Although I would like to say that each increment of greater awareness makes life easier, the reality is that at each increment we might often find our self more disturbed than enlightened. For example, becoming truly aware of all the overwhelming sickness and poverty in the world is an awareness that doesn't ease one's mind. It does, however, place him in a situation for great growth, and in that growth he's able to help others.
Therefore, solving one problem through awareness often leads to awareness of much greater problems. This isn't a bad thing, though it often feels that way -- rather, it's the way in which we can transcend the human condition.
It all depends on whether one is willing to surrender to each new awareness. For example, there is enough wealth in the world and perhaps in the U.S. alone to solve the global hunger problem. But a mass spiritual sickness keeps this from happening.
It's best demonstrated by the wealthy who regularly decide owning several expensive cars and properties is more important than masses of starving children.
I say "sickness" because it's not a lack of awareness. The wealthy can't exist without the poor. It's a refusal to be and remain aware. You can't buy a Hummer and keep a picture of a starving child in your wallet. (At least I hope you can't.)
Though poverty can be solved by the rich, it is not intended to occur that way. Only those who surrender to the blessings of awareness will have this bounty, and this must be experienced to be truly understood. For example, while in India I almost bought a tapestry that cost about $40 but was sidetracked by a man who invited me to visit an elementary school. There I noticed that the children didn't have simple things like pencils and paper. I asked them if I could help, and immediately they began to write down the basic supplies they'd need for the next four to six months. When I asked what it would cost to get all this, they said, "About $40."
From that moment on I have never looked at $40 the same again. But most importantly I never felt such a joy as when I hand-delivered the things these children needed. Furthermore, I now feel a powerful sense of responsibility to assist this school in the future.
The place of awareness is a bridge. Sometimes it's easy to see the growth that it leads to, but we fear the change will be too uncomfortable. So we run back to the side we're familiar with and pull the blinds, or we stay on the bridge and trudge on until at some point we know there's no way to return to the way we'd lived before.
We know too much. We can't live that old lie. Yet we often wonder how we will shoulder these greater responsibilities that endlessly seem to keep coming along our new path. It's a terrible predicament.
Still, the greater the problem the more fuel we tap. This will take us over the bridge and into a new way of existence. This is the true meaning of being "born again" -- a new level of consciousness.
WILLIAM BRASHEAR, owner of Cincinnati Yoga School in Blue Ash, is a Thai Yoga Masseur and has practiced Vipassana Meditation for 18 years. Contact him at Will@cincyoga.com.