Many things keep us content with our small selves and block us from becoming all we can be. None, however, is more important than the fact that most of us go through life as
sleepwalkers and, even after a moment of awakening, tend to quickly drift off once again into a sleep of self-preoccupied oblivion and of a mindless robot shuffling through a somnambulistic fog. This is the reason spiritual teachers have always taught the importance of awareness.
Hasidic Jews tell a story of a young man who approached Reb Yerachmiel ben Yisrael one afternoon. “Rebbe,” the young man asked with great seriousness, “what is the way to God?” The rebbe looked up from his work and answered: “There is no way to God, for God is not other than here and now. The truth you seek is not hidden from you; you simply do not notice it. It is here for you if you will only awake.”
This is the truth that is proclaimed by the Christian mystics. And it is the truth taught from cover to cover of the Bible. In his Areopagus sermon, Paul declares that God “is not far from any of us, since it is in him that we live and move and exist” (Acts 17:27–28). God is closer than our next breath. Job even reminds us that not only is God the source of each breath, but each breath also is God’s breath (Job 27:3). How much more intimate could our relationship with God be? God is not absent. It is we who fail to notice divine presence. It’s all a matter of awareness. Jesus also often urged his followers to awaken from their stupor and be attentive (Matt. 25:13). And he used the most dramatic of all possible metaphors to describe this ascent from unconsciousness. He described it as being “born again” (John 3:3–8).
David Benner, Spirituality and the Awakening Self: The Sacred Journey of Transformation