A couple of generations ago, there was a writer who was a frequent visitor to India who once came to visit the Ashram. The title of one of his books was The Land of 10,000 Buddhas. A significant title! We know of only one Buddha, the unique historical "Awakened One" who made his advent more that 2,500 years ago. He was born in a royal family, grew up in luxury, married a beautiful princess and they had a baby boy. One could not imagine a more idyllic life. However, slowly, an awakening was brought into his heart and mind. He saw sights that set him thinking deeply about life and what it constitutes. His whole being was fired up with this light of awakening as he pondered deeply what he had seen and what he had been able to feel and understand. The turning point launched him into a vast realm of a quest of the unknown. From the lap of royal luxury he took to the forest in search of something that would take him beyond sorrow. The path should lead him to supreme blessedness where sorrow would cease to be. For he saw this world as a ball of fire-hot within and hot without. He saw that there is not an iota of happiness here. It is a place of envy, jealousy, ego, anger, frustration, hatred and a hundred other such states.
Such psychological states torment the Being who, in truth, is supremely above and beyond these states, untouched by any psychological condition, the never-changing Reality that is the great stillness, the great peace. That Being has moved away from that experience and become embroiled in things that go on in a much, much lower part of one's human personality. One moves away from one's centre and gets enmeshed in the non-Self. Sankaracharya described this process in his great and inspiring work, Vivekachudamani. By descending into a state of identification with the non-Self, instead of ever abiding in one's own Selfhood, the consciousness is made to come into a lower plane through an error, through lack of right enquiry, through lack of discrimination between the eternal and the non-eternal. By this root error, this original sin of identifying ourselves with the non-Self and getting involved in this "thing" universe, one allows oneself to become subject to the afflictions arising out of this non-existent ego. The ego, which is nothing, seems to be everything because of the power given to it by our identification with it.
We, due to our little thinking, made our human personality, which was given to us as an instrument for liberation, the means of our bondage by identifying with its lesser outer physical aspect and not taking the plunge inward as that royal prince, Siddhartha, did when he came to realise that all is vanity, ephemeral, fleeting and transient. He took a great step. He was assailed by many problems and temptations, but just as the magnetic needle of the mariner's compass always point to the north in calm and storm, so he ever fixed his mind upon the goal. Even so, if within our human personality you always dwell in the Reality, then there is no bondage for you. You are in a state of liberation even though in apparent bondage.
This process is a gradual one that has to be initiated and kept up. For the spiritual realm is a realm of 10,000 awakenings. Because the old thought patterns are so deeply rooted and because they constantly draw one back into the sleep of non-awareness, one must keep up the counter-process in an unbroken continuity of ever-repeated awakenings, coming out and becoming aware of the dazzling sunshine of the ever-present Reality, the Truth that ever prevails as the one glorious fact of the universe. There is no bondage. Liberation is the only state that is real. It is eternally present everywhere within and without, in every atom. Everywhere, liberation alone is present, illumination alone is present, that great state of perfect, restful divine-consciousness alone is present. That is Brahman, that is the Tao, and That is infinite and everywhere present. Anything else might be cancelled, be declared to be unreal. But this is impossible of being conjured away by the finite mind. It is the one fact; it is the bedrock of existence. Awakening, awareness, perfection, bliss, joy, blessedness, is the one unalterable fact of existence, and into That, one has to keep on awakening. So, let us know that we are living in a realm of 10,000 awakenings. For that is what constitutes spirituality. That is what spirituality is in fact. That is what the spiritual life should be for one who would attain supreme blessedness her and now. Awakening is the truth. Awakening is what you are meant for. It is an ever-present experience and it is within and without. Fortunate are you who have been given the fullest scope for making this potential evident and for making it manifest as your own experience.