I’ve observed in my own experience that living consciously is good (leads to freedom), while living unconsciously is bad (leads to suffering). Anyone can test this statement against their own experience.
What do I mean when I say “consciously” and “unconsciously”?
What you think of as yourself is not who you really are. In a kind of funny way, you live from the perspective of this false you, thinking all the while that you’re the one living your life, determining your experiences, and suffering from the mistakes you make.
In reality, you are not the one living your life or determining your experiences—-but you are the one suffering from the mistakes this false you is making! It’s not even close to fair. It’s tragic, if you want to look at it that way (but you don’t have to). Every other person alive is in the same predicament as you—-unless they have become conscious of their ability to be conscious.
How in the world can it be that you are living and breathing in this body…and yet you are not?
When you came into the world, you had a Basic Personality: your True Self. This “BP” is like a blueprint. It contained (and still contains) your potentials, your abilities, the seeds of your preferences, and everything else that your life experience would help to mold into who you would become. Your BP is who you really are, as an individual, without the input of other people and your environment and life experiences.
At the present time, you are not functioning as your BP.
Since you were born, other people have been trying to make you into what they want you to be. And guess what? You were so little and so dependent on these people for everything you needed to live that you eventually stopped trying to be who you really are. In the face of overwhelming physical force and emotional withdrawal from the people you depended on for life itself, you sacrificed your BP on the altar of feeling accepted.
What replaced your BP was a collection of ideas, words, beliefs, and many other mental concepts that other people injected into your mind.
Your mind, when you were born, was a blank slate, completely open to be written on.
Your BP is not your mind.
Your mind is a creation of the people around you who didn’t accept who you really are and sought to create you in the image they wanted.
Your mind is not real. It is a creation of society.
Your BP is real. It is who you really are!
Your BP can control everything: your mind, emotions, and body. But guess what? The poor thing is shriveled up like a raisin! You locked it up when you were so little you don’t even remember and there it’s been, in solitary confinement, locked away within yourself, alone.
But guess what? Your BP can come out and play again. In fact, this is the goal of your life. It’s the thing all the religions started out teaching.
You have to sacrifice yourself—-your false self—-to reclaim the real you!
You have to deny the world to gain what is truly real and important.
You have to set the captive-—you—-free!
You become more conscious.
If you haven’t until now, you just started. Congratulations. It’s quite a trip. Once you know what’s wrong, you won’t settle until you’ve solved the problem. Now you know what’s wrong, and how you solve the problem will be up to you.
“He who seeks shall find.”
This is absolutely true, no matter what your life seems to be telling you. If you have faith in anything (and you do), this statement is worthy of your faith…even if only to seek (and find) whether it is true.
“The truth will set you free.”
Meditation is a good first step toward becoming more conscious. When you meditate, you let all the crap in your mind (false self) settle. You empower your Basic Personality (the real you). Eventually, you will connect with that long-lost inner part of yourself and you will begin to live for real. Your decisions, no longer made by the many contradictory voices in your head, will be made by you and no one else. For the first time, you will be living your own life. The false you will be silenced.
Aside from meditation, there are many other ways of becoming more conscious. Self-observation is one. Breathing exercises are another. Entheogens, contemplation, movement, artistic expression, parenting, and simply appreciating beauty are others. These practices can help to establish and strengthen your connection with the True Self.
In time, you will live more and more consciously—-more and more from the vantage point of your True Self, your Basic Personality. You will discover who you really are and what you really like. You will no longer allow others to control your thoughts, emotions, or actions. You will be free.
That’s the difference between living consciously and unconsciously: freedom. Freedom to love and accept and sing and dance and create, to be free to share and enjoy and live in peace. Free to be who you really are.
(Written on November 6, 2008; freshly edited on February 6, 2018.)