Consciousness

Consciousness is the quality or state of awareness, or, of being aware of an external object or something within oneself.

Consciousness has been defined as:

  • sentience,
  • awareness,
  • subjectivity,
  • the ability to experience or to feel,
  • wakefulness,
  • having a sense of selfhood, and
  • the executive control system of the mind.

The Phenomenon of Man

In THE PHENOMENON OF MAN (Le Phenomne Humain, 1955) by Pierre Teilhard de Chardin a French philosopher, paleontologist and Jesuit priest describes evolution as a process that leads to increasing complexity, culminating in the unification of consciousness.

The book was finished in the 1930s, but was published posthumously in 1955.

The Phenomenon of Man by Teilhard de Chardin referenced in Beyond Motivation by James T. McCay

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THE PHENOMENON OF MAN set forth a sweeping account of the unfolding of the cosmos and abandoned the traditional interpretations of creation in the Book of Genesis in favor of a less strict interpretation. This displeased the Roman Curia and his own order, The Jesuits, who thought that the book undermined the doctrine of original sin developed by Saint Augustine so his book was not published until after his death many years later.

However, later statements by officials such as Pope John Paul II and Pope Benedict were more supportive of Teilhard de Chardin.

The foreword to THE PHENOMENON OF MAN was written by one of the key scientific advocates for natural selection and evolution of the 20th Century, and co-developer of the modern synthesis in biology, Julian Huxley.

Reference to THE PHENOMENON OF MAN can be found on page: 13.

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Gurdjieff

George Ivanovich Gurdjieff (January 13, 1866 – October 29, 1949) was an influential spiritual teacher of the early to mid-20th century who taught that the vast majority of humanity lives their entire lives in a state of hypnotic “waking sleep” but that it was possible to transcend to a higher state of consciousness and achieve full human potential.

Gurdjieff developed a method for doing so, calling his discipline “The Work” (connoting “work on oneself”) or “the Method.”

According to his principles and instructions, Gurdjieff’s method for awakening one’s consciousness is different from that of the fakir, monk or yogi, so his discipline is also called (originally) the “Fourth Way.” At one point he described his teaching as being “esoteric Christianity.”

At different times in his life, Gurdjieff formed and closed various schools around the world to teach the work.

He claimed that the teachings he brought to the West from his own experiences and early travels expressed the truth found in ancient religions and wisdom teachings relating to self-awareness in people’s daily lives and humanity’s place in the universe.

The title of his third series of writings, Life Is Real Only Then, When ‘I Am’, expresses the essence of his teachings. His complete series of books is entitled All and Everything.

The Master Game: Pathways to Higher Consciousness

The Master Game: Pathways to Higher Consciousness by Robert S. de Ropp is a compelling exploration of the human psyche and of the specific techniques through which man can achieve the highest possible levels of consciousness.


This exploration, which involves every aspect of human behaviour — the instinctive, motor, emotional, and intellectual — is, in the words of the author, ‘the only game worth playing’ — The Master Game.

This is the best-known consciousness classic by Robert S. de Ropp with over 200,000 copies sold.

The book influenced two generations of readers on their spiritual path.

Scientist de Ropp’s compendium provides a fine introduction to the various practices of meditation, yoga, Fourth Way and other paths.

Introduction to the New Existentialism

Introduction to the New Existentialism by Colin Wilson is, according to his introduction to the 1980 edition, a summary of the ideas contained in “The Outsider” cycle.

Colin Wilson considered this book to be the pinnacle of his philosophy. It is an attempt to show how recent developments in understanding of consciousness, of ‘peak experiences’, aesthetic and mystical, and of language, can bring back meaningfulness, and provide 20th and 21st century man with a relevant and satisfying philosophy.

Some Quotes:

Some years ago, an American psychologist, Abraham Maslow, felt the same kind of instinctive revolt against the ‘atmosphere’ of Freudian psychology, with its emphasis on sickness and neurosis, and decided that he might obtain some equally interesting results if he studied extremely healthy people. He therefore looked around for the most cheerful and well-adjusted people he could find, and asked for their co-operation in his studies. he soon discovered and interesting fact: that most extremely healthy people frequently experience of intense affirmation and certainty; Maslow called these ‘peak experiences.’ No one had made this discovery before because it had never struck anyone that a science calling itself ‘psychology’ and professing to be a science of the human mind (not merely the sick mind), ought to form its estimate of human beings by taking into account healthy minds as well as sick ones. A sick man talks obsessively about his illness; a healthy man never talks about his health; for as Pirandello points out, we take happiness for granted, and only begin to question life when we are unhappy. Hence no psychologist ever made this simple and obvious discovery about peak experiences.
p. 15

Husserl has shown that man’s prejudices go a great deal deeper than his intellect or his emotions. Consciousness itself is ‘prejudiced’ – that is to say, intentional.
p. 54

A child might be overawed by a great city, but a civil engineer knows that he might demolish it and rebuild it himself. Husserl’s philosophy has the same aim: to show us that, although we may have been thrust into this world without a ‘by your leave,’ we are mistaken to assume that it exists independently of us. It is true that reality exists apart from us; but what we mistake for the world is actually a world constituted by us, selected from an infinitely complex reality.
p. 63

In a book called Symbolism, Its Meaning and Effect, Whitehead points out that perception is usually a matter of symbols, just like language; I say I see a book when I actually see a red oblong. The Transactionists (who have been influenced by Whitehead rather than Husserl) take this one stage further, and point out that when I ‘perceive’ something, I am actually making a bet with myself that what I perceive is what I think it is. In order to act and live at all, I have to make these bets; I cannot afford to make absolutely certain that things are what I think they are. But this means that we should not take our perceptions at face value, any more than Nietzsche was willing to take philosophy at its face value; we must allow for prejudice and distortion.
p. 66

The effects of mescalin or LSD can be, in some respects, far more satisfying than those of alcohol. To begin with, they last longer; they also leave behind no hangover, and leave the mental faculties clear and unimpaired. They stimulate the faculties and produce the ideal ground for a peak experience.
p.

88

Phenomenology is not a philosophy; it is a philosophical method, a tool. It is like an adjustable spanner that can be used for dismantling a refrigerator or a car, or used for hammering in nails, or even for knocking somebody out.
p. 92

Now the basic impulse behind existentialism is optimistic, very much like the impulse behind all science. Existentialism is romanticism, and romanticism is the feeling that man is not the mere he has always taken himself for. Romanticism began as a tremendous surge of optimism about the stature of man. its aim — like that of science — was to raise man above the muddled feelings and impulses of his everyday humanity, and to make him a god-like observer of human existence.
p. 96

It is the fallacy of all intellectuals to believe that intellect can grasp life. It cannot, because it works in terms of symbols and language. There is another factor involved: consciousness. If the flame of consciousness is low, a symbol has no power to evoke reality, and intellect is helpless.
p. 112

Robert S. de Ropp

Robert Sylvester de Ropp (1913–1987) was a biochemist and a researcher and academic in that field who became prominent in the general fields of the realisation of human potential and the search for spiritual enlightenment.

Robert S. de Ropp wrote the classic The Master Game: Pathways to Higher Consciousness. This book influenced two generations of readers on their spiritual path because it is a compelling exploration of the human psyche and of the specific techniques through which man can achieve the highest possible levels of consciousness.