Is awareness always present or is it gradually developed?
The process of becoming more aware is the first step in developing mindfulness. So long as this awareness occurs with understanding and acceptance. But how often do any of us gain what we believe to be mindfulness yet are in fact completely unaware of the deeper understanding of that which we are observing?
For instance, one could be mindful that they should be eating a healthier diet in an effort to be compassionate toward themselves. Yet their “healthy” diet may consist of eating less red meat and eating more fish and chicken. This is in fact actually not healthy, but more importantly, one would be totally ignoring the reality of the cruelty and murder that takes place for someone to be eating those once living and breathing sentient beings.
Now this is not meant to criticize any of you who eat meat, but an offering of awareness. And this type of thing can take place so many times in our daily lives if we are not truly mindful. Mindful beyond simply what suits our needs and desires at that particular moment.
The difficulty that any of us can face with this, is condemning ourselves for not being more aware and compassionate. And this is where peaceful awareness comes into play. We need to understand that we are each perfect in our imperfection. And in this way, we can begin to see others in the same way. Without expectations or judgments that they live by our standards, morals, or convictions. And from personal experience, I have unfortunately seen myself view so many others in this way far too often. But coming to realize that I am not the Teacher, but a student who is still learning about the diversity of our World and the beauty that exists because of it. Not because we all think and act the same, but because we are each so very unique. Yet there is the thread of consciousness which binds all of us, all things, together. A symphony if you will, that is playing out in every breath we take.
But if are minds are too busy, scattered, without mindful awareness, life can seem chaotic and without rhyme or reason.
I’m afraid that in this country, life is so easy for us, that we have too much time on our hands for our thoughts to wander. And being constantly bombarded with stimulation from the media and those around us, we inadvertently develop the most unwholesome qualities. Passion, greed, desire, attachment, expectation, and every other sense perception that only leads us farther away from the Eightfold Path. And how do we change this, and return to a skillful life of compassion, giving, and kindness? I think it begins with creating that place within you of peaceful awareness. Taking time both on and off the cushion to be the observer of this life. Witnessing this temporary existence that we all share for such a brief period of time. With one another and without, things are exactly as they are supposed to be. And what tremendous love can be produced from our hearts when we begin to gain a deeper understanding of this wondrous moment as we watch it come and go without attachment. This is the place of peaceful awareness.