What is consciousness? Or What does consciousness mean to you? Why do we need to be conscious? Is it something only a select few evolved beings are entitled to? Are you not conscious already? What are you conscious of right now?
In trying to get answers to these questions, I have the following insights which I stumbled upon. I do not want to ask you whether you agree, cause it would go against the very lessons I uncovered in this process.
What I uncovered could ‘disturb’ you or even ‘frustrate’ or ‘anger’ you. That’s a fair warning I thought I must provide before you begin to explore here in my new blog post.
I have been equally guilty of at times the mindless pursuit of this elusive concept of consciousness. I call this a concept as this is today being sold worldwide as some unique recipe for the individual to attain the so called ‘unknown’; ‘inexplicable’ state of inner well-being. I thought it is about time I dig deeper into this concept. I really had to; as there are so many conflicting messages, talks, techniques which are prevalent that more than helping an individual achieve an elusive state of consciousness, confuses them even more.
The problem with confronting people who are in this pursuit with some hard facts and tough questions is that they tend to get defensive. When asked for more details or clarification, they explain away more from a delusionary perspective. I start to wonder, are these techniques or concepts our effort to explain away the negative states we encounter, or to be comfortable with such states.
The other question I have – why is it that most of the so called consciousness seekers or self-awareness pursuers are people who seem to have nothing else to do or have all the time in the world running around ideas and concept which will keep their curious minds busy?
There are three questions I have for you to understand ‘Why are we wanting to be self-aware or conscious?’ What drives you towards such pursuits?
- Is it your ‘fear’?
- Is it your ‘ego’?
- Is it merely an ‘escape’?
Most people who tell you that your body is just a ‘vehicle’ and it’s the spirit or super-conscious or an inexplicable state which guides your actions are the one’s who are probably trying to deal with their fears the most. They seem to be using these techniques to justify or feel comfortable with the harsh truths of life itself. They seem to be grappling with;
- The fear of death
- The fear of being controlled
- The fear of being manipulated
- The fear of being influenced
- The fear of being ruled over
- The fear of the unknown
- The fear of losing something or someone
- The fear of not doing something worthwhile
Come to think of it, most of the techniques, concepts of meditation, self-actualization etc. are nothing but very creative ways of explaining away or running away or infact avoiding the confrontation of some hard facts. They are merely comforting methods dished out to you. For example, you know that death is the ultimate truth (if you choose to call it) and if you fear it and are always worried about the fact of dying one day, you will constantly look for ways and means to comfort you that actually ‘body’ is just a vehicle, your spirit lives on and the blah blah. In fact doing this can lead you to deep denial of the reality. Similarly, when someone has been imprisoned or his territory has been taken over by a hostile neighbor and if he is not able to retaliate with equal and more force, he will resort to explanations which talk about how the world is actually boundaryless and we are all one and the blah! They will also explain away saying that even though you have taken over my territory, you cannot conquer my mind or heart. Very comforting isn’t it? Does a daily wages worker or laborer spend his time in all these ‘consciousness’; self-awareness business? He is just bothered about where his next meal is going to come. He just doesn’t have the time to reflect on all these concepts. Die eventually he will as much as the one’s pursuing higher levels of consciousness. Does that mean that if you have started pursuing all these techniques or dwelling into all these fields, you have all the time or nothing else to work towards? Are you running away from something? Are you fearful of something? Are you not ready to confront the reality? Are you delusionary in your approach to life?
I do remember, when I was enjoying working and earning money and was spending most of my time in all the so called material pursuits of life, I didn’t have time nor the inclination to think on such utopian concepts of self and conscious et al. It’s only when I didn’t have anything worthwhile to do or found that I got bored of what I was doing is when I started to spend time to understand the unknown.
I’m simply asking you the question, what if you are faced with extreme danger or a dear one is suffering? Do you spend time giving the concepts of life-death and beyond to such a person or just do the ‘next right thing’? Should provide you with some answers I suppose.
I go on to ask you, is the pursuit of ‘consciousness’ or all these new and old age techniques of meditation etc., to satisfy your ‘ego’? That you wish to know what other so called great saints claim to know or have experienced? Or simply, you don’t want to feel like a loser who didn’t learn this one concept which would then entitle you to be called an ‘evolved’ being or someone who knows more than the others? Don’t hesitate to confront this dimension of you head on. Similar to our fears, our ego is also one of the triggers for these mindless pursuits. You just don’t want to be;
- Defeated by death
- Defeated by knowledge
- Defeated in controlling your mind
- Defeated by the influence of others on your behavior or emotions
- Defeated by others who seem to have been ahead in various pursuits of life
- Defeated by ignorance and so on..
Come to think of it, doesn’t our ego come in the way of accepting reality most of the times. We do not want to accept the fact that a certainty like death will confront each one of us. We want to conquer it knowing fully well that it is not a possibility. We want to provide fantastical explanations around the fact of ‘death’ so as to comfort ourselves that it is not going to rule our mind and heart. We just don’t want to let go. Similarly if you look at many of our pursuits could also be a result of a competing mindset driven by our ego. You feel at times a personal insult that you do not know of somethings which others know; here we are talking about ‘self-awareness’ or ‘consciousness’. Your ego is hurt. You would respond either by pursuing it yourself so that you can claim that knowledge yourself or you would like to attack the whole idea and call it frivolous or wasteful pursuit. Now hang on; I know what would have crossed your mind right now. You would be thinking, this guy is of the second type, driven by his ego not wanting to accept the fact that he doesn’t know of some higher goal or knowledge. But really, don’t you think it is the case with most of us. If you observe your responses to emotional triggers on a daily basis you will understand what I am trying to tell you here.
We have also been told that our mind is so vast and complex that it is very difficult to understand or control. That really hurts. How can I not control my own ‘mind’ (ego kicking in). Let me go out and find out techniques and procedures to control my mind. I ask you, why do you need to put so much of effort and energy in controlling your mind. You just need to respond to a situation and respond in a way which will be joyful to you. Try to swim against the tide takes a toll on your energy; is frustrating and tiresome at times. That’s why you see many who go for these meditation sessions find it very difficult to concentrate / focus. The more they try to focus the more distracted they become, the more distracted they are when compared to others around them the more frustrated they become and start to put more effort. There ‘ego’ doesn’t allow them to be defeated. By now you would have got a sense of how our ego becomes a driver in our pursuits and traps us in its clutches.
Sometimes I have also found that all these pursuits which are in the realm of the esoteric, unknown, unexplainable are also driven by our desire to ‘escape’. The great emperor Ashoka took to Buddhism to escape the responsibility of the carnage he inflicted in the Kalinga war. He could not any longer confront the reality and instead of looking at rebuild, he chose the escape mechanism as an easier thing to do at that time. This is further confirmed by the fact that most people go on such retreats and call it ‘an escape from the daily life or routine’. They are called escapades. This pursuit of understanding ‘self’ and that of ‘consciousness’ and other invisible forms are nothing but what I call ‘intellectual escapade’. Are you?