This article treats essentially the same topic as the previous article but in greater detail for those who want to explore more deeply the all-important challenge of becoming “conscious” or of creating consciousness.
The purpose of human life is the creation of consciousness.
— Edward Edinger[i]
The elements of consciousness that create the structure of Simple Reality are worldview, identity and behavior. Accordingly, consciousness can be defined as a profound awareness of one’s own identity. But it can also be defined as a person’s or a collective’s worldview, as the essence or totality of beliefs, attitudes, and values held or thought to be held by an individual or group, e.g., national consciousness.
The three levels of consciousness are the personal consciousness, the personal unconscious and the collective unconscious. There is little understanding today in the human community about the nature of consciousness. C. G. Jung understood this lack of awareness as well as anyone. “That this is so is immediately understandable when we consider that the unconscious, as the totality of all archetypes, is the deposit of all human experience right back to its remotest beginnings. Not, indeed, a dead deposit, a sort of abandoned rubbish-heap, but a living system of reactions [emphasis added] and aptitudes that determine the individual’s life in invisible ways—all the more effective because invisible. It is not just a gigantic historical prejudice, so to speak, it is also the source of the instincts, for the archetypes are simply the forms which the instincts assume. From the living fountain of instinct flows everything that is creative; hence the unconscious is not merely conditioned by history, but is the very source of the creative impulse. If consciousness had never split off from the unconscious—an eternally repeated event symbolized as the fall of the angels and the disobedience of the first parents—this problem would never have arisen any more than the question of environmental adaptation.”[ii]
Jung and then Edward Edinger help with the definition of the personal consciousness. “It is the function of consciousness not only to recognize and assimilate the external world through the gateway of the senses, but to translate into visible reality the world within us.”[iii] “The individual psyche is the Holy Grail, made holy by what it contains. Consciousness is a psychic substance which is produced by the experience of the opposites suffered, not blindly, but in living awareness.”[iv]
The personal consciousness is closely allied to our identity which for most of us means the false self. “Consciousness is psychic substance connected to the ego. Or, more precisely, psychic contents which are potential entities become actualized and substantial when they make connection with an ego, i.e., when they enter an individual’s conscious awareness and become an accepted item of that person’s personal responsibility.”[v]
The ego of Freud’s model is not exactly congruent with the false self of Simple Reality but for purposes of this article it will suffice. “[Consciousness is] the relation of psychic contents to the ego, in so far as this relation is perceived as such by the ego. Relations to the ego that are not perceived as such are unconscious. Consciousness is the function or activity which maintains the relation of psychic contents to the ego. Consciousness is not identical with the psyche because the psyche represents the totality of all psychic contents, and these are not necessarily all directly connected with the ego, i.e., related to it in such a way that they take on the quality of consciousness. Consciousness is the experience of knowing together with another, that is, in a setting of twoness.”[vi]
Notice how the different levels of consciousness represent a fragmentation or shattering of Oneness. “The existence of an individual consciousness makes man aware of the difficulties of his inner as well as his outer life. Just as the world about him takes on a friendly or a hostile aspect to the eyes of primitive man, so the influences of his unconscious seem to him like an opposing power, with which he has to come to terms just as with the visible world. His countless magical practices serve this end. On higher levels of civilization, religion and philosophy fulfill the same purpose. Whenever such a system of adaptation breaks down a general unrest begins to appear, and attempts are made to find a suitable new form of relationship to the unconscious.”[vii]
The Personal Unconscious
“The unconscious is the receptacle of all lost memories and of all contents that are still too weak to become conscious. These contents are products of an unconscious associative activity which also gives rise to dreams. Besides these we must include all more or less intentional repressions of painful thoughts and feelings. I call the sum of all these contents the ‘personal unconscious.’”[viii] Psychologists often call the repressed content of the personal unconscious the “shadow.”
The Collective Unconscious
“Every human experience, to the extent that it is lived in awareness, augments the sum total of consciousness in the universe. This fact provides the meaning for every experience and gives each individual a role in the on-going world-drama of creation.”[ix]
“Whereas the personal unconscious consists for the most part of complexes, the content of the collective unconscious is made up essentially of archetypes.”[x] Complexes are exaggerated fears that can become obsessive with the function of reducing tension and they also accomplish this by reviving memories of past events and objects that are associated in some way with gratification. These patterns of behavior are common to all of humankind. “The sum total of consciousness created by each individual in his lifetime is deposited as a permanent addition in the collective treasury of the archetypal psyche.”[xi]
To repeat and keep our focus on the essence of these definitions, we should notice first that some of the above definition begins to sound like a description of worldview. A more complete definition would define worldview as a person’s beliefs, attitudes and values. Secondly, this same definition also applies to the worldview of groups of any size whether it is a neighborhood club or an entire nation. The worldview of a group we could call a collective worldview. This word consciousness addresses the Second Great Question, Who Am I? Our challenge in seeking Self-realization is to assume a more profound identity.
“Life is not easy for any of us. But what of that? We must have perseverance and above all confidence in ourselves. We must believe that we are gifted for something, and that this thing, at whatever cost, must be attained.” Marie Curie[xii]
“To be able to climb out of the misery of raw being into the status of a knowing subject is a part of the meaning of consciousness and at times can be a salvation. The experience of being the knowing subject, however, is only one half of the process of knowledge. The other half is the experience of being the known object. The ego as knower conquers the outer or inner ‘other’ by relegating it to the status of known object. But this is not consciousness in the full sense of ‘knowing with,’ it is only science or simple knowing. To achieve authentic consciousness the ego must also go through the experience of being the object of knowledge, with the function of the knowing subject residing in the ‘other.’ Thus the full experience of being the known object of an ‘other’ knowing subject is best not projected onto a person, but rather experienced as an encounter with the inner God-image, the Self.”[xiii]
Below we begin to gain an understanding of the spectrum of consciousness from Ken Wilber’s point of view.[xiv]
The Process of Remaining Unconscious
Maya or illusion is dividing and measuring the universe. All measurement is a product of thought, not reality. The threefold process of maya is dualism, repression and projection.
- Dualism: we forget its “underlying ground” of non-duality (Oneness)
- Repression: we repress its non-duality (make it unconscious)
- Projection: we project the non-duality as multiplicity or as two antagonistic opposites
What Happened in Detail (The Shattering of Oneness)
Note that each movement along the spectrum involves a narrowing of identity and an increase in illusion.
- Mind is severed, its non-duality is repressed. It is then projected as subject vs. object, organism vs. environment. Awareness of our oneness with the environment is repressed.
Identity: Man centers his identity in his organism vs. the environment as “other.” The split of environment vs. organism creates the Illusion of space.
- We sever the unity of life and death, repress that unity and project it as the war of life against death. The awareness of death is repressed.
Identity: We do not accept death, abandon our mortal organism [energy] and escape into something much more “solid”—namely ideas. Man, in fleeing death, flees his mutable body and identifies with the seemingly undying idea of himself. We begin to live in the past and future and refusing the timeless NOW. The split of past vs future creates the Illusion of Time.
- Our flight from death is a flight from our body. The organism is rejected (severed), its unity is repressed and then projected as a psyche vs. soma. The ego level or persona is created and body awareness is repressed.
Identity: The ego’s life-long project becomes avoiding the Now-Moment. The split of ego vs. body creates the Illusion of Immortality.
- We impose a dualism or split upon our ego, repress the underlying unity of all our egoic tendencies and project them as the persona vs. the shadow. The shadow consists of the repressed traits that the ego pushed out of consciousness.
Identity: Our identity is now the persona. The split of the persona vs. the shadow creates the Illusion of “my persona is me, all of me.”
“We usually discover that one of the polar opposites had been repressed and now resurfaces tormentingly. When the complex was still in a repressed state, we did not feel as if stretched out on a cross of conflicted opposites. We did not yet suffer the actual conflict but rather a host of substitute pseudo-problems and symptoms. We were even capable of repressing the real polar conflict into our bodies. We keep forgetting that our minds and bodies, psychic and soma, are two aspects of the same reality.”[xv] We don’t forget Simple Reality but have lost our awareness of it in the shattering of Oneness made clear in Wilber’s model of how the Spectrum of Consciousness was created.
We will now hear from Erich Neumann who studied with Jung in 1934 and 1936. His insights are a synthesis of psychology and mythology; some will be in harmony with Simple Reality and some will not. First is the fundamental reality regarding human consciousness that we are all alike; a supporting principle to the worldview of Oneness. His work has led Neumann to observe “that there is a common psychic substructure which functions identically in all men.”[xvi]
Understanding the context of Oneness and both the influences of the collective unconscious and the individual unconscious and the behavior we call projection would go a long way in helping us achieve the goal of “know thyself” which is critical to both self-awareness and Self-reliance.
“This indivisibility of group, individual, and external world is found wherever psychic contents—contents, that is to say, which our present-day consciousness recognizes as psychic and which it therefore relegates to the world within us—are projected upon the world at large and are experienced as though they were outside ourselves.”[xvii] Hence our pronouncement in Simple Reality that the world “out there” is an illusion.
Buddha went in search of the causes of human suffering related to aging, death and disease and experienced that indeed humanity could transcend that suffering by ceasing to identify with the body, mind and emotions. Western psychology and self-understanding are saddled with the ignorance exemplified by Neumann in the following analysis.
“The margin of conscious alertness in modern man is relatively narrow, the intensity of his active performance is limited, and illness, strain, old age, and all psychic disturbances take their toll of this alertness. It seems [emphasis added] that the organ of consciousness is still at an early stage of development and relatively unstable.”[xviii] We dare not take the formulations of the human intellect as reality or we subject ourselves to needless suffering.
Instead, we can rely on our inner wisdom, our intuition, for guidance on the path of self-transformation and transcendence. Nothing that our ancestors learned has been wasted or lost which is what Jung’s discovery of the collective unconscious and the content of mythology revealed in our dreams and peak experiences meant to him. “The Great Mother has a wisdom infinitely superior to the ego, because the instincts and archetypes that speak through the collective unconscious represent the ‘wisdom of the species’ and its will.”[xix]
What we call paradigm shifts in Simple Reality Neumann calls reattunements. He is not aware of The Point of Power Practice or the need for a specific shift in worldview and identity. He does see, however, the possibility of a fundamental change in human behavior. “The dream, if it is understood, alters the conscious orientation and, in addition, brings about a reattunement [shift] of consciousness [worldview] and personality [identity].”[xx]
“This reattunement shows itself in a complete change of attitude [along with beliefs and values in the beginning of a shift toward a Oneness worldview]—for instance, after being asleep we wake up refreshed, alert, full of vigor, or again we may wake up feeling listless and out of sorts, depressed or on edge. It seems [there’s that word again], also, that the contents of consciousness can be altered by a difference of emotional charge [feeling (response) or emotions (reaction)]. Disagreeable contents suddenly appear delightful and therefore materially different; the things that attracted us before [having, doing and knowing] seem colorless, our desires [plenty, pleasure and power] disgust us.”[xxi]
We are all born into P-B receiving from that paradigm our beliefs, attitudes and values along with our identity and behavioral conditioning. “This emotional current of vitality in a culture is canalized [directed] by the archetypes incorporated in the group’s cultural canon [story]. The emotionality [reactions] remains a living force and regenerates the individual, even though it is more or less bound to the conventional paths laid down by communal custom and habit [the false self in P-B].”[xxii]
The behavior of the false self in the P-B narrative left Neumann pessimistic about the future of humanity but he believed the extraordinary individual could learn to live in the present moment. “The hero or Great Individual is always and pre-eminently the man with immediate inner experience who, as seer, artist, prophet, or revolutionary, sees, formulates, sets forth, and realizes the new values, the ‘new images.’ His orientation comes from the ‘voice,’ from the unique, inner utterance of the self [True self].[xxiii]
What is the role of the individual in the creation of consciousness? “The true hero is one who brings the new and shatters the fabric of old values. In ever-renewed fights with the dragon [unconsciousness] they conquer new territory, establish new provinces of consciousness, and over throw antiquated systems of knowledge and morality at the behest of the voice [True self] whose summons they follow, no matter whether they formulate their task as a religious vocation or as practical ethics. The depth of the unconscious layer from which the new springs, and the intensity with which this layer seizes upon the individual, are the real criteria of this summons by the voice, and not the ideology of the conscious mind.”[xxiv]
The “ideology of the conscious mind” is defined in Simple Reality as the false-self identity and has powerfully mesmerized the mass of humanity. “The possessed character of our financial and industrial magnates, for instance, is psychologically evident from the very fact that they are at the mercy of a suprapersonal factor—‘work” [doing], ‘power’ [knowing], ‘money’ [having], or whatever they like to call it—which, in the telling phrase, ‘consumes’ them and leaves them little or no room as private persons. Coupled with a nihilistic attitude towards civilization and humanity there goes a puffing up of the ego-sphere which expresses itself with brutish egotism in a total disregard for the common good and in the attempt to lead an egocentric existence, whose personal power, money and ‘experiences’—unbelievably trivial, but plentiful—occupy every hour of the day.”[xxv]
What is to be done about this human condition? Each of us possesses the essence of the hero within and is capable of slaying this dragon of unconsciousness—but not without some risk—a risk, however, that is an illusion if we don’t end up fleeing the dragon when first encountered.
“Jung puts it that the danger to which the hero is exposed is ‘isolation in himself.’ The suffering entailed by the very fact of being an ego and an individual is implicit in the hero’s situation of having to distinguish himself psychologically from his fellows. He sees things they do not see, does not fall for the things they fall for—but that means that he is a different type of human being and therefore necessarily alone. The loneliness of Prometheus on the rock or the Christ on the cross is the sacrifice they have to endure for having brought the fire and redemption to mankind.”[xxvi]
“Whereas the average individual has no soul of his own, because the group and its canon of values tell him what he may or may not be psychically, the hero is one who can call his soul his own because he fought for it and won it.”[xxvii]
The only hope for the Global Village is to begin with The Great Insight of Oneness and a new story. “For humanity as a whole and the single individual have the same task, namely, to realize themselves as a unity. Both are cast forth into a reality, one half of which confronts them as nature and external world, while the other half approaches them as psyche and the unconscious, spirit and daemonic power. Both must experience themselves as the center of this total reality.”[xxviii]
“Not until the differentiation into races, nations, tribes, and groups has, by a process of integration, been resolved in a new synthesis, will the danger of recurrent invasions from the unconscious be averted.”[xxix] Simple Reality provides the map that illustrates how humanity can avoid the “invasions” from the unconscious and thereby find its way into the present moment.
[i] Edinger, Edward. The Creation of Consciousness: Jung’s Myth for Modern Man. Toronto, Canada: Inner City Books, 1984, p. 57.
[ii] Jung, C. G. The Portable Jung. New York: Penguin Books, 1971, pp. 44-45.
[iii] Ibid., p. 46.
[iv] Edinger, op. cit., p. 32.
[v] Ibid., p. 17.
[vi] Ibid., p. 36.
[vii] Jung, op. cit., p. 45.
[viii] Ibid., p. 52.
[ix] Edinger, op. cit., p. 3.
[x] Jung, op. cit., p. 60.
[xi] Edinger, op. cit., p. 23.
[xii] Jones, Shirley. The Mind of God and Other Musings. San Rafael, California: New World Library, 1994, p. 114.
[xiii] Edinger, op. cit., p. 42.
[xiv] Wilber, Ken. The Spectrum of Consciousness. Wheaton, Illinois: The Theosophical Publishing House, 1977, pp. 94-147.
[xv] Pascal, Eugene. Jung to Live By. New York: Warner Books, Inc., 1992, p. 71.
[xvi] Neumann, Erich. The Origins and History of Consciousness. New York: Bollingen Foundation Inc., 1954, p. 265.
[xvii] Ibid., p. 267.
[xviii] Ibid., p. 281.
[xix] Ibid., p. 284.
[xx] Ibid., p. 373.
[xxii] Ibid., pp. 373-374.
[xxiii] Ibid., p. 375.
[xxiv] Ibid., p. 377.
[xxv] Ibid., pp. 391-392.
[xxvi] Ibid., pp. 378-379.
[xxvii] Ibid., p. 379.
[xxviii] Ibid., pp. 417-418.
[xxix] Ibid., p. 418.