It’s either I am awake or I am not. I am not referring to the conventional awake state when I get out from my sleep, though that is a precise metaphor of what I experience when I am awake. You see, I can be asleep in my wakeful moments, drowning myself in thoughts instead of being fully present to what is in my space. I had mistaken thoughts as my reality. I have exchanged my present experience for the chattering mind, the judgments, the ideas, and the complaints that go on in my head. I am drowned in my own world, so to speak. Seldom am I present to this unawake state, as I am constantly being stolen away from my ability to stay alive to what Life is offering me.
To stay awake in my wakeful state is a constant challenge to my day to day living. In fact this is the one and only vocation I find truly meaningful if I am to live fully each day as it comes. The mind is in constant lookout for something of the future, rarely grounded in the present. In fact I am being ingrained to think that the future is more real than what is in the now. You will get what I mean when you start observing yourself the very moment you get up from your bed in the morning. It is about what’s next – work when brushing the teeth, planning while having breakfast, what’s for lunch in the midst of meeting, rushing even in a conversation – as if we are living two realities at one time. The constant rush to stay ahead makes me miss the point of living, for what comes my way at this moment is totally left unnoticed in my experience.
Imagine the mastery I have done – training the mind to be ahead all the time to the extent that the mind is running on its own auto mode – it has a life of its own, so to speak, and it does not know anymore how to be present. But wait a minute, where is life as Life breezes through us? It is like going for a movie and yet oblivious to the screen that is in front of us. What’s the point then to live, if we are not present to Life?
Staying ahead creates an illusion of reality – that we have to plan, to live. Yes, and that is what our inner Life becomes – planning to live rather than, live – as Life breezes through us. As if without planning, life has no meaning, and that life does not exist without planning. Irrelevant whether we plan or not, life passes through us, like water in the river, like day and night, year after year.
But wait a minute, what is life without planning? Life will surely become meaningless. What’s the point of living then? “A-ha!” Do you hear this ancient voice jumping out of your head so very often that makes you keep seeking for the future, endlessly, like a headless chicken roaming aimlessly? Isn’t the voice telling you the truth that you are not listening – that life is indeed meaningless and that you have to do something to make it meaningful? Have you ever questioned why the need for meaningfulness to cover up the reality of meaninglessness? It is like a farmer ignoring the fact that the soil he has is not suitable for any planting and yet he tries and tries to grow something on it with the hope that the soil will get better one day. What would a wise farmer do? Address the soil instead, before the need to plant anything. When we don’t address what is within our mind, we are covering up the truth, forgoing the weak foundation with a grandiose empire, ending up with a feeling of emptiness instead, in whatever that we have finally achieved – and yet whatever achievement that is, is always not final! There is always something more “out there” to conquer.
Thus the first step to a wholesome living is to address the meaninglessness that is within our system and to take the courage to probe within, with wisdom, instead of giving in to the ego of fear. Only when we come to peace with it can a new way of living come into being. Only then can my life be meaningful, with wisdom as its foundation instead of ignorance.
Would I still need to plan? Yes, but it won’t be me that plans. Wisdom takes the lead. Wisdom plans with Life instead of me planning for life. Wisdom recognizes the nature of causal relationship and thus work on the cause for the result to take effect instead of targeting the future, the effect.