The Collective Unconscious (and how to join it)
The collective unconscious is not a club, as the title of this article would suggest. Rather it’s a concept termed by Carl Jung that describes the underlying mythic reality that we can tap into beneath the shallows of our conscious awareness. Think the archetypes that are represented within humanity’s collective soul: the warrior, the fool, the sage, the ruler, the orphan, the lover and the seeker are all examples of archetypes contained within the collective unconscious that are common to many human soulful endeavors, most notably, the hero’s journey. In this article we will delve into consciousness psychology, attempt to answer the question what is consciousness, look further into the archetypes and the collective unconscious and even touch upon cosmic consciousness and the evolution of consciousness itself. And what that even means!
So. Consciousness Explained… Well you see… Actually, it’s not that simple. Consciousness, from a Vedic or Buddhist or even New Age perspective, is that omnipotent, omnipresent, effervescent and yet intangible and inexplicable animating force of the universe that many religions refer to as God and what the Native Americans call Great Spirit. What does it mean to have cosmic consciousness? To have an experience of the aforementioned, or, if you’re really lucky, to have a full bodied, waking life, all the time experience of knowing that you are one with God. People experience this in many ways. Near death experiences, entheogens, tantric sex. It can be cultivated through years of mediation and yogic practices. And while it is possible to experience expanded states of consciousness, it is impossible to accurately describe them as they are largely subjective experiences. Mystic poets such as Rumi, are known for their ability to translate their experiences of the divine into articulate linguistic metaphors that are able to convey the essence of this transcended reality that we all have access to via the collective unconscious.Because we have access to that, the words of enlightened beings can evoke a sense of remembering in us.
How could the rays of God’s light fit into the heart? Yet when you search you will find it there, not from the point of view of containment such that it could be said that the light is in that place. You will find it through that place … – Rumi
This poem encapsulates the essence of cosmic consciousness, aka the Absolute, aka that which is stored in the collective unconscious. It also holds important keys to an embodied, empirical experience of the divine; it comes through the heart and is not directly comprehendible by the rational mind. Though we can create descriptions and metaphors with the mind, unless they are understood by the heart such descriptions can be easily misinterpreted. The nature of language is, after all, only ever able to lightly kiss an object or experience and can never really convey that object or experience entirely. The Taoists, and Lao Tzu to be specific, articulates this well: “The Tao that can be named is not the eternal Tao”.
Osho expands further on this:
Tao mystics never talk about God, reincarnation, heaven, hell. No, they don’t talk about these things. These are all creations of human mind: explanations for something which can never be explained, explanations for the mystery. In fact, all explanations are against God because explanation de-mystifies existence. Existence is a mystery, and one should accept it as a mystery and not pretend to have any explanation. No, explanation is not needed – only exclamation, a wondering heart, awakened, surprised, feeling the mystery of life each moment. Then, and only then, you know what truthis. And truth liberates.
So, there you have it. Want to know cosmic consciousness from the inside out? Ask the Divine Will (which, when aligned with, is also your will) to reveal itself to you. Listen to your intuition. Follow your heart. Be discerning. Do your research. Beware of spiritual materialism and false prophets out to get your dollar. And most importantly, meditate and ground your awareness into your body, heart and the natural world where our true resonance lies. Hindrances to connection include any trauma you’ve experienced in your life, which will need to be dealt with along the way to tapping into the collective unconscious (one could argue that cosmic consciousness is within the collective unconscious as most people aren’t conscious of it).
The evolution of consciousness, or conscious evolution as it can also be known, is simple. We, as the collective of humans inhabiting planet Earth, can now choose in which direction ourselves, our society and even other species will evolve. We shape our culture and our culture shapes us. By choosing where we direct our energy, awareness and resources, we can choose our collective future. For example, if we choose to support a broad range of academic, scientific, creative, humanitarian, ecological, spiritual, technological, medicinal and sociological and economic disciplines, we will create a culture that has a balance of those elements interplaying within it. Alternatively, if we chose to narrow our focus to favor just technology, psychology, military and economic interests above all else, we would create a fairly grey and perhaps oppressive and even Orwellian culture. Alternative, countercultural movements such as the hippie movement, focused most of their energy on spirituality and ecological matters, which have now become mainstream cultural foci. The 60s hippies created a collective thoughtmeme that highlighted the fact that the dominant paradigm was missing some of the core aspects of what it means to be human. One could say that they created a cultural remedy to aid a westernized culture that was devoid of connection, with a pool of collective unconscious energy of epic proportions.
In summary, our pool of collective thought shapes the world in which we live. It is best that we choose thoughts (which of course can lead to action) that are conducive to peaceful cooperation, ecological restoration, social justice and equality for all humans and non-human living beings.
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