(painting by my dear friend Jim Woodson)
On The Receptivity of Consciousness
We are working together with integral spiritual psychology which involves entering much more subtle dimensions of awareness and consciousness than present civilizational consciousness. Integral spiritual psychology does not aspire to be a theory of the person and it is not a system to take up and learn and master as a new content.
Integral spiritual psychology attempts to be contemplative action, where being and doing occur simultaneously by surrendering to the fullness of the complex intertwining of the spiritual realms with the earthly realm, and also the other way around. The challenge, as you probably already realize concerns having to begin with ordinary collective consciousness that is unaware of itself, and began to open to more comprehensive consciousness in such a manner that we become much more aware of the sacred unboundedness of human beings.
Within the usual, narrow sense of consciousness, when we speak with someone, for example, we are not aware of the interior action of the speaking. We typically begin speaking with a kind of thought and launch that thought into words but then the words began to happen automatically. We may be conscious of the words but that is different than being conscious within the wording as it is happening. We can come to the edges of this kind of awareness by speaking slowly and thoughtfully, but that is but the beginning of what could occur. Or, you may be aware that something within the natural world for example, a tree, how in certain moments the usual perception momentarily goes away and the tree and us are intimately gathered within a single consciousness. Such moments are rare. The attempt is not to try and become able to control this kind of consciousness but rather to be open and receptive to it becoming the usual form of consciousness and the usual form of bodying – that is, we are not intended to remain fixed forms and in fact are more pliable than you might expect, being a blending of spirit/soul/body -- more like being within a medium as well as of the medium at the same time.
(Painting by Dorio Moschetta)
The automatic qualities of ordinary consciousness extend throughout thinking, feeling, and willing. In all respects automatic consciousness is breaking down just as the whole world is now breaking down. The restraint we can impose on ourselves in relation to emotion, for example, is no longer reliable, and emotion can easily go wild in its automatic fashion. So can all the other qualities that we identify as being conscious. That is why it is possible to have artificial intelligence – intelligence is now fully automatic. And, as each modality of consciousness more and more does business on it’s own, independent of the whole, we see the result already in the huge increases in depression and suicide we now see happening.
The two little exercises developed thus far are one way of beginning to notice that we are already within a different world and a different bodying while usual consciousness still remains incapable of realizing the character of this new world. We only experience the breakdown of every aspect of the world happening without recognizing the breakthrough that is also happening.
Speaking this way, which may seem quite confusing, is necessary to be alert of having stepped into a radically new endeavor. I want to emphasize that this process we are engaged in is something more and something other than recovering the known world and the known earth.
Integral spiritual psychology concerns the presence of the future within the now. Instead of being pushed around by what has happened in the past even as it now unconsciously continues, we are now entering consciousness where all is becoming. The soul-work concerns being present with the ever-happening unfolding rather than relying on a sense of what is already here; we must realize that it is no longer here. As we work with the practices, they all have to do with being here, but it is not the “here” you may want to return or want to return to you, for that is no longer here.
The reason we are unable to be aware with the wording that we speak as it is happening for example, concerns the manner in which we constantly rely on using words that that have already been used over and over, passed around like worn coins. We are not aware of the wording happening; we are only vaguely aware of thoughts we have and then try to express them with old coins. I don't mean to imply that every time we speak we have to create a new language. It is much more a matter of residing with the known language as if it is being spoken for the first time, each word, each sentence a polyphonic symphony. The same is true also with sensing, perceiving, thinking, emoting, feeling, imagining, and willing.
I doubt that this kind of awareness, this kind of consciousness, is available to us without life itself becoming a conscious exercise of consciousness. Again, I urge you to refrain from taking these words literally. I am speaking of an aspiration, to be actively and intuitively present within creation coming-to-be. Nothing is exempt. How could it be exempt? So we are reaching for something that may not exactly be possible, but can be felt and valued as an orienting; the value is in the aspiration, the capacity to begin to be aware of the unknown constantly arising.
Furthering the Practices
First, a bit more on attention because attention is our only tool available for entering the Wholeness of consciousness and the bodying of body and earth. Recall what was said in the first entry:
“Attention is everything – it is the spirit-capacity of the self. Noticing, attention, differs from ‘paying attention’. Paying attention utilizes attention that has already occurred to now become a mental capacity of focusing.”
The act of attention, what I called primary attention, does not have to do with the mind. Here is a little practice that can perhaps help with entering the activity of attention:
First, pay attention to your foot. Perhaps you look down and see your foot down there -- the size of your foot, the shoe you are wearing, perhaps moving your foot. This is not attention, but rather the cognitive act of focusing on your foot, making use of attention.
Now, place your attention at the place of your foot. It is as if you invisibly reach in and grasp your attention and then put it over there at the place of your foot. Actually feel yourself doing this, though it is attention that is actually taking the attention and moving it to the place of the foot. It is as if the place of consciousness is now with the foot, and for a few moments you become “foot-awareness” rather than awareness-of -the-foot. It is as if, for a moment the whole world becomes “foot” – a kind of opening that encompasses you; we are one, together with the foot, which is now a kind of consciousness.
Attention is the most pliable of all human capacities. It can be one or it can divide itself into multiplicity without any loss of power, it is even possible, for example for attention to be placed within attention, a process called intent. Attention is pure receptive power.
A Second Practice -- Consciousness as Love
Consciousness is the same as Love. You may have already discovered this, or have an inclination of this true fullness of consciousness. Now, though, we want to unite the practice of bodying and simultaneously expanding consciousness beyond the physical form of the body without leaving the body – the first two practices -- with becoming aware of the ever-presence of Love, everywhere.
Start by closing your eyes and relaxing. Then, start relaxing the senses in this manner: with your eyes closed, begin to relax your eyes by letting your attention be more ‘behind’ the eyes rather than the usual state which is that a lot of energy or force, really a force of will lies within the eyes, and the eyes are always ‘looking outward.’ As the sense of vision relaxes when attention is more ‘behind’ the eyes, it is as if the sense of vision falls into the heart.
Then, do the same with the sense of hearing. Instead of the sense of sound coming into the ears from the outside, relax and let your attention be where the sound enters the head – and, again, the sense of hearing falls into the heart.
Then, do the same with the sense of touch. Notice the surface of your skin, but now, instead of a sense of being touched, be aware of the sense of touch-receiving – you do not have to touch your hand or anywhere to experience the inner quality of the receiving of touch, which then falls also into the center of the heart.
(There are actually twelve senses – see either Rudof Steiner on this or the chapter on sensing in the book, Love and the World: Creating a Future for Earth, by Robert Sardello. Eventually, the practice comes to full power by working in the manner above with all the senses – the life sense, the sense of movement, the sense of balance, the sense of touch, the sense of smell, the sense of sight, the sense of taste, the sense warmth, the sense of hearing, the sense of speech, the thought sense, the sense of the I. The practice works perfectly well with the three senses indicated – adding the others fine tunes the practice.)
Then, notice the place of your back right at the level of the heart – if the senses are ‘quieted’ as described, when attention is placed right at the place of the back of the heart, there will be a strong feeling of tingling, a kind of ‘whoosh’ happening, warmth, even heat, the presence of interior light, a kind of felt-light, which can be felt sometimes as strong light, sometimes as gentle light --- and with these felt qualities the presence of the power of Love within the heart, strongly felt. You may experience a smile forming on the face. The love-light-feeling permeates the whole of the body, not stopping at what we know as the boundaries of bodily form, but radiating.
Above, I said “if the senses are ‘quieted’ “. Something profound is happening as the senses relax and flow into the heart. We have followed the senses to their originating place, and if we were clairvoyant, we would see, as Rudolf Steiner has described his clairvoyant vision of this process --- the senses are spiritual presences, the spiritual presences who are creating the human body. (see: Anthroposophy: A Fragment, Rudolf Steiner; introduction by Robert Sardello)