Accessing Your Inner Cosmos – Your Consciousness Layers from Chris Thomson 3919
Chris Thomson's three-part series on Inner Cosmos
This blog post is #3:
Accessing Your Inner Cosmos
Accessing Your Inner Cosmos
I am speaking here of “forms of consciousness” that have been emerging mainly during my own lifetime (more than 70 years), but also before. I believe that this reflects the fact that some layers of our inner cosmos have been coming to the surface, and revealing themselves in the form of consciousness. This clearly needs some explanation.
As we have seen, the outer layers of our inner cosmos are:
- Layer One – You
- Layer Two – Humanity
- Layer Three – Nature
- Layer Four – Planet Earth
Let’s look first at the outer layer – You
Arguably, the most important idea to come out of the Enlightenment (roughly 1740 – 90) was the primacy of the individual. Until that moment, the individual was largely invisible, unless he or she was in the top echelons of society. Everyone else was merely a cog in the great machines of empire or kingdom. It was only during the Enlightenment that the individual came to prominence.
Although it took a long time coming, this awareness of the importance of the individual eventually led to many things that we take for granted today – democracy, free market economies, human rights, indeed everything you can think of where the individual is important.
Of course, there have been some disastrous attempts to reverse this, notably in China and the Soviet Union. In these two places alone, over 100 million individuals were “reversed” - killed, in effect, by their own governments.
A more recent attempt to reverse the primacy of the individual is “identity politics”. This is the belief that the tribe is more important than the individual. You can be a member of many tribes at the same time. These include your skin colour, your gender, your sexual preferences, your religious affiliation, and your politics.
You will recognise what I am talking about. You can see its pernicious influence everywhere – in the media, in politics, and in the universities. It is stifling free speech and free thinking.
I tried once to list my own tribes, and this is what I came up with: pinkish in winter, slightly brown in summer, decidedly male, enjoy sex very much, do not care for traditional religion, although not an atheist, and strongly supportive of self-determination for Scotland and Catalonia.
Much of this is heresy, believe me. It is a good thing that I no longer frequent academic and political circles. If I did, I would soon be exiled, for daring to think the unthinkable.
That said, I believe that “You Consciousness” is here to stay, and that it will outlive tribalism. Just to be clear, this is not to suggest that we ignore our membership of bigger things, such as humanity, Nature, and this planet. The point is that we can be individuals and members at the same time.
I take the view that this consciousness of the individual is a reflection of the fact that the corresponding layer of our inner cosmos came to the surface. It was always there, below the surface, as are all the other layers of our inner cosmos. It just needed the right historical moment to reveal itself.
I think this equally true of Layers Two, Three and Four. They each chose their moment. When they did, they also surfaced as a form of consciousness, as we will see in a moment.
First, however, we have to wonder how this is possible. What is the mechanism for this surfacing process?
My understanding is that when a layer of the inner cosmos comes to the surface, it is then able to “resonate” with its counterpart in the outer world. It is able to resonate because, in some sense, it is the same – it is on the same wavelength.
There is evidence that this actually happens. For instance, we are privileged to have witnessed in the last hundred years or so the emergence of “Humanity Consciousness”, “Nature Consciousness”, and “Planetary Consciousness”. These are clumsy terms, I know, but please bear with me. And also bear in mind that these three forms of consciousness emerged in the order you would expect, if they truly are reflections of some layers of the inner cosmos.
The first to emerge, after “You Consciousness”, was “Humanity Consciousness”. Although enlightened individuals down the ages always had a clear sense of humanity as a whole, the idea only really became widespread when we started using the term “world war”.
For me, it is no coincidence that, shortly after the First World War, the League of Nations came into being. Although it was never a success, not least because the United States and the Soviet Union refused to join, I believe that it paved the way for what was to come later, just after the Second World War.
If you know your history, you will know that the late 1940s was the moment when international law and international organisations came into their own. This included the IMF, the World Bank, the United Nations, and many other international bodies and treaties. From that moment on, humanity became a family in some significant ways.
It has not been a smooth ride – just think Cold War, or Donald Trump! However, the overall trend seems clear. We have never known so much about each other, we have never travelled so much, meeting each other, and we have never communicated with each other so much. There can be little doubt that “Humanity consciousness” has become a feature of our lives. But what about “Nature Consciousness”? When did this begin?
Some say that environmentalism began with the Romanticism of the 1800s. While it clearly true that the poetry of Wordsworth, in particular, opened the minds of many to the wonders of the natural world, this coincided with other significant developments.
For example, people become more aware of mountains. They became conscious that mountains could be enjoyed, when they were previously ignored. To a large extent, it was the British who made people aware of the joys of mountaineering, because they were the first to summit some of the best-known peaks in Europe.
However, as a Scot, I like to think that it all began with another Scot - John Muir’s conversation with Abraham Lincoln in 1864. Muir got Lincoln’s attention by telling him that the world’s biggest living things were in the USA. Yes, they were trees! As a result of this conversation, Lincoln made possible the first US national park – in the Yosemite Valley. The rest is history, as they say. Let me tell you about my own “Nature awakening”.
It came in the form of a series of strong impressions, that are still vivid today. The first was in 1953, when I saw photos of Mount Everest in National Geographic magazine. That was the year Tenzing and Hilary reached the summit.
Looking back, I suppose that experience led me to become a lifelong mountaineer. Then, in the early 60s, my generation read Silent Spring, by Rachel Carson. Although the book was about the indiscriminate use of pesticides, its influence went far wider, because it opened many people’s eyes to our careless attitude to the natural world.
You could say that at the heart of today’s environmental movement is the need to be much more careful.
Next came trees!
We lived in Dunoon, Scotland, in the 70s. Close by were Benmore Gardens and the Kilmun Arboretum. Both had great examples of magnificent trees – a long avenue of sequoias at Benmore, and strawberry trees, Western hemlock, and eucalyptus at Kilmun. I could go on, but you probably get the picture.
It is these strong, lasting impressions that open up our consciousness. They seem to do this at the moment we are ready for them. So, yes, another layer of our inner cosmos came to surface and took the form of our awareness of Nature. But what about the next layer, planet Earth?
I was climbing in Glencoe, Scotland, in July 1969. We were having a beer or two at the end of the day, when someone shouted: “They’ve landed.” In one of life’s many “coincidences”, Buzz Aldrin’s cousin, a Swedish girl, was sitting at our table. Who among us was not impressed at those first pictures of our home planet taken from space? I date the opening of my own “Planet consciousness” from those pictures.
Since then, much has happened to widen and deepen this consciousness, notably with the work of James Lovelock and David Attenborough. You may know of Lovelock’s Gaia hypothesis, in which he suggests that the planet is a living being. Attenborough has done much to reinforce this idea.
Indeed, I have lost count of the number of documentaries with the word “planet” in the title. Since it is the most recent form of consciousness to emerge, we still have much to learn about planetary consciousness, and I will say more about this shortly. Meanwhile have you noticed the overlap? What do I mean by this?
My own experience of the four forms of consciousness outlined above is that they spill into each other. They overlap.
Take Attenborough, for example. First, he makes us aware of the planet as a whole. Then, he gives us details of the importance of thinking of Nature as a whole. In response to our inaction in the face of climate change, he tells us that we need to act collectively, as a human family. Last but not least, he reminds us that there is much that we can do to help as individuals. He very neatly covers all four forms of consciousness. When we explore the first four layers of the inner cosmos in more detail, this overlap will become more evident.
Just to repeat, these four forms of consciousness were always there, dormant inside our inner cosmos, waiting to be awakened and brought to light at the right moment. If this is true, then the likelihood is that, at some time in the future, even deeper layers will come to the surface as forms of consciousness. What it will be like to have “Solar consciousness” and “Galaxy consciousness” is for another discussion, and that will form part of the book I am writing.
The rest of this article will introduce you to working on some layers of your inner cosmos. First, however, a few general guidelines.
I have put a hyphen between these two words because, as far as your inner cosmos is concerned, they are practically inseparable. Knowing influences being, and vice versa. What you know affects how you are, and how you are affects what you know. So far in the article we have focused mainly on the knowing side – i.e. consciousness. In a moment we will look at the being side – what it means for example, to be fully human, and to be natural.
Each layer of your inner cosmos is a gateway to all the layers below it. The more open and fluid a gateway, the easier it is to access the layers below it. This is why it is important to work on the first gateway – you”
As with the Cosmos that it reflects, the inner cosmos is also a holarchy, in the sense that all layers are present in all other layers. The practical significance of this is that when you work on any one layer, all the other layers become more accessible to you.
You will find that the structure for working on any one layer is mirrored in all the others. For example, as we will see very shortly, a useful structure for exploring Layer One is:
- The real you
- The whole of you
- The best of you
- This can be applied to all the other layers, such as:
- Being really human
- Being fully human
- Being the best of human
As you go deeper into your inner cosmos, you will notice that each layer builds on all the preceding ones. For example, Layer Two contains elements of Layer One, while Layer Three contains elements of both One and Two, and so on.
Layer One - Being Fully You
I will do what I often do, and just give you a summary. You will make the most of this layer if you work on the following:
- Knowing yourself better
- Being the real you
- Being the whole of you
- Being the best of you
It is not for me to say what this means for you. Only you know that, and only you know what aspects of yourself you need to work on. In any event, working on this layer is the gateway to the next.
Layer Two - Being Fully Human
As I said, the inner cosmos is cumulative. This means that to be fully human, you first have to be fully you. It does not mean that you cannot work on more than one layer at the same time. But it does mean that each layer builds on the preceding one. So, the more fully yourself you are, the more fully human you will be. In addition to this, you will need to work on what it is that distinguishes us from all other species. I would suggest that, arguably, the main thing is our potential to be wise and intelligent. This does not mean being brainy or intellectual. More than anything, it means doing the right things in the right ways at the right times.
Layer Three - Being Natural
This builds on the other two. I will write about being natural in the next series of articles, Intelligent Simplicity. All I will say here is that it involves four main themes:
- Knowing Nature – seeing the world through the eyes of Nature, and from the point of view of Nature
- Being like Nature – behaving as she does, and being in tune with her
- Economy – in all aspects of your life and work
- Simplicity – this is the subject of the next series of articles
Layer Four - Being Planetary
Although, at first sight, it might seem hard to imagine what this could mean, the cumulative nature of your inner cosmos will give you some useful clues. Being planetary is the combination of Layers One, Two and Three, plus some additional “planetary” factors. If you like, it is the metaphysical equivalent of Attenborough’s recent documentaries! Being planetary could well be described as “being natural plus”.
Chris Thomson was a lawyer and economist in Scotland until the mid-80s, when he was asked to chair the Natural Medicines Commission in the UK. He then trained as a psychotherapist in London, before joining the Scottish Council Foundation, a think-tank in Edinburgh, set up in anticipation of devolution. From there he moved to Santa Fe, New Mexico, where he advised multinational corporations on various moral issues.
As well as passable Spanish and French, Chris speaks Chinese.
He now lives in the Catalan Pyrenees, where is a keen mountaineer. The ski slopes are only 20 minutes away!
Chris published Full Spectrum Intelligence in 2014. He is now writing The Inner Cosmos, and Intelligent Simplicity
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As a guest post - the views are those of the author.
TU Chris ... Onward ...
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