Are You Pretending to Be Asleep?
By Keith Varnum
For the last year I’ve been haunted by a revealing Navajo proverb that goes:
“You can’t wake a person who’s pretending to be asleep!”
I’m haunted in the sense that Ebenezer Scrooge is haunted by the Ghosts of Christmas Past, Present and Future in Charles Dickens’ beloved parable “A Christmas Carol.”
I’m haunted by the feeling that a profound realization is floating all around me, calling out to me, hinting in the phantom mist of an insight that will set us all free!
The Ghoul of Christmas Past
The “Ghost of Christmas Past” is a ghoul because its story is creepy and disagreeable. It’s the sad story of our collective level of awareness. The Ghoul of Christmas Past speaks to the prevalent understanding of what it means to say a person is asleep or unconscious.
This generally held view is a cosmic Catch 22 conundrum: We’re asleep, but because we’re asleep, we’re not conscious that we’re asleep. So, because we don’t know that we’re asleep, we can’t wake ourselves up. We’re not even aware that there exists another state of consciousness that we could wake up to. Thus, we don’t wake up!
This commonly held view isthat most people are sleepwalking through their lives in a state of perpetual unconsciousness—unable to do anything about it!
Married to this “victim” view is the belief that it takes an outside force to wake someone up: An enlightened teacher. Special techniques. Secret ceremonies. Esoteric rituals. The right circumstances. Exact celestial timing. A miracle or an act of God!
And as the popular perspective goes, even with this external help, waking up is very difficult. Even with a Perfect Storm of outside forces, it takes great effort, work, desire, courage, stamina, perseverance, and raw luck to wake up!
And so, most people don’t make it. They don’t wake up. And those people who do wake up, only awaken for a split second for a mere glimpse of the Oneness. And, alas, then these rare folks unintentionally fall asleep again—forgetting they’d ever awakened for a brief moment. Not a cheery prospect expressed by the Ghoul of Christmas Past!
The Gift of Christmas Present
But through the dark shroud of this dismal outlook of the ghoul, I vaguely sense the liberating spirit of the “Ghost of Christmas Present!”
The message of the “Ghost of Christmas Present” is the present—gift—of the Present—the present moment. The gift of the present moment is the gift of the opportunity to choose to be fully awake in each successive moment of life! This momentary freedom is always available to everyone—regardless of past beliefs, wretched experiences and karmic inertia.
And the Gift of Christmas (Christ Mass) Present is the realization that this momentary bliss is actually all there is. And it is also everything one could ever pray for!
The Spirit of Christmas Present informs us that there is no past—or future—only now, the present moment. And in the present moment we can instantly awaken. And if we keep choosing to be awake each moment, we can be permanently free!
Let’s Play “Pretend”
The Gift of Christmas Present also reminds us of what we know in our heart and soul—that we never actually are asleep. We simply pretend we’re asleep—unaware, unconscious—so that we can play on earth as a victim, buying into the adventure of being buffeted by the whims of the universe. We pretend to be unaware of our true power and freedom, so that we can enjoy the human excitement of drama, trauma and karma!
Because if we don’t play dumb (asleep), we’ll instantly remember that, in truth, we’re creating our life experiences deliberately, by choice and free will—just for the fun of it.
We choose to forget who we really are in order to explore, learn, grow and expand. But mainly in order to simply enjoy the exhilarating human ride on funky Planet Earth!
In other words, if we don’t consciously choose amnesia, we will remember who we are … eternal, omnipotent and free beings who can create whatever reality we want.
If we don’t pretend to be asleep, we’ll recall that we can get out of any predicament or problem any time we choose.
We’ll notice that, in fact, we actually get ourselves into all kinds of trouble on purpose—just so we can have the excitement of getting ourselves out of trouble in new and inventive ways!
We’ll realize that if we don’t forget who’s writing the script, we won’t be able to dive into the direness of the drama, thrill at the terror of the trauma, or cringe through the crisis of the karma! What fun is that?
We want to enjoy life as soap opera. So, what’s a divine being to do, but pretend to be a victim! … pummeled by all the tumultuous forces of fate, at the mercy of every the fickle gods of fortune.
The Phantom of Christmas Yet to Come
The “Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come” is, in truth, a phantom, a fiction. In other words, it need not come to pass. Just as Ebenezer Scrooge decided to change his ways when he was shown his future misery (and the prophetic death of Tiny Tim), we too can change the way we live our lives.
The good news of the “Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come”is that the future is not set or fixed. It’s not inevitable. The future is born from each moment—from the choices we make in each moment.
There is in reality only the Now, the gift of the Present. We create our future—the next moment—with each decision we make in the Present.
With each moment’s decision to pretend to be asleep (unconscious and unaware), we enter the future moment as victim. With each choice to be awake (conscious and aware), we play in a world in which we are the source of our own fate and joy!
Up until now, we’ve been pretending to be asleep as a strategy to stay safe in what looks like a dangerous, precarious world. Perhaps it’s time to realize that this strategy has been brilliant and successful. Hey, you’re still alive and reading this article!
But, my friend, is this pretending to be asleep really all that enjoyable?
What future will you order right now from The “Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come?”
A More Fun Alternative
Now that we’ve awaken enough to see through our own pretending to be asleep, maybe it’s a good time to create a new more nurturing life strategy for ourselves.
We could have our cake—and eat it too!
We could pretend to other people that we’re still asleep—but not pretend to ourselves!
We could fully awaken to ourselves, but continue to deliberately pretend to others that we’re unaware. As many enlightened spiritual teachers do, we could “play dumb” in order to move safely and freely incognito through human affairs. We would appear to be asleep, our awakened state undetectable to the ordinary citizen!
We could consciously play “unconscious” in order to mingle, mend and mentor others.
We could keep up the public pretense as a conscious charade. But in our own private universe, we could awaken to—and enjoy—our natural power, wisdom and beauty.
Grab Your Freedom
This Spirit of Freedom resides in our hearts, whispering its guidance to us to “let go and let God” … to release the agenda, to let go of the “mental maintenance project.” If we would simply go with the flow, we could allow the present (gift) of the present moment to continue to unfold!
Which Story Do You Choose?
If you want to ride the rollercoaster of scarcity, sickness, struggle, strife and sorrow, you must convince yourself of your own story: I’m asleep and I can’t wake up!
(Just like the famous TV ad: “I’ve fallen and I can’t get up!”)
I Get It!
Ah, now I get the message of these new Ghosts of Christmas (Christ Mass). As the Navajo know: you can’t wake someone who’s pretending to be asleep! You can’t wake someone who really isn’t asleep!
So, now I bow to your divine choice to play a game—the human game. Cops and robbers. Cat and mouse. Cause and effect.
I honor your freedom as a divine being—to choose to be a prince or a pauper, or a damsel in distress or a dazzling diva!
I leave you with the wisdom of the final words of “A Christmas Story.” As Tiny Tim observed, “God Bless Us, Every One!”