Buddha’s whole methodology is that of self-remembering: sammasati. It has been translated as right-mindfulness or right awareness. What is right awareness? Can awareness also be wrong? Yes, there is a possibility: if awareness becomes too focused on the object it is wrong awareness. Awareness has to be aware of itself, then it is right awareness.
When you look at a tree, at a mountain, at a star, you can be conscious – conscious of the tree, conscious of the mountain, conscious of the star – but you are not conscious of the one who is conscious of all these things. This is wrong awareness, focused on the object. You have to unfocus it from the object, you have to help it turn inwards. You have to bring it to your own interiority, you have to fill your subjectivity with its light.
When one is full of light, not showing other things in the light but only showing the light itself, then it is right awareness and that is the door to nirvana, to godliness – to self-actualization.
By birth you are only given an opportunity. There is no inner necessity that you will really become, that your potential will be realized, that you will really attain to beinghood. Only the opportunity is given, then it is up to you. You will have to find the way, you will have to find the master, you will have to find the right situation. It is a great challenge.
Life is a great challenge to know oneself. If this challenge is accepted, you really become man for the first time; otherwise you go on existing on a subhuman level.
And it is not only the worldly people who are living an unconscious life. The so-called religious are not in any way different.
Father Duffy was sent to a small Eskimo village in the coldest part of Alaska. Several months later, the bishop paid him a visit. “How do you like it up here among the Eskimos?”
“Just fine,” replied the priest.
“And what about the weather?” asked the bishop.
“Ah, as long as I have my rosary and my vodka I don’t care how cold it is.”
“I am glad to hear it. Say, I could go for a bit of vodka myself right now.”
“Absolutely,” said Father Duffy. “Rosary! Would you bring us two vodkas?”
The worldly, the otherworldly, are not really different. There is only one difference that makes a difference and that is of awareness, alertness. And the awareness can be practiced anywhere: you need not go to the mountains, you need not go to the monasteries, you need not renounce the world.