What is Meditation

Meditation Techniques

Spiritual Inspirators

 

Western  Mystics


CONSCIOUSNESS & AWARENESS

I. Consiousnes & Evolution

II. Defining Awareness & Consciousness
III. The Mystery of Awareness

IV. The Enigma of Consciousness
V. Consciousness in the East and the West
VI. What Can be Said About Consciousness
VII. The Ouroboros Consciousness
VIII.  Ouroboric Super-Awareness

IX. The Super-Awake Flow
X. Fields of Consciousness

XI. Group Meditation


THE INNER AND THE OUTER PERSON
The inner and the outer Person
Integral Suffering and Happiness
Modern Forms of Suffering
 

THE BUTTERFLY OF THE SOUL

The liberation from or of the Self
The Glue of Love
God wants to be Human

CIVILIZATION & CONSCIOUSNESS
Civilization and Consciousness 
Civilization and Consciousness Part II

 





 
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CIVILIZATION AND CONSCIOUSNESS - PART II

The historical exploration of civilizational self-control presented in the previous chapter provides several significant insights, which we will now examine more closely. In this exploration, we aim to broaden our perspective, seeking a higher-level understanding through more abstract overviews.
 
Man is a story-telling animal
Firstly, it's evident that the development of self-control in civilized human isn't solely the product of advanced cognitive abilities like logical reasoning. There seems to be an additional, highly effective mechanism within the modern human brain aiding self-control: storytelling, particularly through organized religion. Contrary to the perspectives of staunch scientists like Dawkins, who regard religion as a detrimental mutation, historical observations, such as the development of the Silk Roads, reveal the essential role of Buddhism and Christianity in facilitating crucial trade lifelines.
 
The Rational and the Religious Mind
Unlike animals, humans have a unique propensity for religion. Religion appears to be an effective narrative-based social self-control tool, rooted in our capacity for storytelling. Yuval Noah Harari accurately describes humans as storytelling animals. The existence of the Silk Roads owes much to religious narratives. The contemporary human consciousness seems to encompass two historically conflicting brain functions: the rational and the religious mind.

It's crucial to note that this historical perspective doesn't necessitate actual belief in any religion. Our focus is on the unifying and civilizing influence of organized religion, which is a distinct matter from the existence of a deity.

FROM MEDIEVAL EXESS TO THE RATIONALITY OF ENGLIGHTENMENT
Transitioning from the Silk Roads, we encounter another significant shift in the trajectory of civilization. This shift originated in the Italian city-states during the 15th century with the Renaissance, eventually evolving into the Age of Enlightenment and shaping Western civilization.
 
Europe's geography, being more condensed compared to the expansive civilization zone of the Silk Roads, allowed for a unique blend of control systems. The vastness of the Silk Roads region made reliable military control challenging. In contrast, Europe's smaller geographical scale enabled the effective combination of military and religious systems for governance and control.

The Sensuous Middle Ages
Even in the much later period of the Middle Age, the average person lived more spontaneously, acting on immediate sensory experiences, at least as compared to our time. According to Norbert Elias this immediate, sensory, yet unpredictable life was led without considering potential consequences. Distress, captivity, defeat, victory, mutilation, unrestrained pleasure, devastation, religious penance, and remorse were experienced within the silent and sensory space of the body. Surveillance and punishment came from external forces like religious and secular institutions, not from within.


Part of a painting of Bruegel

Enlightenment and Emotional Regulation
Even up to the Enlightenment, societal norms allowed behaviors unthinkable today, like a man greeting a woman by touching her chest. People of the pre-industrial era engaged in direct, uninhibited sensory experiences.

Norbert Elias's observations in "
The Civilizing Process," elucidate the transition from the Medieval to the Enlightenment period implied emotional self-control:

"The soul is here, if one may express oneself thus without comparison, much more prepared and accustomed to leap from one extreme to the other with always the same intensity, and often even small impressions are uncontrollable associations, enough to trigger the fear and the turnaround. When the structure of human relations changes, when monopoly organizations are formed for corporal violence and instead of the persistent feuds and wars the more stable urgency situations due to peaceful, money- or prestige-acquired functions keep the individual in tight reins, the affective expressions slowly strive towards a line in the middle." (My emphasis)

Norbert Elias's concept of the line in the middle is not so far from Buddha's concept of the golden middleway as discussed in the previous chapter.

Norbert Elias highlights that as we progressed in the process of civilization, we transformed from beings reliant on close-range senses to those predominantly guided by long-range, visual perceptions. In this evolution, the term "Enlightenment" carries a significant implication as a visual sense.

 

Emotional regulation became crucial, and our sensory experiences shifted from direct tactile engagements to more distant observations. This transformation is encapsulated in the term "Enlightenment," which defines the post-medieval "Age of Reason." For 17th-century thinkers, "the Golden Middle Way" emerged as a paramount self-control concept, which can be seen as history echoing itself.
 
This is precisely why I chose to take a brief detour from the Silk Road to later European history.
Throughout the history of civilization, dating back to pre-medieval times, our evolution has been characterized by a shift towards becoming more composed individuals in more harmonious settings. Consciousness, as the most recently evolved operational system, finds it challenging to manage intense emotional disruptions, which can be viewed as remnants of older, more primitive animalistic systems. Given its recent evolutionary emergence, consciousness is inherently fragile and prone to regression. As such, fostering self-control is crucial for the development and maintenance of conscious awareness which again is a foundation for higher organized civil life.

In this context, when we examine Buddhism and Christianity, we find a common focus on maintaining control over the higher mental faculties always threathened by animal nature. Buddha faced his battles against Mara and various demons. Jesus contended with the devil in the wilderness. Monks from both traditions strive to overcome their desires and the more base aspects of their minds.
 
From this perspective, modern new age religions appear to be engaged in the inverse task: liberating our senses from the burdens of excessive civilization. This aligns more with Greek and Roman religions, where figures like Dionysus symbolized a more hedonistic approach and held a place among the gods.

To Winn is to Loose
This reversed role of modern religious sentiments highlights the success of organized religion in civilizing humanity to the extent that it created environments conducive to the flourishing of consciousness. In Zen religion there is a saying: To winn is to loose. Christian institutions were so effective in this regard that they eventually made their own role in maintaining societies via religious sentiment redundant.

The French Enlightenment philosopher Voltaire famously remarked, "There is no God, but don't tell that to my servant, lest he murder me at night." This statement captures the essence of a time when, despite the declining influence of religion among the educated classes, it remained a vital moral and social anchor for the masses. Voltaire outlived the strict religious observance of his servant, symbolizing the enduring impact of religious belief even as it waned in the Enlightenment era. In this period, the notion of acting morally and maintaining order increasingly became seen as rational and self-evident, independent of divine decree.

The embedded embodiment of the story of goodness
The original teachings of Buddhism on the Silk Road eventually evolved into Christianity. Christianity itself then transformed into a largely unspoken, but deeply ingrained memory of good conduct within societal structures. This code of behavior, embedded in the body, paved the way for an enlightened state transitioning towards secularism. By this stage, religious reminders to be virtuous were no longer necessary. The social ethos of good conduct had become a silent yet potent force, resonating from person to person, beyond the realm of language.
 
A significant shift in this process occurred in Northern Europe with the Reformation, allowing state power to integrate with religious institutions. It's important to recognize that most of societal information is non-verbal. This includes a range of communications from body language to emotions, which are transmitted in societies, often unnoticed by a Western mindset overly focused on linguistics and often oblivious to non-verbal forms of information.
 
The evolution of state-building where religious institutions have become integrated into the societal subconscious is particularly evident in the social democratic models of Scandinavia. In my country, Denmark, deep religious beliefs are far less common than they were in my grandparents' generation. Yet, there persists a general trend of people behaving kindly towards one another. This can be seen in the context of a social system where the state, providing comprehensive social security for all citizens, has emerged as a kind of anonymous embodiment of the Good Samaritan.

Ludwig Wittgenstein's assertion in "Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus" (1922), "The limits of my language mean the limits of my world," appears somewhat deceptive when considering the extensive, unspoken social currents of behavioral information. While Wittgenstein acknowledges the existence of phenomena beyond language, he advises silence on such matters. It's puzzling why he suggests this restraint. Why should we remain silent about what lies beyond the realm of language? This aspect of his philosophy is challenging to comprehend. I dare to disagree and align with Whitehead:

An enormous part of our mature experience cannot be expressed in words.
Alfred North Whitehead

Language-centric perspectives on human interaction and societal norms often overlook the zoological aspects inherent in us, aspects that have journeyed through time like a starship teeming with various inhabitants such as viruses, bacteria, mitochondria, and a multitude of cellular formations. A common denominator unifies all these biological operative systems: their ability to communicate without relying on language.
 
THE EMERGENCE OF NON-DUAL CONSCIOUSESS
It is now time to elevate our discussion to consider consciousness as an abstract, shared field that unites humans at various levels, ranging from individuals to clans, tribes, nations, and beyond. For a deeper understanding of this concept, I recommend reading the chapter titled "
Shared Fields of Consciousness" before proceeding further.

Let's return to the Silk Roads to explore the emergence of non-dual consciousness. The link between the expansion of trade networks and the development and configuration of consciousness is intrinsically intertwined. Simply put, the concept of unity consciousness, which grew alongside urban development and the prosperity brought by long-distance trade, is simultaneously a fundamental necessity for the survival and thriving of these very developments.
 
Cognitive consciousness inherently functions within the duality of subject and object, the knower and the known. Similarly, tribal consciousness operates in a duality, consistently differentiating 'us' from 'them.' Religion has often reinforced this tribal dualism by categorizing people into believers and non-believers. Both the shamanistic hunter-gatherer and the later agricultural-based cultures were fundamentally based on and in a dual consciousness and the split understanding of reality made by of the same.
 
Buddhism, however, presented a completely new transformative approach. Through the cultivation of consciousness in its essential form, it transcends these almost biologically inherited tribal divisions.
 
There are many ways of understanding non-duality. In this context, by non-duality, I am referring to a state where Buddhist 'shunyata', or emptiness, encompasses everything, particularly recognizing all living beings as part of a unified whole. Here non-duality takes us from the understanding of that there is no 'other', to the understanding that I am everybody else.

This inclusive acceptance was crucial not just for the long trade routes crossing diverse regions with different cultures and languages, but also for the emerging urban life on the Gangetic plains and in the series of Greek cities from Greece to India. A feudal or tribal mindset, less suited to life in populous cities, necessitates the coexistence of people from varied backgrounds and beliefs. Here, Buddhism addressed a societal need, aligning with the principle of 'follow the money'. It presents Buddhism as a socially adaptive force promoting harmonious coexistence in diverse environments. To put it succinctly: Buddhism, perhaps alongside Jainism, extended compassion not only within its group of adherents. Its concept of 'metta' (loving-kindness) embraces everyone, regardless of caste, creed, or culture, in a spirit of universal oneness. This represents a significant breakthrough in civilizational development.

Christianity eventually embarked on a similar journey. However, this path paradoxically coincided with relentless religious conflicts, either among different Christian sects or against Islam. However, the Christian mystics kept this
 
My favorite Mantra: What the Fred knows Fuck about Consciousness
How can we look at this from the level of higher understandings of consciousness? Let me first of all repeat my mantra that we fundamentally do not know what consciousness is. In order to understand consciousness we should be on a higher level as consciousness itself, what we will never be, at least in the understanding that consciousness is a guest, an intruder from a higher dimensiona plain. Consciousness is a cat from another dimension. However, it is possible to look at some of the 'lower' aspects of consciousness, like described in the anology af the footsteps of the invisible thief.

When considering consciousness from a more elevated perspective, it's imperative to acknowledge a fundamental uncertainty: we don't truly understand what consciousness is. To fully grasp consciousness, we would need to be on a level higher than consciousness itself, which seems unattainable, especially if we consider consciousness as an entity or phenomenon originating from a higher dimensional plane akin to a cat from another dimension.. Nonetheless, we can examine some of the more accessible aspects of consciousness, as illustrated in the analogy of tracking the footsteps of the invisible thief.
 
Consciousness mirrored in complex feedback system

Consciousness, as I intuit through deep meditation, is mirrored in biological multifaceted and complex information systems, possessing profound feedback capabilities. The complexity and efficiency of this system, even from a Darwinian perspective, correlate with the expansion of consciousness in both quantity and quality. Viewed in this light, consciousness involves the interconnection of neurons linking various parts of the brain, similar to how the Silk Roads served as cultural conduits. Consequently, consciousness had to broaden, akin to an expansive embrace, to cover the immense geographical stretch from India to Europe.
 
Rings of Power

The first layer of consciousness is focused on individual survival, which is why we refer to parts of our body as 'my arm' or 'my leg'. The next layer extends to encompass our immediate environment, including 'my things', 'my land', and most importantly, 'my loved ones'. Our consciousness, in this regard, expands in relation to what we identify with as 'mine'. Anything perceived as not 'me' or 'mine' is often viewed as a potential survival threat. The subsequent layer is the tribal one, which in the era of social media has evolved beyond a physical clan striving for collective survival, transforming into a community of souls connected in their chosen digital rabbit-realms.
 
At its more basic levels, this tribal consciousness is often governed by a 'Gollum-mentality', focused on possession and self-interest. It's only when this consciousness transcends itself, dissolving into nothingness and thereby encompassing everything, that we can truly embrace others. This is exemplified by strangers on the Silk Road greeting each other with a respectful 'pranam', recognizing the underlying oneness and shared emptiness that connects us all.


Ashoka-Buddhism represents the first organized religion to achieve a breakthrough into true non-duality, and I make this assertion without being a Buddhist myself.


However, I discern echoes of Buddha's concept of emptiness in the double negations of my favorite mystic, Meister Eckhart. Listen here to what the Meister has to say:

"Things are all made from nothing;
hence their true source is nothing."

I could continue drawing parallels between Vedanta, Buddhism, and the teachings of Meister Eckhart. However, this is not the appropriate forum for an extensive comparison, so I will limit myself to a quote that aligns the Indian concept of 'Neti, neti' not this, not that with one of Eckhart's many similar assertions:

"God is such that we apprehend him better by negation than by affirmation."

The following quote aptly delineates the distinction between consciousness, confined by the denial of being the other, and God, or consciousness as omnipresent in all and nothing:

"All creatures contain one reflection:
one, that is the denial of its being the other;
the highest of the angels denies he is the lowest. 
God is the denial of denials."


Doctor Ecstaticus/ Meister Eckhart


The Meister and Luhmann
Meister Eckhart also asserts:

"The tendency is ever towards self-repetition,
towards the preservation of the species:
it is every man' s intention that his work should be himself."
Meister Eckhart

This statement brings to mind the in-depth systemic theories of Niklas Luhmann. In this context, I suggest incorporating consciousness as a crucial, albeit unseen, orchestrator of social systems, driven by their inherent intention to replicate themselves.

The Silent Systemic Power of Consciousness
The concentric circles of consciousness are shared information fields that, as previously mentioned, transcend language. In a sense, they also transcend the host, the body itself.

At this juncture, we venture into realms less charted by science, into territories closer to the unknown. I am reminded of Bertrand Russell's analogy of the celestial teapot; if I assert that a teapot orbits the Earth, brimming with hot, delicious tea, it's not the responsibility of science to refute this claim, but mine to substantiate it.
 
Nonetheless, driven by my intuition, I am drawn to delve into this concept, fully acknowledging that this exploration resonates more with shamanic guidance than with scientific validation. Despite my appreciation for empirical and historical analysis, I do not confine myself to the traditional academic boundaries. I choose not to think and write within these systemic limits, which, in my view, often hinder truly innovative thinking in favor of a 'better safe than sorry' approach, constrained by the practicalities of everyday responsibilities like monthly mortgage payments.
  
The Power of the Silent Field
The potency of shared fields of consciousness extends beyond the realm of Yuval Noah Harari's concept of the 'story-telling animal'.

I have personally experienced this phenomenon in various settings, notably in group meditation. Similarly, in the gym, the collective energy and motivation enable me to lift weights that would be challenging to handle alone at home. This phenomenon is also evident in social media communities, where individuals converge around common interests or beliefs. From the compelling oratory of figures like Hitler to large rock concerts, and even among the numerous 'fake Gurus' that Sufi mystic Shams of Tabrizi likened to the countless stars in the sky, there is an observable innate human yearning to surrender to something larger than oneself.
 
But how does this happen? It occurs through our sensory perception of body movements, even at a micro-level. We often subconsciously mirror the bodily expressions of those we identify with, leading to a synchronization similar to soldiers marching in unison.

Yet, there are additional forces at play. Social media, in its disembodied form, has shown how powerful fields of consciousness can emerge without physical imitation. My theory, which remains unsubstantiated, posits that this social cohesion, the temporary ecstasy of surrender, is not solely a result of storytelling or bodily synchronization. It seems to be an inherent quality of consciousness itself.
 
In my many experiences with group meditation, where participants sit silently with closed eyes, the presence of a profound collective spirit which could be likened to the 'holy ghost' is occasionally tangible, and at other times, it is not. This presence seems not to be tied to any particular set of conditions, apart from, perhaps, the purity of the hearts of those present. When this spirit is present, there is a shared, instantaneous recognition among everyone that everyone is aware of its presence.

This phenomenon I perceive as the cosmic glue is best described as love. However, this love must continually transcend itself into larger circles of consciousness to foster the creation of greater civilizations. Otherwise, it risks imploding under the sheer force of its own boundaries, constrained by defining itself against what lies outside.


 Consciousness and Civilization