It would be challenging to consider an awakened state anything more than living in the moment, a condition everyone is prone to on occasion, and very few enjoy on a consistent basis, even when they have seen the Truth of the conscious awareness that we are. But most of the time we cannot see the light for the clouds.
The initial moment of realizing oneself as simple presence, just beingness moving through a sense of time and space that has arisen within infinity, it feels astonishingly liberating, as if everything you are attached to or identified with dissolves and there is simply no thing to be concerned about or no one to care. You are clear light and aliveness. This realization can stimulate bliss, joy, love, or just a quiet openness and peace in the body. It can last a few moments or a few months. Why doesn’t it, in most cases, last forever? It is the underlying state, the foundation of all beings. It can’t go away, because it is what you are, awareness being life. But it is easily fogged over by the natural human activities of thought and emotion.
Awakening seems to come and go for most who have a moment of realization, because attachments come and go, experiences come and go, and the mind continually churns out information it considers critical, related to past and future, rather than staying focused on the here and now. It has had a serious job in the world of locating and identifying you, solving problems, studying possibilities, and weighing options.
When you are present in the moment you are not relying on the divisive working mind, but simply accepting and responding to what is. If while resting in presence an emotion comes through such as fear, grief, or anger, you allow it to flow through as an energy of the feeling-body without attaching a belief to it such as “I shouldn’t feel this” “I’ll die if this happens“ “I need to get even” “I have to figure this out.” If it is just felt the same way an ocean wave is felt when you stand at the edge of the water, it will pass, perhaps not immediately, but eventually.
Emotional and self-reflective thoughts are all legitimate, normal thoughts, common human reactions. Just like rain in the sky, there are times when this is needed. Most of us need calendars and a few discerning skills. The problem is that when we are entangled in this aspect of the mind, awakened presence can be overwhelmed. This can lead to continued agitation, planning, mental fantasies and projections that are all about the past and the future. Just as dark clouds block the sun, they block the ability to remember the light and vastness that we are, and to move effectively in the moment.
Our worries, desires, conditioned patterns and the many dramas of an ordinary life distract us from the moment, from the beauty in existence, from the immediacy of love and response. Possibly the severe detachment taught in some spiritual traditions was an effort to help people avoid the pitfall of losing the present moment by becoming trapped by a desire or resistance or other distracting emotion. But as a method it can make a person become cold, withdrawn and disengaged in life, preventing the embodiment of the very truth that has been discovered.
We cannot “hold” awakeness by forcing ourselves into disengagement with life. Instead, we need to allow the little illusory “me” to wake up too, letting our humanness be felt without self-judgment, and learning to see with clarity what is needed now, in the moment, aside from our personal history and bias. We have to learn to move more from the intuition of the heart rather than the orders in the head. The working mind needs to become an occasional tool, rather than a master.
The intuitive heart is not a romanticized heart, but is an aspect of the heart that holds Truth and authenticity. It is a kind of knowing different from the learning we have acquired. It doesn’t block our skills or life knowledge, it just applies them free of the trappings of personal prejudice and self-serving. It is an awareness using whatever means is available to move in alignment with each unique moment.
Optimally all of us would find ourselves doing this spontaneously and consistently. But I have not seen that as the case in myself or others. We are each on a learning curve in our own unique style and we will have moments of presence and moments of entanglement.
The less we judge our losses (or even count them) the more smoothly we return to the moment, and the closer we come to living a liberated life.