For six weeks we’ve been exploring the stages of consciousness. Our examination showed how we progress from the first tier consciousness to the second tier and now we ask ourselves, “What is next?”
Numerous minds have written about the progression of human consciousness from many different disciplines such as: sociology, psychology, theology, biology and education. It’s undeniable that we pass through very distinct mindsets as we mature. At lower levels we are not conscious of our consciousness. At higher levels we recognize the power of our consciousness to bring about concrete reality. Once again, the non-physical creates the physical. “Ex-nehilo!” Ideas become things. Word becomes flesh (John 1:14).
Please don’t skim over this vital truth. Consciousness is not merely neurotransmitters although brain chemicals contribute to consciousness. Consciousness is the non-physical aspect of our unique human experience which is also physical. Our consciousness is our essence, not just our DNA. In spiritual terms it’s called the soul, in psychological terms it’s called the true self. Thus our soul influences and is influenced by the material world. This is another way of saying all people are both spiritual and physical. One side does not prosper or decline apart from the other.
In our diverse, post-modern world, we interact with every stratum of human awareness. We tend to like people in our stage and we tend to dislike those at different levels. The biggest transformation to higher consciousness is the movement toward unity and inclusion of all others. Religion has historically been the go-to system for human transformation. As religion became institutionalized, people have opted to grow their soul via other means. As the collective consciousness has risen, institutionalized religion has not kept up, and as a result, less people see the value of regressive systems. Repotted plants can’t go back into formative containers.
Third tier consciousness is highly integral. This second key point means that it is an integration of all of the most mature aspects of each stage. Think of it like mathematics. The most challenging mathematical equations, still utilize first grade math skills. Low math skills are not a bad thing, they are a limiting thing. Low consciousness is not a bad thing, it is a limiting thing. A tribal person will choose war because they lack the ability to grasp options beyond war.
Third tier consciousness is not based on IQ. It’s not about WHAT a person knows but HOW they know it. For example, the commandment “Love your neighbor”(Mark 12:31) can be understood at all levels. What is literal at the lower levels is more nuanced at higher levels. The what is not altered by higher consciousness because it is based in knowledge. The how is altered because it is based in wisdom, or the “skill” to use the knowledge one possesses.
The third key point is this: we are all in flux. Consciousness, the soul, or the self is dynamism. We are not stagnant. We all move in and out of higher and lower stages and states while we mature. Third tier people briefly disintegrate into first tier. Second tier briefly integrates to third tier. Thus it’s best not to label ourselves within a particular stage. We are what we are, for now.
Since consciousness is dynamic, it means that we can rise to a higher level at any moment that we become conscious of our consciousness. I call this PROXIMITY. Some experience this in worship, meditation, yoga, or physical activity. For example, if we give up revenge, then so long as we are conscious of forgiveness, we conform to the higher ideal and move toward unity. We can all do this. It does take practice to wake ourselves up and enter proximity.
Waking up begins our true spiritual journey and this is where we can learn from religion. All religion has processes for helping us overcome the single biggest hurdle in our journey to transformation; our ego. Pride is the one battle we all must face if we are to grow in unity. Our dualistic comparisons, competitions, grand standing, self-promotion, and self-protection is ground zero for transforming a human soul. If humility is not found, there is no progression. When the ego can be seen and diminished, the true soul can find life. It’s like being born anew.
This is why scripture says that God opposes the proud and gives grace to the humble (1 Peter 5:5). The trajectory of third tier consciousness or a mature soul has no room for ego and all the games it plays. As John Calvin said, this makes the spiritual work of knowing oneself the same work as knowing God. And now that we have categories to know ourselves, we have the building blocks for the world to know God–Hopefully a better picture than the one given to us by tribal religion.
A unified, integrated world is on the other side of our pride, and it will take a higher consciousness to get us there.