Genesis and Consciousness Development
The study of consciousness naturally aligns with the history of ontological philosophy. Since Constantine issued the Edict of Milan (313 CE), the West has become increasingly monotheistic. If epistemological assumptions occur in an ascending fashion and are built upon the knowledge base of the past, then theories of didactic and integral forms of consciousness must be apparent in humanity’s first attempt to make sense of its personal and collective origins. The Judeo-Christian story Genesis is one example of humanity’s need to explain its personal and collective origins.
Genesis begins with a series of paradoxes in which God creates order in the universe.
In the beginning, when God created the heavens and the earth, the earth was a formless wasteland, and darkness covered the abyss, while a mighty wind swept over the waters. Then God said, “Let there be light,” and there was light. God saw how good the light was. God then separated the light from the darkness.Genesis. 1:1-4
Universal creation precedes the development of human consciousness. However, as quantum physics alludes to, you cannot have a universe without consciousness entering into it and creating meaning of that which is created.
God needs consciousness to honor the creation. Heaven and earth without consciousness to perceive its grandeur leaves the very abyss God brought from the darkness and chaos. The grandeur of the creation present cannot exist separate from the void and darkness from which it emerged. Out of darkness, light arises.
Biologically, human life begins in the womb, an environment mostly devoid of light. This environment, although dark, is highly adept in its creative ability to nurture the genetic unfolding of embryonic cells that will eventually grow to become new life. While the ability to perceive through sensory experience is limited during the initial stages of human development, the integral theory of holotropic consciousness proposed by Stanislav Grof (2010) shows that consciousness exists at finite and infinite levels.
In the holotropic model, the cellular structure and the whole entity it forms exist in tandem. These structures represent the microcosmic and macrocosmic aspects of an emergent Self, that entity that will one day form the consciousness of life we become. All entities are capable of their own form of consciousness, while remaining part of increasingly complex systems capable of varying forms of consciousness. In this passage, light arises from its antithesis, darkness, which in turn creates the very paradox individuals work as they undertake the journey to realize the nature of God’s plan as it exists within the consciousness of each individual.
Consciousness unites the macro and microcosm of God and humanity, or what Eastern tenets of philosophy deem as Brahman and Atman. This form of being mirrors the Eastern ideal of Nirvana, which means to be blown out. But blown out of what?
Consciousness exists to honor the creation God sought to bring from the darkness. Sight, a basic sense that links to the conscious awareness of many individuals is dependent on light. However, even in darkness, people have the ability to make sense of the light common to their mind’s eye.
Humanity developed conscious perception through the ability to perceive light and dark as God willed through the act of separating these two distinct, yet united constructs. Through creation, consciousness steps from the dark abyss that exists a-priori to conception to take part in the divine plan that unfolds as new life anew. This life-form then evolves into a conscious being capable of supporting its own life force. Light cannot exist without darkness, consciousness must occur to honor the creation, and life must return to the abyss of darkness to realize the cyclical nature of God’s creative plan. People are born, become conscious, seek knowledge of the divine, and eventually return to the darkness from which they were born through physiological death. This is the idea behind the Night Sea Journey, of which Carl Gustav Jung wrote
From water comes life… All living things rise, like the sun, from water, and sink into it again at evening. Born of springs, rivers, lakes, and seas, man at death comes to the waters of the Styx, and there embarks on the ‘night sea journey.’ Those black waters of death are the water of life, for death with its cold embrace is the maternal womb, just as the sea devours the sun but brings it forth again. Life knows no death…Carl Jung, 1911-1912/1967) p. 218)
The light of God cannot be realized without traversing the darkness of the abyss, and transcending its depth to realize inner light.
Spiritual attainment within the context of Christianity occurs through transcendence. However, the nature of what a person must transcend is not fully clear within the context of Western philosophy and spirituality. In the spiritualism of the West, confusion often exists between the often-interchangeable words spirit and soul. This issue is further compounded by the word psyche, which in ancient Greek literally meant both breath and soul. With the profound confusion of regarding the nature of spirit, soul, and psyche that exists within the context of Western philosophy and theology, it leads to the question: What must humanity transcend in order to take part in the divine light of God?
The initial paradox posed in Genesis shows a dialectic tension between light and dark; however, without a consciously aware being to view the difference between dark and light, nothing exists to view God’s wondrous creation. Light needs consciousness to perceive its essence, whether particle or wave. In the initial passages of Genesis, creation exists with nothing but the creator to view its glory. God needs the company of consciously perceiving beings to honor the creation, without which there would be a vast macrocosmic entity that exists without any person to perceive and relish in its presence. In Genesis, this quandary leads to further verses in which God continues the creative journey by creating a new form consciousness that can perceive the glory of creation itself. God creates the simplistic consciousness of humankind to honor the creation. However, with the fall of humankind from the perfection of Eden, humanity lost its perfectly simplistic nature and became aware of minute differences that exist between one’s internal and external environments. By being born, we suffer consciousness through original sin, and perpetually strive towards the wholeness of God by taking part in the plan of creation.
In the next segment, I will explore the fallacy of human folly, the differentiation between the sexes, and its effect on an integral form of consciousness development.
Grof, S. (2010). The conscious revolution: New perspectives in psychiatry, psychology, and psychotherapy. Retrieved January 27, 2011, from Stanislav Grof: http://www.stanislavgrof.com/pdf/Moscow_ITA_Lecture.2010.pdf
Jung, C. G. (1967). Symbols of transformation: An analysis of the prelude to a case of schizophrenia. In H. Read, M.Fordham, G. Adler, & W. McGuire (Eds.), The collected works of C. G. Jung (R. F. Hull, Trans., 2nd ed., Vol. 5). Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press. (Original work published 1911-1912)