There are many kinds of awakenings we can have. Some are pretty mundane, such as awakening to our need for healthy living, for a thriving community and for finding our place within it. Other kinds of awakening are more radical, such as awakening from our cultural indoctrination and finding we were raised on misdirections which keep us at odds with ourselves and others. Even wilder awakenings can involve profound psychic breakthroughs that forever change our life path.
All of these are forms of awakening to something. Yet if we are subtle, honest and sincere enough with ourselves, we will find that eventually, we awaken to wakefulness itself. This is the heart of awakening, for it is not some “thing,” not a new perspective or set of ideas, nothing objectifiable nor graspable, to which we awaken. It is simply that we awaken to the fact that we are awake. We become aware that we are aware.
“Remember at all times what is coming to be and passing away, and focus on that which abides.”
— Ralph Blum, The Book of Runes
Seeing With the Eyes of a Child
We like to talk about reclaiming our innocence, our inner child, and finding our curiosity and playfulness once again. While we can mimic what passes for such virtues to a more or less convincing degree, we always know something is missing from such playacting. It is only when we find the awareness of the child again that we can bring these traits authentically back into the world. And strangely, by recognizing that we never lost it in the first place, we can find it once again.
While the objects of awareness, our bodies, our minds, our relationships and our worlds have changed constantly from the days of our youth, the simple fact of being aware of them has not. The transparent and luminous awareness with which you read these words is the same transparent and luminous awareness with which you have been aware of anything. The content of awareness has changed, including the very subtle objects like mind, intelligence and perspective. Still, awareness itself, the direct knowing of having an experience, is the same as it ever was.
Being Honest With Ourselves
This awakening can take some footwork on our part to understand directly. It isn’t so much about trying to learn to see this. It isn’t about trying to construct a view that will reveal something new. None of that will work. The only way to awaken to awareness is to become aware of awareness and inquire into what is really going on. It takes intense and bafflingly simple honesty to see our essence. And unfortunately, culture has trained us, in body and mind, to look away from this which is looking.
Ask yourself, have you ever had an experience that you were not aware of? Have you ever had the experience of not experiencing? Have you ever experienced something other than experiences? Such sincere and simple inquiry will baffle the mind. The mind will try and say yes, I have experienced unconsciousness! Yet if you were unconscious, how can you say you experienced it? It will say yes, I have experienced the void! Yet to say this is to admit we were experiencing. If you follow this rabbit down the hole, there is no end to the experience (nor beginning).
Uniting In Consciousness
Whether you are curious enough to make the above journey back to the present moment or not, it should be pretty undeniable that the one thing we all have in common is that we are conscious. Of course, we like to say some are more woke than others, but that is to mistake being conscious for the content of consciousness. We are all conscious of different things, which makes us each unique. But we are also all simply conscious, and that makes us far more the same.
Our cultures want to divide us based on the content of our experiences. But far more powerful, if we choose to recognize it, is that we are all aware of our experiences. To recognize this essential sentience in ourselves as being the same in all others, no matter how different the content of our experiences is, is a truly unifying principle. Such a principle is actually beyond unifying. It is, in fact, unity itself.
Between & Beyond
Being aware of awareness is by far the most ordinary and everyday thing we can do. There is nothing more natural and straightforward than being aware. Yet, awareness is not an object. We can never find it, hold it or grasp it as a thing. We can only know that we know. In this way, it is the ultimate liminality, ever between and beyond all of the objects of experience. All that is ever aware of awareness is awareness. It is a simple and profound fact. Perhaps the only one.
This rediscovery of our inherent wakefulness causes a reorientation to some of the most basic assumptions of our upbringing. Such classics as sleeping, dreaming, time and space must all be revisited with this newfound honesty. But it isn’t for one to tell another what all of this adds up to. Teachings can be helpful, perplexing and even entertaining only to a point. And from that point, one must learn to make their own way into the endlessness of the mysteries of awareness.
Suggested Divinatory Meanings
What simple facts am I missing that help me to clarify the situation?
What is changing, as distinct from what is remaining the same?
What am I awakening to, and how does it shift my priorities?
Am I living true to my highest understandings of life?
In what ways can innocence and curiosity serve me?
Am I focussing on differences to the degree of limiting my own power?
What do I share in common with others in this situation?
Am I being totally honest with myself?
How can I be more honest with others?
Am I aware that I am aware?