WHAT THIS PAGE CONTAINS
Ego Consciousness and the Intellect
Holistic (Inclusive) Consciousness and intuition
Degree of Needing Control
Integrative Consciousness and Thought
DEVELOPING HOLISTIC CONSCIOUSNESS
The Era of Ego
The Age of Death
The gray morning coat of dawn hung in a misty fog.
Integrated mind was meeting a form of separation:
The Era of ego/self had began.
The early human emerged into a chill of feeling: fear, anxiety, and excitement.
How long did it take the human
To move out of these powerful swirls of the emotion?
To begin perceiving within this new dimension of self-consciousness?
For the first time there was recognition of difference, separation, aloneness.
In this beginning was the chaos of thoughts, not yet formed, but forming.
Humans were being changed in an evolutionary leap.
What had never been there before was taking hold:
What had never entered consciousness was now overwhelming it:
the feeling of the inner aloneness – a void that must be filled.
This was filled by trying to figure out and pull together a sense of “self-identity”
and pull together with others into relationships, too often out of desperation.
Words were brought forth to articulate the differences the mind was now perceiving.
A new vocabulary of “me”/”other,” “us”/”them,” “unknowing”/”threat” was evolving.
An exclusive bonding of humans began as the power of separation left its taint of fear.
The young mind strained under the torment of urgings:
To fill the sense of difference with self-identity: the ego,
To mask the separation with self-asserting control,
and in the void to seek a self-created fullness.
There were those who remembered,
and could still perceive through integrated consciousness.
“Difference, separation, and aloneness, were only delusions,”
The sages pointed out, “a product of human growth.”
“Do not forget the mind of oneness” they taught;
“Nor the one who beyond all light and life, is Light and Life.”
But the young mind would not let go of its grasp
on differentiating perception and growing self-control.
That “All Knowing” Presence that had guided and comforted was gone.
That was now “other” “separate from,”
but as the sages tried to point out, “only in this ego-based consciousness.”
The deep knowledge of the Source of all Being was divided
into a manifold of separate entities of gods, and goddesses.
Appeasement and petition became the basis
for religions based in self-consciousness protecting itself.
The voices of the holy ones were not accepted,
and human devised religions provided their own voices,
which uttered harshness, ritual, and rule.
The unleashing of ego consciousness scourged the world and its peoples.
In the vacuum of inclusive relationship, exclusive cruelty filled in.
Overpowering replaced empowering.
“Wait”, cried the sages in their wisdom.
“Religion must bring you to become conscious of the One and Oneness,
to free you from the blind binds of self-delusion;
To now consciously integrate the ego’s place within that deeper self that is in Union with
the Presence of the ONE who provides peace and wisdom; and most of all,
The greatest need: Eternal unconditional Love.
But the din of humans asserting themselves over each other and all they could do,
drowned out these words.
The scourging continued.
A consuming existential loneliness became rampant.
How far could such tragedy go?
Until the very earth heaved under the devastation of this unbridled human ego.
The consciousness incapable of seeing its own limitations.
Could not see the environment’s constraints.
Not until the water they drank, the air they breathed, and food they ate, all were fouled,
Was human culture inescapably confronted with the reality
Of the dangers of an ego consciousness
which must separate, produce, and acquire, in order to verify itself.
The separation has now placed the next era before humankind:
Humanity will enter a New Era;
and this limited and dangerous mindset —
a seed of growth become malignant,
will give way:
to a holistic consciousness,
that will perceive relationship and oneness as never before.
The creative and developed intellect merged with intuitive wisdom
will bring thriving balance to all life.
The unique sages of old will be replaced by multitudes, sharing holistic consciousness.
The Last Era brought the needed development of the human intellect and self.
The New Era will re-integrate that self with all.
Pheo Rose 1989
(all rights reserved. Contemplative Life Foundation)
This poem is a literary work of art, not a statement of fact. Introducing the concept of holistic consciousness through a creative work invites intuition, a helpful cognitive process for this discussion. Intuition provides comprehension without the analysis or reasoning of the intellect. Humans typically rely on the intellect, in great part because education and socialization have almost solely focused on developing this. Industrialism, science, and technology have surged in this atmosphere of maximizing the intellect. However, self-serving objectives have caused rampant destruction.
Scientific advances, without the constraints of wisdom, can now threaten all life on earth. Humans can, and have, used their intellects to rationalize enormous destruction of other life.
The problem is not the intellect, but the ego consciousness’s tendency for self-serving that directs the use of the intellect.
The problem is compounded by a lack of holistic consciousness activity which can hold the “whole of life” — integrating the ego and intellect into its optimum place.
Integrated consciousness and thought is when ego and holistic consciousness flow together, as do intellect and intuition. Both are mutually active.
Since the latter part of the 20th century, the generations being born have shown a greater tendency to the thoughts and perspectives that holistic consciousness provides. Without the typically developmental work, holistic consciousness seems more innately active. The earliest generations are just now entering full adulthood, and voicing change. Young adults are demanding change.
Children are suffering until we acknowledge and change. This is not theory, indications can be found.
In America, the changes in generations born since World War II have become so distinct that there has been a naming of the generations along with their characteristics. Since World War II, there have been the Baby Boomers, Generation X, Generation Y or the Millennials, and Generation Z. Each generation has shown greater integrative consciousness — ego and holistic consciousness active, with holistic consciousness giving ego consciousness the necessary balances and perspectives.
The opening of closed systems in business, healthcare, and education are reflective of the benefits of holistic consciousness. The greater perception and/or valuing of interrelationship is indicative of holistic consciousness. Collaborating rather than competing is indicative of holistic consciousness.
Recognition of the value of quality of life and the environment — rather than self-aggrandizing and gratifying accumulated material and financial wealth — is indicative of holistic consciousness.
However, a lack of maturity in ego consciousness can impede holistic consciousness activity.
Ego consciousness activity can simply be too overwhelming. People who are in desperate circumstances will fight, steal, and exploit, for survival. Disparity of material and financial wealth cause a myriad of problems. Exploitation of natural resources, especially in other countries; deepens the disparity, widens the abyss of extinction, and increases animosity between people.
The precedents of opening closed systems need to be intentionally and globally augmented — especially social and environmental based businesses, holistic wellness, and student centered and open educational practices. Desperate people often take desperate actions. Just the “day to day” demands in a relatively normal quality of life can keep the level of ego consciousness activity at a high level.
Ego Consciousness and the Intellect
Relying on Jung’s theories and analytical psychology, I am generalizing ego consciousness as a self- serving/preserving/thriving conscious state that uses the intellect to gain sought objectives. (Objectives have a very broad range, from short term to long term.) Ethics and integrity are vital for reining in what this consciousness can think of. But these are not enough. Scientific advances have been made with the ethic that science is “pure” and what is done with science is where the problem comes in. People, who have ethics to stop dangerous research, watch as others take up and exploit the research anyway.
In ego consciousness, what a person perceives and thinks is relative to the “self.” People gather to form a “collective self.” What is truly amazing is, at this collective level, people will join together to destroy their own natural habitats to gain the wealth from what is within those habitats. The intellect can easily reason, “So what if that natural and essential habitat is destroyed, we need the jobs.” Even worse, ego consciousness has the capacity to filter perception so strongly that there is a denial that irrevocable damage is being done.
Ego consciousness can easily filter perceptions, allowing only that which fits with the intellect’s constructed reality. The saying “we see what we want to see” applies to this capacity of filtering perceptions. Once perceptions have been filtered to fit the ego consciousness framing of reality, either emotional reactions or reasoning then may form a response. Rationalization then may be used justify the behavior. Cultures use rewards, fame, honors, etc. that foster ego consciousness that contributes to what is needed. The inherent, unavoidable, problem is that ego consciousness, through perceptive filtering, does much to form reality, rather than clearly and accurately perceive reality.
What I call personality inadequacies can emerge from an unbalanced ego consciousness. The strong filtering prevents an individual from perceiving the consequences of their own personal behavior. What the sections on opening closed systems show is that this selective ego consciousness is rapidly (in terms of time periods) being integrated with holistic consciousness activity, which decreases the ego’s filtering of perception. Also, the priority of “self” and “collective self” give way to the recognition that all is interrelated.
Holistic Consciousness and Intuition
[I preface this section with distinguishing intuition from superstition and irrationality. Superstition and irrationality come from an ego consciousness whose perceptual filters are abnormally strong, requiring the person to fill in, to a much greater extent, their own contriving. Even emotional reactions that the intellect cannot healthily process can cause bizarre perceptions and conclusions. Separating these anomalies from intuition must be established.
Intuition is not only rationale, but often, shows — because of the holistic consciousness basis — creativity, perspective, and wisdom. Alternative, and often better, possibilities than what the intellect produces is also a benefit of intuition. Creativity is based in intuitive thought, and is a very necessary activity bridging ego and holistic consciousness. The spontaneous occurrence of a new concept or solution to a problem comes from intuition. What the intellect is not capable of, intuition often can provide. Intuition occurs as a natural function of the mind, and people choose to trust and follow intuitions or dismiss them. We need to increase the value given to intuition, and provide the same developmental opportunities given to intellectual development.]
Holistic consciousness, by its very nature, includes and integrates ego consciousness — thus holistic consciousness activity optimizes ego consciousness. Ego consciousness, by its very nature can be so active as to block necessary holistic consciousness activity. What is so remarkable in this evolutionary “leap” in consciousness is that there already is a better balance in activity.
Philosophy, psychology, and spirituality/mysticism have given attention to, and applied, differing terms to holistic consciousness. Philosophically, the term “non-relative” consciousness has been used to focus on the lack of “me in relation to you, them, it, others, etc.” In psychology, transpersonal consciousness — beyond the ego — has been one term used. Spirituality literature often uses the term “Transcendent Consciousness,” the capacity of holistic consciousness to transcend the ego to that which is sacred and beyond human capacity.
Having studied and reflected on all of these fields of knowledge, I have synthesized them into the term, holistic consciousness. In holistic consciousness the opposition of “I” in relation to other is removed, there are no mental boundaries. When the ego, which separates, is quieted there simply is a consciousness of fullness and presence. This may seem of no value, but this experiential time provides great benefits:
- a lessening the degree of perceptual filtering once back in ego consciousness,
- a more inclusive sense of reality,
- a greater sense of interrelatedness,
- a greater access to
- The quality of “inner peace” is a vital balancer to the surging of one’s ego consciousness
Compared to the relentless activity of ego consciousness, holistic consciousness activity can be experienced as very peaceful, serene, and some use the term blissful. Often when quiet, a person can slip into a more holistic consciousness activity state. Creative activities are one of the best “integrators” of ego and holistic consciousness. A person “feels and thinks” — use intuition blended with intellect — to create artistic works. The intellect and intuition merge, often with the greatest beauty coming from the strongest intuitive moments.
To discover how very challenging quieting ego consciousness activity can be, simply try to count to 10 five times without any impinging thoughts or self observations. (Many may find counting to 10 in a row twice almost impossible without ego consciousness taking over.)
For the purposes of this discussion, the word intuition is used to identify rational thought that emerges from holistic consciousness activity. Intuitive thought is never inner voices. Intuition is a whole thought that not only is rational, but also provides can new perspective or knowledge, often referred to as wisdom. (However, intuitive thought can be used by ego consciousness to obtain objectives and goals that are neither wise nor ethical).
Almost all wisdom comes from this inner knowledge. The commonality of wisdom across cultures and time periods is impressive. Huxley has produced one of the best books gathering this “world wisdom” from various time periods and cultures. Intuitive thought, like reasoning, can remain in long term memory, providing wisdom and innate knowledge that can be helpful in the future. (Huxley 1970)
A generalization that can be made is full (intellectual and personal) development of ego consciousness often can lead to recognizing and choosing to develop holistic consciousness activity. Maslow’s hierarchy of need places self actualization with its holistic consciousness at the top of human needs. (Maslow 1954) Scientists and physicists, such as Fritz Capra, have found such astounding discoveries that they advocate humans developing a consciousness beyond that of the intellect. (Capra 1975 ),
There are, however, impediments to choosing to expand one’s consciousness. Besides cultural disinterest in this vital consciousness development, there are personal factors also. Obsessive thoughts and emotions are such a factor. Normally emotions are recognized as such, and can be embraced while not allowing them to control thoughts and behavior. Emotions provide great motivation for either life-giving or destructive thought. They also can incessantly overwhelm ego consciousness. Without healthy responses to emotions, negative and compulsive emotions can impede both ego and holistic consciousness.
Two particular factors enhance or impede the development of holistic consciousness — our capacity to risk going beyond ego consciousness, and the level of trust in our self and others. Trust and risk influence one another, and this graph is to show just some of the most basic dynamics:
|No trust of others||Very isolated because of||Self direction only in||Even with strong|
|only trust in self||non‐trust of others. Makes few changes; and no risks||risk‐taking.||opposition from others will take great risks.|
Hesitant to make changes
Personal calculations and
Associates with others
trust in self
|based on other’s advice. Will not take risks||other’s advice necessary to accept risk‐taking.||who share taking great risks.|
If others show
Will follow others into
|more than self||when pushed by others.||there is little risk.||taking great risks.|
|Will not take risks||Will take limited risks|
security and stability kept
|Calculated risk‐taking||Unpredictable risk taking|
The more we do not trust others and the less risks we are willing to take, combine into the concept of “needing personal control.” An insecure personality can impede the effectiveness of ego consciousness, and almost always thwarts the healthy receptivity needed for integrating holistic consciousness activity.
Degree of Needing Control
This section begins with four generalizations that I do not claim as fact, but strong possibilities. The first generalization is: People who not trust themselves or others take almost no risks and make minimal changes. These people have a high degree of needing to control their lives in order to maintain the personal security and stability. They do not do well with societal or cultural change, and resist personal changes.
The second generalization is: People with a high degree of need to control are limited to their ego consciousness ─ they do not trust what is taught about holistic consciousness, nor will they risk letting going of their intellect. If their thought is not produced from their intentional intellectual process, they will not trust those thoughts. They have no desire or motivation to go beyond what
their, usually highly structured, intellect constructs. Their perceptual filters are very strong, so they can maintain their world view. They really never fully develop ego consciousness or their intellect; and whether individually, or in a group of “like-minded,” their life is almost solely directed by relating what is going on in their lives to the potential effect on themselves, and how to retain their personal security and stability.
The third generalization is: Those with a low level of trust, but are risk-takers, will see how they can take advantage of almost all situations and changes for their own benefit. Such mindsets devastate other life and the environment with little regard.
A fourth generalization is: People who have a high degree of trust, but a very low degree taking risks, will choose to follow others, rather than take on the risks to make major decisions and choices themselves. They can go so far as to restrict their personal views to follow the views of those they have given their trust to. They form those large blocks of followers. Risking both the holistic consciousness activity and development has no real value to them. They may follow others who advocate developing holistic consciousness, but are hesitant to actually let go of enough ego consciousness dominance.
Without the trust or desire to risk going beyond the intellect, a person only knows life through ego consciousness. This narrowing often fosters looking at life from the basis of what can be personally gained. This is both unfortunate and dangerous. One of the very earliest writings on record, the Rig Veda, (a collection of Hindu hymns), expresses the disastrous results that can occur in a limited ego consciousness; and calls for going beyond this limited “mind:”
Our thoughts wander in all directions,
And many are the ways of men:
The cartwright hopes for accidents,
The physician for the cripple,
And the priest for a rich patron.
For the sake of Spirit, O Mind,
Let go of all these wandering thoughts.
With his dry grass and feather fan,
And all his tools of fashioned stone.
The blacksmith seeks day after day
The customer endowed with gold.
For the sake of Spirit, O Mind,
Let go of all these wandering thoughts.
I’m a singer, father’s a doctor,
Mother grinds flour with a millstone.
Our thoughts all turn upon profit,
And cow-like we all plod along.
For the sake of Spirit O Mind,
Let go of all these wandering thoughts.
The horse would draw a swift carriage,
The entertainer a good laugh,
The penis seeks a hairy slot,
The frog seeks a stagnant pond.
For the sake of Spirit, O Mind,
Let go of all these wandering thoughts.
Rg-Veda IX.112.1-4 (Le Mee, 1975, pp.172-78)
Integrative Consciousness and Thought
Integrative consciousness, in which a healthy, developed ego and holistic consciousness become integrated, is what allows for integrated thought. Ego consciousness development and health is necessary. Personality inadequacies can create a dominance of ego consciousness. Using the ego consciousness to intentionally quiet and focus is necessary for access to holistic consciousness.
(Please Note: One dangerous disability is that individuals will flee responsibilities by trying to enter dangerous pseudo “quietist” states, by use of drugs or just shutting down. This is not holistic consciousness but a self- constructed, unhealthy, avoidance of life.)
Once accessed and developed through practice of continual quieting of ego consciousness thought, holistic consciousness integrates with ego consciousness, providing a person much greater focus, receptivity to new ideas, and the seamlessly combined use of intellect and intuition.
Throughout history, there have been an impressive number who trusted enough in themselves and others to “risk” developing holistic consciousness with intention and commitment to reach integrative consciousness. Some had the innate capability of integrative thought.
A generalization about integrative thought: The more a person develops both ego and holistic consciousness, the better their self-actualization/fulfillment; and the more they can contribute to promoting life through the integration of intellect and intuition. A well-developed intellect with excellent reasoning and critical thinking is necessary. Well-developed intuition is essential for creative, widening perspective, and what is known as wisdom.
Being “narrow minded,” is a phrase that can be used to describe those who do not trust enough to risk to believe in, or enter into, holistic consciousness. They do not have access to integrative thought. People who adamantly state that all people are equal, but can tell you, with great rationality why this does not include people of a certain race, religion, etc. are still functioning in their intellect. They can, and have, justified genocide, discrimination, exploitation, etc.
There can also be a duality of intuition and intellect, in which holistic and ego consciousness activity oppose one another. I am reminded of that child fable of an angel on one shoulder and a demon on the other, each having very opposite perspectives. Financial wealth, at the cost of other lives’ well being can be justified by ego consciousness, even as spikes of intuition are ignored. They “rationalize” their life. The only problem is the limitations of these. The limitations have brought the world of nature and humanity into crisis. The limitations, most tragically, have prevented humans from seeing this in themselves.
Throughout history there have always been people who innately had greater access to holistic consciousness, and/or trusted the sages and devoted some of their lives to developing holistic consciousness. They typically became artists/writers, sages/mystics, and great givers. They saw so much more to life, and expressed this as they could. Their perceptual fields were more open — they saw the flaws in societal structures that rewarded the ruthless and relegated so many to poverty.Their intuition led them to alternative life choices, and they accepted the lack of status and wealth that often meant.
The great number of people since the 1970s who have been born with more of an innate access to holistic consciousness is critically significant. A critical threshold is being reached around the world. The precedents indicate much of this evolutionary leap. Human culture has a long ways to go in providing the bases of trust in holistic consciousness, as well as the developmental education that even people with low risk-taking levels can embrace.
The developmental process is mostly experiential, not intellectual. “The hundreds of forms of philosophy, of argument, of grammatical rules, entrap the intellect in their nets and lead it astray from true knowledge.” (Danielou, 1954 pg. 4). The best leaders and teachers are those who use both a high degree of study of the cross cultural traditions as well as a high degree of personal work. There is a great disservice by those who purport to be teachers, but are really exploiting people’s trust.
With study of the major traditions, not surprisingly but nevertheless remarkable, is that there is great compatibility in what has been taught. I have chosen the three most developed curriculums that can be trusted: Yogic, Buddhist, and Christian Mystical, literature. The literature chosen is spiritually, not religiously, oriented. The writings focused directly on what must be taken on to develop holistic consciousness.
DEVELOPING HOLISTIC CONSCIOUSNESS
Such development is truly simple, and yet enormously challenging. Intellectually, the person must understand the requirements, become more self aware to make personal changes, and then quiet ego consciousness with the incessant intellectual functioning. There is a remarkable commonality between Yogic, Buddhist, and Christian, “ways” to 1) prepare, 2) practice, and 3) enter into holistic
consciousness. To increase intuitive understanding of these, I use three terms: 1) Shape Up, 2) Shut Up, and
3) Show Up.
With the evolutionary leap in which ego and holistic consciousness activity already are more actively integrated, the first step in the three traditions are no longer necessary. For their intentional development, the beginning is not so much a question for them as much as a recognition. However, even in these generations there can be strong enough detrimental life situations to keep them looping thought activity in ego consciousness.
All three traditions address the first question many people without this integration have before beginning: “How does someone without awareness of holistic consciousness become conscious of this?” All three traditions point to a personal awakening of some sort. A powerful experience or series of related experiences that made enough of an impact on the intellect to open to the possibility.
The experience(s) could be powerfully good or bad. A person may be truly impressed by another’s presence of, or teaching on, holistic consciousness. If this initial opening is followed by a flash of intuitive understanding that is trusted, there can be enough impetus to begin. Or, unresolved suffering, a string of personal failures, or chronic depression, can be enough of impetus to seek more than what one has for dealing with these. One way or another, a person realizes they have been missing a needed personal development.
The Yogic tradition refers to ignorance as “Avidya.” Powerful experience(s) brings realization of one’s ignorance. In the Buddhist tradition, suffering exists because humans only use their ego consciousness, striving for that which only eventually brings suffering. Flawed thinking is combined with totally inadequate psychological constructs — those personality inadequacies that can occur by strong perceptual filters. A person can become more and more desperate, and spiral further and further into a “whatever it takes” mentality of ego consciousness; only to become more and more trapped.
When suffering from this spiral finally brings the person to question their approach to life, there can be then an opening to change. (Those who never stop and question are trapped within their spiraling.) Suffering can bring about questioning, which can bring about openness, which can bring about change.
In the Christian Mystical Literature tradition, the questioning, openness, and change, or conversion that occurs is called “metanoia.” There is profound realization that what has been used as a basis for thinking, acting, believing, is not enough. There are people who will say that some great personal failure was a great benefit because the event caused them to challenge and question how they perceived, thought, and acted. Through that questioning they risked opening to the recorded wisdom and teachings, and started a “new life path.”
Anytime someone experiences serious/traumatic questioning how they see and act in life, they can be in a fragile psychological state. Some people retreat back into their known, just re-phrasing it. Some people are prone to the enticements of cults, shams, and exploiters. Just as tragically, some people turn to drugs of any sort that can medicate them from the suffering, and/or try to use drugs as a quick way to the peace and serenity of holistic consciousness.
There is global need for definitive personal development in holistic consciousness, beginning with the increased self-awareness of ego consciousness activity that is self-serving at the cost of others.
People will stop exploiting others, and have a greater basis for stopping others. The steps are relatively easy to intellectually understand, but extraordinarily difficult to live and follow through with.
- “Shape Up” refers to a person becoming consistently aware of their ego consciousness activity — emotions and thoughts. Such self-awareness is vital. This awareness leads to ceasing destructive thoughts and emotions to self or others. Along with this is replacing these with constructive and what is considered mature thoughts and handling of emotional states. A person begins interrelationship based thought activity intentionally with the intellect.
- “Shut Up” refers to quieting ego consciousness activity through meditation. This is important to slow the ceaseless thoughts of ego (emotional, rational, analytic, intellectual activity
- “Show Up” quieting ego consciousness is not enough, there must be developed a Trusting that in the quietness is not a void, but the richest aspect of self that can be realized.
Shape Up (Not just physically)
The sages are adamant: stop lying, stealing, cheating, and abusing yourself and others. Stop causing the suffering of other life by your actions. Go farther than just behavior, and stop conniving, lusting, and striving for power, wealth, prestige, and fame, in your thoughts and plans. Instead, focus on giving, generosity, helpfulness, cooperation. Be positive rather than negative. Find the joy and wisdom of being in nature. Serve all life. These are the universal tenets.
- In the Yogic tradition these changes are the first three of the eight stages, Yama: restrain from doing the harmful, Niyama: instead do what gives life to other life, and Asanam: stop the mental activity of scheming, vengeance, lusting, etc.
- In the Buddhist tradition there are five parts to the “shape up:” right action, right speech, right intention, right effort, and right livelihood. All these must be accomplished with right self awareness/mindfulness. If done with a manipulative intention, none of these actions truly bring about the place of self-integrity needed.
- In the Christian Mystical Literature tradition, there must be a turn from the seven deadly sins, which lead to personal destruction:
In keeping with doing more than restraining that which harms oneself and others, there are seven virtues for replacing the sins:
Mahatma Gandhi presented seven social sins that complement these traditions:
- Politics without principles
- Wealth without work
- Pleasure without conscience
- Knowledge without character
- Commerce without morality
- Science without humanity
- Worship without (personal) sacrifice (Gandhi 1925)
Fables and parables from around the world teach these lessons. People know these. What people may often not know is that a person only progresses in the next two steps to holistic consciousness by the degree of “shape up” transformation. Preoccupations with taking from others, with deceiving others, exploiting others, harming others, etc. keep consciousness bound. A softness of vocal tone and compassion that comes with receptivity, gentleness, kindness, generosity, are the intellectual changes that prepare the person to enter into “shut up.”
Much of the capacity of “shut up” comes with the reduction of preoccupations with desires, finding ways to exploit situations and/or people, etc. These “shape up” areas are referred to as hindrances to quieting. People, for various reasons and at various times, can be told to stop talking, but rarely are people taught how to stop the ongoing emotional, rational, intellectual, analytical thinking that fills consciousness. Meditation, in increasingly deep levels, comprises “shut up.” Finding quiet places, with little sensory stimuli is helpful. All three traditions have meditation teachings.
In the Yogic literature, the fifth through seventh stages develop the skill of quieting ego consciousness. The fifth stage, “Pranayama,” is simple and basic enough for everyone — focus on your own breathing, slightly slowing and deepening inhalation and exhalation.
The kinesthetic movement is a powerful stimulus to follow. No rational thinking, focus only on the inhaling/exhaling breathing process. This may sound very simple, but a person without much practice cannot sustain this for even 30 seconds before some self-comment, evaluation, or distracting thought intrudes. Breathing is such an excellent beginning focus because of the kinesthetic aspect of feeling the rising and falling of the chest; and, with use of the diaphragm contraction for deeper breathing, the movement of the abdomen.
The sixth stage is “Pratyahara,” through which there is lessening of sensory perceptions.
Breath is followed, but less of the actual kinesthetic stimuli. Ego consciousness activity has been quieted, so now also is the impingement of external stimuli. Sounds may be heard, but not listened to. Light changes can affect the eyes but not be seen. There is no adequate verbal explanation or description of this stage, or the ones that follow. The best description might be the difference between when a person leaves a noisy, smelly, rapid light changing room, and enters a sound proof, dimly lit room.
The seventh stage, Dharana (or Dhyana), is to enter a singleness.
The point of concentration is all there is. Pranayama turned attention totally inward. Pratyahara facilitated a quieting of any stimulus perception, and now a singleness of focus that has no boundaries (a contradiction that makes for truth) is possible. Typically, this is simply awareness without form, substance, or shifting. When in this deep meditation, reality exists — fully and completely. However, this is all. The person experiences reality more purely than any of the previous stages. The level of meditation has been described as being at the very bottom of the ocean: no movement, light, sound, etc. but the foundation for all that is above. There is an utter stillness of self- generated thought.
In the Buddhist literature there are three somewhat similar levels of meditation. The first “jhana” is maintaining attention to a single focus, without interrupting, self commentary, or other ego consciousness activity. Success in holding single focus gives a person their first sense of the release from preoccupations, desires, planning, evaluating, etc. Often what can be most distracting is congratulating or denigrating yourself in how you are doing during the meditation practice. The second jhana increases the absorption into meditation. There is a familiarity to meditative states that develops which allows easier transition and greater focus. The third jhana increases absorption into the holistic consciousness of oneness, timelessness, and infiniteness.
The Buddhist term for meditation, jhana, is etymologically related to the Yogic Sanskrit term dhyana. The Buddhist terminology adds the perspective of absorption in the levels of meditative progression. A person becomes so absorbed, that for some amount of time afterward the person can perceive more openly and clearly. The greater the absorption, the greater the effect can last afterward. A person more clearly sees their hindrances that need shaping up. There are greater insights (intuitions) that come spontaneously. Perception becomes less filtered, and intuitions provide a person with more to use in choices and decisions.
As this absorption increases through the levels of jhana, a person begins to experience an inner peace and joy, and equanimity throughout situations, and week after week. With complete absorption there is the indivisibleness of being — neither “mind nor no mind,” just being. The absorption carries over into life interactions and situations with even less filtered perception. There is greater integration of intellectual and intuitive thought.
In Christian Mystical literature, forms of prayer become the deepening meditations. What is unique in Christian meditation is that there is an acknowledged personal relationship with God. Prayer, in general is entering into a time with God. Repeating short prayers such as, “Have Mercy on me O God” while deepening focus on the words can become a meditation. The rosary, a string of beads, has a short prayer that goes with each bead. Quietly reciting each prayer, while holding the bead, can become a kinesthetic/verbal single prayer/meditation. The next level of depth of prayer/meditation involves interior, or centering, prayer/meditation. Without words or images, a person quiets all intellect. No focus is used as in meditation. Instead all ego consciousness activity brought to a point of “stillness.”
Receptivity begins with trusting the intuitions and teachings about the Presence of an ultimate source of all life and is beyond all life. The receptivity and sense of Presence and union can be somewhat compared to an experience of two individuals who have a great love for each other. The two can sit quietly, but be very aware of the lovingly presence of other. During this time, ego consciousness is very quiet, and there simply is shared Presence.
If ego consciousness retains some hold during meditation (the desire to achieve the greatest level of meditation, the striving to be free of ego consciousness, etc.), the striving continues, blocking complete receptivity. The person does not “show up” for the supreme experience of Presence — of all that is, and beyond that.
Meditation, even at the most developed levels is not enough. There has to be an openness to being mortal in the face of the immortal, lesser in the face of the infinitely greater, flawed in the face of pure perfection. There are those who take such pride (yes, slipping backward in terms of “shape up”) in their meditational skills, they see how far they can shut out all. They never “show up” in that state of humble, quiet, openness to receive: samadhi in Yoga, samapatti in Buddhism, and mystical union in Christianity.
Yogic Literature: Samadhi, the Self-Existent Principle
There is an inseparability of the essence of one’s self, with existence, and most vitally, with the principle of all existence. This deepest and most full level of holistic consciousness is undivided awareness of unitive presence, “all is one, and one is all.”
… it is to assimilation with pure Being that samadhi leads. The self-revelation of the purusa is equivalent to a taking possession of being in all its completeness. … The yogi who attains assamprajnata samadhi also realizes a dream that has obsessed the human spirit since the dawn of its history; union with the Whole, the reconquest of Unity, the re-creation of the original nonduality, the abolition of time and the Creation (that is, cosmic multiplicity and heterogeneity); above all, the elimination of the bisection of the real into subject and object (Eliade, 1969, pgs 95 and 119).
This sense of being, in all its completeness includes this sense of intimate presence (bliss). Human desire for intimacy is healthy. However, having that distorted by ego consciousness into sexual desires, infatuation; and, manipulating relationships to retain control of them, has brought immense and tragic suffering. Samadhi cannot be lived until a person has “shaped up” in their relationships with others. Samadhi also cannot be lived until a person frees themselves from unceasing preoccupation on emotional attachments and sexual desires. The cyclic development of “shape up” and “shut up” is critical in order for a person to be able to “show up” for the “union.”
Buddhist Literature: Samapatti
The term “samapatti” is similar in spelling and meaning to the yogic samadhi. As with samadhi, samapatti is when there is no longer the effort to keep going further and further into self-developed absorption. Instead, releasing all intention and effort, absorption brings union with that ultimate reality, and the person “rests” in this. Often people speak of resting for the first time of their life.Nirvana comes with this union. The cyclic refinement of shape up and shut up continues, now with the experiential knowledge of true reality. Whatever occurs in life is now simply lived, with an abiding equanimity that even life and death are inseparable.
Christian Tradition: Contemplation
Contemplation is receptive presence, in which God’s Presence can be experienced. Because Christian Mystical literature has as a strong foundation in a personal relationship with God, entering deeper into this relationship begins with the first level of prayer/meditation. Contemplation, unlike prayer/meditation, has no focus, just total receptivity to enter into the presence of God. Shared presence is without thought. A sense of complete intimacy is experienced. A self-fulfillment found no other way is entered into. No words are needed. Holistic consciousness has expanded to what a human most needs, the intimate communion with that which is infinitely, and yet also, intimately greater. The remarkable aspect of this communion is that the person becomes more “attuned” to all existence, seeing and responding with greater and greater compassion.
(by reining in the unruly horses of ego consciousness)
Brings one to Contemplation
The “Place of Presence”.
Meditation opens greater access to holistic consciousness and “refreshes” ego consciousness. Contemplation, Samapatti, and Samadhi provides a fullness of being as Presence is fully experienced. With such experiences, the “shape up” takes on deeper meaning and purpose.Meditations, even continual times of quieting sensory stimuli and “active” thinking, contribute to increasing holistic consciousness. Developing receptivity rather than intention is also important.
The increase of personal perspective, humility, generosity, and compassion, are just a few of the qualities that then contribute to synergistic collaborations between people. These are synergistic collaborations are optimized in relation to the degree of optimizing of holistic consciousness.
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