The term "awakening" has been used as a metaphor since ancient times to describe the evolution of human consciousness. The word Buddha comes from the Sanskrit word Budh, which means "to be awake." Buddha is not the name of a person but rather a state of consciousness. This, of course, implies that the normal "awakened state" of most humans is, spiritually speaking, equivalent to an unawakened, sleeping, or dreaming state of consciousness. Some spiritual teachings refer to this as a "shared hallucination" to describe this normal state of human existence. The spiritual teacher, Eckhart Tolle, calls these individuals "dream-walkers."
Being spiritually awake is sometimes misunderstood. The possession of supernatural abilities, such as channeling, healing, clairvoyance, and other paranormal powers does not necessarily qualify as an awakened state. The individual may or may not be. So then, what actually determines a spiritual awakening? When you stop identifying with your thoughts. A separation of consciousness occurs within the core of your awareness and you realize that there is something much more real than your thoughts, mind, and body.
The mind controls the physiological condition and health of the body. When thoughts of fear are released by the mind, the fight-or-flight, sympathetic nervous system responds by the release of adrenalin, cortisol, dopamine, and the contraction of muscles. Stress is created because the body believes what the mind is saying. Fifty thousand years ago, when we were evading saber-toothed tigers, this survival mechanism in the body was most effective at keeping us protected. However, in modern humans, this primitive response is largely unnecessary, unless you're a soldier fighting in a combat zone.
When you don't allow things to be as they are -- the mind forms judgments, opinions, and distortions about a situation or event based on preconditioned, reactive patterns. When you so completely identify with your own compulsive thoughts about what is happening around you, your sense of survival becomes dependent upon how well you can resolve your perceived problem. Subsequently, your entire sense of self -- your entire existence -- is reduced to the level of your conflict or personal problem. The drama becomes who and what you are, what you perceive yourself to be. And when this happens, all sense of inner peace and tranquility is replaced with panic, anxiety, and fears of impending doom.
The Buddha state of consciousness, on the other hand, is when you do not identify the Self with what is happening around you. This is the enlightened state of being. Situations occur. They are acknowledged, accepted, and addressed, in that order. They are not dismissed, nor are they blown out of proportion. There is no reaction, resistance, or emotional violence to our daily challenges. As a result, they are not turned into problems. When you are awake, you put the Self first. This means that nothing (nothing) that happens is allowed to control, dictate, define, or reduce the Self in any way, whatsoever. The awakened Self remains in a place of peace, balance, and tranquility.