Spiritual teachers throughout the ages have emphasized that as we grow spiritually, we live in an increasing state of greater awareness of divine consciousness at work in our every moment. 

If this is so it would make sense for us as aspiring spiritual students to develop our Awareness.

But – What exactly do we mean by Awareness? The Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines Awareness as:

“ the quality or state of being aware : knowledge and understanding that something is happening or exists.

Synonyms for Awareness include: attention, cognizance, consciousness, ear, eye, heed, knowledge, mindfulness, note, notice, observance, observation.”

Awareness in Traditional Societies: Traditional societies such as the Australian Aborigines and the American Indians promoted awareness of nature in the education of young people.

American Indian Vision Quest:  some American Indian nations required their young men to sit without speaking and remaining alert for 24 hours under a tree observing everything that happened around them.  After being attentive to nature’s patterns in this way they were said to come back as a changed person.

Ancient Egypt: as a beginning in training for spiritual initiation, candidates in the temples of ancient Egypt were required to observe nature (among many other duties) over an extended period and discuss what they saw and their understanding of nature’s patterns with their teacher.

Mystical Christianity: Mystical Christianity certainly encourages us to have an awareness of the divine presence everywhere in Nature by looking at common things and our whole lives in a different way.

For example, from The Gospel According to St. Thomas (never included in the New testament but discovered in Naj Hammadi, Egypt, in 1945):

(3) Jesus said: If those who lead you say unto you: Behold, the Kingdom is in heaven, then the birds of the heaven will be before you. If they say unto you: It is in the sea, then the fish will be before you. But the Kingdom is within you, and it is outside of you. When you know yourselves, then shall you be known, and you shall know that you are the sons of the living Father. But if ye do not know yourselves, then you are in poverty, and you are poverty.

(113) His disciples said to him: On what day will the kingdom come? Jesus said: It cometh not with observation. They will not say: Lo, here! or: Lo, there! But the kingdom of the Father is spread out upon the earth, and men do not see it.

Poets: Poets of all ages have ever encouraged us to mystical Awareness of the common things we see in nature every day.

For example, William Blake from Auguries of Innocence:

“…To see a World in a Grain of Sand

And a Heaven in a Wild Flower,

Hold Infinity in the palm of your hand

And Eternity in an hour…”

William Wordsworth encourages us to look for what we can learn from the innocence of children and how our state of awareness can fade away as we grow into youth and adulthood because of the pressures of daily life.

From Ode to Intimations of Immortality, from Recollections of Early Childhood:

“…But trailing clouds of glory do we come
From God, who is our home:
Heaven lies about us in our infancy!

Shades of the prison-house begin to close
Upon the growing Boy,
But he beholds the light, and whence it flows,
He sees it in his joy;
The Youth, who daily farther from the east
Must travel, still is Nature’s Priest,
And by the vision splendid
Is on his way attended;
At length the Man perceives it die away,
And fade into the light of common day…”

Shakespeare: William Shakespeare in his famous play, Hamlet, encourages us, through Hamlet’s speech to himself, to look for the essence of man even though we may despair of the state of the world we live in:

“…What a piece of work is man, how noble in reason, how infinite in faculty, in form and moving how express and admirable, In action how like an Angel, In apprehension how like a god, The beauty of the world, The paragon of animals. And yet to me, what is this quintessence of dust?…”

Modern Spiritual Teachers: In modern times spiritual teachers such as J. Krishnamurti and Eckhart Tolle devote a great deal of energy to encourage their students to develop Awareness. This involves:

  • Self awareness/self knowing/freedom to observe and therefore learn from our mistakes and have the opportunity thereby to grow.
  • Awareness of the invisible part of other people that makes their character.
  • Be aware of our sense perceptions, thoughts and emotions and our ability to make these observations.
  • There must be something which is observing to have these sense perceptions, that there is a thought/emotion, etc.
  • Perhaps this is one key to pure consciousness that we never really spend much time exploring because we don’t examine our lives much in this hectic modern world.
  • Examine the role of intellect versus our total being and seeing that there is something behind intellect that is examining and learning from it.

Scientists: Quantum Physics: Things are not what they appear to be: Illusion – ‘Maya’: our experience of reality reflects our level of conscious awareness. The laws of physics as we know them relate to our level of reality. They may be quite different in other dimensions, or levels of vibration. As our Awareness increases, we understand our world in different ways, as we have seen in the discoveries of modern physics.

Truth and Relative Truth: Our understanding of the real nature of the universe as it really is in Itself is relative to our level of spiritual understanding, eg a human understands the universe quite differently from an animal, and a ‘God’ presumably has a much greater understanding of the nature of reality than a human.

Things are not what they appear to be: The Universe is mostly empty space between subatomic particles. The Ancient Wisdom refers to our physical bodies as ‘Stuhula Sarira’ – the Foamlike Body. We live and are aware of maybe 5% of the mass of the Universe: The rest is composed of ‘Dark Matter’ – 27%, and ‘Dark Energy’ – 68%.

So, if anyone says that I only believe what I can see and touch, then what about the 95% of the mass of the Universe we cannot see or touch?

Our senses filter out an enormous amount of reality: as well as allowing us to function in the world as far as our consciousness is developed to understand, eg. We can only see about 0.0036% of the total electromagnetic spectrum.  As the famous inventor, Nicholas Tesla, once said:

“The gift of mental power comes from God, divine being, and if we concentrate our minds on that truth, we become in tune with this great power. Our senses enable us to perceive only a minute portion of the outside world.”

There are people who have such a wider sensory awareness: and can ‘see’ music, and ‘feel’ colour, or see energy fields, or ‘auras’, around other people, or see ‘dead people’ as portrayed in the film The Sixth Sense!

Perspectives from Theosophy: Four States of Awareness (Based on the works of G de Purucker): According to Theosophy, following Hindu terminology, there are four states of consciousness that human beings experience, though only the first three are common to most people. A man/woman can enter these states of awareness both in life and after death.

In Sanskrit language, these are called:

Jagrat: meaning the normal waking state.

Swapna: the dreaming-sleeping state.

Sushupti: the condition of profound and dreamless sleep.

Turiya: the highest of them all spiritually.

Awareness in the Average Person: Let us take an average individual: he/she is in the normal waking state while on earth (Jagrat), yet he/she has intimations of something nobler and finer in him than the Jagrat quality shows.

This is the Higher Manas (Higher Mind) or Manasaputra (Son of Mind) within him/her, expressing itself in this sphere of consciousness in the Swapna quality because, although its power is already fully manifested on its own plane, it can but weakly express itself in such average man/woman.

Again, the Buddhi (ie. Compassion) within him/her, although fully functional on its own plane, nevertheless, because of the man’s/woman’s imperfections, only occasionally can reach him/her with a brilliant ray from itself, and this usually vaguely and more or less in the Sushupti quality.

Finally, the Buddha or Christ within him is functional on its own lofty spiritual plane, but cannot impress its fullness of consciousness on the mind of the ordinary individual, and thus to him/her, his or her inner Buddha is of the Turiya quality of consciousness.

Also, at any time throughout a man’s life, there are those very mystical and wonderful, and all too infrequent ‘revelations’ or intuitions, which come into his/her consciousness like spiritual-intellectual illuminations.

The Human Ego and the Four States of Awareness: Now then, the particular part of man experiencing these various qualities of consciousness is the human ego, which is obviously self-conscious in the Jagrat quality of physical existence.

Thus, at the onset of both sleep and death the consciousness passes from the Jagrat into unconsciousness. The human ego first has a temporary condition of Swapna, or sleeping-dreaming, and then, quickly or slowly, according to the constitution, begins the ‘unconscious’ condition of the Sushupti — unconscious from our standpoint only because we have not yet become accustomed to live self-consciously in our higher qualities.

This is our challenge here and now – but how to move upward through the four states of awareness?

Some Practical Advice (based on the works of Ryan Kurczak): Spiritual teachers, psychologists and psychiatrists all give advice about the process of being happier more functional people. But let’s be down to earth and practical about this!

Awareness of Health: look after our physical and mental health by being careful about what we eat, drink, the amount of exercise we have, work/life balance etc.

Let’s remember about the importance of what we watch on TV, the internet, phones, etc not to ingest ‘mind junk’ which can be equally damaging as junk food.

Emotional Health: don’t escape pain but move through it and learn from it. Accept it and be at peace. Don’t dwell on negative emotions. Be here in the present moment in your life and not a prisoner of regret.

Be Kind to Everyone as Much as You Can: as the Buddhists say treat others as you would treat your ideal mother – with unconditional love and gradually extend the circle of unconditional love to others.

Be Authentic/Sincere about your goodness/happiness: Be who you are in awareness.

Meditation: commit to whatever meditative practice that seems right for you. Clear your mind. Internalize your attention. How you turn off negative thoughts is a personal path. You have to find your own way. Sit and watch your mind. Perhaps a pen and paper can help to note down things that happen to you. Sit still and watch your mind and gradually the mind will empty itself over months/years.

Contemplation: get rid of preconceptions about divinity. Follow the signs that come along. Eventually insights will come. Figure out what is real to you. Doesn’t have to be mental gymnastics. Figure out your role in divine consciousness.

Psychic Awareness: A Measure of Spirituality? Is a person with psychic awareness necessarily more spiritual than a normal person? Theosophy answers emphatically – No.

Psychic abilities are inbuilt in most people, but we are shielded from their negative side-affects because we have not yet developed the moral, ethical, and character strength to cope with such powers. Imagine if we could read another person’s thoughts and knew what they really thought of us – how would we react and relate the to them?

Through the relevant knowledge and practice, anyone can develop these powers, but that does not mean that they are spiritual people doing this for a noble reason. In fact, Masters of Wisdom, who have access to all these powers, will only use them if it is necessary for their compassionate work in helping raise the consciousness level of Humanity.

Humility: Sit quietly. Figure out your relationship to divine consciousness. How can I bring this to others. Realize you are part of the One. Follow what is right. Don’t get carried away with your knowledge or outer achievements.

A Silent Relationship with Divine Consciousness:  You don’t have to shout it from the roof-tops. Expand awareness. Lose the small sense of self. It is not a dramatic thing but grows slowly as your awareness grows. Don’t get egotistical about your achievements or energetically mixed up with others. You can’t prove anything spiritually to others as we each have to learn for ourselves.

Accept Suffering/Failure and Learn from It: every experience is a manifestation of divine consciousness and life is a constant opportunity to learn and grow exactly tailored to our individual needs.  

Don’t remain in a prison of regret if you do something stupid. Learn from it and move on working honestly realizing divine presence in everything that you do. Suffering and Failure are often our best friends in spiritual work and the main reason why most people start their journey on the spiritual path. Suffering is a potent method of learning Empathy and Compassion for others who are similarly suffering and looking for a way out of the cycle of Suffering and Failure.

Keep whatever spiritual practice you follow strong. Be kind to others. Give someone a compliment every day. Help someone every day.

Remember: You Don’t Lose – You Learn!

Acceptance versus Willpower: apply each whenever it is appropriate as life rides between the two in spiritual training especially. Live your life all the time in divine awareness. Meditation and spiritual ritual are supports – not the whole thing. Strive for consistent communion with the Divine presence and all sorts of inspirations will come spontaneously.

Follow your own Path: are you inspired to follow a particular Path then stick with it find people you can work with be devoted to the recommended process alert and awake as you go to new possibilities. A spiritual teacher is a guide only to your practice – but you have to do the work! Your teacher can be a role model – but you always have personal responsibility.

Ride the wave of consciousness to new horizons.

Further Reading:

  • Videos by J. Krishnamurti and Eckhart Tolle are available on You Tube.
  • G de Purucker: The Fountain-Source of Occultism.
  • G de Purucker: The Path of Compassion.
  • Ryan Kurczak: A Course in Tranquillity: Integrating Meditation, Effective Living and Non-Dualism.

If you wish to contact the compiler, please write to andrewrooke@hotmail.com