The first question:
I feel a conflict between being loose and natural and being aware.
There is no conflict, but you can create a conflict. Even where no conflict exists the mind creates the conflict, because the mind cannot exist without being in conflict.
Being loose and natural will give you a spontaneous awareness. There is no need to make any effort for awareness; it will follow like a shadow. If you are loose and natural, it will come. There is no need to make any other effort for it, because being loose and natural automatically flowers in being aware. Or, if you are aware, then you will become loose and natural. They both go together. But if you try for both, then you will create the conflict. There is no need to try for both together.
What does it mean when I say be loose and natural? It means: make no effort. Just be whatsoever you are. If you are unaware, then be unaware, because that is what you are in your loose and natural state. Be unaware. If you make any effort, then how can you be loose and natural? Simply relax, and accept whatsoever is the case – and accept your acceptance also. Don’t move from there. A time will pass before things settle down. In that transitory period, you may not be aware because things are settling. Once things are settled and the flow is natural you will be suddenly surprised. Unexpectedly, one morning, you find you are aware – no need to make any effort.
Or, if you are working through awareness – and the two methods are different, they start from different standpoints – then don’t think of being loose and natural. You simply work it out through your effort to be aware. It will take a long time, when awareness becomes natural and no effort is needed. Unless this point comes where no effort is needed, awareness has not yet been attained. When you can forget about all efforts and simply be aware, only then have you achieved it. Then, just by the side, you will find the phenomenon of being loose and natural. They come together. They always happen together. They are two aspects of the same phenomenon, but you cannot work them out together.
It is just like one is climbing up a mountain. There are many paths; they all reach to the top, they all culminate in the top. But you cannot walk on two paths together. If you try you will go mad and you will never reach to the top. How can you walk on two paths together, and knowing well that they all lead to the same top? But one has to walk on only one. Finally, when one reaches to the top, he will find all the paths have culminated in it. For walking, always choose one path. Of course, when you reach, all the paths will reach to the same point, to the same peak.