It has become increasingly clear to me over the last couple years how spiritually asleep I am. When I use the term spiritually asleep, I mean that I am not continuously aware of myself, that I am here, that I am present in the current moment. It also means that I am hardly aware of what is actually going on in my surroundings. To be spiritually asleep means to be within a world of imagination – and to be unaware of being in that world, to mistake the world of the imagination for the real world. It’s not a pleasant realization to see how asleep one actually is. We can be walking, talking, typing, driving, shopping, or closing the deal. But if we are not also aware that we are here, then we are asleep, in a spiritual sense.
The beginnings of spiritual freedom come when we first grasp this concept. But it’s only the twilight of freedom. Certainly you must have had nights where you stayed awake all night. Did you ever look out to the western sky at around 3 or 3:30am, then turn your head and look at the eastern sky? At that time, a small, but noticeable difference can be seen between the two. The eastern sky is just a tiny shade brighter. It’s the beginning of twilight. The beginnings of spiritual freedom are like that. We can grasp certain truths, but we cannot apply them yet, because we lack will. It’s just the twilight.
As we move along and try to remember ourselves throughout the day, we find that we don’t remember ourselves mostly. But as time goes on, with practice and right efforts, we find that we develop the will to remember ourselves a little more, and a little more. We find that our capacity for self-remembering is slowly increasing. It’s as if we are exercising a flaccid muscle. It takes work, it takes practice, it takes desire to build this muscle.
Not only are our muscles weak, but we have external forces working against us, keeping us asleep, keeping us from remembering ourselves, remembering who we really are. In the cosmic scheme of things, from one point of view we are no different than animals or vegetation on this planet. From this same point of view we are here for the same reason animals and plants are, and it’s not exactly a noble reason, not one we want to even consider. These cosmic forces are like elastic surrounding us, holding us. As we flex our muscles, the elastic pushes against us, pushing us back. This is one reason real inner change is so difficult.
My own experience with spiritual freedom is that not only does the will to remember myself increase, but the elastic bands surrounding me get weaker. In certain moments I have the freedom to choose – and it’s a real choice, not one based on fear or craving or aversion, but a real choice to do as I wish. AS I WISH. The real I, or, at least, an I more real than the I of my imagination.
But don’t take my word for any of this. Verify it for yourself. Try to remember yourself for a day. See if you have the will to do it, and let me know how it goes.
Jennifer Thieme is a student at Solid Rock Vista, a group devoted to real and meaningful internal development. Her teacher, James Parkinson, has taught esoteric ideas since 1970. Visit the Solid Rock Vista website, where you can listen to the free podcasts on spiritual growth, and read essays written by James and some of his students.