How do we find the middle way of satisfying the body’s needs without becoming its slave? Finding this “middle way” will have to do with working on the brain in charge of the well-being of the body, the instinctive center. Moreover, since our bodily needs are recurrent, satisfying those needs is habitual. To maintain consciousness while attending to our bodily needs, we will have to develop disciplines around Habits in our Instinctive Center.
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Consciousness as Self-Awareness
Rarity of Consciousness
Of all living creatures, only man possesses the possibility self-awareness. While animals have the ability to direct their attention – like the example of the dog mentioned above – they aren’t able to direct their awareness to themselves and experience a sense of Self. Scientific experiments have shown that most animals attack their own image in the mirror. Only apes, the most advanced of all animals and the most similar to man, can become cognizant of their own image – perhaps hints of embryonic tendencies towards self-consciousness.
Therefore, self-consciousness can only fully manifest in human beings, the realization of oneself as a separate entity in this place and time. However, such self-consciousness exists only as potential. Most human beings aren’t normally aware of themselves, except in unusual circumstances. In the page levels of consciousness we explore the natural state of man and his possibilities of self-consciousness. On this site we share the historical search for self-consciousness as expressed by those who preceded us with this same timeless quest.
The Aim of this Consciousness Site
We deem consciousness a luxury that most people do not possess. It is not mind activity: scholars may use their minds to philosophize about self-consciousness without being self-conscious themselves. Neither is it emotions: artists may experience elated feelings and produce beautiful works without being self-conscious. And neither is it a function of the senses: mystics may experience extraordinary visions – such as can be induced through drugs or alcohol – and yet, still not experience self-consciousness.
Moreover, our premise is that all profound psychological and philosophical quests in history were aimed at attaining self-consciousness, whether or not those who embarked on this journey formulated it so. Self-consciousness is the Jewish ‘Promised Land’, the Christian’ Pearl of Great Price’, the Hindu ‘Nirvana’ and the Buddhist ‘Enlightenment’. Appearing historically under diverse names, self-consciousness is the one achievement that elevates a human being above the rest of the animals and makes him worthy of the name Man.
Further Reading on Consciousness – the Ark in Time Network
This site is a pillar of the Ark in Time network. “Ark in Time” is the title of a book in the making that addresses the ancient quest for self-consciousness. The author documents his search for consciousness in story form, telling of a young couple who travel the world and discover the unsuspecting inner meaning of its religions.
An underlying aspect of the ancient quest for consciousness is that it is hidden; the traditional religions prove to be manifest traces of the hidden searches conducted by esoteric groups, by-products, as it were, of genuine spiritual work.
Ancient Wisdom – a site authored by Asaf Braverman, devoted to ancient religious and cultural traditions, showing how their symbolic and mythological presentations were teachings for the conscious development of man. Asaf publishes monthly posts illustrated with original photography from his travels, illustrating the differences and similarities of ancient cultures.
Mysticism – a site authored by Benjamin Yudin that features weekly posts which focus on the Jewish and Christian mystical expressions, keying famous Biblical stories and parables to show that they originally were practical instructions for the development of consciousness. Benjamin offers practical interpretations of old teachings, applicable in daily life.
Gurdjieff – a portal that features background material and monthly posts on the legacy of George Gurdjieff, a twentieth century mystic who gathered remnants of ancient teachings at the end of the nineteenth century in Central Asia and reconstructed a system for the evolution of man’s consciousness. Gurdjieff titled his expression, the Fourth Way. He served as a link between the ancient pre-World War age and the modern age, re-expressing the ancient methods of wisdom schools in a language palatable to modern man.
Ouspensky – a site devoted to Gurdjieff’s principle student, Peter Ouspensky. The site publishes monthly posts on the fourth Way legacy. Ouspensky, who had exceptional intellectual abilities, compiled Gurdjieff’s Fourth Way legacy into a system that left its imprint in almost all occult and psychological movements of the twentieth century. Ouspensky’s formulations come chiefly from his literature: The Psychology of Man’s Possible Evolution, In Search of the Miraculous and The Fourth Way.