Lights On. . .
This far-off idea of awakening, with its promise of everlasting peace and fulfillment can actually be distracting and keep one from waking up to life as it is. Rather ironic isn’t it?
I now understand awakening as a process of coming more into reality. Apparently at some point there’s a radical shift in paradigm where there’s a figure-ground reversal, a permanent shift in perception that deals a death-blow to our sense of self. Maybe, but I’ve ceased to really chase this. Chasing seems counterproductive, just another way to avoid what’s right here, right now. Everything learned over my years and the teachers and books and practices I’ve encountered just keep pointing to right here, right now.
What’s become evermore clear is that awakening is not the romantic process I’ve built it up to be. It’s more akin to dying, which can be romantic in some ways, I guess. Awakening is letting go. Letting go of our comfort, of our hopes and dreams.
It’s facing the hard truths of life: that we suffer, that everything comes to an end, that we aren’t really anyone or anything of much importance at all. Contemplating these ideas may seem harsh and even crushing at first, but that’s exactly the point. They’re meant to crush “you”, to challenge all the ideas that keep us somewhat stable in the chaos of life.
But there’s also this paradox. Accepting suffering is very difficult, but the more we accept it, the less we suffer. That yes, everything we love comes to an end, but the more we internalize this truth, the more fully we can appreciate each moment. And that we aren’t anyone of much importance, but we are part of something far greater.
By letting go of our hopes and dreams, we can realize the beauty and fulfillment possible right now. But it’s become clear to me that this process is not to be rushed. Trying to move too fast takes us out of the moment.
Waking up isn’t about following any path or formula, it’s about getting to know who you really are by questioning everything about yourself, honestly and curiously. Not transcending, but embodying. Attuning to ourselves and the world, and trying to find our place in it. Paying attention to and learning from each moment, and responding as best we can with wisdom and care.
Peace and Love, Jim