Consciousness & Unconsciousness in Uncertain Times

From a Sermon given Autumn Equinox Worship Service  on September 26, 2021

This morning I want to talk a bit about consciousness, and nurturing the kind of consciousness this community would benefit from in the days ahead. We’ve been talking about living in the end times for a quite awhile. Now let’s shift the focus to what we need in order to live in the beginning times.

I continue to be amazed about how many people in our society want to perpetuate the narrative that we must “return to normal.” It is SO unhelpful to think along these lines, because it is SO untrue. Human societies are not just going through a different frame of the same story. Rather, we’re going through a doorway into a different reality. There is no “new normal.”

Sunflower door, Prague. The sun is recognized in many spiritual traditions as the domain of the All-Mighty. It is no “coincidence” that the current crisis on Mother Earth fueling our present evolutionary leap is adjustments to the balance between Sun and Earth screwed up by human animals, aka global heating, climate change or global warming. Photo used in accordance with Fair Use Principles.

In psychological terms we are going through a paradigm shift, a massive change in the way human animals think and feel and experience the world.  We are undergoing a revolution if you want to use political terms; or a transformation if you prefer a more holistic perspective.  If we want to talk about this change from a spiritual perspective using metaphysical language, we would be and are going to be talking about a change in consciousness.  

Everything in our physical world changes over time. El Olam, (the name for God used in Psalms to describe God’s unchanging nature as the God of All Eternity) alone does not change. Everything in our human universe is in flux, whether we are talking about rapid changes like those we can see taking place in front of our naked eyes such a butterfly emerging from a cocoon; or changes in matter that we can barely comprehend like a mountain being ground into dust over millions of years. Energy is always in motion.

Included in the changes that shape our species is how human animals think about our world, and therefore how we interact with it and help co create it. This includes how we imagine and experience our relationship with the divine and the embodied divine known as Mother Earth. God never changes, but we do. As such our ability to create has us shaping the natural world in different ways, some helpful, some not so much.

Certain massive shifts in the worldview of our species were woven into the fabric of the Created Order. As such that patterning is encoded in the very genetic material of our physical bodies.  These are the changes with which we are dealing in 2021. 

These fundamental and gargantuan shifts are often labeled by science as the “evolution” of a species.  Unlike other life forms however, human animals have free will so if we so choose we can ignore and work contrary to how we need our lives and the very physical form that we inhabit to change. The danger is that when we work in opposition to the change process embedded in our design, the vehicles in which we are living cannot keep pace with externalized environmental shifts, making possible what in science would be called “an extinction event.”

Human Extinction by Stefan Roth. An accurate description of our present day challenges. Used in accordance with Fair Use Principles.

We are undergoing an evolutionary leap. Whether it ends up being an extinction event for human animals largely remains to be seen. As part of our role as cocreators we can shift the current Created Order. However this requires a tremendous “leap of faith,” the core of which necessitates an evolution of human consciousness. 

It could be argued that the last time human beings went through an evolutionary shift of the magnitude we are currently undergoing was around the late 15th and 16th century when Western society came to terms with the idea that the Earth is not the center of the universe, the Sun is. The hubris of human ego broke down our collective societies until we could move towards a more divinely-oriented direction. It was major chaos for several generations until we shifted egotistical thinking to permit a more accurate perspective on our place in the universe. Eventually this led to the cultural milieu we now label the “Age of Enlightenment” with all its various gifts made possible by the more expansive viewpoint.

We are now at a similar crossroad involving an evolutionary jump.  Once again our ego is taking a massive hit as we are forced to surrender our view that humans are in complete charge and can control everything on Earth. However, because the vibration of Planet Earth itself continues to go up, the upcoming transition will be more rapid, potentially involving months, years and lifetimes; rather than centuries.

Intuitive people have seen this jump coming, and have been preparing for a long time to take on its challenges, particularly folks from indigenous societies and marginalized cultures. One such person that I have been appreciating lately is Wangari Maathai.  Wangari was a biologist and zoologist from Kenya who in 2004 became the first environmentalist and first African woman to win a Nobel Peace Prize for her work towards democracy, unity of purpose and peace, in part through her contributions to reforesting Africa through the Green Belt Movement.

It is all about shedding fear and bringing hope to bear. Image used in accordance with Fair Use Principles.

What do those of us who want to help this evolutionary shift happen as seamlessly as possible in our own lives and in the lives of those around us need to keep in mind?  Many of the elements of this unfolding story have yet to be decided and therefore are unknowable at this point in time and space. Some factors are knowable; and we can actively prepare for them. One of the latter is changing the way we think, changing our individual mental life

So let’s start by discussing consciousness. About what do we need to be conscious? And more importantly, what is consciousness anyway? What is it not?   

Primarily this morning I want you to learn to better distinguish your mental energy as spirit, and your physicality. Consciousness is a spiritual event. Most people are under the delusion that their consciousness is all about their brain. In actuality your consciousness, sometimes known as your awareness, is not housed by your brain nor is it a creation of your brain. Humans tend to validate the physical side of our world and invalidate everything spiritually based. We have built whole civilizations, particularly since Rome and Hellenistic Greece on a false belief system that idolizes the brain and its functioning.

The brain is a tool.  It’s an important one but only a tool. It’s an organ like your lungs or your liver.  The brain is a majestic tool with wondrous capabilities that never cease. It is said that with its estimated 100 billion neurons the brain has a network that rivals the stars in the Milky Way.  If your brain doesn’t function well it can cause no end of misery, like most people with epilepsy or mental illness or dementia can teach you. But it is only a tool.  It is not the end in itself. 

Neurons firing as viewed through an electron microscope. Those amazing bits of life are communicating with each other via the use of chemicals and electromagnetic pulses. Photo by Heiti Paves used in accordance with Fair Use principles.

I can’t tell you how many spiritual seekers I have met over the years that have lost their way because they have mistaken their brain for what gives them life. They are like people who spend a fortune on a gorgeous shiny new Tesla car that they program to drive itself, as they themselves go to sleep.  Sometimes they crash and burn; and sometimes they just miss the scenary along the road.  One of the quickest ways to a spiritual impasse is to get “lost in your analyzer.” When you do that, the tool becomes in charge of your life, and you treat everything like a nail, thinking you are simply a hammer.

The brain likes to convince us that it is the most important organ.  It wants us to believe that as the premier organ it is your source of consciousness and therefore decision-making.  I almost never recommend people who are seeking to develop their spirituality read books on the subject until I think they have a fighting chance of developing seniority over their analyzer. 

The brain is also why many people have such a hard time learning to meditate on their own. Most westerners have been far too programmed to confuse the firing of the synapses in their brain with real knowledge.  We actually have a whole educational system in this country that is largely dedicated to stuffing as many bits of data into the brain as we can, thinking that quantity of data is what makes people smart. That’s like believing that your computer or your television is a God because things routinely appear on the monitor.  From that vantage point, somewhere somehow some other animating force has done the keystrokes or manipulated the remote to get those images to appear. If you envision the firing of synapses as the endgame, and take no responsibility for what you input, you end up with an insanely busy brain that won’t shut up.

Many people experience their thoughts as heavy, which they can be in when the brain is in competition rather than in affinity with the rest of your physical and spiritual structures. This piece entitled “The Weight of Thought” is by sculptor Thomas Leroy and is used in accordance with Fair Use principles.

Again, don’t get me wrong. Your brain is a truly miraculous machine. Taking care of it is every bit as important as taking care of any other part of your physical anatomy. Here I mean caretaking not just through things like good nutrition and sleep but also exercise in the form of the right kind of stimulation. It is estimated that it takes about 400 repetitions to build one synopsis.  To use your brain in the service of your goals, you must learn how to input data by exercising it appropriately and with discernment.

Beyond the basic caretaking tasks involved with the physical aspect of the brain, we also must learn how to work with it by developing what in psychology we call “metacognition.”  This is where we go from allowing our brain to dictate our reality to simply using it as a tool. We, the real owners of that marvelous machine we call a body, need to learn to step back, observe what is going on, and make appropriate adjustments.  Regular meditation is a tried and true process for doing exactly that.

Have you wondered why there is such a debate in this country about critical thinking? There are a lot of ego-based individuals who have given up responsibility for the functioning of their thinking to others and feel threatened by those who are committed to learning to think for themselves.

In this country and in most others we are in a world of hurt in large part because we lack even the most basic skills in terms of metacognition, aka learning to work with data.  Many American don’t even know the difference between a fact and an opinion.  Most Americans can’t reliably distinguish between an emotion and a thought, much less which emotions and which thoughts are their own versus which ones have come from other people which they have adopted without examination as their own.

Best case scenario is when an individual allows many glimpses into the big picture, many of which are seen in passing, and then doubles down to focus on what one seeks to create in one’s own life. This way you see both the pattern or cosmic framework within which you function, as well as the best place to grow your individual contribution. “For Granted” by Gabriel Andreas with art by Matthew Andreas used in accordance with Fair Use Principles.

Highly educated people and those with great political power are not at all immune from this systematic ignorance. Many have not learned to use epistemological processes different than their own and sometimes even their own. We have a society which largely thinks faith and science-based belief systems are contradictory, rather than that both are flawed parts of a greater truth.  It is scary to me to watch national policy makers sometimes talk about the pandemic as if the scientific process was either a competing religion or an established set of objective facts.  Both perspectives lead to suffering and death.

Folks with other advanced cognitive skills who lack that commitment to step back and examine their own belief systems also miss the mark. Metacognition requires that thoughts need to be regularly examined and culled as needed, not just debated by a few similar-thinking colleagues.

Bottom line: Consciousness naturally evolves. Brain functioning does not, at least not on its own initiative. An evolving brain needs to be seeded with new data and purged of the old in order to have the ineffective and/or obsolete give way to a more holistic viewpoint, much like a computer needs to be cleansed of old files and out-of-present-time applications. Without regular updates, improvements and repairs, a neglected computer will slow down and eventually fail altogether. Left to their own devices the brain’s neuronal pathways do eventually wither when they are not used. However, if these changes are not intentional but rather just a result of disuse, it’s like a muscle in the body that simply loses its effectiveness and becomes flab. In many cases the spirit who owns that body simply loses access to it.     

Unchecked the brain can take on a life of its own, including housing the energies from many other people and disembodied spirit. Image of “My Brain and Beings Within” by Myron Dyal

Metacognition requires learning to recognize the data to which we are exposing ourselves and making decisions about it. When you get good at observing your thinking processes you can be in charge about what information to bring into your system, what to do with it and when to destroy it when you outgrow it.  This applies both to belief in religious concepts like the nature of the God, as well as to scientifically-based ideas.  Anything that has your brain maintaining control will ultimately limit you and allow other energies to use you like a doormat. If you do not want to just be a hammer, take charge of your brain. 

So, if our brain is only a tool, what is it a tool for?  Short answer:  you, of course. For you as spirit. The real you–the eternal being, the individual and ever-changing aspect of the All-That-Is.

The brain is a brilliant command center for our physical structure that allows each one of us as an eternal being to create through physical matter. The brain contains some amazing energetic components like our analyzer, that helps translate back and forth between body and spirit visa vie your brain, central nervous system and beyond. But you as spirit need to be in charge of the translation projects.

And what of unconsciousness? How does it play a part?

As spirit you have a consciousness, some of which is contained within your body, the VAST, VAST majority of which is not.  The totality of you is so much more than you could possibly even begin to bring into that brain of yours and the rest of your body, no matter how grounded you are and how many growth periods you have undergone.  Grounding allows you to be in much greater charge of the learning experiment that we call life.  Growth periods help you and your body work towards a mutually beneficial partnership to experience what you are here to experience.  However, until you are ready to return to your Maker for all eternity, you will never have access to the totality of your consciousness at any one particular point in time.

Have you heard about spontaneous human combustion? It is a phenomenon that occurs when someone tries to bring more of their energy or a higher vibration of their energy into their body than their body can handle.  The body can literally burn up. Be patient with yourself even at those times when you are chomping at the bit because you sense you are unaware of something vital. You do not want to burn yourself out. Seek greater consciousness but give yourself time to get there.    

To the ultimate question at hand. For those of us with boots on the ground, how do we best prepare our evolving consciousness to meet the challenges before us?  Here are my cliff notes:

1. Get really good at discernment. By this I mean both figuring out to which information you want to expose yourself, and with which people you want to have the experiences that allow you to process it. 

The trick here is to make sure that the choices you are making are expanding your universe rather than making it smaller.

Many people in our society right now are lost because they are attempting to protect themselves by shutting down the new information, new experiences, new people with whom they can explore new pathways.  That never worked very well and it is kind of deadly in the current time frame.  In the digital age we can’t hide anymore from information that disturbs us by shaking up the status quo.   

The evolution of human consciousness is requiring us to seek Truth in a different fashion than pretending it doesn’t exist, or asking someone else to define it for us.  Read and view and discuss with others as much as you can tolerate of perspectives that differ from and especially those that are contradictory to your own. If you are trying to stem the incoming tsunami of new data by throwing up dams, all you are going to get is flooding on a destructive level. The flood waters are just going to rapidly overtake the banks anyway, and the world of other solutions will simply wash away to nothingness. Alternately if you make judicious decisions about which tides to navigate, when to float and when to paddle–you get my drift–your swimming skills will steadily improve.

Keep in mind that only you can choose what comes to the aid of your learning in what order.  If you find yourself uncomfortable with what you are viewing or discussing, then pull back and look at what is going on for you. Time to go within. 

Calvin and Hobbes have been a major cultural force in the national conversation for many, although this particular strip may be beyond the understanding of even some of its most die hard fans. It depicts how uncomfortable it can be for individuals to struggle against competing data when their brain is stuck in old patterns Here, rather than dealing with his own discomfort Calvin simply shuts down emotionally and projects onto his dad his emotional distress and his own fear of stupidity. In scientific terms we might label this “cognitive dissonance.” Bill Watterson’s work here is used in accordance with Fair Use Principles.

When you are being triggered, it may be that the new data to which you are exposing yourself is exactly what you need and is just bringing up for clearing the old stuck places.

It may be that the information is wrong for you or even toxic to you.

It may be you are exploring an important subject using the wrong process.

This is where going within is critical. To whatever extent and in whatever way you know how, work through the feelings, the obsolete belief systems, the pain pictures, etc. Get out of your analyzer and into the center of your head. From there look at what you are stirring up, what is REALLY going on, and MOVE that energy out. 

2. Open yourself up not only to new information but to new ways of acquiring and processing it.  Cognitive processing is a skill set. It must be practiced.  It can and should be practiced from various angles but it cannot just be acquired through superficial exposure. i.e. rational thought, despite what your brain may tell you. You can’t just think. You have to do something.

  

If you know how to read energy clairvoyantly, do a LOT of reading of others so you can expand your universe by releasing matching pictures. That is a great way to purge maladaptive data of which you are not yet conscious.  

If you have been exposed to the social psychology literature, you can have fun catching your brain in the act of distortion as it tries to trick you into seeing the world from a limited place of bias. 

If you know how to find the center of your head, clean it out in your meditations several times a week and operate from there on a daily basis as much as possible which will increase its reach. 

Read magazines with which you are unfamiliar or study a new language. Learn to do something you do not normally do like dancing or singing, or playing an instrument. Develop a relationship with an unfamiliar species of animal, hang out with kids or old people, folks with a major mental illness, culturally diverse groups or anyone with whom you do not normally interact. Watch television shows that make you cringe a little, talk to “strangers,” or even drive down different streets than you normally would. 

And then identify what brings you the most joy, and do that A LOT. 

3. Recognize that consciousness is the goal and recognize the goal will be largely unobtainable.

Awareness is a great thing. 

So, at times, is unawareness.  

I can’t tell you how often if I had known what I was getting myself into I would have stopped myself.  That is to say my ego would have stopped me as spirit, go down certain roads that it was absolutely critical that I explore. 

It is also true that I have caused myself a lot of unnecessary suffering because I did not let myself know what the likely outcome of my choices was going to be. As one’s ability to discern grows, the suffering and self sabotage decrease.

For now just realize that both consciousness and unconsciousness are important at different times.  Leave the perfection to God.

And on that note, my major piece of advice to this community is this:

The Holy Spirit, that aspect of the divine that is possibly the most mysterious and impossible to understand through rational brain processes, is available to all human animals irrespective of gender or sexuality. Art by Megan Wagner entitled “Awakened” used in conjunction with Fair Use principles.

4. Be ready to receive the Holy Spirit. Her wisdom is coming to those of us who survive the next period.

This is the evolutionary shift at play.  This is the kingdom and the power and the glory that awaits us when we are ready.  You do not have to know what I mean.  Get out of your analyzer. Just set your intention to receive what has been promised.

Copyright 2021 by Rev. Dr. Resa Eileen Raven

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