Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Shadow, Anxiety... and a Fourth State of Consciousness?

As I continue to absorb the ideas from Eckhart Tolle's, “The Power of Now” (I’ve been reading this book for over three months now, because it’s not the type of book that you can read in one sitting) I’m beginning to believe that there is some sort of fourth plane of consciousness. I want to bring up Freud when he claimed that there are three classic planes of consciousness– the unconscious, subconscious and conscious (id, ego and super ego, if my memory serves me correctly), and since more or less we have an idea of what these mean, I won't go into detail in describing them. Thought I haven’t finished Tolle's book, it inspired me to hypothesise a fourth plane to describe the creative potential outside the three classic planes, one that that is borne from both peace and adversity, depending on how it was processed in the mind.

I feel this fourth plane whenever I am in the midst of an artistic breakthrough or insight. I feel this when I imagine myself outside of myself and part of a greater energy or greater realm beyond where standards, judgment, fear and anxiety exist. I’m writing this not to spark an intellectual discussion or engage in the debate of proper terms and labels, but to describe what I feel when I access this so-called fourth plane. Maybe it’s still the subconscious. Maybe it’s simply an altered form of consciousness. Giving it this label makes it easier to imagine or grasp, as with everything else in the world that is easier understood by labelling them (sad fact). 

Whenever I need a boost of confidence I access this fourth plane. I think this is the plane where both the imagined and the real become murky, and where creative genius lies. Kind of like existing in the dreamlike state presented in Murakami’s novels where everything imagined is real and everything real is but imagined, depending on how the term “real” is defined.

I would say the fourth plane is outside the confines of a daydream because daydreams have no bearings on reality. There is no transformation that happens, for it’s a means to escape from rather than go back to reality. In an altered reality, however, the feelings of the daydream become the reality. I think this is what Viktor Frankl was describing in his famous book, “Man’s Search for Meaning”, where he argued that no circumstance is greater than the power of the mind to alter reality because the meaning we attach to reality is always dependent on the person. The experience of suffering can be heroic or catastrophic for someone, depending on how it is defined and interpreted by the person experiencing it. He argues that the true dignity of man lies in having a mind that can alter reality as we know it. Maybe this could bring meaning to the saying, "there is a fine line between genius and psychotic", because both operate on altered realities. And that line is defined by the standards set by the world. The distinction between the psychologically impaired and the genius lies in how self-aware the person is in accessing this altered reality, and being able to go back and fourth the four planes without getting lost or stuck in them. 

There is no room for punishment in the fourth plane of consciousness. Here, the orientation is to always make decisions based on what will bring you peace, a peace that goes beyond blindly following the strict doctrines of religion or any powerful social construct. I’m not saying religion or social constructs are bad or that they block access to this fourth plane. I’m just saying that in the fourth plane, man learns how to be gentle with himself and begins to accept an image of a gentle God rather than a strict one, if he believe’s in God or a higher power at all. A big cause of anxiety is how we deal with our shadow – the dark side of our personality, as introduced to us by Jung. Because we are too focused on defeating it, its presence as an enemy becomes stronger and so does the inevitable cycle of guilt and shame associated when we lose to our shadow and give in to darkness or temptation. In the fourth plane of consciousness, there is no need to defeat one’s shadow or one’s dark side. The way to peace is not to defeat the shadow but to embrace it and coexist with it. It doesn’t become a battle for power or victory anymore, because that will cause anxiety. It becomes, rather, a state of being, where there is no winning or losing but a peaceful coexistence between the light and the shadow of a person.

Embracing one’s shadow and accepting it as a unique part of one’s personality is something introduced to me by a mentor early this year. At the time, I was not spiritually mature enough to understand the nugget of wisdom she was entrusting me. I continued to live in limbo – the place where thought and action intersected, the breeding ground of anxiety. There were times I deliberately exposed myself to environments that called out both the shadow and the light of my personality. To see who would triumph. To see what label I’ll give myself based on my actions. To see what label society would prescribe to me. It became a battle of choosing good or evil rather than choosing peace. Peace exists when there is balance between light and shadow. When there is no internal debate to choose one or another, only that peace is the compass in every decision or thought we create. More often than not, choosing peace is skewed towards choosing the good. You know that it was peace that guided you to make the decision when whatever you choose won't feel like you gave something else up to make it. Whatever is decided is focused on being gentle on oneself before, during and after the decision is made. 

Through deliberate experimentation, I am beginning support the idea that change in a person is simply a person getting to know himself better. New environments bring out dormant characteristics someone has always had. It may look like  one has changed, but really these changes are just external manifestations of one’s fluid and flexible personality. It’s the shadow revealing itself. Or the light. And anxiety lies in overthinking about the good and the bad, in the fear of being labeled as this or that upon action. Anxiety lies in inaction, not in the act of making the decision, but in the thinking through involved in making decisions and going over the consequences of having done them, time and time again. Anxiety lies in hindsight, where thinking about the past and future overwhelm the present. 

These are all just ideas I’ve been toying with in my quest to understand peace, anxiety, fear and the creative potential of man to transform anything “negative” into something “positive”. Reality is what you make of it, and we are all equipped with a mind that can create. We can all access this peaceful state, this altered reality. But sometimes, we forget to celebrate internal victories that are equally as astounding as conventional pillars of success such as a having a stellar career or finding love.

There is peace when man can stand his ground regardless of a positive or negative event thrown in his way by the mysterious universe. When light and shadow coexist peacefully, our existence becomes richer and our creative potential, limitless.

Altered reality?

No comments:

Post a Comment