Awareness is one of the greatest qualities of the spiritual life. Awareness is living in the present, not the past or the future. A person who is aware of life looks around and sees, hears, smells and takes in what is happening both on the outside but more importantly on the inside.
The Gospels mention that Jesus was aware of his inner and outer realities. In Mark’s gospel it says, “Immediately aware that power had gone for from him, Jesus turned about in the crowd and said, ‘Who touched me?’” (Mk 5:30)
Luke’s gospel proclaimed, “Jesus aware of their inner thoughts, took a little child and put it by his side.” (Lk 9:47)
The ancient Greek philosopher Aristotle said, “The ultimate value of life depends upon awareness and the power of contemplation rather than upon mere survival.”
Sometime in life we have to lose something before we can appreciate the deeper things of life.
Architect Norman Foster made this observation, “A life-threatening illness or two certainly gives you an awareness of your own mortality. It heightens your sense of gratitude for things that previously, if you’ve not taken them for granted, you perhaps never appreciated how precious they were. That’s almost a platitude, but one has to state the obvious.”
Motivational speaker, Jack Canfield, urges us to “smell the roses.” He says, “By taking the time to stop and appreciate who you are and what you’ve achieved – and perhaps learned through a few mistakes, stumbles and losses – you actually can enhance everything about you. Self-acknowledgment and appreciation are what give you the insights and awareness to move forward toward higher goals and accomplishments.”
Deepak Chopra, Indian American author, speaks of his own experience. “I’ve worked all my life on the subject of awareness, whether it’s awareness of the body, awareness of the mind, awareness of your emotions, awareness of your relationships, or awareness of your environment. I think the key to transforming your life is to be aware of who you are.”
Most of the time we rush around without taking time to reflect, to be quiet, to observe what’s happening within us and around us. Daily meditation in some form is essential for true living.
Fr. Anthony de Mello speaks often of awareness. He says, “Come home to yourself. Observe yourself. Self-observation is such a delightful and extraordinary thing. After a while you don’t have to make any effort, because, as illusions begin to crumble, you begin to know things that cannot be described. It’s called happiness. Everything changes and you become addicted to awareness.
“There’s the story of the disciple who went to the master and said, ‘Could you tell me something that would guide me through my days?’ It was the master’s day of silence, so he picked up a pad. It said, ‘Awareness.’ When the disciple saw it, he said, ‘This is too brief. Can you expand on it a bit?’ So the master took back the pad and wrote, ‘Awareness, awareness, awareness.’
“Watch yourself. No one can show you how to do it, because they would be giving you a technique, they would be programming you. Watch yourself. When you talk to someone, are you aware of it or are you simply identifying with it? When you got angry with somebody, were you aware that you were angry or were you simply identifying with your anger?
“Later, when you had the time, did you study your experience and attempt to understand it? Where did it come from? What brought it on? I don’t know of any other way to awareness. You only change what you understand. What you do not understand and are not aware of, you repress. You don’t change. But when you understand it, it changes.”
Work on awareness!