“There is an Indian fable of three beings who drank from a river: one was a god, and he drank ambrosia; one was a man, and he drank water; and one was a demon, and he drank filth. What you get is a function of your own consciousness.”
–Joseph Campbell, Myths of Light,”The Jiva’s Journey,” p. 46
Of what do psychologists and philosophers speak when they invoke the word “Consciousness?”
At a fundamental psychological level some define it as “awareness” or more specifically, ”Self Awareness” that is further defined as knowledge gained through personal perception, the recognition of something felt—that is ‘sensed.’
In the above quote from Joseph Campbell there seems to be another layer implied e.g. something residing between what is perceived and what is processed. In short, something is acting upon the information coming into the individual that affects the processing of it—a filter if you will. We all have these filters–they are our judgments, expectations, beliefs, philosophies, experiences and memories. These things affect our level of consciousness, our level of alertness to reality if you will. So the quote seems to speak to the type of filter, or the clarity of the filter, being employed.
At a deeper, and more spiritual, or philosophical, level consciousness has been defined as the “Knower” or the “Observer”–something that observes itself, the ground-state of our being. It is, some say, what you experience when you have quieted the mind from its incessant chatter. Others say it is what the chatter is being directed toward e.g. what is listening when you talk to yourself.
At first glance this consciousness, this knower, appears to be located somewhere alongside our mind, the mind that is the ego-thing that’s doing all the chattering. But is it alongside, or even local for that matter? How do we explain the phenomena of distance viewing, or distant communication as when you’re thinking of cousin Harry whom you’ve not heard from in ages and the phone rings? Coincidence or synchronicity?
There’s a great deal of research that’s been done (some funded through DARPA, the federal department of all things spooky that can be used militarily) looking into the reality of distant viewing and finding it to be real under certain conditions. Some people can instantly ‘see’ things that are happening miles away (The Russians just love this stuff!).
Some physicists (e.g. Fred Allan Wolfe, David Hawkins, and Gary Zukav) have played around with the ground-state, or ‘universal field’, idea of consciousness as well as the concept of remote connectedness that is implied by remote viewing and have made some tentative conclusions that consciousness is independent of the sentient creatures it seems to inhabit–so much so that it exists eternally, or at least since the Big Bang. Perhaps we are no more than receivers for signals from outside ourselves, like a radio, cellphone, or TV.
It seems that to the degree to which a person can cleanse their perception filters and thus get a clearer perception of reality this also affects their ability to connect with this level of consciousness. It may even be this consciousness that makes it possible to see things beyond ones temporal location.
We are definitely more than we see or seem.