Living in the Present Moment
Anyone well acquainted with the spiritual principles of the eastern tradition will be well familiar with the concept of living in the present moment, as will many others who have no knowledge of eastern spiritual teachings. The idea of living in the present moment has become more and more prominent as New Age spirituality and the Self-Help movement have come into prominence within the last two decades. Living in the present moment is generally understood as having an awareness of where one is at one time and experiencing the reality of the moment through the five physical senses, but awareness is one half of living in the moment, the other half is the ability to observe oneself.
By marrying these two aspects of experience we can find peace ion the moment through outer awareness of the five senses but with self-observation we have the ability to see what it is within us that takes us away from this peace of the moment. The ideal way of being would be to experience the world and life in a constant state of awareness and this is what it means to reach full consciousness but since the subconscious egos dominate the mind there is a constant force pulling us away from the moment so we find ourself in a constant state of flux, switching between consciousness to subconsciousness, an eternal inner war to reach the peace within that our spiritual essence hungers for. Just as the consciousness has the ability to observe the outer world it also has the ability to observe the inner world. Our inner worlds are dominated by our thoughts and emotions which take us away from the inner peace of the spirit within. When we are clear of negative thoughts and emotions we can experience the consciousness and therefore derive tranquility from our outer world, no matter what the circumstances.
Higher and Lower Emotions and Thoughts
Although we as humans are generally dominated by the subconscious we can feel and think on a higher level where the mind and the heart acts as a vessel or a filter for the consciousness. These higher intellectual and emotional abilities are only available to those who have created the appropriate higher bodies that govern these faculties, which means that people who have done some of this spiritual work in previous existences can access these higher parts of themselves if they are in awareness. Many people have these bodies but it takes much practice and experience to know the difference between the lower and higher centres. The first level of these bodies are the solar bodies. The next level is the golden bodies and the last are the Light bodies. The more of this spiritual work one has completed previously the higher the quality and the more fine tuned these faculties. In the Christian Gnostic tradition the inner Christ provide the ability to experience the highest emotions and the inner Holy Spirit gives the ability to experience the higher intellectual faculties which grant understand of concepts beyond the ordinary mind. Many people have the first level, some the second, a few the third and in very rare cases some individuals have completed this work in the past and are now fallen, hence if they are in full awareness they can experience the full potential of complete enlightenment with practice and persistence.
Theoretically it is not until a person has completed this work fully that they are able to live in a state of pure enlightenment where these faculties are always present and become the state in which they experience life in every moment. This is when a person can have full consciousness on the astral plane but until they have raised the Kundalini completely, which consists of many levels of cosmic serpents risen gradually with the practice of Alchemical Transformation. For those people who have not built any of these bodies they will find it very difficult to think in awareness, where we have the ability to instantaneously comprehend something without having to analyse and think through the issue or to feel higher emotions such as true joy and genuine compassion. The presence of higher bodies is not reflected in a persons level of perceived intelligence as there are many factors that influence an individuals level of comprehension such as health, upbringing and sensitivities to their social, psychological and physical environment.
It also depends upon the make up of an individual and what aspect of life or learning they are drawn to which reflects their life purpose or the cosmic ray under which they are born. For instance someone may have the ability to become a scholar but chooses a different life path as intellectual learning is not a part of their spiritual path. Essentially, the question of whether or not an individual has built these bodies in the past is not important as without the drive to gain personal experience and reach inner peace they will not gain any benefits from these bodies and in fact they are more likely to find life more difficult as higher bodies are easily damaged and corrupted by negative energies. If you can imagine it is like driving a formula one car but without any training or experience of how to drive, or simply trying to allow the car to drive itself, you are sure to crash and burn which is commonly experienced among those with high levels of being.
Observing the Self
It is important to have a grasp on what level you may be as it helps in understanding yourself and your inner world but most importantly you need to observe your inner world in order to really know who you are and what you need to do in order to gain further spiritual experience. In awareness we find we can experience life in a peaceful harmonious state but anyone who has tried to do this will find they are constantly taken away from these moments by the subconscious. To understand the subconscious we need to understand what the ego consists of. Most people understand ego to be one singular part within that wishes to dominate others or put themselves above other but the subconscious is more like a complex web of psychological states that interact with one another and fight amongst themselves for influence of a person.
The ego also consist of many layers so it is more fitting for our intellectual understanding to look upon them as separate entities each with its own agenda and desires. The ego can be broken up into seven major roots or origins, these being Lust, Pride, Anger, Envy, Greed/Covetousness, Sloth and Gluttony also know in Christianity as the seven deadly sins, capital vices or cardinal sins. The ego which consists of these is the root of all selfishness and someone who feeds these seven things endlessly will be a self-centered individual who will never be satiated with what they have as they have become a slave to their desires and are entrapped within the animal way of being whose primary concern is its own survival and the dominance of its influence within a species.
This is natural for animals without an intellect as they are in harmony with nature and these things are the tools of their survival but for humans these are the things that keep people bound to the Wheel of Samsara and the eternal return to suffering that is experienced from lifetime to lifetime. This is not to say that people only suffer in life as most people experience joy and happiness but rather this implies that these joys are dependent upon external circumstance and these experiences of happiness are only brought through the clutching at something outside of ourselves. To put it simply – if we were born in a state of happiness we would not feel the desire to get things or do things to make us happy, so therefore we must be born in a state of inner suffering or rather a state of consistent spiritual unease and restlessness.
To observe the things within us we need to know where they occur. All of them occur within the emotional centers or the region of the chest and solar plexus and these I have found are the easiest to observe as they are obvious. We know when we are feeling angry and we know when we are feeling offended when our pride is hurt or when we are feeling jealous of another person. The important thing is to acknowledge when these come up within us to try to understand our reactions to the outside world. Many of these egos work in tandem where they feed into one another.
For instance you may feel jealous of someone where underneath lies a sense of personal pride along with fear and then when this jealousy is provoked it may manifest with anger. This is why observing the self is so useful for the inner work as if we do not understand why we react in a certain way in a certain situation then we cannot remove these inner obstacles and they will continue to dominate our psyche robbing us of spiritual experience and inner peace. Self observation is not any easy task as we are naturally dominated by the subconscious so we need to first become experienced in living in the moment through the five sense in order to strengthen the consciousness and give it the ability the perceive these egos from an objective view point.
It is essentially a form of self-analysis. You are trying to know yourself by becoming your own subject of study. When someone begins this work what happens is these egos are exposed in life so that we can see them and understand more about the darker side of us. This is why on the surface someone trying to do this work may not appear “normal” or may be seem to be in a state of inner conflict as they literally are in a state of war within themselves – a war between their consciousness and their egos. Many people make the mistake of believe that a spiritual person is a person who is in a constant state of bliss or are ecstatic all of the time but this is not the case. In order to reach the top of the mountain we have to climb through the clouds, enduring storms, setbacks, dead ends and darkness. The road to heaven is littered with many inner dangers, it is not something given to us on a gold platter, we have to earn it, endure the pain and difficulties and persist in trying no matter how many mistakes me make and setbacks we encounter. As long as someone continues to return to this work they are living in line with their divine purpose even though to the outside world this may not seem to be the case.
How to Self Observe
When in awareness we should be conscious of what comes in to takes us away. More often than not the mind is what takes us away as the egos are constantly interrupting the peaceful mind. We are not likely to see what drives the mind as it usually drives itself and often we justify our thoughts that come from egos as this is how we have lived our lives day in day out. From small judgements of other people to judgements of ourselves, to desires to possess certain things or experience certain things we are dominated by the mind and the driving force of the subconscious. If we can see what is underneath these thought we can remove them and return to a peaceful state. To give an example, when I observe my mind when it has thoughts of judgement of others within it I find I also have a sense of pride or fear within my emotional areas. This is one example of how the subconscious centers work with one another. So we can have thoughts of jealousy where we wish we had something another has and at the same time have feelings of anger for feeling that things are unfair and we should have what we want also.
The starting point for observation is the mind and the emotional center. From there we can see how our sexual center comes into play with these interactions as well as our physical body and it’s reactions to the outside world. For instance, we could be feeling very angry, having thoughts of pride where we are putting ourselves above people and have tension in our bodies, located in a certain area. All these things are to be observed and analyzed so that we can understand ourselves better in order to gradually remove them. It’s important to not become to intellectual about this where we make self observation an intellectual study and decide what is and what isn’t an ego state.
We do not want to create constructions of the subconscious and try to understand it through the mind although this intellectual understanding can be helpful in giving us insight we should rather see the ego and let it go without holding onto it and thinking about it. Thinking about it is not observing but we can set aside time to reflect upon it using our higher intellectual centers if we have them available to us. Self observation is a very natural process once we learn to do it from moment to moment. You will find once you have become used to this way of being you will start to observe yourself during your dreams and when larger more powerful drives come up you will immediately recognize them as you have begun to separate the conscious from the subconscious and the egos can be seen as something outside of ourselves as opposed something that is part of us. They are a part of us but they are not a part of who we truly are – they are the animal within that keeps the consciousness trapped and disabled.
Our personality is neither a part of our consciousness nor a part of the subconscious but is the filter through which these two sides are expressed. When someone becomes to intellectual about what ego is and isn’t what can often happen is that people begin to mistake their personality for the ego and in a way push the personality away. Our personality is what makes us individual and the esoteric work is an individual study so the manner in which it is experienced is different for each person although they follow the same general principles and experiences they are still very individual. Being in awareness while observing the self does not make you void of personality where you walk around like a lifeless zombie void of animation.
There are many ideas about what it means to be in awareness and what someone should look like or what they should be doing when they are attempting this way of living but all these are constructions of the mind. The important thing is to now complicate this practice and to understand that it is natural and flowing, not rigid and structured. For instance, we may decide that when someone crosses their arms that they are communicating a type of pride or unease, or when someone has their hands in their pockets that they must be feeling a sense of insecurity but this is not the case. It may well be true but it is not a hard and fast rule. You can cross your arms in awareness going with the flow of the consciousness or you can be crossing your arms in a state of ego, just as you can make a joke in awareness or make a joke out of ego.
The body and the personality are simply the vehicles for either the consciousness or the ego. What is important is to be as consistent as you can with awareness and observe yourself whenever you remember. A trap I have found myself falling into is feeling that when awareness has been very difficult and the egos are having a field day with me internally I give up and think to myself the day is wasted so why continue trying today as tomorrow I can start again but I have found on these days the greatest opportunities exist to experience the astral plane at night. We will all have good and bad days, pleasant and unpleasant times and the spiritual work can be very enjoyable during the pleasant times but it is in the unpleasant times that the door is open to learning.
Many egos will overwhelm you and you will live through them in your daily actions but the point is not to never live through egos but to rather see them and understand them so that they can be removed. When we do this we gain knowledge of the ego and are better prepared to face them the next time a similar situation occurs and the same ego arises. This is living and learning in an esoteric way. The evaluation of how an individual is going spiritually is not as cut and dry as pass or fail but is rather a grading system where all our circumstances and what lies within are assessed and we are graded accordingly. Therefor one person who does not posses a certain ego that is very strong may be put in the same testing situation as another person who has this very strong ego and may outwardly appear to do better than the other but the person with the stronger ego may be graded higher as they have more to overcome, so as I stated before it is all very individualistic as to how one goes with the esoteric work. Generally the more someone has to overcome the more they have to potentially gain as it is from the darkness that the light is extracted and it is only through our inner suffering that we can learn to understand the sufferings of other people.
The Interweaving of the Subconscious
We are all connected as we are all made up of the same substance. This is why we can have intuitions about people or pick up on their thoughts about us and feed from one another emotions. Our environment is an interconnected web of physic information passing from one person to another and so on. I’m sure most people have experienced being affected by their emotional environment, whether that be a work environment where an argument is taking place and the mood in the room is tense, a health setting full of sick and suffering people where the mood is heavy or a dark nightclub with people seeking pleasure and the mood is raunchy or lustful. This is how we are affected by the interconnected web of the subconscious. This also occurs in day-to-day interactions between individuals.
When one person acts with anger it can be like the same emotional note is struck within the other person and this exchange can continue to flow back and forth from one to another. These situations are the most difficult for the individual attempting this work as it requires a yielding and an overcoming of our desire to react with an equal and opposing force. What is important in these moments is to bring yourself back to your immediate surroundings and try to act through the consciousness. This doesn’t mean being nice when someone is being mean or allowing others to disrespect you but rather to act with the intelligence of the being instead of the reacting with the instinctual animal within. We are not looking for perfection in our every action but rather we are trying to understand how we work as a human being. In a way we are like a machine with many buttons. Someone comes along and pushes a button and we react according to the program. If we can understand how the program works then we can rewire ourselves and remove the effect of these buttons so that there is no longer anything to push and trigger within. This is what it means to reach full enlightenment.
Mapping the subconscious to understand the interconnectedness of the ego states
I have found mapping out the different ego states and how the are connected to one another can help to understand what is driving us within. It is also very good for seeing what we have yet to understand. For instance we can have an intuition that Pride and Anger are connected somehow but not quite understand exactly how. By mapping it out we can clearly see what we do know about ourselves and what we are still yet to learn. Here is an example of one I did last year in September –
1. Be as consistent as you can not judging yourself because of your failure but rather learning from them
2. Don’t be afraid of acting through an ego – fear is an ego in itself and if we push the ego away we can never learn from it
3. Remember that peace is available in the present moment – make awareness you refuge from the ego drives within and return to it as much as you can