What is the path to higher awareness in a nutshell? The simplest way to explain this is to recognize that there are different levels of consciousness. Most people who are spiritually interested, are open to the idea that there are different levels of consciousness. You look at the behavior of human beings, you look at how they talk, what they talk about, what they write about on social media and so forth and you can clearly see that people are at different levels of consciousness.
Therefore, the essence of the path is that right now you are at a certain level of consciousness and the goal of the spiritual path is to raise your consciousness to progressively higher levels. The ultimate goal of the path is to raise your awareness so that you do not have to come back into embodiment on earth. You become a being in the realm of higher awareness.
It is helpful for you to contemplate what it takes to become a being of higher awareness. What is the difference between a being of higher awareness and an embodied being on earth? Consider some of the things you see unfolding on earth, some of the selfishness, some of the hostility, the anger, even the fear, even the submissiveness that you see on earth, many of these human characteristics. Do you think they can exist in the realm of higher awareness, whether you want to call it heaven or the ascended realm or the spiritual realm.
Do you think beings of higher awareness go around, behaving like you see human beings behaving on earth? And obviously, most of you who are more aware people will realize that beings of higher awareness do not behave the way human beings do, they do not talk the way human beings do. But why is that? It is, of course, because such beings have a different level of consciousness, a higher level of consciousness than any human being on earth.
The question now is how have these beings attained that higher level of consciousness? Well, they have done it of course, by rising up through the different levels that are possible on earth until they reached the highest level and could graduate from earth. But what does this actually mean? What is it that they have done in order to attain higher awareness? What is it that takes anyone from one level of consciousness to the next?
Right now, you are at a certain level of consciousness. This means that you have a certain view of yourself and of the world, your interaction with the world and with other people. You have a certain view of relationships, yourself in relation to other people. For each of the levels of consciousness possible on earth, there is a certain illusion. There is a certain perception filter, a certain set of beliefs that characterize that level and it is precisely this perception filter, this illusion, these beliefs that blind you so there is something you cannot see.
It is comparable to you being in the forest, you find an observation tower and there is a ladder that leads up to the observation tower. You are at a certain point on that ladder and you can see certain things from that vantage point but you cannot see above the treetops. At any stage on the path to higher awareness there is something you can see on that level and there is something you cannot see, namely what is at the higher levels than where you are at.
What is the essence of growth in awareness? It is that you come to see what you cannot see right now. But how do you do this? You come to see the illusion that you have at your current level of consciousness. You come to see that it is a limited view that you are having right now. You see how it is limiting you and then you see a higher view and when you let go of the limited view, embrace the higher view, you have taken one step up on the staircase that leads to higher awareness. You have not reached the highest level by taking that one step up, you have reached the next level up.
There will always be something you are not seeing and that means that the essence of the path is that you are always having an illusion that limits your view and you always need to be willing to see that illusion, see its limitations and see the higher view for the next step up. This is an ongoing process. It will not end as long as you are on earth. It will only end when you see through the illusion of the highest level and then you cannot hold on to a physical body and therefore you ascend. There is nobody on earth who does not have some illusion they have not seen.
It does not matter who they claim to be, how highly evolved they claim to be, whether they claim to be enlightened or not, whether they claim to be some superhuman being or not. Whether they claim to be God in embodiment – they still have an illusion they have not seen through or they would not be in a physical body on a planet like earth!
Now, what does it then take? How do you come to see an illusion and rise from one level of consciousness to the next? There are three basic ways.
One is the experiential way. You act out your present level of consciousness and you will then continue to act it out in more and more extreme ways. It is clear that if you go to the very low levels of consciousness, acting out that level to its extreme is a radical behavior. Most people, of course, are not at that level. At any level of consciousness there will be two polarities and you can act out that level of consciousness to one of these extremes until you have had enough of it. You simply get tired of experiencing life through that rather extreme filter and therefore, you become open to seeing the illusion, giving it up, and rising to a higher level.
This is what can be called the school of hard knocks. There will be external circumstances, often in the form of other people, who are going to give you feedback on your state of consciousness, give you opposition or however you see it, until you have had enough of this and rise above. It is the school of hard knocks. You are at that point still walking the path in an unconscious way. You are not directly in your mind thinking, “What do I need to see in order to get to the next level?” You are letting circumstances push you around until you feel cornered and now you rise.
The next approach is that you are consciously aware that there is something you need to see, some illusion you need to overcome and therefore you begin to actively look for it. Those who take the first approach are not willing to look at themselves. They are not looking for the beam in their own eye. They are projecting out, only looking at the splinters in the eyes of other people.
This is something that profoundly affects your relationships. You can probably all see people who are not looking at themselves, who are always projecting out that it is your fault or other people’s fault and it is never their fault. Certainly you can see this outplayed on the world stage.
When you take that step onto the conscious path, you realize that you do need to look at yourself. In the beginning, many people do not have the full grasp of what this means. Some people have a selective willingness to look at themselves. They are willing to look at certain things in their psychology, but there are other things that they are not willing to look at because it is very painful for them to look at certain things.
It is alright that you have a certain period where you are selectively looking at yourself. This is perfectly fine because you do not need to see all your illusions at your present level of consciousness. You only need to take the next step. You break the path into the smaller units that are much more manageable for you.
However, you do need to be aware that at each step there is something you have to see in yourself, in your own psychology and this requires you to be willing to look. What does this mean in practical terms? It does mean that you have to be willing to observe yourself, to ask questions, but of course this is not an approach that is easy because the whole nature of the path is that you are at your present level of consciousness and at this present level of consciousness there is something you cannot see because you have a perception filter, an illusion that blocks it. How do you come to see what you cannot see? Well, you can question, you can analyze, you can observe and you can make some progress but ultimately, the way to see what you cannot see is to have some frame of reference from outside the perception filter. That frame of reference can be a teaching, it can be an observation, but the fastest way to make progress is of course, to receive input from outside yourself that gives you a frame of reference that challenges your perception and therefore helps you question it.
This is the third way to make progress and of course, real progress is an interchange between the second, observing yourself, and the third, getting input from outside yourself. This third way of getting input from outside your self is the foundation for the concept of teachers. A teacher can personally advise you or even challenge you in your illusions. There is a very old tradition in the East of such teachers or gurus that take on students.
In the Age of Higher awareness, many people will find the path to higher awareness. They will become conscious that there is a way to systematically, not only heal your psychology, but actually raise your consciousness to higher levels. We have moved into an age where a considerable portion of the population in many of the modern nations have entered the self-actualization needs. When you enter that stage, then you are open to the concept of a path, a systematic way to improve yourself and that means that many people also become open to the concept of a guru, a teacher, a guide, a coach whatever it is called.
The traditional teacher-student relationship simply is not practical for the Age of Higher awareness. When you have a physical guru who lives in an ashram, that guru can only have personal interactions with a limited number of students. There was a certain period where there was the emergence of these Indian gurus who became known in the West. You have seen sometimes thousands of people who will travel to a guru’s ashram and they would live there and work there and they might be in a big group listening to the guru, but very few of them had personal interactions with a guru.
Clearly, when millions of people in the West are open to the path to higher awareness, it just is not possible that they can all travel to India, or even in the West find a personal, physical guru. If there are millions of people open to the process, you would need tens of thousands of gurus to give them all personal attention and there are not that many gurus who are qualified.
What is the practical solution to this? Well, one aspect of the solution is that people find a teaching, they embrace that teaching to the point where they begin to have personal contact with the beings of higher awareness, so that you can get personal feedback, personal guidance from them. It happens within yourself, not through a physical guru. The ultimate goal of any teaching is that you become self-sufficient where you are no longer need the outer teaching. You have direct contact with beings of higher awareness within yourself.
Reaching this point will for most people take time. Even if you find a teaching, there is still a period where you have a need for a physical teacher who can tell you what you cannot see. This need not be a person who is set up as a guru or who has taken on the title of guru, but it is a person who is acting as a teacher for you by presenting you with something that can help you challenge your current illusion and overcome it. What kind of a teacer is this?
There is an old saying: “If the guru be an ant, heed him.” It means that if a human being does not have the title of a guru but appears to be just like any other human being, but they still present you with something that you need to hear, then heed them anyway even though they do not have a title, even though they do not seem to have any authority.
This leads to the point where you can shift your attitude to relationships, any kind of relationship. You can shift so you consciously are willing to acknowledge that any person you have a relationship with can be the guru disguised as an ant and they can at any time, tell you something or give you some kind of feedback that you need to hear. It is something that you can hear or see physically and therefore, it is more difficult for your mind, your ego to deny it or explain it away. In other words, what I am saying here is this: the most constructive attitude you can adopt regarding your relationships is that any person you are in a relationship with could be the guru in disguise.
Obviously this requires some discretion and discernment. You cannot go around and listen to all the people you have a relationship with and think that anything they say is something you should heed and you should now change your life or change your attitude because of what they said. Naturally, you need to make your own decisions. But what you can learn relatively quickly to recognize is that, once in a while somebody will say or do something and there is a certain reaction in your heart.
In the beginning, this may seem like there is a pause. There is a vacuum, there is a stillness, there is a moment of stillness. There is almost like a hesitation in your heart. Many aware people already know this, but all can learn to recognize this fairly quickly by putting your attention on it. When you will feel this reaction in your heart chakra, then you know there is something in that person’s actions or in what they are saying that you need to pay attention to. This does not mean you are necessarily take it literally and do exactly what they say, but you realize there is something there that you need to ponder, that you need to reflect on. One of the primary things you need to reflect on is, of course, your own reaction. Can you see that there is a certain reaction in your outer mind that is in contrast to this stillness, this pause in your heart chakra?
You realize there is some kind of a shift that happened there, some kind of reaction beyond the ordinary and when you learn to pay attention to this, then you can say: “Oh, there is something here. What is it”? You can then ask for guidance from higher awareness or or you can ask other people. It may not be the person who is telling you this who can help you gain clarity on it, but you can at least begin to talk about it with some people. You can look at it in books. You can look at teachings. You can attempt to gain clarity on it.
You can look upon any relationship you have as a potential encounter with a guru disguised as an ant. This can truly shift your attitude to relationships in a profound way. Much of what you get, of course, you can safely ignore. The challenge is always to discern between what to ignore and what not to ignore but this is something you can learn by practicing.