What is Meditation

Meditation Techniques

Spiritual Inspirators

 

 


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

 





 
۞

When Meister Eckhart
speaks of "God," I
suggest readers set
aside traditional
conceptions of the
divine:

He is so quiet,
so free of any kind
of knowledge, that no idea
of God is alive in him.
Meister Eckhart

۞

I derive the
most profound
understanding
 from his quotes when
I interpret Eckhart's
"God" as a reference to
consciousness and
awareness:

God is simple
presence,
a stay-at-home
in himself.
Meister Eckhart

۞


Doctor Ecstaticus
(Meister Eckhart)














































 



















































































 


DEFINING AWARENESS AND CONSCIOUSNESS

We do not live alone, but chained to an animal
from another kingdom: our body.
Marcel Proust

Mankind is poised midway between
the gods and the beasts
Plotinus

At Meditation.dk, our exploration of 'awareness' relies on these seemingly straightforward yet profoundly nuanced notions: humans as instinctual beings, inextricably linked to their bodies. By revisiting familiar landscapes with fresh perspectives, we might uncover hidden dimensions previously ignored.
 
First and foremost, the quest for understanding awareness is an inward journey—a probing examination of our internal bodily experience. This realm is so immediate that we often take it for granted. We exist within the dark inner world that lies behind our skin, scarcely acknowledging it. Despite being largely overlooked, this inner bodily realm is far from alien.

Before we acknowledge, understand and articulate our existence in words, we reside in a peculiar inner realm of emotions and an almost infinite variation of sensations. Here, our well known emotions are just the tip of the iceberg. Beneath them lie even more profound layers of life, ancient strata of abstract sensing that regulate everything from our heartbeat's cadence to the sinuous movements of our digestion. These sensations are hidden in plain sight. They transpire in a sort of forgetfulness, akin to a humming fridge: It was humming all along, but we only realize this in the moment the humming stops.
 

The Two Forms of Consciousness
Before venturing further into this murky territory, it's important to clarify a fundamental distinction. On Meditation.dk, we differentiate between two modes of 'consciousness': awareness and consciousness.

Close your eyes, and you'll find that a multitude of sensory signals emanate from your internal body-space, entering your awareness. In this intimate, dimly lit world, you sense rather than see.
This experience is distinct from mere interoception; you're not just attuned to internal sensations but also the stimuli at the boundary of your body—your skin. With eyes closed, you still gain a 'sensed' understanding of your surrounding environment. All these sensory inputs coalesce into a subjective experience of spatial unity. The inner, sightless eye perceives everything as a connected whole. (I will delve deeper into this fascinating phenomenon in later chapters.)
 
One key takeaway is that this sensory awareness intensifies the moment you close your eyes.
Upon reopening your eyes, the proximity of these sensations fades. Engaging your eyes shifts your state—making you more conscious, but paradoxically less aware of what is going on inside of you. Here, consciousness intertwines with the act of seeing, grounded in light; awareness is rooted in the process of body-sensing, shrouded in darkness.
 
In this context, I define 'consciousness' as the brain's most recently evolved, fully awake operating system—likely accelerated by the advent of human language. It is not equivalent with cognition but includes it as a space holder, as a reflective mirror.

As images are seen in a mirror, so the universe
is an image in the mirror of Consciousness.
Tripura Rahasya XL verses 53-54

This conceptual distinction aligns with Indian mystic Nisargadatta Maharaj's views:

Awareness is primordial; it is the original state, beginningless, endless, uncaused, unsupported, without parts, without change. Consciousness is on contact, a reflection against a surface, a state of duality. There can be no consciousness without awareness, but there can be awareness without consciousness, as in deep sleep. Awareness is absolute, consciousness is relative to its content; consciousness is always of something.
Nisargadatta Maharaj - I AM THAT

Awareness is 'primordial'. Awareness serves as the foundational layer of consciousness. From an evolutionary perspective, life developed awareness before waking consciousness. In this sense awareness consists of the first steps towards develloping the biological mirrors that on later stages were able to  concentrate the light of self-awareness into what we could call consciousness. 

To distill the distinction:

● Consciousness embodies luminous cognitive alertness, maintaining the duality and distance essential for verbal understanding. As Meister Eckhart observes, "The closer we align Him (God) with non-likeness, the better we understand Him."

● Awareness, on the other hand, immerses in the immediate, shadowy domain of sensation. It represents unity and immediacy; a realm of dark 'suchness' devoid of traditional understanding. Echoing this, Meister Eckhart notes, "God is pure presence, residing solely within Himself."

    

An infant develops best in unlimited attentive close-sensing contact with the mother. Sensing awareness develops before consciousness in a person. An infant is undifferentiatedly attentive. Consciousness only begins to develop along with language at the age of two or three. The dog and child in the above illustration are not truly consciously awake, but fully aware.

Dear reader, you may have observed an intriguing paradox in the preceding passages. While I characterize consciousness as a vessel for pure cognition, I simultaneously draw from religious texts to illuminate this concept. Consciousness, seen more as a reflective surface rather than its contents, encompasses not only pure reason but also narrative. Historically, this narrative hasn't always been strictly rational. Among the most potent forms of narrative is the religious kind, with its unparalleled ability to unify people and galvanize them into collective action. Harari astutely observes that humans are inherently storytellers, a trait distinguishing us from all other creatures. This unique capacity intriguingly combines the realms of empirical, scientific reason with the often irrational realm of religious narrative. As such, I aim to shed light on the enigmatic nature of the consciousness 'mirror' by drawing upon both logical reasoning and religious tales.

Now it's time to embrace 're-ligare', a Latin term meaning 'to reconnect', urging us to return to our roots.

The Deep Roots of Awareness
In Meditation.dk, the term 'awareness' embraces all fundamental, latent, and semi-conscious states that predate our more recently evolved, fully conscious state—a development that may be as recent as 50,000 years ago. 'Awareness' is an encompassing term referring to the processes related to our earliest biological origins, reaching back to the times of single-celled organisms in the Precambrian waters. (It is imperative to have read the inaugural chapter, "
Consiousnes & evolution", before delving further into this topic.) Given its extensive evolutionary timeline, awareness is intricate, resembling a patchwork tapestry.
 
While these ancient systems differ widely, they possess a shared characteristic: They function autonomously, without the need for linguistic understanding or expression. Within this domain, one might feel as if floating amidst a nebula of nebulous sensory stimuli. Each stimulus offers a distinct form of non-linguistic communication ans instinct based action, wholly unique in its nature. Nevertheless, a few of these systems have acquired rudimentary verbal comprehension. This explains why a pep talk in front of a morning mirror with affirmations like "I am beautiful" or "I am a winner" can be invigorating. However, these foundational aspects of our being can't converse using words when reaching out to our conscious self. Their communication is reminiscent of a perceptive dog: to some extend understanding its owner's words but unable to verbalize a response. Instead, they resort to their intrinsic modes of communication, and the irony is that we often struggle more to decode ourselves than understanding dog language.
 
To illustrate, consider the tension one might experience in the ringed muscle around the anus, an area endowed with nerve endings from our tailed predecessors. When the age-old monkey inside feels threatened, it subconsciously tries to find balance with a tail that has long since disappeared. Consequently, many of us navigate modern landscapes unknowingly bearing the latent tension of ancient primates. While Socrates' famed adage, "Know thyself," might not have anticipated this particular nuance, numerous individuals move through life with both tight asses and stiff upper lips, often oblivious to these deep-rooted sensations. (The playful mention of "tight asses" is, in this context, a conscious nod to a Freudian slip)

The demarcation between consciousness and awareness can be thus distilled: consciousness interprets through dualistic, remote visual perception, while awareness immerses in immediate, unified sensing. However, it appears consciousness hasn't grasped the reality that we've been existing for eons independently of its interpretations.
 
This unconsciousness presents a curious paradox: By employing an abundance of words in this chapter about awareness, it suggests that everything herein is penned from the vantage point of consciousness. Awareness cannot author its own tale, just as a hundred monkeys typing away for a century wouldn't produce any meaningful narrative on the subject.

The Unfathomable and Ancient Proximity of Awareness
We are like trees. What is chronologically farthest from us is closest to our core. The older a biological control system is, the closer it is to our existence as a cellular living primordial ocean.

Precisely because of this age-related proximity, 'primitive' sensations and emotions are unconscious but aware. The older the layers of attention activated, the closer they are, the less awake we are, and the less do we understand them.

God is close to us, but we are far from Him.
God is within, but we are outside.
God is at home; we are strangers.
Meister Eckhart

The Aware but Unconscious Body-Animal
We sense attentively. We feel our sensations. We experience in awareness. We become aware of ourselves and the world through sensations. Fundamentally, humans are sensing animals in their attentive awareness. A dog is just as aware as a human. Awareness-based survival responses rule in the twilight landscapes, almost unknown to consciousness, between sleep and waking. In the gray zones between sleep and waking, countless archaic operating systems of awareness live, recycling ancient genetic bio-software, making us the living landfill we are, seen in loving misanthropy at our core.

Let us once again delve into Rumi's profound musings on the soul's odyssey. Yet, this time, let's interpret his words with the remembrance that all these evolutionary soul stages coexist within us, here and now:

"Originally, you were clay. 
From being mineral, you becamet vegetable. 
From vegetable you became animal, and from animal, man. 
During these periods man did not know where he was going, 
but he was being taken on a long journey nonetheless.  

And you have to go through a hundred different worlds yet. 
I died from minerality and became vegetable; 
And from vegetativeness I died and became animal. 
I died from animality and became man. 
Then why fear disapearance through death? 
Next time I shall die Bringing forth wings and feathers like Angels. 
After soaring higher than angels- 
You cannot imagine. 
I shall be that."
Rumi


THE DUALITY OF SIGHT
Feeling and sensing are intrinsic to our being. Yet, the vast corpus of poetic writings worldwide captures only a sliver of the body's inner sensory landscape. I dare to say that 90% of our lived experience unfolds in the nuanced near-sensing of attentive awareness, beyond the purview of consciousness's attempts to understand. The intimate non-dual nature of awareness makes it difficult for consciousness, with its penchant for distance, to interpret the body's internal cues. Just as a painter steps back to truly see and appreciate the entirety of their artwork, we too must occasionally distance ourselves from the intricacies of our lives to grasp the broader strokes of our being.
 
Close-range Sensing versus Long-range Perception

Close-range sensing, encompassing touch, taste, and smell, is primarily governed by our older, more primal systems of awareness. In contrast, our most recently evolved waking consciousness is closely aligned with long-range or distant perception, such as sight and hearing. The sense of sight is intimately tied to our state of consciousness, offering us a sharp perception of our surroundings. In Danish, being fully awake is termed 'lysvågen,' which aptly translates to 'light-awake'.

In the attempt to shed light on the letters it is not a good idea to read a book with our nose pressed to the pages. Consciousness is always trying to place some distance between itself as the observer and the observed. Otherwise we cannot find ourselves and we come to resemble Jethro Tull's hare that lost its spectacles, unable to realize they were perfectly positioned all along.
 
Cognitive Validation of Emotions through Visual Distance
Sight is frequently heralded as humanity's paramount conscious sense, offering a means to validate our internal world. Our propensity to privilege visual cues over sensations from other senses suggests an intricate interplay between consciousness and awareness. This interdependence manifests when we seek visual representation of emotions, almost suggesting, "To understand my emotions, I must see them." In order to get insight, to shed light on a subject, distance is required. This visual distance sets the stage for the duality between the observer and the observed.

In this sense the price we pay for understanding ourselves is that we get alienated towards ourselves. We can only look at and understand ourselves by not being ourselves. That is why we close our eyes in meditation. Meditation is the art of temporary blinding ourselves in order to find what understanding cannot see.
 
Hence, in order to gain spiritual wisdom (as opposed to understanding) the norse god Odin, according to mythology, had to sacrifice one eye.

In the same line of thinking Meister Eckhart claims:
Had I a God whom I could understand, I would no longer hold him for God. We loose our inexplainable nature by explaining it.

The more we can impute to Him (God) not-likeness,
the nearer do we get to understanding Him. 

Meister Eckhart

The phenomenon of leaning heavily on visual cues to process or validate our experiences is, however, deeply ingrained in human behavior. Here are some more examples:
 
Several facets of human behavior reflect our deep-rooted reliance on visual perception: "Seeing is Believing" – This proverbial wisdom underscores that, for many, visual evidence outweighs oral testimonials. A picture, they say, is worth a thousand words. In this digital age, that might extend to videos being even more potent than photographs in affirming truths.
    
Interestingly, thought formation shares a closer affinity with audition; we often 'hear' our internal monologues. Before written words, pivotal cultural narratives passed through generations via oral traditions. Hearing, thus, operates as an ambiverted sense—equally adept at close and long-range perception. This versatility of sound elucidates why powerful oratories or captivating melodies can penetrate our conscious guard and resonate with the intuitive, more primal facets of our being. Both spiritual leaders and persuasive orators harness this capability, reaching the profound archetypal layers of humanity through auditory means. However, the persuasive power of voice and sound to seems only to function when there a regression of consciousness is happening. This peculiar phenomenon can be observed at is fullest in any speech made by Hitler.

Humans: A Battlefield for Evolutionary Conflicts
As explind in the chapter,
Consiousnes & Evolution, humans are a melting pot of cells and bacteria, hosting diverse bio-operating systems ranging from the Precambrian era to now. At the convergence of these systems, few communicate through language. Some resonate with emotions, while the most ancient ones respond solely to sensory input. These inherent temporal disparities breed internal conflicts: our primal instincts clash with the newly awakened human faculties.
 

The above Chinese watercolor depicts a meditating Zen monk, peacefully seated atop a creature that is primitive yet vaguely humanoid. This portrayal is in line with a longstanding tradition featuring Buddhas, Bodhisattvas, and meditating monks. To symbolize consciousness's triumphant victory over animalistic instincts, they are often illustrated riding dragons, lions, or tigers. What's perhaps unintentionally amusing about this particular watercolor is the slightly disgruntled and sidelong glance the creature seems to cast, at least to my eyes.
If I were the monk, I'd be wary of resting too confidently on this formidable perch. It feels as if the creature is simply waiting for an opportunity to topple the monk from his pedestal.
 
Our newfound, almost microscopic consciousness, is inherently fragile at its core. The light of consciousness shines like a tiny flame at the end of a matchstick, easily extinguished.