I thought I was awake. I thought I was wise. But I was wrong. I was ignorant (in the sense of being blind to reality/truth), only I didn’t know it. Sure, I was an honest person, open-minded and intelligent, but nevertheless I wasn’t awake. How did I not know this? I suppose that question is analogous to the question of whether a sociopath knows they’re a sociopath, and for that matter, whether they can ever know (or get honest enough to acknowledge and admit to it). Be that as it may, there’s no hope for a sociopath to wake-up or change, but there’s hope for the rest of us.
Reflecting on this phenomenon of not knowing, and of denial as my teacher defined it—don’t even know I’m lying to myself—I believe I’ve pinpointed 5 profound changes that take place within a person that are indicators of awake-ness. You’re awake if. . . .
1) You’ve stopped complaining.
2) You’re willing to listen to opposing opinions.
3) You’re open to criticism.
4) You’re able to let go of anger and resentments.
5) You’ve realized that you’re the cause of your own suffering.
I found these characteristics to be common among people who experience serenity, inner-peace, gratitude, joy, equanimity, great compassion and understanding, an acceptance of impermanence, such as loss and death, and significantly possess a strong desire to help others. That said, to my knowledge, the path to awake-ness (which may not be a path at all) cannot be found at will; it either comes or it doesn’t. Yes, there are religious teachings, methodologies, philosophies, and spiritual models to live by which can guide us closer to awake-ness, but there are no guarantees. And so, this is where faith comes into the picture. We must have faith. We must if we are to trudge the road to happy awake-ness.