How to reach enlightenment, or being stress-free, or being filled with love, or whatever you want to call it, is the ability to see things as they truly are. It involves being pretty okay with everything in the present moment. It’s really no big deal, but it’s also a great way to spend your time.
There’s an Alan Watts video about worry you would all love, right here. He says, not only do we worry, but we worry about worrying! It’s a vicious circle, like when you hold two iPhones on speakerphone right next to each other, and try and talk into one. It will just repeat itself into a nasty sounding pattern call oscillation. Just like worrying about worrying, you’ll never find the truth that way.
This book is called “Transformation” by the psychologist Robert A. Johnson, who liked to study Jung (The word masculine is in the title, but Dr. Johnson explains it is not gender specific). It’s only 100 pages, $0.01 on amazon, and might just knock you on your ass. It all depends on where you are in your own life, which is what makes books in general so awesome. You can read something right now that does nothing for you, but rereading it at a different point in your life could change everything. Keep that in mind.
All this book does is retell three stories from masterpieces of literature that you may have come across in high school. Don Quixote, Hamlet, and Faust. You don’t even need any prior knowledge of them to enjoy this book. Dr. Johnson compares them to what he calls the three stages of consciousness.
THE THREE STAGES OF CONSCIOUSNESS, OR ENLIGHTENMENT
Consciousness is awareness. Everyone is conscious somehow, simply by the fact that we all have beliefs about how the world works. We absorb information, and react to it. Most of the time, many of our beliefs are not the truth of the matter, but just hearing that doesn’t mean you can change them. Welcome to the human condition!
If you feel miserable, and you want to make change to your consciousness, you need to put in some work. There is no set path, and you can just as easily slip back into misery if you let yourself.
Simple consciousness, the first level, doesn’t mean stupid. It means things are simple to you. It’s the place to be. There are some amazing people you may have come across in your life that just radiate confidence and excitement, right? It’s because they can! They can still access the child-like joy and wonder that is all around us.
Those in the state of simple consciousness can truly “follow their heart.” Their set of inner rules and beliefs about the world are so strong, that nothing in the outer world can tell them differently. Doesn’t that sound nice? It’s almost like “ignorance is bliss”, but if your ignorance isn’t harming anyone, what is wrong with constantly choosing to be your own hero?
Dr. Johnson mentions that simple consciousness is very hard to find in the modern, developed world. Since the minute you are born, and from every marketing message since, you are told you are not good enough. What a bummer.
Complex consciousness is what many people just eventually slip into. It is the most common disease of this world. Neurosis. Worry. Fear. The complex consciousness is the one that just can’t seem to stop thinking about thinking. You can’t really make up your mind about anything. It’s a brutally heavy quote, but, “you can’t decide to die, and you can’t decide to live.” Many of us go years and years in this state of mind.
The third level is enlightened consciousness. We don’t like the word enlightened, it always turns people off. It makes you feel like these “enlightened” people are better than you. In fact, the very opposite may be true! Someone who has been forced to reach this state has been so tortured, there was no other choice but to press forward, to keep seeking the peace that comes with truth.
MAKING PROGRESS TOGETHER
The whole point of the book is, you can’t go back to simple if you slipped into complex. That is the same as trying to regress into childhood. Trying to get back to simple consciousness is what we do when we lose ourselves in drugs, go skydiving, or camp in the woods. Everything becomes simple and pleasurable again.
Unfortunately, as we all know, those states don’t last. You have to graduate to enlightened. There’s so much more to it, but “enlightenment” comes with the ability to be okay with not being okay. And then, everything is suddenly okay. Man, we hope that makes sense.
The state of enlightenment can best be explained by a story in the opening pages.
“The simple person comes home and wonders what’s for dinner. The complex person comes home and ponders the imponderables of fate. And the enlightened person comes home and wonders what’s for dinner.”
You can’t think yourself out of misery. In order to reach this enlightened state, you have to go through the big journey everyone is talking about. You have to truly accept that you are not a perfect person, because our good side is just that; only one side of what makes up you.
This part of the book becomes very hard to understand, and with good reason. If you could read a book and get enlightened, that book would be pretty popular. However, you may be provided with some direction.
If you read this article down to here, and feel like you’re generally pretty okay with everything, that’s awesome! If you read this and you feel like you’re stuck in complex consciousness, this probably resonated with you. Grab the book! It might be exactly what you need.
All of us who have been stuck in a rut, not sure of what to do next in almost any situation, can generally relate to this feeling of worrying about worrying. Never give up. Keep trying to fix your challenges, while being okay with having challenges. If you are healthy and fed for the moment, you are blessed with the ability to work on these higher level problems. Be grateful for that. Keep your sense of hope. What will tomorrow bring?