Spirit, consciousness and vision: the great human leap

09.06.2019 - London, UK - Silvia Swinden

This post is also available in: Spanish, French

Spirit, consciousness and vision: the great human leap
A Labyrinth as allegory of internal process. Chartres Cathedral (Image by Ssolbergj • CC BY-SA 3.0, Wikipedia)

We published a couple of days ago two articles apparently unrelated. The first one: “Spiritual science: how a new perspective on consciousness could help us understand ourselves”

The author uses the word consciousness as synonymous with awareness but puzzles over the capacity for altruism and finds in a more spiritual (which is different from religious but not mutually exclusive) scheme where the brain picks up the consciousness from the surrounding universe a possible more satisfactory conception.

The second article “Vision is finally on the rise in U.S. politics” notices that the rejection of alternative visions (ideologies) so entrenched in the neoliberal agenda is finally receding and new “visions” such as the Green New Deal, Democratic Socialism, etc, are no longer eliciting the foreign body reactions of the last few decades and are, instead, starting to mobilise the enthusiasm of new social and political movements.

The convergence of these two apparently unconnected concepts is, from the point of view of the Psychology of New Humanism (PNH), precisely what defines the conception of human beings in their existence in the world and their capacity to evolve. We live neither in “the world out there” nor in “the consciousness in here”. In fact we exist in a consciousness-world structure in which what we perceive as the space external to us is a representation of that space which has been acquired by the external senses (with their limitations such as the capacity to function within certain thresholds) and filtered through the pathways to perceiving centres of the central nervous system, compared to previous experiences in memory, given a certain affective tone and re-located in the space of representation to give an illusion of being in the external space. This is what we call “reality” and explains why different people perceive different realities. Diversity is not a choice but an opportunity to expand our understanding of reality beyond our individual limitations.

The particular way each person structures the world, what phenomenologists named Intentionality, is the most powerful driving force in the evolution of humankind, by aiding the process of moving from determinism towards freedom. The denial of intentionality in others is at the root of all forms of violence. Many perceive deep in their own consciousness a sometimes subtle, sometimes dramatic impulse to grow, to evolve, to create a better self and a better world. Here is an ineffable quality of intentionality. It is a register, a sensation, but it is difficult to define and therefore it gets interpreted according to personal and cultural formative landscapes. Is it bestowed by God, the gods, daemons, an evolutionary intention, the unconscious, or what? It has the flavour a spiritual experience, as we may not know where it comes from but being experiential it is difficult to dismiss and although it is profoundly personal it connects us to a register that transcends the individual self.

The propioceptive sensations of the internal world, such as coenesthesia (general sensation of the body) and kinaesthesia (sensation of position and movement) follow similar patterns to the external senses but they are finally represented inside the limits of the body. The perception of other objects of consciousness such as thoughts and images tend to be represented inside the head. The energy associated to certain images is registered in different locations depending on their emotional charge, their brightness, their theme. Mystical images are represented at the top of the space of representation and move the body to build cathedrals. Falling in love overwhelms the heart or gives us butterflies in the stomach and watching football makes our legs feel like we are also kicking the ball with the players. And sexual images move what they have to move but also sell cars, perfumes and power, not to mention the odd hamburger.

“Visions” or images are fundamental to move this consciousness-world structure  in the social, political, natural and psychological world. Here is an example. 

A person is sitting at home feeling hungry. Then an image of a sandwich in the fridge comes to mind. Moved by the image the person goes to the fridge to pick up the sandwich and the hunger goes away. 

This is not too different from what happens when people feel oppressed and dehumanised. Then an image of a better world forms and is communicated to others so that action can be taken to improve things. In fact there is no action without an image (a vision) that mobilises the body, suffering is not enough, there must be a picture of something to be achieved to give direction and energy to the quest to overcome that suffering. 

Others may produce a counter image which opposes the action, in fact, we have now experienced for many years the neoliberal agenda to suppress all images of alternatives, like Margaret Thatcher’s TINA: “there is no alternative”. Pretending not to be an image, an “ideology”, by being pragmatic, letting the markets decide, the old laissez-fair concept, this vision of unbridled concentration of wealth regulated not by human but by market forces has dominated the world since its main ideologue, Friedrich Hayek was given the Nobel Prize in Economics in 1974.

Images are used to share, to sell, to manipulate and to liberate. Advertising exaggerates the qualities of a product. Propaganda informs or creates fake news for political purposes. This is not new. Shakespeare was encouraged to smear the image of Richard III in order to legitimise the Tudor’s grab for the throne. In his trial Socrates was denounced for impiety and corruption of the youth, mainly by using his method of enquiry to teach people to find their own responses, their own images, rather than accepting dogma. Social media has multiplied the penetration of false images gazillions of times over. Brexit propaganda was dominated by two false images: massive queues of immigrants (in particular Muslims from Turkey) coming to invade the UK and payments of £350million/week to the EU that would be diverted to the Health Service if the UK exited Europe. Boris Johnson, Member of Parliament and contender for the post of Prime Minister was taken to court for supporting this lie, that is, misconduct in public office, but the High Court dismissed the charges as it is “for the good sense of the electorate to discount it if they choose so to do”(?!)…

Now we have the tools to take the leap: the Revolution of Consciousness 

The wonderful thing about this moment is that humanity has evolved an understanding of consciousness so that we now know how to neutralise propaganda and share real information. It is all about elevating the level of consciousness. The great awakening. This possibility has been around for millennia but accessible only to small groups, “the initiated”, or simply those lucky enough to be close to philosophers, guides and thinkers who found the path and cared to share it.

Today it is precisely the much maligned social media, the online libraries and news outlets, that create the possibility of access of everything to everyone. But as much of it (most of it?) is rubbish we must make an effort to communicate the tools of awareness so that people may recognise the rubbish and discard it. 

To elevate the level of consciousness means to be able to intentionally observe not only what is presented to our eyes but also to perceive the effect such information has on our minds, to form an image of what is intended with that information, to be able to verify it and put it in context understanding processes, relationships and the diversity of human experience.

We know that advertising agencies are well versed in how to lower the level of consciousness of potential consumers. Since sex works best in semi-sleep, where images of the type of daydreams have the highest suggestibility, scantly clad women are often placed next to cars and other objects for sale so that the critical sense is pleasantly bypassed. In wakefulness commercial advertising and political propaganda are less suggestive but it is in the state of consciousness of self where the maximum critical analysis of perceived objects can be exercised as observation of the mechanisms of consciousness associated to the experience and its effects on them and the whole structure can be intentionally directed. The tools to train oneself to do this are widely available. We include here a few links to clarify the concepts presented in this article.

The moment is critical as destructive fascism is advancing with its own violence-promoting dramatic populist images feeding off the frustrations experienced by people all over the world submerged in the failure of neoliberalism. There are several emergencies, not least Climate Change, antibiotics resistance, death and illnesses by pollution, and the struggle against poverty and inequality, all indicating the need to change the whole system. The methodology of active nonviolence is at the base of such change but in can only happen in the context of this revolution of consciousness.

1 Contributions to thought, Psychology of the image, By Silo

2 The Space of Representation as a psychosocial experience by Silvia Swinden

3. Self-liberation by Luis Ammann

Categories: Diversity, Humanism and Spirituality, International, Nonviolence
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