New Conception Of Consciousness
( Originally Published Early 1900's )
Theological Teleology has for centuries defended the concept, or hypothesis, of an absolutely perfect, omnipotent, omnipresent, and omniscient Ruler of the universe who is personally executing an absolutely complete and perfect design with entire exemption from failure and mistake.
Many who would be perfectly willing to accept such a condition of things are not convinced that it is true. They think that proof of such a Ruler, such a design, and such exemption, is lacking, though it may, possibly, be supplied in the future. They think that the hypothesis is not consistent with some conditions of ignorance, poverty, suffering, sin, disease, and apparently premature death. If such a Ruler exists, they would be logically compelled to place the responsibility for these conditions upon Him, and this they think is neither just nor reasonable. They are compelled to judge of the character and power of the Creator by the creation and the results.
They prefer to think, yes, they are compelled to think, that the earth and all the life upon it are the partial and incomplete results of the action of a Power which is not absolutely perfect, omnipotent, omnipresent and omniscient. While there are many evidences of apparent design, there are intelligent students who claim to perceive evidences of lack of perfect plan, abortive designs, and failures of organisms to realize their possibilities.
As we study humanity in the light of History and Sociology, steady gains in the realms of social conditions (See Diagram No. 12) are apparent only in a few nations, and satisfactory conditions and attainments are not witnessed in any. If the theory of Theological Teleology is not demonstrable within the limits of the highest realm known, the human, we would not expect it to be demonstrated in the plant and animal kingdoms, and as a matter of fact it is not. The theory is not consistent with the facts in any department. Evolution is a process of gradual development, and, therefore, it could not be perfect (in the sense of completion) in its inception nor during its unfoldment.
Though it is not our choice, will, or wish, we are compelled to realize that a large portion of responsibility for results rests upon human beings and we are also compelled to realize that in the main this responsibility is accomplishing good, both for individuals and for the acceleration of the evolution of the race.
Now, while the responsibility for Creation and for the adoption of the method of gradual evolution certainly does not rest upon man and while it is his disposition to criticise both the method and its results, it is nevertheless a growing characteristic of strong and intelligent individuals to be glad that they are alive and that they' can cooperate in the plan as they perceive it and can grasp the possibilities it offers. They become satisfied with the process and their own opportunities under it. They become willing to share in the responsibility as far as their own lives and actions are concerned and this in spite of the difficulties, inequalities and failures.
This glad cooperation of the strong and intelligent is due to an extension of Consciousness. Therefore, with this remarkable fact as an incentive, it is considered worth while to study Consciousness through its various degrees of extension.
There are Five Realms of Cosmic Consciousness with which man is, or should be, directly concerned during his earth life. The vast majority of men are not even aware that these Five Realms of Cosmic Consciousness exist and affect their lives and welfare. Their Individual Consciousness may be awake only in the second realm, or perhaps in the second and third. The majority are awake in the second, third and fourth realms. None are fully awake in the first, and only a few in the fifth.
THE FIVE REALMS OF COSMIC CONSCIOUSNESS.
1. CREATIVE CONSCIOUSNESS.
2. PHYSICAL CONSCIOUSNESS.
3. INTELLECTUAL CONSCIOUSNESS.
4 MORAL CONSCIOUSNESS.
5. SPIRITUAL CONSCIOUSNESS.
See also Diagram No. 3, page 335.
1. CREATIVE CONSCIOUSNESS.
It is evident that Consciousness and Intelligence have preceded organization. This is apparent for the simple reason that no organism comprehends itself and therefore did not possess the power to create itself though it is in itself a manifestation of Intelligence. The Creative Consciousness had an existence prior to any measure of Individual Consciousness, as we know the latter. It continues to exist as a sort of universal entity apart from Individual Consciousness, as we know it. By "Creative" is meant,—Having the power or function of coordinating elements and materials into a new entity.
We are continually in the presence of this Creative Consciousness. We witness its operations in every bud, leaf, flower, fruit and vegetable. The birth of every animal and child is another evidence of its presence, wisdom and power. "The heavens declare the glory of God and the firmament showeth his handiwork. Day unto day uttereth speech and night unto night showeth knowledge. There is no speech nor language where their voice is not heard."
Those who are the most familiar with the Life Processes of nature are the most willing to confess the greatness of the power and wisdom involved. The greatest things in all Literature, the Poetry and the Philosophy which have affected millions cf lives, owe their power to the nearness and the clearness with which they bring to the Individual Consciousness a realization of the Cosmic Creative Consciousness. The great Religions have been born through attempts to interpret this Universal Life-Giving and Life -Sustaining Power. It is the burden of Science and Philosophy to explain. No human life can be free from its influence for a moment because it is ceaseless and universal in its operation.
Some philosophers think that the Creative Consciousness includes all degrees of Physical, Intellectual, Moral and Spiritual Consciousness as individualized in life forms, and that all these are in reality one Consciousness. How-ever that may be as an ultimate, it has not been demonstrated, and we are compelled to deal with the states or modes of Consciousness as we find them, individualized and differentiated. Dealing with them thus, it seems more within the limits of possible demonstration to consider the various states or degrees of Consciousness manifested in the several kingdoms of nature, mineral, vegetable, animal and human.
All Five Realms. of Consciousness are practically universal. That is to say, plants all over the world exhibit the same degrees of Consciousness. Animals manifest one manner and mode of Consciousness. Men of all nations exhibit the same kind of Consciousness. All the Realms of Consciousness are harmonious with the Cosmic Creative Consciousness, and all together comprise the manifestations of Universal Intelligence in varying degrees.
Individualized Consciousness as we know it in human beings is not equal to Creative Consciousness. The meagerness of human knowledge as compared with that exhibited by universal phenomena amply demonstrates this inegnality.
The definition for Consciousness decides how low down in the scale of organizations it may be located, though perhaps not as low down as it exists. If Consciousness is defined as "exhibiting intelligence," that is to say, being in itself a passive result of intelligence, then everything that has an existence has some degree of Consciousness. If it be defined as "sensitiveness," it seems to depend upon the power of the microscope and the keenness of the observer, for sensitiveness exists as low down as we are able to examine the constitution of matter. If it be defined as "the power by which the soul knows its own acts and states," it is limited to human beings, and to one human being at that, for this definition applies to Self-Consciousness.
Cosmic Creative Intelligence is seemingly busy with every particle of matter, altering it, modifying it, combining it with others, and probably refining it. The presence of the Cosmic Consciousness can be demonstrated just as easily as the presence of Ether, namely, by the fact that it explains phenomena. Every element will produce effects and respond to causes. Chemists find intrinsic qualities in every element which make it what it is and by which it is always identified, no matter how it has been concealed or combined. In the laboratory the identity of any element is determined by its response to certain known tests. This response might be termed Consciousness. However, Consciousness is generally not supposed to exist lower down than a plant which has "a body" and which is "alive."
2. PHYSICAL CONSCIOUSNESS.
The sensitiveness and responsiveness of plants to the influences of heat, cold, sunshine, air, water, etc., may be called "Physical Consciousness" without real "Intellectual Consciousness." The same is true of some animals, chiefly those which have not the power of locomotion.
An animal which has the power to move and to alter its environment gives evidence of having been invested with a higher degree of Consciousness because it exhibits its possession of the psychological element of Choice. The act of moving from one spot to another indicates Choice.
Other illustrations might be given which indicate an increasing degree of this Element. Some animals choose one companion and are faithful to that one for life.
The affinity of chemical elements is not usually called Choice. This distinction is made because the chemical element merely responds to influences to which it is subjected. It does not seek to alter conditions nor endeavor to find anything for itself. We notice this characteristic first in plant life. The roots of plants show delicate discrimination in seeking moisture and the. lines of least resistance. The drinking orchid takes a drink whenever it feels thirsty, by means of a tube which it lets down into the water. The tube, when not in use, is coiled up on top of the plant. The walking fern throws out fronds which possess fine slender points which take root where they come in contact with the soil and this process is repeated. These are considered to be evidences of incipient Choice.
Animals have characteristics of Physical Consciousness similar to those of plant life together with other higher manifestations. As various species are observed, it may be noted that a new Element has been gradually introduced and in some species a considerable degree of this Element is manifested. This is Intellectual Consciousness, or Mind.
Romanes, in Mental Evolution in Animals, gives this as the objective criterion of the possession of Mind:
"Does the organism learn to make new adjustments or to modify old ones, in accordance with the results of its own individual experience ?"
This degree of Consciousness may be called Intellectual Consciousness.
Thus Physical Consciousness may be witnessed in various degrees of manifestation, or development, while other various degrees of Intellectual Consciousness are becoming integrated with it. The first addition of Intellectual Consciousness gives to the animal a new characteristic of decided importance and value, and denotes a crisis or accomplishment in the evolutionary process. Also, the various degrees of development above this crisis continually become more important and valuable.
The following qualities are noted in
3. INTELLECTUAL CONSCIOUSNESS.
The qualities of Sensitiveness and Responsiveness in animals are modified from their characteristics in the plants by the gradual addition and integration of the other qualities. These other qualities enable their possessor to perceive, to reflect, and to remember things which affect itself, and to choose a course of action.
These other qualities are detected in the animal kingdom for the first time in the course of the evolution or manifestation of Consciousness; but not until they are all present do we clearly determine that the animal possesses Intellectual Consciousness.
When Choice is fully developed, we are persuaded that the other qualities must be present, for they logically precede Choice. It must be borne in mind that each quality may be present in a different degree in each species, or even in individuals of the same species, and also that there are many different combinations or ratios of the entire number.
It should also be noted that the natural endowment of Intellectual Consciousness may be increased in animals through contact with human beings, especially by direct and purposeful teaching.
4. MORAL CONSCIOUSNESS.
No Moral Consciousness is found in plant life, nor in the lower grades of animals. Such are recognized as unmoral, without capacity for morality or immorality.
But, somewhere through the grades of Intellectual Consciousness in animals is added the foreshadowings of Moral Consciousness. Individuals of a species exhibit more of this Element than the majority of that species, as for instance, some dogs, some horses, some monkeys, some cats, etc. Usually this development can be traced to human association and definite human teaching. Thus, it is prob. ably a capacity of each species, especially of the higher vertebrates, though. more latent in the majority than in precocious or favored individuals. Man can cultivate the latent capacities of an animal and probably impart some additional powers through his own intelligent mind and will.
While recognizing that some animals are capable of discerning that some actions are considered by their masters to be permissible and other actions not permissible, animals are not considered to be moral or immoral by inherent capacity. A dog may be shot for killing sheep, but it is not intended as a punishment but to prevent his killing more sheep. Most dogs can be taught that killing sheep is not permissible. However, it is universally agreed that only a faint foreshadowing of Moral Consciousness is found in animals and they are classed as unmoral.
SOME DEGREES OF MORAL CONSCIOUSNESS.
1. Conscience, in many degrees of development.
2. Observance of moral instincts or self-made laws.
3. Observance of commandments, ordinances, degrees,
etc., proceeding from Authority.
4. Adoption of an ethical code through intellectual development.
5. Genuinely religious and moral natures through consciousness of personal responsibility.
The natural growth of Intellectual and Moral Consciousness indicates the true development which man should seek in his cooperation with the process of nature and the possibilities of his own being. Human nature is a part of nature. Man's wisdom consists in his intelligent alignment with nature's process and purpose.
Now, as to the natural investment and the cultivated development of Consciousness, upon what does it depend? Consciousness depends :
1. Upon the individual organization with particular respect to brain and nerve capacities.
2. Upon the development of these brain and nerve capacities.
New Conception of Consciousness 127
3. Upon intellectual capacity, or quality of mind.
4. Upon morality.
In other words, while Consciousness depends upon the natural endowment of structure, organization and capacity, its increase depends upon the purpose, will and personal effort of each individual.
Cosmic Consciousness has supplied the inherent personal capacity and these various Psychical Realms exist in the humanity surrounding each individual. Therefore, the attainments made depend upon the individual.
(No attention is here paid to the theory that Consciousness is the only reality while the outside world is an appearance, a myth, a dream. It is sufficiently real that the majority of men can agree as to what material things appear to be, their size, their dimensions, color, etc. ; and also, the physical, intellectual and moral natures of men are sufficiently alike that they can understand each other if they will make the effort. Therefore, the physical, material world and the world of thought are both considered as verities. Furthermore, it is considered that a basis of agreement between the Individual Consciousness and the outside world has been established by nature, and man has but to continue along the same lines which he has pursued to his present attainment.)
5. SPIRITUAL CONSCIOUSNESS.
Independent Spiritual Consciousness is based upon Morality, or in other words, upon conformity to the Constructive Principle of nature and one's own being. It is a reality to some while yet in the physical body.
For scientific information concerning the Independent Method of Self-Development, the reader is referred to The Great Work, Vol. III of the Harmonic Series. For information concerning results obtained through the Subjective Method of Mediumship, the reader is referred to Miracles and Modern Spiritualism, by Alfred Russell Wallace.