Today’s world faces a grave economic, ecological, cultural crisis – indeed a global civilisational crisis. The word ‘crisis’ means a ‘turning point’ in time. The basic need expressed in this crisis is for human beings to find a way of being-in-time that is not simply dominated by ‘busy-ness’, by doing, and aimed only at having. The new relation to time that human beings so desperately need at this time is one in which they give themselves time, not just to produce or consume, work or play – but to be aware. For to truly ‘be’ is to be aware.
Just as to truly ‘meditate’ is simply to take time to be aware. For only by taking time to be aware can each of us open up a broader space of awareness – one which, like the clear and empty space surrounding things, allows us to meditate, place in perspective and come to new insights regarding whatever questions, concerns or feelings are currently addressing us. Only out of such a broader, more spacious and expansive awareness field can human beings also come to deeper, more thoughtful decisions and find better practical solutions to both personal and world problems. And only out of this broadened and deepened awareness can we also relate to other human beings in a more meditative and aware way – thus bringing about a healing transformation in human relations.
All mismanagement, misgovernment and mistreatment of others stem from the self-defeating rush of busy-ness that characterises our global business culture. This is a culture of enforced economic conscription of all (‘employment’) which ends up rendering the unique awareness, potentials and creativity of each more or less wholly unemployed. The value our global capitalist culture places on activity, speed and busy-ness denies the time needed for meditative and aware decision-making – but in this way also slows down or entirely blocks truly aware, thoughtful and effective action. Behind this culture is a deep-seated fear of awareness, not least awareness of all the ways in which – lacking awareness – human beings are destroying each other and the earth.
The resulting global crisis and turning point in time that we now face tells us that it is high time for humanity to become more aware, high time for a cultural revolution in awareness – one based not just on ‘slowing down’ but on cultivating a whole new way of aware experiencing and action, living and relating, thinking and feeling. This in turn requires new forms of education in awareness in all areas of life and knowledge – and not just education in facts or skills. Above all it requires a new understanding of awareness as something essentially distinct from mere consciousness ‘of’ things.
There is all that we experience, all that occurs or goes on in ourselves and the world. And there is the awareness of all that occurs or goes on – the awareness of all we experience. That awareness – awareness ‘as such’ or ‘pure awareness’ – is what alone can free human beings from bondage to anything they are conscious or aware of.
Awareness as such is a not a product of the brain, bounded by our bodies, or the mere private property of individuals or groups. Instead it has an essentially unbounded and universal character. As such, awareness also transcends all identities and all identifications – whether personal or group identities, social and economic identities, ethnic, cultural and religious identities etc. That is why anyone who cultivate awareness works not only for their own well-being but for that of the world – a world whose ills all result from a lack of awareness, and thus can never be healed through either the politics of identity or identification with particular spiritual or religious traditions and their symbols.
~ ESSAYS BY PETER WILBERG