Sunday, August 19, 2018
The perennial psychology distinguishes between the states of human consciousness as asleep and awake. Most human beings spend most of their lives with their consciousness asleep. Steve Taylor describes the sleep state of consciousness in his book, The Leap, as having four categories of signs and symptoms: affective, perceptual, conceptual and behavioral. We will be taking these categories of signs and symptoms of a sleeping consciousness one at a time. In this article we will describe the signs and symptoms of the affective category. These signs and symptoms of the affective category are not in any particular order.
First, there is a feeling of separation and disconnection from the ground of our being, from a holistic appreciation of existence itself. The biggest problem according to social psychologists in our current times in spite of social media is loneliness. There is a sense of fragmentation. Of things not filling together and being connected in a harmonious ways. The biggest fear we all experience, manifested in a multitude of ways, is abandonment and neglect. Our biggest fear is being unloved. Our anxiety and level of alarm is always at at a low level. It is the back ground noise of our lives.
Second, there is what Taylor calls "thought chatter," the buddhists call "monkey mind," and the psychologists call "rumination." These constant thoughts keep us awake at night and even if we fall asleep exhausted, we wake up in the middle of the night, when the worries take us over again and prevent us from going back to sleep. We deal with this thought chatter by keeping busy and distracting ourselves with sensory excitement whether it is shopping, sports, sex, gambling, workaholism, religion, food, substances, and what we used to call "the hustle."
Third, there is what Taylor calls "abstraction" which he describes as "Rather than live in the world, we live in our minds." or what we might call in our internet age "virtual reality." Our own reality is depressing, boring, upsetting, and so we create and construct virtual realities to live and operate in. This is much more easily done in our internet age with compulsive use of social media and "surfing the web" in a mindless fashion to entertain ourselves or, at least, dull the pain.
Fourth, there is anxiety and discontent. The biggest psychiatric problem in the United States are anxiety disorders and depression for which millions of dollars of medications are prescribed per year. Taylor writes, "In our sleep state there's a sense of fear. Our separateness creates a sense of vulnerability and insecurity, of being threatened by the world and other people." Our constant use of media, entertainment, and advertising magnifies our sense of vulnerability and insecurity. Mother Teresa said, “The greatest disease in the West today is not TB or leprosy; it is being unwanted, unloved, and uncared for. We can cure physical diseases with medicine, but the only cure for loneliness, despair, and hopelessness is love. There are many in the world who are dying for a piece of bread but there are many more dying for a little love. The poverty in the West is a different kind of poverty -- it is not only a poverty of loneliness but also of spirituality. There's a hunger for love, as there is a hunger for God.”
Mother Teresa's comment that the U.S. is materially very rich, but spiritually very poor might lead one to the conclusion that most Americans are asleep when it comes to spiritual consciousness.