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To Stay Awake

A friend returning from India and dealing with jetlag added a small line in an email to me - my goal today: to stay awake.

That jumped out. What a goal, not just for the day, but for life.

In spiritual life when we think of being awake, we think of being conscious, being mindful of how we are relating with the world and with others. Being awake in bhakti means being awake to Krishna, to our particular relationship with Him, and our intentional effort to honor, respect, and grow that relationship.

Arjuna became super-awake by hearing the knowledge Krishna taught him in the Bhagavad-gita.

Each of us have our life circumstances that we interact with and that pull a response from us. As spiritual practitioners what do we want to be awake for? What do we want to be awake to?

We might want to be awake to unwanted emotions. Is that envy tugging at our heart? Is that the false ego--our false conception of who we are--stoking our anger? Are we happy at others success or secretly pleased at their failures? Do we think we are better than others? Do we listen with half an ear or judge with cheap certainty? These are some of the many hard things we may want to be awake to.

We should want to be awake to random acts of service. To jump at opportunities. To be awake enough to turn whatever we are doing into an act of devotion, an act of love.

We may want to be awake to death, to be conscious of the journey of leaving this body, and to be as intentional and focused as we can. Death is never easy so we want to be awake to understanding it now. To be awake to getting the spiritual support we need and to do it in the best way possible.

We may want to be awake to transcendence - to consciously rise above the swirling ocean of life and directly engage with our relationship with Krishna. We need to be awake to give and receive pure love.

We may want to be awake to the clouds blowing across the sky, to the blazing sunset, the full moon taking our breath away, to the early morning chants that fill our heart with longing to go home, to meet Krishna again. We may want to be awake to the fact that we turned our back on Krishna and went away.

And we may want to be awake, should want to be fully awake, when we turn and face Him again.

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