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4 Ways to Become More Conscious



“Until they become conscious, they will never rebel; and until after they have rebelled, they cannot become conscious.” ~George Orwell

 

We would all like to become more aware, more perceptive, more conscious. Nobody wants to feel like they are behind the curve. Or that life is passing them by with a “whoosh.”

 

But, alas, we are faced with a perception paradox, an awareness enigma, a consciousness conundrum: We cannot become conscious if we don’t rebel, and we cannot rebel until we’ve become conscious.

 

Why is this? Mostly because we are creatures of comfort. But also because we are social creatures kept inline by outflanking cultural conditions. We suffer from what Nietzsche called, “the herd instinct.” We tend to be more like lemmings than rebels; more like sheep than lions.

 

But there are ways to stay ahead of the curve. There are ways to keep our rebel flag flying even while our lemming instincts keep us in line. There are ways to be lionhearted despite our sheepishness.

 

We focus on the process rather than the outcome. We finetune the journey being the thing. As James Clear said, “We don’t rise to the level of our goals; we fall to the level of our systems.”

 

In the spirit of becoming more conscious, here are four ways (systems) to trick yourself into rebelling so that you may become more aware.

 



1.) Don’t believe in anything, think through everything:

“The majority of men... are not capable of thinking, but only of believing, and... are not accessible to reason, but only to authority.” ~Arthur Schopenhauer

 

The bridge from Man to Overman is too narrow for narrowmindedness. Don’t be narrow-minded. Strive for the peak despite the trenches. Climb toward the summit despite the abyss. Think forward despite your backward beliefs.

 

All too often belief is a hook that the fish mouth of your brain cannot help but take the bait. Hook, line, and sinker, and suddenly you are caught. You’re trapped. You’re stuck. You’re confined to a particular way of thinking, disregarding Aristotle’s wise words: “Entertain a thought without excepting it.”

 

Instead, you except it. You flounder on the line. You forsake the Truth Quest for the so-called “truth.” You fail before the bridge toward the Overman even has the chance to appear before you.

 

Here’s the thing: the universe shrinks or expands in proportion to your awareness. Zoom in or zoom out. When you expand your scope, you not only gain more material to work with but more life to live in. Zoom in and recognize the infinite masks of yourself. Zoom out and recognize the infinite delusions you are caught up in.

 

Move up and down the “chain of command” of yourself, but then break rank. Drop thought bombs into the fortified ramparts of yourself. Plant minefields in your mind field. This is the beauty of thought: it usurps all thrones of belief. Remember: it is thought and not belief that shines the light toward faith.

 

As Ram Dass said, “Faith is not belief. Faith is what is left when your beliefs have all been blown to hell.”

 

2.) Don’t settle on answers, ask unsettling questions:

“It is not his possession of knowledge, of irrefutable truth, that makes the man of science, but his persistent and recklessly critical quest for truth.” ~Karl Popper

 

Question your maps and models of the universe, both inner and outer, and continually test them against the raw input of reality.

 

When you settle on a map or a model, you inadvertently reject the raw input of reality. Don’t settle, unsettle. Don’t close down, open up. Don’t resign, align. The universe is too massive to be passive; it changes too much to remain the same. Align or be left behind. Let it guide you into uncertainty lest certainty keep you forever in your own way.

 

The best way to get out of your own way is to upset your settled mind. As Ralph Waldo Emerson said, “People wish to be settled; but only as far as they are unsettled is there any hope for them.”

 

Indeed. The only “hope” is found in the unsettled state. A state of openness, suppleness, and teachability. A state of transformation. The cocoon is the perfect symbol of an unsettled state. The caterpillar can never become a butterfly without it. Similarly, the human can never become an Overman without the cocoon of the unsettled state.

 

Create an unsettled state, a sacred space for continual rebirth. A philosopher’s fire, where not only moths but gods are cooked. A space where the Phoenix of your imagination can rebirth itself, again and again.

 

Unsettle your settled mind. Ask forbidden questions. Test the untested. Put God’s feet to the fire. Humble yourself. Destroy your illusions and murder your delusions. Count coup on outdatedness. Reorder ancient order. Transform boundaries into horizons.

 

If, as F. Paul Pacult said, “Life is at its best when it is shaken and stirred” then it stands to reason that life is at its worst when it is rigid and settled. Don’t be rigid and settled. Self-overcome.

 



3.) Don’t be certain, be curious:

“Poetry is what happens when nothing else can.” ~Bukowski

 

Beliefs and answers are hangups. They are always false gods. The opposite of belief is not disbelief. Likewise, the opposite of an answer is not a question. The opposite of both is curiosity.

 

Use curiosity like a hammer. Pound the nail of thought through the flimsy cardboard of certainty. Nothing is ever foolproof. Everything falls on a spectrum of absurdity. Your curiosity acts like a scale of justice. It weighs imagination against thought, and belief against faith. It is the crucible of all conundrums. And it is the most powerful tool you will ever wield. It’s the only tool shared by all the common Jungian archetypes.

 

Certainty is like standing water. It becomes murky, poisonous, and undrinkable if not treated. And it can only be treated (cleared, cleaned, refreshed) through curiosity and persistent inquiry.

 

Certainty creates mealymouthed conmen, snake oil salesmen, and charlatans who have settled on “answers” and “truths” and who have inadvertently created stagnation, rotten fruit, and flies in the ointment. Curiosity reveals the rottenness behind the stink. It unveils the bullshit artist behind the curtain. It uncovers the multilayered anti-reason of wishful thinking.

 

Rather than placate your death anxiety with false salve, you should take responsibility for it. You should stare into the face of death and smile. You should stand toe-to-toe with misery and force it to reveal its deep mystery. Rather than bend the knee to the hand-me-down reasoning of fallible and imperfect men just as afraid if their mortality as you are, you should transform that suffering into vitality and strength. Into primal hunger. Into curiosity and wonder.

 

This is the power of curiosity. It is transcendent. It is a vehicle of nonattachment. It is a bird’s-eye-view in a world of blind men. It launches you past cultural conditioning, indoctrination, and brainwashing. It keeps you ahead of the curve by helping you realize that everything is on the curve. No exceptions. Nothing is set. Nothing is figured out. It’s all procrastinating truth, a delicious hang fire.

 

Because life is never complete. You must learn; unlearn; relearn. Rinse and repeat. Never settle. Life is only ever a process. The journey is always the thing, whether you like it or not.

 

Cultivate the “skyhook” of curiosity lest the “anchor” of certainty hold you down. Sell your certainty and buy curiosity. It will always be worth it.

 



4.) Don’t be comfortable, be courageous:

“You are free, and that is why you are lost.” ~Franz Kafka

 

We all talk a big game about stretching our comfort zone. But the irony is that most of us never get around to actually doing it. Instead, we remain huddled in the corner of our comfort zone sucking our thumbs. We placate ourselves. We mollycoddle each other. We sabotage our curious imaginations with nefarious beliefs. We guard against death anxiety at the expense of existential freedom. And we’re so busy giving each other religious reach-arounds that we can’t even see how much more amazing the real thing—spirituality—really is (see Spirituality vs. Religiosity: The War Between Curiosity and Certainty).

 

If, as Thucydides said, “The secret to happiness is freedom. And the secret to freedom is courage” then the secret to courage is curiosity. And the secret to curiosity is the suspension of belief.

 

Suspend belief. Engage curiosity. Ignite courage. And the freedom found in stretching your comfort zone will not elude you.

 

It’s all yours for the taking. But you must get past your comfort. You must wrestle the demons disguised as angels known as Safety, Security, and Comfort. They are the threshold guardians of your comfort zone. And the only thing that defeats them is heroism. Your own inner hero to be exact.

 

Therefore, it’s time for a Hero’s Journey. A great escape! An imperfect self-overcoming. A leap of courage out of belief and into faith. It’s time to come alive. It’s time to take responsibility for being the only extension of the universe that knows you as “me.” It’s time to stop pretending you’re not God and finally connect everything with everything else. Escape your narrowing comfort zone and go on a harrowing adventure.

 

As the great Anais Nin said, “Life shrinks or expands in proportion to one’s courage.”


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About the Author:

Gary Z McGee, a former Navy Intelligence Specialist turned philosopher, is the author of Birthday Suit of God and The Looking Glass Man. His works are inspired by the great philosophers of the ages and his wide-awake view of the modern world.

 

This article (4 Ways to Become More Conscious) was originally created and published by Self-inflicted Philosophy and is printed here under a Creative Commons license with attribution to Gary Z McGee and self-inflictedphilosophy.com. It may be re-posted freely with proper attribution, author bio, and this statement of copyright.


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