by Chris Tong, Ph.D.
Excerpted and adapted from:
Habits of Highly Effective People
The human heart longs for perfect and unending happiness, because perfect and unending happiness is indeed possible: through Spiritual Awakening. The great spiritual traditions throughout history that refer to such Awakening really mean a literal Awakening from this mortal dream to a more fundamental Reality. You can think of it as a spiritual analog to the "awakening" in The Matrix — only, one awakens to a state of Absolute Bliss, rather than some dismal revelation about the true nature of things.
What is the fastest and most direct Way to Awaken out of this mortal dream?
If we want to Awaken from the dream, we must very intentionally and consistently free up attention from the dream, and Habits 1 through 6 (of the seven habits described in this book) have exactly that effect.
Can you do this all by yourself? Can you go off and Wake yourself Up? In a word: NO!
The reason is simple: the only reason for freeing up attention is so that we can put attention on the Waking State instead of the dream state. But: where is the Waking State? Of course, we’re not going to be able to find it per se in the dream! What we can find — if we are so Graced — is the form in which the Waking State is appearing in the dream.
Consider: What form is the morning sunlight, or the morning conversations in the next room, or the alarm clock, taking in the dream? If I put my attention on these special “dream forms”, and begin to recognize them for what they really are — manifestations of the waking state in my dream — and allow myself to see them more and more for what they really are, I will begin to wake up. That is precisely the role of the Spiritual Master, whenever genuine Spiritual Masters have appeared in this world throughout history. The Awakened State -- the Divine Being -- intrudes into the dream in the form of the Spiritual Master, for precisely this purpose — not fundamentally to teach people, or leave behind a bunch or rituals, but to literally Wake people up.
Who does what in the process of Spiritual Awakening?
On the one hand, it is not “vicarious salvation”, like “Jesus died on the cross for your sins, and all you need to do is believe”. And on the other hand, it is not a “do it yourself ” process; it absolutely requires Divine Help. We could say that the process is in accord with the popular saying, “Let go and let God.” Only, we’re going to provide a lot more details about what exactly that expression means!
The way Waking Up works is that the Awakened State intrudes into the dream state in the guise of the Spiritual Master. As my Spiritual Master, Adi Da Samraj, describes it:
So fundamentally, our role in the process is to locate, recognize, and cooperate with the Waking Up Process, as it appears in the dream, and let It do Its work. This, as opposed to turning over and going back to sleep when we begin to notice the intrusion of the Light, or as opposed to trying to somehow Wake ourselves Up (as though that were possible, and could result in anything other than a different dream state).
If we cooperate, the Waking Up Process (in the form of the Spiritual Master’s Transmission of the Waking State to those of us still "dreaming") does the entire cleansing and re-alignment of the body-mind required for re-balancing the body-mind, and freeing up energy and attention.
Being smart enough to submit to be so “washed” and “purified” by the Divine Being is something like the intelligence displayed by Hercules, in the ancient myth of the Augean stables. For various reasons, Hercules got stuck with performing twelve “impossible tasks”, that would become famous as “the labors of Hercules”. The fifth labor imposed on him was a particularly nasty one. Augeas, king of Elis, had many herds of cattle, goats, sheep and horses — more, in fact, than anyone else in Greece at the time. Every night the cowherds, goatherds and shepherds drove the thousands of animals to the stables for rest. For several years now, his herds had become so large that it became impossible to clear away their droppings. Over time, the dung and filth in the stables accumulated to such a degree that a thick aroma hung over the entire kingdom of Elis, and a pestilence broke out across the land.
Into this mess Hercules was thrust, and assigned the task of cleaning out the Augean Stables. And not just cleaning them out, which was impossible enough, but doing so in one day! As Hercules raged outside the gate at Mycenae at the impossibility of the task, his father, Zeus, came to his aid, sending Athena, the goddess of wisdom, to him in the shape of an old crone. "Why this temper, Hercules?" she asked. "Has the High King given you a task that is too much for you?" "Too much for anyone!" he said. "It is to clean the stables of King Augeas in one day!" "That does sound difficult and rather unpleasant. But it is not impossible." And Hercules was smart enough to listen to her instructions and carry them out to the letter.
Now, near the stables was the river Alpheus, swollen with spring rain. Hercules made a breach in the foundations of the stable yard at both ends, and then directed his great strength not toward lifting out the dung — a truly thankless and impossible task — but rather, toward diverting the course of the river into the stable yard. Uprooting a huge tree that grew beside the river, Hercules dropped it across the stream so that it formed a dam. The river rose quickly behind the tree trunk, overflowed its banks, and poured across the fields, through one gap in the stableyard wall and out the other, over the next few hours washing the yard and all the pasture about it clean. It was truly a delight to watch! By the time a day had passed, the stables were completely cleaned out.
The ego — that unceasing machine of self-centered and self-centering habits — is like the Augean stables. No human being could possibly “clean it out” by himself or herself, nor transcend it, since, until Awakening, one is the ego, and (unbeknownst to oneself) is dirtying the place with the left hand even while trying to clean it with the right. As Hercules concluded (with a little Divine Assistance), the intelligent thing to do is find a Divine River nearby, and cooperate with It, by letting It to do the cleaning and purifying.
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