I was listening to NPR and heard someone talking about sleepwalking. There are some funny stories of people who are sleepwalkers. I had a friend who used to sleepwalk and one night he walked in to his sister’s room and peed in her closet. He had no idea he did it until the next morning when she “reamed him a new one” and made him clean it up.
I’ve heard stories where people who sleepwalk have conversations with people and have no memory of it; others where people have completed tasks they have no recollection of completing. For some people it is so bad they need to sleep on the first floor, so they don’t hurt themselves.
It’s a baffling thing, sleepwalking. It may be the subconscious mind taking over or there may be some psychological explanation, but scientists have not pinned a definitive conclusion as to why people do it.
The idea of sleepwalking inspired me to consider my old introduction to philosophy class and Descartes theories of epistemology in his “Meditations: Discourse on Methods”. The great philosopher asked the question “How do we know we’re really awake”? I remember racking my brain over that one and the teacher having quite a good time as we posed answers. He was shooting them down with new possibilities and asking more questions. Professor Bartlett was a brilliant teacher.
If that isn’t confusing enough, I remember reading somewhere where an African tribe believes we are actually awake when we are asleep and we are asleep when we are awake. There’s a Tibetan belief in that, too.
Judging from some of our actions in life, it’s worth asking the question — are people walking in their sleep while still awake?
G. I. Gurdjieff believed we were. The great Eastern European mystical teacher stated as much. Gurdjieff believed most of humanity is walking in its sleep like robots. He posed various spiritual exercises to help awaken a sleeping humanity to its own divinity, thus awakening it to the profound moral questions that need to be answered.
Scripture addresses this issue when Jesus challenges Nicodemus. Nicodemus visits Jesus at night to learn from him. He recognizes Jesus as a great teacher who has come from God. He notes, “no one can do the signs you do apart from the presence of God”:
“Jesus answered him, “Very truly, I tell you, no one can see the kingdom of God without being born from above”. 4Nicodemus said to him, “How can anyone be born after having grown old? Can one enter a second time into the mother’s womb and be born”? 5Jesus answered, “Very truly, I tell you, no one can enter the kingdom of God without being born of water and Spirit. 6What is born of the flesh is flesh, and what is born of the Spirit is spirit. 7Do not be astonished that I said to you, ‘You must be born from above’. 8The wind blows where it chooses, and you hear the sound of it, but you do not know where it comes from or where it goes. So it is with everyone who is born of the Spirit”. John 3: 3-8.
Jesus notes that you must be born from above. What Jesus was saying is we need to awaken to an elevated state of consciousness. When you awaken to this conscious awareness, something changes in you physically, mentally, emotionally and most importantly, spiritually. This is what Christians call the “born again” experience or attainment of “Christ consciousness”.
Buddhists call it “awakening to Buddha consciousness”. The Buddha’s first words after enlightenment when asked, “Who are you”? He replied, “I am awake”.
Sometimes we look at the world and we are limited in our perspective. We live by the law of matter and learn from that perspective. We respond to life rather than engage in a higher order of thinking and will for greater opportunities. Impossibility places dreams out of our reach, and we get stuck in the doldrums of futility.
When we look at the world and its infinite possibilities, when we invite God into the process of living, we are born of spirit. We are tied to the law of spirit, which inspires a different attitude. Jesus said, “Seek first the Kingdom of God and his righteousness and all these other things will be given to you as well”. Matthew 6: 33. An elevated state of consciousness opens the door for seeing more. It points you on a path and helps you focus.
New Age teaching or Gospel of Wealth advocates might suggest that you will be given your hearts’ desires as a result. I don’t know if this is necessarily the case, but it does align you with a spirit of understanding to empower you in significant ways where you can attain things you thought impossible. Countless witnesses point to the veracity of this claim.
An awakened consciousness stirs the mind to live with promise. Gurdjieff suggested a good “essential question” and examination of purpose starts the process. Consider a good question and wake up before it’s too late. Here’s one for starters… “What makes you think you’re awake”?