Technology is transforming the landscape inside and out. It’s hard to keep up. By the time I catch on to A, it’s morphed into B. What I thought impossible happens. There is another subtler transformation underway, not the hustle and bustle kind. It’s calling for us to stretch further and reach deeper for greater awareness of Self, that will give us a better understanding of others.
The rising of consciousness, the next evolutionary step, moves us away from wars and hate towards awareness and compassion. There are no ten-step programs or best-selling books to teach us what we already know. It’s work we do on ourselves. While I don’t know any fully enlightened beings, I know people working to be a better version of themselves. I, too, seek to evolve into a better edition of Edith.
Attempting to pinpoint in words qualities of self-awareness is thorny business. It’s like trying to describe snowflakes on your tongue or a purple sunrise to someone who’s lived their whole life in darkness. I think of people engaged in self-reflection instead of pointing out others’ faults as people of light. There is kindness about them. Kids, dogs, and cats warm up to them quickly. Of course, to recognize the light in others, we must have some of our own, ethos of goodness and compassion.
When we give into dread and unease, we leave the light and paddle into darkness. Amanda Gorman recited her poem at the inauguration of Joe Biden said it beautifully, “there is always light, if only we’re brave enough to see, if only we’re brave enough to be it.”
The difference between a conscious and unconscious being is the focus of awareness. Consciousness is always the same, like the light from the sun is the same. It’s not varying in degrees or qualities. It’s within all of us aware of ourselves—our very essence. Being centered and self-centered are polar opposites. Our nature, the kernel of our being, is our consciousness or the god within. Operating from this center, not taking our thoughts too seriously, we are at our best.
Practicing the scales on the piano is a one-person show where we increase or decrease the metronome’s speed, getting better and better, maintaining the harmony at different beats. There are good days of synchronicity and dire days of many misses. Evolving the human soul is the same. Reflecting on my days, the amount of light I added to the world comes in different watts. Knowing brighter bulbs exist, I endeavor to do better or minimally not make the same mistakes again.
Consciousness can focus on the internal, the external, or both. I can’t live with myself. The I and me demonstrates the duality. Instead of being aware of your thoughts, you become aware that you’re aware of your thoughts. When the film on the movie screen ends, you are disoriented. Your immersion in the story was complete. You became one with the film, and the external world faded away. Contemplating the nature of Self is mediation’s highest state, no duality. When we can focus or are rooted in our center, as we did in the movie, the world ceases to be a problem. That is spirituality, the nature of Self. That’s who we are. Humans’ evolution depends on our awareness of Self, recognizing the answer to a life and a planet worth living on resides in the center of our being.
All of us are somewhere on the continuum from self-centered to centered. Traits for “human evolving in progress” or “attributes of rising consciousness” are many, here are a few:
—Openness and letting go. Open to new ways of thinking and feeling. Seeing with a beginner’s mind, free of assumptions. No longer fearing death. Connection with everything in the universe. Emotions of appreciation and gratitude.
— Alone is home. It’s said: Stillness is the language God speaks. Connection with higher power happens when we let go. It’s the space where we tame restlessness. Aware of the cloud-like thoughts arriving and departing without the need to interfere. After a while, all that remains is the blue emptiness we come from and return to. Feeling one with everyone and nature.
—Discovering how the mind works. To be honest with ourselves. Not allowing the ego to hijack the mind with unwanted thoughts. Self-aware people know their minds’ inner-workings, how it acts and reacts, its strengths and weaknesses. They ask themselves hard questions. Why do I lack self-discipline? or Why am I so quick to anger? They confront the ugliness of their judgmental attitudes and self-righteousness. Yesteryears were about changing the world. Today is about changing ourselves.
— Holding inclusive values. Appreciating diversity, equality, community, and sustainability. Knowing values gives direction. Everything is seen through the lens of values. Even when it’s hard to do, a moral compass guides, “This is the right thing to do.”
— Spiritual Awakening. Recognizing that earthly experience is a part of our evolution. Knowing that it’s the ego that derails us, remaining steadfast, aiming to live life with compassion and unconditional love.
External changes continue, unrelenting and unyielding. How good or bad the changes depend on the state-of-mind of our species. Humanity’s inner purpose is to awaken for the sake of survival. Spiritual growth is the inner working we do on ourselves for all of humanity. The butterfly effect is the idea that one outwardly insignificant event results in something of significant consequence. A butterfly flaps its wings in India. That tiny change in air pressure could eventually cause a tornado in Kansas. Humans’ inner development impacts an elaborate system in small increments. Humanity’s spiritual growth is an emerging intelligence of choosing love over hate and knowing in our hearts that the fate of one is the fate of all. “To strive to be more conscious,” Jack Ricchiuto writes in his book, Conscious Becoming, “is the highest intention to which we can aspire and inspire.”