Illusion of Wakefulness
When I was young and still working, on some Mondays it was an ordeal waking up for work after a party of the night before. Now and then I would turn the alarm off and promise to myself "just another five minutes" of snoozing. Then I would sleep in.
What would amaze me in a retrospect was the way I managed to trick myself. Namely, I actually produced a dream in which I was going about my whole morning routine in every detail, including even the toilet part without that waking me up or performing it in bed.
It was the occasions like that which inspired my thoughts about people possibly spending their lifetimes by never being fully awake - or in a spiritual sense awake at all. Thoughts like that found their generous support in those books I read at the time about zen Buddhism and general Eastern philosophy where this illusion of the apparent reality was called "maya". I wish I could remember now more of that enlightening stuff. However, the topic is very close to my designed self-discipline, and there is not a single moment during the day when I am not living it.
As I am observing people, so often something is missing in their faces, some sign of alertness, of animation, or readiness to change that expression. Instead, all seem to be somehow absent, their faces looking like just a part of the wardrobe they are wearing.
Many times people are giving me an impression of those ventriloquist's dolls drifting through life and hoping to find an animator who would put some life into them. It makes me wonder, if they are absent from the present moment, where are they present? Are they running on an automatic pilot and merely responding to life situations according to its programs - while being asleep, just like I was in my vivid dream about my getting ready for work and not knowing that I was fooling myself?
Stuck in Our Inner Programs
Indeed, so many of us are sleepwalkers trained to respond to life in a robot-like manner, having some clusters of knee-jerk reactions ready for different occasions. It's where we found our comfort zone, within a range of familiar patterns of experiencing.
Day-in, day-out, year after year the same thoughts, same emotions, having some conversations with the same people about the same stuff - so that the whole life passes as one complex routine with a few standing out festivities, like getting married or something.
Actually, we can't even get married without first consulting those experts who explain to us what is appropriate to say in our vows, what to wear, and do. Most of us even say that final "Yes, I do" being completely clued out about the meaning of it - if we are to judge by the statistics of divorces and dysfunctional marriages.
Well, god-forbid that anyone would try to wake us up from our cherished dreams and nightmares that we call our life, as we wouldn't know the first thing to do once awakened. Quite probably, we wouldn't even know who we are, and the shock of getting accustomed to our new selves would be too much to handle.
Besides, what would our co-dreamers say about our treason? I remember the time when I quit smoking, coffee, and alcohol cold turkey, and how I was looked at by my old drinking buddies. "You'll get over it, it's only a temporary whim to quit" - and they were not particularly supportive while offering me a drink every time we met.
Well, I didn't really need any support from anybody. Long, long time ago I learned to "row my boat by myself, and not allow anyone to rock it", and my quitting those chemical pacifiers was one in the battery of my ways of waking up.
Sentiment of a Narcolepsy
During those long winter months when walks in our favorite park-forest are out of question here in Canada, with temperatures dropping sometimes to minus 30 degrees Celsius, strolling around a warm shopping mall comes as a good alternative to stretch our old legs. Then my wife would do her window shopping, even trying some garments on and coming out empty handed - while I would entertain myself listening to the positive affirmations hooked on my Mp3 and casually observing people in passing.
Younger folks are always a treat to look at with their vibrant alertness and those vibes that my inbuilt radar experiences like a true inspiration. Especially babies, and I mean only those that are not crying, because crying never inspires me at all.
Then there are also those over 40, with their stiff and wrinkled grimaces of worry, boredom, tension, anger, sadness, or just a poker-face emptiness - a whole gallery of negatively spirited portraits. As those facial expressions are a match to different emotions, I start wondering how many hours a day they had to feel that way so that their faces make that expression "their normal".
Indeed, doesn't a rare moment of wakefulness occur to us to realize how we are spending our lives with heads dipped in oblivion ostrich-style, with that chronic unwillingness to willfully derail ourselves from those old grooves of familiarity, and try some new daring patterns of experiencing, something that wouldn't belong to that old thinking-box.
At times it seems like a good idea to open ajar one of the eyes by buying new clothes, renovate the house, or even take a vacation. But just watch how fast it all stops looking like a novelty, as our mind rushes to make it a part of our familiar comfort zone which insists on sameness.
And after we have done that "duty" of taking a vacation, how good it feels again to open that front door and with a big sigh of relief say : "Home, sweet home!" Then we can't hardly wait to go back to work, and we call it "back to normal", right? Yes, to many folks vacation is mainly good for one thing - so that they can appreciate their home more.
Thinking in a Box - or Sleeping by a Music Box
To every even half-awakened person "paradigm" is a dirty word. It's a sum total of the mankind's beliefs in a cultural epoch. To me, though, it has some basic characteristics of a religion, inasmuch as you are not supposed to think out of the box of those beliefs, challenge them with new ideas, or question their tenets and their logicalness - without being called a heretic, or being excommunicated from the scientific establishment.
Considering how feverishly the mainstream intellectuals are sticking to their pet-theories - or their favorite version of a virtual reality - any challenging idea that's threatening to wake them up sounds like the earth may not be flat - all over again. They are asleep just like an ordinary Joe who thinks that the only purpose of life is beer, loose women, pizza, and a good football game.
While you can't blame Joe for not knowing any better, those smart dreamers are merely holding the progress back. The metaphor of "turning the alarm off" pretty much describes what they do when their comfortable dream is threatened.
It would be one thing to defend their positions in a fair discussion with out-of-box thinkers; but it turns out to be an entirely other thing as they flex their muscle of legal influence and suppress their activity and any further research.
For example, in more than one instance I have heard about someone coming up with a highly promising cure for cancer or another deadly disease, and then his lab was stormed by officials, all papers confiscated, and the person being prosecuted.
Books and books have been written about man's nature, and to me so many resemble those guides for interpreting dreams, not about a wakeful reality. There is nothing we could possibly learn from our "childhood traumas" or any other aspects of our slavery to exaggerated emotionalism, or from anything else for that matter that is not including the leading role of our wakeful consciousness.
So, what Is It to Be Awakened?
In a nutshell, it's a constantly present sense of a free choice of thoughts, emotions, attitudes, beliefs, and actions. It's a willingness to question the suggestiveness of the "obvious". And above all, it's a sense of a spiritual freedom that's beyond all possible interpretations of reality, everything mental, emotional, physical, or circumstantial.
It means staying at all times identified with that spiritual entity that "you" are, detached from your creations and just supervising them non-judgmentally. Then, as you persist with that identification, your mind, your emotions, and your body, and even your circumstances align with that identity.
Long ago someone said: "A great conqueror is not one who conquered cities - but who conquered himself". Or we might say - who succeeded to wake himself up and then stayed awakened.