Responding or Reacting
Moment to moment we are presented with life situations, many of which call for our attention, some of which may call for action. Awake, one is aware of what is occurring — of what is real — and senses if there is a relevant internal movement to respond in some way. If there is such a movement, one freely responds. That is part of the magnificent simplicity of awake, conscious living.
Enter the mind and it's story of how everything in existence is happening in relation to itself. This is where "he thinks the world revolves around him" comes from. It's a cliché born out of the actual experience every person identified with the egoic mind-made sense of self lives. That doesn't make anyone a bad person or less than an awake person, just afflicted with the human condition. A human, conditioned.
Ego is inherently confused about what is real and measures everything as a potential opportunity or a threat. An opportunity to get its needs met — to get love, safety, happiness; or a threat — a psychological fear that it will lose love, respect, connection or even its life. It constantly assesses and generates strategies for every situation, every communication coming its way: Can I get my needs met here? Is there some danger here?
When we believe that we really are that struggling, suffering identity — day in, day out, we attempt to control people and circumstances — and the enormous stress of that state takes its toll on our bodies, our minds, and those around us.
Asleep — identified with ego, and making everything that's taking place about ourselves, we are primed to unconsciously react to whatever crosses our path. It doesn't matter if it's judged by ego as good for it or bad for it, either perception causes a reaction. Conditioned programming is triggered and the automaton we become is set in motion.
That's the nature of patterns of reactivity. Just look at the word. Re-act — to do the same thing over and over again. No matter how crazy the behavior. And conditioned, reactive patterns of thought and behavior all too often result in actions that are not in alignment with our wise, loving hearts. The experience of reacting is filled with suffering, both while it's happening, and then afterwards when regrets, consequences and self-hatred all set in.
But all is not lost. Remember, that when awake, we can respond consciously to what is unfolding. We don't take everything personally. We can choose to operate from our inherent sense of freedom, peace, love and joy, all of which is our natural state of being. It feels so much better. It is the end of war, within and without.
Even when there's great pain or sadness, when awake there is an underlying sense of okayness supported by light and love deep within. Always. This essence of who and what we are is always available, and living from that spacious state, we can respond to whatever comes before us. Dedicating your life to being awake changes everything.