Wakefulness is more than just not being asleep. It is an aliveness and alertness about yourself and the people and circumstances around you that sees and feels it all. It is a heightened awareness that comes with practice. One makes a commitment to be awake to life and not spend all our time in ‘thinking mind.’ When we are awake in this way we can be attentive to our needs and the needs of others, and we know instantly when we are out of balance.
Wakefulness allows us to see without judgment or criticism, and to act instinctively and spontaneously upon that which needs to be done in any given moment. To live like this, and we can all live like this with practice, aligns us to the greater rhythms of life, giving us energy and deep insight. All the ten virtues contain blessings and gifts and charge us with energy, and wakefulness is no exception. It breaks through the illusions and pettiness that the mind creates for us, and allows us to relax into what is happening so we can experience it fully.
Zen Buddhism emphasizes wakefulness and attention to the now, and has many practices to enhance this ability. So does Christianity. All the great religions teach the importance of living life day by day, moment by moment.
When you practice wakefulness, your life opens up and you get to know and see yourself without illusion. Self-deception is impossible with wakefulness because you see clearly that all in your life has a cause, and the cause is almost always our thoughts and actions. We see clearly that we are the creative power in our life, and that there is a direct relationship between what we are and what happens to us. We see where we are lazy and negligent, where we are petty and indulgent. We see our desires, hopes and aspirations, and how these are being fulfilled or sabotaged by ourselves. We see it all.
To be aware like this is often shocking, because we can no longer hide behind excuses and pretend that life is being unkind to us for no reason. We see that life is always responding to us according to our thoughts and actions, and that we are in an intimate relationship with life. It’s a relationship that is governed by laws both known and unknown, and we can get to know and use these laws. This gives us confidence and assurance and a methodology for living our life. It also provides inner peace, for life suddenly makes sense. Not in a logical way, for life transcends the narrow limits of logic, but in a deeper mystical way.
Wakefulness is noticing the inner voice amongst our clamoring thoughts, and listening keenly to what it says. Not only listening to it but acting upon what it says, which in turn creates causes and effects in our life.
Wakefulness is allowing our authentic presence to manifest. Our uniqueness is seen and felt and given expression. And this expression sets in motion causes and effects, and we find ourselves on the path of destiny. Living in an authentic, wakeful way, we find ourselves in harmony with all that is. Each moment calls for something different, and each moment we are ready for whatever is called. We practice being awake, alive and alert in each moment.
Living this way brings great blessings. Not that we can spend each and every moment awake, for this is enlightenment, but with practice we can spend more and more time in wakefulness. As with all the ten virtues, these concepts must be experienced to be fully appreciated. Then they cease to be concepts and become living realities for us.
Inner peace, happiness, joy, success, self-awareness, mystical awakenings, self-knowledge; these do not happen by chance, but by an awakened human being living an authentic life.
The paths of the ten virtues are paths to be traveled and lived, not concepts to be thought about. When they are lived, they produce much energy and delight, and lead us deep into the mysteries of self. When simply thought about, they produce inspiration for a moment or an hour.
The opportunity to practice them is always available. The choice is yours.