Consciousness is the act of awakening to the present moment, being fully alive, aware and observant of any automated ways of being.
At this time in the evolution of humanity, we are standing at the edge of a precipice, with the potential for shocks that can push us into a new world order. Many of the systems we are familiar with are shifting and the ground we stand on is becoming more transitional. Life conditions (time, place, problems and circumstances) are developing and changing at a rapid pace.
In order for us to embrace the present moment with the agility necessary to ride the changes, we need to develop the observing self. It is essential to develop practices for self observation. If we are more awake we have access to higher or greater states of presence and these higher states will assist us to meet life conditions not in traditional/habitual ways. To the extent that we are on automatic pilot, we will be unable to access our own internal resources/essence.
There are four states of presence, according to G.I. Gurdjieff, and each state is classified by an individual’s relative degree of consciousness. The first state of presence (or no presence) is SLEEP…it is a passive state in which we do nothing except regenerate energy. We spend our time in a “dream/imaginary” state, passively engaging in life…we are not the master of our journey, we are only reacting to what comes our way.
The second state of presence is the WAKING state. Most of us believe that we are active and awake in this state, and yet we are truly passive and simply moving through life on automatic pilot. We have not developed a “true” connection to our essence, instead we move through life having been socialized and educated to be what we are “supposed” to be, rather who we truly are, essence. This waking state is the false self and in this state we are heavily identified with form and our imagination. We live in the past and the future, finding it difficult to be in the present moment. Jean Vaysse says that “at the very best, this is a state of relative consciousness.”
The third state of presence, SUBJECTIVE CONSCIOUSNESS, is a state in which we are self-aware, conscious of our “being”. Presence of this nature is developed only through extreme efforts of self observation, and it requires dedication to a practice that assists in keeping us awake. We fool ourselves into believing that we are in this state most of the time, and actually, we have only glimpses of this aspect of our being nature. Our social programming, education and desire for constancy cause us to string together moments of time that cause us to be deluded into believing that we are aware. In fact, few of us have a solid, permanent experience of “I” (essence); we allow our body, mind and emotions to habitually lead us.
OBJECTIVE CONSCIOUSNESS, the fourth state of presence, is the real or objective reality. This state of presence is even harder to reach because we are separated from it by our dreams, senses and subjective states of consciousness. Again, this level of presence is attained by developing a practice that leads us to self-consciousness/awareness. It is essential that we face the “opponent” that resides inside of us, that is us. We must turn our focus inside and develop a realization that we create our reality. It is necessary for each one of us to take full responsibility for our own awakening.
For us to be a fully developed individual we must develop a dedication to a practice, dedication to a group and dedication to a teacher. Jean Vaysse suggests the best way (the fourth way):
“Submit to a higher level of consciousness.
Work toward being oneself through self-remembering and efforts of self-awareness.
Accepting to sacrifice one’s ordinary life to the extent necessary for freeing oneself
from it and trying to have it serve the work on oneself.”
Dr. Deborah Ooten is the founder and director of the Conscious Living Center.