I have had a few, signficant events in my life where I have felt my consciousness rise to another level. The majority of human beings might call this “change” or “growing up” (and indeed, it is so). I, however, feel the switch in my brain - where I’ve reached “the point of no return” - when I know I will no longer be the girl I have been, but a new and improved individual who will cease to be even in this state at the next point in my life when things “change.” Why this distinction between growth and change? Is there one, really? Aren’t the two terms synonymous with each other? Certainly, but change seems to affect a person positively or negatively. Growth, I believe, is a development toward the positive, only. Think about it. If you’re talking about your sister, cousin, or brother who was once a sweetheart but then “changed” – are you implying that something positive happened? (Of course, the contrary can happen — “My aunt used to be selfish, but she’s changed.”) My point is, the connotation for change that has already happened is usually not positive. Growth, however, is almost entirely positive. “My little girl grew up.” ”I grew when I realized the world doesn’t revolve around me.” “I grew up over the duration of this year because…” A “change” happens when every facet of your life is directing you towards it. Growth is accepting these changes and doing something positive with them.
I’m going to ahead and say this growth occurs when one’s level of consciousness shifts. I’m going to suggest imagining these levels as stairs, leading to ultimate consciousness — what occurs at this highest level, I can’t begin to describe (I really can’t – I’m sure I’m still way on the bottom levels). What occurs at these different levels, I believe, is a new awareness of something. I can already suggest that one level is the moment one realizes “I am able to think for myself” (this moment happened for me sometime around 12-13 years of age; sometime around becoming a teenager). I believe another level is transcended when a friend (or enemy) does (or does not) do something that makes you realize not all in the world are good people. One has now (or at least, I have) transcended two levels, as two “awarenesses” have been realized: 1. I have the ability to think for myself and 2. There is much adversity in the world we live in. I’m going to go ahead and assume that the majority of the world have lived through these stages and changed much as a result. The second step of consciousness that I’ve described, however, is the deciding level, I believe, that determines whether one will continue growing in order to, ultimately, reach a higher level. For example: if, upon learning that not all in the world are good one decides to just be bad because everyone’s doing it, then I don’t believe true growth is occuring. If one just “goes with the flow” because not doing anything against status quo is easier, then I don’t believe true growth is being experienced. I suggest that only those individuals who have truly embraced this change and have consequently grown positively are the only ones who will continue passing from one level of consciousness to another.
I would like to suggest that another level of consciousness is that of religion, spirituality, and philosophy. This is the level that I believe I have just arrived onto, and what has possessed me to write this now.
This quarter I am a participant in those classes discussing Philosophical Inquiry, Religious Worldviews and Ethical Perspectives, among 2 others. At the exact same time in the sixth week of the quarter, every single class I was taking talked about the exact same thing: religion, science, and philosophy (would you imagine that even my spanish class was on the “religion” unit at this time?). As a practicing Catholic, these topics coinciding made for a crazy, intellectual rollercoaster.
First, we read Freud’s “Future of Illusions,” which basically claims that God is this father-figure that human beings fabricated in order to feel protection from nature and a sense of command over nature and that religion is simply this concept we keep running back to in order to prevent ourselves from feeling lost. Ohhhh, boy. Hello, doubt. Freud makes a very persuasive case, and my faith felt a little off balance. The discomfort continued, however. At the same time in my [history of] religions class, we were reading scholarly essays and books that each either presented Darwinism, creationism, or Intellectual Design (a combo of the two that tries to get creationists their foot in the door where the merit of these two origins of life is concerned). Each side had persuasive arguments — one sometimes seemed to be more credible than the other, and sometimes, the other side just made so much more sense to me, as a living, breathing, human entity. Whatever the case, it made my mind spin in circles and I felt entirely lost in my faith, religion, and entire foundation of a person.
Little did I know that this uncertainty — this anxiety — was really my consciousness on its way to a higher level/a new state of awareness. This week (today, specifically) I feel I reached this new level, with its perks and its new challenges. First, I am now aware that I, as an individual, am in a constant state of flux. I may not have long until I reach a new level of awareness – when this happens, I think, is up to whatever that is guiding life and its events (I’m going to go ahead and leave that undelved- but I feel I’ll have a better grasp of what is leading this life of mine and of others eventually). Again, whether we skip levels, or whether every human being goes through the levels of consciousness the same way is another question I think I might have a theory for that another day.
I’m so much more aware of my being in relation to the being of others and my being in the world. What do I mean? I mean that I realize how much my words and actions affect those with whom I interact (what helped me become of this awareness was my experience these past two weekend with individuals who don’t seem to be aware of their words and actions. As a result, my sensitivity, to that which they are/were not aware of, has increased). For example, today on the train, a man stepped on my foot as he was sitting next to me. He apologized profusely, and I noticed he seemed genuinely surprised when I didn’t give him a dirty look but gave a big grin and told him not to worry about a thing. When I exited, he thanked me for “sparing him” and wished me a good day. Will he be kinder to the man who, in the future, accidentally steps on his foot?
When I was waiting for the next train, I saw a woman with a stunning red coat that just looked fantastic on her. I complimented her, and she thanked me with the humblest smile. I think she’s still thinking about it, too, and smiling. Which stranger might she compliment in her future, in order to share the joy I may have helped her feel?
Finally, as I was standing beneath the warming lights, a man approached and saw there was no room for him. I stepped aside and let him stand next to me. Again, I share these stories not because I seek credit or praise but to demonstrate how widely spread shocked reactions at a stranger’s kindness seem to be. He thanked me and smiled, as if seeing me for the first time (even though he just glanced at me before, but with ‘dead’ eyes). Will he move aside for the next person he sees standing in the cold?
My point is – this is where these seemingly awful, simultaneous changes finally came together to reveal themselves as one beautifully-wrapped package of awareness:
My beliefs will not be constant. They will change. When they’re in transition, it will be a time of anxiety and uncertainty. In the same way simultaneous events come together to create this chaos, however, corresponding events will occur to bring focus into what needs to be done to calm the storm — but this tranquility will only be temporary. Change will come again, and whether I stay on the same level of consciousness or proceed higher, will be the determinent factor of whether I have, or have not, grown.