Can we move from a world ruled by God and State to a world alive with Consciousness and Community? Can we experience the one consciousness underlying the many faiths? Can we create the free, self-governing communities that will replace violently unified nation states?
My book-in-progress Consciousness and Community, is dedicated to the proposition that consciousness is both the nature and purpose of reality and that we must align our ethics and our politics accordingly. I have been an active seeker of truth since my sixteenth year, 1964, when three events--reading Ayn Rand, seeing the Beatles twice in person and having a mystical experience that all of reality was alive and conscious--were enough to rock me free of the Catholic church and set me on my own search for truth. My book combines personal stories of my amusing, exciting, sometimes harrowing and often naughty adventures as an artist, political activist and student of consciousness over thirty years. And it includes my wrestlings with intellectual, emotional, ethical and political issues, as well as expositions of and questions about the "truths" I have found.
In describing my book I find myself saying that "Consciousness" and "Community" are my answer to the authoritarian nature of "God" and "State." Of course, in my book I also presents the answers to death and taxes -- i.e., reincarnation and service fees!
And I have no aversion to pulling out all the stops: if humanity doesn't get its act together -- we're all going to die in a nuclear war!! On the other hand, we all prefer the cosmic bliss of the "other side" anyway. And if I don't make the most mucho macho guy cry with some of the stories I recount of other's near-death-experiences, then I won't feel I've done my job "proper". Plus I have a few little meditations I want you to try, maybe even a self-induced past life regression. Finally, if you finish reading my book and insist on still paying those danged taxes...well, I'll just have to keep working on you!!
Unfortunately, none of that fun stuff is available right now. So if you are really interested, you are just going to have to suffer through the outline of Consciousness and Community presented below. As you can see, it is written at a very high level of abstraction. Most of the topics mentioned below are explored in greater depth in the Consciousness or Community pages through articles or links. (Or you can read my goose-pimple producing version published in 1985 as the article From Empire to Ecstasy.)
As we enter the first decade of the millennium, human interest in, even obsession with, religion, spirituality and politics increases. Yet it is clear to so many of us that the old religions do little to prevent--and often only contribute to-- bigotry, oppression and war among peoples, and the subjugation of the weak, including women and children, by the strong. Their spirituality and ethics do little to cure that which ails the human race.
Many have investigated and written about new forms of consciousness, new world views, new paradigms, alternate lifestyles and politics. Through these explorations and writings a coherent new world view is evolving, though it may not be as yet thoroughly systematized. (The bird flying into the sun on the cover of my web page and book has become the defacto symbol of this new view, a symbol of consciousness rising into the light.)
This emerging view encompasses the whole of reality: the nature and means to knowledge (epistemology), the nature and purpose of reality (metaphysics), the spiritual basis of psychology (metapsychology), the values we should hold and how we should act towards one and other (ethics), and how we will enforce our ethics in the larger society (politics).
I personally have not given this emerging view of reality a name or label (like “new age” or “holistic philosophy” or “philosophy of consciousness”). I prefer to call it “the most accurate truth so far.” I believe this new view also promises to be more compelling than those which previously have shaped human consciousness because it is the most accurate. And humans do search for truth, even those who live the most terrible of lies. And when they find a more compelling truth, many find it morally and psychologically imperative to act on that truth.
EPISTEMOLOGY: (the nature of and means of seeking truth) Today science and philosophy suggest that there is no ultimate, unchanging truth. Physicists note that the mere act of observing even subatomic particles changes their motions. How much more easily are affected human actions. Some scientists suggest that even "natural laws" are not static and unchanging but ever-evolving. Logicians point out the impossibility of constructing perfectly logically consistent arguments. It seems neither God nor natural law has created some objective, knowable reality.
Moreover humans are incapable of knowing reality objectively. Humans as much "construct" reality and truth as "discover" them. Each of us views reality through a unique "psychic grid" influenced by society's teachings, personal experience and individual interpretation. Therefore, while humans can understand more “accurate” truths, we will always recognize that even such truth evolves and that every individual will view it a little bit differently.
Despite the seeming relativism of truth, humans must endeavor to discover the most accurate knowledge of the nature of reality and human purpose. And we must learn how to best combine, as appropriate, the three means to knowledge--intuition, reason (logic) and empirical (scientific) methods--to do so. We do not have to just going along with what the religious, social, economic and political "powers-that-be" call truth or reality.
METAPHYSICS: (the nature and purpose of reality) “New paradigm” science describes principles of self-organization which operate all through reality–creating time-space-energy-matter. These principles operate from the sub-atomic, chemical, astronomical, and planetary levels, up into the cellular, plant, animal and human levels. Scientists describe differing but complimentary “dynamic” and “integrative” principles which resemble the assertive "yang" and harmonizing "yin" principles described in Taoist philosophy. And they see evidence of an inherent drive to evolve more organized systems and more fully conscious beings--ones who could more fully experience and enjoy reality. (Or, as I like to say, in the beginning was the urge to have a good time.)
Some scientists compare these principles of self-organization and evolution to consciousness. The dynamic principles are like imagination and will and integrative principles like memory and awareness. Moreover, there is evidence of fields of awareness and memory called "morphogenetic" fields linking similar entities--atoms, chemicals, and each living species, including human. These fields communicate subconscious knowledge among, and promote physical and social evolution of, these entities.
Because these principles are like consciousness, and because their purpose seems to be evolution of greater and higher consciousness, I personally choose to call the very nature and purpose of reality "consciousness." I personally believe that the concept of universal consciousness must replace the concept of a transcendent “God.” As promoted by authoritarians who claim to speak and act in the name of a superior entity, the word and concept “God” has become like an idol–one that alienates us from our co-creation of the universe and our own lives. Recognizing that we are products of our own conscious evolution, not the creation of a transcendent god, we will recognize ourselves as the creators of human destiny. We finally will be able to create the heaven on earth, kingdom, Shangra La which so many religions have described.
METAPSYCHOLOGY: (spiritual basis of psychology) Studies in past life regression, near-death experience, psychic phenomena and morphogenetic field theory provide evidence of, and theoretical backing for, the belief that consciousness does survive when the body dies. Many who have had near-death experiences report that during their short stay “on the other side” they were taught that the meaning of life is to love and to learn–and it is on this challenging material plane that we learn the most. Jews, Christians and Muslims believe we live but one life. However, Hindus, Buddhists, Taoists, “animists” believe organized consciousness, the “soul", reincarnates, passing from body to body over many life times. My own experiences and research convince me we do live many lives. The “between life state” (perhaps the same as the human morphogenetic field) is a “heavenly home” to which we return for a few years between lives.
Human potential psychologists describe the individual’s motivational "need hierarchy" from most basic needs (safety; food and sex; belonging and esteem) to more transcendent needs (love of others; creativity and self- actualization; concern for humanity; mystical experience of unity with all being). There seems to be an inherent drive to "rise up" this hierarchy, to fulfill higher needs, to evolve to higher consciousness. (This is similar to concepts of the rising of consciousness through the seven chakras.) When humans remain stuck by an unimaginative or repressive culture to fulfilling lower needs, when we cannot fulfill higher needs, we become bored, frustrated--and addicted, obsessed with the need for ever increasing amounts of food, drugs, sex, power, money, to fulfill unidentified but pressing needs.
Humans can learn to act freely from "higher consciousness" [creativity, tolerance, acceptance, cooperation, love] instead of "lower consciousness" [habit, judgementalness, fear, dominance, anger]. Attaining “higher consciousness” does not mean abandoning lower needs, but being free to think and act from whatever level of consciousness one chooses as necessary or desired.
To achiever higher consciousness individually, we need awareness of the importance of need hierarchies/chakras and training in meditation and self-actualization techniques. And we must recognize that “sense of community” with others is not just a romantic notion but a psychological necessity at every level of consciousness.
Socially, we must create culture (including symbols and rituals) and social, economic and political institutions which suggest non extravagant means of fulfilling basic needs and provide ample opportunities for fulfilling higher needs. I myself am wary of a new consciousness or a new culture becoming a new “religion” with all the orthodoxy that implies.
These efforts will allow humans to give up our addictions, including the addiction to dominating others. Women will continue developing "yang" independence and assertive energies and men "yin" loving and cooperative energies. We all will cultivate not merely tolerance for, but enjoyment and celebration of, individual and group diversity. Our human ignorance of our true nature and purpose prevents us from creating our own “heaven on earth.”
ETHICS: (What values we should pursue, how we should act towards one and other) Most religions teach that once we know the truth of our nature and purpose, the way we should act in pursuit of that will become clear; that only by “walking in the way” will we experience our version of salvation. In the new world view we recognize we must value first and foremost the evolution of human consciousness and act to create that which nurtures and advances it.
Ethical action is based on the libertarian view that the individual should be free to do as s/he pleases as long as s/he does not aggress upon others. This is another variation on the "golden rule": "Do unto others as you would have them do unto you." Freedom implies and requires voluntarism, cooperation, non-violent conflict resolution. Going further, charity, voluntary redistribution of wealth and mutual aid act as “safety” nets which protect freedom.
POLITICS: (How we will enforce our ethics in the larger society) The ethical system above rejects the use of force, except in defense of self or others from physical attack. Limitations on individual freedom are only imposed though contractual agreements between parties or through consensus oriented decision making. This is the only way to protect minorities from the majority–and to make sure that small minorities, “special interests”, do not wrangle control of supposedly majoritarian decision-making processes. Enforcement of contracts or consensual agreed upon community standards would be through voluntary compliance and “non-violent coercion” like publicity, picketing, and boycott.
Most individuals will decide to live in community. And each decides, based on personality, experience and desire, what kind of community or communities to create, join, or associate with, and lives within these communities’ rules or guidelines. Communities may network and confederate on regional levels to deal with common problems but they will remain committed to resolving all disagreements non-violently.
Today's great nation states have been created and maintained by military and police violence. Our adoption of non-violent politics, of true liberty and cooperation, would lead to the inevitable dissolution of nation states through non-cooperation and secession.
We must replace nation states with networks of self-governing communities. And in these freely formed and non-violently maintained communities, humans will begin to experience the kind of learning and loving, the higher consciousness and human unity, for which we have evolved ourselves.
Copyright 1998 by Carol Moore. Permission to reprint freely granted, provided the article is reprinted in full and that any reprint is accompanied by this copyright statement and refers people to URL http://www.carolmoore.net.
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