If anyone wishes to begin walking the Path to Enlightenment they will need to reprogram their approach to everyday mental living. The concept of living in the moment exists in countless spiritual modalities and the reason for this is that in order to see what is beyond reality we have to first experience the reality we live in to it’s fullest. Although it may seem like a very simple and basic technique, awareness when applied correctly can lead us to have profound experiences where we can sense within what it truly means to feel as though we are one with everything. It can be very surprising what we notice and pick up on when we have the focus of being aware of the impressions being made upon us through our five senses.
The key to being aware in daily living is connecting with our physical senses and being more conscious of what we experience through them. This can sound like a very intellectual process, but it actually has nothing to do with intellectualism in the traditional sense.
The five colours blind the eye. The five tones deafen the ear. The five flavours dull the taste. Racing and hunting madden the mind. Precious things lead one astray. Therefor the sage is guided by what he feels and not by what he sees. He let’s go of that and chooses this.
~ Lao Tzu, Tao Te Ching
This verse form the spiritual classics the Tao Te Ching illustrates what is meant by experiencing and not labelling with the mind. Lao Tzu highlights how the mind gives definitions and labels to experiences. When he talks of the five aspects of each sense rendering the sense useless what he means is that by defining a colour, sound or flavour as this that and the other, we are taken away from experiencing these things for what they are. It’s not that we shouldn’t use the mind but we should be wary of when the mind comes in to label experiences. To give an example imagine you are going for a walk and are trying to be aware or are living in the moment and you come across a large tree. The eyes see the tree for what it is and the mind labels it with the word tree, or more realistically, comments upon it, e.g. “that’s a tree”. As soon as this label is made by the mind you are taken out of the moment. This applies to anything. Ultimately it is a form of judgement that the mind carries out even when it labels something without deciding it is good or bad, right or wrong, liked or disliked.
If we can understand this process of judgement by the mind then we can take steps toward uncovering the subconscious elements of the ego’s, which come up to take us out of the moment. If you imagine you are going to a dinner party and you haven’t met the majority of people who are attending. As it is only natural for humans to be nervous when meeting new people, you find that you are swamped with thoughts of fear of judgement or perhaps this has turned into a sense of pride where you are swamped with thoughts of judgement upon others. As you meet with new people there are exchanges of judgement going on within each persons subconscious.
Judgement doesn’t just mean disliking something but it also means liking something, or judging it to be good. Deciding something is good isn’t a bad thing but we shouldn’t be attached to our judgements either way. We end up involved in this social system of judgements, which are all sourced from different layers of the subconscious. Wouldn’t the world be better if people didn’t judge constantly, for good or bad, people would be freer to simply be who they are. It’s not easy to do, in fact being aware 100% of the time is literally impossible but the more aware we are the more we can see exactly which ego states are strongest within us and as we learn more about how our subconscious mind works the more we can work toward removing these hidden mental elements, allowing us to be more conscious not only on this physical dimension but also on higher dimensions such as the Astral and Mental planes through our dreams and out-of-body experiences. A good way to judge how aware we are during the day is to look at how much we remember of our dreams and how clear these dreams are.
This is because our level of consciousness during the day is carried into the night during sleep, the major difference being that in our dreams we act upon those subconscious elements because we are not under the constraints of consequence that we are in the physical world. For example, if during the day we find our minds our flooded with lustful thoughts then at night we might find ourselves living out these fantasies. This may sound good to many people but the act of releasing ones sexual energy (having an orgasm) actually takes away from your ability to be aware and experience higher dimensions. Not only this but the more lust is fed the stronger it becomes, and this can be seen in the average sexual relationship, where people think they are “getting bored” and look for more and more novel ways to “get off”, where as the reality is actually that the lustful impulses have become stronger and people seek more and more strange, odd, “interesting” and to some degree perverse ways to be sexual.
This happens over time until eventually lust begins to dominate a person and their life. Another example is if you were to have an argument with a colleague at work which was quite heated. In your dreams you may find that instead of reacting the way you did in daily life you react violently and start bashing them with a great force of anger. Dreams reveal the true extent of what is within us, and if someone cannot even remember their dreams then it is a clear sign that they are not aware during the day and are being dominated by an egoistic way of being, even though it may not seem so. You can be a very good person and act in all the right ways in life but it doesn’t therefor mean that you are very conscious in life as the layers of the subconscious are hidden and if you have never tried being aware then you have likely grown used to acting in certain subconscious ways.
There are endless amounts of good people who do not remember their dreams not because they are blinded by badness, so to speak, but by the subconscious which include both bad egos and good egos. An example of a good ego is when someone is labelled as a ‘people pleaser’ and puts others before themselves too much. If you look deeper into this type of behavior you may find underneath it is a fear or rejection or a desire to manipulate in order to get something you want. This doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be polite, kind and friendly but rather that we try to act through awareness, doing these thing consciously from a place of love not fear and by doing this we are being objective.
These subconscious layers are interlinked with one another. For instance if we are very proud and feeling self-satisfied with something we have done and someone else comes along to criticize it then we react with anger or sadness, but if we didn’t have that sense of self-satisfaction in the first place then we would not have reacted to the criticism in a negative way. Equally we may react with a defensive stance saying something like “I don’t care one bit about what they think”, with our arms crossed and a stolid upright stance. Or take the opposite reaction of praise and then we feel an inflated sense of self, pride, even maybe arrogance or we may try to be humble by saying something like “no big deal, I’m nothing special” etc.
Trying to humble takes away from truly being humble as being humble is being accurate so if your work is good and someone praises you for it you would be objective and accept the compliments fro what they are, not pushing them away nor letting them feed your sense of pride. Often pride can be mistaken as a good thing but this is because of a misunderstanding of definition. Pride is listed as one of the seven deadly sins in Christian Theology. The English term pride can be used when someone is happy about their achievements but is also used when someone is arrogant or defensive. This can be confusing as I haven’t found a word that accurately describes a sense of accomplishment void of ego pride. The closest I have found is the word Honor, so it’s good to try not to mistake pride for honor.
This is again just another layer of the subconscious, but in this example the original self-satisfied pride converts to a self-defensive pride. All these reactionary thoughts and actions are derived from the subconscious, which is what takes us away from the moment and takes away from our ability to be aware and act in a truly intelligent way. The practice of awareness is one half of how we should direct our daily psychology and the other is that of self observation, which is the observing of those subconscious elements that come up and take us away from the moment.
A lot of people think that by awareness, what is meant that we never ever should think, and therefore it seems somewhat contradictory to people as I am thinking right now while I write this, but this is not the case. It is rather that we think consciously, instead of our thoughts being impulsive, reactionary and sometimes uncontrollable. It is possible to think whilst being aware and this takes much practice to get it right but once someone learns to do this it becomes a natural way of being when they are involved in intellectual activities.
The starting point for being aware is connecting with our five senses. We have sight, hearing, olfactory (smell), taste and touch (feeling). By becoming aware of where we are and what’s around us we can ground ourselves in these five senses. This doesn’t mean placing a label on what we see, smell, hear, taste or touch, but rather being aware of it. For instance if we are walking past a garden and we are not being aware we may not notice the smell of the roses, even though we may technically smell them, on a conscious level we do not experience it to the fullest degree because we are taken away by the mind.
Whereas, if we walk past this garden and we are aware we will smell the roses to their fullest extent and if we have awakened higher spiritual bodies we can gain experiences where we have insights and understandings about the roses that cannot be explained through conventional communication because these experiences go beyond the mind and the rational form of understanding phenomena. If you want to experience these higher realities, including lucid dreams and a true sense inner peace, awareness is the starting point. There will be many times when we fail to overcome egos resulting in us act through the subconscious but these times are not to discourage us from the practice as a lot of the time they can be some of the more potent lessons we receive about ourselves and what stops us from progressing, so through these times we live and learn.
The moments when this happens, shows us what parts of our subconscious have the greatest grip on us and highlights what it is we need to work on the most. We can even go for hours forgetting to be aware and then when we remember we can feel like it’s not worth doing since we wasted so much time, but this is just another trick of the subconscious trying to take us away from awareness. It’s important to understand that this is a difficult practice and will never be perfect but the point is rather to reprogram your mind to act consciously instead of reacting subconsciously. Once the practices of awareness and self observation become natural we can then employ the first key to enlightenment which helps us to gradually cut down the ego and release more of the consciousness.
Only by each individual changing within can the world as whole change and this can very difficult to accept as we want to place our standards upon others who do not subscribe to the spiritual way of living, but this difficulty is just another inner state we have to overcome, which I find to be one the most difficult things to overcome, but this is what is meant by truly letting go of attachment even the attachment we have to the state of the world, to others we care for and for the earth. It’s not that we don’t care for the world but we let go of the desire to control it or others in it and we put trust into a higher power, acting only when our intuition calls upon us to do so. This letting go can act like a domino effect as more often than not egos gain food from other people’s egos so if we choose not to feed into the cycle we can reduce the general amounts of negativity that exists within the world. This doesn’t mean we don’t stand up to evil but we rather have no expectation upon the results of our actions. If we expect others to change then we fall into the trap of attachment which brings us suffering.
Accept disgrace willingly. Accept misfortune as the human condition.
What do you mean by “Accept disgrace willingly”?
Accept being unimportant.
Do not be concerned with loss or gain.
This is called “accepting disgrace willingly.”
What do you mean by “Accept misfortune as the human condition”?
Misfortune comes from having a body, Without a body, how could there be misfortune?
Surrender yourself humbly; then you can be trusted to care for all things.
Love the world as your own self; then you can truly care for all things.
~ Lao Tzu, Tao Te Ching
1. Mediation for awareness of the sense
This is a very effective beginners practice but can be good if you would like more novelty with your practices as meditation can have less beneficial effects if its become a repetitive routine that we simply slip into the rest of our lives as if spirituality is just another hobby we set aside a certain amount of time to.
Method – Sit or lay in a comfortable position ready to meditate. Allow some time to relax and for the mind to calm. Begin by noticing what you can feel through your sense of touch. The feel of the temperature on you skin, or the breeze, the feeling of your clothes on your skin and even the sense of your palms and what they are touching. Stay with this for a while and then try to bring in your sense of smell. what can you smell? Try not to label anything. Don’t say to yourself “I feel cold” or “I think that smells like chicken” etc. Continue onto what you can taste in your mouth. Most likely you will be tasting your saliva but don’t label it and try to decide if its good or bad but simply experience it. Then try to bring what you can hear into the picture. Finally open your eyes and try to synthesize the sense into one experience of reality, simply being and experiencing.
This can be very difficult at first and can seem like a very intellectual exercise but the more you practice the more you will learn to relax into it. It’s important to not be led by the mind. So if you are up to hearing, then instead of thinking to yourself “when should I start listening?” try to follow your intuition instead of trying to make the practice too structured and determined by the mind.
2. Awareness Walks
Taking a walk and setting a specific goal to be as aware as you can be during this time can be a surprisingly powerful practice. I have found that interesting things can happen during these walks, where nature seems to be trying to communicate with you through symbolism a lot of the time.
Method – Simply practice the basic awareness, but pay special attention to your body and how it feels. Are you tense? Are you rushing? How does it feel when you are moving? By observing the body we can uncover the connections between our body language and our subconscious thoughts and emotions. Some of the most profound inner peace I have experienced has happened during awareness walks in nature and when you start connecting your inner dream life with daily reality the two can flow into one another where you can receive signs in dreams and then correlating signs during the day through nature.
3. Gazing upon a scene
This can be a powerful technique to bring ourselves out of the self-centred world and helps us perceive the larger reality of life. It comes naturally to most people actually but often the mind comes in to interfere with the sense of peace so by being on guard to these distractions we can make full use of the beauty around us. Simply looking upon a beautiful scene can give us a true sense of happiness along with an understanding of the reality of our organism as merely a tiny part of a greater whole.
Method – You can look upon anything you feel is beautiful simply for the sake of seeing and being present. My personal favorite is gazing upon the stars. I don’t know why but simply looking upon them and realizing how massive the galaxy is gives me a great sense of peace. I realize the magnitude of the world and the possibilities of others which then really excites me into trying to be more aware so that I can have more experience in higher dimensions especially the astral where it is possible to explore the Universe.
4. Choosing a daily activity to bring awareness into your life
This is a beginners exercise as it can be extremely difficult to even remember to be aware never mind activating awareness.
Method – Simply choose a couple of daily routines as your awareness practice. Some good ones are tying your shoelaces, brushing your teeth, eating a meal, sweeping the floor or spending time with an animal. These types of activities have symbolic relevance to the higher dimensions so it can help with receiving information on the higher realms but any routine activity is good to do in awareness.
If you wish to find out the history of your being, experience higher dimensions consciously and eventually become an initiate of the Mystery Schools then this is this foundational practice you must integrate into your life until it becomes your natural way of being, that is constantly remembering to be aware throughout the day.