Thursday, January 17, 2013

Humanity is asleep
Dr. Lucio F. Teoxon Jr.

An intriguing idea from esoteric literature may help us understand ourselves and the hype and hoopla about the current political controversies involving the national leadership, legislators and all, aptly described as a circus of sorts in which the performers are no more than clowns, tricksters, or plain wheeler-dealers out to push for their own vested interest. This notion in question is deceptively commonplace or even trite but contains a wealth of profound insight. It holds that man is asleep and that his greatest and most important task is to wake up.

Nothing new nor spectacular nor world-shaking there, really. That is even something everybody takes for granted as a given. You might also contend aren’t we already awake every time we get up in the morning. But that statement should be read literally as it is not intended as a metaphor. To maintain that man is in a state of sleep means that he is not in full control of himself, his faculties or his actions. If this is the case, then he acts as if under hypnosis, or like a machine without a will of his own, without nerves or feelings; and his responses are programmed like those of automatons run by artificial intelligence.

When a murderer hacks to death his helpless victim, when a classroom teacher sexually harasses his student, when a father violates his own daughter, or when a suicide bomber detonates his explosives to kill his imagined foes, including himself — all of them are controlled by their fury or lust or delusion or twisted thinking. In other words, they overstep the line even though they move and act while in their ordinary waking consciousness. They are not really in full possession of their rational or moral nature and have degenerated to the level of the beast. These people are ruled by their baser, instinctual or irrational impulses. In short, they are sleepwalkers.
To explain their outrageous behavior, these unfortunate souls will say after the fact: “I was beside myself with jealousy and rage.” Or “But I forgot myself.” Or “My eyesight dimmed, I had a mental blackout.” Or “I did not know what I was doing then and there.” Or “Something or somebody had taken hold of me and made me do the thing.”

So far, our examples hold water, I suppose. How about the unscrupulous politicians and scheming businessmen who amass big fortunes by stealing hundreds of millions from the people’s coffers in the form of kickbacks, ghost projects, bloated budgets or shady negotiated contracts and whose only capital is their political clout, pull and uncanny ability in making glib sales talk? How about the economic saboteurs like the tax-evaders, smugglers, cutthroat monopolists, or organizers of political and business cartels, etc.? Don’t they utilize their rational faculty as cunning schemers? Can they be called somnambulists, too?

A crafty villain becomes no less a villain for using his reason. Iago, the blackest villain in all literature, was in full command of his reason while executing his evil designs against his victim Othello. A backstabber can even make you believe he is your friend. Worse yet, this breed of wicked creatures is under the impression that they are doing good while perpetrating their treachery! Generally, they are gloatingly unrepentant and unregenerate, being made to feel comfortable by their self-serving rationalizations. After all, they would say—if you have read the Gospel of Judas—even a traitor like Judas himself had an important role to play in the overall scheme of redemption.

So, what is really involved in the fact that man is asleep? He is operating from the lower levels of his consciousness. His actions are governed by the darker side of his makeup and he does not listen to the inner voice—call it conscience, moral sense, soul, Atman, or what you will—that emanates from his deepest essence as a human being. It is this silent censor within that tells him whether or not he is going out of bounds. The trouble is that many of us no longer believe in the existence of the soul. We do not think there is such a thing as Budhi, as in the expression: “Wala kang budhi!” People will smile at you once you drop words like “Spirit,” “God,” and the like, thanks to the ascendancy of secular humanism, scientism, and crass materialism.

One common form of being asleep is blindness, i.e., the inability to take notice of things like discerning the real from the unreal, and the good from the evil. Many times Jesus rebuked his disciples for not seeing what is right in front of their eyes. In the Gospel of Thomas, they asked him when the new world will come. He told them, What you look for has already come but you do not know it. Similarly, asked when the kingdom will come, he said to them, The Kingdom of the Father is spread out on the earth but people do not see it.

Our predicament, nevertheless, is not hopeless. We can all wake up as we must. Without going now into the rarefied sphere of spirituality and its nitty-gritty, there is a practical way by which we may get around this problem of sleep.

The act of sleeping is characterized by the absence of awareness. We are lost to the world when we fall asleep. Hence, the process of awakening necessitates what the Buddhists call as mindfulness, that is, the act of paying attention from moment to moment. No sooner are we inattentive than we slip into sleep, into forgetfulness. (Oh what atrocities are committed because of mindlessness, of thoughtlessness!) Just like in driving a car. Once we lose our presence of mind, we instantly court disaster. And how do we know that we are being alert? To be attentive is to know that we are inattentive. It is really that simple. Or that difficult.

All this entails self-observation and constant self-remembering, ever watching ourselves as we go about the business of daily living. What is required is practice. Knowing this idea on a theoretical basis is useless and won’t turn us into a better person. It would amount to acquiring mastery of all the details in a manual on swimming without actually diving right into the pool.

1 comment:

  1. Hello, Tito, this is jam. I lost my contacts, kahit number po ni tita, I lost it. This is my email I hope we could get in touch. Thank you