Search This Blog

Sunday, October 16, 2011

A New State of Consciousness and Being

". . . (T)he disciplining of the will must have as its accompaniment a no less thorough disciplining of the consciousness. There has to be a conversion, sudden or otherwise, not merely of the heart, but also of the senses and of the perceiving mind."
-- Aldous Huxley --
("The Perennial Philosophy," page 72.)
The Twelve Steps utilized by Alcoholics Anonymous (and its sister organizations) have as one of their principle objectives the goal of "ego deflation at depth." Just as the alcoholic addict drinks and/or uses drugs to counteract and overcome his or her ordinary self-consciousness (or ego-consciousness), so too our ordinary state of egoic self-consciousness must be overcome in sobriety if we are to enjoy the "new state of consciousness and being" that Bill W. describes at page 107 of The Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions.

A "new state of consciousness and being" may perhaps be better described as a "renewed" state of consciousness and being. That is, in overcoming the thought structures of the ego (or separated "self") we regain the sense of wholeness and completeness we had as children; that is, we regain the state of consciousness and being we had before self-conscious thought became our sense of identity; that is, we are in effect "reborn" (as described at page 63 of the 'Big Book' of Alcoholics Anonymous).

Our acceding to this renewed state of holistic consciousness and being may rightly be called a "conversion" experience, as it is labelled, above, by Aldous Huxley (one of Bill W.'s many non-alcoholic spiritual friends). And, albeit whether it happens suddenly or over a prolonged period of time, it is clear that such a "spiritual awakening" is the solution to the existential problem of self-inflicted alcoholism and addiction, a point reinforced in Carl Jung's correspondence with Bill W. 

In his letter of January 31, 1961, explaining how one might achieve such a "spiritual awakening," Jung observed:
"The only right and legitimate way to such an experience is that it happens to you in reality and it can only happen to you when you walk on a path which leads you to higher understanding. You might be led to that goal by an act of grace or through a personal and honest contact with friends, or through a higher education of the mind beyond the confines of mere rationalism."
The Twelve Steps are just such a path "in reality" which leads "to higher understanding." It does not matter, as Jung notes, whether we are led  to this path through a sudden "act of grace," through the "personal and honest contact with friends" which we attain with our sponsors and fellow alcoholic addicts, or through the "higher education of the mind" we attain through prayer and meditation. The point is that there occurs within each of us not only a change of "heart," but also a change in both our "senses and perceptions" that could not have been readily achieved through other, non-spiritual means.

"What often takes place in a few months could seldom have been accomplished by years of self-discipline," we read in the Big Book's Spiritual Experience Appendix. "With few exceptions," we are told, "our members find that they have tapped an unsuspected inner resource which they presently identify with their own conception of a Power greater than themselves." "Most of us," we then read, "think this awareness of a Power greater than ourselves is the essence of spiritual experinece," while "(o)ur more religious members call it "God-consciousness.""

We can thus see that is not sufficient just to turn our will and our lives over to the care of the God of our understanding, as set out in Steep Three. We must have as the"accompaniment" of this critical Third Step "a no less thorough disciplining of the consciousness," as Huxley points out.

It is precisely through Steps Four to Step Eleven that we "discipline" our consciousness, moving however slowly from the self-centeredness of our ego-consciousness to the other-centeredness of God-consciousness. It is by following this path "in reality" that we attain to the "new state of consciousness and being" that arrests both our alcoholism and our overwhelming and painful self-consciousness. It is on this "path" that we are "reborn."

1 comment:

  1. ...great meditation......Thank you for taking the time and effort to be here...your helping me...and i appreciate it.