Traditionally, an "awakening" is seen as some form of external force that "pries open" the consciousness of a person; making their Life-Mission clearer while demanding some sort of behavioral shift in order to actualize the same (e.g. Moses and the burning bush, or Jesus' baptism -- when the Holy Spirit "descended upon him like a dove") ... In more modern times, "awakening" has been used to refer to the moment when an individual, after persevering through a difficult process of "growth," comes to a higher sense of Purpose and becomes a "better person".
We also use words like "epiphany", "calling" or "vision" to describe this occurrence - with all of them referring to an independently separate force that enters our being unbidden and changes us unwittingly ...
And, in all of these cases, once the "perfect peace" of this "awakening" takes place, the individual who experiences it need no longer consciously choose to retain it - it having become an inseparable facet of his or her "enlightened" personality.
And yet, when I.A.M. uses this term, something very different is implied ... Initially, Awakening does not originate in any intrusion by an external entity of force, but rather is grounded solely in the decisions of the Awakened person. Of course, we are all influenced by external entities and forces, and some of these influences are quite persuasive indeed. And yet, in order to truly Awaken, we must each choose to respond to those situations selflessly - as humble agents of the Universal Whole.
Similarly, I.A.M.'s use of Awakening does not refer to a process of "growth" that requires any particular amount of time to attain. Indeed, the In-Lighten-ment of which I write occurs both completely and immediately in every moment that a person experiences apathy or discomfort or fear or anger or sadness or hopelessness -- and yet responds by selflessly caring for others anyway.
Finally, and most importantly, I.A.M.'s Awakening is not a "merit badge" of status that one can permanently attain. Once it is experienced in any particular moment, it dissipates in the next instant and remains "missing" for that individual until he or she chooses to engage life selflessly in another subsequent moment. Thus, the goal is not to "attain enlightenment", but rather to simply act selflessly in as many moments as possible. For some this is a cause of frustration (never being able to attain a consistent sense of inner peace), and yet this continual challenge to set aside our self-centered instincts and become selfless "Children of God" is the source of all our deep-seated feelings of bliss and contentment. And this is what it means to powerfully and continually "die to ego" and re-Awaken to our innate, divine nature as fully actualized Human Beings.
Life as a conscious being is nothing unless that consciousness is purposefully activated ... The more harmoniously our choices resonate with our surroundings, the more potent we become as Beings, and the more Peace-full bliss we experience ourselves. As far as (i)am Is concerned, to truly LIVE means so much more than to merely survive. Rather, to live is to consciously and actively reflect the following tenants of being truly Human:
Live compassion ...
Inspire generosity ...
Value service ...
Empower peace ...
Compassion means more than exuding an intellectually sympathetic thought or relaying an emotionally empathetic feeling ... Compassion is meaningfully experienced only when we engage others with intimate acts of courageous kindness.
This is what it means to Live compassion.
Generosity means more than simply giving a gift or tithing to a charity ... Generosity is deeply inspired (i.e. enlivened) only when we choose to give of our Selves through intimate acts of courageous kindness.
This is what it means to Inspire generosity.
Service means more than simply doing a good deed for another ... Service is truly powerful only when we assist others without any desire for recognition or reimbursement via intimate acts of courageous kindness.
This is what it means to Value service.
Peace means more than avoiding conflict, making compromises or feeling internally at ease ... Peace is thoroughly actualized only when we choose to assist the Universe in its never-ending quest for perfect harmony by engaging others (especially our "enemies") with intimate acts of courageous kindness.
This is what it means to Empower peace.
... and that is what it means to LIVE!