Man’s possibilities are very great. You cannot conceive even a shadow of what man is capable of attaining. But nothing can be attained in sleep. In the consciousness of a sleeping man his illusions, his ‘dreams’ are mixed with reality. He lives in a subjective world and he can never escape from it. And this is the reason why he can never make use of all the powers he possesses and why he always lives in only a small part of himself. . . . . He lives in sleep all his life and he dies in sleep. Many people die long before their physical death. (Ouspensky)
Welcome to the Walking Dead! Throughout history, numerous psychologists, scientists, poets, philosophers, religious leaders and spiritual teachers have observed that the majority of people are functioning at sub-optimal levels. Normal waking state of consciousness is seen as being, in actuality, more a state of sleep than wakefulness, an entranced, mechanical and dispirited state of existence. This condition has been called “automatization”, “living in a dream world” or a “cultural trance”, “spiritual atrophy”, “consensus trance”, “a stupor”, “mindlessness”, being “asleep”, a “verbal trance”, “automaton conformity”, “inauthenticity”, being “bound”, “sleepwalking”, the “business of living consciousness”, and “delusive sleep”. Those who have dedicated their lives to this study agree that though in waking consciousness, seeming to be awake, the average human being is actually quite deadened to their life experience, having lost access to their true self and an authentic experience of life. Most people aren’t even aware of their limited condition, of being more asleep than awake, and thus continue to experience and express only a small fraction of their possible perceptual, cognitive, emotional, behavioral and creative capacities.
It’s simply not possible to tap our enormous potential and make full use of our inner possibilities if we are asleep. Though humans are born as self-conscious beings, for a time briefly experiencing what it is to be awake, to be developing towards full use of their potential, that possibility quickly fades early in childhood. The result: a major percentage of the people on the streets are empty inside, that is, they are already dead and just walking around going through the motions that simulate life.
Most people are cut off from a genuine experience of the world and full awareness of themselves. Instead of being here-and-now in the present moment where life is happening, people exist in an intervening fantasy world composed of prejudiced views, fears and biases of the world which prevents any clear awareness of who they really are or an experience of the world as it really is.
Overall, being removed from the flow of life, reduced to being observers, reactors poked and prodded by whatever stimulus appears is the status quo. We rarely act as a true creative force in our life. Of course, you might argue that you are creating what you want and making things happen in your life. Is what you are choosing, what you are creating really of your own choosing or has it been pre-programmed early in childhood by our culture. Illusion is deep rooted.
Becoming invested in our illusions, we get emotionally attached to them, cling to them, while our perception of the world and self becomes distorted to support these illusions. As a result, we continue to deny the higher truth of who we are and what we are capable of. Most of the world’s major religions, including Christianity, Hinduism, Taoism, Buddhism, Judaism and Islam have addressed this fundamental premise that humans experience only a fraction of what they are capable of.
Losing contact with our deeper self decade after decade, we also lose out on our chance to be fully alive, grow in our own direction and be fully creative. Like many other investigators, Kabat-Zinn asserts that we become enshrouded in thoughts, fantasies and impulses, mostly about the past and about the future, about what we want and like, and what we fear and don’t like, which spin out continuously, veiling our direction and the very ground we are standing on. We pay a very high price for these unfulfilled potentialities – our precious time on life!
How do you know if you yourself have joined the ranks of the Waking Dead? Check the list of the following symptoms which have been correlated with this automatized state of waking consciousness: boredom, sameness, inner emptiness, meaninglessness, identity confusion, alienation, insecurity, stagnation, difficulty with intimacy and relationships, poor frustration tolerance, loneliness, estrangement, depression, anxiety, restlessness, and a general lack of energy, general unhappiness, lack of vitality and passion for life. In addition, health problems usually accompany these symptoms, such as fatique, sleep problems, back problems, heart problems, ulcers, immune system problems, neck issues, etc.
It’s possible to have all the facets of life functioning satisfactorily and still suffer these symptoms. Even in the face of seemingly ideal conditions, we may feel a yawning void in our lives, as though something essential were missing, yet we cannot identify what’s wrong. We may live comfortably, have a secure job and a warm and loving family, be free of worry, and yet not know any great joy, any overwhelming enthusiasm, any intense feeling of dedication or commitment.
It is one of the deepest human yearnings to break free from stagnation and routinized existence, despite the security and stability that they might provide. However, there are significant forces opposed to this drive to self-actualize. If this drive to individuate, self-actualize and be all that we can be continually presses for expression, what really obstructs this energy? Is it just not being aware of it, or is it something more pervasive and powerful?
Recognizing and admitting to ourself that something is missing is essential if we are to break free. Realizing that we don’t seem to have the depth of joy, the boundless energy, the excitement that we used to experience when we were young is a good start. For most of us our day is divided into work-time and play-time, the work consisting largely of tasks which others pay us to do because they are abysmally uninteresting. We therefore work, not for work’s sake, but for money — and the money is supposed to get us what we really want in our hours of leisure and play. No this is not all just attributable to aging, it is a continual deadening of our inner spirit, our spark, our real passion for life that causes us to feel old.
Realizing that many of our actions are not of our choosing is the first step toward the development of a more authentic, more genuinely individuated life. To wake up from a pre-conditioned life lived on auto pilot, from being a member of the Walking Dead, requires regaining control over our attention (as our attention has been commandeered by cultural conditioning). This re-igniting of our attention allows us to focus to that which has been lost and regain our true self. My Breakthrough to Brilliance course was designed to do just that.