SuperConscious! is the theme of September’s Tai Chi Alchemy in Sedona. The idea was central to my talk at the Society for Consciousness Studies Conference in June, and it has been at the core of my research for a long time. This is a continuation of a discussion begun in two recent posts: “Awareness vs. Consciousness” and “Conscious and Preconscious.” If you haven’t checked them out recently, I recommend you do so before going on.
It’s ok. I’ll wait.
Some will recognize the idea of “Seeing with Three Eyes” from Chapter Six of Taijiquan: Through the Western Gate: Eye of Flesh. Eye of Mind. Eye of Contemplation. I got the terms from Ken Wilber, who lifted them from St. Bonaventure.
For this triple vision, man was endowed with a triple eye, as explained by Hugh of St. Victor: the eye of flesh, of reason, and of contemplation; the eye of flesh, to see the world and what it contains; the eye of reason, to see the soul and what it contains; the eye of contemplation, to see God and that which is within Him. Through the eye of the flesh, man was to see the things outside him; with the eye of reason, the things within him; with the eye of contemplation, the things above him.
— St. Bonaventure, The Breviloquium, Part II, Chapter 12, No. 5
In TTWG I stayed with Bonaventure’s “Eye of Contemplation,” but now feel “Eye of Spirit” to be more useful. “Contemplation” has lost much of its earlier spiritual meaning, “a form of prayer or meditation in which a person seeks to pass beyond mental images and concepts to a direct experience of the divine.” The present-day connotation is closer to, “the action of looking thoughtfully at something for a long time,” which is better understood as “Eye of Mind.” “Eye of Spirit” comes closer to what I’m talking about: transrational/transpersonal awareness; Knowing without thinking; non-objective awareness.
When we see with all Three Eyes, that is SuperConsciousness.
Awareness is “responsiveness to environment” (any environment:physical, mental, energetic, imaginary, dream, hallucinatory…). Plants are aware of sunlight. Amoebas respond when the chemical composition of their liquid environment changes. A schizophrenic might carry on a lively conversation with someone only she can hear.
Preconscious awareness is Eye of Flesh. We are aware of billions of things each moment, but conscious of only the tiniest fragment of that. The bandwidth of consciousness is miniscule, probably only 20-40 bits of information per second. It is estimated that our five senses take in about 12 million bits of information per second, with most of that information discarded by the conscious mind as it tries to make sense of the passing moment.All that information that is not yet (and may never be) conscious is preconscious. Preconscious includes subconscious, unconscious, sensorimotor, organic, cellular, and subcellular information. It includes awareness of all those trillions of human cells in the body, as well as of all those trillions of non-human cells in the human microbiome. Preconscious awareness is much more vast than any conscious mind can fathom.
Conscious awareness is Eye of Mind. Awareness of awareness. We are conscious when we are aware that we are aware. That is, to be conscious of something you must know that you are aware of it. We are aware of billions of things each moment, but conscious of only the tiniest fragment of that. The bandwidth of consciousness is miniscule, probably only 20-40 bits of information per second. It is estimated that our five senses take in about 12 million bits of information per second, with most of that information discarded by the conscious mind as it tries to make sense of the passing moment. The Eye of Mind filters out all but a millionth part of the Eye of Flesh and leaves us with a passing headline.
The conscious mind is able to represent preconscious awareness symbolically. Events are translated into objects. As children we learn to objectify events by mentally separating out from them and representing them first by making noises that mean something (words) and later by writing them. This is our first go at abstraction, where a sound or a symbol stands in for the thing being represented. Anything we can think about, talk about, write about, or imagine becomes an object. As we get better at this as we mature, we con-fuse (“fuse together”) the labels for things and that which they represent. And this con-fusion is the source of much suffering. (see Finding You in a World of It.)
This con-fusion is the “Trance of Objectification.” What we “think about” an event becomes the actual event. Our thoughts become our reality. But conscious awareness need not be so limiting. When we are consciously aware of the vast preconscious activity that occupies each moment–not as a narrative that we tell ourselves, but by actually feeling it–something amazing happens: we enter superconscious awareness. Body-mind integration is the alchemy that transmutes into wholeness.
Superconscious awareness is Eye of Flesh, Eye of Mind, and Eye of Spirit. Eye of Spirit transcends and includes Eye of Flesh and Eye of Mind, preconscious and conscious. It is Knowing without reflective thought, but is capable of reflective thought when needed. It is awareness beyond the “story,” but able to access all awareness in an instant. It is the only time we are actually in the present moment, not just chasing our thoughts.
This “inclusion” is often disregarded when we think of the Three Eyes. Some follow Bonaventure and think of them as three separate spheres: body, mind, spirit. Wilber introduces them as concentric circles, however, each expanding but also including its predecessors. We can’t have conscious awareness without a functioning physical body. Spiritual awareness includes both body and mind.
Taijiquan is a “moving meditation” in that it successfully integrates body, mind, and spirit. In our practice, we bring conscious awareness to our physicality and FEEL what we are doing, moment by moment. Changing conditions require us to use Eye of Mind to make adjustments, like using a trim screw on a rudder. Then we feel into the movements again and return to superconsciousness.
The conscious mind is like AM radio: a lot of chatter and occasional insightful analysis; very low-Fi. By contrast, superconsciousness is super HD with a bit of Aldous Huxley’s “feelies” thrown in. We open to multi-dimensional awareness of energy and information that is completely unknown to the conscious mind. (The Eye of Mind finds this disconcerting. It likes things predictable.)
Accessing superconsciousness is surprisingly simple and easy. We do it many times a day, usually without noticing. Superconsciousness is more of a “nothing” than a “something,” and easily slips unnoticed past the sentries of the It-mind.
Recognizing and maintaining that awareness is more difficult. That requires regular practice. Eye of Mind is programmed to immediately convert every event into an “It” and that takes us right back into the It-trance. But we can learn. Just as an artist learns to appreciate negative space as a key element in the sculpture and a musician composes with silence as well as sound, we can learn to love non-objective awareness.
This video is a simple exercise to quickly and easily access superconscious awareness. Let me know how it works for you.