a : the quality or state of being aware especially of something within oneself
b : the state or fact of being conscious of an external object, state, or fact
c : awareness; especially : concern for some social or political cause
So to simplify – Consciousness is Inner Awareness, External Awareness, and Concern for Others.
To me, the definition implies that to gain high levels of inner and external awareness and concern for others, requires increasing levels of knowledge, mindfulness, wisdom, and compassion.
The definition also implies increasing consciousness means increasing clarity, to see things as they really are. A lower level of consciousness would imply lower levels of clarity, confusion, and an increased level of ignorance.
I’ve thought at times that your level of consciousness is similar to the results of an eye exam. The optometrist will have you look through the machine and place various filters (lenses) in front of your eyes until you can see clearly. Some people require more adjustment to get to 20/20, some people less.
So simple right, we all just need to get new “Consciousness Glasses” and move to 20/20. The problem is that there isn’t a universally accepted definition of 20/20 consciousness among everyone in society at large. In spiritual circles, yes. Unity consciousness, Oneness, Non-Duality – the concept that everything and everyone is part of one unified consciousness – is widely understood to be the end point when you arrive at pure consciousness. It implies that there is no Self and Other, no Us and Them.
In Unity Consciousness you don’t Go to War, you Go to Love.
Because going to war, is attacking yourself. Not something you would readily do if you had 20/20 consciousness.
What else wouldn’t we do if we had 20/20 Consciousness?
- We wouldn’t be obsessed with winning and losing
- We would move from “Self Service” to Service to Others
- We wouldn’t allow others to suffer needlessly (poverty, homelessness, hunger)
- We would not seek to benefit ourselves by harming others (or actively or passively supporting the harming of others – through our business decisions, the sports we play and watch, and our purchasing and consumption decisions)
- We would not support the harming of the Environment
- We would not harm our own bodies through drugs, chemicals, over-stress, lack of exercise, and poor dietary choices
The list could go on and on, but as I’m sure you would agree, the level of clarity required to get to 20/20 consciousness is a high bar indeed. And with that in mind, it would seem we have a Crisis of Consciousness in mega proportions.
How can we raise our level of Consciousness in the Modern World?
- Study Enlightened Minds of the Past – Buddha, Christ, Lao Tzu, Rumi
- Study Awakened Minds of the Present – Shawn Achor, Tony Burroughs, Pema Chodron, Paulo Coelho, Wayne Dyer, Thich Nhat Hanh, Michael Singer, Eckhart Tolle, Marianne Williamson
- Develop a Mindfulness Practice – Meditation, Focused Awareness – and seek to connect spiritually with Universal Consciousness
- Look for ways to practice Unity Consciousness in your daily life – Commit a random act of kindness, Let the other person win sometimes, Learn something new about someone (or a group of people) and see their point of view (ultimately realizing that their point of view is not who they really are – it’s just a temporary phenomenon).
- Amplify Your Knowledge – Be proactive in harnessing the most nutritious information, knowledge, and wisdom from around the world that the internet now allows us to do with a touch of a button. There is a method to this…
- Spend significant time in Nature every day. Any place with lots of trees, vegetation, water if possible, is a place full of elevated energy levels. Why? Because natural living things are directly connected to and emanate from Source Consciousness. Their energy is undiluted. Us humans, with our free will and internal mental gymnastics are raising and lowering our energy levels all the time. Since we are all energy beings, immersing yourself in pure, unadulterated energy helps clean and re-order your particular energy stock. It’s no accident when great minds “venture into the woods” to clear out their heads and reconnect with divine and creative inspiration.
In general, just as we get physically healthier if we ingest more healthy and wholesome foods, we raise our consciousness by consuming those items that are created by higher level consciousness – books, music, movies, television, nature, and of course discussions with fellow humans who are closer to 20/20.
Einstein was Right
Albert Einstein once said that “No problem can be solved with the same level of Consciousness that created it”.
So, asking the same people who got us into a mess is often a recipe for frustration. Of course, people learn from mistakes and failure and increase their level of consciousness. If that particular group managed to do that, then fine. They’ll be able to clean up the mess. If not, then well, you know…
Learning from mistakes and failure is the key. But unfortunately, it’s very easy in our society to stay marinated in lower level consciousness for a long time. Too many of us keep watching the same news programs (24/7 stream of the same issue in a million different ways), reading and watching the same media, listening to the same people, reading the same types of books, and so on. We may think we are absorbing different things, but essentially it’s the same (or lower) level of consciousness just in different disguises.
Collective Consciousness or Collectively Unconscious?
Our individual consciousness when put together at a group level is the Collective Consciousness of a society, a country, and the world at large. Just as at the individual level our thoughts are energy and what we think about we attract into our lives, at a group level the same holds true. So if a state or country is composed of citizens operating at lower levels of consciousness, then it’s a problem for the whole group and it benefits all of us to help raise the consciousness of others.
At a tactical level, for capitalism and democracy to function effectively it requires knowledgable and moral participation of citizens.
When collective consciousness is low (substandard levels of knowledge, mindfulness, wisdom, and compassion), then both of these institutions break down and don’t deliver the results they are capable of delivering. The more we can raise our own level of consciousness and help others raise theirs, the better these two pillars of society will function for all of us.
I Gotta Get Out of Here
Have you ever noticed that artists, writers, entrepreneurs, and other creatives, go out of their way to be in more vibrant or natural surroundings and to be around other like minded people? They say it helps their creativity.
In a world which is totally made up of energy, how you interact with it can either raise your energy level or reduce it.
Lower consciousness is slower, denser, and less light than higher level consciousness. Have you ever walked into a room, visited a town, or met someone and felt the energy around and inside of you go lower (or higher)? Be aware of that next time you have the opportunity and listen to your instincts. As you develop that awareness, you’ll find yourself seeking out people and places that are more in tune with the higher level of consciousness you crave.
So shine up the lenses on those Consciousness Glasses. You’ll see the world with much more clarity, help others do the same, and in the process Change the World!
Here are a few resources to help you on the path:
- Buddha at the Gas Pump: In depth video interviews with every day people who have awakened to higher states of consciousness, with host Rich Archer
- 21 Ideas to Free Your Mind from Mass Media, Think Smarter World
- The Miracle of Mindfulness: An Introduction to the Practice of Meditation, by Thich Nhat Hahn
- Seeing the Oneness of our Reality, Think Smarter World