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Collective Consciousness and Intention

How often do we hear various statements such as, "We are all one"? Whenever this came up, Bob asserted that there is a fallacy in this. So Lama Lena's teachings here in Mount Shasta during the first weekend of 2012 helped to bring this into focus: We are not "all one." We are all interconnected and interrelated. Every thought and action ripples out, affects, and forms karmic results. It only takes a moment to consider how our helping someone else in any way affects their immediate and future existence. And it only takes another moment to recognize the more unseen, yet potent, results in a karmic sense.


This page last updated December 22, 2015

If you have returned to this essay from a previous visit, you will appreciate the 2014 update at the conclusion. Also, the February 14, 2015 posting at our Insight Commentaries page may be of interest.

The Consciousness Coin is not just two-sided

Are we millions of physical expressions of The All? Are we, in actuality, one being – contrary to the apparency of differences? More and more frequently, references can be found that explore this interconnectedness and attest to it.

The numbers of people waking up to this can be compared to drops of water in a swelling wave, or to miniscule springtime sprouts rising up to become an expanse of meadow. Whereas a short time ago a minority called “flower children” and then “new-agers” perceived our interconnectedness, an enormous cross section of earth’s people now recognize this about our true nature.

How, then, can we be enemies? How can we mistreat one another, or even consider for a moment bringing harm to one person, much less to a nation, an entire people, or to our planet home? For in so inflicting harm, we do so to our self, to The All.

With this understanding comes profound comprehension of the Buddhist bodhisattva vow – “I vow to attain full enlightenment for the sake of all sentient beings.” This brings the now-trite-sounding phrase “we’re all in this together” up a few octaves: “We’re present in our natural state of collective consciousness.” Fundamentally there are no differences between us.

Some would take issue with this while observing factions in the current global drama taking on more and more un-humanitarian behavior. Each of us may be called upon at some time to acknowledge our inseparableness from someone who, to all appearances, is alien to us – deranged, angry, behaving harmfully, apparently misguided. Within the moment of clear seeing it is possible to express an attitude against harmful action and simultaneously recognize that we share in the universal continuum with this individual (or group). Our consciousness can become freed from previous habits of perception of “I” and “other” to relax into the overreaching reality that “they” and “we” commonly hope for happiness and release from suffering.

Operating in higher and lower frequencies

A popular “new age” concept is that we create our own reality. Many who are bridging spirituality with science now bring into focus practices of the ancients, who were less programmed by such a left-brained world and so who were adepts at accessing parallel, or alternative, realities. This may explain why we have end-time prophecies that were expressed through the only language, with the only vision they could utilize, that of their ancient eras. Catastrophic prophecies are not all that come down to us, however; there were also prophecies of quite different outcomes for us, including a time of harmony and peace. What is so exciting, then, is our awakening to the opportunity, through our collective consciousness, for participating in events through choosing these harmonious possibilities from those available.

The adepts of ancient traditions tell us that this physical realm is an illusion. Individual identity, i.e. personality, ego, etc., is no more solid or real than one of last night’s dreams. When sleepers realize they are having a dream, they find it can be changed at will like directing a movie, a practice called “lucid dreaming”. Dreams in the usual sleep state occur on a level or dimension of higher frequency of vibrational energy than the “apparent” physical/material realm where supposed waking life occurs, making events quickly plastic, changeable.

On the lower, slower frequency of “waking” experience it takes longer, and requires a group effort, to effect major changes; however, the 100th monkey phenomenon unfolds when a large-enough segment of the apparent population affirms a desired event or change. It appears to manifest for all the monkeys involved – ergo, the value and importance of group prayer or intention, done with the feeling or assurance that the desired change has already occurred.*

Opinions to consider: Non-conceptualization ~ experiencing into wisdom

Toward this eventuality, many may find an encouraging avenue through “The Lost Mode of Prayer” at Gregg Braden’s web site, http://www.greggbraden.net.

Another web site that offers a scientific angle to the consideration of collective consciousness is the site for the Global Consciousness Project at http://noosphere.princeton.edu/. It’s worth investigating what the 50 random event generators reflected just before and throughout the next couple of days surrounding September 11, 2001. The director, Roger Nelson, is conservative in his language. Even with such a dramatic example, it’s clear – at least in the public sense – that these are scientists shaking their heads and coming to no hasty conclusions. What is especially attention-getting, for them and for us, is that the signals indicate collective shock and alarm just before the happenings. As Mr. Nelson says, “We confront a still deeper mystery.” Past, present, and future are occurring in the eternal now, according to the ancients. This could explain the signals received before the event registered on the physical plane, and many other occurrences of precognition.

Investigating the nature of consciousness from a different aspect, there is a set of three small books with messages from unidentified sources with the titles Handbook for the New Paradigm, Embracing the Rainbow, and Becoming. It is clearly stated in the beginning of each that these may be freely quoted as long as the text remains unchanged. Here, then, are offered small portions for consideration:

“All that is manifest in all forms is thought into being from pure potentiality and is interactive within itself; this is a natural process. In its simplest explanation, each human is a thought that thinks and therefore is self-aware. As above, so it is below. The entire galaxy, and more, is thought that thinks and is self-aware.” (Embracing the Rainbow, p. 12)“It is appropriate to note here again that there is just ‘one human race’ regardless of its diversity of appearance. All experience the ‘life force’ identically. Only the outside appearances are different. These differences have been exploited along with cultural and religious variations to promote separation. All bodily, cultural and religious differences are responsibilities to learn of human unity within diversity. There is no advancement to higher dimensions until that truth is experienced into wisdom.” (Becoming, p. 174. [These books can be obtained by calling Global Insights at 800-729-4131.])

There is an inspiring approach available to assist us in developing insight about our true nature in the work of Tulku Urgyen Rinpoche who left his body on February 15, 1996. What follows are samples from Volume II of his collected talks during the last two years of his life, As It Is (Rangjung Yeshe Publications, Kathmandu, Nepal. [Note that at their web site, http://www.rangjung.com we are told “The name Rangjung Yeshe means self-existing wakefulness, the natural wisdom that is the spiritual potential innate in everyone”]). This excerpt samples some of the finest of teachings which bring the essence of ancient wisdom into modern focus:

“To cling to a particular concept is like a bird that flaps its wings and tries to fly but cannot, because it’s bound by a chain. The training in the true view is not a training in holding concepts, even the subtle types. It is a matter of recognizing what already is, by itself. Our nature of mind is naturally empty and cognizant; it is not of our making. There is no need to hold a concept about it. In other words, when you remember to recognize, you see immediately that there is no thing to see. That’s it. At other times one has forgotten, and it is lost.” (As It Is, Volume II, p. 146.)

“In the meantime, you will be distracted when you go about your daily affairs – there is no way around this. Dharmakaya is in ourselves, but since we have not stabilized the recognition of it, we get caught up in thoughts. Yet the essence of thoughts, when acknowledged, is dharmakaya. A thought is simply the extroverted expression of knowing, of awareness. In the moment of recognizing the nature of what thinks, there is no way for this expression, the thought, to remain. Your naked essence is then an actuality. In this experience, there is no way for a thought to remain, just as a drop of water cannot remain in mid-air. Once you are familiar with this way of dealing with a thought, you do not need to suppress thinking. You do not need to correct it. You do not need any hope of gaining or fear of losing the awakened state. That is why it is said that ‘the confidence of the view is free of hope and fear’. You do not have to hope for freedom or fear having thoughts, because in the moment of seeing the essence, the thought has dissolved. Do you understand this? Is it clear?

“Don’t ever expect that anything spectacular will be experienced. Honestly, there is nothing more amazing than this recognition of rigpa in which no thought can remain. The five poisons and habitual tendencies lose their power to rigpa. If we do not know this, we become caught up in thought. Most sentient beings do not know how to recognize; they are carried away by thoughts. In the moment you remind yourself to recognize mind nature, you have already seen the essence. ‘Seeing no thing is the sublime sight.’ This is so close that it is hard to believe. It is not an act of imagining. It’s because it’s so easy that it is hard to trust in! There is not even as much as a hair-tip to cultivate by meditating. But we need to grow used to it; we need to grow used to recognizing this nature of empty cognizance.

“Train like this for the rest of your life, and you will have no fear of death. A true yogi is someone who is happy when sick and delighted when dying. Why would you be happy to fall sick? Because when you die, you become enlightened. People usually don’t die without falling sick first, and without dying, this material body will not pass. Through this practice, at the time of death original wakefulness free of dualistic mind will be like a garuda soaring free. Your mind, as original wakefulness, merges with dharmakaya. You arrive at the royal throne of dharmakaya; you have captured the dharmakaya kingdom.

“Right now, sentient beings have captured the kingdom of stupidity! Once this unaware meandering is cleared up, there is nothing other than the kingdom of original wakefulness.” (As It Is, Volume II, p. 149, 150.)

The greatest difficulty when quoting from Tulku Urgyen Rinpoche is in ending the quotation. One wants to touch his wisdom through his words. He was a venerated master whose pointing out of the nature of mind assists many people.

At this critical time on our planet, the need for us to cut through delusion and recognize the nature of our collective consciousness is paramount. A high spiritual practitioner regards her/his human lifetime as a precious gift through which to become liberated. There is no time to waste, and this has never been truer than it is at present. We must vow to attain full enlightenment for the sake of all sentient beings. This is the ultimate intention.

Lily G. & Bob Stephen March 18, 2003

Update, January 23, 2005

This paragraph found in The Dharma of Dragons and Daemons: Buddhist Themes in Modern Fantasy, by David R. Loy and Linda Goodhew (Wisdom Publications, 2004) needs to be added to this essay:

"The problem of 'collective ego' (or 'wego') refers to the fact that we tend to reinforce each other's greed, ill will, and delusion, thereby creating collective evil. The most disastrous example of such collective evil is not the group-sanctioned violence of war but human devastation of the earth, our mother as well as our home. From a Buddhist perspective, our most problematical individual delusion is the self - in other words, the sense of separation between oneself and others. Collectively, our most problematical delusion is the same: that is, the alienation between our group and another, between our nation and their nation, between our religion and their religion, between Homo sapiens and the rest of the biosphere - the last duality based on a collective stupidity regarding our interdependence with nature." (pp. 91, 92)

*Another update October 2, 2006: Wikipedia offers a collection of references debunking the "Hundredth Monkey Effect" at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hundredth_Monkey. Wiki's closing statement on the subject offers food for thought: "It is often claimed that the truth or falsity of the "Hundredth Monkey" story is a secondary issue, and that its true value and significance is as a sort of 'transformative myth' that encourages those who believe in it to have an optimistic view of the possibility of positive change, particularly in human society."

Update October 7, 2007: We invite you to sample an online seminar about wholeness. It is "A Special Integration Group of the International Society for the Systems Sciences" (ISSS). 2nd update December 22, 2015: The former link to The Primer Project is no longer a working link; however, here is the index page to ISSS: http://isss.org/world/index.php

A sample from the Preface:

PIERRE TEILHARD de CHARDIN

"The egocentric ideal of a future reserved for thosewho have managed to attain egotistically the extremity of 'everyone for himself' is false and against nature...The outcome of the world, the gates of the future, the entry into the super-human -- these are not thrown open to a few of the priveged or to one chosen people to the exclusion of all others.They will only open to an advance of all together, in a direction in which all together can join and find completion in a spiritual renovation of the earth...No evolutionary future awaits man except in association with all other men."

Related to this discussion is this quotation from Margaret Mead that appears near the bottom of the ISSS index page: "Never underestimate the power of a few committed individuals to change the world. Indeed, it's the only thing that ever has."


2014 UPDATE

These excerpts from the May, 2014 issue of Shambhala Sun's article "Who Are We, Really?" by Sakyong Mipham add emphasis to our interconnectedness:

"The moment we do not respect ourselves or others, we have bought into a system that destabilizes our dignity as individuals and as a society. For what is society but a network of relationships among people?"

"If we understand and appreciate our worthiness, our life becomes a truly spiritual path, for when we manifest human dignity, our society has a natural predisposition to manifest it also.

"If enough of us take this view, the fabric of our society will be completely interlaced with the sun of goodness, which allows the dignity of wisdom, kindness, and strength to arise naturally. The message of interdependence is that we are in the matrix of life, and there are no commercial breaks. By strengthening our own humanity, we engender confidence in the worthiness of humanity itself."


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