Lotus of the Heart > Path of Spirit > Spiritual Life


The Aliveness

May 29, 2023

When we say "life," this means living. This living is alive. It enlivens. There are varying degrees of this aliveness, and we can shift from lower to higher degrees of this vitality. We are not all equally alive or always alive to the same degree. This is so that we can say some persons exist and some live, one more at a biological level, driven by instincts and appetites, others at a high spiritual vibrancy, beings of insight, compassion, and universal love.

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Vigilant among the negligent,
Wide awake among the sleeping,
The wise one advances
Like a swift horse leaving a weak one behind.

*Gil Fronsdal. The Dhammapada.

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Mulla Nasruddin was staying in a hotel. A telegram arrived from home, and he began hurrying to catch the train. His umbrella was missing when he got downstairs and looked at his luggage. He started the upward trek back to the fourteenth floor.

By the time Nasruddin reached the fourteenth floor, the room had already been given to somebody else — newlyweds. Although he was in a rush not to miss the train, he lingered at the door, looking through the keyhole. He seemed unable to resist the temptation.

The newlywed couple was lying naked on the bed, talking seductive sweetnesses to each other. The young man told his bride, "You've such beautiful eyes, my lovely. I've never seen such stunning eyes! To whom do these eyes belong?" And the bride said, "To you, my handsome! To you, and only to you!" The list of salacious mentions went on and on - beautiful hands, gorgeous breasts, stunning thighs ...

Nasruddin had forgotten entirely about the train and the taxi waiting downstairs. Then, suddenly, he remembered his umbrella. When the couple seemed almost through the list, he said, "Wait! When you come to the yellow umbrella, that belongs to me!"

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When reflecting on this story, a word rarely heard - one I had not heard or thought of in many years - came to mind: mesmerize. To mesmerize means to be put in a hypnotic mind state.

Spiritual traditions sometimes see the egoic state as one of sleep. The Way is spoken of as waking up. Hence, many talk of spiritual awakening. Jesus' resurrection is comparable in the Christian Scriptures, especially for the same word being used for both "sleep" and "death."

This puts a teaching, such as "Lead us not into temptation," in the Lord's Prayer (or, Our Father), in a new light. Nasruddin yields to temptation. By being drawn into attention to the sensual sharing, he forgets what he came to do. This state of forgetfulness is being put to sleep; we, in a sense, lose consciousness.

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Many things can hypnotize us, leading us to lose wakefulness. All about us is entertainment, for example, that acts like sleeping pills on awareness - it clouds - or like alcohol - it dulls. Such things might bring some excitation or pleasure or even a temporary escape from everyday stress, but the consequence is a loss of vibrancy of spirit.

Thought is down-dropping or up-lifting. We can be tempted to think about what is negative. Broadcasting the negative is almost all the news agencies do. This is the brain breathing toxins. We get hooked, the outer entering our mind stream, polluting the once pure stream. Now, it is filled with rubbish.

So, much of what we see about us and are tempted to focus on within arises from the sad state of much of the human race. This toxicity arises from what the Buddha said: "Life is dukkah." Dukkha is a pervasive dissatisfaction, unrest, and discontent. Just look at movies - conflict, dis-ease, and misery are central to the plot of most of them. Movies mirror the within of most humans.

Much music is popular for it appeals to the darkness within humans (again, dukkah)- unfulfilled longings, sexual appetite with its objectification of others, relationship conflict - vulgarity of all sorts, ...

Much of this may not be wrong, but it is not edifying. And it does not inspire us to live uplifted lives. Instead, it appeals to the lowest within us. And it sells because humanity is still very unevolved consciously. And much religion does little to encourage anything other than a good boy or good girl life, so to please the deity and procure the ticket to some paradise above - though there is no such thing as above.

We, humans, have evolved far technologically, but have we consciously? Have we, generally, become human? Some of us, yes; some of us, no. Instead, many of humanity live under a false sense of identity. We are like children mesmerized by toys. And, "Is it possible there is an attempt to keep us mesmerized to remain in the grip of the powerful, super-wealthy?" I often sensed when a pastor, much of the church was instrumental, though not necessarily intentionally, in keeping members dumbed down. By keeping lions asleep to their lionness, you can train them to behave like sheep.

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A way not to be put to sleep, tempted into mesmerization, is to give our attention to what supports and heightens living wakefully - we could say... lifts our spirits. We can wisely choose what we engage with our senses. We can register how we respond - mind, body, spirit - to things and adjust to being healthier, heightening our aliveness and capacity to shine with the Light.

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*©Brian K. Wilcox, 2023

*Use of photography is allowed accompanied by credit given to Brian K. Wilcox and title and place of photograph.

*Brian's book, An Ache for Union: Poems on Oneness with God through Love, can be ordered through major online booksellers or the publisher AuthorHouse.


Lotus of the Heart > Path of Spirit > Spiritual Life

©Brian Wilcox 2024