Awareness is the ability to stand back and watch one’s mental and physical activity. So what’s so unique about this phenomenon? Well, the fact of the matter is that very few of us are aware. Most of the time we have so completely identified ourselves with our body, mind, work, habits etc. that we get lost in them. And yet, this quality called awareness is unique to the human species.
Plants have feelings, but no mobility. Animals have both feelings and mobility. Man also has this but at the same time he has this extra attribute – awareness. Man has this extra and all important ability to be able to know his consciousness, and to allow it to manifest and blossom to its fullest potential. This consciousness, the underlying life principle in every atom, is the same in all things, but its expression can be different. In plants and bacteria, this consciousness is expressed at a very rudimentary level. While in man it is expressed at a far more complex level.
So, where does all this get us as far as our daily life is concerned? If one looks at the nature of the mind, one can immediately see that its essential nature is movement. By being aware, one watches this movement of the mind. A very beautiful story would illustrate this point.
There once lived a king, with a beautiful, but rampantly wild horse. The king promised that he would handsomely reward anyone, who could subdue his horse. A contest was therefore arranged, where many tried mounting this horse, only to be thrown off it. Finally, one very weak looking individual volunteered. He escorted the wild horse out, and returned a while later, seated astride the horse, with the horse obeying his every instruction. The king was amazed, and wanted to know how this man had succeeded when so many others had failed. To this, the horse tamer replied, “Instead of fighting your stallion, I let him run freely to his heart’s content, following its own impulses. Eventually he became fatigued and submissive. It was then no problem to befriend your horse and gain command.”
It is the same with the mind. If we fight and wrestle with the mind, we will never achieve mastery over it. The method to adopt is similar to the wild horse trainer – let the mind follow its impulses and tendencies without restriction, until it becomes ready to accept your authority. Give the mind a free run, don’t suppress it, but merely watch and get to know it.
Through increased awareness, we start responding to situations instead of reacting to them. That is, by watching the life process – the activities around oneself as well as one’s mental activities – this divine intelligence in us, the consciousness, is better able to express itself. As a result of this, we become better communicators, salesmen, research scientists, family men etc. As one starts responding to the environment, one starts living in greater harmony with it.
Awareness is a quality that can quite easily be developed. It is in fact a quality, we always have possessed, but have forgotten it, because of wrong thinking. Awareness is in fact a process of letting go. We let go of our dogmas, ideas, concepts, and try seeing things as they are.