The Subconscious, Self-awareness and the Awakening of Consciousness

Are there connections between religion, mystical experience, the subconscious, self-awareness, the awakening of consciousness and the mind? This is what we are going to try to demonstrate. What difference is there between reality and what one sees? Is the world in which we live, and which we see every day, a reality, or is it an illusion or the product of our imagination? Now we must ponder on this subject once more in order to approach it from another aspect.

Religion And The Mystical Experience

Before answering the question, we must first make an assumption which underlines the fundamental difference between religion, such as we perceive it today, and mysticism. Religion, which has often become a form of ideology founded obviously on beliefs but, above all, on more or less strict moral rules, is a communal experience which aims to unite men and women in the same vision of reality and the world.

It also seeks to win them over, to bond them together (the word ‘religion’ coming from two Latin words meaning ‘link together’), to induce them to respect codes and laws, to practise rites and rituals, to participate together in ceremonies and, in this way, to preserve proven usages and customs and ensure the stability, harmony and safety of human communities. Thus we can say that religion is a fundamentally important cultural factor.

Whatever it is, it is in fact capable of combining for generations a whole people’s culture, overriding concepts of race and ethnic groupings, and uniting them through shared beliefs. All religion rests, therefore, on traditional teaching that is capable of constructive adaptation and development according to the demands of the time, but whose foundations remain unaltered over the years.

As for mysticism, this is a unique individual experience which can occur within a religious setting but which nevertheless extends beyond it. It does not involve any rite or ritual. Its manifestations are sometimes violent and uncontrollable; they can even assume a spectacular or supernatural character. It does not call for any teaching but requires an initiation.

However, it is necessary for the initiate in question to be a willing participant, thus allowing him to experience something which is occasionally quite nerve racking. Hence, one can say that religion induces a certain normality. All those who devote themselves to some religion or other have a desire to live in conformity with its rules, laws and dogmas.

On the other hand, a mystical experience leads the person who undergoes it to set himself apart from others despite himself. Occasionally, when the experience is compounded, it becomes impossible to lead a normal life. Admittedly mystical experience and a religious way of life have often been confused in history. In fact both have need of the supernatural, the former in an extreme manner, the latter in a more reasonable way.

Thus we now know that priests and bishops of the catholic or orthodox religion wear robes simply because they have adopted the apparel of the shaman, who operated all over Europe and who they gradually replaced during the course of the 1st Millennium of our era. Now the shaman was a mystic who had undergone a very testing and often fatal initiation.

From The Subconscious To The Awakening of Consciousness

As we know, the word subconscious, employed as a noun and not as an adjective, is relatively recent. It first appeared in the middle of the 18th Century but it was not until a hundred years later that it took on the more common meaning of a non-conscious existence. Subsequently, in psychoanalysis, it became a sort of unknown or unrecognised area of consciousness, formed by ideas, thoughts, feelings and repressed desires.

Nevertheless, the latter can find their way back into the conscious by way of dreams, futile actions, or uncontrolled urges and impulses. According to psychoanalysts, it would appear that everyone, no matter what their culture or upbringing suppresses ideas, thoughts, desires and feelings in inaccessible region within themselves.

However, when the contents of this obscure region overflow, the person in question is liable to lose their stability, their reason even, to give way to madness and lose all sense of normality. Nevertheless, psychoanalysts have discovered and established all sorts of causes for these repressions.

According to them, in the majority of cases they are due to the relationships formed during early childhood with the father, mother or members of the family. It is, therefore, the nature of these relationships which determine the behaviour of someone and the vision which they have of the world and reality.

Nonetheless, it is not an irreversible process. By analysing himself and delving into the labyrinth of his subconscious, anyone can discover the mechanisms giving rise to what he considers to be the unacceptable behaviour of which he is victim, can dismantle them, and so become very much more aware of the dark corners of his subconscious mind.

Naturally, we are referring here to the ideal situation and to the best psychoanalytic and analytic practices, which aim to cultivate self-awareness. This self-awareness is the object of all individual mystical experience, such as has been followed and practised for thousands of years, and which leads to the awakening of consciousness, that is to say it provides a unifying vision of the world and of life.

This vision is often very different from the one that we normally have. This is why it fascinates and attracts us as much as it disturbs us. In fact – and this is not the least of human paradoxes ó by nature the human being is conservative. He seeks a settled existence, wants protection, security and a long life.

However, at the same time, he is stimulated by a quite natural and great curiosity, which leads him to venture beyond his normal limitations, to seek, understand, comprehend and, above all, know himself. And if one is to believe all those who have testified to their own authentic mystical experiences, this self-awareness leads to the awakening of consciousness.

That being the case, nothing precludes us from thinking that the awakening of consciousness represents the future of humanity. Did not Carl Gustav Jung say in so many words that the next great revolution in the history of humanity would be a psychological or spiritual one?

If you look back at the concepts referred to earlier you will see that, according to the views and beliefs of our ancestors, the mind is everywhere, externally as well as internally. In other words, everything that is, is in the mind. This has always been, and still is, the thinking of the shaman and the mystic.

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