A Brahman saw the Buddha resting under a tree in meditation. The Brahman was impressed with the Buddha’s way.
He asked, “Are you a god?”
“No, Brahman, I’m not a god.”
“Are you an angel?”
“No”, replied the Buddha.
“You must be a spirit then?”
“No, I’m not a spirit,” said the Buddha.
“Then what are you?”
“I am awake.”
When we meditate, we rest. At profoundly deep levels. By resting deeply, we find ourselves, in our day to day life, more and more conscious. More and more awake.
When we’re half asleep we miss the simple pleasures of life.
There are three hallmarks of wakefulness:
First, we are able to notice the subtleties of fine distinction between two quite similar things. Two flowers, a set of identical twins, two drops of water. Hold your two forefingers out in front of you. To someone else they probably would appear to be nearly perfect mirror images of each other. But to you they are so familiar that it is easy to see dozens of differences between them.
Like this, with the superfine distinction available to us as we become more awake, we can easily distinguish the next best step to take in each moment. We can more easily align ourselves with the flow of nature, with evolution itself. We can relax and take it easy.
Second, as we become more awake we are able to entertain a broader spectrum of items in our conscious awareness at the same time.
When we are overwhelmed and our consciousness has been pushed into half-asleep-ness, we can handle only one thing at a time. Have you ever been lost, driving, and had to pull the car over, turn off the radio, and ask everyone to be quiet so that you could read a roadmap? To be more awake allows us to drive, sip our coffee, carry on a conversation, watch for street signs and landmarks while asking our partner to have a look at the map to re-check something, all the while with music playing in the background and Bud Powell the labradoodle on your lap and looking out your side window. Easily. Effortlessly. Enjoyably.
Third, with more wakefulness we can more easily discern patterns. We are able to notice much earlier than before when we might be repeating past behaviors. We are able to make better choices leading to new experiences, rather than simply repeating our mistakes.
Consciousness is neither on nor off. Consciousness is, and is always present, waiting only for our attention. Our wakefulness.
As this state of wakefulness dawns inside us, we attract knowledge, and we begin to understand our personal role in life. It begins to become so clear we are surprised it ever was a mystery to us.
We begin to see the Universe as a benign and wonderful vehicle that has conspired to deliver us to this exact place in this exact moment, and we begin to experience this place and time, and ourselves in it, as the perfection it is.
Today I will wake up to the beauty that is all around me. I will accept my responsibility to be awake in the world. I will pull my attention out of the half-asleep darkness and into the Now that always is here waiting for me.
Buddha in Garden, Ojai CA