I’ve told this story many times here.
Buddha was asked by a seeker:
“Are you a God?”
Buddha replied, “No.”
“Are you a saint?”
“Are you a holy man?”
“What are you then?”
“I am awake.”
And so the Buddhist is not asked to have faith or blind belief or obedience to dogma, but instead, to cut through the clouds of ignorance and awaken to one’s true nature. A true nature that recognizes the illusion of a separate self and the presence of shared consciousness with all sentient beings. So over 2500 years ago, Buddha recognized the importance of awakening and gave us tools to stop sleepwalking through this life, stop clinging to illusion and attaching to the transient.
Fast forward a few millennia and here we are, the willing victims of purposefully manufactured sleepwalking attached and addicted to the transient sensation of our machines, stupefied by entertainment, clinging to conspiracy theories and fake news and walking like hypnotized lemmings to the cliff’s edge. The only antidote to the whole catastrophe? Waking up. (Not ‘woke,’ that simplistic and divisive noun, but the actual hard work of the verb of awakening.)
Having finished a book I’ve referred to many times here lately, The Myth of Normal, I share below Gabor Maté’s ending words. Having spent 497 pages illuminating the details of how deeply we’re immersed in a toxic culture, he feels obliged to offer some action plan to get out of the muck and mire.
“It all starts with waking up; waking up to what is real and authentic in and around us and what isn’t; waking up to who we are and who we’re not; waking up to what our bodies are expressing and what our minds are suppressing; waking up to our wounds and our gifts;; waking up to what we have believed and what we actually value; waking up to what we will no longer tolerate and what we can now accept; waking up to the myths that bind us and the interconnections that define us; waking up to the past as it has been, the present as it is, and the future as it may yet be; waking up, most especially, to the gap between what our essence calls for and what ‘normal’ has demanded of us.”
The alarm clock is ringing, my friends. Time to wake up.