On waking up
“Midway on the journey of our life I awoke to find myself alone and lost in a dark wood, having wandered from the straight path” (Dante’s Divine Comedy). The most important step in one’s spiritual development is an awakening to just how lost one is because most of us are lost and we don’t even know it. Spirituality means waking up to the fact that we are asleep. We are born asleep, we live asleep, we marry in our sleep, we make love in our sleep, and we die in our sleep, without ever waking up. We never understand the beauty of this thing we call life. All mystics—no matter what their religion—are unanimous in saying that all is well, all is well. Even though our world is a mess, all is well. A Strange paradox for sure, but, tragically, most people never get to see that all is well because they are asleep and living a nightmare.
All that most people want is to have their broken toys mended. “Give me back my wife. Give me back my job. Give me back my money. Give me back my reputation, my success.” This is what they want; they want their toys replaced. That’s all they are worried about. People don’t really want to be cured. What they want is relief, because a cure is painful.
Waking up is unpleasant. If you are nice and comfortable in bed it’s irritating when the alarm goes off isn’t it? Nobody likes to be woken up. A wise teacher will not attempt to wake people up. It’s not their job to wake you up. It’s really none of their business. If you are asleep, it’s up to you to wake up. It’s up to me to sing my own song and if you get something out of it that’s great; if you don’t, that’s ok too. As the old saying goes, “The nature of rain is the same, but it makes thorns grow in the marshes and flowers in the gardens.”
So, don’t expect any help from me. Not what you expected to hear is it? You see, it’s not up to me. On the other hand, I’ll try not to harm anyone. If you are damaged, you did it; and if you are helped, you did it. People don’t help you, most of what we feel and think we make up for ourselves in our heads, including this business of being helped by people.
Do you think you help people because you are in love with them? Well, I’m sorry to tell you, you are never in love with anyone. You’re only in love with your prejudiced and hopeful idea of that person. Think about that: You are never in love with anyone, you’re in love with your idea of that person. Isn’t that how you fall out of love, your idea about them changes? “How could you let me down when I trusted you so much?” But the problem is, you never really trusted anyone. That’s part of society’s brainwashing. You never trust anyone, you only trust your judgment about them. So what are you complaining about? The fact is you don’t like to admit your judgment was lousy. That’s not very flattering to you so you prefer to say, “How could you have let me down?”
People don’t want to grow up, they don’t really want to change. The truth is, people don’t really want to be happy. As someone once said, “Don’t try to make someone happy, you’ll only get in trouble. Don’t try to teach a pig to sing; it wastes your time and it irritates the pig.”
It’s like the businessman who goes into a bar, sits down, and sees this guy with a banana in his ear. And he thinks, “I wonder if I should mention that to him. No, it’s none of my business.” But the thought nags at him. So after having a drink or two, he says to the guy, “Excuse me, ah, you’ve got a banana in your ear.” The guy says, “What?” The businessman repeats, “You’ve got a banana in your ear.” Again the guy says, “What was that?” “You’ve got a banana in your ear!” the businessman shouts. “Talk louder,” the guy says, “I’ve got a banana in my ear!”
The first thing you must understand, if you really want to wake up, is that you
don’t want to wake up. The first step to waking up is to be honest enough to admit to yourself that you don’t like it.