What exactly is ‘awareness’? The word has been used so indiscriminately that its significance is almost entirely obscured. It once happened that two priests were standing with a signboard that read, ‘The End is Near. Turn Around Before it is Too Late’. A speeding car came along. The driver saw the sign, stuck his head out of the window, yelled, “Leave us alone, you religious nuts”, and sped on. He turned the corner. The priests heard the hideous screech of tires and a huge crash. One of the priests turned to the other and said, “Maybe we should just have the signboard read ‘Bridge is out’.”
The problem is wrong signs have been shown to you for far too long. People have talked too much about ‘mental awareness’. There is no such thing. Mental alertness is mistaken for awareness. But awareness is a far deeper dimension. Mental alertness will help enhance your ability to survive in this world. The mind is a useful faculty of discrimination, essential for human survival and self-preservation. But existentially, it is of no consequence whatsoever.
The problem of our times, however, is that the intellect has been given a disproportionately important role. Modern education has encouraged a tragically lopsided development of this faculty. The essence of the intellect is to divide. So humanity has embarked on a journey of division and discrimination. People have split everything—to even the invisible atom.
Once you unleash the divisive intellect, it does not allow you to be with anything totally. It is a wonderful instrument for survival; but is a terrible barrier between you and your experience of the unity of life.
The mind can be cultivated. Not awareness. Awareness is not something you can do. It is not an action. It is a state of being. Awareness is what you are.
Sleep, wakefulness, death—these are all just different levels of awareness. Suppose you were dozing and somebody shook you awake? The whole world returns instantly! You recreated the whole of existence instantly. Not in seven days—in just a moment.
How do you know whether the world exists or not? Only by your experience. There is no other proof. So, awareness is that which can either create or obliterate this existence. That is the magic of awareness. You can pitch your awareness up to different levels. Worlds that you could never imagine become a living reality for you.
When you are asleep, the world does not exist. But even in sleep, you are not completely unaware. The difference between a sleeping person and a dead person is awareness. Similarly, between a wakeful person and an awakened person, the difference is the intensity of awareness. An awakened person sleeps too, but because of a high level of awareness, some part of him or her does not sleep. The sense organs shut down, the body relaxes, but everything else is on.
Awareness is a process of inclusiveness, of embracing this entire existence. You can set the right conditions so that it happens. If you bring body, mind and energies into alignment, awareness will blossom.
It is truer to say, it has already blossomed; the whole existence is just awareness. But once that blossoming becomes experiential for you, you suddenly explode into the oneness of existence. This is yoga, the ultimate union.
Sadhguru is a yogi, mystic, a bestselling author and poet. He was conferred the Padma Vibhushan in 2017. Isha.sadhguru.org