We live in an age where there are tons of advancements in technology and many ways that we are actively changing society. But how conscious are those changes?
Before we go any further in this conversation, it’s important to clarify what I mean by “conscious.” To me, “conscious” is a term for being knowledgeable of the impact of what we do. Being unconscious means we are unaware of things and the impacts of our actions. For example, the unconscious ego is unaware that it is a construct of beliefs and experiences. The conscious ego knows that it is made up. With a conscious ego, you can then actively investigate other parts of your ego self that you are not aware of
I hope that clarifies what I mean by conscious in this context. Any of you who have become more conscious of yourself and life can see more, and you are probably also aware of how much you cannot see. The conscious person is like someone living with a light on in the room. Even with the light on, there are limitations to what you can see, and this requires a certain level of continued exploration as well as humility in understanding that there are always going to be things that you do not know.
Clearly, this implies that conscious change is always going to incorporate some level of unconsciousness. There are going to be things that we don’t know about any situation, and there are ramifications of any action that are going to be surprisingly. This doesn’t mean that action should be avoided or that we end up in analysis paralysis. Rather, we learn to understand that any change we attempt to implement in life is going to be a process, and understanding the influence and reality of unconsciousness means that we stay engaged with any change we are creating to best guide it towards solutions that are beneficial to all.
I’m sure many of you are sick of how much I talk about inner work, but until we understand ourselves and until we are conscious of our issues, assumptions, and fundamental human motivations, then we are acting from a place of unconsciousness.
This is how we get ourselves into so much trouble as a human collective. There are genuinely real issues in this world such as hunger, lack of water, disease, natural disasters, and more. But we add so much more pain and suffering to the mix of real issues through unconscious actions. The unconsciousness we live in is darkness. It is ignorance. It is not knowing ourselves nor being willing to deal with the pain that we have experienced and which we re-experience through unhealthy thinking. Until we deal with our unconscious issues and pain, they are the drivers in so many decisions that we make. For example, many well-meaning people are not trying to resolve climate change when they are speaking out; they are trying to resolve their issues with a domineering, narcissistic mother. Champions of organizations that heal sexual abuse aren’t necessarily fighting sexual abuse, but are acting out their pain from being beaten by their fathers. This can be surprising for some of you, which is why you must sincerely investigate your motives. It is a very common thing for people to project their inner pain onto external situations and then attempt to fix the external situation instead of the internal issue.
Awakened But Still Very Unconscious
I want to add a note for all of you who have had a spiritual awakening. Awakening is the return to the origin within you. It is not the dispelling of all your unconsciousness. You have to choose the conscious path. You have to choose to face your issues and let them go. While awakening seems to unleash energy within us that pushes us to do so, there are no guarantees. Additionally, many people feel very clear about what is real after awakening, but that tends to be only a mental understanding of spiritual truth. People often don’t understand the practical application of spiritual truth in this real world and its many conflicting situations. So it is generally too soon for someone who has just awakened to charge off to make conscious changes, especially if they think that they can fix the world. That typically shows that they still don’t know what the greatest truths of the spiritual path are nor how to address the part of them that sees a world that needs “fixing.” And just like anyone else, someone who has awakened can end up projecting unaddressed pain onto the world and act out their issues despite some of the clarity they’ve experienced.
Acting out our pain shows up in many ways for most people. It corrupts the work we do. It blinds us to the real issues before us, and it inhibits our ability to develop constructive, communal solutions. Certainly, some good things can come out of helping to raise awareness about climate change or find justice for victims of sexual abuse. We are not waiting to become people with no issues before taking actions to help others. But most people haven’t even dealt with a fraction of their issues, so facing your unconscious pain is paramount to being able to make any kind of conscious change.
The Arising of Action From Within
As you move through your issues, it greatly changes your perspective on many things. Certain issues that you were passionate about before no longer connect with you. The social worker who was passionate about helping children in dysfunctional families may suddenly find herself disinterested in this work when she’s healed the pain from her dysfunctional upbringing. It doesn’t mean that she doesn’t care about those situations. It is simply part of her journey to realize what truly matters to her. This takes people on a new kind of journey of self-inquiry as old interests dissolve away and people realize that their interests were those born out of pain. But what are interests that are born out of clarity?
A lot of times people try and find things to do that are enjoyable, but a lot of our joys are often based on masking pain or distracting ourselves. Some interests really are meant to be past times and hobbies. So go deeper within yourself. Let yourself sit in the unknown and allow answers to find you. The seeking mind often gets in its own way and tends to give you the same responses to the questions you have. It really is just a program; it only knows what it has been programmed to know. So instead of trying to think something through, spend more time allowing. Let your meditation and quiet times be times to open to inspiration. Maybe something comes quickly. Maybe not. Depending on the type of change you’re interested in creating, there may be more inner work for you to do to be clear enough to see and feel the answer within you. But once something arises, now it’s time to trust it. Now, it’s time for action.
The Many Qualities of Conscious Action
Conscious action has many qualities because there are many kinds of action we may take. In an urgent situation, we may feel an urgency to do something. Or we may feel an urgency to take action when we have avoided doing something that we already know we need to do. The deeper presence within you is not urgent, itself. Rather, it is your individual soul’s divine intelligence that influences the quality of energy and truthful knowing inside you that brings such energy and force to the moment. It can be quite surprising when a conscious action rises up in this way.
However, more often than not, most things you do in life will not be that urgent. We’re not living in a bang-bang, shoot-em up action movie (which are just total nonsense and perpetuate a belief in the rightness of violence). Most of our conscious actions are like stacking grains of sand. It may not seem like much at first, but each little conscious touch is building a massive pyramid. When you bring kindness and love to these actions, then you are especially moving from a space of conscious action. Seeing with clarity is also another quality of conscious action and so is being curious, experimenting, holding loosely to any expected results, being persistent, and allowing. This really isn’t a passive place or a place of a new kind of control on life. Conscious action is a joining with life and then an exploration of what follows from that sacred union.
Joining With Others in Conscious Action
For those of you interested in making bigger or even global change, that will inherently mean that you are working with more people, potentially a lot more people. The more ingredients you add to the recipe, the more issues you bring into the mix. That’s why it’s important to have education and some kind of spiritual practice be at the center of a larger initiative. It’s very easy for any large-scale initiative to be derailed. There are plenty of movements and organizations that get started with good intentions, but they do not have that center of clarity and love to really move them forward.
Clarity, in and of itself, requires knowing what you are trying to achieve in concrete terms. So let me be clear, conscious change is not an ungrounded, airy-fairy, happy idea. While we don’t always know how things turn out, clear, achieve-able goals are necessary for any change you are going to make in the physical world. While goals may have to change from time to time as the situation changes, it’s important to understand at least some of what the physical changes you want to see from your initiative actually are.
If you are fighting inequality, one of your goals may be equal pay for men and women. But that may not be grounded enough. You may need to call on economists and others to help structure pay-scales to give organizations ways to benchmark and compare. I don’t know all the ins and outs of that issue, but I am using this as an example of how to bring the issue down to the ground. Too often issues stay up in the idealistic world of the ego mind, and those kinds of changes are just electrical impulses banging around in peoples brains. It’s difficult to do much with those, and it’s difficult to explain to others what you want to see happen. This can lead to disagreements within your own organization that can grind conscious change initiatives to a halt. But if you say that for every CEO position there’s a set percentage of variation in pay between men and women that can exist otherwise a company is fined for gender discrimination, that’s an actionable goal. You can get your supports rallied around this goal, and you can clearly communicate it to legislators to make the idea a legal reality. And it’s this grounded practicality that is a fundamental part of any conscious change you may want to create.
Working With Unconscious People
With all that said, you are going to work with unconscious people. You are going to work with people who are unaware of who they really are and are unaware of the consequences of their actions. You are going to deal with people who may flat out disagree with you or fight whatever change you are making. We can bring this topic down to the small-scale such as the difficulties between a husband and wife. Let’s say the husband is trying to make conscious changes in the relationship. In this basic situation, the first step is education. The husband needs to tell his wife what he is trying to do and why he is trying to do it. It is important to come from a space of love and appreciation, and it is important to realize that this education step may take awhile. However, just in engaging a partner on this topic is probably a new way of interacting, and that is a kind of conscious change. Things are already moving. This may move the relationship towards greater strife at first, but then there can be a re-union. This may move the relationship towards an end if your spouse truly doesn’t want to change. All outcomes need to be accepted because they’re all possible. That’s part of enacting conscious change. You understand that you don’t control this process.
But many spouses and partners will want to change because they love you. So after education comes the step of making some small change. People need to feel like they can succeed. If you give them too many issues at once, they won’t be able to manage it. All kinds of ego defense mechanisms kick in. So if you are working on no longer expressing yourselves through anger. You may both practice breathing when you are angry in a discussion or leaving the room and breathing until you can calm down for further discussion. That may be enough for the time being. Over time, your partner can see how beneficial breathing through triggers is. By succeeding in this way, they’re more likely to be open to other conscious changes to your relationship.
6 Key Steps to Creating Conscious Change
There are a lot of steps in creating conscious change, but I want to outline the key over-arching stepss that come to mind today. They will undoubtedly have many little steps underneath them, but they can help guide you through any inner or outer work you may do.
- Know Yourself. As I keep saying, if you don’t know yourself, you won’t understand what it is that is truly important to you. You are also likely to run into issues that blindside you.
- Evaluate Your Goals. Once you understand more about yourself, it’s easier to understand what the real goals you want to achieve are.
- Find Support. When you are clear on the goals you want to achieve, the kind of support you need becomes more clear. If you aren’t sure about your goals yet, then you may also want to find external support to help you clarify them. And of course, support in helping you understand yourself can be helpful too. So really, this isn’t a linear process. These steps can shift order at any time, and it is important to maintain that flexibility with yourself to evolve with the process of creating conscious change.
- Take Action. Once you have support, goals, and clarity, take action. You can’t prepare forever. Now, you’re ready to do.
- Allow and Assess. After taking action, it’s important to allow. See what happens. See how people respond. See what next steps arise. If you are successful, look at that success and see what really worked. Look at what didn’t work. If things aren’t succeeding, it’s important to evaluate that too. Pay attention to how you judge success and failure. Sometimes failures are successes, and how you succeed may be different than intended. This is a truth of a lot of scientific discoveries. One failure reveals another success.
- Revise. With any change you attempt to bring into this world, adjustments will need to be made. At times, you’re going to find limitations or issues inside of you that you hadn’t addressed. In this way, revisions can take you back to doing your inner work to better know yourself. But as you engage with this whole process, a lot of amazing growth can occur within you, and that is always the most important conscious change you can create.
Bringing Conscious Change to Life Through Your Presence
I always have to remind everyone that by being you and being at peace, that brings an enormous amount of change to the world. It just doesn’t necessarily announce itself, and the unconscious ego within you probably still wants some kind of validation. Letting go of seeking validation is another issue to work on, but for now, I’ll simply encourage you to stay in that presence. With whatever change you are interested in making in the world, return to the space of presence. Let go of whatever is going on in your mind, heart, energy, or body, and bring your attention to the presence within you. Rest in that space. Let everything go. Then when it’s time, some new inspiration can pop up on its own.
But in the meantime, this inner peace and presence is always touching everyone in your life. It does so in the most quiet way, but that may not be particularly subtle. A lot of people change their attitudes towards you (both towards greater kindness or towards greater aversion) just from the power of your own presence. The world needs that. I cannot emphasize enough how badly other people need to see and sense people abiding in their beautiful presence. It offers new doorways and hope to those around you even if they don’t intellectually understand what is going on. And something divinely beautiful in them may respond and may start to rise up in response. In this way, the amazing presence within you already is creating conscious change in your whole world just by you being as you are.