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Friday, October 28, 2011

Higher Consciousness and a New State of Being

"When a man or a woman has a spiritual awakening, the most important meaning of it is that he has now become able to do, feel, and believe that which he could not do before on his own unaided strength and resources alone. He has been granted a gift which amounts to a new state of consciousness and being. He has been set on a path which tells him he is really going somewhere, that life is not a dead end, not something to be endured or mastered. In a very real sense he has been transformed, because he has laid hold of a source of strength which, in one way or another, he had hitherto denied himself." (Emphasis added.)

-- The Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions, pp. 106-107 --
Spiritual awakening, as mystics, philosophers and sages have recognized for millennia, amounts to a "new state of consciousness and being," As Carl Jung describes it in the 'Big Book' of Alcoholics Anonymous: "Ideas, emotions and attitudes which were once the guiding forces of the lives of these men are suddenly cast to one side, and a completely new set of conceptions and motives begin to dominate them." Yet such a seemingly new state of consciousness and being is not something foreign to any of us. It is innate.

In the Spiritual Experience Appendix (added in the second edition of the 'Big Book' when there were approximately 150,000 alcoholic addicts in recovery) we read that: "With few exceptions our members find that they have tapped an unsuspected inner resource which they presently identify with their own conception of a Power greater than themselves." "Most of us," we continue to read, "think this awareness of a power greater than themselves is the essence of spiritual experience. Our more religious members call it "God-consciousness."" (Emphasis added.)

Once one recognizes that the fundamental problem of the alcoholic addict is not booze and/or drugs but "self" (or the ordinary human "ego") - and that booze and or drugs were but artificial, and therefore temporary, solutions to the existential problems of self-consciousness that ultimately failed to work anymore - then one becomes truly able to believe that there is a Power greater than one's "self" that will restore sanity.

It is not that sanity has disappeared per se, but rather that it has become lost to the sufferer. He or she can no longer effect a conscious contact with a Power greater than him or herself which will restore her to sanity. The "unsuspected inner resource" which exists within all of us - the peace and quiet of mind of a higher consciousness - has been obscured by the calamitous, pompous and outwardly focused and worshipful inner dialogue of the ego. "Ego deflation at depth" is, thus, required so that the sufferer can effect a conscious contact with this Higher Power and then turn his or her will and life over to the God of his or her own understanding.

Meditation and prayer are essential to reconnect to this inner core of our being, but the accurate self survey and sharing of our moral inventory are equally necessary to mute our "old ideas, emotions and attitudes." In completing and sharing our moral inventory, by "admitting to God, to ourselves, and to another human being the exact nature of our wrongs," certain things happen. "We can look the world in the eye," we read. "We can be alone at perfect peace and ease. Our fears fall from us. We begin to feel the nearness of our Creator. We have had certain spiritual beliefs, but now we begin to have a spiritual experience." (Alcoholics Anonymous, page 75.)

By building on this newfound spiritual experience, by asking for the courage and humility to face the people we have harmed, by making restitution (where possible) for wrongs done, we transform our inner experience. More and more we can be alone and not be prey to the punishing and unrelenting inner dialogue of the egoic self. We move from being utterly self-conscious to potentially God-conscious people.

Yet this "new state of consciousness and being" requires practice if we are to perfect it. When we are wrong - that is, when we act upon the dictates of our lower self rather than those of our higher being - we can promptly admit it and make restitution if harm has been done. Thereby, by conscious and continual attention to just what we are thinking and doing, we continue to deflate the ego and to reinforce our Higher Self.

Most importantly, by the practice of meditation we improve our ability to attain to this new state of consciousness and being, and when we fall short, we pray to be relieved of "the bondage of self." By practicing these basic principles in all our affairs, this hitherto "unsuspected inner resource" truly becomes a working part of our consciousness, and we are indeed transformed.

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