Buddha is supremely awakened. Awakened means that we are more awake after we wake up in the morning. When we are awake, we can see in our mind our thoughts and how they lead to the words we say and to our actions, what we do, when we are awake during the day and night when we not asleep in our beds.
When we are awake to our mind, we notice the thoughts that appear in our head. That's why we look inward when we meditate. We practice with our thoughts. When we see our thoughts as they rise up, we can decide what to do with them.
When we are meditating, we watch in our mind our breaths going in and out. When a thought comes into our head during meditation, we are aware of it and we let it be. We don't take it anywhere and we don't let it take us. We go back to our breaths, and we let the thought come in and float on by.
When we know our thoughts like this, then we can decide what to do with them. When a thought leads to words, we can see before we speak what words are there. The words lead to actions, to the things that we do.
When we see what our thoughts are, we can choose what words to say (before we say them) and what actions we take (before we do them).
If we can choose our words and actions, then we practice saying and doing kind and caring things to other beings. We decide to stop saying and doing things that scare, confuse, and hurt other people. We decide to say and do things that help the world and every single being in it.
That is what a supremely awakened person, like Buddha (and like the Buddha inside of us) does.
I stood at home plate, with a baseball bat in my hands, watching the pitcher wind up to throw the softball at me. I heard kids from my class and other sixth graders talking and laughing as they watched me bat. The ball rose in the air and came straight at me. It was right there, in the middle of the strike zone. I swung and hit the ball in the fat part of the bat. I felt the solid contact. The ball sailed up, over the pitcher, the infielders, and the outfielders. I ran around first base, second and third, and made it home before the ball bounced back into the infield. My home run won the game for our team.
Everybody was cheering. As I walked away from the field with the crowd, a couple girls came up to me and said, “Wow! That was incredible! You were so good!” I looked at them, stopped, did a full bow, and said, “Thank you! Thank you! Yes, I was quite extraordinary.” The girls frowned and moved away. I knew I blew it. I acted like a pompous and arrogant jerk. As I made the display, I knew it wasn’t me. I was caught up in the moment. I was aware how silly and unnecessary my behavior was.
Being mindful, or aware, of ourselves, our actions, our thoughts and feelings, and our effect on others are part of our practice of right mindfulness. Buddha made right (or complete) mindfulness one of the steps on the Eightfold Path. We develop awareness by contemplating our body, feelings, mental states, and mental objects. We practice being resolute, aware, and mindful, putting aside worldly desire and sadness.
We watch our mind and do not hold on to those things that change. We realize that the things that we perceive through our senses are impermanent (annica), lead to dissatisfaction (dukkha), and are without a separate, abiding self (anatta).
My brief, painful experience as a baseball star helped me to develop humility as a character trait. I discovered as I grew up that people respond better to that than to the kind of boastful fool I was during my ten minutes of stardom.