This chapter will introduce and use a metaphor based on the body of a tree to demonstrate the relationship between 5 separate levels of awareness we may possess, although, the reader will once again be asked to understand the intent. As such, these are simply one person’s understandings for achieving higher levels of thought and realization – based on biblical wisdom and general concepts of spiritual practice. Ultimately the thoughts communicated in this chapter are highly speculative and abstract, and they may not be agreed upon by every person. Where perhaps the most self-interested goal is an integrative and extensive community, these ideas are only intended to help those it may, whoever they are, improve themselves and their individual choices to see to that result.
The eye is the lamp of the body. So, if your eye is healthy, your whole body will be full of light, but if your eye is bad, your whole body will be full of darkness. If then the light in you is darkness, how great is the darkness!
As we reflect on the aspects of our mental self, we are left to wonder the various elements which construct its overall expression. Where we were considering our physical body in the previous chapter, throughout this chapter we will look at a more intangible body – the cognitive self. In doing so, we will explore the part of our total organism which experiences reality, or more specifically we will examine the different ways it perceives reality. In examining these aspects, the goal will be to use the wisdom of spirituality, from the gospel and many other sources, to establish a viewpoint on how to obtain greater awareness. Ultimately the goal will be to assist those it may towards achieving the full potential of their – God-given and naturally entitled – agency.
To help explain this model, we will explore a metaphor based on the basic anatomy of a tree. As a tree has leaves, branches, a trunk, a root, and the earth it is embedded within, we will associate each to an ascribed partition conscious self. For this work, the ascribed consciousness’s are body, mind, soul, heart, and spirit. As we examine each we will look into ways these can be enhanced and the limiting consequences if they are not. Naturally, as with a healthy tree, each of these divisions needs to work in concert with one another, and if they do not, similar to a tree, we will not maximize our full potential.
In going through this metaphor we will begin with our outermost sense of awareness and progress inwardly. Starting with or our outermost sense of self, the body consciousness is likened here to the leaves of a tree. In this, we say that the first aspect of our awareness, in which living energy ignites our cognitive experience – like sunlight to a tree – is in the part of our cognitive self which experiences sensation. As a result, if we want this life-energy to pass through the most basic segment of our consciousness, we must not inundate our physical senses. Over-stimulation of the senses exhausts the energy we need to activate the deeper elements of our consciousness.
So forth, as energy passes its way from our senses to the deeper recesses of our experiential faculty, the ultimate expression of our absorption ultimately manifests in our bodies physical and emotional health. As those who can deny overt self-pleasure tend to have more control over their actions, they similarly tend to resist immediate gains which lead to poor long-term returns. Therefore they may then increase their opportunities to make better decisions which lead to an overall more healthy and enriching life.
However, as with every aspect of self mentioned here, until energy is properly channeled to the deepest level of our awareness, we will experience some obstruction in our overall awareness. As we experience these obstructions, we will unwittingly be without the greater means we possess to perceive reality and act to our fullest. Accordingly, until this external energy makes its way to the deepest level of our consciousness, we will be subdued by an aspect of self. In the case when we are existing at our most basic level, we will be subdued by the whim of our most immediate desires.
Now, as the energy which ignites our cognitive experience is allowed to pass through the first level of our awareness, it then channels into our mind consciousness. In regards, this consciousness represents our most simple thinking faculty, and it deals solely with tangible and finite information such as facts and definitions. When we are loosened from being encumbered by our most base desires, we then become liberated to stimulate the development of our corporeal awareness.
However, just like with the body it is also possible, at this level, to hinder energy from flowing deeper. As with the body awareness, there are even deeper levels of thinking faculty. Specific to this level, the love of knowledge is a carnal indulgence which hinders spiritual insight. Consequently, when we are enamored with acquiring tangible knowledge, we will absorb a disproportionate amount of energy into this region of our awareness, and we will be subdued by what we cannot know.
When we are understanding theory and moving beyond the rigidity of black and white viewpoints, we are developing the next level of our cognitive self – the soul consciousness. When this aspect of our self turns its given energy into action, it creates our ability to see things from a more fluid perspective. Insofar as this aspect of ourselves relates to an even higher level of awareness. Where the first two parts of our mental being turn energy into sensation and knowledge, our soul consciousness turns energy into understanding. Specifically, it is in this process we begin to decide which knowledge is relevant and irrelevant to a particular situation. Therefore in this manner we go beyond thinking of things in absolutes and see reality in a much more relative sense.
As a result, we can say that all wisdom originates from the soul consciousness. Accordingly it is in the determination of our soul which the foundation for our reality is established. However, just as with the lower parts of the mind, absorbing too much energy here also leads to deficiencies in our overall being. So then, when we excessively gratify this aspect of our perception, we will ultimately be subdued by what we cannot understand.
The next level of self corresponds to our heart consciousness, and we should be striving to develop this level of awareness even more than the others. As with any tree, the more entrenched and expansive its roots are, the more stable and larger it may grow and the more it may grow on all aforementioned levels. So forth, when we are letting energy pour into this level of our mind – through preventing excessive dissipation in our more simplistic faculties of thought – we best establish our sense of integrity.
As the greatest enemy of integrity is fear, accordingly we cannot build our heart consciousness when we are giving into fear. Furthermore where all fear is born from the thought of being without a perceived necessity, we cannot truly develop this level of our personal awareness while we live afraid of what we may be without. In this manner we have to learn to overcome our fears and attachments if we wish for the greatest growth. However we still have one more aspect of self in this model, and we must let cognitive energy flow even deeper in order to find ideal harmony with life. Insofar as those of us who do not go further will ultimately be subdued by that which they fear and cannot let go.
When we are overcome by the more basic regions of our mind, we are a prisoner to basic wants, ignorance, and personal fears. Consequently, where we are overwhelmed by any of these, we lack in our ability to grow and maintain our growth, for we are preoccupied with some lesser aspect of self. In accordance with all sorts of spiritual wisdom, we must therefore be appropriately detached from our lower desires, as these are all relative to self, if so we wish to truly actualize the nutrition in the soil we are anchored. Of which the soil a tree is embedded within represents the final and highest level of awareness – the spirit consciousness.
Accordingly the spirit consciousness is the source we tap into whenever we are developing in our personal self. The energy which gives rise to all consciousness reaches through us in order to draw forth the vital purpose we depend upon for deliberate growth. However, when we do so for personal reasons we tend to stagnate. As with a tree, we are integrated into a much bigger tapestry than ourselves. When we are aware of our role in life and we are growing to participate as a member in life, we best actualize ourselves to grow in life.
Properly overcoming the self leads to the highest form of awareness, and, when we experience this final aspect of self, we experience life from a perspective greater than our individual self. So forth, experiencing a strong connection with this level of consciousness is intimately experiencing a deep relationship to everything, where even the concept of self begins to dissipate. Consequently, in experiencing this connection, we no longer see the universe through our own eyes and sensations. Instead, we have integrated ourselves into the body of life, and we become detached from our individual notions of self. Such that, when we are experiencing this level of consciousness, we are not limited by the illusion of self and may become subdued by nothing.
As this metaphor portrays, there is a certain form of vascular system which channels energy through a very intricate and partitioned consciousness we possess. Subsequently we can get a sense for how, as the energy which makes thoughts possible, travels its way from the most superficial to the most fundamental levels of our consciousness we are made most whole and balanced. Through this balance, we see how our agency can best be increased to assist our development, not just in an intrapersonal manner, but an interpersonal one as well. In this fashion, we have to open, in order to be whole, each level of our cognitive body – not just to let energy reach deep within us – but to let it flow back out of us. When each of these is balanced and properly utilized, we become most able steer and control not just our lives, but we become most able to steer and control our destiny as well.
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