Shaking Others Awake

“When you wake up from a dream, do you go about searching for the characters in that dream, to awaken them?”

~Ramana Maharshi

We often encounter passionate voices in the alternative media seeking through various means to “raise consciousness” and “shake people awake”. Contrary to the popular sentiment in that field however, not everyone is here, incarnating in this realm, to “awaken”. In fact, true Awakening has always been the provenance of the very few, who have chosen that steep route for their own evolutionary purposes. In any particular generation, out of the billions of human incarnations, only a handful thus embodied will awaken in the true sense — that is,  break through the dreamy amnesia that characterizes our temporary earthly state into the direct realization of our true nature and primordial (Divine) identity.

Rather, for most of us, the purpose in assuming these particular forms is more along the lines of finding out what the range of human experience entails, in much the same way we might immerse ourselves in a flight simulator to discover what flying is all about. Of course, if we knew it was just a simulation, we would not be able to get the full experience, and so we “forget” that it is just a virtual reality, in order to enjoy the full impact of living the animal existence that is human, for the brief duration of the bio-vehicle’s appearance.

Once we are fused with the human container that we are temporarily occupying, we accumulate memories and experiences of our time as humans, and use them as fuel for our ongoing self-discovery. One of the primary tools is “ego”, which allows us to explore all the nooks and crannies of the psyche to see what we are really made of. We use this ego (which is an activity, not an entity) to learn how to behave, how to do the right thing in each situation presented to us by virtue of our human experience, and also to learn the consequences of failure to do the right thing. In that respect, it serves a kind of navigational function in our quest for experience.

When we become entranced into identification with the activity, however, and imagine it to represent who and what we are, we turn the verb into a noun, an ambivalent noun which we must somehow deal with, or if we have been conditioned by certain spiritual propaganda, we might come to believe it is a noun which we must make every effort to eliminate, as if it was an evil mask which we had better remove before we scare off all of our relations.

In reality, if we see that idea for what it is — a mental fabrication, or fictional story which we have inadvertently granted a reality to — ego begins to lose its power to disturb us, and so reverts to its natural function as an integral part of human embodiment.

In any case, what most in the “alternative” field tend to believe constitutes “awakening” may involve seeing through the propaganda dished out by the arbiters of consensus reality and discovering the mechanisms by which this realm actually operates. For that, it might include peeling back the curtain on hidden government manipulations, on the war economies maintained by the Powers That Be, on media lies, on secret agendas of climate control and food and water poisoning, on alien contact, or on any or all of the various deceptions that constitute this world’s charades and fraudulence.

On the more positive side, it may involve becoming aware of alternative fuels and sustainability strategies, on the marriage of art and science in developing new programs dedicated to the evolutionary advancement of the species, or on any number of new (or ancient) techniques and methods that can be employed to make life more fulfilling and transformative, or serve us in recognizing our essential interdependence.

In any case, as compelling and provocative as those issues might be, or as hopeful and encouraging, they all still belong in the category of impermanence, and so fundamentally represent modifications of consciousness. Such modifications are endless, but of no lasting significance, any more than clouds in the sky. Real Awakening, on the other hand, is the direct recognition of That which does not change, and is not modified by events or circumstances that appear and disappear in and as consciousness. It reveals our original nature, prior to consciousness itself.

Just so, trying to get others to awaken (in the sense generally implied in the alternative arena) is more a matter of transfer of certain data, and any data transfer is dependent on both the transfer vehicle and the receptor. If the receptor has the capacity, it will receive, but remember, we are only talking about modifying consciousness, not getting to its root (which again is what real Awakening is all about).

In other words, when we discuss awakening others, what we are usually talking about is changing someone’s beliefs, but not undermining their whole belief structure altogether, revealing that the person they have taken themselves to be is nothing other than a conceptual designation, a fictitious story, empty of any solidity. Indeed, describing their home and true identity to an amnesiac really doesn’t accomplish much, due to their chronic memory blockage.

In any case, what right do we have to force our views on others? The notion of “shaking others awake” is actually a form of aggression. As a matter of fact, most folks who are led down the “rabbit hole” of conspiracy theories or urged into crusades for this or that cause are often better off left alone to fulfill their term here, focusing instead on just enjoying the human experience in whatever way their light leads them.

However, if some are moved to try to “save the world”, let them – they’ll find out in their own time that the world itself is as unreal as the one who dreams of saving it. This is why the principle of non-interference universally applies — the “prime directive”. If we really wish to be of service in this matter, we might take Niu Tou Fa Jong’s words to heart when he wrote in his classic “Song of Mind”: “Don’t destroy the myths of common people; only teach the cessation of thoughts.”

Moreover, our efforts to awaken others to our notion of what reality is all about can often prove to be merely an additional impediment to both their as well as our true awakening. As the sage Siddharameshwar Maharaj noted: “What you are thinking of as ‘awake’ — some intense new passion for a worthy cause or a deep feeling of love for all existence — is actually the deepest of deep sleep, much deeper than a feeling of boredom or indifference. Yours is an intense association with the Illusion. The bored and the indifferent are on the verge of leaving the lure of the temptress Maya behind, no longer swayed by her shiny attractions. They are on the verge of waking.”

In any event, having gotten some inkling of what’s going on in this realm “behind the curtain”, most people would rather forget what they have seen. For those conditioned by the consensus descriptions of reality, discovering what’s really lurking behind the lies that they have been told can be deeply disturbing as well as disorienting. As Winston Churchill noted: “Men occasionally stumble over the truth, but most of them pick themselves up and hurry off as if nothing ever happened.”

When it comes right down to it, it’s clear that humans are the least qualified to judge each other, mostly because we are operating with insufficient data. The best policy is to always turn the spotlight back on oneself, particularly when we think we see something lacking in others, or presume that we have some special knowledge which they should have. Again, Nisargadatta spoke wisely when he cautioned: “When you deceive yourself that you work for the good of all, it makes matters worse, for you should not be guided by your own ideas of what is good for others. A man who claims to know what is good for others, is dangerous.”

Remember, we are not here to fix samsara – that can’t be done. In fact, this realm itself is nothing more than a stage with ever-changing props, offering us an opportunity to discover what we are really made of. The best service we can offer others is to be a demonstration of what real awakening consists of, and for that, we ourselves need to not only awaken, but also to embody real awakening in our own behavior.

One of the principle lessons in Zen training is about letting go of the desire for some particular outcome. In other words, relinquishing all gaining ideas, all fantasies, hopes, and wishes for some special attainment. This principle is universally applicable. As long as we have in mind some desire to “defeat the evil systems of the Powers That Be”, for example, we will continue to be a slave to those very systems. On the other hand, if one wants to be free, they must stand without desire or fear, relinquishing all concepts of personal control.

There is a universal power at work, but we do not trust that, even though we are its very source. Such distrust is a grave mistake, and one that will cause us endless suffering. On the other hand, if we are able to recognize that we ourselves are being lived by that very power, and conversely, that it is our own expression, then the sense of separation, of frustration and dismay will evaporate, and paradoxically, that is when we will finally be eligible to be of some real service in our life and relations, as the impediments to genuine awakening fall away in the light of recognition.

not your job

 Q: I may remove my causes of sorrow, but others will be left to suffer.

 Nisargadatta Maharaj: To understand suffering, you must go beyond pain and pleasure. Your own desires and fears prevent you from understanding and thereby helping others. In reality there are no others, and by helping yourself you help everybody else. If you are serious about the sufferings of mankind, you must perfect the only means of help you have – yourself.

See Also:

About Bob OHearn

My name is Bob O'Hearn, and I live with my Beloved Mate, Mazie, in the foothills of the Northern California Sierra Nevada Mountains. I have a number of blog sites you may enjoy: Photo Gallery: Essays on the Conscious Process: Compiled Poetry and Prosetry: Verses and ramblings on life as it is: Verses and Variations on the Investigation of Mind Nature: Verses on the Play of Consciousness: Poetic Fiction, Fable, Fantabulation: Poems of the Mountain Hermit: Love Poems from The Book of Yes: Autobiographical Fragments, Memories, Stories, and Tall Tales: Ancient and modern spiritual texts, creatively refreshed: Writings from selected Western Mystics, Classic and Modern: Wisdom of a Spirit Guide: Thank You!
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18 Responses to Shaking Others Awake

  1. jencistory says:

    It’s hard to leave others to have their experience until you realise they are having the perfect experience for them, regardless of how it appears. Excellent summary, Bob

    • Yes, that’s it exactly, Jen, though such wisdom goes against the consensus expectations.

      I like this one:

      “Nobody needs your help. I know, I know…this is a difficult one. But it is true. Yet this does not mean no one wants your help, or that no one could use your help. It simply means the thought that another Aspect of Divinity is powerless without you is inaccurate. Do not do something, therefore, because you think someone else needs you. That only builds resentment. Do whatever you do as a means of deciding, declaring, creating, and experiencing who you are — and who you choose to be. Then you will never feel victimized, powerless, or without choice.
      Yes? You see how simple it all is? Get out of victimhood.”
      Neale Donald Walsch


  2. marcel says:

    Thanks for the eye opener, as usual.

  3. Bob OHearn says:

    “He who expects to change the world will be disappointed, he must change his view. When this is done, then tolerance will come, forgiveness will come, and there will be nothing he cannot bear.”

    ~Hazrat Inayat Khan

  4. Bob OHearn says:

    “Yesterday I was clever, so I wanted to change the world. Today I am wise, so I am changing myself.”


  5. Bob OHearn says:

    “As long as you have the idea of influencing events, liberation is not for you: the very notion of doership, of being a cause, is bondage.”
    ~ Sri Nisargadatta Maharaj

  6. Bob OHearn says:

    Q: All I want is to be able to help the world.

    M: Who says you cannot help? You made up your mind about what help means and needs and got your self into a conflict between what you should and what you can, between necessity and ability.

    Q: But why do we do so?

    M: Your mind projects a structure and you identify yourself with it. It is in the nature of desire to prompt the mind to create a world for its fulfilment. Even a small desire can start a long line of action; what about a strong desire? Desire can produce a universe; its powers are miraculous. Just as a small matchstick can set a huge forest on fire, so does a desire light the fires of manifestation. The very purpose of creation is the fulfilment of desire. The desire may be noble, or ignoble, space (akash) is neutral — one can fill it with what one likes: You must be very careful as to what you desire. And as to the people you want to help, they are in their respective worlds for the sake of their desires; there is no way of helping them except through their desires. You can only teach them to have right desires so that they may rise above them and be free from the urge to create and re-create worlds of desires, abodes of pain and pleasure.

    Q: We are told of the great avatars, the saviours of the world.

    M: Did they save? They have come and gone — and the world plods on. Of course, they did a lot and opened new dimensions in the human mind. But to talk of saving the world is an exaggeration.

    Q: Is there no salvation for the world?

    M: Which world do you want to save? The world of your own projection? Save it yourself. My world? Show me my world and I shall deal with it. I am not aware of any world separate from myself, which I am free to save or not to save. What business have you with saving the world, when all the world needs is to be saved from you? Get out of the picture and see whether there is anything left to save.

    ~I Am That, Nisargadatta Maharaj

  7. Bob OHearn says:

    “There is one thing the world does not want us to find out and that is the truth about ourselves. Why? Because then we will become free. We can no longer be controlled, manipulated, exploited, drained, enslaved, imprisoned, vilified, or dis-empowered. Therefore, the inner voyage of discovery is cloaked over an aura of mystery and foreboding.

    What is the real truth about this voyage? The real truth is that, as we go within and discard one illusion after another, one negative program after another, it gets lighter and lighter. The awareness of the presence of love becomes stronger and stronger. ”

    ~David R Hawkins; “Letting Go: The Pathway of Surrender”.

  8. Bob OHearn says:

    “Remember: those who are suffering are precisely you, but you are not them. if you only have the first part, then you’re simply suffering. if you only have the latter, then you’re deluded.”
    ~Guo Gu

  9. Bob OHearn says:

    Nisargadatta Maharaj: Millions eat bread, but few know all about wheat. And only those who know can improve the bread. Similarly, only those who know the self, who have seen beyond the world, can improve the world. Their value to private persons is immense, for they are their only hope of salvation. What is in the world cannot save the world; if you really care to help the world you must step out of it.

    Q: But can one step out of the world?

    M: Who was born first, you or the world? As long as you give first place to the world, you are bound by it; once you realise, beyond all trace of doubt that the world is in you and not you in the world, you are out of it. Of course your body remains in the world and of the world, but you are not deluded by it. All scriptures say that before the world was, the Creator was. Who knows the Creator? He alone who was before the Creator, your own real being, the source of all the worlds with their creators.

  10. Bob OHearn says:

    The truth is, focusing on the destruction and chaos does not imply that you are “awake”. “Awake” is more multidimensional in its meaning and application. It means you are aware and thus able to make choices; Simply reacting to chaos with more chaos and spreading that sort of mental and emotional debris creates psychic pollution that pushes people away from your cause more than it helps them to get excited and inspired to action. We are looking at a worldwide shift in the structure of our reality that requires an entirely new way of perceiving the individual and the world. The individual and the world are One, an inseparable reflection.

  11. Bob OHearn says:

    “There are nearly 7 billion people on this planet these days, everyone with a slightly different perspective on life and what it should be like. Every one of us is unique, with different wants and needs, so whose change is going to fit the best for all mankind?

    Millions of people want to change the world — to suit their particular ideas of what life should be; some of those people couldn’t stand to be in the same room with each other due to their differences of opinion and such — and have very different ideas of what a perfect world is.

    Many people are perfectly happy living in mud huts, others in tiny apartments inside skyscrapers. I like my white picket fence on acreage with lots of trees and streams.

    What about political persuasions or religious affiliations, or lack thereof? Some people like communism, socialism, capitalism, Darwinism, Atheism, Buddhism, Judaism, Islam, Christianity . . . Have you noticed how many conflicts are in the world at any given moment because people disagree on what makes a worthwhile life?

    Thousands of conflicts and outright wars because people are not on the same page with other people . . .

    You want to change your own world, your own life, by all means do so. Just leave my world alone.”

    ~Lou Baldin

  12. Bob OHearn says:


    From our deluded samsaric standpoint, it may seem that certain traits are necessary for our well-being, self-esteem, and self-worth. Talking about others’ defects may make us appear more desirable, or gossiping about others’ misfortunes may make our own misery seem less, but we have to examine these tendencies much more closely to see that this is a completely mistaken aspect of our lives.

    Despite having a good motivation and the best intentions, our mind training will have little success if we can’t commit ourselves strongly enough to undermining these traits. These tendencies don’t bring us any self-confidence or happiness. In fact, they undermine our personal autonomy and well-being and obstruct our spiritual progress. It’s important to put an end to these negative and paranoid tendencies and replace them with love, compassion, and the development of a kind heart.

    The Practice of Lojong by Traleg Kyabgon

  13. Bob OHearn says:

    There’s not much that you as an individual can do about the wars that are taking place in the world at the moment. Yet the big ideas of peace and the efforts of the UN are certainly not effective. But I declare that the little change in the individual that overcomes war within, and then another, and another, will create a radiance of peace and eventually this radiance will have the power to stop the big wars. If you want a new society, it starts with you. If you want to change this society, the most logical thing to do is change yourself. The most powerful thing you can do is change your own being. In order to get peace in society, you have to get peaceful beings.

    When there is true aspiration for peace, that aspiration is fulfilled peacefully. Peace is not like some bovine animal dully chewing away. The mind of peace is extremely intelligent. There is strength to fulfill the aspiration and the fulfilment comes softly.

    ~ Namgyal Rinpoche, excerpts from ‘The Meditation on Peace’

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