Process Of Managing Awareness
Awareness is one of the greatest gifts that existence has given to human beings. All spiritual masters tell their students, “Become aware, increase your awareness,” and they suggest various methods to do so. Animals too have awareness, but that is more instinct driven. They are aware of hunger or thrust, or of danger or death, but purely by instinct. Animal awareness is mostly about the present moment, although some awareness does come to them from past conditionings too.
A human being is aware of himself, his near and dear ones and his environment. But more than that, he is aware of the past and future, his thoughts and emotions. Awareness, however, is a double-edged sword. With increasing awareness, one does find life to be more fulfilling. However, it is this very awareness that brings in two negative emotions that drive us, namely fear and greed. An animal knows fear only instinctively and does not know greed. We know that there is a tomorrow, that we have to provide for future needs as well as plan for contingencies like disease, poverty, infirmity and death. This creates worry and agony on the one hand, but also enable us to plan in order to secure the future. If we did not have awareness of the future, we would not be as miserable or anxious, but we would also not be prepared for any future situations.
The normal awareness we have of ourselves, of life, environment, and of our emotional state is likely to give us more periods of unhappiness than joy. In order to get rid of this unhappy state, we have two choices----to reduce or lose our awareness or to raise our awareness level to that of spiritual masters, to the level of evolved or enlightened souls, to the level of a Buddha. It is definitely easier to go down in awareness than to increase awareness. All our mental escapes and our addictions are attempts that take us down the awareness level though the aim is to look for relative peace. But this is eventually counterproductive, as it destroys the mind and body, often leaving us worse off.
Knowing that our current levels of awareness are not enough to make our lives peaceful and joyous is often the first step on the path to spiritual realisation. Thus begins the journey of becoming more aware, through watching our breath, concentration and meditation.
We start by becoming aware of our body because that is gross and easier. Once we are reasonably aware of our body, we have to move on to the mind which is more complex. With the body, it is easier since the body becomes the object and the mind is the subject. However, with the mind, object and subject appear to be the same. It is our mind which needs to become aware of the mind. This initially produces more conflict, till one comes to the conclusion that there is something beyond the mind, the silent witness, the one who sees, one who powers all the organs and gives energy to the mind.
This is our true self, our soul, spirit or atman. All our awareness should lead us to that part of ourselves that is permanent, indestructible and unchanging, for only when we get there, can we be free of manipulations and machinations of the mind. Once we can see our thoughts for what they are, we are free, we are at peace. This is the goal of all awareness.