The wise ones always tell us that we are sleep-walking through this life. They tell us to be conscious, and be fully aware.My teacher used to tell us the story of Bayazid, the great mystic. “What is awareness,” his followers would ask him all the time. One day he took them to the rivulet nearby, which already had a broad bridge across it, but he asked them to build a new one, and one that is only one foot wide. “Walk across this new bridge, and you will understand awareness,” said Bayazid.The devotees are thinking—we have been walking on the bridge on this rivulet all our lives. What is so different now? But as they start to walk the narrow path, they are suddenly aware of the dangers of falling. They return and say the bridge is too narrow, and Bayazid says, “How much width do you need? Even on the broad bridge, you walked across using only one foot of its width!”

The devotees understood—earlier they were unaware, now they were suddenly aware of the simple process of walking. Bayazid then told them to follow him as he walked across the bridge. While being fully aware, they should concentrate on him. And the devotees crossed the narrow path safely.The holy books ask to be aware of the dangers in our path of self-discovery—the usual suspects of desire, anger, avarice, greed, and egotism. In this state of awareness, the devotee then follows the path, under the guidance of an adept teacher. Guru Granth Sahib says:

The devotees’ lifestyle is unique and distinct; they follow the most difficult path.

They renounce greed, avarice, egotism and desire; they do not talk much.

The path they take is sharper than a two-edged sword, and finer than a hair.

By Guru’s Grace, they shed their selfishness and conceit; they are merged in the Lord.

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