Conscious Awareness and A Will-apart
My experiences of the past several years have brought up questions for me about conscious awareness. A few years ago I wrote now and then about how I had come to see that what I experienced—what I was consciously aware of—really didn’t matter. Truth does not need my conscious awareness to be Truth, so how could it be significant? It seemed self-centered to be so focused on my ongoing conscious awareness when the Awareness of Truth (Holy Spirit) broke into it when necessary and operated through me regardless of what was going on in my conscious awareness.
When the Awareness of Truth became my new state of consciousness after years of denying the ego (personal thought system) had fallen away, questions about conscious awareness became a central focus for me. I was conscious of this shift while still contending, on the conscious level—rather intensely for a while—with the echo or shadow of the ego. So what is conscious awareness exactly? What is its significance, if any? And what is its relationship to will?
Before I go further I am going to discuss what I have discovered about the seeming-parts of this mind. I realize this has already been done down the ages by philosophers and psychologists, but this has come out of my experience of this mind. It may or may not be useful to you.
All of these are parts of individual consciousness. Consciousness (also called awareness or perception) is the experience of existence. Individual consciousness is an aspect of Consciousness Itself. (In A Course in Miracles terms, Consciousness would be the “Son of God/Christ” and individual consciousnesses would be the “sons of God”. “God”, or Truth, is beyond existence/consciousness/experience).
Conscious awareness: This is the level of this mind that observes and interacts with the material world, including the body, through the body’s senses (seeing, hearing, feeling, smelling, tasting). It also receives this mind’s subconscious and unconscious thoughts and feelings about itself and these experiences. It also can be aware of Truth. In other words, this is where I experience my existence, whether as an ego/self or as Consciousness/Existence (Awareness of Truth).
Subconscious: These are observations, thoughts, and feelings just out of my conscious awareness. Sometimes they are pushed there in denial. For example, when my father died I had for a time afterward a low grade depression as I would go about my days. At the end of each day, though, when I was done with work and chores, the grief would hit. Other times things are stored there temporarily because I have more important things occupying my conscious thoughts. For example, a short shopping list.
When I close my eyes to meditate the first thoughts I encounter are those in my subconscious.
Individual Unconscious: My memories of the self’s past, deep beliefs, and things I deny more deeply are stored here.
Universal Unconscious (Christ/Holy Spirit/Awareness of Truth): This is Consciousness Itself in every mind. This began so deeply denied I really had no awareness of It at all and had to work at bringing It to my conscious awareness. Eventually It became my Constant Companion and is now my Consciousness, operating on all levels.
(I don’t use the term “collective unconscious” because It is the same in every mind, not a collection of unconsciousnesses).
What I have learned is that my conscious awareness is the most superficial and insignificant aspect of my mind. This is why, in the past few years, its significance to me has vacillated. On one hand, it does seem to be where I live. But, on the other, I became aware that Truth (Universal Unconscious) was untouched by my conscious experience and even operated in my mind whether I was consciously aware of It or not.
What I’ve seen in the past months is that my conscious awareness was all that was ever significant to the ego. In ego-identification conscious awareness was me and everything else was something out of my control. The ego taught me to keep things it didn’t want me to know about myself in my unconscious (including, of course, Consciousness, which in that situation is the Universal Unconscious). This is why it resisted my learning about the other parts of my mind through psychology. When I did, it taught me that I was powerless over those other parts. And, of course, when I grew consciously aware of the Universal Unconscious—What I really am—it became vicious.
As I rose in consciousness…notice my language here. “Rising in consciousness” was not my conscious awareness rising to Christ Consciousness, but rather Christ (Universal Unconscious) rising to this mind’s conscious awareness. The “I” is not conscious awareness, as the ego would have me think. “I” am the Universal Unconscious that rose to conscious awareness, pushing out the ego. And, in my shock, I did what the ego had taught me to do to defend “myself”—conscious awareness—and I went into denial for four years.
But denial did not change what occurred. It seems to me now that all my seeming will-apart has ever done is control my conscious awareness. Besides not affecting Truth at all, it has not really affected this mind. The Undoing (Atonement) that is what existence/consciousness is about, goes on despite any seeming will-apart. What seems to be there or to not be there does not change what has really shifted in this mind. Ever since The Golden Light of Love burst into my conscious awareness I have known of the shift in my conscious awareness. I am not waiting for it to happen; it has happened, whether I see it or not.
The ego was right that the other parts of my mind were out of my control. But I was mistaken in believing this meant they were not me. My subconscious and individual unconscious are really just storehouses, but they are a part of my mind. I saw this long ago through psychology. But for a long time I felt the Universal Unconscious was “other” so It remained Unconscious, only coming to my conscious awareness when I called on It or, more rarely, unconsciously allowed It into my conscious awareness and experienced momentary shifts in conscious awareness.
My seeming will-apart has done nothing. It has not changed Truth. It has not prevented the Undoing in and through this mind. It diminishes daily in its chosen domain, conscious awareness.
My life-coaching for students of ACIM focuses on the practical application of its principles.