Suffering is a sign that you are asleep
Nowhere in the Gospels does Jesus say worship me. He was clear, God would prefer you to be transformed more than if you worshipped him. God is much more interested in you being transformed into a loving person than by saying, “Lord, Lord.” That’s spirituality, that’s waking up. If you have that, you have God. When you become love, then you worship “in spirit and in truth.”
It is extremely important, if you want to wake up, to practice “self-observation.” Be aware of what you’re saying, be aware of what you’re doing, be aware of what you’re thinking, be aware of how you’re acting. Be aware of where you’re coming from, what your motives are.
The unaware life is an inhuman mechanical programmed, conditioned life. We might as well be a stone or a block of wood. In many places there are hundreds of thousands of people living in extreme poverty, who just manage to survive, working all day long, hard manual work, sleep and then wake up in the morning, eat something, and start all over again. And you sit back and think, “What a life.” “Is that all that life holds in store for them?” The truth is, 99% of people here are not much better. You can go to the movies, drive around in a car, you can go for a cruise. Do you think you are much better off than they are? You are just as dead as they are. Just as much a machine as they are.
People go through life with fixed ideas; they never change. They’re just not aware of
what’s going on like puppets. Press a button and you get a reaction. You can almost predict how this person is going to react. Don’t listen to people who say to you, “Forget yourself! Go out in love to others.” Don’t listen to them! They’re all wrong. The worst thing you can do is forget yourself when you go out to others in the so-called helping attitude.
What you are aware of, you are in control of; what you are not aware of, is in control of
you. You are always a slave to what you’re not aware of. When you’re aware of it, you’re
free from it. It’s there, but you’re not affected by it. You’re not controlled by it; you’re
not enslaved by it. That’s the difference.
Awareness means we must be participant observers. To put it somewhat graphically, I’d be talking to you and at the same time I’d be out there watching you and watching me. When I’m listening to you, it’s infinitely more important for me to listen to me than to listen to you. Of course, it’s important to listen to you, but it’s more important that I listen to me. Otherwise I won’t be hearing you. Or I’ll be distorting everything you say. I’ll be coming at you from my own conditioning. I’ll be reacting to you in all kinds of ways from my insecurities, from my need to manipulate you, from my desire to succeed, from irritations and feelings that I might not be aware of. So it’s important that I listen to me when I’m listening to you.
Just to get a rough idea of what I’m talking about, imagine a good driver, driving a car, who’s
concentrating on what you’re saying. In fact, he may even be having an argument with
you, but he’s perfectly aware of the road signals. The moment anything happens, the moment there’s any sound, or noise, or bump, he’ll hear it at once. He’ll say, “Are you sure you closed that door back there?” How did he do that? He was aware, he was alert. The focus of his attention was on the conversation, or argument, but his awareness was more diffused. He was taking in all kinds of things.
I’m not talking about concentration but awareness, which is not the same. Concentration is a spotlight, and you are only open to things that come within the scope of your consciousness. You can be distracted from that, but when you’re practicing awareness, you’re never distracted. When awareness is turned on, there’s never any distraction, because you’re always aware of whatever happens to be.
Say I’m looking at those trees and I’m worrying. Am I distracted? I am distracted
only if I mean to concentrate on the trees. But if I’m aware that I’m worried, too, that
isn’t a distraction at all. Just be aware of where your attention goes. When anything goes
wrong or anything unexpected happens, you’ll be alerted at once. Something’s going wrong!
The moment any negative feeling comes into consciousness, you’ll be alerted. You’re
like the driver of the car.
This is the “I” that the mystic masters are constantly urging people to discover. They are urging people to discover the “I.” The important thing is not to know who I is or what “I” is. You’ll never succeed. There are no words for it. The important thing is to drop the labels. As the Japanese Zen masters say, “Don’t seek the truth; just drop your opinions.” Drop your theories; don’t seek the truth. Truth isn’t something you search for. If you stop being opinionated, you would know. Something similar happens here. If you drop your labels, you would know. When you say, “I am successful,” that’s crazy. Success is not part of the “I.” Success is something that comes and goes; it could be here today and gone tomorrow. That’s not “I.” When you said, “I was a success,” you were in error; you were plunged into darkness. You identified yourself with success. The same thing when you said, I am a failure, a lawyer, a businessman. You know what’s going to happen to you if you identify yourself with these things. You’re going to cling to them, you’re going to be worried that they may fall apart, and that’s where your suffering comes in and if you’re suffering, you’re asleep.
Do you want a sign that you’re asleep? Here it is: You’re suffering. Suffering is a sign that you’re out of touch with the truth. Suffering is given to you that you might open your eyes to the truth, that you might understand that there’s falsehood somewhere, just as physical pain is given to you so you will understand that there is disease or illness somewhere. Suffering points out that there is falsehood somewhere. Suffering occurs when you clash with reality. When your illusions clash with reality, when your falsehoods clash with truth, then you have suffering. Otherwise there is no suffering.