Becoming Ourselves

My life has been blessed by a sense. Sometimes I call that sense long view or wider awareness. I am not alone in having that sense, but among the teeming millions of world population those who have it are comparatively few. And just as it is important for other specialists of human experience or knowledge to share their learning – whether it is in medicine, biology or whatever – so it seems to me important to communicate the information gathered from this long view. If those who have this sense can share it clearly, then it can become a force in the total of human wisdom, out of which we create our future from the unknown.

The sense itself is not mysterious when understood, so I will take time to explain it. My own arrival came about from two important drives in my life. One was the passionate curiosity I have always felt concerning the potentials of the human mind. The other was the depressions and psychosomatic ill health I suffered due to a few painful childhood experiences. Out of these a number of interests and activities grew in my life. I tried to find workable techniques or procedures that would allow real and testable entrance into the usually unconscious areas of being; and at the same time things to produce real change in my conscious life, healing the sources of depression and illness. Although this took many years I eventually did learn to enter into my being deeply enough to find healing. For instance the painful emotions, fears and tensions were re-experienced which had been introduced into my being from a tonsil operation as a six year old, during which I felt my parents had given me away: Also I relived the emotions of being put into a convalescent hospital as a three year old.
The Inner Vision

These deeply interior pieces of experience were enabled to come to consciousness because over some years I had learnt an allowing non repressive, non judgemental state of mind. This is more difficult than it sounds because most of us have an instinctive reaction to avoid pain. Because it is interior pain doesn’t make it easier to face and allow. In fact, because interior pains usually have many confusing states of mind they may be more difficult than physical pain. Yet this ability to meet the fullness of ones experience, pain or pleasure, threatening to selfhood or comforting, is the central key to the process of consciously exploring ones roots.

Because of this I can understand why the courage to face pain/fear/emotion/sexuality is highlighted in folklore, religion and the initiation rites of many tribal or racial groups. These are the raw energies of our inner life. These are the rivers, mountains and angry seas of experience we will meet and have to traverse in some way if we are to go beyond conscious experience into the depth and heights of what is usually unconscious in us.

Imagine then, finding in yourself the ability to remember, and deeply experience with feelings and insight, piece after piece of your personal history. Not just memory of events and days, but also of the interior process of growth and maturity, and the vast timeless world of the pre-verbal baby. Imagine going back along ones time track to discover you do not begin at birth, but a whole world of experience has preceded that in the womb. And beyond that, prior to conception, yet another world quite different to that of birth or womb. The awareness we have of human life cannot help but widen. Values change, relationships with people, work, life, subtly alter. New ranges of response to particular situations arise.
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Once we have learned to allow unconscious trauma and early memories into awareness, the ability to become conscious of even deeper experiences follows. The track of our physical growth is only one of the directions possible to explore with this sense. As the various pieces of ones experience fit together a wide view of where ones identity has emerged from arises. It becomes obvious we as individuals are directly linked and emerging from the whole process of evolution and the historic drama. Consciousness bursts beyond the boundaries of personal memories, and now touches the living forces at work in oneself which flow into it from the entire past of ones family, race and culture.
The Light Born as a Babe

I will try to gather some of the impressions gained from gazing into the worlds revealed when this happens. For although from our limited memory we believe we live in time, and have a beginning and end, as our awareness stretches beyond babyhood, and discovers the forces from which it arose, we meet the timeless impulse of life, majestically traversing the ages in all creatures. We live in the midst of this timelessness, our own being partaking of it, with no beginning, no end, no goals or purpose other than we give ourselves from convictions, beliefs or fears.
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We are the essential consciousness of life itself, the very light, and born as a babe, like the good book says, for a while forgetful of what we are. And at the very centre of our existence is just Being. No great powers or ecstasies; only a conscious space. But one from which we can, aware or otherwise, create our own love or anger, pain or liberation, or whatever dreams of gods and angels we so desire to people the cosmos with.

Then there seem to me to be mysteries and wonders. For looking back I see all life, all consciousness, collected as it were in a great ocean or pool, in which there was no sense of separateness or identity. Then out of that ocean onto the shore of self awareness, perhaps for moments only at first, a daring creature crawled and said “I am”. Doing so they left a mark – footprints, two stones rolled together, marks on a rock, a cave painting. And those still in the ocean looked out upon them and wondered, until a spark was struck in them too. Perhaps struggling for a closer view they emerged and gasping also exclaimed – I am – and added another rock.

So the ocean is the world of sleep, babyhood, life of the nameless herd, consciousness immersed completely in the streams of instinct, reproduction, eating, sleeping and the senses, the collective unconsciousness. But the shore is the pathway of consciousness, the spoken word, art, drama, music, architecture, education and questioning enquiry, the collective consciousness, from which a babe is given a soul of its own, as it is taken from the collective unconscious of the great waters of life.
The Long View

Looking at ourselves from the view of our one individual life, it would seem as if we have arrived – we have attained self awareness and self direction. But from the long view, when consciousness stands back from its moorings in the present, and allows the sense of its own agelessness to come upon it, then this present self is but a mote in a huge panorama of life. It is one among billions, a moment in timelessness, a stride in the great journey of lifes infinite unfolding change. Then it can be seen that consciousness is still largely immersed in the grip of instinctive drives of aggression, territory, sex and domination. As we look around us in the world and into our own being it is obvious our consciousness is still chained to the world of thoughts, fears, emotions and drives which are the animal alive and untransformed in us. So for humanity the great struggle, seen from the wider view, is not whether we can heal cancer, or maintain peace in a warring world, but whether we can emerge into consciousness; whether we can bring our being out of the raging waters of the collective unconscious, of the twisted world of thoughts, values and ever shifting emotions, into real human awareness directing its own faculties instead of unconsciously being led by them. And from the long view also can be seen the other struggle where person dominates person. Where one, a little more witting than another, turns and directs them in their half sleep, for personal gain. People enslaved by people. Not in iron chains, but with social rules, financial illusions presented as truths, backed by thugs dressed as soldiers and police. So the struggle of person against person, the human farmers manipulating the human cattle, calls out in groans to the spirit.

If, from the mountain peak of awareness one could view only the struggle and conflict of humanity it would be a saddening experience. From that vantage point one can also search out the countryside of the human condition for new pastures, alternative routes, possibilities. While struggling to climb the slopes I heard people talking about God’s Plan for humanity. They suggested a great destiny worked out despite human weakness. Perhaps my eyes are too dim to see it; or perhaps it is not there to see. I can only report the view I gained. And at the greatest altitude, outside of time, space and identity, there is no past or future, no mind. The phenomenon of the cosmos is a dance of infinite and continuing change, and there can be no one planned direction in infinite change. Nor, from eternity that encompasses all, does it matter whether the tiny life germs on a single planet survive or not. Do we mourn the loss of thousands of skin cells daily? From a nearer view, a creature that has not learned, and cannot learn, to harness the tides of its own aggression and possessiveness, its own mind and emotion, cannot survive its own rise into consciousness anyway. The story of Noah could happen again. For it tells us of the conscious identities in ancient budding humanity, being so overwhelmed by the instinctive drives of sex, self grasping, the fight to dominate, that the waters of the unconscious swallowed them up. Only a handful survived, bringing, in a transformative sense, their animal drives with them. If it had not been so the climb to consciousness may have been delayed an unimaginable length of time, or missed our species altogether. For self awareness is a gift from one conscious being to another – a link in the ever present need for giving – education, language, care in infancy. Babies reared by animals never attain it. We could lose it in one generation in a non-caring world.

Whatever we like to name the urge in humans towards caring and sharing, toward non grasping and avoidance of domination of one person by another – it is out of this that the environment for the individual move toward awareness can occur. Just as we have the drive in us to grasp for ourselves and procreate, so, from the lives of thousands of men and women who led lives of giving, there has been planted in us the seed of the urge to become a part of a wider human experience. If we let it live in us, it will connect us with the endeavours of other people of good will all over the world.
Our Animal Heritage

In our animal heritage too lies a precious jewel. Early human beings perhaps developed it prior to the ability to think. Imagine one of our forebears, in an environment high enough in dangers and hardships to create constant alertness to survive. Imagine them standing on watch for the group to alert them of enemies, or the movement of creatures vital to their survival. From the vantage point a huge stretch of land spreads away, and with a biological computer equal to our own, greater than any electronic device in our times – they watch. A swirl of dust, a movement of birds, sounds faint and distant. Life itself may depend on knowing what those faint impressions are – yet no one piece of information is certain enough – but their computer brain, from generations of such experiences leaps to a gestalt, a whole made out of the thousand tiny parts of sense impressions, and seemingly intuits knowledge of the distant source of dust. In primitive societies the faculty is still observable.

Today we do not need to watch the horizon or read the sounds of nature around us in order to catch our next meal. But the faculty is still in us dormant. And if we are to survive as a species, we do need watchers of an horizon of a different sort. Today the faculty can work for us in another way. Are we not the worried survivors of the French and Russian revolutions, the Vietnam war, two world wars, and threats of terrorism? If we were not so worried world armament expenses would not be what they are. Have we not witnessed the incredible power of nature suppressed and ruled by a group so out of touch with the natural energies in the human animal, they were destroyed in the revolutions and wars named? When the intellect is out of touch with the collective forces of life, and tries to direct the world, nature itself, in humans or environmental forces, revolts. And our watchers today, trained in the use of their own biological computer, could take in the many thousands of pieces of information arising from world society in music, media, art, television, cultural changes, daily events, and allow their ancient sense to leap to gestalts about directions of collective mood, creativity, aggression and politics. We can listen as well to nature, our own precious planet, to see how our often egoistic activities are touching the wellsprings of energy and consciousness of our world.

That is my view from the mountain.

Copyright © 1999-2010 Tony Crisp | All rights reserved