If it’s true that we human beings are the most evolved life-form in the universe then it’s also true that we rarely live up to our own hype. We may believe that we stand far above the ants and dogs but just like them we are deeply conditioned by our genes, biology, upbringing, environment and psychology.
Our lives are largely accidental and we spend much of our time blindly acting out patterns, habits and reactions we have never consciously chosen.
However we do possess something the other species do not seem to have: the potential to be fully conscious.
We humans are the only species with the capacity to stand back from our conditioning and choose whether or not to express it. We are the only animals who can transcend our own psychological limitations.
Through Mindfulness we can discover that we don’t have to have to identify with every single thought, story or drama the mind produces. There is another option: we can simply step back and rest as the silent awareness which always transcends our small and limited sense of self.
As awareness we can simply allow all thoughts, emotions, urges and desires to come and go, washing through us like waves rippling across the ocean, apparently solid but actually intangible and ungraspable.
We can remain as this alert spaciousness which enjoys the richness of each moment without becoming trapped by its content. Good days, bad days, our awareness remains free.
This is why Mindfulness is a tool for evolution. Each time we become mindful of our experience, allowing it to arise and fade without reacting to it, our conditioning begins to unwind, melt and dissolve.
We transform ourselves by fully allowing ourselves to be, to unfold.
This shift from unconsciousness to consciousness has huge implications not only for ourselves but for all living things. Rather than relating to life from a limiting self-centred perspective we can enact our ability to care-take and assist all creatures in ways they cannot help themselves.
No other species can be as much help to other living things as we can. We are the only ones with the consciousness to encompass, understand and include everything else. We are the only animals who can choose to love all animals and this makes us rare indeed.
When we live bound to our conditioning we don’t have the distance to question our current relationship with life. We take it as a given, living blind, feeling small, afraid and confused. In this place we are no help to anyone, not ourselves, our family, our children, and certainly not to animals which we might view as mere commodities, unable to appreciate our shared environmental interconnectedness.
Actually, when we live like this there is not much that separates us from the creatures we feel so superior to. There is no humanity here, just a person born from dull habit, living a small repetitive life.
In the film Waking Life one of the characters asks what really separates us from Plato or Nietzsche? Is it simply that they were geniuses and we are not, or is it more a case of plain laziness?
We humans are so close to and yet often so very far from owning our true potential.
The legend of the Sword in the Stone illustrates this well. Arthur must pull the mighty Excalibur from the stone to claim his right as King. The sword is none other than our own awareness, our birthright and potential and yet it is useless whilst buried deep in our unconscious lives.
In fact it is we who have turned to stone, no longer able to see, feel and perceive the clarity and beauty of each moment. We have become solely identified with the mind rather than resting as the freedom of our effortless awareness.
Excalibur is a magical weapon but whilst embedded with thoughts and emotions it cannot stand apart and reveal its true power. For our lives to change, the Sword of Awareness must be retrieved.
But who among us can do that? Who has the will to pull a sword from a stone? Only a true King, which is what we are behind the mask of “little me.” When we live from awareness we stand as the natural ruler and overseer of experience, rather than its slave and servant.
Once pulled free, our Sword of Awareness will destroy anything it strikes. Nothing can withstand its blade, not a thought, not an emotion, not an experience. To possess this weapon is to be free.
This is the magic we all have access to.
We all have the capacity to evolve, grow and transform right now. Every moment is an opportunity to let go of our conditioning and rest as our innate awareness. The question is can we do that?
Do we wish to remain as mere people shuffling through our accidental lives? Or are we ready to claim our place as human beings and wield the Sword of Awareness to set ourselves – and all others – free?
Excalibur is in your hands.