Consciousness is Only One Facet of Awareness

In 2017 we celebrate conscious communities, Christ consciousness, conscious living, conscious creation, etc. The allure of expanded consciousness and the supposed positive effects of it on society make it easy to lose sight of the fact that the conscious mind is but a fraction of our total awareness. The conscious mind is in fact the one facet of our awareness that is most limited, reductionist, and usually loaded with psychic distortions.

You might be thinking, Don’t we need consciousness, for like, everything? Isn’t consciousness how we learn, how we speak, how we make memories, how we make plans and make changes to things? Isn’t the conscious mind what makes humans human? Consider for a moment that consciousness is not the source of any of these human functions, as Julian Jaynes did.

Given the diminished awareness of many people in the world, it is easy to imagine that those who have developed the conscious mind are the ones operating on the highest awareness, holding the greatest insight, and possessing the most complete schematics of life itself. We are conditioned to think this way.

The conscious mind, as Jaynes discovered in his research, is not a necessary part of the learning process. This is true whether it be the learning of signals, skills, or solutions. “The very reason we need logic at all is because most reasoning is not conscious at all.” Also, consciousness does not make copies of everything like most people think, and even if it did, they would be a narrow version of reality: “Actually we are never conscious of things in their true nature, only of the excerpts we make of them.”

If not the conscious mind, then where in the brain is all our higher functioning taking place? We are conditioned to think (consciously) in terms of spatialization, giving an imaginary or assumed space in our heads as well as the heads of others. Jaynes explains that, “consciousness has no location except as we imagine it has.”

So, where does consciousness come from?

The conscious mind develops out of language, and language is largely developed out of metaphors that are condensed into labels. Metaphor uses a familiar thing to overlay its understood meaning onto a different, unfamiliar or hard to describe thing. “Using machines as metaphiers (the familiar thing) has been at the very center of discovery” Jaynes says, and in my opinion it is this mechanistic orientation of thinking that tends to lock off access to the greater portion of a human’s awareness, which tends to be rather undefinable and is obviously less appreciated by the physical scientist.

The conscious mind is quite busy, usually fluttered with a constant stream of private story-telling. Jaynes describes this narratization, “In consciousness we are always seeing our vicarial selves as the main figures in the stories of our lives. We are constantly narrating when we are conscious. Perceptions that do not fit into the ongoing story are unnoticed or at least unremembered. More important, situations are chosen which are congruent to this ongoing story, until the picture I have of myself in my life story determines how I am to act and choose in novel situations as they arise.”

This made a ton of sense to me. Even though I’ve been using the C word (consciousness) like it was the holy grail of healing, I realize now that my logic was based on assuming it was the lack of consciousness that was acting as a main obstacle between a helpful truth and a person’s awareness. In actuality, it is the conscious mind that is locked up with its story, with its distortions, with its baggage, that is the obstacle between truth and awareness. Consciousness may look like the answer next to a society of zombies without activated free will or any self-direction. And yet, there is more to realize, further to go, more to recognize, though perhaps not consciously.

What, if not consciousness, are we using to operate in this life? This is where it gets a bit more difficult to define things neatly. For me, my awareness is sourced from multiple “places” and I take my subtler sensitivities more seriously than I used to. Being sensitive once meant being vulnerable, but it turned out that vulnerability was a story I started telling myself as a nervous kid. Being sensitive now isn’t weakening, it’s empowering. This would not be the case if I had not cleaned out the distortions at the conscious level. When I am both sensitive and free from the conscious narration of the experience, I have a vastly broader perspective of the world around me and the people around me; I have access to my truth and compassion, my stillness and my neutrality; my free will to respond or not respond; this is sovereignty. I feel like we are meant to function on this level of exchange, relying less on language and physical definitions, and more on empathic/telepathic transmissions and receptions, and all of us from a multi-faceted awareness. This can include energetic resonance, intuition, somatic intelligence, memories, dreams, the subconscious, meditation experiences, visions and sometimes just knowing because you know, even if you can’t put it into words. One of the things I noticed along this journey is that the highest truth we encounter is also the toughest to verbalize and convey to others. It’s like we are meant to restore these subtle senses and awarenesses, and that consciousness has been the belle of the co-opted healing modalities ball.

Final thought: If we don’t need consciousness to learn, to speak, to organize, to love one another and to operate a human existence, and if it’s primarily being used as a way to lock up the access (and the credibility) of the other sources of awareness, then in my book, it’s a tool at best and a weapon every day of the week, Probably twice on Sunday.

Excerpts taken from the book “The Origin of Consciousness and the Bicameral Mind” by Julian Jaynes.


Learning to Be Human Again

From Original Wisdom: Stories of An Ancient Way of Knowing, by Robert Wolff

“Do not talk,” Ahmeed said — I knew he meant “Do not think.” “Water inside heart,” he said next, with a gesture of his hand on his heart. I knew he meant I should sense inside — not with my mind but from the inside.
It is sad to have to use so many words to say something so simple.
As soon as I stopped thinking, planning, deciding, analyzing — using my mind, in short — I felt as if I was pushed in a certain direction. I walked a few steps and immediately saw a big leaf with perhaps half a cup of water in it.
I must have stood there for a full minute, in awe. Not in awe of anything in particular, simply in awe.
When I leaned over to drink from the leaf, I saw water with feathery ripples, I saw the veins of the leaf through the water, some bubbles, a little piece of dirt. Reaching out, I put a finger in the water, then saw that one of the wriggling mosquito larvae had been trapped in a tiny bubble on my finger. How beautiful, how perfect. I did not put the finger with the water droplet in my mouth, but looked back at the leaf.
My perception opened further. I no longer saw water — what I felt with my whole being was a leaf-with-water-in-it, attached to a plant that grew in soil surrounded by uncounted other plants, all parts of the same blanket of living things covering the soil, which was also part of a larger living skin around the earth. And nothing was separate; all was one, the same thing: water – leaf – plant – trees – soil – animals – earth – air – sunlight and little wisps of wind. The all-ness was everywhere, and I was part of it.
I cannot explain what went on inside me, but I knew that I had learned something unbelievably wonderful. I felt more alive than I had ever felt before.
All of me was filled with being.

What this other sense is, I do not know. For me it is very real. I think of it as a sense of knowing. It probably is a quality we all have to a greater or lesser degree. For me it works when I can get out of my mind, when I can experience without having to understand, or name, or position, or judge, or categorize.
It is a quality that has to be used or it fades away; just as one has to exercise muscles, so too knowing must be exercised.
I am saying this after the fact, trying to describe something that does not fit into our Western concepts, and therefore there are no words. At the time I did not think anything. I was learning how to put my mind aside and use some other sense to know.
Standing over a leaf with a little water in it, somewhere in the jungles of Malaysia, I did not think in words. I did not think. I bathed in that overwhelming sense of oneness. I felt as if a light was lit deep inside me. I knew I was radiating something — love, perhaps — for this incredible world, this rich, varied, and totally interconnected world of creations that, at the same time, gave love to me. And with the love, I also felt a very deep sense of belonging.

After a while, I slowly woke up. I came to, so to speak, and was in my body again. I looked around. Ahmeed was not where I thought he was. In fact, he was not anywhere in sight. He must have walked on, I thought.
As soon as I thought, I panicked. I realized that I was alone, that Ahmeed had left me in a strange place. I had no idea where I was, or how to get back to Three or to find Ahmeed. My first reaction was to shout, to yell, to call him. But the sense of being part of this wonderful whole was so strong that I could not raise my voice. I opened my mouth and tried to make a sound, but no sound would pass my throat. I could not possibly disturb this oneness by yelling, by feeling panicked. I could not be afraid — after all, I was part of this all-ness.

My life changed in that moment.


(Original Wisdom: Stories of An Ancient Way of Knowing, by Robert Wolff)