The Creed - Awareness

This post talks about one attribute of The Firekeepers Creed.  But the entire creed consists of five attributes.  Just as a hand works by using all fingers, not just one, the Creed works by using all five attributes.  They are:

Attribute: Awareness

Correlated with: the thumb

Awareness -- I am Aware.

Awareness is my responsibility.

As human beings, have been given the capacity for a special kind of Awareness.

We have not asked for it, not been consulted about it.  You don't ask to be someone’s sister or brother, or a citizen of your country of birth, but you have responsibilities that come with those things.

We believe that awareness, too, is not just a certain kind of paying attention or way to 'be present.'  We believe Awareness is a responsibility.

Do you sense the truth in that statement?  Doesn't it feel like there's some kind of responsibility we all have, to pay attention?

We feel it.  And we believe this matters.

Awareness is my responsibility, and a powerful weapon in my fight for all good things.

A Matter of Survival

Awareness used to be absolutely critical to our survival.

Our lives literally depended on it.

It wasn't just survival of the fittest.  It was also survival of the most aware.

Awareness is what helped us to avoid or deal with the physical dangers of the natural world.

Predators - Those teeth and claws and horns weren’t in cages, or with Jack Hanna on Good Morning America. You had to be vigilant so you didn’t end up on the chewing end of those teeth.  Gross but true.

Weather & Storms - If a storm came on, you couldn’t just duck into the nearest climate controlled mall or Starbucks.  You had to pay attention to the weather if you wanted to stay dry or warm.

Water  - If you got thirsty, you had to worry about lots more than having enough change for a bottle of water, or where the nearest water fountain was.  How about death by dehydration?

Illness/Injury - You couldn’t just go to an ER, or dial 911, or slap on a pre-medicated anti-bacterial band-aid.  You had to carefully prevent as much illness and injury as possible, or it could mean your life.

You're getting the picture.

Awareness was absolutely crucial for physical survival.  Better pay attention, or you'll be in bad shape really quick.

The same is true for our spiritual survival.  But we don’t act like it. 

How come?

Because we don't think there are any spiritual DANGERS.

Think of a bear attack, or starvation, or death by exposure.

Compared to that, "spiritual survival" seems

But isn't it a fact that, spiritually, so many people are in sad, sorry shape?

How many people do you know who beam with inner radiance, a sturdy gratitude for their lives, and live like champions with all their relationships and life situations?

We're not.  At least not regularly.  It's tough out there.  Spiritual strength doesn't just roll in on a tray.

(We're not saying that being happy-clappy is our picture of spiritual health, either.  We think it's profoundly more.)

But realize: our society has debilitating case loads of

  • Depression
  • Anxiety and Stress Disorders
  • Addictions
  • and perhaps the most insidious because it's so common as to be considered normal, an unnerving, uneasy feeling of dissatisfaction, disappointment, and confusion about life

Our people and society are falling over itself, trying to deal.

Pharmaceutical companies are getting rich by selling drugs to deal with it.

And obsessive consumerism has people focused on reaching for the next gadget/seminar/book/supplement that promises a fix for the malaise. 

All because people don’t yet realize:

Spiritual awareness is a matter of survival.

Size up the Situation.
— first step in the U.S. Army Survival Guide

Awareness is about:

  1. realizing the importance of spiritual survival
  2. discerning what our spiritual needs are
  3. getting those spiritual needs met
I do not think the measure of a civilization is how tall its buildings of concrete are, But rather how well its people have learned to relate to their environment and fellow man.
— Sun Bear, of the Chippewa Tribe

My Weakness

One of my weaknesses is tending to relate more to the environment rather than to my fellow man.  I relate well to tasks I have to do, jobs that need to get done.  I don’t relate so easily to just spending time with people in ‘idle’ conversation.

Even though I’m female, I’m definitely more masculine in how I communicate.  There's a lot of aggressive, intense energy that come across when I speak so I can seem angry even when I’m not.  What happens is, I get so focused on a task I’m doing, that I overlook -- become unaware of -- the human part of the equation.

My Training

So I’m constantly working at using and developing my Awareness in personal and work relationships.  It takes more effort for me to pay attention to my tone of voice, my demeanor and presence, because that’s just not natural for me (yet).  But I'm not giving up on working on it.

It's part of my spiritual survival.

It's that important.  We all need a sense of meaning and belonging, teamwork, and compassion, to survive spiritually.  In order to experience those human bonds, I need to learn to communicate better with my co-workers, friends, and family.  

So I'm trying to work at my awareness in this area.

It's similar to what the ancient Polynesian navigators did.

They were able to sail from one speck of land to another, in the immense Pacific.  But only because they used their awareness.  They constantly paid attention to the stars, the wind, waves, and even ocean wildlife, to find their way.

I want to be like that in constantly observing how I communicate.

Constantly, not out of paranoia.  But out of empowerment and responsibility.

It’s an on-going passage.  But I'm committed to staying on course, lest I find myself adrift and lost at sea, alone.

I use and develop my awareness.

Awareness & Gratitude

Yes, I know we’re supposed to be talking about awareness but stick with me.  You’ll see where I'm going in a sec.  It'll make total sense.

Gratitude gets a lot of good press from the standard spiritual-not-religious movement.  Have the attitude of gratitude, keep a gratitude journal, etc.

But gratitude can’t be forced.  The emotion and perspective of gratitude is what naturally arises out of something else.

That something is awareness.

Telling an ungrateful person to be grateful doesn’t have a good track record of getting results.  (I'm not a parent, but I've been through the terrible teens, so even I know that saying "Be more grateful" probably ain't gonna do nuthin' with an obstinate adolescent.)

So maybe try this:  remove heat, electricity, and indoor plumbing from the ungrateful person.

Maybe it got cut off in a thunderstorm.  Or the heater broke.  Whatever.  Just remove it.

Once they have a physical, experiential awareness about heat, electricity, and indoor plumbing, they’ll automatically become more grateful when it comes back.

Done.  And that's real, in your bones gratitude. 

Gratitude comes out of awareness.

I experienced this when I forced myself to take cold showers for a week.  Absolutely no hot water.  All cold.  Boy, did it make me AWARE and therefore GRATEFUL for gas heaters and hot showers!

Gratitude is awesome.  I’m not knocking gratitude.  But to try and and just brute force the emotion on yourself or anyone else doesn't work.

Making a list is weak compared to actually having a physical awareness of something.

How to develop your awareness? And your gratitude?

Alter your environment.

Yes, it’s harder and takes more commitment than writing a gratitude list.

But if you want something other than the norm, you have to DO something other than the norm.

The Creed - Awareness
The Creed - Awareness

In Closing

After I started viewing awareness as a critical spiritual survival skill, I began to see more clearly.  I don’t claim to have it all figured out, but I know that once I saw awareness as my responsibility, and began to use and develop it as a force for good in my life and the lives of those I love, I began to change for the better.

I wish the same for you!

Live the Creed