Allow me to draw your attention to an apparently surprising thing. If I told you that now, when you are reading these lines, you are in fact asleep, you would certainly believe that I have gone mad.
Your are awake, you are concentrating your attention to reading, and you are aware of your environment as well. You can see the furniture of your room, you can hear the call of the birds from the nearby forest. You are also aware of your thoughts and emotions, too. How can anyone claim that you are asleep in this very moment?
Naturally, you, just as everyone else, sleep at night, and yes, sometimes you see dreams while you sleep. But now it is daytime, you are awake, so how could you see dreams?
You Imagine a Whole World Around Yourself
I believe, however, that you do not only sleep at night, but also at daytime. I believe that in your present state of consciousness your greatest illusion is that you think that you are awake. I believe that in your present existence your greatest illusion is when you think that you are alert. What I see is that in your present state of consciousness you are asleep, and at present you are dreaming, and what you see and hear are all parts of your dream.
Your nighttime sleep is only different from your daytime sleep in that in the night your dreams are less active. During the day you imagine a whole world around you, and you play an active role in that dream. Your personal history takes place in that world, and identifying with that world shapes your personal identity.
At present you are dreaming that, as a part of your personal history, you are reading these lines while you identify with the role of the spiritual Seeker, and you are outraged by what you are actually reading.
The question may arise in you why I claim that you are asleep and dreaming now. Well, from the state of consciousness I call Mindfulness I can see that you are asleep, you believe yourself to be a separate Self, you are a captive of the works of your mind.
You are not Present
What is the evidence for me that you are now asleep, and as a citizen of a dreamland you dream that you are awake?
First, that you are not present. To be present means that you are fully alert, attentive, and conscious in the present moment. Whatever you do, you do that fully consciously, you focus your entire attention on that particular activity. Or, do you feel free to declare that you are present in every moment of your life?
The case with you (and with the majority of people) is that you are not awake in the sense described above. You are careless most of the time, as a large segment of your attention is bound by dealing with events of your thoughts, events of past and plans for future and your own self. Psychological time therefore displaces the moment of the present, or subordinates it to past or future.
You therefore perform the overwhelming majority of your daily activities mechanically. Your attention only becomes more intensive when you meet someone or deal with something who or that you find interesting, or useful in some way. Or the opposite: the person or thing may do harm to you in some way.
The Reasons of Your Sleep
The reason of you sleeping is that you are not Mindful, only awake. Only one dimension of Mindfulness is present in you. Although you are able to focus your attention on your internal emotions and your environment, in your present state of consciousness you are still powerfully identified with your mind and its functions.
You are therefore drifting on the stormy ocean of your thoughts and emotions day by day, and the space necessary for the emergence of a contemplating Witness is missing from you. You still identify with your thoughts and emotions. These generate the dreams of the Mind, in which you live as a separate self, and try to find the ways of safely navigating your life on the stormy sea.
Experience the Deeper Dimensions of Mindfulness
When you experience the deeper dimensions of Mindfulness you stop and at the same time you exit from your personal history and give up searching. It means that you divert your attention from the world of forms and shapes, and you no longer wish to find yourself in the world of forms.
Stopping is the consequence of a shift of attention within your Consciousness. Stopping does not mean the stoppage of your mind, as you have assumed previously. Some of the spiritual teachings suggest that stoppage is equal to emptying the mind, usually through various, forced exercises. The mind will, naturally, stop, but you will not need to impose it on yourself by spiritual exercises, as it will be the consequence of the shift of attention in your consciousness.
How does this shift take place? It is not something one is able to force or impose upon them; no effort is capable of achieving that. It is an experience that simply happens to you. That is when you experience something from the deeper dimensions of Mindfulness.
This is not something that may only occur to the chosen few. It has happened to almost every human being, including you, a few times. You were not alert enough, that is why you failed to realize what was happening to you. At the moment when the shift of attention is taking place Mindfulness emerges. A space appears in you, you have the ability of seeing, and you may contemplate what is happening to you as an external observer.
Then, like in a flashlight, you see and recognize the reality of your existence, that is, you are not an illusionary small self, but a Consciousness free of forms. That recognition is not the result of the analytical work of the mind, but of a series of realizations inspired by the inner quiet. These realizations can be best compared to seeing (that is why various spiritual teachings refer to such people as Seers) and it works like a revelation. That is what I call the power of Sight.
Though the moments of Sight are rare in the life of a person, they are available to everyone, who is aware of them, alert, and pays attention to them. The level of your Mindfulness is therefore what determines whether the experience is a real turning point in your life, or the Sight is blurred, you fall back to sleep and continue dreaming your personal history.
Sight brings you the experience that stoppage is an inactive moment of the mind, silence between thoughts. In that silence you experience consciousness without forms, and you may recognize that you are in fact a Presence without thoughts.
In the moments of Sight you recognize the activities of mind, and you no longer follow them. You recognize the simple fact that with the help of the mind you are not able to reach beyond the mind.
By experiencing the deeper dimensions of Mindfulness, the capability of Sight, you also recognize that you are fully independent of the mind, you are but a witness of what is happening in and around you. Once you have ceased to identify with your mind, you immediately experience that fact. That is why you should detach yourself from the mind, and stay in the position of the eyewitness. That is the state of spatial consciousness, in which the light of Consciousness, Presence shines out bright.
Are you Consciously Alert?
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(C) Frank M. Wanderer, 2013-2016
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About the author:
Frank M. Wanderer Ph.D is a professor of psychology, a consciousness researcher and writer. Frank is the author of the books “The Revolution of Consciousness: Deconditioning the Programmed Mind “, “The Biggest Obstacle to Enlightenment: How to Escape from the Prison of Mind Games?” and several books on consciousness. With a lifelong interest in the mystery of human existence, Frank’s work is to help others wake up from identification with our personal history and the illusory world of the forms and shapes, and to find our identity in what he calls “the Miracle”, the mystery of the Consciousness.
He has contributed to a few different spiritual websites including The Mind Unleashed, Wake Up World, Spirit Science, Waking Times, Zen Gardner, Awakening People, My Empowered World, ChangeYour Thoughts, and Body, Mind, Soul, Spirit.