THE EVOLUTION OF CONSCIOUSNESS
Each soul arrives in the world in a pristine state of consciousness and begins the journey of awakening to its new physical reality. The purity of the unblemished consciousness is incrementally imprinted with the conditions of the environment into which it is born. In this phase of life, infants develop an awareness of the functionality of the physical body. They are taught, consciously and unconsciously, by parents and siblings how to relate to and use their body and how to negotiate their environment. As time progresses, people become conscious of the body they inhabit and are conscious of the complex environment in which they live.
Unfortunately, it is in this phase of life that the contamination of the unblemished consciousness begins. In their attempt to be helpful, parents, siblings, and later, the educational system, impose upon the child behaviors and methods of doing things that they think are beneficial. The problem is that the coercive aspect of these relationships hinders the innocent child from learning how to make decisions. Consequently, children end up being imprinted and configured by the people, systems, and environments into which they are born; this includes the flaws and corruption which exist in these systems.
Since no one is aware of the spiritual nature upon entering into this life, everyone naturally bonds with the drives and forces of the physical body, and the identity surrounding it. This is not unlike the instant imprinting that takes place with a new born animal. At this stage of life, no one is knowledgeable about higher conscious; so in an effort to fill the void, infants naturally bond with the only thing available to them, life in a physical, sensual, body. This bonding is thorough and complete because the majority of people still think they are their bodies, and relate to the organic state of the body as an interpretation of how they feel and who they are.
Each physical body has unique characteristics and a special temperament all its own; and over time, it develops an identity or self-concept which is referred to as the ego-persona. Based on the particular characteristics, self-concept, and temperament of the individual, the ego develops a self-image that it presents to the world which everyone acknowledges as the personality. The world is populated by personalities; personalities that have agendas, emotions, desires, attachments, problems, and idiosyncrasies.
When the physical body, its memories, and the ego-persona begin living in the seemingly real sensual plane of experience, a very complex and deceptive illusion occurs. Layers of illusory perceptions, emotional impressions and psychological imbalances are absorbed into the individual’s psyche from the “mass-mind” of society. These societal mores and judgments are woven into the fabric of people’s lives, making life seem complex, confusing and deceptive. These layers, from the collective psychic energy of the masses, are constructed of: incomplete and inaccurate perceptions; unclear and unfinished thoughts; dark, disturbing and unfulfilled desires; mean, prejudicial and ignorant perspectives as well as fear, uncertainty and uneasy feelings. This false, emotional, fragmented perspective of life is the window through which people perceive the world.
For the individual, this worldview of life is also comprised of: past memories, hopes and aspirations; the pain and frustration of constant struggle; fear of the unknown; the uncertainty of an invalidated self; a continuous floundering to find one’s place in this confusion; and the pain of conflict between the life one desires and the harsh reality of the world. It is through this muddled filter that people attempt to see reality about themselves, about others, and about the activities in life. Personalities in this illusory landscape have unconsciously and collectively agreed to interact within the illusion of the world as if it were real. Most people don’t know the difference, yet ironically, even those who intellectually understand that true reality lies beyond the physical, sensual realm of illusion, still choose to maintain the worldly illusion as their reality. They will take extreme measures to preserve the stability within their illusion, denying all else; it is what they know, and this familiarity is what makes them feel safe and secure; but that is an illusion too.
Human nature seeks security and comfort, and avoids anything which threatens that reality; even if people know they are choosing the “matrix of illusion.” For many people, an acknowledgement of the truth would instill a fear of the unknown and rock their world. Consequently, it is not well-received by the masses when anyone speaks about the world being an illusion. As a way of compensating for this fear of the unknown, the ego-persona works overtime to keep people locked into the illusion by keeping reality out. All the thoughts, impressions, enticements, fears, and distractions that the ego experiences each and every moment are designed to keep people attached, distracted and plugged into the illusion. The ego or self-concept and the “superficial self-image” it presents to the world are at the center of this illusory existence, orchestrating and fabricating this charade. Outside of this illusion, the ego-persona has no reality, so it is fighting for its survival.
Each and every thought in the mind-chatter of the ego that captivates one’s attention is about some aspect of sex, some material object or task in the world, or some person within the physical realm. Occasionally, one experiences an intellectual or spiritual thought, but not from the ego. The ego-persona never has an abstract thought because it knows no reality beyond the objective realm of the senses. Within this sensual realm, the ego-persona builds its illusory world and self-image with power, prestige, position, material wealth, and sensual gratification; in many cases, stepping on or over anyone who gets in the way.
People live in the false identity of the ego-persona and want to believe it is reality, but it isn’t. People are too fearful of losing their accessorized lives, their comfort, and their entertainment to look beyond the void to catch a glimpse of their true spiritual nature. In most cases, they don’t want the responsibility which comes with having to live according to the truth they would see. The fear that they feel is just another illusion that the ego creates in order to maintain its hold.
The act of looking outside of this illusory world creates insecurity and fear in the mind of the ego-persona, which the individual feels. Thus, the ego clamps down even tighter; it derides anyone who questions its authenticity, and belittles the notion of a spiritual self. The ego does this strictly out of self-interest so it can control the individual’s concept of self. Blindly accepting the image the ego presents as to who they are, and never attempting to perceive the self beyond the illusion, leaves people feeling incomplete, fearful, and uncertain. Consequently, in the background of their daily lives, people often feel incomplete, insecure, and ambiguous regarding who they really are. There is a nagging and persistent feeling that there must be more to life and to oneself than what has been experienced so far; that there must be more individual potential and life to be realized and expressed.
How has the human arrived at this point of being captivated by the ego-persona? How is he or she so easily deluded by the self-image? How has this self-concept come into being, anyway? Few people stop to think about the origin and source of their individual self-awareness. They simply accept that they are aware beings with an active personality that gets them through life, and this is all they need to know. Most people have no idea that the concept and actual experience of being an autonomous, individual self is only about 500 years old.
The Concept of Self
Imagine for a moment what life would be like if there was no sense of self. In other words, a person is conscious, but not self-conscious. This means people would be unable to reflect upon their experiences and how they relate to the broader context of life. How would this alter the experience of life? First, there would be no need to make any plans, such as where one would attend college, when to marry, or what might be achieved later in life. This is the result of being unable to conceive of oneself in these situations or even to imagine that such things were possible. People who are religious or spiritual in nature would have no incentive to visualize the ideal conditions of a future existence. As a result of this state, there would be no memories of the past since there is no “self” in the memory and no thoughts of the future; there would be nothing to hope for and nothing to look forward to.
In order to have a concept of self, an individual has to remember past experiences as well as to perceive of the “self” projected into the future with imagined goals and dreams for that distant time. To reinforce the concept of self, an individual needs to have an historical frame of reference in order to evaluate the effectiveness of past behaviors. The ability of people to perceive themselves in a probable future or to remember the experiences of the distant past is the basis for the self-concept. The self-concept is a perception of the physical self in relationship to others or in the experiences of life. Whereas, the spiritual Self-Identity is an internal awareness of one’s true identity and is independent of any external realities.
Ironically, the capacity of self-consciousness to look into the future or reminisce about the past is the same mechanism which allows for negative emotions to impact the individual in the present moment. When the self is projected into the near future, the process has a tendency to generate emotions like fear, worry, and anxiety. When the self is remembered in the past, there is a tendency to associate the past experiences with emotions like guilt, regret, or shame. Most people are susceptible to the prompting of the ego which keeps the self-consciousness either worrying about upcoming events or daydreaming of the past. Negative emotions that cause pain, anxiety, and/or disturbance in the human psyche are the price paid for self-conscious experience. These negative feelings get stored in the physical body and overshadow present time experiences, thus influencing self-awareness, self-esteem and behavior. In order to understand how self-consciousness has become so integrally wired to emotion and behavior requires exploring the evolution of consciousness itself.
Evolution of Self-Consciousness
Research indicates that consciousness has evolved or developed over time through multiple stages or phases. As an example, in the pre-Christian era of the Old Testament, the language of the period reveals that individual self-consciousness had not yet emerged. Rather, a collective or race consciousness still lingered among early humans and this was perceived as an ancestral lineage in the blood. When a person was asked who he was, the answer was given in terms of, “I am the son of Abraham or Isaac,” because the individual did not perceive or distinguish himself as a separate being. He perceived himself to be one unit in a line of ancestral beings who he felt connected with in his consciousness. Since humans had not yet developed the individualized self-concept, this connection with the ancestral lineage would best be described as “consciousness with a degree of instinctual clairvoyance.” Instinctual clairvoyance was prevalent in this period not only as a survival mechanism, but also because of man’s external relationship to the environment. Early hunters would stare and focus on cave drawings of animals before a hunt and then rely on their instinctual clairvoyance to lead them to their prey.
During this period, God or the spirits were considered to exist outside of the individual. In most cases, the distinction between God and the forces of nature was not yet clear. In the early stages of conscious evolution, it was not understood that there was actually a distinction between the individual and the elements in which he lived. In the same way that a young baby is unable to distinguish itself from its mother, humans were unable to distinguish themselves from the elements. This proved to be extremely traumatic for early humans, who had to endure instinctual responses similar to those of a dog or cat hiding under the bed at the first sound of thunder. There was not yet sufficient experience or advancement in consciousness to realize that these “rumbling” events were taking place outside of the body. The dawning of self-consciousness was the ability to recognize that there was a distinction between the experiences outside and the experiences the “individual” was having within. Imagine for a moment, what it would be like living in a period of time in which there was no concept of being on a planet, living in a universe, or even that anything existed beyond a certain mountain range. The individual’s concept of life did not extend beyond the immediate family and the basic skills needed to survive.
Wine & Ego Development
Another piece in the evolutionary puzzle of self-consciousness is extremely interesting, but virtually unknown, either from being overlooked or ignored. This piece of the puzzle regards the introduction of an external catalyst that played a pivotal role in the transformation of consciousness; this catalyst was wine. It was the use of wine that helped humanity transition from the race consciousness of early man to the emergence of the autonomous individual self-consciousness that is known today. Grapes originally came from Greece and it was there that wine came into general use. In fact, it played a ceremonial role in the mysteries of Dionysus, while the Bacchanalian rites carried wine drinking to an extreme for which the reason is no longer known.
To understand the significance of wine, one must perceptively study the grape itself. It is a special fruit that produces seed, but the germinal power of the grape is very weak. It seems as though the plant carries its development beyond the point at which most plants stop. Other plants save some of their strength to make the seed capable of reproducing, whereas the grapes pour their all into the berry. This reproductive energy makes its appearance in a changed form after fermentation. Plants are built of carbonic acid that is given shape and durability by carbon. Fermentation is a reversal process and as such causes the carbonic acid to be rejected.
After wine is ingested, the body breaks down the substances in the metabolism, which actually reverses the process that built the fruit, and these energetic substances are what affect the human nervous system. Because of the extended point to which the grape carries its development, the energetic properties released during fermentation affect the nervous system similar to the powers felt as personal self-mastery. This “empowerment” is felt by the ego because it is through the blood that the ego governs and interacts with the physical body.
Wine’s mission in the days of Greece and Rome was that of laying down the foundation for a new down-to-earth human self-concept. Until then consciousness had been something held in common by families and clans. A new element or catalyst had to be introduced to pave the way for ego consciousness. Wine had the mission of developing this ego sense so it would undermine the earlier clairvoyant connectedness that man had with the external forces of nature. Wine ushered in the development of the brain as the ego’s instrument and the blood as its foothold in the body. It bound blood and ego together so that blood became the organ of ego’s awakening. In this way, man became bold and self-confident, entirely on his own, with no further dependence on the clairvoyantly perceived external guidance.
Wine played a key role in the New Testament as the first miracle, ‘The Marriage at Cana’ during which Christ turns water to wine, which symbolized the transformation from race consciousness to the consciousness of selfhood. The communion of the Last Supper was Christ’s last act, and this action was the moment in which wine’s ancient mission was completed. It was intended that from this point forward, activity would spring forth from the enlightened or Christ-infused higher ego. The artificially fortified ego was no longer relevant or needed.
The problem with consuming alcohol today is that it produces a counter-ego, meaning that the alcohol “thinks, feels, and acts” in the ego’s place. Ego development has been firmly established within present day man, so when one consumes alcohol, this counter-ego prevents the individual’s own ego from acting, thus making him or her a slave to an “external spirit.” Because of the adverse effects that alcohol consumption has upon the mind, it is more difficult for individuals who drink alcohol, especially to excess, to make significant progress on the path of spiritual enlightenment.
Influence of Science on Self-Consciousness
The majority of people assume that the way they perceive the world is exactly the way everyone else perceives it and that conscious perception has not changed throughout history. There have been numerous efforts, in all parts of the world, to trace the emergence of consciousness and especially the self-concept. Surprisingly, data reveals that the development of the individual, autonomous self did not arise until the sixteenth or seventeenth centuries around the beginning of the Renaissance period.
In the Renaissance period, the printing press enabled the common man to discover the world through science, mathematics, and philosophy. The ability to have access to the written word facilitated the formulation of concepts. Conceptualization about the world, how it works, and the individual’s relationship to it were the most significant factors in the development of self-conscious reality. The emergence of the Renaissance was considered as “the enlightenment” and was the historical beginning of the individual autonomous self.
Consciousness was now in the process of being molded and configured by newly emerging worldviews, most of which favored the scientific and philosophical perspective of life. Aristotle’s philosophy and science dominated western thought for almost two thousand years after his death, up until the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. The medieval world which was based on Aristotelian philosophy and Christian theology began to transform from a living, organic, and spiritual world to a universe that was perceived in terms of mechanization.
This change was accelerated by new discoveries in physics, astronomy, and mathematics. Thus began a long period in which science dominated the world and systematically dissected it into parts. The newly emerging self-conscious reality was not immune to this dissection and was gradually and systematically separated from its spiritual and intuitive roots in favor of the rational and scientific perspective. This mechanistic perspective of life essentially locked humanity into the objective, scientific, and external worldview which exists today. It is this scientific, rational and objective view of the world that has placed the human self-consciousness firmly in the external world. The majority of humanity today has become completely alienated from, unfamiliar with, and highly suspicious of the internal spiritual reality.
With mankind firmly entrenched in the realm of rational thought, and with all objects and people being perceived as separate entities, it is only natural that the field of psychology emerged as a way to explain the individualistic, interactive experience between man and the environment. Psychology was essentially the driving need to make sense of the responses self-conscious reality experienced with relation to the objective, phenomenal world in which humankind was deeply embedded. Keeping with the current scientific tradition, psychology initially attempted to explain experience in terms of biological phenomenon. The nature or nurture question was among the first to arise.
Initially, it was believed that behavior was a product of both nature and nurture. In other words, behavior was determined by what one brought into the world biologically, and in addition to this, behavior was configured by one’s unique experience in life. Learning and experience were the central explanations for human action, but genetic roots were also considered to be strong determinants in the overall development. This meant that personality and behavior could be modified through learning, but this did not negate the significance of genetic or biological variables. Freud concurred with the theory that humans were biological creatures fundamentally driven by biological needs. He theorized these needs produced psychological tension and emotional responses that existed in the physiology until such needs were satisfied. This satiated condition was referred to as homeostasis, meaning that individuals were viewed as having personal needs which they would be driven to satisfy within the constraints of the external world.
He put forth the theory that all organisms have a biological need to ingest food which causes discomfort if not satisfied, the same holds true for sex and other desires. When the organism has eaten, the internal stimulation from hunger pangs subside and the being feels satisfied (homeostasis) and unmotivated until the onset of hunger starts the cycle all over again. Since there is a limited supply of resources in the external world, these constraints force individuals to compete. Needs-driven urges in a world of limited resources means that new modes of adaptation must be developed in order to satisfy the cycles of tension within the organism. Consequently, the individual organism is in a state of external adaptation while continuously moving in and out of internal equilibrium or homeostasis.
Understanding homeostasis in the human is an important element in recognizing the effect of urges and cravings in the emotional equanimity of life. Homeostasis is a governing principle behind behavior which drives the individual to maintain a relatively stable and balanced internal environment, which is the platform for human activity. The absence of tension is the presumed goal of human striving, and the rewards are periods of quiescence. This state of equilibrium is the pleasurable by-product of being in homeostasis. If the individual is in homeostasis, all of the energy is free and maximum pleasure is experienced.
Beyond Freud’s homeostasis of the biological instincts, psychologist Carl Jung felt that basic human striving was for personal growth and self-actualization. This meant that unconscious instinctual urges within the human also included the need to create and to self-actualize. In order to fully integrate the personality, the individual would also be driven to balance the more aggressive masculine aspects with the more sensitive feminine qualities. Self-actualization emerges as a result of the individual balancing and integrating the opposing or competing forces that make up the personality.
Jung emphasized the conflicts between opposing forces within the individual rather than between the individual and the demands of society, or between the biological individual and physiological reality. Yet, Jung recognized the connection between the individual and the social needs of the personality. This linkage is instrumental in the personality creating a persona archetype or self-image which fills its needs as a socially accepted mask which one wears in public.
By combining the biological urges of the organism and the psychological needs within the individual, it becomes evident that a considerable amount of time and energy are expended by people trying to maintain homeostasis. The biological homeostasis is not so difficult to maintain in America with our abundance of resources, but psychological or emotional homeostasis is becoming short-lived especially in an environment that is increasingly unpredictable, economically challenging, and potentially dangerous. World-wide turmoil, conflicting values, social irresponsibility, terrorism and regional wars, political divisions, and a disregard of spiritual principles makes emotional homeostasis a dancing target that is very difficult to hit. Instead of homeostasis, people are experiencing a deep-seated foreboding whose source is elusive and unknown. This dark cloud of dread is becoming the norm, like being on edge while waiting for “the second shoe to drop.”
If there is any question why most adults have difficulty maintaining emotional homeostasis, just recall the public school system that is instrumental in controlling and molding early behavioral patterns. Aside from having to control restless impulses and emotions in the school setting, at no time during the educational process are children given instruction about how to recognize these bodily energies or how to transform their conscious state in order to maintain homeostasis. They have no idea what they are feeling and are given no positive guidance for managing their instinctual urges or emotional impulses. Consequently, many adults have learned to ignore their internal feelings, and often, do not even feel their emotions or are unable to comprehend them. This complete lack of emotional awareness is totally acceptable in a society that values the insights of the rational mind and is skeptical of internal feelings, intuition or spirituality.
Not only do people lack knowledge of how to interpret their feelings, but they have not developed the internal knowledge necessary to manage the emotional state and keep it adaptable, balanced, and stable. Adaptability of conscious states in discovering new modes of learning within an ever changing environment becomes a critical issue for maintaining homeostasis, or in modern terms, of maintaining sanity and peace of mind. Since no one has been taught decision-making based on internal perceptions, the adaptive capabilities of people are inadequate to psychologically transcend the stress of a corrupted, chaotic, and degenerating civilization.
The evolution or development and adaptation of consciousness continues each and every day, both individually and collectively. However, we are presently facing a critical transitional point for the ego-persona and life as we have known it. As discussed above, it required an external catalyst of wine to alter the entrenched race consciousness of early humanity to open the way for ego-consciousness. For a time, wine served as a beneficial “agent of change” which ushered in ego development, but after the ego took root in the mind, wine became insignificant to the process and simply became an intoxicant for the human body. The birth and emergence of the self-concept during the Renaissance period was a fluorescence of creativity, discovery and innovation for ego-consciousness. This is the period in which the ego and self-concept of humans grew and flourished in the ever-expanding material, sensual, third-dimensional world.
Now, in present-time reality, the over-inflated, ego-mind has taken its “seat of power,” and in its arrogance, it is attempting to recreate the world in its own image. Its imagination and technological powers are dreaming of a perfect world: of a healthy, pristine and perfectly controlled environment; of masses of technologically controlled, over-satiated, pacified humans happily working to fulfill this vision; and of all the elite EGOS living lavishly and happily dreaming, in their self-righteousness, of new horizons for the masses. However, what is not being recognized is that the ego-mind, under the best of circumstances, is not capable of successfully leading humanity into the future; ego is not capable of thinking beyond the objective, three-dimensional world. Humanity’s destiny does not lie in this three-dimensional world; that is why there is increasing division and violence among people around the world; there are signs of “cracks in the dam.”
If we think of humanities destiny in terms of the advancement of consciousness or conscious states, it is apparent that the ego has served its purpose for the last 500 years by navigating us through third-dimensional reality. It has only been through the “I, not I” consciousness of ego that humans were awakened to discover the undiscovered world; but where do we go from here? People oriented to third-dimensional reality can only dream within this dimension. There are only two versions of a possible utopia in third-dimensional reality – utilizing technology to figure out how to get off the planet and start over somewhere else, or figuring out how to rectify the dark and destructive nature of humankind and then clean up the mess we have made of this world. Neither of these options seems very feasible or appealing; besides, it is not clear if our Creator intends for us to live on other worlds, especially since we have made such a mess of this one.
There is another option to consider – Jesus Christ presented to humanity a Way of Life in “fourth-dimensional reality,” that is, he demonstrated in his life a conscious state which transcends that of ego-consciousness. This elevated, spiritual state has been experienced by many people since the time of Christ and is open to anyone who is willing to seek it. The diamond analogy best describes this higher state of consciousness. A diamond-in-the-rough looks like a pebble that has a very rough, sandy looking surface. When the surface is ground down, a crystal clear interior is revealed; and when it is shaped and polished we have a very valuable stone. This same description applies to any person who is willing “to scrub-off” their attachment to ego-consciousness by releasing all the thinking, habits, enticements, and behaviors which bind him or her to the sensual, material, third-dimensional reality. The clear interior of the individual represents the purified state of consciousness which resides above (in vibration) that of ego-consciousness; symbolically, this is what Jesus meant when he spoke of finding the “pearl of great price.”
In this higher state of Christ-consciousness one experiences a new, clear and dimensionless reality in the present moment. Fourth-dimensional reality is dimensionless, this means there is no near-far, up-down or happy-sad experiences like those in third-dimensional reality; there is only the reality of Eternal Presence. If one can truly “let go and let God” so as to be still, clear and transparent, one can “transcend” third-dimensional reality and experience this higher consciousness in the present moment. Just as the invisible quantum reality interpenetrates and interacts with objective, elemental reality, so too does fourth-dimensional reality intermingle with the third-dimension, and it can “appear or emerge” to be experienced in the here and now. The present moment is a separate reality from our experience of the material world; this eternal, elevated conscious state is the Divine, Holy Presence that is within and around us always and forever.
In this new state of Christ-consciousness, we don’t have the answers to the problems of this troubled world, but that is not our responsibility. Certainly, there are ways we could improve the environment of the planet by being more conscious of pollution, but only the arrogance of an over-inflated, self-righteous ego-consciousness could believe it has the answers for what ails the planet and its weather; or how the unruly masses need to be controlled, contained, and made to eat vegetables. Jesus Christ is the Lord of the Earth and it is His responsibility to deal with these issues, if they are to be dealt with at all. It is not necessarily meant for us to know the destiny of the world and the collective destiny of humanity. How could anyone presume that we are capable of governing a planetary environment when we are incapable of governing ourselves? The only meaningful options available to the Disciples of Christ are to get our true Self awakened, clear and receptive to serve in whatever way or in whatever capacity the Spirit guides us to serve. And lastly, to have faith, trust and internal peace that the outcome in our individual life, in the lives of our fellow humans, and in the life of the planet will be perfect; and all of this will be done according to God’s Divine Will. Amen!
As Beautiful as a Fire-Born Star
I love the lights where people live; the most beautiful I've seen, by far;
Yet my eyes long to be tamed by a true, fire-born star,
To walk away from the smooth pavement and lie down among the rocks and weeds,
And let the velvet flower of night plant my heart with crystal seeds.
O blow upon me cool wind, touching my skin from head to toe,
Make my breath a deep, warm bellows, fanning the embers of my soul;
And I will kneel and serve you, as the greatest champion by far,
For your sigh in the wilderness, is as beautiful as a fire-born star.