Sunday, September 14, 2014

Being Conscious

The lower level, “un-conscious” mind is always dualistic, which is judgmental and oppositional. It always divides the field of the moment and takes sides. Whatever is unfamiliar, or whatever it does not already understand or agree with, is judged as totally wrong. In contemplative practice, you are refusing to take sides. Contemplation goes beyond words (which naturally differentiate this from that) to experience (which has the potential to unify seeming contradictions). This requires a higher level of consciousness that we are calling non-dual consciousness.
Your consciousness is not the same as your brain. The early Alexandrian Fathers knew this. They called consciousness “nous,” which is the Greek word for a combination of Spirit and God and mind. It is a participative knowing, as if you are actually inside of a larger mystery.
The very word “consciousness” is from the Latin con scire, which means “to know with. When you really plug into consciousness, maybe it feels like it’s coming through your brain, but it actually comes through a whole-heartedsurrender to the moment—a surrender that encompasses everything and eliminates nothing. We religious people would call that everything “God.” When you’re truly conscious, you have the feeling that you’ve been connected to something much bigger than yourself—and you are right. It is no longer just about “you”!
Emerson called non-dual consciousness the over-soul. Thomas Aquinas called it connatural intelligence. It is true to my nature, but true to a larger nature at the same time. John Duns Scotus called it intuitive cognition and distinguished it from rational cognition. The great thinkers took for granted that we had access to a different and larger mind. They recognized that a flow is already happening and that we can plug into it. The most traditional word for that was just “prayer.”
You cannot know God with your “un-conscious” mind. That’s why all teachers of contemplation are teaching you to let go of your mind so you can go to that deeper mind which we would call the “Mind of Christ” (1 Cor. 2:16). Then it’s really God in you knowing and loving God, which with ordinary consciousness you do not know how to do.

Richard Rohr