How to Begin? On consciousness and foot massage
Posted by jembendell on August 26, 2006
How should I begin my own blog? Its going to be a mix of work and life. I want to use it partly as my own diary or journal, and use the informal setting to write more freely than I do in my publications (which, by the way, plug, are available via http://www.jembendell.com, end plug). So it will reflect what I think about. This summer, during a July of 30+ heat in Geneva, I spent time reflecting on what my worldview is today… I had some decisions to make about future work and where to live. Ive made those decisions… more on that later, but for now, this is what Ive come up with…
What is my belief system? I don’t think I have one… other than the importance of foot massage (well I’d had a hard weekend walking in the Jura.). I have hopes, about the way things might be, and know how I would like things to be, but not beliefs. I see beliefs as those things we say are so, despite evidence to the contrary. Instead, my ethos is partly informed from experiences of consciousness, combined with reason.
I take inspiration from peak experiences, momentary states of consciousness which can be called ‘universal love’ consciousness or spiritual consciousness, where the sense of separateness of oneself from everything else melts away. For me these are important in 3 respects.
a) Insight into reality. This consciousness suggests that there is a reality that is non-separate. That there is some unity of being that we do not always perceive in daily living. This consciousness happens within my brain-and-body, and so could be either entirely bounded within that, or could involve my mind connecting with something outside it. I do not know. Anyone who says they do know are probably just speculating in ways that reflect their emotional needs, social conditioning etc.
b) Experience of the experiencer. This consciousness can release a great sense of joy. That joy comes, I think, from all the fears we have that arise from our separateness and fixation on forms not flows e.g. how we fit in, whether we are good, that we will die, that things or people we like or love will change, disappear, suffer. Joy itself has value.
c) The effect on interpersonal relations. This consciousness CAN, but not necessarily WILL, create mutually supportive interaction between people, leading to more people self-actualizing in harmony.
None of these interpretations of the meaning, importance and implications of peak experiences or higher states of consciousness are complete: we should not just focus on one aspect.
The memory of these peak experiences can motivate people to act in ways that are
i) self-expressing in ways that correspond with a greater more connected self and
ii) self-effacing (and even self-harming) in the sense that the acting or ways of thinking involve subsuming the self to the other.
Some people think that ii is of higher worth in terms of transcending self-interest, whereas some think that ii is a pathology, not a spiritual quality. I believe that both self-expression and self-effacing are essential aspects of a life arising out of the knowledge and experience of higher consciousness, and that one and not the other is not complete.
From realizing that in a night club, in a church and by a lake I have had these moments of higher consciousness, I do not see this consciousness as purely material, purely supernatural and religious, or purely natural and ecological…. I even feel like this a bit when I spend time with good friends. It was great when Adam and Fay popped in for a surprise visit to Geneva. (OK, Fay and Adam I wasnt overwhelmed by the holy spirit, but it was nice to see u).
So I’m beginning the blog with consciousness. Appropriately perhaps, because “in the beginning there was consciousness.” That’s how I understand the opening phrase of the bible “In the beginning was the Word”. The original word was “logos” and this doesnt mean “word” but alludes to thought, concept, or, consciousness. In this way the Abrahamic religions correspond with Eastern philosophy on consciousness preceding matter. Its just that in the West we have got too attached to and proud of language, worshipping the false idols of ink on a page and sounds from the mouth. Im not sure whether moments of altered consciousness are moments when we connect to that original universal consciousness… That would have to be a belief. But it certainly seems experientially as if there is a fundamental unity being connected to.
I’ll leave it there for now.. not bad for a first blog post to reveal both post-christianity and forays into the chemical world. Speaking of which… how DOES Dave keep doing it? Wild show at Paleo from Depeche Mode this summer… loved it.