“If you are not living in awe, you are not paying attention.” ~Rumi
Life is too short not to fall in love with it. And it’s too long if you cannot. The smoothest way to fall in love with life is to discover a profound sense of awe. When you’re in awe, you’re enthralled. You’re enraptured. You’re inspired. You’re on the edge of your seat eagerly anticipating the next chapter.
Astonishment is engagement. When you’re engaged, you are always more whole, more connected, more aware of the fact that everything is connected to everything else.
What follows are five next-level strategies for living in awe and being engaged with reality in a way that takes your breath away and makes you fall in love with being alive.
1.) Overcome threshold guardians:
“Trickster is the god of the threshold in all of its forms.” ~Lewis Hyde
Befriend Trickster at the crossroads. He will be your guide into awe. Trickster is a vital ally in this regard. He will give you the courage needed to confront Confrontation itself. When you’re faced with the outdated and the parochial, trickster will give you the primordial medicine needed to break through all borders, boundaries, limitations, and conditioning.
As Camus said, “The greatness of man lies in his decision to be stronger than his condition.”
You must first break through the threshold of cultural conditioning before you can face the world as it is. Awe will continue to elude you until you have the courage and the wherewithal to face this initial threshold guardian. Trickster will help you rebel.
Here, rebellion is foremost. Without rebellion, you are without. You are stuck. You are at a dead end. Without the initial rebellion you will always be so blinded by the light of cultural conditioning that you will never be able to see the true light of transcendence and awe.
Joining forces with Trickster at the crossroads is where you transform your life into a Hero’s Journey.
2.) Realize that imagination is superior to reason:
“Intuition does not denote something contrary to reason, but something outside of the province of reason.” ~Carl Jung
Carpe punctum (Seize the moment) leads to carpe diem (seize the day) leads to carpe vita (seize the life), but it cannot begin without imagination.
A major roadblock to experiencing awe is reason itself. Why? Because reason is telling you that you’re stuck in a little human world with overreaching human laws keeping you in check, docile, and immure. Whereas imagination is showing you how to think outside that box, how to transcend it, how to rise above it and see how the small picture perception of reason was the only thing preventing you from seeing the bigger picture.
Inside the box of reason, you are limited to what the box dictates. Outside the box of reason, using your imagination, you are unlimited. The world is yours. All worlds are yours. You go beyond merely living in a world. You become a worldbuilder, a mythmaker, a boundary crosser. Equal parts divining rod and lightning rod, you’re able to open-up to the Great Mystery and to otherworldly music, poetry, and art.
Reason alone cannot grasp the Great Mystery. We are too fallible to discover the truth by reason alone. Reason has its place, but only after imagination has its say. Imagination helps us realize that remaining enchanted and in awe with the Great Mystery is always the truer providence.
3.) Embrace the Void:
“The power of the Void is the power of wombness in us all, the power of true creativity.” ~Peggy Andreas
What is the void? A better question would be: what isn’t the void?
The void is everywhere. It’s behind you: random persistence mixed with pre-existence. It’s ahead of you: quantum predictability mocking your short life. It’s beside you in the form of Death whispering in your ear. It is inside you in the form of your shadow bobbing and weaving in and out of repression. It outflanks you. It destroys you with its pointlessness even as it resurrects you with its sacred alignment.
The void is between worlds even as it creates worlds. It is the primordial source, the vital condition, the perennial root. It is all at once lodestone, whetstone, steppingstone, and Philosopher’s Stone.
More importantly, the void is an inner space where No-mind and mindfulness intersect to become curiosity and wonder. What you do at this sacred intersection will determine your capacity for awe.
The beauty of the void is that it is ripe for injected meaning. It’s ready for your light to shine into its darkness. It’s so full of Nothing that the only thing it can hold is Everything. It’s so empty that all it can do is be filled. It’s your duty as a meaning-creator to fill it.
4.) Discover the medicine hidden within madness:
“You’re only given one little spark of madness. You mustn’t lose it.” ~Robin Williams
Sometimes you must sow a little madness to gain a little sanity. Especially in an insane world. Sometimes you must tap your inner Dionysian divergence to balance out the overreaching Apollonian entrenchment that outflanks you. Sometimes you must flip the script, push the envelope, shock your chakras, and flatten the box that everyone claims to be thinking outside of.
This requires a touch of madness. It requires doubling down on what makes you different. It requires the discovery of what makes you weird, odd, and eccentric. It requires the unmitigated gall of drawing the Excalibur of your Madness from the stone of your “Sanity.”
Allow your genius to wield the sword of your madness. Then cut from the void. This is how magic is made. This is how awe is born. Choosing magic over predictability is using your madness as a tool for your genius.
Be mad, just be mad for something great. Be mad for life, for love, for health, for balance. Be the tug-o-war rope between life and death, between finitude and infinity, between darkness and light, between pain and passion, between mortality and immortality. Such a rope can only ever been held taut between madness and genius.
5.) Be adaptable to the paradoxical:
“Everything amazing about the universe is inside you, and the two are inseparable.” ~Carl Sagan
You are a paradox! Embrace that fact. There is nothing more fascinating in this universe than you. You’re not just a speck in the universe; you are the entire universe in a speck. Moreso, you are the universe perceiving itself. As Plutarch profoundly stated, “The eye with which I perceive God is the same eye with which God perceives me.”
Indeed. You are God asleep, and God is you awake. There’s nothing more fascinating that that. It’s empowering and humbling all at once. It’s grounding and liberating at the same time. It lifts you up with powerful wings. It digs you in deep with unconquerable roots. It shakes you loose when you’re holding on too tight. It tightens your grip when you slip.
Awe can be found between these reciprocal dynamics. Astonishment emerges when the tension between opposites is held in sacred alignment. Balance is key. Poise is paramount. As the famous Serbian Proverb states, “Be humble for you are made of earth. Be noble for you are made of stars.”
But if you want to become adaptable to the paradoxical and continually live in awe, you must keep humility in front of hubris. Never forsake one for the other, but keep hubris on a shorter leash. Make sure the Ego works for the Soul and not the other way around.
Do this by practicing Unlightenment: the realization that enlightenment is just having a profound sense of humor and not taking yourself (or your beliefs) too seriously.
The key to being awestruck is allowing life to be a flowing process lest it become a fixed condition. This is where unlightenment comes in. Unlightenment transforms fixed illumination into flexible providence. It’s the practice of humor over hubris. It keeps the will to humor ahead of the will to power. It hangs a question mark on the things you’ve taken for granted. It sets a tripwire for your certainty. It dangles a noose over your dogmatism. It plants a minefield in your mind field.
Unlightenment keeps the paradox of the human condition in perspective so that the eye with which you perceive God is clear enough to see that it is the same eye which perceives you.
About the Author:
Gary Z McGee, a former Navy Intelligence Specialist turned philosopher, is the author of Birthday Suit of God and The Looking Glass Man. His works are inspired by the great philosophers of the ages and his wide-awake view of the modern world.
This article (5 Next-level Strategies for Living in Awe) was originally created and published by Self-inflicted Philosophy and is printed here under a Creative Commons license with attribution to Gary Z McGee and self-inflictedphilosophy.com. It may be re-posted freely with proper attribution, author bio, and this statement of copyright.