Each moment of every day, I face a choice between experience lived consciously and experience lived unconsciously. I’m going to borrow two terms with pre-existing meanings and re-interpret them. To make a point, I’m going to call experience lived consciously “life” and experience lived unconsciously “drama.”
By “life” I mean acting with consciousness. The more the energies rise on the planet, the more time I spend experiencing consciously. And what I find is that wonderful things reside in consciousness. The principal wonderful thing is what Paramhansa Yogananda once called “the all-coveted bliss of God.” (1) Bliss resides in consciousness consciously experienced.
For me conscious life is the promised land, the Garden of Eden. Hindus have a word for it – sattwa. Sattwa means balance, purity, tranquillity. (2) A life lived consciously is a sattwic life. If I were to dimensionally place sattwa, I’d locate it at the higher range of the Fourth Dimension. But that’s just a guess. Life lived sattwically seems to be one long learning experience, one extended experience of evolution, pleasant in nature and satisfying in outcome.
By “drama” I mean acting from unconsciousness, acting out a script, and being satisfied only with what we can procure from outside ourselves. No wonderful things reside in drama, as far as I can see. We do get satiation, satisfaction of the senses, temporary cessation of desire, but that’s about it. We’re left “hungry ghosts,” always wanting more. Drama is like a walk in the wilderness, outside the Garden.
By acting out drama, we’re mostly passing time, mostly just surviving. We little suspect that bliss exists and certainly don’t consider that it resides in consciousness.
The Hindus have two words for life lived unconsciously – rajas and thamas. Rajas (3) means ceaseless activity aimed at being, doing and procuring; thamas (4) means sloth. The Buddha spoke of craving and aversion, both of which are features of rajas. Drama runs on craving and aversion. Our conversation is about what we like and don’t like and life lived from this state of mind is predominantly about getting the one and avoiding getting the other.
The irony of saying this is not lost on me because all my life, I would say, I’ve been the high priest of rajas, an over-achiever, constantly busy, constantly producing. And now what is arising within my field of awareness is a new appreciation for sattwa. And it’s naturally arising, rather than being forced.
I’m coming to treasure life more and value drama less. Of course, I have to choose every minute of every day which way I want to live. The triggering of a vasana (5) is usually the doorway to drama. Once triggered, I can leave the consciousness of life at any moment and settle for the unconsciousness of drama.
I can choose to experience the ups and downs of strong emotions, extreme courses of action, periods of exciting activity and enfeebling lethargy and everything in between. But I must say farewell to bliss, learning, evolving, enjoying the finer things of life. At best I’m marking time.
And having left the conscious life, it takes time to return to it. Many times I forget what I was doing, which is a pitfall of unconsciousness, and never return.
There’s no deep satisfaction in drama and bit by bit, step by step, I’m weaning myself from it. Yes, I forget. Yes, I throw caution to the winds. Yes, I choose the noodle stand across the way, with its steaming chunks of beef, instead of weak-meat soup (and bliss). (6) But day by day those choices are getting fewer and the time I spend in conscious living is increasing.
I find myself now craving conscious living, focusing on life lived consciously and sattwically. Somehow, somewhere, my balance shifted and I moved from wanting more drama to wanting more life. I’m barely up on dry land, (7) gasping for air in sattwic territory, but I’m immensely looking forward to what I’ll find here,
(1) Paramahansa Yogananda, The Second Coming of Christ. Dallas: Amrita Foundation, 1979, 1, 19.
(5) A vasana is an habitual reaction pattern based on some ancient trauma, which is triggered in the present by something that reminds us of the original, incompleted upset in the past.
(6) “The Visible Signs are in Your Heart,” at http://goldenageofgaia.com/spiritual-essays/emergence-2/the-visible-signs-are-in-your-heart/
(7) “The Storm Arises … The Storm Subsides,” at http://goldenageofgaia.com/2012/06/the-storm-arises-the-storm-subsides/