Conscious Awareness and The Role of Observer
By David E. Hopper
One doesn’t have to look very far to find crisis after crisis facing humanity. With the Ashrams and the new group of world severs all severely impacted, we are faced with the reality that individually and collectively we as humanity must make “right” choices to ensure our survival. Will enough of us wake up and realize that the problems and solutions we seek are no further than the realm of our own conscious awareness? When seeking answers, the disciple on the path learns to take into consideration what is happening in both his inner and outer environments as part of his whole field of awareness. Sometimes his response may be just to observe. As a “consciously aware” disciple, a larger point to consider, is how can he best learn to equip his mind for service? He will have to step out of his normal thinking and critically examine himself by asking the following questions: “Who am I”; or “What is my relationship with “that situation”, person or group? “Can I practice discrimination, and am I unattached to an outcome or will I be drawn in and lose my sense of self and thus thwart any chance for meaningful service?”
In this article, I will describe and develop an understanding of critically examining the aspirant’s and disciple’s role in becoming conscious of his standing behind what he does, says and thinks. It’s important to examine why a disciple needs to tune into his “real” Self and become a conscious observer in all that he does. This is related to directly connecting with the soul and experiencing a “knowingness” of how to function in the world of the personality and the world of the soul simultaneously.
On the path of initiation, both occultists and esotericists understand that the world and the universe is an ever changing environment. Barbara Marx Hubbard said: “Our crisis of seeing humanity as a whole, is the birth of a universal humanity capable of co-evolving and co-creating with spirit”. The emphasis here is on “crisis”. For this is what happens when one begins to directly interact with his/her true and higher self.
Since the disciple stands midway between both the higher and lower worlds, his consciousness also identifies and evolves with it. Evolution in consciousness involves changes, not just with our bodies but our emotions and thoughts too. Perhaps, the disciple had been experiencing a crisis, which was expressed as a feeling or tension in one or more of the mental, emotional and physical sheaths for an extended period of time? By staying present with the tension, the disciple can become self-evolved and the agent of his own change. Keep in mind too, that humanity, just the disciple is part of an ever-changing world – both physically and changes in its own collective consciousness. Crisis in anyone’s life is a challenging process to go through. On the spiritual path, crisis can also be seen as an opportunity to either stay where you’re at and not progress (or grow) or embrace a new orientation and paradigm in consciousness.
Teilhard de Chardin, the philosopher-scientist in the early 20th century believed that since the beginning of primordial evolution there has been a kind of embedded divine-cosmic intelligence or encoded information in all matter. This divine consciousness, for mankind would ultimately become the “thinking layer of the earth,” which Chardin called the noosphere. Later in the 20th century, James Lovelock proposed the “Gaia Hypothesis” which suggests that the Earth is actually a living being, a colossal biological super-system. In the wisdom teachings, it’s called Sunat Kumara. Keep in mind that all humanity is part of this living being, which we also call Earth or Gaia. As our consciousness expands and grows, so too is the Earth effected and vice versa.
Within the plane of the mind in any 24 hour day, we all experience multiple states of consciousness. For approximately 8 hours every night, we sleep and experience the dream state. For the other 16 hours, we go between our waking consciousness and our day-dream state. For the average person, who responds to only the outer world using his 5 senses, he pays little attention to the inner world of the imagination, dreams and other phenomena. The disciple knows that when he acknowledges thoughtforms, feelings, and intuitive hits from the higher mind, that a number of things can happen. First, by being the “conscious observer” in this inner realm of the abstract mind, he can use these as tools in service. Second, by observing what is happening in the outer plane environment, he can decide how to prevent or offset astral tendencies. Through these actions, the disciple’s consciousness is expanded, wisdom is eventually achieved and the teachings are made practical.
In a disciple’s experience will come times where he or she has been or is going through feelings of “offness” in consciousness, although non-descript, can be physically and emotionally unsettling. This “offness” might be simply feel like a “heaviness or malaise” in the lower sheaths. Indeed, the disciple might not even know where the feeling comes from. Here we’re not talking about the obvious “identified” pain or aches in the emotional or physical forms caused by doing an activity you’re not used to doing. This experience can be over time, likened to “going through something”. Perhaps, these feelings are related to one’s particular ray and astrological makeup? Regardless, this is usually felt on the emotional and mental levels. Why would this experience be significant? It can be significant only if the disciple learns from it. It’s important to state that the problems the personality goes through can be likened to initiation, which is a growth and process in consciousness over time. By being consciously aware through meditation and contemplation and by studying the dynamics of the stress, one can deduce much insight as to the workings of one’s own inner character and development. If the disciple can step back and observe his processes, he might see how he participated in the situation and note what prevailing energies and forces are present. Perhaps also ask: “Who was involved and why and what did they represent?”
After the disciples’ gone through a significant change in consciousness, he knows on a deeper level that he just went through something as his outlook has shifted. This process can be over a period time ranging from days to months or even lifetimes. It can be likened to a cooking process deep in consciousness. But after the process has peaked, the disciple may be tested by the soul to confirm that he’s really learned it. He may have lingering feelings or thoughts of how he did things before, but a knowingness that a shift took place is felt within? He’s “moved on” and is now in the new space or mindset ready to take on the next challenge. Although, a heightened sense of awareness is experienced from soul contact, his inner perception will still need honing. This is reminiscent of the affirmation from Sagittarius: “I see the goal. I reach that goal and then I see another”.
In the mind’s subjective realm, a disciple’s best tools for becoming a conscious observer are:
- Knowledge – this can be obtained from intellectual study, or from one’s own experience, such as through introspection leading to understanding from the soul.
- Intuition – sensing what and why you are doing something and determining the source of the issue in question.
- Disidentification / Identification – To become the conscious observer, the disciple first must dis-identify and stand free and clear form the thoughts of others, including his own. Lastly, he must identify with the awareness or consciousness, which is the observer.
- Discrimination – this is a process of stepping back and observing; learning to make conscious choices between the pairs of opposites, for example right / wrong or appropriate vs. inappropriate. The disciple may ask: “do I see this situation in stark terms or are there shades of gray?”….In short, wise consideration is merited here.
The Probationer and Applied Self Control
The spiritual path is a path of transformation. Before deep transformation can take place, the aspirant either consciously or unconsciously places him or herself on a path of learning self-control over maya, glamour and illusion. This is called the Probationary Path. Initially, the lower tendencies of the personality to overcome are:
- Mental – selfish and separative thoughts
- Emotional – to include base desires, fear and anger
- Physical form and it’s cravings
At this stage, this is “probationary” in the sense of how the disciple takes his initial steps on the path. He must learn responsibility and practice self-control of his thoughts, feelings and actions, which will pave the way toward preparation for greater expansions of consciousness and service. A probationer might take himself outside of his comfort zone and take risks in an effort to grow spiritually.
The disciple will not have mastered their lower tendencies until much later on, as this is an ongoing process, which can last lifetimes. The control and transformation of one’s lower tendencies are central to a disciple’s initial development and growth. Self-observance of his “lower tendencies” also form an analysis of the “dark side” of his personality.
Things encountered along the path – Dark tendencies of the Personality
On the spiritual path, the disciple is constantly facing himself. Although it is preferable to feel the love and joy of soul contact, the reality is that joy is not always present. In fact, the soul’s energy ebbs and flows until after a certain level of purification takes place and continuity of consciousness sets in. Just as we purge toxins from our physical form for cleansing and healing, so too is it necessary to also purge the mental and emotional nature of “dark” and selfish tendencies. When Carl Jung used the term “shadow nature”, he was referring to a person’s unconscious mind consisting of repressed weaknesses, shortcomings, and instincts. Jung said the shadow, in being instinctive and irrational, has a tendency to turning a personal inferiority into a perceived moral imperfection in someone else.
As a conscious observer on the emotional-astral plane, where we spend most of our time, there are at least three main “dark” tendencies that every disciple must eventually confront and master before passing on to higher levels of consciousness. These energies keep the aspirant and disciple attached to the lower planes and block out the higher energies of the Soul. These are:
- Anger – This includes, hate, avarice, deliberate selfish behavior, which poisons the love and heart energy from the soul
- Mis-applied desire: e.g. sexual energy – In an unbalanced state, will cause aggressive feelings and overreaching desire; besides sexual imbalance, eating disorders and can be involved as they are related to physical desire and cravings.
- Fear – can work both ways by either paralyzing the student from moving forward on the path or interestingly enough it can also be a motivator when courage in combination with conscious awareness of what needs to happen in the moment is present.
Suffice it to say that any of these energies can handicap the disciple on the path especially when working in the inner realm as the observer.
Dealing with the Dark Side
Our consciousness and awareness deals with many thoughts and emotions every day. We all have or have had dark and sometimes dangerous thoughts – thoughts of selfishness, hate and prejudice. These are thoughts that separate us not only from each other but from our deeper spiritual connection with the soul. These thoughts are not “who we are” but can obviously influence us. Most people that have these dark thoughts don’t act on them, then there are others that do. The news headlines are dominated by this. The key is to become the observer and not be attached to a certain outcome. By not focusing on these energies, which only empowers them, the disciple only has to change his focus on something more positive and the dark thought or energy will lose its power. Note, refocusing will not defeat the dark energy. That’s a different process discussed later in this article.
In confronting evil, Edmond Burke, an Irish statesman once said: “…..all it takes for evil to succeed in the world is for decent men and women to do nothing!”. Through the wisdom teachings, the aspirant and disciple understands that when confronting and overcoming powerful tendencies such as evil, that he needs to employ his will. From this, the disciple must become responsible for who and what he is, and how he expresses himself, which includes controlling his thoughts and actions. This implies that when the he uses his mind and thoughts to separate “this from that”, he renders judgment and makes it right or wrong. This creates an impediment to the realization that “we are all One”.
Transforming the “limiting” energies
When any of the 3 mentioned “limiting” energies are present, such as anger, fear and mis-applied desires, the message from the Teachings is always “go within” and find the courage and wisdom to transform these feelings and tendencies by practicing patience and compassion. Maybe the disciple can overwhelm and dissipate the dark thoughts with pure love, complete self-forgiveness, or even through physical exercise or journaling? This then becomes the art of conflict resolution within the self.
When considering the many ways of transforming the lower nature, the aspirant / disciple learns that in pushing away or denying these tendencies, that the thoughts don’t go away. They only recede into the background where they’re out of the mind’s conscious awareness. These thoughts are part of the human personality and psyche. However, at our present level of consciousness and understanding, we can’t completely eliminate them until they are directly flooded by and changed by the soul’s pure light and love.
Conscious Awareness is a process
In the Ageless Wisdom teachings, the disciple learns that “he is the teacher of his own reality”. By employing the formula: “Meditation-Study-Service”, the disciple can become self-evolved. He can learn to shift his perception of reality to a new level of insight and understanding and expand his consciousness through initiation. Initiation or spiritual transformation is a process of growth where the lower parts of the personality learn to integrate with the higher Self or group and involves a paradigm shift in consciousness.
The disciple’s experience of conscious awareness is that internal connection to the Higher Self or divine that is always consciously aware of the flow and is on purpose. It is an internal knowingness that creates synergy with all living things and the environment. The connection may be felt as a tension or experienced as a knowingness that provides a focused way for relating to one’s self-experience of the physical plane, which we call reality.
An excellent “current” example of initiation for a nation is that the people of the United States just elected President Barak Obama who is not only from a minority group but he’s bi-racial. By doing this, we as Americans have just expanded our national consciousness by consciously choosing a man from a minority group to lead our nation. It’s also a symbol for the rest of the world to see that we as Americans are maturing and can accept other people to lead us, besides those who are white. Although not fully acknowledged, it’s also a move towards inclusiveness and unity of the human race.
For an individual, initiation involves going through an internal and possibly external process that causes great changes, both physically and emotionally. It should always be done through the higher self by the practice of meditation, study and service with the goal of moving towards a fuller-more expanded conscious awareness. For the disciple who wants to force this process, he will undoubtedly have to deal with changes in his mind and etheric body that can be dangerous and with which he is not prepared for. For the disciple or aspirant who is consciously working on his own spiritual path, he will walk through the fires of initiation (usually purifications) and grow from the experience gradually and naturally through the soul’s guidance. This rate of growth is the safest and ultimately most fulfilling.
Observer in the exoteric or outer world
In the film, What the Bleep Do We Know? ….many of the scientists explain how the brain evolves, and how it creates chemical reactions that keep us addicted to old patterns and feelings. They state that a negative thought comes from the lower mind and pulls the person down because of a residual memory, or a “chemical footprint” at the celluar level. By focusing or bringing up a negative thoughtform, the lower mind has a footprint memory to replay over and over again until its transformed. By using a positive thoughtform, such as through affirmations, and visualization during occult meditation, the disciple can learn new things and make new brain connections.
With our brain circuity wired and developed as we want, our interactions with the physical world allow us to concentrate in the midst of chaos, and even heal the body and psyche from past and present traumas. We can educate the mind to learn different sublties of the inner self, for example, through visualizaton. When we learn new patterns, we can modify and change our behavior. The strongest memories we have, are those that are pesonalized by feeling and with an ability to directly identify with it. Repeating the experience will further cement the information into memory. Thus, through application and an act of will, there’s a “conscious awareness” present in this process.
Apply the Teachings – Values to Live By
After the disciple progresses a certain distance on the path, the channels for impression and intution from the soul open up. The higher values of the soul are felt and these in turn have a direct effect on the etheric matter in the lower mental, emotional and physical sheaths. These higher values can include:
- Love of Truth – essential for an inclusive and progressive society
- Spirit of Cooperation – i.e. through practiced and active goodwill and right human relations
- Sense of Justice – recognition of rights and needs for all
- Sense of Personal Responsibility – for group, community and national affairs
- Serving the Common Good – through the sacrifice of selfishness
Also, the practice of occult meditation, directly connects the disciple with the soul through the abstract mind with the purpose of expanding his consciousness for greater service. Over time, the disciple, through regular contacts with the higher Self, establishes a “continual flow of consciousness” so that he can be guided directly from the higher source continuously.
Some traditions and teachings encourage a daily review of the self. From this type of analysis, the disciple can become a wiser person as to who he has been and wants to become. In essence, the primary purpose for becoming a conscious observer can be summed up by asking the following questions:
- “How do I see myself?”
- For me to step outside of myself and observe what’s around me, ask: “Why am I doing this or why not?”
- What is my purpose in this moment?
- What is my connection with Spirit, God or the Higher Self?
- What is my attitude towards people, the environment and service?
It is incumbent for the disciple to not only see himself as conscious and awake, but to live life consciously, spreading his light, and love/wisdom without any consideration of how much he gives. This way he is a living example of the teachings, and regardless of his religious or spiritual tradition, by his example he shows others the way to express their Higher Self.