Q: I’ve come to meditation to help me bear the atrocities of the world. What is awakening? Is it a moment of conscience when one embraces all the sorrows of the world, and in that case means hello to all sorrows or is it on the contrary a state of total forgetfulness and egotism, in that case it would be hello to guilt? So, which is it?
A: Neither. Remember the image of feeding. Ordinarily, we feed on the world, both physically and mentally, in order to gain happiness and maintain our identity as beings.
But when you gain full awakening, the mind no longer needs to feed because it already has enough in terms of its own happiness. When you’ve reached that state, you can engage in the world without having to feed on it. You can help those whom you can help, and you don t have to suffer in cases where you can’t help.
In this way, you’re neither embracing the sorrows of the world nor are you running away from them. Instead you have a different relationship to the world entirely. You bring gifts to the world without needing to ask anything from it.
This reflection by Ajaan Geoff is from the book, The Karma of Mindfulness, (pdf) p.134.