AWARENESS - and - The boundary between the conscious and unconscious
First, two opposite emotions cannot coexist in your mind at the same time. That is what meditation and relaxation does. It brings another state of mind, another feeling into your present awareness. You cannot be relaxed and angry, you cannot love and hate, you cannot be afraid and confident, at the same time. But when you are relaxed you can be aware of the feelings rising up from the unconscious, acknowledge them and when appropriate, let them go. Your choosing of your next behavior will be more appropriate to the moment, more responsible, more accurate. It is good to practice this, often.
From this starting point we will explore the conscious, the unconscious and how to enhance our relationship between the two. Or in more grandiose terms - exploring the path of wholeness.
Levels within levels. Degrees of paying attention. Moments of distraction. What is it that awareness brings to us to make it worth our while for the commitment, for the practice, for the time. Will this shift in my focus bring wealth or happiness, will it lessen my pain, will I understand more and suffer less? Will my belief system be challenged or will I rise above a belief system and connect directly to the source? What will happen to me if I embark on this journey?
The quality of our lives as we understand it, as others understand it, is infused with our birth culture and reflects both our experiences throughout the journey and how we responded to those experiences. Our choices, how we respond. So simple, so powerful and yet so filled with great potential and great risk, great joy and great disappointment.
Awareness to what ever degree cannot alter the impact of the society you grew up in. Rules, rituals, customs, expectations, values and roles for you to play out. The hierarchy had the power, mostly male dominated, and all of the people bowed in some way to that authority. The very roles you chose were conditioned by the larger institutions in your world. The police, the educational system, the churches and church leaders, the news media, the government, your family. Concepts like Democracy and Capitalism, winning or losing, Heaven and Hell, War and Peace, God and Satan, even intelligence and being stupid. But at some point in time you questioned everything you were fed and you began to free yourself. Maybe only a little at a time you questioned. Capitalism survives on consumption, nothing else, it is not flawless. Greed and irresponsible self serving behavior can bring down any institution. Competition is fun and challenging until people really get hurt. Male domination is great, unless you are a woman. Democracy is the best political System in the world, until the leaders usurp the powers of the constitution. It is great to be a winner but are all those others losers? I live in abundance yet others have nothing. Thou shalt not kill but hundreds of thousands die in conflict or war. Guilt warns you that you have violated a value that is important to you, original sin has no internal reference it just tells you that you are a sinner from the beginning. Our societies are filled with control concepts and systems that are there to prevent all of us from running amuck. The prevailing paradigm is that we need to be led and controlled or there will be chaos. All of our hierarchical organizations and institutions have a few (leaders) at the top and everyone else somewhere between the cellar and the third floor. Domination and submission is the order of the day, after day, after day.
These are contradictions of life and living. Would you continue on as if everything you had been taught was absolutely true, or would you be aware of these contradictions, challenge them and live a more fully human life. The life of integration of body, thought, emotions and spirit. Awareness applied at all of these levels gives each of us that opportunity, to become part of the adult community and an integral part of everything else.
Awareness is a concept of living, it is different than just walking around and paying attention. Awareness has levels of conscious attention. It is the beginning tool for mastery of "self" and it allows you to reach your full potential as a whole human being with the gifts, talents and opportunities you came into this world with. It also allows you to live through the events and experiences of life that can only be described as "not what I wanted or signed up for", with a measure of peace, acceptance and dignity.
Will this path alter your relationships, your personal views on life, your behavior, decisions, choices, even your political and religious viewpoint? The answer is yes but it is yes not because a new thought has been placed in your mind but because your entire consciousness will shift. You will become friends with the unknown. Your choices will not be driven by your unknowing but by your awareness. You will respond to life, conscious, thoughtful, and kind and your choices will reflect your aware state of mind. The word freedom comes to mind, freedom to see, to feel, to choose with responsibility and with compassion.
The Metaphor of Light and Dark
Light is where we experience living. We see and create, we observe and learn. The absence of light is darkness. We carry light metaphors around with us, light is good, light is safe, light is understanding while darkness is spooky, darkness brings danger and is filled with scary unknowns, darkness is not safe. And yet the rising of the sun can bring life and death, and darkness can bring rest and healing.
Awareness is like that. Awareness says we are conscious of what is going on, it is our light into ourselves and others, but awareness is only the flashlight to see into the darkness, to observe what rises from the unconscious. Other tools are needed. Our unconscious, our darkness, is not the bad side of us, it is the invisible side of us. It is the unknown driver of many of our actions, beliefs, feelings and thoughts. We can turn on the light so that everything that emerges from the shadows is immediately visible. This visibility changes things. All life experiences force us to choose. Better to choose with as much conscious information as possible.
Yet our unconscious governs most of our existence. This is for the most part, the way it should be. The unconscious does its job, conscious thought and awareness does its job. We can however tweak the relationship to get better results. I for one believe that this relationship, though incredibly complex, can be much more positive that it has been for most of us. We all "self reference" everything we experience. We instantaneously value judge the experience. It is good for me or it is not? Will my self image or identity be compromised? Does this reality mirror my own internal reality? None of this self reference reaches our conscious awareness until these questions are answered. The answer is often in the form of a feeling or emotion. Pleasure, a warm fuzzy, a flicker of anger, a touch of fear, anxiety or a number of others. So what appears from our unconscious is not always in neon lights, many times it is tiny and subtle. None the less our developing awareness/observer will notice and we will choose appropriately, or at least the best option at the moment.
There are four levels of awareness: Our body, our intellect, our emotions, our spirit. When we recognize each of these as they are and apply ourselves to their energies then we approach a wholeness that is what it means to be truly human.
Our body: the energy of action, muscle strength, speed, agility, lightness of touch, our senses visual, hearing, touch, smell, taste. Graceful forms, gentleness, defensive response, sexual energy, heightened senses and the thrill of physical challenges. Playful behavior and the pure joy of physical play, intense focus and the challenges of precision effort.
Our Intellect: thought, imagination, problem solving, inventing, creating
Our emotions: The driving energy of our lives, Joy, sadness, anger, love, the full range of everything we feel about everything we experience.
Our spirit: Our connection to the source. The transformative relationship we experience as we go beyond ourselves and connect with the Divine nature of all that is not us.
We will be exploring each of these and we will honor each as we discover what it means to be fully aware.
But First - Responsibility
The hardest, the most difficult is to come to terms with the illusion of your existence - "that you are not responsible for your health, your happiness, your misery". You have participated either consciously or unconsciously in every moment of your life. Your choices have moved you along the path for better or for worse. Not until you acknowledge, that the chatter of your mind distracts you from the present, your thoughts invoke emotion which stimulates action, that you and all those in the world choose every moment of every day to live, to exist, or to die. Choose to live, fully human, aware, alert, attentive. Awareness brings a new level of alertness and alertness brings the opportunity for paying attention, for focus.
When there is no one left to blame, when you silence your mind, when you are a witness to the moment, your new journey begins.
Where does the power lie
Own what you are, become what you can be, believe in your power to change, to grow, to be.
Move a Mountain One Pebble at a Time, Today take the first step, tomorrow take the second step. Our Response to any Experience can be a choice. Experience allows but does not guarantee that we move beyond our fears and unhappiness. Until we get used to it choosing in any area of our lives is not easy. Until we understand and own our power of choice it is never our responsibility, blame comes before ownership. Until we see the power of choice in everyone we accept that which is not ours, blame that is falsely assigned, opinions and judgements that manipulate our emotions.
A key to all of this is the recognition that yes, you had a choice, but also yes, so does everyone else. This helps to unravel others behavior, see through manipulation, and observe the choices others make. If we raise our children to understand this then it is not just a case of I chose and will reap the consequences but also that others choose and they must also reap the consequences. Our tendency to accept responsibility for that which is not ours is baffling. This is specially true in our family groups. A spouse says my "my behavior caused -the other- to do such and such". A noble thought but very incorrect, The 'other' made a decision, chose their behavior. If that behavior caused pain or damage to the family then everyone has to understand who owned that choice, and then choose their own path. This look at consequences implies a negative, there is another side, a positive one.
To own our health, happiness and misery requires a few extra tools. A belief in our power to choose, an imagination that lets us create our unique reality in our minds, an awareness that maintains our attention and the ability to "feel" what our imagination creates for us. As has been mentioned once or twice, we tell our subconscious what to wrestle with, how important it is to us, and what information we can collect and present to it. I can imagine anything, my subconscious wants this to be a reality and treats my imaginings accordingly, my belief that what I imagine can be real changes everything.
So as I focus (awareness and attention), As I create (my imagination), as I believe, so shall I be.
We are a product of our beliefs, we are a product of our level of conscious awareness, and we are a product of our entire past (biology, environment, experiences).
The monk, traveling with a young student was asked, "which becomes more powerful within us, Love or hate, fear or courage, happiness or sadness, health or illness?" The monk replied, "the ones you feed".
Far be it from me to tell you how to develop your body into a well oiled machine, healthy, fit, agile and strong. There are thousands of people that can do that better than I. I am hardly the lean surfer dude, not a fighter, can't run very fast and I am not a match for tall buildings or runaway trains. But I can suggest how to develop a relationship with your unconscious that will maximize your efforts at getting healthier and more successful at anything you really want to do.
First you must consciously decide what you want to accomplish. Then you must develop a program of practice, with help as you feel appropriate. Then you must apply yourself, over and over until something important happens. You may have to work at getting stronger or more flexible at first. You may have to change your habits, eating, drinking, smoking, sleeping (we will talk about this in a bit). And, you may have to overcome set-backs. Sore muscles, bad knees, a cold, or the famous plateau where you just don't lose any more weight, can't run any faster or farther, or all your golf clubs hit the same distance. Since the list for what we want to learn or improve on is almost infinite, from here we will discuss the true relationship between your conscious and unconscious mind. In other words your body awareness.
The first step is to learn to be quiet and still. It is very difficult to focus if your mind is off somewhere else. What you will be doing here is (sooner or later) intensely focusing on nothing. This is a feeling or sensing exercise. Do you know where every part of your body is. Can you sense the tips of your fingers, your lips, your nose, your knees, your feet? Can you over and over again close your eyes and feel every part of you. Can you feel yourself breathe, your heart beat, your muscles tense and relax. Can you observe the wandering of your mind and then relax and bring it gently back to nothing? Finally can you feel the energy within you as it floats and courses throughout your body. However you practice this, however you feel this, this is ongoing, never ending and a consistent part of your everyday experience. It is not magic, it is the first level of awareness and is practiced everyday until just a single thought will trigger the exercise. Do it while eating, walking, before you sleep, after you wake up, in the line at the grocery store, while driving (careful there).
This practice allows you to use your imagination and visualization skills to target each area of the body when it is in distress. My knees sometimes bother me if I attempt a golf swing in the spirit of the game that I probably should not do. So I prop up my legs at home and imagine a soothing flow of energy relieving the strain. In a day or so with continued focus I am ok. It works for backaches, muscle strain, and headaches. Though relaxing strained neck muscles can be a bit daunting. The point is each of us can bring the full resources of our body and mind to help us deal with minor aches and pains. But with practice this level of focus can assist in many different levels of healing when being treated for a greater injury. Let your imagination enlist the soldiers of your body to bring back the balance your body has temporarily lost. Belief, imagination, visualization, and focus are the tools for returning balance. Relaxation, energy flow, gentleness and gratitude help keep you in balance.
To attain optimum physical fitness requires commitment. I am committed to only middle of the road physical fitness. That is my age, my condition and my decision. You can argue about my choice as long as you understand that you, each of you, also make the choice every day. Choosing just means doing because physical fitness requires doing and only a little bit of thinking and planning. Choosing also means not doing - garbage in - garbage out. So if you want to run, run. If you want to be a great martial artist, martial art. If you want to just be physically fit because of other priorities, use all of your in between times to perform physical fitness exercises - stairs, walking, leaning pushups, consciously tensing and relaxing muscle groups, sports and a host of others.
Body awareness is conscious activity. Breathing, sensing, silence, physical activity, relaxation, tensing/releasing, engaging. Your unconscious, as you learn new skills, will sooner or later take over. Always try to understand that when you have learned to the level of the unconscious, let your conscious mind move elsewhere. It is still the executive in charge, not of the details but of the direction. Goal setting belongs with the conscious mind. Awareness at any level is by definition a conscious effort. If we do not separate the conscious and the unconscious but integrate them, we will discover untapped potential. The reason for the emergence of the conscious observer or witness is because the resources available to our self image, our ego, are vast, complex, subtle or sometimes overwhelming. As we begin to notice what appears out of the unconscious (emotions, beliefs, stories, demands) we can move beyond just acting out to adult responsive behavior.
Thought and your intellect
Thought, part of our power, part of our weakness or better, part of our limits. Our pedestal of rational thought, erected centuries ago, raised us from savagery to ultimate supremacy, over everything. What was not us was to be used or conquered. Our identity used rational thought or rational thought created an identity that raised us above all other objects of this world so that we could begin our reign of dominion, over everything, every life form, and each other. We all know where that ended up. Right here with a history of wars, dominance and submission, power and control and wasteful use of our precious resources. Not just Granite and Gold but life and people. The power of our intellect creates and builds and yet destroys creations that took billions of years to emerge. Thinking formulates words that argue for whatever our identity needs or wants.
We have logically thought our way into slavery and back out, into male dominance and ..., into hierarchies and power that create and yet suppress, into the haves and the have nots, into the 1 percent and the 99 percent, into the idea of superior humans and inferior humans, into consumption as an end in itself.
Thinking is what we do. For those of us not injured we think in a language. Our senses deliver information of what is out there to various areas of our brain that process the information, integrate it into a perception of reality, self reference it to decide its importance to us and then surface the outcome as a conscious awareness. Any emotion attached to this perception can cause us to express ourselves outward, have a inner dialogue, reconstruct a memory all while feeling the emotion. This is a complex process and for the most part hidden. The observer or witness is aware of the emotion, is aware of the story we are creating with it, and can acknowledge the presence of the memory, the dialogue, or the pictures we have in our heads that are related to it. This acknowledgement is pure acceptance and for some reason tempers our propensity to reengage the emotion with more memories, dialogue, or pictures.
Normal activities are mostly unconscious as we learn the skills necessary to perform them. Walking, breathing, driving, throwing a ball, reading, talking....you get the idea. Lets look at a normal (unconscious) conversation. You are engaged in a conversation and the other person is talking. Part of you is listening (language processing) and part of you is formulating your response. If the conversation is sensitive to either of you, you will feel the emotion bloom in your mind and usually without thinking you will react to the emotion (movement, facial expression, words). This is the way we try to communicate concepts, ideas and feelings in the form of language, tone and body language.
Now lets have a fully aware conversation. The other person is talking. You listen intently, you observe the body language, you hear the tone and when the other person is finished or asks you a question you pause and respond. Because you have been listening and observant you will respond as the conversation demands. If an emotion has surfaced you will know whether to express it or not. You will not have to fumble with your words, your unconscious has already set the tone and delivered your response. Except that, you are also aware of your own feelings, tone and attitude. Your response will be a choice from the many alternatives offered up from your unconscious. The odds are in your favor that the other person will feel your attentiveness and feel good about the conversation no matter the subject or the emotion associated with it.
Is thinking good or bad, beneficial or damaging? Obviously it is the context within which it is done. The real question is what determines that context. Of course we will not stop thinking, that's just plain ridiculous. But the tool is just a tool, how the tool is used makes all of the difference. Can I argue that some people are inferior to others, of course. Can I argue that Industrial Agriculture feeds billions, and yet savages the soil, yes. Can I convince that Capitalism and Democracy are the pinnacle of Society or that they are seriously flawed, yes. Can I create a belief system and ingrain assumptions about what a Society or Religion should and should not do, how the people should behave, absolutely.
Thought is not the issue here, it is the context in which the thinking occurs and the belief systems which drive it. Memes are interesting examples of how a simple thought can penetrate the consciousness of many in just a short period of time. "Children should be seen and not heard", "Women are not logical", "____ is an inferior race", "lawyers are liers", "politicians are corrupt", "men should lead", "Socialism is bad", "Democracy is the only ruling concept for freedom", "Corporations are slowly assuming control of the world".
Institutions have an agenda. If they are religious the agenda is how we relate to God. if they are economic the agenda is the development and sale of a product. If they are political their agenda is to attain power and leadership in order to run the show. Above all the institutions want to continue. But institutions are not people, despite what the Supreme Court has decided. People run the institutions which are organized to perpetuate the institution through a hierarchical structure of power and control. This pyramidal organization insures central leadership and a system of rewards that motivates others to rise from the bottom to the top. Whether they can actually do that is a mute point, the carrot is always in plain site.
How do you harness thinking. Is it just a matter of intelligence. In this case a metric of our thinking ability as defined by a series of standardized tests. Well you do not harness thinking by assuming you are less than or greater than some norm. In either case you limit yourself with a belief. Do we have limits, of course. I could not in a million years document the mathematical proof that E=MCC (that's squared). i could not design a bridge to cross the Mississippi River. This list of things I could not do or figure out is probably not computable. But I can think and I know how to think. I know what interferes with my thinking and I know what enhances my thinking. So lets talk a little bit about thinking.
Thinking - the power of your emotions, your belief about yourself, your level of knowledge, the context in which your thinking occurs, your motivation, and a few techniques determine the productivity of your efforts to think. Thinking is doing and always has an output. A plan, a design, a solution to a problem, a concept, an idea, a story, a poem, a movie, a speech. The number of outputs from thinking is immense. Time is also a factor. The less time you have, the greater the pressure, the greater the pressure the less effective thinking is. As a matter of fact time, emotion, and belief can be serious inhibitors to effective thinking, designing, creating. So when is it ok to think (conscious awareness of mental activity), ok to not think (let your unconscious do its job), and ok to do neither.
Probably by now you are wondering where is this going. Be patient.
All societies on this planet need some pretty serious problems solved. All the way from the eco system of families, to a child's education, to how we manage this planet. This requires clear thinking. Thinking not hampered by hate, prejudice, self preservation or extreme self interest. The very foundational assumption we have about organization and leadership, top down male dominated authority, is flawed. The very fact that most of us even allow authority figures to determine what we should believe, how we should behave, what our proper roles are, who our enemies are, when it is ok to kill for the Nation State or for a religion, is just plain stupid. Letting others do our thinking for us is the behavior of a child, taking the responsibility to do our own thinking is the behavior of an adult.
The reason we have not solved some of our most pressing problems and the reason we still continue to create serious problems for ourselves and future generations is because of context. The political context of disparate ruling systems, the economic context of human and material resources, the religious context of domination of one faith over another and the inherited history of social, religious and political cultures, organizations, and dogma. This is not a rant, it is a description of a serious flaw in how we manage ourselves and how we manage this planet.
Every individual must allow the old to wither away and the new to grow and mature. How do we do that if we are locked into an old context. I can be a whole brain person using both right and left hemispheres with concurrent access to my emotional core, but if I am mired in old rules, old authority, old dogmas and old patterns of behavior then I cannot "think my way out" I must shift my way out. The new will only become visible (and then acceptable) if the prism I am looking through allows the new to present itself to my mind.
Three things to practice and consider after you have asked and answered these questions: Am I just having fun, is this a must figure out, am I trying to problem solve, create, or meet a need (mine or another's). Normally you would not even consider these questions. Normally you would go about your business without a care in the world unless there was outside pressure to meet a goal. In any case the following will reduce your stress when pressured and make thinking fun and productive even under the most mundane circumstances.
Read, learn and practice intensely. Ponder the goal, information or problem as often as you can. Saturate yourself with related information. Sleep on it if you can and go about your normal day to day business. This turns most of the work over to your unconscious. You still have to keep feeding it, consciously talking it over with others if that is appropriate, consciously keeping the outcome you need in focus, consciously reading, learning, and practicing intensely. Depending on the timeframe you are dealing with (an hour, a day, a week, a month, a year or more) determines how you apply these suggestions. Maybe finding an expert is faster and more appropriate, maybe just turning it over to someone else would be a better choice. But, if you want to or need to come to your own conclusions, generate your own answers, solve your own problems, this is a wonderfully effective path to follow.
Basic rule however: When exploring the unknown, when following a path that you are unfamiliar with, it is best not to have an opinion or convincing truth fixed in your mind. For then, coming to a new understanding, will be difficult. To be free to explore is the best environment your problem solving unconscious and your problem solving conscious mind can be in.
Imagination creates the opportunity for the impossible to become a reality. Listen to your inner voice, the one that believes in you, the one that believes anything is possible and pursue your dream. Awareness hears the voices of creativity and hears the voices of fear. Use your imagination to help you choose, Use your unconscious to deliver what you believe can be done. Use your awareness to bring everything into the light so that what your unconscious brings to the surface can be helpful in the present. Use your imagination to help escape to safety from the pack of wild dogs, not to imagine they do not exist.
Some people have the concept in their heads of "controlling emotions". For some it is bad to feel anger or jealously, envy or fear. In this discussion we will be talking about emotions as part of the overall idea of "awareness and letting go" not of good or bad or controlling. For to deny or repress strong emotions is self damaging, it does have an affect on you that threatens the harmony of your normal physical well being. Of course exploding outward without restraint relieves the repression issue for you but creates a sometimes serious problem for others. When two or more egos are threatened with harm (imagined or real), the outcome is anything but constructive.
Biologically we are influenced, persuaded, guided in our perception of reality. What ever we experience, the structures in our brains first reference the self. Decisions are reached long before any individual can "think" about what to do or what to feel. Hormones and Brain structures (bundles of nerves) set us up for a specific interpretation of ourselves in relation to our environment. What we feel drives us. What we imagine we feel also drives us. What we do, depends. On how much we are aware of the source. And how the feelings we experience fit into this moment, if they do at all.
Emotions are energy, emotions are instigators of behavior, emotions prevent us from being intelligent biologic robots. But emotions are also tricky. They flavor the present with the past or a potential future. They drive us to irrationality, destructive acts, abusive behavior. They also guide us to love, to appreciate the beauty in the world, to bring a new life into this world, to become parents and protective guardians of the future, and to follow our passion to create, to invent, to innovate and to grow.
Our emotions enlist all other areas of the brain to support or encourage them. Prior experiences, supporting thoughts, pictures and stories are created, all to encourage and strengthen the emotion generated from this moment. The image we have of ourselves, who and what we are, our personal value, our importance all come into play as we self reference this moment to the very essence of our identity.
Is all of this power a good thing or a bad thing? Neither, it is what it is. The good and bad of it shows up in our behavior. What we do defines us. Do we feel and then hurt others, do we feel and then hurt ourselves, or do we feel and experience love or happiness. If we are unconscious we act out whatever we feel however that turns out. When no one gets hurts everyone wants to enjoy the celebration. When someone does get hurt everyone doesn't like it much and either leaves or enters into the fray. Life get very complicated and difficult when unconscious people get together and act out whatever they are feeling. If you can imagine a bar fight in the old westerns you get the idea.
Ok so what is the point? Do we control or manage or deny or give free reign to everything we feel? Some feel (no pun) that Control is the answer. Control through culture pressure: this is correct behavior, this is not. Control through denial or repression: This is not me, this feeling is wrong, I should not feel ....., only a bad person feels this way. Control through religious beliefs: You are a sinner, repent, surrender, and be saved. Of course no one want to control the good feelings: bliss, happiness, euphoria, warm fuzzies, approval, acceptance, love.
Can we manage our behavior, a slightly different version of control, so that our emotions do not overwhelm us? Sure, up to a point. We can choose not to drink and get drunk. We can override what we feel with higher priorities: a job, our families, the law, our conscience, our belief about ourselves, or just a plain commitment that we will not do unto others as we would have them not do unto us.
Personally my choice is to ignore the idea of manage or control and enter into the realm of awareness and the observer. If I notice what arrives from the unconscious (the feeling), then I can also notice what surrounds the feelings (thoughts, stories, pictures, memories). I can then acknowledge what I feel and at the same time be aware of the experience I am in at this moment. I can realize that my self image has just been stabbed, and that I was just about to defend it. Because long I ago I placed my self image in the background the stabbing does not have the powerful effect it would have had. But emotion carries energy with it. Energy that needs expression.
I can channel that energy into really creative and constructive behavior. I can make a nice neat stack of firewood out of the tree that got knocked down in the last storm. I can paint the house, clean the house, or just run or walk a few miles. For men certain emotions need expression in rigorous action, to expend the energy. Aggression is our nature but it can be positive aggression for something that needs doing rather than negative aggression that is harmful to others and yourself. This applies to women also. So maybe they would rather not chop a pile of wood, maybe instead they would go to a friend and sound off on whatever they are feeling, or maybe they also could channel their energy into positive and creative behavior.
To label strong emotions as bad or needing control is to limit the passion of living. Awareness allows us to acknowledge the emotion, accept it, and then channel it. Outright explosions of emotions are unpredictable and often destructive. We say and do things we will later regret. Repression and denial are equally damaging for on the one hand nothing gets resolved (the issue hangs around in our conscious and unconscious mind) and on the other hand the energy turns inward and disturbs our inner harmony (a nice way of getting ulcers, headaches, and a host of other ailments).
The Key? Be aware, acknowledge, understand, accept, channel. Then let go. The day is bigger than the moment and we have miles to go before we sleep.
Humans have organized, and limited, themselves by a few beliefs. We are inherently bad. We need direction. We need supervision. All of our institutions (religious, economic, political, social) are hierarchical, top down and reflect those core beliefs. Power and control not empowerment and participation is the order of the day. This means that some (very few) get to make the rules (establish behavior), interpret the rules (this is what it means) and employ the behaviors (enforcement) that will ensure that the rules and proper behaviors are adhered to by everyone else (billions).
While this sounds like sarcasm, it is not. It is the way we live, it is our governing style, it is our religious style, it is our economic style, it is our social style. This conflicts with our most pressing need as a human, the "will to meaning" or our connection with our God. And yet Spiritually we are all of one nature. At times we look into the mirror and are amazed that we exist, we look into the Cosmos and are awed by what we see, we look into a microscope and can't understand that such small creatures exist and that we need them to survive! Everyday we see creation at work and in our minds we bow when we acknowledge its presence. We are naturally, from birth, spiritual creatures.
But, we are biologically endowed with tools for our survival that can compromise our very spiritual nature. Up until this very moment in time we have been misguided in our interpretation of our biology and those pesky survival tools. We have separated ourselves from everything not us and at the same time separated ourselves from us. Confusing? Not really. It takes just a minor shift in perspective to acknowledge both sides and realize we can and must unify our belief systems so that the cooperative and creative entity within us joins with the separated part of ourselves into a whole integrated human being.
The "I" that we are, beginning around the age of two, begins to define us, form our identity, and establish our Ego. All necessary, all important for our development, survival and personal growth. Yet, each child growing up in this world has to fit into the structures, roles and belief systems that are present in our culture in this country and throughout the world. If those beliefs are meant to retain a way of life but are inconsistent with our natural spirituality, confusion within the child is the least of the problems such inconsistency creates.
If I am taught that I am basically sinful (bad) and deep down I don't believe it, then I am going to have trouble reconciling such an important distinction. If I have a set of talents that my family conditions prevent their development I may become trapped by circumstance and spend the rest of my life doing what was necessary but not enriching.
The examples set by our society by religious, educational, political, economic and social leadership and the rules of the institutions they represent conspire to mold our children with belief systems that are flawed and inconsistent with the role that we must assume for the future growth of humanity. These belief systems are already under attack but the institutions and people who are caught up in them staunchly defend them. That we will evolve into a different way of managing our selves and our world I have no doubt. Is time a factor? I think so.
Spiritually I believe we are on the right track. More and more people want to create a relationship with their creator that is not suppressed by religious doctrine and dogma. People naturally want to dialogue with others that have different views. We all want a better relationship with creation itself and all that has emerged from it. We all want to better manage our resources on this planet. And we all want better governance both within our Nations we call home and throughout the world. We all know that what we are doing is not the best that we could do. We all know that the sacred cows we call Democracy, Capitalism, Religion are flawed. We all know we need a creative vision of how to proceed from where and how we live and govern today to where and how we live and govern tomorrow. Spiritually we know this, from a practical perspective we have no clue on how to proceed.
I believe we are being asked to grow up, to give up the old models of governance, to restructure our societies so that billions are not marginalized to the bottom rungs of survival, and have our religions reflect on the right of every human on this earth to spiritually connect to their creator in a manner that reflects the awe inspiring nature of our existence. How we got here, how we live, how we connect, and the meaning of our presence on this earth.
Summary (the boundary)
The street perception is that our unconscious is the irrational part of us and our conscious thinking is the rational. Long ago the ideal of a completely rational human was raised up on a pedestal and has not yet been removed. To complete the ideal and assign value to it we gave rationality to men and irrationality to women. From then on women were reduced to a support role in the thinking and leading department while the men's self image and identity soared.
Is any of this true biologically, yes and no. Hormones guide us in the interpretation of reality and thus our thinking is influenced by the result these hormones have on our brains and bodies. Men and women are different because the hormones that drive them and influence their interpretation of reality are different. To over simplify girls at puberty are relational and boys are pushy, self centered and aggressive. The flood of hormones for girls moves them toward friends, feelings and love, the boys turn towards aggression and sex. Love is not out of the question for boys but the drive is more sexual. Simply put, girls think that they love a boy and allow sexual expression, boys would like to skip the first part and move directly to the second part.
So, emotions that arise from the unconscious often catch us by surprise. If they dominate our behavior we tend to not think clearly. Thinking clearly is merely the awareness of the emotion and the choices in our behavior that reflects the connection between this moment and what we are feeling. Does our anger, fear, lust, sadness, happiness dominate what we are and what we do or is it just influential. The difference is huge and full of consequences.
The blame for our irrationality is almost always assigned to our unconscious and our emotions. The prize for rationality went to those who seemingly had their emotions under control. The ability to set aside powerful emotions and deal with the experience of the moment, (I'll feel later right now is not the time) is admired and respected. Channeling the energy they supply into responsible behavior is really admired.
The gist of it is our emotions are real, they supply us with enormous energy, and they are what separates us from biologic robots. The bad news is when they overwhelm us we don't function too well and usually cause more harm than good. When we are aware, paying attention, we see the emotion, acknowledge it, and connect what we are feeling to this moments experience. We can actually choose the best or the best of the worst options. Choosing actually gives us the impression of rationality though from my point of view rational vs irrational is a level of awareness idea and not an unemotional thinking idea.
The unconscious is not irrational. What we do with what arrives from the unconscious determines whether our experience of this moment reflects what is actually happening, or is deeply colored by what we feel about it. Awareness does not repress or eliminate the passion we feel about life, it absorbs it, accepts it and integrates it, all in the blink of an eye. Your unconscious is a powerful tool, probably more powerful then your idea of conscious thinking but it is like a child, full of energy but undisciplined. Only in this case the observer (awareness) does not discipline. Our level of awareness acknowledges all of this energy and channels it appropriately. And, we learn to assign work to the unconscious to help us navigate our lives in the "real" world.
We are imprisoned in a deep pool of mud of our own making. Our institutions and those who run them, our systems, create the very mud we wallow in. There are and have been visionaries who challenge our sacred cows and offer alternatives. But those in power must hear the message and change their thinking for the cycles to stop and for all of us to begin a new path. The impulse for change is already underway. Small communities networked throughout the world are driving a bottom up need and desire for change. That this will continue I have no doubt. That those entrenched in the old systems, beliefs and institutions will fight to defend their sacred ground I have no doubt. That is why the young must replace the old as they grow into adulthood with a different paradigm of living, governing, personal growth and spiritual connection. This is change at the deepest levels of our humanity. First the individual, then the family, then the institutions.
Creation is yet to be understood but what is understandable is the changes each of us must make to better our world and create a sustainable garden on this planet where we all prosper and grow into the aware and responsible life forms we were designed for and can evolve into.
As each individual gives his or her presence to those around them, as each individual changes within a family and goes to work with new levels of awareness, all those around them will feel and see the new way and be motivated to change. That this is possible, realistic and hopeful, I have no doubt. Thousands are planting seeds that are only now beginning to germinate. It is a new world with awesome potential.