Consciousness and Mind
Updated: Jan 5, 2021
Every human being born into our world possesses the faculty of spiritual consciousness, and everyone has a mind. While these two functions are clearly interrelated and may at times overlap, they are not necessarily synonymous. The fact that they are interrelated can be a cause of confusion, however, which can, in turn, rob us of some of the power inherent in the spiritual life.
The primary difference between them is their created purposes. Consciousness is a spiritual faculty given to us in order to facilitate and bring to fruition full evolutionary spiritual growth and transformation. Mind, on the other hand, is a biological function, created for the purposes of problem solving, processing sensual input, and storing information, somewhat like a computer. The difficulty for us comes when we lack discernment about these divergent functions of our inner makeup. The blurring of the boundaries between them can give our psyche an imbalanced, hesitant, and weak constitution. Whereas, the correct delineation between them invariably brings healing, confidence, and strength. Therefore it behooves us to examine these dynamics more closely.
First, let it be said that the blame for this common confusion of roles, if any is to be had, lies not with consciousness, but with mind. Spiritual consciousness is a clear and incorruptible function that will never become confused about its created station and purpose. But mind, as a strictly human function, can be and often is tampered with and led astray about its rightful role. This inbred vulnerability renders mind the weaker of these two functions, and it is its refusal to accept its lawful created place that often causes trouble.
The real culprit behind this breach of acceptance has not been the individual human mind however. It has been the age-long collective agenda of mental cultural conditioning. The individual human mind comes into this world pure and biologically sound. But this biological perfection does not protect it from tampering. On the contrary, it is the nature of all strictly human functions to be precariously vulnerable in this regard. The biological human makeup is anything but incorruptible. All it takes is a little monkey wrench introduced into the mix to throw things utterly out-of-whack. And infantile cultural conditioning would definitely qualify as just such a monkey wrench. In fact, it’s more like a steamroller.
With unclear motives the status quo collective hierarchy that has consistently commandeered human society since the beginning of time has instinctually sought to blur the boundaries in the individual human psyche between consciousness and mind. And it has done this largely through infantile cultural conditioning. Perhaps these societal overseers have deduced that the inculcation of ascribed erroneous roles would make men weaker and more subservient, which it definitely has done. In any case, one thing is certain: the individual human psyche has been dominantly dysfunctional and troubled since time immemorial. And it was neither created nor born that way.
Human beings are a unique and fascinating species. On the one hand, we have a natural or biological makeup like all earthly creatures. On the other hand, we possess a spiritual capacity, capable of consciously communing with the divine. It is as if we were created with one foot rooted to the earthly plane and the other pointing upward to heaven. In human beings both time and eternity are at work. And this dichotomy is perfectly expressed by the functions of consciousness and mind.
Mind has a natural affinity for the earthly plane, and in its conditioned state it becomes so thoroughly temporal that it actually has created an illusory temporal reality—one that has come to define and dictate the collective human life experience. That is why our bodies age and die. All they are doing is expressing the temporal restrictions imposed upon them by a mind that has accepted time and temporal properties (such as decay) as real and inescapable.
Contrastingly, consciousness is by nature eternal or timeless. But this nature does not exert itself upon the human psyche. It just is. So until we become conscious or self-realized, our temporal mind holds sway over our psyche and creates our reality.
On a practical level what this amounts to is a society of man that exists in time and has no relationship whatsoever with the present moment. Mind has become the dominant player in this temporal coup, while spiritual consciousness has been relegated to the background role of voyeur. But this erroneous alignment in our inner world has come with a heavy price. Being under the governance of mind instead of consciousness has brought untold suffering to the human ranks. Under its reign all the plagues of Egypt—death, disease, gross economic disparities, lawlessness, etc.—have run amok. Thus mind has shown itself to be an incompetent, cruel and unmerciful governor. Why is this? Because by its nature it is too easily conditioned and corrupted.
And so under mind’s rule the entire tonal emphasis of human life has become staunchly temporal, while suffering continues unabated. Furthermore, the outlook for a future under mind’s governance must necessarily be bleak and hopeless. Why? Because mind has had six thousand years to prove it could build a better world, and it has made absolutely no progress in that direction. Instead mind has gotten in so far over its head that society has become more and more dysfunctional. The way things are even mind itself suffers. Ironically, it would be much happier if it were relieved of its post and restored to the functions for which it was originally created. Unfortunately, such a reordering of societal roles has never been allowed to happen. Rather the status quo has sought to perpetuate the reign of mind at all costs. Why? Because under this order of things a small elite percentage of men have prospered, while the rest of society has been abandoned to suffer the consequences of their choices, void of compassion.
The good news is that there is and always has been the potential for the individual human being to retreat into the privacy of his or her own inner world and right the ship. This potential is unleashed through the undertaking of the spiritual journey and the practice of self-realization. It comes to fruition as we make contact with the faculty of spiritual consciousness residing within us and thereby awaken it from its slumber. Then once consciousness is awakened, it automatically seeks to assume its rightful role as leader and lord over our psyche.
In the beginning of our spiritual journey we may not be aware of these dynamics. We probably will not understand anything about there being a rightful order by which mind and consciousness were created to coexist. But as we progress in the inner life and become fluent at delineating between these two functions we actually set in motion the recall effort that will ultimately topple mind from its throne. As this happens, mind begins to read the writing on the wall and reckon with its imminent demotion. Initially, it might rebel, but eventually it will recognize the benefits of this return to the right order of things—benefits applicable not only to the human being’s overall constitution but also to mind itself. When this recognition comes to mind, a sense of relief replaces its reticence and willing submission follows suit.
Then as we further progress toward the establishing of harmony, a strange paradoxical dilemma confronts us. We become poignantly aware of how different our lives feel when we are practicing mindfulness compared to how they feel when we are not. In other words, we begin to feel the wide disparity between ourselves and the rest of the world, which is still mired in error and dysfunction. We become aware that the relaxed, carefree, and happy state we encounter when in our right inner alignment is quickly dispelled by contact with the world. We notice how it only takes a moment before our own inner world is upended again to reflect the outer world, how quickly we revert to the old order of things, in which mind becomes governor and time banishes our sense of the eternal, bringing with it all the fears and anxieties associated with death and decay. It almost feels to us as though there is a conspiracy afloat to reinstate mind permanently. Luckily, such is not the case. No sooner do we return to our spiritual practice than the right order is reestablished. This is because once consciousness has been awakened, it will not back down again. In fact, it will not stop until it has established us permanently in the right order. It will gently but persistently bring about the agenda of God-governance. It will command mind to acquiesce, and it will expose time as a phantom reality.
Remember that to consciousness time does not exist. All that exists is the present moment, sometimes called eternity. This is all that consciousness has ever known. Only mind was susceptible to commingling with time. Only mind gave time a firm foothold in the human psyche. But consciousness not only resists and rebukes time; it proactively strengthens an awareness of the present moment. It even sets about to instruct mind in the way of eternity. It shows mind the suffering that living in time has caused and presents it with the alternative of living in the present moment.
At first, mind may not be fully convinced about this. After all, it has lived its entire life in time. Thus it will tend to view the present moment as just another aspect of time—a third temporal verb tense to be placed alongside the past and the future. But eventually consciousness corrects this misperception by pointing out to mind the present moment’s unique attributes and benefits. Living in time—that is, the past and the future—brought only pain and suffering, but living in the present moment carries with it a profound new sense of peace and quietude. Not only this, but living in the present moment is one of the most powerful tools for making things right in the human psyche generally. It restores mind and consciousness to their rightful roles, like little else can.
There are many circumstantial situations in modern life that trigger conditioned mental reflexes in us—reflexes that are usually steeped in temporal associations. When mind was in charge it invariably caved in and gave way to such activity. But now with consciousness in an ascendant mode, the human psyche is empowered to stand strong and resist these conditioned impulses. And one of the ways it does this is through focusing on the present moment. This tactic on consciousness’ part is so sane and reasonable that even mind recognizes the wisdom in it.
For example, let us suppose that a certain financial circumstance triggers mind to run an old conditioned tape—one in which finances are perceived in terms of lack, limitation, and fear. Past failures with money and future fears of more and perhaps worse failures rush in. Soon mind has clicked into an unconscious response mode that feels very dark indeed. But then consciousness comes to the rescue with an awareness of the present moment. It shows mind that the negative habitual response mechanism that has been set in motion has its source in and is being fueled by time. Then it shows mind by way of comparison with the present moment that time is nothing more than a manmade illusion. In the present moment money is not to be feared or constricted by. Why? Because in the present moment the human being has all that he or she needs and lacks for nothing. In truth, money has no purpose whatsoever in the present moment. Therefore to all intents and purposes it does not exist. In the present moment there can be no inclination to “take care of business,” because in the present moment the human being is aligned with God in the here and now. In other words, there is only the perfection of divine being. Through reasonable realizations such as these time is rebuked and the impulse toward fear and negativity is effectually squelched.
Thus we come to understand that the present moment is far more than just a temporal alternative to the past and the future. It is a super-conscious spiritual continuum, wherein the divine universal life force resides and expresses Itself unendingly. Jesus referred to this state of being as eternal life. And amazingly, this turns out to be consciousness'--that is, the spiritual faculty that dwells within each and every one of us—natural state. So it is that when consciousness ascends to its rightful place within the human psyche, it is not long before our general awareness and reality view begin to shift from the temporal to the eternal. And because the temporal orientation tends to be fraught with fear, insecurity, and anxiety—all highly toxic energies—this shift in our inner world brings an unparalleled sense of peace and healing.