Consciousness is the dynamic unfolding of a systematic awareness of ourselves in relation to others and the world, and how we put this together to make sense of it all. Yet, only by our conscious effort can the potential of consciousness be realized.
As Carl Jung might say, consciousness emerges from the depths; as contents of the unconscious gradually rise to our conscious level, a process begins that picks up steam as we have more and more universal experiences in life. This is because all human beings share a common biology and a common psychological inheritance. He says, “The collective unconscious contains the whole spiritual heritage of mankind’s evolution, born anew in the brain structure of every individual.” The iceberg-like capacity of consciousness causes our awareness to widen, deepen, and take on fuller meaning. Everything exists the way it is because of our awareness of it as we see it.
But our developing, evolving consciousness doesn’t happen on it’s own. All the world’s religions and spiritual philosophies stress the importance of cultivating the capacity of consciousness through a practice that aligns us with the universal order. Some kind of regular practice, coupled with a conscious and purposeful investigation of the nature of Reality itself, is what will help us fulfill this inherent potentiality.
Consciousness is a complex capacity consisting of the spiritual powers of imagination (conceiving things); thought (reflecting upon realities); comprehension (understanding realities); and memory (remembering what we imagine, think, and understand). These are our inner powers, while sight, hearing, smell, taste, and feeling are our five outer powers, the agents of perception. The mind is the intermediary between the outer and inner powers, connecting them both.
In real life, our sight sees a flower, conveys this perception to the imagination, forming an image of the flower and transmitting this to our thought, which reflects upon it, grasps the flower’s reality, and conveys this to comprehension, which delivers the image of it to our memory, which keeps it in its repository.
As we strive toward the perfections embedded within us to reach the spiritual capacity we are endowed with, how we utilize our power of choice and free will determines whether we develop the virtues of the soul—such as justice, equity, and goodness—and reach the heights of consciousness, or succumb to expressions of the material self—such as greed, tyranny, and injustice—and fall short of our capacity. Yet there always have been – and will be – perennial truths available to guide and direct us in this process of realizing our fullest potential of consciousness.