Friday, February 03, 2006

Knowing consciousness

I grew up as an uncomprising athiest. I delighted in telling my mother, who believed in the Church and Jesus, that the Bible was a fairy tale, that Jesus never existed, that God was a figment of the imagination. This in spite of the fact that as a child of about 7, while playing in the backtub while my mother had Christmas carols on the record player, I had this sudden shiver of energy up my spine, bursting into my brain, and suddenly I seemed to "see" myself listening to Jesus preach, and feeling as if in some other life I had known Jesus personally.

Even so, I was confirmed in my atheism by everything else in my experience, including my exposure to Christians. At the age of twelve I decided to see what was up with it, and read the Gospels with an open mind. There were things about it that I thought appealing, and other things I found repulsive, but my conclusion was that it really had nothing to do with God, and couldn't possibly provide any direct knowledge of God. I put the book down and thought of how God could possibly be known or proven. I thought about what I did actually know for certain, and the only thing I could think of was that I existed, that I was aware, that I was conscious. So I examined that for evidence of God. I simply meditated on my own awareness, my own existence. In a few short moments I had a simply but stunning "revelation". It wasn't dramatic, it wasn't full of meanings or content, it was just the simpe understanding that because I was conscious, God must exist, that God was inextribably intertwined with my own awareness, and that my awareness was imperishable, undeniable, and not threatened even by death.

In a certain sense, everything in my spiritual life since then has been an elaboration upon that simple moment, and a struggle to accept it as real and true, and just that simple, rather than tied into a tremendous vortex or people and events and ideas. If I had simply had faith in that most basic understanding, I could have avoided a tremendous amount of trouble, including my long involvement in Adidam. But if it hadn't been Adidam, it might have been something else similarly distracting, such as the Christian Church itself. The basic problem is that I felt weak in myself, and rather than looking to my own conscious awareness for the answers, I looked to sources outside myself, including many that had vested interests in keeping me from doing what was most needed. But all of that was simple a result of a lack of faith - lack of faith in the power of my own awareness, the power of consciousness itself, and a search for that power elsewhere.

This is the theme that I strayed from time and again, and yet somehow consciousness managed to keep pointing me back to itself, often in very painful ways. It still does, and I still stray, but it's keeping me on a shorter leash, and I am at least beginning to cooperate with it more directly than I did before, and understand what its purposes and methods are. Consciousness is basically an animal tamer, guiding all our stray impulses back to the source, so that we are fit to live in the house rather than out in the wilderness. It's a "civilizing" process. If we think of ourselves as a world peopled by all kinds of wild creatures, spiritual practice is the process that makes a civilized society out of all these beasts who are fighting with one another. They learn to keep still and quiet, to stop complaining and bickering, and simply to sit in peace beside the fire. Then we are able to live in peace in our own home, the heart. All that is nothing more than the knowledge of consciousness.


Anonymous said...

You say, "...everything in my spiritual life since then has been an elaboration upon that simple moment."

How true. Our course is set early in life. Weren't we amazingly brilliant and insightful back then. The only significant difference in my story was that I remained a committed athiest for many more decades.

Anonymous said...

Good Evening, Conrad and friend!

My first experience was at two, when I realized I was separate.

At eight, I had another experience in which I realized that I wasn't anything like I thought I was.

Then everything became rather dream-like, until about 27 years later, when I had another experience. This one revealed that nothing is like anything I thought it was, think it is, or ever will be. In fact, this one revealed that nothing is. Period.

This seemed to be the end of the matter, until I fell in love.

As Sri Niz said:

“When I see I am nothing,
that is wisdom.

When I see I am everything,
that is love.

Between these two
my life moves.”

Or as Ellen DeGeneres notes:

"In the beginning there was nothing.
God said, 'Let there be light!' And there was light.
There was still nothing, but you could see it a whole lot better."



Goldeneye said...

Two key things: you mentioned you were an athiest from a young age. Second, you say that you didn't see how the Gospels had anything to do with God. Broken Yogi, if we don't apply the early chapters of Matthew to our lives then WWIII develops instantly. Truth be told, much of the gospel message has Everything to do with God. Could someone else have said what those early chapters of Matthew said and therefore have equal value (ie. such as other religions)? The answer is no, because only behind standing on the faith of Jesus Christ do these passages impart meaning.

On the first matter, let me say that I was an athiest in my teenage years, even as a practicing yogi. When God literally spoke to me and changed the course of my life at 25, I became a believer.