the art of being human
I took a walk in the park today, enjoying yet another day of record-breaking warm and dry weather. Passing a man walking his dog, I casually commented, “It’s a glorious day.” To which he replied, “Yeah, but we’re gonna pay for it.” Meaning, quite pragmatically, that although we’ve had the usual amount of rain this winter season, the amount of snow, and therefore snowmelt, is paltry. People are fretting about it. In my most reassuring voice I called back to him, “Everything will be fine…” I think the notion that everything will be fine somewhat startled him.
And in that stranger’s comment it struck me how many people find problems in every solution. The gift of the day could not be received without his mind defaulting to what was wrong about it. I’m sure he wasn’t aware of his habituated pattern of response, he was simply following well-worn grooves in his thinking. We each have habitual thinking grooves, many of which are reinforced through culture and media’s incessant broadcasting of the shadow side of the human condition.
“Hey, look at this possible and positive change,” someone says optimistically, and the other one grunts, “Yeah, but we’re gonna have to pay.” Or, “It doesn’t work,” or “It won’t last,” or, “It’s too hard to really get there,” or, “It’s not true.” They cannot allow the positive into their sphere of perception because they aren’t yet ready to receive that much goodness.
Most of us haven’t yet prepared ourselves for the positive newness that modern-day adaptation and cosmic evolution is ushering in at a rapid-fire pace, along with all the unwanted forces pressing upon us. We say we want change; we say we desire a better life and a world where the problems of today are at the very least irrelevant—or even better, non-existent. Such change requires that we embrace our evolutionary nature: quite literally, that we actively participate in transforming how we think and perceive—from mind to “Consciousness in Mind.”
Paraphrasing Sri Aurobindo, we can discern four evolutionary stages of consciousness, beginning from the tiniest speck of matter, a single molecule of stardust:
Consciousness in Matter…then
Consciousness as Life in Matter…then
Consciousness as Mind in Life…then
Consciousness as Consciousness in Mind
Sri Aurobindo names the experience of the fourth stage—the evolutionary precipice on which humanity is perched at the moment—as the supramental, or supermind.
The transmutation from mind to Consciousness in Mind will not occur in our lifetime, nor our children’s, nor their children’s, but if it is the collective will, and we create the avenues for its unfolding, human beings will eventually become an entirely different species—mentally, physically, emotionally, and spiritually. This transmutation is the work—the positive future—we are called to prepare for now, and we start by being receptive to, and aware of, the conscious force within us. In so doing, we establish a direct connection between cosmic consciousness and the individual, between consciousness and matter, between finite and infinite.
Preparing for such a radical change cannot come from the intellect, however, for mind is by nature dualistic and limited. Rather, it comes from a receptivity to consciousness—and more specifically, a receptivity to Cosmic Consciousness becoming aware of itself in, through, and as us… to consciousness becoming a permanent state in mind. Or, what I like to call in more technical terms, ‘the great goodness’.
What is this Cosmic Consciousness that lies beyond mind and local consciousness? That, of course, is the great mystery that we grapple with and the stumbling block to our receptivity. Trying to find a definitive answer becomes a continual loop of mind folding in on itself over and again, for there is no absolute or single way to apprehend the numinous through mind alone. You can call it God, you can call it Spirit, you can call it the Omega Point, Brahman, Divine Principle, or Supreme Force. It makes no difference, for we can neither describe the mechanism nor the thing itself.
Although, perhaps the Big Bang theory is useful for giving us a sense of what might be the mechanism of consciousness evolution unfolding … for it tells us that the universe does not expand away from a single point into already existing space; rather, space itself expands, and nothing is “outside” of it. Local or cosmic consciousness, as best we can perceive it, seems to be of the same hue: created out of its own experience and from its own experience.
Psychospiritually, we feel Cosmic Consciousness (God, et al.) as a desire for permanence—an inner need to know something undeniable, something not mediated by or subject to outside controls and conditions, which we can love. For make no mistake, love is the only way through mind.
Are there inherent “problems” for human development within the evolutionary narrative of consciousness becoming aware of itself through us? Of course. Do those problems discount Consciousness in Mind as a positive “solution”? Only if that is our perception. If we perceive Consciousness in Mind, we’ll get that result. If we perceive problems, we’ll get another result.
The good news is that we can and do experience it: the expression of Cosmic Consciousness is seeded within us. If it weren’t, we would not even imagine its existence or recognize it—in our holy places, in the shimmering dawn light breaking over the sea, in the majestic stillness of a sequoia tree, in a baby’s smile… These brief moments are windows to a greater perspective, to the agency of consciousness within matter, to the evolutionary supramental state.
The time is now to harness our conscious abilities and endeavor to understand them through our own efforts. Simply being receptive to the idea that there is a greater conscious power and presence that is both within us and beyond us, opens a window of perception. Each time we experience a change in our perception of reality, we must choose whether to declare or hide the truth, as we know it—the true nature of who and what we are. Windows upon windows upon windows will open for us with each declaration, preparing us for the positive future we say we want.
It’s indeed a glorious day—today, and every day.
“In man dwells a spark from the Divine Origin, which man, by his way of living, increases or decreases in himself.”
~Tagore (Quoted from Myth of the Enlightenment, by Frederick Glaysher)