Dr. Stimson advises us to tap away at the keyboard, allowing words and sentences to flow out on their own, and that is what I am doing.
There is a lot simmering inside of me; things I feel, experience, think about. Things that have changed my life radically. Nothing big, nothing of enormous proportions that could transform a person drastically overnight. These bits and pieces have come to me over the years, at the most unexpected times, gleaned seemingly out of nowhere. It is as if a new thought was fluttering by on angel's wings and was drawn into my mind, attracted by some magnetism I am not even aware of possessing! Is there a thought that has not crossed the vast Universal Mind from the day It came into existence? I guess not. It is new only in its appearance to the mind that perceives it for the first time thus, apparently out of nothingness. In fact these aren't even thoughts; they are miniscule shards, atoms of the ungraspable Reality, that filter through our consciousness.
Awareness! I became mindful of this wonderful phenomenon from reading a little of Zen, fragments of the Gita and the yogic philosophy. Awareness means to be totally in the present moment. To be attentive to your thoughts and actions in the now. Total awareness is a discipline beyond the ken of us ordinary mortals.
In his book 'The Song of the Bird', Anthony D'mello S.J. recounts a telling Zen story about Constant Awareness:
No Zen student would presume to teach until he has lived with his Master for at least ten years.
Tenno having passed his ten years of apprenticeship, became a teacher. One day he went to visit his Master Nan-in. It was a rainy day, so Tenno wore wooden clogs and carried an umbrella. 'When Tenno walked in, Nan-in said to him, 'You left your wooden clogs and umbrella on the porch, didn't you? Tell me, did you place your umbrella on the right side of the clogs or the left side?'
Tenno had no reply and became confused. He realized he had not been able to practice Constant Awareness. So he became Nan-in's student and studied for another ten years to attain Constant Awareness!
It is amazing what even a little awareness can do! Layer upon layer of thought gets peeled off and one becomes alert to surreptitious mental activity. We are puny. Puny, gagged, and preconditioned. That is the first lesson we learn as we delve deeper and start a process that is fascinating in the cognizance of the limitations and impurities of our preconceived notions. This is also when the ego begins to take various disguises as it is down sized. Its best masquerade is a lulling delusion of humility. It is as tricky and wily as Gollum. And just as pathetic. A constant state of awareness is a prerequisite to unmasking and keeping at bay this maggot, which persistently eats away at every attempt we make to free ourselves from its predatory clutches. Edging God Out is how someone has very imaginatively and I believe aptly, described the word.
Gradually, with enormous perseverance, a cleansing starts and a translucent state begins to emerge. The mind becomes an empty sheet, poised for the unexplored. A beautiful, unconfined space open to unique aspects and perceptions. An attitude of ongoing, unflagging watchfulness is the key that opens us up to vistas never before imagined by our self-constrained minds.
Biases give way to receptivity that teaches us to recognize all as a part of our self. We begin to perceive our commonality, as the fact that we are all filaments of the same Universal Energy, permeates our consciousness. We learn to respect the sanctity of all living and non-living entities and know within us that a well-preserved Earth is a legacy we must leave our future generations. We now understand and value the reverence our ancestors had for Mother Nature in all her moods and seasons. Our sense of wonder grows at everything we've always taken for granted. Our miraculous body, our family, friends, teachers and even strangers with whom we interact indifferently, appear in a new light. Food becomes more delectable as with increasing awe we express our thankfulness for those whose labor and toil went into bringing it to us. Contentment and gratitude become a way of life. Materialism begins to fade and a newly awakened spirituality loosens the grip of ingrained beliefs and ideology. Life acquires a fresh start, a different meaning, and an entirely unforeseen direction! Fears and doubts dissipate; selfishness and greed are supplanted by compassion and love; peace within us radiates outward as we pray for peace in the hearts of all mankind.
Nothing has really changed. And yet everything takes on a distinctive hue. What has altered is our discernment. We see the world and the people around us with wonderstruck eyes. Our own inner self is metamorphosed, suffusing every thing with the iridescence of its new avatar.