When I look at the importance of growing and waking up, I find a few simple things.
Growing up invites in healing and maturing, and that takes care of most of what we seek in our human life, and also what we seek when we are identified with this human life. This includes living a life that is nurturing for ourselves and the larger social/ecological whole and even future generations. (So the universe and God can explore and experience itself through the myriad of life forms on this planet, including humans, a little longer.
Waking up gives the final release from any sense of I with an Other, it makes it possible for reports from this noticing, and it invites our human self to reorganize and explore itself and its life in the world within this new context.
So it is easy to notice the importance of growing up. In short, it is good for ourselves and those around us, and future generations as well. We live a little more responsibly. We are less caught up in blind projections and blindly seeking things from the wider world. We tend to be easier to get along with. We may make choices within a slightly larger perspective – even a global and long-time one.
It may be less easy to notice the importance of waking up. It doesn’t really bring that much more into the picture, beyond the growing up part. There is the final shift of identification out of our human self, and stories in general. There is a noticing of what we already and always are. There is the noticing of all as the play of awareness. But not much more.
So why even aim at waking up? It doesn’t seem to make much sense, from most perspectives.
Yet, for some of us, there is that yearning. Something that is not satisfied by the growing up process, of healing and maturing, as much as that in itself is rewarding and meaningful. There is something else going on for us. We just can’t help it.
Maybe that is why so many teachers – at least in Zen which I am most familiar with – say that if you can help it, don’t engage in a waking up process. Just live your life. Enjoy yourself! Only do it if you can’t help it.
And the can’t help it part doesn’t seem to have so much with the typical reasons people give for working on the waking up part. For me, at least, there is that quiet love for truth and existence. Something that can’t be helped. A very quiet and unyielding pull.