A definition of consciousness: A sense of one's personal or collective identity, including the attitudes, beliefs, and sensitivities held by or considered characteristic of an individual or group
Consciousness has made quite an impact on my life. There is an awareness and openness in my mind that I have really failed to know for almost my entire life. As soon as we begin to think about our surroundings, ponder the meaning of stimuli, or become aware of our own mortality, we are becoming conscious. At that point, our inner dialogue begins to take over for instinct. I'd say it's fairly safe in assuming that most people never actively engage their own consciousness. Why? Because we just think on a surface level, make decisions quickly based on the accumulation of stimuli throughout our lives, react and go about living. Taking the time to stop and think about beliefs and actions is what I'm talking about when I use the phrase "raise my consciousness". For much of my life, I formed most of my opinions and world view around the concepts of my religion, up bringing, experiences, and politics. I just never was prone to objectively looking at my beliefs and actions.
Once a person starts to examine their beliefs and they try to understand the other side of issues, problems, and conflicts, it becomes much easier to see how we should engage those things and how we think about them. It's not merely about changing your feelings, because self examination and critical thought about held beliefs and stances on issues may well be solidified through deeper thinking and being able to see those things from the other side. But, by thinking about life in a manner that is not the norm, we will help ourselves to understand our own feelings as well as the feelings of others. Strip away all the preconceptions, look at life and sometimes you can see there are things that you won't even believe you cared very much about in the first place.
Let me use an example, to explain what I'm saying. And this isn't a debating point, it's simply an example of how I have raised my consciousness on an item of thought/belief. I used to be very much against gay "marriage" (I prefer legal union as a non-religious way to think of a marital partnership, because if a church doesn't want to perform same sex marriages, they should not have to) and gay adoptions. Why? Because I believed that Bible God was against it and I was raised to believe there was something sort of wrong and almost evil about homosexuals. I wasn't raised that way on purpose. Those who raised me and influenced me were reacting on the basis of their up bringing and so on and so on. A couple of years ago, I started thinking about it from the homosexuals point of view. As an American citizen, we are told we all have the same right to pursue happiness and that we are all equal under the law. Well, we are not. Because of sexuality, we are withholding rights from a select group of society. Why? Mostly because of religious views and the inability to let others live their lives based on our own bias. I thought, read, studied, and thought some more and realized I was pushing my beliefs and feelings on to a group of people that wanted pretty much the same things I did. And, by supporting my own religious view/world view, I was a part of keeping people from being happy and to live their lives. I made the decision that there was nothing wrong with civil unions and all Americans should have the same rights under the law. I started considering the following; How ridiculous is it that two men or two women can't share their lives, under the law, just like a man and woman can, with the same benefits as every other person? It's insane and immoral for me to impose my feelings on others. Will it cheapen marriage? I think not, since 50% of all marriages end in divorce, it's cheapening itself just fine. All we are doing is treating certain citizens as unequal and unqualified for the same rights as the rest of us expect. Remind you of anything? Women's rights? Civil rights? What were we protecting ourselves from in those parts of history where we withheld freedom and equality from women or black Americans? Well, seems like nothing. Someday, history will look back on the homosexual movement and say "what was the big deal?", just like we do now when we talk about women's rights and civil rights.
The process must begin and be allowed to push forward. It has happened in our culture before (as outlined above) and the quicker we are to raise our consciousness, the easier and faster we can allow ourselves to find and discuss our process with someone else. If every one of us can begin to sort through our own minds and do house cleaning, then we can find one other person to help do the same. It shouldnt' be a negative experience at all. It should feel good to think without the filters of the life you have constructed, or that have been constructed for you through the subconscious. To honestly, at the base level, think as yourself. Not through the Bible, not through what your best friend says, not through cynical eyes, not through the Koran, not through a political platform, not even through science, art, the media, or your parents! Just think, and shape beliefs through understanding the other side and understanding yourself. What a freedom that is!!!
We have a finite time on earth, either way it shakes out (whether we just go away, go to heaven/hell, or are reincarnated, etc) and we can use our mind for better things than impeding the happiness and well being of other people. Most people don't realize that their own consciousness is the only real form of reality. I addressed this in another post about reality, awhile back. Each of us, through our own experience, applies our perceptions on to life. I firmly believe that our conscience is who we really are. No matter how we behave, no matter what we say, and no matter how we feel......the voice behind the voice is who we are. Let's suspend all thought on where we all end up at death, if we can for a few moments. Everything you do, see, hear, smell, and taste is the movie of your life. It began when you became aware of your existence and it will end when you take your final breath. So all that is going on is for you and you only. You can experience the same event as someone else, but you will not perceive it the exact same way. So, own your mind and thoughts. They are original and you have the ability to really enjoy and love who you are by self examination and thought. Nobody else is listening to you think. So, let 'er rip! It's YOUR mind. What a wonderful thing that is! We have the unique ability to KNOW we are going to die, which gives us the opportunity to live life in the way we want to, the opportunity to treat others the way we should (with love, care, and understanding), the opportunity to see things the way we really know they are, and the opportunity to truly love other people without hang ups about sexuality, skin color, politics, religion, past experience, or any other stimulus that has built up a filter through which we think. You can truly be responsible for your own happiness and that can transform how you feel and how you treat family, friends, strangers and the world around you.
For me, I have come to a point that I would not trade myself now for any other point and time in my life. I finally feel like myself. Before I started going through life and being attacked at all sides by media, friends, teachers, family, religion, sports, politics and all sorts of other experiences, I remember being a pretty happy, quiet, satisfied child. Before about the age of 13, that is closer to the person I am now. I didn't have all the baggage. But sandwich in 30 years of all the aforementioned stimulus and I got to the point where my true self had to start filtering through all the garbage I picked up over time. I have stopped doing that as much as possible and it's taken over two years to get the point where I can always use my conscience in my waking hours. (and I'm not done altering my thought process!) I make decisions now, not based on politics, religion, or a preconceived notion of who I am supposed to be. I make decisions, say things, form opinions and all that stuff by using my mind without the filters and without putting others expectations on my thoughts and actions.
I think I have made some headway on helping my mother raise her consciousness. I have got her to start thinking about things from the other side, and not from what she has been told to think over the years. Again, I'll use the example of homosexuality. Her religion has led her to believe that gay folks were going to hell, were bad, and detrimental to our society. Even though she had made friends with gay people in her work life, she never gave how she felt about homosexuality, a real thought from her own mind, without the trappings of religious thought. I asked her to think about God and the attributes given to God and then see if that lined up with the discrimination and hate some of our society has towards the gay community (it doesn't). I asked her to consider how she would feel if she were openly gay and knew that she was turned down for a job because of it. Or that she wasn't allowed to have the same benefits as a man and woman if she had fell in love with and wanted to share a life with someone of the same sex. All because and only because of sexuality. When stripping away all of the layers of life and bringing an issue down to being personal, you may take a differing view. My mother may not be open wide to gay marriage and all of that, but she certainly has started to think differently about how she feels (or at least I perceive that she has) on the topic, and that's made me feel closer to knowing her, as she really is.
If this were 50 or 60 years ago, we could very well be talking about race. Yes, there was a time when black Americans couldn't vote....only got half a vote.....couldn't marry out of their race.....had to drink out of a different water fountain.....couldn't dine in "white" restaurants or even sit at the front of a public bus. For the same reasons we ostracize gays today, we ostracized black Americans for a great deal of our history. Before that and even during that time, we treated women the same way. We used to work kids in sweatshops. How much better is it, now that we have (mostly all of us in society today) raised our consciousness on those things? There is no basis for discrimination or abuse. We caused so much harm by a lack of understanding and thought.
I would love to see a world where everyone examined all their beliefs, loves, hatred, bias, and emotional scars. It sure wouldn't mean that we would change our minds on everything.....maybe not anything, but we will have taken the time to know why we think the way we do and it will make it quite a bit easier to let others live their lives in the manner that they want, without it having an effect on us. I do take this pretty seriously, because I feel the good it's done me every single day. I enjoy my life and other people/family more than I ever have. My misanthropic ways are eroding and that's a good thing!
In closing, I urge everyone who has read this, to take on a bias, an issue, or a dislike and examine it for awhile. Read about how people who feel differently than you do think about the subject. Try to understand how they see. Then try to understand why you feel the way you do. Whether you feel the same afterwards, or different, or indifferent, you can honestly tell yourself, I know why I feel the way I do.
Thanks for sorting through this, the few of you who will. Enjoying how you feel about life is work. It really is. I'm living proof and I know others who are experiencing the same sort of raised consciousness about life as I am. The effort is worth it.
The link below is a pretty good article on the progression of raised consciousness if anyone it interested in how it may work. It's not easy, but you'll be glad you took the time and effort to think about the world around you and how you can enjoy it with a little less dislike, aggravation, and worry.
I need someone to show me
Illumine my consciousness
Remove the dark from in me
And give me that which I have lost
"That Which I Have Lost"