In the Vandana Ti Sarana, we chant, “Homage to him the Exalted One, the Enlightened One, the Supremely Awakened One. Homage means that we show special respect and deep honor to Buddha. He 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, and not asleep in our beds.
When we are awake, we see the thoughts that appear in our mind. 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 doing zazen, or meditation, we watch in our mind our breaths going in and out. When a thought comes into our head, 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 can practice saying and doing kind and caring things to other beings. We decide to stop 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 the Buddha (and like the Buddha inside of us) does.