A Geography of Consciousness by William Arkle
- some selected highlights
We like to be loved and admired but we also like to love and admire other people.
When we love and admire other people, we are able to believe in the joy and merit of their nature. When we are loved and admired we are able to believe in the joy and the merit of our Self.
When we receive and give love and adoration we are in either case gaining something wholly delightful and desirable. But we do not take the trouble to look more closely at this situation, for the situation seems to be an end in itself.
If it is examined, however, the sensation in question reveals that it is not so much the giving and receiving of love which matters, but that the love and admiration helps to liberate an aspect of our nature which is joy and is happiness and is a sort of virtuous affectionate delight.
The trouble with life as we ordinarily experience it is that this part of our nature is always being suppressed and not liberated. But not only do other people continually restrict it, but we find that we are restricting it ourselves.
The problem however is not as simple as it looks.
The difficulty is not simply liberating our Selves but the fact that in trying to do this we liberate our not-Selves.
When we liberate a not-Self we are not freeing ourselves for an experience of great affection want to light, but rather for an experience of misery, frustration and disappointment.The pain of this makes us think twice about any further attempts at liberation.
We are inclined to leave liberation alone for we are not sure if we are going to liberate a God or a Devil.
The purpose of this book is therefore to help towards our understanding of these processes which are essential to life, if that life is not to remain static. The theories involved are both old and new. Those that are not new have been found in the general literature of mysticism, religion and philosophy, and no attempt has been made to identify the sources.
The attempt has been rather to integrate them into some unified structure and to re-express them in another form. Not only will there be an attempt to map out the geography of the psyche and consciousness in general, but also to describe the principles which are necessary for a journey and the best way to understand the ‘gods’ and ‘devils’ that we might meet on the way.
Chapter 1 - Fields of Consciousness - Manager and factory
We will consider the physical personality and body as a factory and compare our consciousness to the manager of that factory.
We know that normally the manager goes into the office of his factory to collect the latest facts about sales and production in order to control the activity of the factory. But we also know that if he is ill and cannot visit his office, he can telephone his assistant and by asking him for certain facts control the activities of the factory as though the weather himself.
And if the manager had to go on a trip to America or Australia, you could still get in touch with his office and control the factory.
In other words, if he were able to possess all the information he required, the manager would never have to visit his factory at all.
He does visit the factory, however, because it enables him to communicate more easily to more people on his stuff. His connection with the factory therefore can be described in terms of communication, whether he is at the factory or at the other side of the world.
His success as a manager depends to a very large extent on the effectiveness of the communication system he has built up between all the parts of his concern and himself. If one aspect of his business is in bad communication with him, this is the part that he would expect to cause him trouble.
This is true of his production programs and also of his human relationships among management and workers.
The manager of a factory goes to the factory himself, not to improve production, but to make sure that his channels of communication have been feeding him efficiently with accurate information. If he could rely on the effectiveness of his communication systems and the efficiency of the people involved in them, their honesty and so on, he would never have to visit the factory at all.
The effectiveness of his management therefore would not depend upon any special relationship with the factory. It would depend upon his ability to observe all the information given him in comparison to all the information he already possessed.
If the manager identified himself with the factory it is very likely that some aspects of production will appear out of proportion to him. This will cause him to form a distorted picture of the situation in his mind and we can then say that he has become aberrated and less efficient.
His best position as manager, as far as we can understand, is to be in a detached position to the production activity in order to see it all objectively and see it in relation to what the rest of the commercial world is doing.
Now we ourselves are like the manager in relation to our physical body and personality. We are in fact not connected to this personality function unless we choose to be. We can best observe and direct the function of the personality by being detached from it and by observing the situation it is in, objectively.
So long as we are identified with the personality we must expect to experience its values in a distorted way.
We will also get a distorted picture of our nature if our communication channels are inefficient or inaccurate.
We will, in other words, only understand what we are and what we are trying to do, if we experience ourselves as managers and other physical personality as a factory.
However even the manager is in a subtle sense conditioned by an inner consciousness which dictates to him how he will behave in ethical and other ways.
And so with ourselves; we are detached from our physical body whether we like it or not, and we also possess an inner essential awareness within this detached consciousness which we may describe as a first order attitude or filter. The detached consciousness is thus a second order filter and the physical personality is a third order filter.
The majority of people are identified with the third order filter, with occasional sensations of the second order.
But the time has come when we can only solve the outstanding problems of our civilisation by many of us achieving a permanent second order attitude with occasional sensations of the first order.
Consciousness and the nervous system
It was said previously that we have a good deal of knowledge about the function of our nervous system is and the way in which brain cells communicate information to our physical brain. However unless we identify the physical brain with thought, feeling and consciousness, it is necessary to propose that our true being resides somewhere other than in the physical function of the physical body.
One reason why we tend to identify our consciousness in the head is because our most valuable organs of communication are situated there. If our eyes were placed in our left arm, no doubt we would tend to sense that we were behind them, and therefore in our left arm also. As the ears and mouth are also in the head we feel comfortably placed between them all and at the centre of our reception and transmission of information.
When the nature of the communication processes associated with the human consciousness is examined, a system which is basically an electronic one is found. This, in its courser stages, is associated with physical and chemical changes.
Unfortunately, because men have not as yet succeeded in understanding much about the function of matter beyond the electronic stage, they are inclined to say that the electronic level of experience is the end of the road.
The scientific type of study of these matters is so successful up to this point, that it has acquired an authority greater than that of the theologist, philosopher, psychologist or intelligent human being. When the scientist suddenly stops short in his description of the universe and of man, the temptation to stop short with him is very great.
This, however, is most unfortunate, since there is good reason to believe that the level to which science has attained will be found to be very much on the perimeter of our true nature and are true reality. It must be said, therefore, that something passes beyond the electronic level of function of the human brain and so must pass into a condition of matter which as yet science does not recognise and which pretends to be sceptical about.
The scientist, having the authority which we have given him, tends to make fools of us all when it comes to the understanding of consciousness itself. The scientist is not to blame for this, however. We are ourselves to blame, for the simple reason that we gave our filters to the scientist as soon as we noticed that he was uncommonly successful and full of 'magic and witchcraft'.
We were indeed only too pleased to find someone to give our filters to, since we knew they were very important but that they were a great deal of trouble to the owners.
We must now face up to this situation and endeavour to create some sort of structure in our understanding, which will bridge the gap between the level of matter which the scientific instruments of our age have succeeded in examining and the staff of consciousness itself which is the stuff we actually exist in.
We must break with the temptation to allow our attitudes or filters to be governed by scientific facts and return to a position in which we remain fully responsible for our own attitudes so that they are the result of our own experiences, valuations and intelligence.
The facts which scientists give us are still of great value to us, so long as we do not see ourselves as identified with the world which they are taken from, for this world is the world of time and space which is of no concern to our consciousness as such, but is only a means of communication. We must no more identify ourselves with these physical modes of communication than we should identify ourselves with a telephone!
It will probably be a very long time before instruments are able to observe the stuff of consciousness and discover the seat of it. But we cannot afford to wait until they do.
We must therefore use are intelligent imagination to extend the processes which we have examined, towards that awareness which each of us knows exists. So long as we keep this in terms of a broad and tentative vary it cannot do any harm and may help us a good deal.