The Quest of Spirituality and Consciousness
Spirituality is generally concerned with explaining the real and ultimate nature of our existence in terms of a creative spiritual intelligence or consciousness, by which we may know our true self and derive all positive values, such as love, peace, wisdom and happiness.
In spiritual traditions that are concerned with directly knowing and awakening to this ineffable reality, the aim is to become so keenly aware and insightful as to see through the cognitive and sensory processes that blind us to our nature as pure consciousness (Being) and keep us trapped in a personally alienated, suffering, dualistic and material sense of identity.
This inner work of contemplation helps us to understand that consciousness is primary, and that the entire physical world is only the stuff of consciousness. Even more importantly, the work is also to dissolve the deluded thoughts and emotional defenses that cause suffering and block the awareness of peace, love and happiness.
Spiritual awakening must therefore involve both of these aspects:
1) A deep contemplation of the ultimate nature of Being, to undo the materialist paradigm; and
2) Healing our hearts and minds of the core wound of separation and unconsciousness -- the deep-seated belief that we are separate from each other or from Life, that we are not good enough, and that love and happiness are not natural to us.
Our inner work along these lines lead us to innumerable positive insights and cathartic shifts of attitude and values, as well as to the classical, momentous flash of Knowing that affirms our previous intuitions and partial insights with tremendous authority.
What is the Nature of Human Unconsciousness and Suffering?
The condition we need to wake up from is a state of existential and spiritual unconsciousness. This problem goes far deeper than just being stuck in our thoughts. Given that we are not aware of our real spiritual nature and think of ourselves as being only mental and physical, we experience a nagging sense of existential alienation, guilt, fear and lovelessness.
Much of the time, we are unconscious of these symptoms. We do not understand the nature of our unconsciousness. We get to used to living in spiritual exile from Love, God or Source. Our unconsciousness on the level of Identity expresses itself in our basic paradigm and core beliefs. So we are not just trying to think positive thoughts or just quiet the mind. We need to change our core paradigm and beliefs.
Because of our unconsciousness about our Identity and our false thoughts and beliefs, we suffer repeating patterns of negative emotion and negative actions. This cycle of negativity tends to entrench itself in the character structure and even infects whole families and cultures. For example, one of major forms of suffering is the personality disorder. This is when human trauma and alienation creates a highly dysfunctional character structure. This then requires very patient work and healing.
In other cases, our confusion and suffering is lighter and more easily healed. But in every case, the most powerful factor is our Willingness. At some point, we somehow become open and willing to change. We can say that God, or Universal Consciousness, uses both inspiration and suffering as the carrot and stick to attract us to the correction and opening that we need.
Becoming a Conscious, Authentic and Empowered Human Being
Becoming conscious means to not only recognize our conscious nature in its purity, but also to realize a depth of insight and understanding that transforms all aspects of the mind, character and relationships.
It is important to understand that the human psyche or mind exists within consciousness and is therefore changed by our conscious insights and awakening. When we cease to identify exclusively with thoughts, feelings and self-image, this brings clarity to our thinking, harmony to our feelings and integration to our psyche. It directly creates a more authentic, clear-minded and empowered human being.
The process of insight goes through the human heart, character and desires, not around them. To sort out which of our thoughts, feelings and desires are deluded and which are not, we need direct insight. As we gain insight, we can then more directly intuit and appreciate our nature the divine stillness, love and beauty of our being, which is consciousness. We cease to seek restlessly outside ourselves. We finally discover and begin to truly live from the quiet authority of our own inner guidance -- from deep inner listening and pure consciousness.
In this state of spiritual empowerment and authenticity, our endeavors and relationships become aligned with deep love and truth, and we can surely be said to be awakened, spiritually mature beings.
However, from there it is possible that we then come to deep enlightenment, a genuinely transcendental revelation of pure wisdom, knowledge and divine grace that all people naturally long for. This brings a different order of illumination, and is such a powerful spiritual initiation that it may cause real disruption in the outer life of the individual.
How Do You Define Spiritual Wisdom or Enlightenment?
In the process of becoming conscious, the wisdom we gain has two basic aspects.
The first aspect is the wisdom of our true spiritual nature or self, which can be called pure consciousness, spirit or Being. This is the archetypal shift of enlightenment. In the dawning of this sublime recognition we feel ourselves entirely awakened, illumined and transformed.
We then know our being as pure, aware intelligence; a transcendent spiritual principle that is timeless, uncreated and imbued with numinous power. Classical, archetypal enlightenment reveals simple, radiant wholeness and Being beyond all images and concepts.
There are several hallmarks that indicate a deep and genuine Realization, versus a shallow or partial insight. These are:
Unmistakable shift of identity that does not come and go.
Unprecedented peace of mind that does not come and go.
Profound sense of release, joy and blessedness.
Energetic and heart opening.
When these qualities are not present all together, then the ineffable wisdom of Spirit, Self or God has not arisen in full. There are many important insights along the way, but these should not be confused with a deeper revelation.
In the fullness of consciousness, we discover the reality to which words like love, truth, oneness or God refer. And we are then able to express that reality through our character and actions in life. Rooted in universal consciousness, our character becomes authentic, kind, clear-minded and peaceful.
We experience the sacred within the ordinary and see life through eyes of appreciation. We can then experience moments of normal grief, frustration and sorrow with full love and underlying peace, but the suffering of chronic emotional negativity is no more. Exactly how free we become is a matter of time and deeper refinement.