Imagine You're Enlightened

During the day, we live our lives as the commitment being — walking, talking, sitting, eating, working, working out, everything. As reminders, we constantly ask questions. How does awake compassion walk? How does awake pride eat? How does awake compassion talk? We drop into being awake compassion and see how the conversation goes. We drop into being the awake loser and walk into a job interview. We don’t try to figure any of this out. We just drop into being awake compassion and see what knowing arises. Surprisingly, perhaps, if we don’t try to figure out what we are meant to do, we may discover that we already know. That knowing is naturally present in each of us. It is buddhanature, natural knowing, original mind. It has a thousand names and it is the aim of all Buddhist practice.

We may not meet every situation as the expression of awake compassion or awake pride, but our commitment and the continuity of our effort will bring us in touch with the resistance whenever we don’t. We can open to the experience of resistance and meet it with our commitment, directly, naturally, without any particular idea of “I should be doing this” or “I should be doing that.” In fact, the feeling of “should” will undermine our efforts. When we try to live life based on an idea of being awake, our behavior will likely be strained and artificial.

The point is to make the awake principle alive and present in everything we do, to take it from an ideal encumbered with mythical projections and make it the core principle by which we live. Everything we encounter — through our senses, through our feelings, and through our mind — we meet as awake compassion, or whatever we’ve chosen.

If this seems impractical, you might keep two considerations in mind. First, the reason we do this practice isn’t to become competent, knowledgeable, well behaved, or skillful. We are engaging in this practice because we want to wake up and be present in life. Second, as awake pride or awake compassion or awake loser, we are free — free to find new ways to relate to situations, free to envision possibilities in situations that we used to ignore, and free to uncover abilities and qualities that we didn’t know we had. A side effect of our efforts may be making life choices that are more creative or intelligent or practical, but those are side effects, not the intention, of the practice.

Practicing as the Awareness Being

The commitment being is like a commitment to be a musician, a teacher, or a doctor. We may earn a license or certificate that certifies our competence in the relevant skills, but the certificate doesn’t really make us a musician, teacher, or doctor. We become that when we play music, teach students, or treat patients on a regular basis. In this practice, we start with a seed of direct experience and then we cultivate it through our commitment, approaching all experience as the commitment being, and we do so day after day, month after month, year after year.

Down the road, something happens. An understanding or awareness arises: we know what it is to be a teacher, musician, or doctor. Something relaxes and opens inside. We notice a confidence that wasn’t there before, and we practice our profession in a different way. We aren’t caught up in all the rules and regulations. We know what they are for, but we also know their limitations. We realize that we do know how to teach, or we know how to make the music sing, or we know how to diagnose and heal. It’s the same in this approach to practice. At some point, an intelligence or awareness arises and we just see the world this way. Concerns and fears about who we are or how others see us evaporate. The sense of being awake becomes alive in us. We’ve stepped into open awareness. This shift signifies the arising of the awareness being (Skt., jñanasattva).

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