One afternoon, I found myself listening on the web to interviews with many spiritual Masters and their students. As I listened to the stories of these great awakened ones, I began to ask myself, what is the difference between being awakened and being a Master or put a different way, what is the difference between being awake and being enlightened? It seemed that I had experienced a powerful and profound awakening, but I was not living up to the Truth that had been filling me. I could see that my inner life was rich and wonderful. My mind and desires have greatly calmed. Fortunately, I haven’t gotten in nearly as much trouble as I did in the past. But with many of the teachers that I studied with, it seemed as if they had two qualities that most of us lack, their actions followed their words and they were no longer fooled by their own minds.
When I am deeply honest, I see I have a great deal of work to do in these departments. What most of us find is that the habits of the mind are deep and when it comes to our outward expression; I, like many others often, habitually choose to live from the past. Which leads to this confusing experience of feeling and experiencing great freedom, yet being drawn back into the habitual nature of mind. As a teacher, I meet more and more individuals who are having deep spiritual experiences and yet still remain deeply entranced in their own personal delusion. This can be quite confusing for someone to be on the path and wake up to a vast perspective of Beauty, Oneness and Radiance, and yet to lose that vision and again struggle with the limited perspective of our habitual minds. Many deeply struggle with this, and experience a huge feeling of lose, as they find themselves being deluded again. Life can even be more painful to wake up to the ultimate Reality, and then find oneself back where we used to be. I often laugh at myself and this wonderful awakened perspective I have been given, and how quickly I choose to again act like an idiot.
What is more surprising than seeing myself fall into delusion; is how great spiritual Masters’ fall off the path or make painful mistakes like sleeping with their students, having affairs, or becoming power hungry. It wasn’t until I realized that they are human as well, that I understood. Because we are all human, which means we all have minds with habitual thoughts and desires and conditioning. This habitual nature, can come forward in any of us, and when it does, we act habitually or unconsciously. If we are honest, we can see that every way in which we are deluded comes from misinterpreting our thoughts as Reality.
Ultimately there is only one human mind and all of us, have this mind. And in this mind lives all the various thoughts of evolution, from fight and flight, to wanting to have a family, to desiring more power, and every imaginable thought. And because of this, all of us can fall prey at any moment to being deluded to mistake our thoughts for Reality. When we wake up, we see clearly the nature of things; we see clearly the nature of the mind. But this does not mean that all delusion will disappear from our being. The very programs of delusion are in our biology: fight and flight, desire, anger, jealously, all forms of ignorance, etc. When we wake up, we gain a vast perspective. But this does not mean that these drives spontaneously and completely disappear from our being.
Often with a powerful awakening or shift in perspective, various programs of the ego simply fall away. This is one of the wonderful graces of awakening. Yet for most individuals, much of the ego, if not all of it remains untouched and as the awakened perspective fades, delusion creeps back in its place. But what waking up can gives us is a wonderful new space to work with delusion from the outside; instead of being stuck in it and trying to fix or heal our ego with the ego. To have this vast perspective stay vast or become more permanent, we must be willing to resist the temptation to believe what we think. And this is precisely how we unenlighten ourselves; by believing the stories in our heads. And this can happen to anyone, who believes the next thought that is not the truth; whether they are a Master Being or simply us.
Our challenge here is to live up to our realization. To walk the razor’s edge of freedom, which means to not give into the habitual nature of our mind. It means that we resist the temptation of taking our thoughts and feelings to be true; to be Reality. It is a big job to live up to our realization and to not give into egoic games or programs. To walk this razor’s edge, we do not do this from the self-righteousness of the ego; it has to come from the sincerity, strength and humility of our True Self or it will just be another movement we are deluded by. And so this is our challenge, can we embody the Truth of who we are as us, instead of embodying the past as us, instead of embodying an unconscious habit of mind as us? Can we give ourselves to this and allow the Truth to live us, as Us?