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Wake up!

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  • Swami Jnaneshvara Bharati
    Wake Up! By Swami Venkatesananda From the book Multiple Reflections Why is it that in spite of all these great sages and their teachings no change has taken
    Message 1 of 1 , Oct 14, 2005
      Wake Up!
      By Swami Venkatesananda
      From the book "Multiple Reflections"

      Why is it that in spite of all these great sages and their teachings
      no change has taken place in our lives? We are still trapped on the
      same merry-go-round. Probably because we have not undergone one
      fundamental preliminary, and that is an inner awakening. We seem to
      be externally awake all the time, but inwardly we are fast asleep. We
      buy these big tomes of scriptures and use them as pillows, hoping
      that the message will somehow jump out of the covers and into our
      heads. It does not happen. And when we go to listen to these great
      men, we are definitely psychologically asleep, and very often even
      physically asleep!

      What is the first and foremost condition or qualification for being a
      true follower, a true disciple, or for even taking up the study of a
      scripture seriously? This definition is very beautifully put in that
      lovely scripture called the Yoga Vasistha. The fundamental requisite
      is that there should be a clear understanding and realisation that "I
      am trapped and I would like to be free from this trap." If this is
      not there then the scriptures and lectures have no effect on us
      whatsoever. If you have the idea: "I am trapped, but I think I can
      find the way out", then also there is no awakening. `I am trapped'
      means I am trapped in every way, without redemption, without the
      possibility of an escape.

      Take, for instance, the problem of loneliness and boredom. What do we
      do in order to overcome this boredom or loneliness? We try to escape
      into something that only confirms that loneliness. We find ourselves
      a friend (with whom we are unable to relate) and enter into a
      relationship. So together there is a boredom, together there is a
      loneliness. Or, we turn on the tape recorder or record player, but
      that does not take our boredom away. We are masking that boredom,
      that loneliness, and trying to escape from it. Thus we enter into a
      deeper, more dangerous and deadly trap. If that is not clear then the
      inner awakening is not there.

      Is it possible to see that whatever we do we are in a trap? Anything
      that the mind creates is a trap. When there is this inner awakening
      then we will profit by scriptures and lectures—if we are not totally
      stupid and not, at the same time, enlightened. These are the
      qualifications. Totally stupid people have no problem at all, and the
      enlightened ones have no problem either. You and I, in the middle,
      are the ones harassed by problems.

      Total stupidity takes various forms but one characteristic is the
      ability to function as if intelligent. These people shy away from
      asking the right questions and can answer all the wrong questions.
      They are philosophers who can create a sense of intelligence without
      being intelligent. What are the right questions? That is the most
      important factor. "I am trapped wherever and which ever way I look.
      From morning till night I strive for happiness and I find nothing but
      unhappiness." The very fact that we continue to strive for happiness
      shows that we are unhappy. Face it. Whatever we do in order to
      augment our happiness only destroys it.

      And yet intelligent people go on doing this. They want peace of mind
      and struggle for it. This struggle breaks the mind into several
      pieces. Then they catch hold of one little piece and think they are
      peaceful! That is the whole joke. Is that intelligence? Why is it
      that having understood this sequence of unfortunate events, we still
      pursue the game?

      If it is decided that it is not possible to attain peace of mind or
      happiness here, give up. Is that possible? No. Something still stirs
      inside: "I am trapped; it must be possible to get out of this; I
      would like to get out of this." If this twin aspiration is there and
      if you are not completely stupid or enlightened, then you can proceed
      to understand the scriptures. And where the scripture is not
      meaningful, you can also take the help of a teacher.

      In the Katha Upanishad there is a beautiful declaration: uttishthata
      jagrata—wake up! No one else can do this for you. You can be the
      disciple of God Almighty Himself, but even He will not be able to
      wake up on your behalf. If you feel hungry, you yourself must eat.
      The guru is not going to do the eating for you. The guru may indicate
      to you, but it is your problem. And if you feel it is your problem,
      then you awaken, and then you are awake to the problem.

      Unless you stop blaming others, including yourself, for the state you
      are in, you are not awake. When you are walking through a tunnel, you
      see the light in front of you and the light behind you. Even so, when
      you are in darkness you think you see some light in the past or in
      the future. It is an absurd pastime.

      Therefore, a major qualification for the student of yoga is to
      realise that no one is responsible for the state you are in. No one
      can bring about a spiritual awakening in you. Someone can help,
      anyone can help, but you have to do it. This spiritual awakening is
      brought about by life itself, but even to be awakened by life, a
      certain grace and a certain inner alertness is necessary.

      Waking up is easy, but to remain awake is not so easy. Those of you
      who have attempted to wake up early in the morning in order to
      meditate will appreciate this. You set an alarm clock, it rings and
      you wake up. But to remain awake after that is not so easy. The mind
      loves to sleep. Why? Because the mind is born of ignorance and
      therefore it loves sleep and it loves a thick psychological blanket.

      Therefore, wake up! That is your problem, your responsibility, not
      the teacher's. From there on, ever be vigilant. Whenever I use this
      word `vigilant', I am reminded of Buddha's famous teaching. In some
      texts it is said that during one of the Buddha's last sermons, he
      told his disciples: "Live in this world as you would if you were
      living in a room with a live cobra at the door." Can you imagine
      that? If you were in a small single room which had only one door and
      no windows, nothing to escape by, and you found a cobra sitting by
      that door in the middle of the night, what would you do? Would you
      sleep? Would you even nod? How vigilant you would be! Such must be
      the vigilance of the seeker.

      It is possible for us to develop this vigilance if we understand that
      we are trapped and that whatever we do to get out of this trap leads
      us into a greater trap. Because the mind arises in ignorance and
      plays in ignorance, it can only create restlessness and disturb our
      peace. It may at times generate a feeling of happiness—which is a
      mere state of confusion. (If you have ever had true happiness for
      fifteen seconds, why did you give it up? Because it was not happiness
      at all!) If everything that we did ended in failure, we would stop
      doing anything. So the mind leads us from one unhappiness to another,
      and makes us feel sometimes that we are enjoying ourselves. That is
      the game the mind plays. When this understanding arises, what happens
      is vigilance.

      If you are awake and alert, can you not discover the truth concerning
      life? With what does one discover the truth? Thought and mind cannot
      discover the truth because they are born of ignorance. What else do
      we have? There the questioner comes to an end. We can sit and think,
      but we have already understood that thinking leads us nowhere. We are
      awake, we are vigilant, but we do not know what else to do. Where do
      we go from there? Go to some enlightened person and be enlightened.
      Awakening is our job, our privilege. Enlightenment is possible with
      the help of the master. (Otherwise the danger is that we might regard
      ourselves as enlightened because our mind suggests we are enlightened—
      another trap.) So the commandment of the Upanishads is: uttishthata,
      jagrata—"awake, remain alert. Go to the enlightened ones and attain

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