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The unfoldment of consciousness

Introduction Traditionally, consciousness relates to the use of the senses. In other words, we become conscious of something when we are able to see, hear, smell or touch it. However, consciousness is much more than sense-perception, or merely being self-aware, and is actually a dynamic state of mind and being able to affects thoughts, decisions, actions and achievements. What makes it it especially important is the fact that consciousness can be manipulated and heightened by meditation, radically improving ones insight into self, life and reality. As mystics we know that consciousness can also be experienced as a dynamic envelope or field of perception which can be extended indefinitely and even directed at any object or desired situation. By raising and improving the quality (clarity) of consciousness, one moves closer to an experience of the Inner Master (higher self) and the cosmic singularity, known in religious terms as God. Within the depths of consciousness are housed memories, (some of which are traumatic or unpleasant), cultural, religious or spiritual beliefs, as well as conditioned thoughts and responses. Consciousness can easily be lost in these entanglements, and it is therefore important to keep these pathways clear for the unfoldment of the higher self. The development of consciousness should occur naturally with maturity, and by learning the lessons that life has to offer. However, the process can be speeded up with more conscious living and a daily commitment to self-development which usually occurs with religious, spiritual or mystical studies and practices. In this regard, I have identified four stages which can be explained (metaphorically) in the form of relationships, able to assist aspirants in the unfoldment of consciousness. The relationship with self As previously stated, the process of unfoldment can be hastened by conscious efforts at selfimprovement, but equally delayed by negative attitudes, poisonous states of mind or thoughtless actions, as well as sickness and ill-health. It is therefore important to take steps to remain physically, emotionally and mentally healthy, starting with a proper diet and regular exercise. Toxins can also build up due to stress and bad eating habits and regular detoxification is recommended. A lighter, stronger and healthier body is more receptive and better equipped to maintain a high level of consciousness. Work stress and family drama also serve to entrap consciousness, and it is necessary to create the correct psychological space for introspection and the unfoldment of consciousness. Balance is therefore required, both in ones career as well as private life. This does not mean prematurely ending a working career, or living in complete isolation from the world, but rather, making some simple lifestyles changes to reduce unnecessary stress, practicing better time management and re-prioritising. It is also necessary to practice relaxation and shift the focus from outer to inner consciousness. In this regard, meditational techniques will aid in cultivating this inner stillness, balance and sense of detachment.

As stated, consciousness has to slowly wind its way through the entanglements of the human mind in order to unfold. This can be more easily facilitated by the removal of all emotional and psychological debris and the attainment of emotional wellness, which can be explained as being able to cope with the emotional ups and downs of daily life. Wellness also suggests that most of the unhelpful emotions from the past, such as anger, fear and resentment have been resolved. The human body has a natural ability to heal and under the right conditions, minds will also heal and allow consciousness to unfold as it should. This process of healing usually requires the release of guilt, doubts and fears from the past through forgiveness or self-forgiveness, and rebuilding self-esteem. It is also important to keep the consciousness clear and free of negative thoughts, drama and intrigue which also place limits on its unfoldment. This would involve releasing all thoughts or beliefs that are unhelpful or self-defeating. In some cases this could require the help and assistance of counselors and therapists. Deeper experiences associated with an unfolding consciousness are dependent on an open mind. Limited beliefs and perceptions about the world and reality therefore set a natural limit to what can be processed. For instance, a lack of belief in higher forms of life and consciousness will limit interaction with spiritual beings. This openness usually requires only a small shift to a more universal paradigm of thought which includes all possibilities for spiritual development. Research has also shown that deep-seated beliefs about self act as mental rules or instructions to the unconscious mind and influence thinking, decisions and actions. For example, a view of self as an imperfect physical being will limit the experience of higher consciousness. A psychological shift has to be made to a view that is more expansive. Accepting oneself as a multi-dimensional being with an almost limitless potential will redefine the boundaries of inner experience. The relationship with the unconscious mind One of the most powerful allies in the process of unfolding consciousness is the unconscious mind. According to research, unconscious processes regulate bodily functions such as breathing and heartbeat, as well as some important mental activities. The unconscious mind is also able to communicate using sensations, impressions, spontaneous thoughts and ideas (intuition) and symbolic images during dreams, imagery (visualization) or visions. Its role in regulating sensory input using processes of selective perception and attention is less known. Metaphorically, the unconscious mind can be seen as an inner guardian and protector of consciousness, filtering incoming information and regulating inner experiences. This reminds one of the legend of the Sphinx which guarded the entrance to the Greek city of Thebes. Visitors to the city had to demonstrate commitment, courage and insight in order to be admitted. Similarly, under the right conditions of readiness, the unconscious mind will provide access to higher levels of consciousness. As it represents a different level of mind, it sometimes proves useful to treat the unconscious as a separate entity. In fact, this whole process of building an intimate relationship of trust and cooperation, and gaining access to the inner chambers of higher consciousness, can be seen (metaphorically) as taking a new lover. For example, when wooing a lover one would begin by communicating a desire for an intimate relationship with sincerity, sweet words and considerate actions. In terms of this metaphor, this would correspond to affirmations suggesting integrity and genuineness. In real-life a suitor would not make much of a first impression if he came across as

indecisive and lacking in self-worth. For this reason the affirmations should be also be confident and directed at acknowledging the power of the higher self. This inner dialogue with the unconscious should be continued during periods of meditation and combined with dramatised scenarios (visualisation) in which it assumes the form of a lover. Moments of altered consciousness accompanied by unexpected breaths and emotions during these times of contact would be an indication that the unconscious is beginning to respond, and a door to higher consciousness has been opened ( in the same way that a lover would open her door). This should be accompanied by unexpected shifts in the scenes and images spontaneously presenting themselves during visualisation, and marks the passage to inner or psychic sight. The unconscious lover will only finally accept these advances (open the doors to her inner chamber), once the suitor has clearly and adequately communicated his intentions and demonstrated that he is trustworthy, willing and able to assume the responsibility for this new relationship (the experiences and changes that will take place with an unfolding consciousness). This readiness demands a more powerful state of mind and will be demonstrated by the proper application of intentions. An intention is similar to an affirmation, but more powerful. It is set by formulating a single, simple and precise self-instruction or thought, absolutely without any doubt or hesitation, as to exactly what is desired. This can be metaphorically represented as a more direct and insistent approach to the unconscious lover in the form of a specific request. Unlike an affirmation, which is usually repeated over and over, an intention is stated only once. It is this single act of pure intent and absolute conviction that sets it apart from an affirmation and which assures the unconscious mind of the aspirants preparedness and readiness for the experience. An intention is most effective when combined with meditation or imagery and can result in an immediate shift in consciousness. However, this depends totally on the quality and strength of the relationship of trust and cooperation that has been established with the subconscious lover, as it is this which provides the power and impetus for the shift. After such a period of courtship, the lover will open the doors to her innermost chamber, at which time she should be showered with gratitude and appreciation. This opening of the doors to higher perception by the subconscious mind will result in a profound heightening of consciousness during meditation and powerful new inner experiences. The relationship with the inner master or higher self A sudden feeling of inspiration or exhilaration, such as that which sometimes takes place during meditation, or when contemplating the beauty of nature, indicates a momentary connection to the higher self. It often helps to see this higher self or inner master as a centre of pure consciousness fed by a multitude of impressions, sensations, thoughts and emotions. Once these outer experiences are stripped away, only the pure state of consciousness remains in which there is nothing, except the simple realisation of ones existence. This state of unfolded consciousness, without all the trimmings, is also called the I or soul-consciousness. This is not the ego, but the higher source of self which naturally finds expression when the pathway through the mind is clear, uncluttered and transcendent. The proper use of affirmations and intentions during meditation will allow these moments or gaps in the fabric of consciousness to be induced at will. This will usually be marked by a sudden, spontaneous deep breath. This experience provides a brief opportunity for a single, powerful conscious thought relating to the higher self to be introduced directly into the subconscious mind.

Metaphorically, this could be seen as extending a spiritual arm and reaching through the veil of consciousness in order to touch the garment of the inner master. During those few seconds it is possible to recall ones existing connection with Divinity and open to an inflow of consciousness. The relationship with Spirit The final important relationship to be established is that with the higher realms of Spirit in the form of celestial beings of light who are willing and able to share of their energy, consciousness and wisdom with those who are aligned with the Divine Will. These associations with advanced spiritual beings are usually necessary to gain access to the highest planes of consciousness. In fact, this guidance and instruction by celestial light-beings is ever-present, but often goes unnoticed due to the many distractions in everyday life. These intelligences do not normally reveal themselves until one has cultivated a sufficiently responsive mind, strong enough to cope with the responsibilities of higher consciousness and perception. This explains why persons who do not believe in their existence are unlikely to ever see them. Revealing themselves to someone who is unprepared for the experience could do more harm than good, due to the fragility of the human mind. It also shows why it is necessary to have first built up a strong relationship of trust with the subconscious inner guardian so that the doors of higher perception can be safely opened. A relationship with Spirit provides a continuous source of guidance and energy for the unfoldment of consciousness and is established over time through ongoing communication and commitment. During the earlier stages, one is most likely to encounter saints or spirit guides, enlightened personalities who once walked this earth, and some classes of guardian angels. However, later on it is also possible to approach members of the esoteric hierarchy, archangels, thrones and powers and finally, the spiritual masters of the Christ Consciousness. Contacts with these benevolent spiritual intelligences serve to raise consciousness and increase intuition, which now operates at a much higher level. Guidance and support will be immediate and direct in the form of messages, promptings and instructions taking place during dreams, visions, meditations and imagery. Conclusion Finally, the full unfoldment of consciousness requires enormous amounts of psychic energy and the final steps along this path would involve being willing to undergo whatever training and initiations are required. Real-life initiations usually take place during organised ceremonies, as provided by the Order, or on a spiritual level. A spiritual initiation can be described as a symbolic process or ritual occurring during a meditation, lucid dream or vision which involves an invitation by spiritual beings to enter or shift into a new level of understanding or consciousness. Initiations differ in form and content, but share common characteristics or requirements. For instance, they all involve a situation where a choice, choices or a decision has to be consciously made (this distinguishes it from a normal dream or vision), as well as tests in which one has to face and overcome certain obstacles. I trust this information will contribute to the worldwide unfoldment of consciousness. Peace profound. JP (Jimmy) Henderson FRC