Let’s look at another side of consciousness. Was your consciousness formed haphazardly, or selectively? When you woke up this morning, did you enjoy a healthy, delicious breakfast? Nutritionists tell us that a good breakfast is the best start to a fruitful day. To have a good breakfast requires some time to plan something healthy and tasty that will support your body, mind and spirit in doing their tasks to your satisfaction, while not being too hard to digest. You probably have breakfast at a set time every day. Why do we do all the above? Because the more carefully we choose our ingredients, the better the result; the more regular our mealtimes, the better our health. This was a simple example of your awareness, initiative and selectivity in your breakfast, and its positive impact on the rest of the day.
I doubt that we routinely wake up and eat whatever is handy in the kitchen or in the fridge, do we? Would you be comfortable filling your stomach with a random slice of pizza, some pasta, a bit of fish, some hot sauce and leftover Chinese, just because they happened to be in front of you? How would you feel the rest of the day? Imagine if this was your routine with all your meals, not just breakfast. How would this impact your life? Can you imagine how your stomach would suffer, and the medications you would need as a result of what you shovel into your mouth? What about yourfigure and the excess weight your poor body will have to handle, how your sleep will suffer, etc.?
In such a case, you would be haphazard, unselective, and unaware when choosing your breakfast, and this would impact the rest of your life. In the first instance, you respect your body, mind and soul, and supply it with the nutrition it needs. In the second, you respect none of these, and treat your digestive system like a trashcan, throwing anything into it that you lay your hands on.
The above example shows that, at least when choosing our meals, we are aware of our choices, and bear their consequences. The same thing happens with forming our consciousness. First, what is consciousness? I believe it is the sum total of our concepts and thoughts (mind), feelings and emotions (heart), which affords us accurate perception of what goes on around us and how to deal with it correctly. I further think that consciousness is formed through two processes:
A selective process, via the information you glean from the society around you in a number of different ways, and the feelings and emotions generated in you via social interactions you choose, of your own free will, to engage in. This information and these feelings are stored in your conscious, and unconscious mind.
A haphazard process, in which you are subjected haphazardly to information and emotion from the surrounding society, via social interactions imposed upon you by those around you and what is happening around you, beyond your control; as a result, both your conscious and unconscious mind become saturated with the emotions of those around you—in a word, treating your consciousness like a trashcan, allowing those around you to throw what they want to into it.
In this age of the communication revolution, we interact with televisions, computers, smartphones, etc., and so are connected with what happens minute by minute, in a virtually unlimited media stream. Media operates on the premise that the viewer has the right to see the news item, the definition of “news” here being not news as such, but anything that may grab the viewer’s (or listener’s) attention. In the perennial example, “Dog Bites Man” is not news; “Man Bites Dog” is. Therefore, if you are not organized and selective in your dealings with what you see and hear, you fall into a vortex of hundreds of messages all saying “Man Bites Dog,” hounding you with information you are never sure is true, with unknown impact on your emotional and spiritual state.
Can you imagine how this may affect your mind, body and spirit? This is the haphazard method of forming your consciousness: turning yourself into a receptacle for the news others send, true or not. Or would you rather be selective, and control the Who, the What, and the When? What and Who to watch, listen to and read, and When to watch, listen, and read them? Timing is important: Some of us like spicy food, but most of us don’t want it for breakfast. Dealing with your consciousness is no different. You need to be alert, and select a suitable time to deal with the news and other elements that shape your consciousness. It is hardly wise, I think, to have the first thing in the morning or the last thing at night be news of catastrophes and disasters.
What happens when we form our consciousness haphazardly is the following: We are in a negative mood most of the time; we see the world through dark glasses; we are constantly reacting to an Other(s) filling us with materials we did not choose, and would not, if given the choice; and most importantly, we lose control of the process of forming the very consciousness we use to make decisions in life, and live accordingly.
What has the above to do with our main issue, God-centrism and self-centeredness? A lot, in fact. Under God-centrism, you are not living aimlessly; you are living to fulfil God’s purpose for you. This requires you to be selective in forming your consciousness, which will translate into goals. Achieving goals requires research and study; this requires setting educational targets and moving towards them, and devoting resources, including consciousness, to this path. In other words, you are a Subject: you are proactive. If the general climate is negative, you will take what steps you can to stop it from affecting you; if positive, you will do what you can to let it support you in your journey. In short, you will find your consciousness shaping itself around achieving your goals, and the further down the path you are to achieving them, the more tools are added to your consciousness-shaping toolbox, in a mutually beneficial relationship where you use your consciousness to fulfil God’s purpose for you, and this in turn enriches your consciousness the further you go, and so on.
In other words, since consciousness and awareness are the first step to breaking Ego’s vicious cycle within you, how these are formed is an essential indicator of their condition. While we are on the subject of Ego and its effect on the Self, have you noticed something? We have not yet encountered the existential question, “Where is God in this?” That is because, under self-centeredness, the Self is aggrandized, and blots out everything else, even our awareness of God’s presence among us.
This is such an important point that I will venture to impose upon the reader with a request. Please set down, in detail, the elements that affect your consciousness daily, for a whole week. Remember: in detail! Make notes in this space.