There are really only two directions we can go in life. Either we head deeper into ignorance, or we welcome the wisdom that opens us up to our true potential as human beings.
We're all familiar with the first way. Snoozing the alarm clock five times, scarfing something down while rummaging about the house for our belongings, then rushing out the door to work, only to sit in traffic and get angry on the road because we're late.
Of course recently, you can take out the traffic part since we're cooped up at home. But the fact remains the same. From the moment we wake up, to the moment we go to sleep, we're pretty much on autopilot the whole time.
If we're lucky, we get glimpses of presence, where the chatter of the mind quiets down, and we become one with our surroundings, whatever or whomever that may be.
By and large, however, autopilot is the norm. In a way, we're sleeping through our lives. That morning I described above turns into a full day, a day into a week, and pretty soon, years go by, leaving us wondering where the time went.
And here's the worst part. Living on autopilot is surely a miserable way to live our own life, but it's not just ourself that suffers. It's everyone around us. People, animals, the planet! Everything around us takes the brunt of our ignorance.
In a way, our ignorance is a form of violence against ourselves, against other people, animals, and our planet. Look at any destruction or unrest happening in our world today. It's all the result of us being asleep to the reality of our true nature, and that of the world we live in.
If we're not careful, which we rarely are, our natural tendencies in this experience of life lead to poor habits and ignorant living. Since most of us don't exert full control over our power of will by directing our consciousness in productive ways, we instead let our surroundings do that for us.
The way to live a poor, unfulfilled life is to just let your surroundings - other people, places, and things (including your thoughts and emotions) - guide you.
So how do we wake up from this destructive trance?
Well, that's the second of the directions I mentioned we could go.
This is the way of opening our eyes, and seeing the world as it is, in all its beauty and ugliness. We not only welcome, but seek experiences out of our comfort bubble. We learn about the myriad of issues our world faces today, and we open ourselves to whichever touches us deepest. Then we put one foot in front of another and do our best to improve the situation.
We can't fix it all, but nor should we. We can't fix the whole world, but we can, and always should, start with ourselves.
Our own inner experience is one problem we're all familiar with, which we always have access to. Unlike corruption, climate change, or human trafficking, the immediate challenge we all have in common is that of being human. We can always start within by learning to cultivate a wise relationship to our inner environment.
How do we relate to our emotions, good and bad? How do we interact with our thoughts, which never seem to shut up? How do we handle the incessant, ever-changing nature of the body and all its pains?
These are all aspects of life that are readily available to work with. Day by day, from the work we do on ourselves, we begin to operate from a place of clarity, of not needing things. Subsequently, our actions in the world are that much more "awake," because we've woken up within ourselves.
When we open our eyes to the world and all its glory, accepting and never judging, we begin to flower into our full potential of being human. We move out of our little bubble that keeps us asleep, and we blossom into a full-fledged human.
The beauty is, we don't have to wait to blossom. We can bloom from where we are.
It's always the right time to blossom, one issue, one fear, one insecurity, one judgement, one petal at a time.
Live with substance!