and to see that these energies are the ones associated with your natural state. You may also recognize what it feels like to try and “fake” any of these qualities. Forced kindness or peace is not natural and does not serve any good purpose. Better to become quiet instead and attend to what quality of the lost state is actually arising, so that it can be known, seen and allowed to spin out its’ momentum.
Awakened Presence knows what to do with whatever worldly conditions are calling for attention. Now let Awakened Presence guide action or non-action. There is no rule book about what to do, if this or if that. There is no need for commandments for Awakened Presence. If there is acting out of lost emotions, once this is seen from Awakened Presence there is knowledge on what to do to correct the direction. If there is lost action in others, Awakened Presence knows how to move to meet that with wisdom and an open heart. If there is any question, abide in the quiet of Awakened Presence, and follow your feet where they take you.
This term I am using, Awakened Presence, and all terms used here, are mine. They are relative to my experience, and therefore most meaningful to me. Find your own language for all of this. This will make it most meaningful, powerful and available to you.
To summarize! Three instructions:
· -Attend to your natural self, Awakened Presence.
· -If you are experiencing fear, disconnection, or emotional pain, you are temporarily lost. Notice this without judgment. That which notices without judgment is Awakened Presence. You are Awakened Presence. In the simple noticing, you return to your natural self. Direct your attention to your natural self, Awakened Presence.
· -Enjoy yourself!
Please freely enjoy the unfolding of yourself as Awakened Presence, and that means enjoy all of it. Hold all experiences as precious in the unfolding process. When you are waking up from an episode of being lost, sense the gratitude in now knowing another aspect of the old habit that can be seen, and thus allowed to naturally unwind. When you are enjoying life as the many facets of Awakened Presence, sense the gratitude in receiving the gift of such a life. It is all precious and deserving of your reverence and delight.