An Epidemic of Awakening

Bodhi-500Two thousand five hundred years ago, there was a prince in India, named Siddhartha. He was destined to be the next king. But he had such a strong longing that he left everything. He left his wife, his young baby, and his kingdom. He went traveling. He tried everything to find freedom, to find himself.

Finally, he sat down under a bodhi tree one day and he said, ”Enough. Enough of this. I’m going to sit down under this tree and I’m not going to stand up until this thing is clear. I’m so done with seeking.”

So he sat down. There were thoughts, and thoughts, and thoughts. A thought came of becoming the king. He said to himself, “Oh, that’s just my mind.” Another thought came of having incredible sex. “It’s just my mind,” he said to himself again. Another thought came, and another. Finally, in the morning, as the sun was coming up, a sun also arose within him, and he realized one simple thing: “I am not who I thought I was. This prince is here, yes, but that is not who I am. In this moment, it is just a story made of thoughts. I am the awareness that is noticing all of this.”

He did not speak English, he spoke Pali. The word in Pali for awareness is budh. So he decided, “From this moment on, I am not Siddhartha, I am Budh, I am Buddha.”

Here is the important point about this story (highly condensed here into four paragraphs): the essence of Buddha’s awakening was simply to recognize that his true nature was awareness — nothing more and nothing less than that. Now, it makes an enormous difference how much importance and value are placed upon what is seen in such a moment of awakening. Does it become another temporary experience, another peak moment, another high? Or does it become the very foundation upon which everything else is experienced?

Green-BuddhaToday millions and millions of people all over the world are having moments of awakening, the essence of which is not different from what Buddha realized under the bodhi tree. I have interviewed hundreds of people whose lives have been irreversibly impacted by such a moment of awakening, and I have surveyed tens of thousands of others. You might have read some of the conclusions I have come to from this research in my other books, especially The Translucent Revolution.

Listen now to a few people talking about their experience of the question, “Who is experiencing this?”

Gay Hendricks, a relationship expert, says, “I’m aware of the big emptiness. It is a feeling of space that does not have anything attached to it. I don’t really experience a separate person being aware of that.”

Sonia Choquette, an expert on intuition, says, “I experience pure energy, a dynamic, breathing, expanding, infinite life energy, that is pregnant with possibility. Everything else dissolves, and any awareness of my personal story no longer exists.”

Jack Canfield, an expert on worldly success, says, “I’m simply a pure center of awareness and consciousness. When I pay attention to this which is aware, I experience absolute peace, and presence. I experience myself as expanded as light with no density.”

John Gray, the author of Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus, says, “When I try to find the me, there is no me. What is orion-nebula-new-image-from-hubble-spitzer - by Mr. Physics - Sm - 3rdthere is space. It’s a huge space. It’s very peaceful, it’s very relaxed. It’s an infinite, unbounded ocean.”

Marci Shimoff, an expert on happiness, says, “There is no definition for who is experiencing this moment. There is energy, there is knowingness, and there is presence, for which there is no definition. It is expansive and silent. It is whole and complete.”

These people are not known primarily as spiritual teachers or mystics. You may have heard their names because they are experts in their fields. All over the world, in every walk of life, people are opening to this recognition of their true nature as infinite. For almost all of them, this awakening has happened in the last two decades, since the early 1990s. The challenge now for most of us is not in having peak experiences of awakening, but with making this the most important priority and value, the very foundation of every part of our lives.

Excerpt from Arjuna’s new book, Better than Sex: The Ecstatic Art of Awakening Coaching

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