Sunday, June 10, 2012
In my view, there are four simple steps to awakening. As Michael Beckwith says, it is simple, but it is not easy.
The first step is intention. When we are so fed up with our misery that we cannot stand it any more, we look for a way out. We are so incredibly frustrated with our lives that we think the Universe is out to get us. We are depressed, angry, neurotic and loathe ourselves and our lives. To some, suicide is the solution. Others discover a different way of being, one of love, peace and joy.
Sometimes, we see someone on television or meet someone who is enlightened and we desire to have the life force that they have. Sometimes, we have a spontaneous transcendent experience. We are briefly transported out of our miserable existence and feel euphoric and a feeling of oneness with others. We think that if it can happen once, it could happen again, and we try to figure out how to bring back and prolong that divine experience. To some, drugs introduce us to the euphoric feeling of oneness. This can be a trap if we rely on drugs to experience that feeling. Some wonder whether that same feeling can be obtained without drugs and are willing to try.
The second step is utilizing the many tools that are at our disposal which can lead us to awaken. We can bring our attention to the present moment. We can choose to be loving instead of fearful. We can give up our will to God's will. We can meditate. There are more incredible resources available to us than at any time in our history. There are teachers, living and dead, books, websites, seminars, workshops, temples and churches (watch out for the dogma!), etc. We should choose the path and resources which best resonate with us.
Once we begin utilizing the tools which we have chosen, it takes courage to face and acknowledge the long held beliefs and painful memories which rise to our consciousness when we are still. The pull of compulsive thinking is very strong. The groups we belong to will also exert strong pressure. Our gender, religious, social and economic groups will begin to lose their power if people stop identifying with them. Our parents, teachers, religious leaders, media figures, and friends will try to keep us in their belief systems because they believe that those systems keep them safe from the terrifying unknown.
We also need discipline to keep our attention on stillness and away from obsessive and compulsive thinking. Our belief systems are like a magnet, constantly drawing us back to the thoughts which we believe keep us safe. Also, it takes discipline to remain focused when there are so many distractions to keep us from the present moment. Television, films, social media, games, shopping, gossiping with friends, etc. make it easy to distract ourselves. The constant barrage of media can make it difficult to be alone, without distraction, in order to tune into the tiny voice of stillness. It is well worth it.
Let's have the courage and the discipline to utilize the tools that are available to us to awaken now.