Awareness: The Perils and Opportunities of Realityby Anthony de Mello
This book presents us the truth that we are unawakened, that we live manipulated lives, and that all our beliefs, convictions, thoughts, and ideas are imposed by society. Thus, it will teach us how to wake up, become aware of it, and stop being slaves to our illusions so we can finally be unconditionally happy.
"The first thing I want you to understand, if you really want to wake up, is that you don’t want to wake up. The first step to waking up is, to be honest, enough to admit to yourself that you don’t like it."
We are taught to be happy only if we have some condition or reason for happiness. We strive to be happy only if something happens. To be free, unconditionally happy, and calm, we must understand this reality and “wake up.” Many people do not want to wake up because that means change, and every change is hard.
The first step to waking up is to admit that we don't want to wake up; we don't want to see the world as it is because it's unpleasant. Changing and waking up means taking off your pink glasses and perceiving the world's reality and people as they are.
This includes understanding that people are selfish, flawed, and often poisoned by other people's ideas, concepts, and beliefs. This doesn’t mean we should turn pessimistic; rather, we should build objective and rational relationships with people by accepting them with all their flaws. Minimize the chances of disappointment.
Actions to take
“So you proceed to feel it, and you call it being vulnerable. Ha! I call it being a puppet. So you want to be a puppet? Press a button, and you're down; do you like that? But if you refuse to identify with any of those labels, most of your worries cease. Who determines what it means to be a success? This stupid society!”
Our brains are brainwashed, and the social environment imposes our entire belief system. When we realize that all our beliefs about success and achievements and ideas of what we should be and do in life are nonsense, we will be free from the fear of failure and the pressure to be materially successful. Real success is being carefree, resistant to other people's comments or behaviors, and unconditionally happy. That's is self-awareness, that is awakening.
We often associate our "I" with the labels set by society, but we are not defined by the work we do, the clothes we wear, or our name. We simply do not need to be identified with socially invented labels. When we identify “I” with material things, nationality, name, or any label, we start to suffer and feel anxious.
Our psychological and emotional dependence on others' praises and judgments indicates that we are not awakened yet. This dependence comes from the need to be loved and valued. When we depend on others’ praises to be happy, we live miserably – constantly trying to meet their expectations.
Awakened people know they are worth it regardless of society's conditions as measures of success. They react less emotionally to other people's comments, praises, and judgments and don't care what happens next in life. They do not bother thinking about the past or fearing the future - they live consciously in the present and have contact with reality.
Actions to take
“When we talk about self-worth, are we not talking, really, about how we are reflected in the mirrors of other people’s minds?”
We desire to change other people when they harm us, but it is selfish, and we have no right to do so. People disappoint and upset us because we have certain expectations of them.
We see other people through our preconceptions, ideas, and first impressions, and they see us the same way. We must lower our expectations and be realistic to realize that changing our perspective is sufficient to transform bad feelings. The shift occurs when we see that people do not reject or accept us, that they are not wicked towards us, but instead towards the image and ideas they have of us.
The problem is that we are unaware of this fact and base our self-worth on others’ judgments and perspectives. Then negative emotions appear. The only way to master them is to look at ourselves from a different perspective as if looking at another person. This will help us clearly see ourselves through the vision of others' beliefs about us.
With that in mind, it is logical not to take other people's comments personally. When we see things in this light, we can no longer feel harmed and have no need to impress others; we feel relief and true happiness.
It is okay to say no to people and live life as we see fit, but it is not okay to ask others to live the way it suits us.
Actions to take
“Wake up. When you’re ready to exchange your illusions for reality, when you’re ready to exchange your dreams for facts, that’s the way you find it all. That’s where life finally becomes meaningful.”
Our lives are filled with illusions. Here are some of them:
The illusion that excitement and happiness are the same things. The constant demand to fulfill exciting desires brings anxiety.
The illusion that it is necessary to be loved and appreciated by others and that our need for love is natural. We have an innate desire for freedom and that we love someone. That fulfills us.
The illusion that people and external events can hurt us. They can only if we give them that power.
The illusion is that we are labels with which someone has marked us or with whom we have marked ourselves.
This is how we become slaves to our illusions and spend our whole lives trying to change the world just to preserve our attachments. We spend our precious time and behave in a certain way so as not to lose someone's attention, love, or respect, so as not to hurt us, and so on.
We need to become aware of our illusions, conditioning, false beliefs, and programming of our lives. The point is not to depend emotionally on anyone or anything.