Scrawled on the blackboard of my favorite coffee shop last week was this great definition of consciousness: “Consciousness is the ability to understand the relationship of events sufficiently well to effectively manage and manipulate those events.”
It really struck me as a no-nonsense description of what can be a difficult subject to get your head around. It got me thinking of my own level of consciousness as well as that of humanity as a whole. How conscious are we really? What role does consciousness play in the state of the world?
If we take a look at the world news headlines on a daily basis, we can readily see just how much of a mess we are in. The problems seem endless: from wars, to environmental devastation, to the epidemic of loneliness, to schoolyard shootings, to national economic collapses, to corporate and governmental corruption, to widespread poverty, to oppression of people’s basic human rights, and so on. It can all seem very overwhelming.
Before this all gets very gloomy, I’d like to state for-the-record that I believe humanity has a really bright future. To my way of thinking, most of mankind’s problems, when you trace them back to their source, are man-made. They are psychological in nature; a result of our “stalled” or “arrested” consciousness. For example: looking at any one of the various military conflicts occurring in the world today, I can’t help but form an image in my mind of a bunch of squabbling teenagers throwing stones and screaming abuse at each other over a fence. From that image I could then grade the current state of humanity’s consciousness as “D+. Selfish. Acts like an adolescent. Needs to grow up quickly.
These two quotes from the Czech psychologist, Stanislav Grof, sum up brilliantly the need for us humans to attain a higher level of consciousness:
“A radical inner transformation and rise to a new level of consciousness might be the only real hope we have in the current global crisis brought on by the dominance of the Western mechanistic paradigm.”
“I believe it is essential for our planetary future to develop tools that can change the consciousness which has created the crisis that we are in.”
This quote from Swiss theologian, Hans Kung, makes a similar point:
“All historical experience demonstrates the following: Our earth cannot be changed unless in the not too distant future an alteration in the consciousness of individuals is achieved.”
Then there’s this great quote from American blues musician, Robert Johnson:
“Nothing will see us through the age we’re entering but high consciousness, and that comes hard. We don’t have a good, modern myth yet, and we need one.”
These quotes then raise the obvious question “Well, how exactly do we rise up to this new level?” These two quotes provide some answers:
“Only when inspired to go beyond consciousness by some extraordinary insight does beauty manifest unexpectedly.” – Arthur Erickson
“Only the consciousness of a purpose that is mightier than any man and worthy of all men can fortify and inspirit and compose the souls of men.” – Walter Lippmann
I agree that what we need is a new profound “mighty” “insight” into what makes humans tick. What makes us so insecure, aggressive and uncaring at times, whilst being secure, peaceful and compassionate at other times? Why do we not fully understand ourselves? What is our true spirit, our true nature? We are thirsting for the truth about ourselves –– the truth about our burdensome human condition no less.
So then, how would we know that a particular insight put forward was The Truth? Well, the scientific method dictates that a hypothesis must first be tested, and there would be no better way to test such an idea than through our own life experiences. The great physicist Albert Einstein once wrote:
“Truth is what stands the test of experience.”
With a new fully-tested understanding of ourselves, that proves our fundamental goodness, a new way out of our predicament would present itself. A whole new industry would be born based on this new secure understanding of our past and present. We would then be “purpose”-driven and would develop cutting-edge tools to make a glorious future possible.
How quickly would this new industry take to gain a global foothold? Well, if we look at how computers and the internet have so quickly changed our world, we can see the power of a new technology whose time has come, to sweep the world. This powerful quote from the Jesuit priest Teilhard de Chardin is testament to this phenomenon:
“The Truth has to only appear once…for it to be impossible for anything ever to prevent it from spreading universally and setting everything ablaze.” (Let Me Explain, 1966)
From a practical point of view, if we had this new “insight” right now, which could elevate one’s consciousness, how would it take hold? Well, quite simply, it would happen at an individual level –– one person at a time. To quote Dennis Weaver:
“Changing mass consciousness is an individual responsibility.”
This may sound like a slow process, but I believe it would soon gather great momentum –– become infectious and catch-on very quickly, because we would all be part of a cause much bigger than ourselves, as this quote from Joseph Campbell attests:
“When we quit thinking primarily about ourselves and our own self-preservation, we undergo a truly heroic transformation of consciousness.”
So let’s be ready for this great transformation of consciousness when it arrives. It’s only a matter of time before we unlock the door. It will be the culmination of about two million years of human endeavor!
Editor: Lindsay Friedman
Juan Gomez is a dreamer and a thinker. He is dedicated and passionate about looking at new ideas that may help us find our much needed transformation.