Updated: Mar 2
We, as a species, have evolved extraordinarily since the dawn of time, so maybe, even though there are currently no scientific ways to measure it, our consciousness is ever so slowly developing. I’m not talking about the man-made third dimension of consciousness that is rapidly encapsulating the human race into a computer-driven society, I’m talking about a sixth sense that animals far more evidently have (perhaps in part because they haven’t lost their minds to the internet) allowing them to instinctively sense danger from around the corner, and act accordingly. Yes, the internet is the epitome of the technological revolution, which I have no doubt will continue to help and advance the human race for ever more. Nevertheless it has become a common tool yet is preventing us from advancing, developing and evolving our innate consciousness into a power far greater than any app or programme will ever be able to accomplish. But what exactly is consciousness?
Scientists and spiritualists alike have for many years fought over the understanding of consciousness. It is, to all intents and purposes, a condition of your brain, but no one involved in the ongoing exploration of it has ever been able to comprehend, fathom or pinpoint the anatomical location from which it stems. Its main purpose is survival – the awareness of danger and then the ability to act accordingly; but the genius of mankind has way overshot our innate ability to simply envision risk, and has consequently developed a formidable understanding of a lot of what this world has to offer us; except, of course, the reasoning behind why we have evolved our consciousness in the first place. Although scientists can’t prove it, they insist that it is a biological function within the brain which cannot be separated from it. ‘The hard problem of consciousness (Chalmers 1995) is the problem of explaining the relationship between physical phenomena, such as brain processes, and experience (i.e., phenomenal consciousness, or mental states/events with phenomenal qualities or qualia). Spiritualists, however, firmly believe that the mind and body are in actual fact detached from one another and that our consciousness has the ability to transcend time and space. Consciousness is a spirit, or a soul, if you will.
Like spirituality, the essence of every religion denotes a separation of body and soul. As we are all destined to die at some point, we as a species have developed an intelligence that far outreaches every other living organism on the planet, an intelligence which can’t settle for the concept of a definitive end in death. It is this that has led to the idea of a soul leaving our bodies when we die. But how realistic is this belief?
As a spiritualist, I should be gunning for the separate mind and body side of the argument but I can definitely understand the scepticism held by a large proportion of the human race. I still think that the mind is incredibly powerful, with the ability to achieve far more than we can ever imagine. That doesn’t mean, however, that it has to be an entity separate from the brain. The two distinctions have no definitive bearing on what our minds can achieve.
It would make perfect sense for consciousness to be evolving, as speculated, because, after all, our bodies have have been doing just that for the last few millennia.
Derren Brown is one of the UK’s most successful psychological illusionists. He presented a fascinating show for Channel 4, in 2016, entitled Miracle. He is a professed atheist and, following on from another show he aired in 2010 (in which he managed to train a complete novice to perform as an evangelical missionary healing the sick), he posed as a faith healer, to show that it is not so much a God that performs miracles but our minds that allow them to happen (if only temporarily). Through using an array of mystical lighting and sounds, he transformed the theatre into a holy shrine-like chasm, from which he instilled in the majority of the audience the belief that he had the power to heal them from their troubling woes. As the lighting flashed and the speakers reverberated, his words and the visual effects set forth a massive release of dopamine into their brains, which consequently, if only for a short while, expunged the problems they were experiencing.
By the release of certain chemicals into our brains, as explained by Derren Brown after the act, our bodies can overcome and diminish a variety of different conditions in an instant. Other things take time though, so what about them? Since the dawn of scientific medicinal testing, scientists have given a selection of test subjects placebo pills, to check the reliability of the results for the drug being tested. It just so happens that in many cases, a few of the patients who have been given the placebo pill end up making a full recovery from whatever they were being treated for.
A maintenance of the utmost belief is the answer, regardless of whether or not a specific God to which you’re praying exists, or the pills you are taking are merely tablets made of sugar. The next step in developing this is to work out exactly how to knowingly instigate it. Many cases exist of individuals who have gone down the solely holistic route, only to be completely overcome by whatever it is they had been trying to eliminate from their body; proving to the staunch scientists of the world that there are no cures available other than through scientifically tested medicine, consequently drawing a veil of confusion and doubt over spiritualist beliefs.
I’ve talked about reaching your inner, higher self, but what is this? Although there may be conflicting arguments relating to the specific dwelling place of our consciousness it is still, no matter which side ends up taking the higher ground, a permanent, paramount and ever-present part of the human condition. Owing to its importance, it also holds the key to the deepest most revered state we can all reach, in order to fully transcend, which is that of pure consciousness.
Pure consciousness is about not caring. This doesn’t mean not caring about people and happiness and love but rather not caring about the everyday things that bring you down for no plausible reason, like needless arguments, football results, how your hair looks, your next door neighbour having a better car than you, the way someone spoke to you or how they looked at you, flatulence (if anybody is in the room with me for too long).
Up until we reach a specific age, normally about three, we all experience pure consciousness. Pure consciousness and happiness are not too dissimilar from each other, which coincides with the point I made previously about children having to start searching for happiness after a certain age because they are no longer happy with themselves. I’ll be going back to this in a later blog.
Pure consciousness and happiness run hand-in-hand, so to reach it you need to be fully aware of how to assess it for yourself. I recently came across a fantastic analogy to describe this concept, written by a spiritual teacher called Rupert Spira. He likens our minds to the Earth and the Sun and the way in which when the earth turns away from the sun, consequently experiencing darkness, it is similar to the way in which our minds are turned towards objects and away from pure consciousness. This is when darkness and unhappiness is experienced. Like the sun, happiness is ever present and always shining with the same intensity. He goes on to explain that the brightness of the sun is only diminished by the angle of the earth, which coincides with how there are only degrees of happiness for our mind-made selves, or egos, dependent on the extent to which we are facing away from the source. He then likens the way in which the mind derives temporary and partial happiness from objects, relationships and situations, to the dim light reflected by the moon, in reality emitted from the sun. In the same way as the light from the moon is filtered light from the sun, our happiness and pure consciousness is filtered through temporary objects and relationships, through our minds. To falsely mistake objects, relationships and states as the source of pure happiness, is like mistaking the moon as the source of light. They are real but they are not the source and they are not pure: ‘To experience happiness the mind need only face its source’.
Having researched this concept of pure consciousness at great length, other than the previous interpretation that I just mentioned, I have found very few sources that convey it in a simple way. Yes, it is an incredibly significant and vital process for reaching your inner self, but if the spiritual gurus and teachers of the world deem it such a necessary step for transformation, the least they can do is document it for us in as transparent and straightforward a way as possible. Inner peace and higher being should not be a practise only reserved for the spiritual elite, it should be simplified in such a way that it can be reached and understood by every single willing person on this planet. For that very reason I will try to explain to you the fundamental techniques required in order to gain an understanding of spiritual enlightenment, without the plethora of jargon that is usually associated with it.
Pure consciousness, known as a central psycho-spiritual state of consciousness, has received adequate evidence to show that it is a healthy, life enhancing, self development technique. In a book called The Wise Heart by Jack Kornfield, he mentions that ‘When we rest in consciousness we become unafraid of the changing conditions of life’. But what is it, and how can it be reached? It boils down to transcendence. I’ve mentioned this term many times before but I now want to take it apart for you. Trans comes from the Latin ‘across, beyond, through’ and scandare means ‘to climb’. When you achieve transcendence you effectively traverse all limitations, or move beyond physical needs and realties. Beyond our everyday engagement, meditation is a trusted technique for reaching inner silence, a retreat from all the hustle and bustle that life throws at us.
To reach this state of pure joy is not hard, you just have to understand and want it, which absolutely anyone can do. Pure consciousness is about maintaining the state for longer than a few seconds, to receive the benefits associated with it. The qualities, although subtle at first, will accumulate the further down the line you go and are as follows (derived from Deepak Chopra’s account, in Is God an Illusion?)
Pure consciousness is:
Silent and peaceful. You are free of inner conflict, anger and fear.
Self sufficient. You are comfortable simply being here. The mind is not restless in its quest for stimulation.
Fully awake. Mental alertness and freshness. The mind is no longer dull or fatigued.
Infinite potential. You are no longer bound by fixed habits and beliefs. The greater your experience of pure potential, the more creative you become.
Self-organized. You are experiencing this quality when things fall into place of their own accord. There is less struggle to force different parts of life to harmonise, because you are more in tune with the natural harmony that runs through everything.
Spontaneous. Breaking free of old constraints, whatever they may be, makes you feel safer about expressing who you are and what you want without constraints. This is the state of absolute freedom, which you experience whenever you feel liberated.
Dynamic. You experience this quality when you feel you can fully embrace life. You have the energy and the will to do great things.
Blissful. This is the route of happiness and its highest expression. Any surge of happiness, whatever the cause, is a taste of bliss. An orgasm is blissful, but so is compassion. Every experience of love can also be traced back to its origins in bliss.
Knowing. It contains the answers to all questions and, more crucially, the practical knowledge needed for unfolding the universe, the human body, and the mind. Any experience of intuition, insight or truth taps into this quality.
Whole. You experience this quality when your life makes sense and you feel a part of nature; you are at home simply by being alive.
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