May This Be the Cause of My Awakening
Before we get into this, a word on “awakening.” There still seems to be this idea floating out there that there’s this thing that can happen to us — if we are spiritual enough, or lucky enough for it to happen spontaneously — called awakening or enlightenment. And it seems to happen more often to people far away, in places like India. Some mystical moment where all the sudden we transcend and possibly burst into golden light and then we have total understanding, total freedom, are permanently blissed out, and possibly gain some magical powers…
Well, that’s bullshit. It’s just not the way it works.
As far as I’m concerned, if you’re reading these posts and actually interested, if you’ve ever wondered who you really are and what the meaning of life is, you’re awake. Slow down. Don’t get too excited. I’m not saying you’re full-blown Buddha-status awake or anything.
There does seem to be stages, and it does seem to be a process, for most people, which is why I prefer the term awakening, which seems to suggest a more gradual transition.
And what does it mean to wake up? To wake from the fog of the mind and its self-limiting beliefs. To break through conditioning, to find freedom from the templates that our mind creates about who we are and what is possible. To come out of the dream into increased awareness. To see the world as a stage, to catch ourselves playing our role, and to see that we have a choice to play along in this way or that, or to walk off the stage and giggle at how seriously we took the show. The most awakened people I’ve met are light, quick to laugh, loving, and seem to really enjoy life.
And this process of awakening, this evolution, is inevitable. It’s happening regardless, whether we are trying or not. Look at the elderly. Even if they’re not fully awake, they are more awake than they were in their youth. That’s why elderly people often care less about what others think, and act more irreverently toward conventions of life and society — they have peeked through the facade. I think that people that have near-death experiences, or are diagnosed with terminal illness also get a peek through the veil and can sometimes be jolted into waking up. Even depressed people seem more awake sometimes, in a bleak, hopeless way. But I’m getting a bit off topic.
So what’s the point of doing anything or trying at all, if it’s all happening anyway through no free will of our own (more on free will — one of my favourite topics! — in another post). Well, life is unfolding for us, despite us and our plans and thoughts, and we are all evolving, gaining wisdom, and gently waking up. But there is a subtle (yet crucial) difference in how we move along this inevitable path and it lies in our attitude. We can either resist and squirm against what unfolds, and wish things were different, which only adds to our suffering… or, we can embrace it, surrender to it, lean into it. Say to ourselves, this is the way it is.
And that makes all the difference. The latter attitude makes for a much more peaceful experience of life. We soften when faced with hardship, seek lessons in them, a chance to grow wiser and stronger and “level up” in the game. We still act when it’s warranted — this attitude isn’t about being passive. The distinction is in how we relate to what comes, and how it feels on the inside as we navigate. It’s about moving along the path a little more gracefully. And maybe, just maybe, with this attitude, we accelerate the process of awakening (if you believe in the whole free will thing…). Anyway, the ride is a lot more enjoyable.
There is a beautiful phrase that I heard from the great teacher, Jack Kornfield, that, when uttered in the face of adversity and struggle, helps to align us with this liberating attitude. A phrase that has been life-changing for me. Ready for this?
May this be the cause of my awakening
It is such a powerful phrase. It holds so much: a spacious awareness of the struggle, an attitude of acceptance, a curiosity about how we can learn and grow from this, and a willingness to be changed.
Maybe with practice, we can even relish challenges, invite struggle in like a friend bearing a gift.
Maybe, when we make a terrible mistake, we can ask, what can I learn from this? How can I grow from this? How can this make me better? Instead of letting it disturb us and fill us with regret.
Maybe, when a co-worker is rubbing us the wrong way, or just being a jerk, we can pause, take a breath, and silently thank them for giving us a chance to practise patience and develop compassion as we remember that they are themselves fighting a battle on the inside.
[sigh] May this be the cause of my awakening
Uh, well, just maybe. Might take a while. Remember, we agreed awakening is a process.