You can do nothing to Awaken.
I know…not the answer seekers want to hear, but there is more to this answer than meets the eye.
The personal me that is in this world (i.e. the ego) is saying it wants to Awaken – which means seeing through the mirage of ego and no longer being fooled by the ego. How would that work? It should be very obvious that there is nothing the ego can do to overcome the ego. Anything the ego does only reinforces the ego and strengthens the reality of the mirage.
Is there another way to see the initial answer of “you can do nothing to Awaken?”
Perhaps it is a practice of doing nothing.
This doing nothing and self-inquiry are the only practices I offer to people. Practices are typically a doing and who is doing it but the ego…so the doing is strengthening the sense of ego. For example, I did this practice for X number of years and received these benefits…this is what I have gained by doing this. This is the danger of practices. It not only reinforces the ego, but now creates a path that could take the rest of your life or many lives to complete.
These are all distractions. These are ways of delaying the realization of who and what you really are. We love the distractions and entertainment, but we also become trapped by them.
So I suggest the practice of doing nothing as a prerequisite to self-inquiry. The practice of doing nothing is not a doing at all, but a ceasing to do. Like if you are pedaling a bike and I say “cease doing” or “do nothing”, I am not suggesting you hit the brakes because that is just another doing. I am asking you to cease pedaling. Just sit there coasting…sit still…and allow yourself to come to a stop on its own.
In this way, it is not egoic. You are not doing anything. You are spotting where you are doing and ceasing to do that. This is meditation really. A meditation that can be done sitting, standing, walking, eating, or whatever. At first though, I recommend designated periods of sitting…so you are not doing anything physically either.
Ceasing to do means becoming present. What I mean is that we are often trapped in thoughts about past or future. So much so, that we will trip over something or bump into someone because we are not really aware of what is around us in the here and now. When you are lost in thought, what have you lost? Awareness of what is in this very moment.
So the first step in ceasing to do is ceasing to get lost in thoughts about the past and future. No thought is ever about this moment…it can’t be. The right now is an experience within awareness. Then thought can judge or otherwise tell a story about what just happened. Sometimes we can think about what is just about to happen, but still it is not a thought about this moment…only a moment to come.
If thought is never about the present, but only of the past or future, then to be truly present means there is no thought. This is not as impossible as it might seem. We all have had glimpses of no thought. Athletes might have experienced being in the zone – in which they act without thought at very high levels of efficiency. Perhaps you have seen a great work of art or landscape in which you were awe-struck and for a while there was no thought. Perhaps you were shocked or surprised…enough to not be thinking for a few moments.
The trick to not thinking is not to try to get rid of thoughts or fight the mind. That will only strengthen it and make it worse. The trick is to be present. The mind can only keep track of so much data that is flowing through the senses. The less we pay attention to, the more we can think about it and the easier it is to have thoughts of all kinds. It seems we only have so much attention for thoughts and the experience (all the associated data with the experience).
Also, being present is more kinesthetic than mental. We need to experience more of what is going on right now through our senses. This too is not a doing, because we have no choice but to be aware when we are conscious. The doing is thinking. So instead just be aware of as much as you are able to be aware. If a thought comes, let it go. Don’t mind the mind. It does not pertain to what you are experiencing and are aware of. Put the focus on experiencing through the senses and don’t worry or bother about thought.
I find that when I do this, the thought stream in my mind slows down on its own. It is like we have ceased spinning the wheel of the mind. Focusing on thoughts just empowers thought to continue stronger than ever. It is a bad habit we have all picked up. We live in our heads…focused on thinking. Move the focus to the body, the heart, and the senses…and feel.
Hopefully, this has given you a glimpse into the secret of ‘doing nothing’ to Awaken.