Once it happened, Gautama, The Buddha was going to take Maha Samadhi and leave his body consciously. Ananda who was Buddha’s favorite disciple wanted to ask him one last question which had been there in his mind all the time and now he wanted to ask it before Buddha leaves his body. Without any further delay, Ananda asked him, Oh! my Master, please tell me Are you a Prophet? Buddha looked at him and said, ‘No, I am not. Ananda asked again, Are you a Messenger of God?. Buddha said, No, I am not even that. Ananda was confused and out of anxiousness he finally asked, Then who are you? And Buddha said, ‘I am Awake’ and that was the end of the conversation.
The implication of this incident:
This incident has many implications. Let’s look at the most fundamental aspect of what Buddha meant when he said ‘I am Awake’. I want you all to look and pay attention to how our life begins when we are born as little babies and what shape it has taken now. Whenever a child is born in a family, he is simply a fresh piece of life looking at everything with a sense of wonder, involvement & intensity. A child is not aware of anything apart from the fundamental experiences of life. These experiences are Sensations, Images, Feelings, Thoughts & Sense perceptions and this is a scientifically proven fact today. Now as the child is born, you give him a name. As he grows further he starts to speak your language. Then the family starts to shape the mind of the child by telling him certain aspects which are nothing more than cultural beliefs. Then you tell him that you belong to a certain nation and society. So if you observe carefully, this is the way every child in any family is brought up. But when you were born you were not born with all this information which your parents, society, and nation as a whole feed you with.
When you were born, You were just a conscious being devoid of every kind of cultural nonsense. As I mentioned earlier when any life form takes birth on this planet be it a human or an animal or any other creature, The fundamental experiences which exist within them are sensations, images, feelings, thoughts and sense perceptions. And one thing which is more fundamental to these experiences is that you are ‘Aware’. Only because you are a Conscious or a Sentient being, you are able to have all these fundamental experiences in your life. The degree of awareness varies from creature to creature. For e.g an animal is very much aware that he is alive because he also strives to save himself and survive, but an animal will never ask the questions like ‘Who am I? Why I am here and thousand other questions which humans usually wonder about. On the other hand, if you take human beings, we are far far more conscious than any other creature on this planet and that’s why we rule the whole planet. So when Buddha told Ananda that I am Awake, He referred to that quality of ‘Awareness’ which is there in every life form on this planet including both sentient and nonsentient objects.
The more you get in touch with this quality of yours which we are calling as ‘Awareness’ or ‘Consciousness’ the more you enhance the ability to perceive things around you and perception is the only doorway to the experience of any kind in your life. The more refined your perception is, the more intense your experience would be. Using ‘Meditation’ as a tool there is a high possibility that you can get in touch with this dimension of awareness which will lead you to a state of tranquility and harmony within yourself. This will ultimately lead to the well being of the humanity and planet as a whole.
Peace & Love!