Chapter 4 B: Reveries of Consciousness Development
Personal Reveries from Early Consciousness
Our journey to develop consciousness is intimately linked to the development of understanding that exists between life, death, and the other paradoxes that seem to govern the way our mind perceives and processes information. Therefore, the development of consciousness occurs during early childhood, matures throughout the lifecycle, encompasses both our internal and external realities, and the relational field that exists between the two often competing forces. This drives our maturation process forward. Before one knows of death, childhood innocence remains the primary lens by which we view the external world. But as with any part of life, the innocence associated with one form of consciousness must die in order to give birth to a more evolved form of consciousness. These are reveries of early consciousness development, from what was once a rationalistic skeptic, turned believer in the power that lies behind a realized state of Self awareness!
Looking back on my life, I can trace the general period when I became conscious of the life and death paradox. It was tied to a dream that I remember very clearly:
The world is on fire from nuclear annihilation. I am standing in the schoolyard that was next door to my home. It is a barren wasteland, burnt and charred, with only the remnants of buildings remaining. Within the schoolyard, I am standing over my mother and father’s gravestones crying. I am all alone and need to begin fending for myself in a world destroyed by the indifference and misunderstanding that conflict creates.
When I awoke from the dream, I was crying. I crawled into my parent’s bed to be soothed, knowing for the first time that all individuals who inhabit this earth must eventually die. This dream occurred during my fourth or fifth year of life.
Even though I do not remember the exact age when this dream occurred, some 35 years later it is still as vivid in my psyche as was the fear it produced in my childhood soul. Even though I can remember specific memories before this age, these memories are often fleeting, leading to snapshots in time that have some meaning, but have slipped away because of the more complex set of emotions I have developed during adult life. When I attempt to remember earlier themes from my past that may underlie the reason I was so intimately drawn to this study, Siddhartha Gautama, the life of the Buddha, and the writing of Carl Jung, I would reach meditative impasses that proved difficult to overcome. In these impasses, I am reminded of the same impasses Hermann Hesse underwent to produce the book, from which he sought therapeutic dialogue with Carl Jung himself to overcome the writers block he suffered. Nevertheless, as a researcher, and a willing participant in my own transference dialogues, there is a force driving me to work through the suppressive tendencies I feel, and strive towards that cathartic state of reverie that I know underlies the development individuated consciousness.
Having believed I reached an impasse during my first attempt at a transference dialogue, I began to reflect on the idea of consciousness itself while entering a meditative state. I also changed the subject matter from which I meditated to be inclusive of an inquiry into the journey that I have witnessed my two sons undertake to become conscious. By making a slight shift regarding the processes and the subjects of inquiry, I became open to working with the unconscious, freeing myself from the conscious dissonance and suppressive tendencies that stood in my way.
In order to induce a deeper state of meditative inquiry into my unconscious underpinnings, I sought the assistance of a guided meditation exercise. I found a recording on affirmations, which proved to help me successfully navigate this specific impasse. The guided meditation that I utilized is entitled The Soul of Healing Affirmations: A-Z Guide to Reprogramming the Software of the Soul, narrated by Deepak Chopra (Chopra, Plack, & D’Cruz, 2008). In this audio file, Chopra provides the meditative practitioner 26 affirmations based on the letters of the alphabet. I found particular interest in working with the bonding and compassion affirmations as they relate directly to the experience I have witnessed when watching my children grow into their independent beings. The affirmation, entitled Bonding reads as follows:
Today, I will bond with others knowing that the other is myself, just in disguise. Through this bond of communion, I will let go of my separate self and I will connect with the web of relationships that creates the whole universe. I will experience this bonding with deep listening. I will listen with my heart and with my mind and with my soul. I will notice and appreciate the good qualities of people around me. I will express my love and my bonding through gestures, through words, through actions. I will not try to judge or evaluate how others feel, I will just feel what they feel and through this empathetic resonance, I will commune with all that is eavesdropping on the mind of God. Today, I will bond with others knowing that the other is myself in disguise. Today, I will bond with others knowing that the other is myself in disguise. (Chopra, Plack, & D’Cruz, 2008, track 4)
The affirmation, entitled Compassion reads as follows:
I will see a stranger today through the eyes of compassion. I will remind myself that this stranger has parents and people who love her just like me. I will remind myself that this stranger has moments of joy just like me. I will remind myself that this stranger has moments of anguish and suffering just like me. I will remind myself that this stranger will one day grow old, just like me. I will remind myself that this stranger will go through the cycles of illness and recover just like me. I will remind myself that this stranger will one day die just like me. Through the eyes of compassion I will know this stranger not as a stranger anymore but as a living soul, just like me. (Chopra, Plack, & D’Cruz, 2008, track 5)
As I entered a meditative state and engaged the above affirmations, I found that wonderful results occurred.
Having engaged the affirmations from a meditative state of inquiry, I realized at a point midway through the meditation that my body became heavy and my hands, even though touching my chest felt as if they were touching a foreign object. I entered a state in which I was devoid of bodily awareness. I was unaware of my physiological state of being, yet remained in an awakened state. During the final part of this meditative inquiry, I realized that I had entered a deeper state of meditation than normal. I had become the breath that I concentrated on to enter this meditative state. After my wife entered the room, I had awakened, believing that I was sleeping; however, I quickly realized that I was much to alert to have awakened from sleep. Instead, I reached a point of meditation where I achieved emptiness of both the mind and the physiological presence of my body. Had I entered a state of Self Awareness, I do not know. All that I can fathom, is that I did in that moment, leave the trappings of my ego behind to let my mind, and my body rest from itself.
Through bonding and compassion the body and soul evacuates its reliance on ego and sinks into emptiness, which allows the Self to unite with the divine. Like the beginning of Siddhartha, it felt like I had become one with the journey that was ready to begin, open to becoming conscious of that which remained unconscious, and open to becoming enlightened about the many dark aspects of my consciousness. I had bonded with emptiness; nothing separated my Self from the others that make up the “web of relationships that creates the whole universe” (Chopra, Plack, & D’Cruz, 2008, track 4). For one moment, I experienced the paradox of being with nothingness. I had partaken in a simple form of consciousness that I determined was childlike by nature. I was devoid of any value systems from which to judge, devoid of my sense of self, or what Freud termed as the ego, and its reliance on the value based systems created within the superego. I simply existed, possibly as Self for one brief moment in time, even though the temporal reality I had worked within seemed to somehow just slip away.
From a rational perspective, I can only think that preconscious life is similar to transcendent consciousness. The mind is open to all information that the senses can perceive. There is no judgment, only existence. When a child is born, they are predetermined to partake in a particular set of events that unfold just as our maturation journey unfolds with psychological certainty.
The concept of individuation, even though a goal by nature, also represents an undercurrent of development that we all undertake. It is intimately connected to the journey of life and therefore death. While a superordinate construct of consciousness, it is through the hidden qualities of its undercurrent that we ultimately begin to make sense of the the bad, the good, the ugly, and the beautiful events that life affords each and every one of us as we strive to find personal meaning.
Chopra, D., Plack, A., D’Cruz, D. (2008). The soul of healing affirmations: A-Z guide to reprogramming the software of the soul [CD]. New York: Rasā.