What is our consciousness? Are there different levels of consciousness? Is there a consciousness beyond the one of which we are normally aware? Is it possible to empty the content of consciousness?
One may use words and give descriptions, but what is named and described is not the fact; so do not be caught in the description.
What is our consciousness? It is to be conscious of, to be aware of, what is going on, not only outside but inside; it is the same movement. Our consciousness is the product of our education, our culture, racial inheritance and the result of our own striving. All our beliefs, our dogmas, rituals, concepts, jealousies, anxieties, pleasures, our so-called love – all that is our consciousness. It is the structure which has evolved through millennia after millennia – through wars, tears, sorrow, depression and elation: all that makes up our consciousness. Some people say you cannot change consciousness. You can modify it, you can polish it, but you have to accept it, make the best of it; it is there. Without the content, consciousness, as we know it, does not exist.
The questioner asks: Is it possible to empty consciousness of all content – the sorrow, the strife, the struggle, the terrible human relationships, the quarrels, anxieties, jealousies, the affection, the sensuality? Can that content be emptied? If it is emptied, is there a different kind of consciousness? Has consciousness different layers, different levels?
In India the Ancient people divided consciousness into lower, higher and yet higher. And these divisions are measured, for the moment there is division there must be measurement, and where there is measurement there must be effort. Whatever level consciousness may have, it is still within consciousness. The division of consciousness is measurement, therefore it is thought. Whatever thought has put together is part of consciousness, however you choose to divide it.
It is possible to empty the content of consciousness completely, The essence of this content is thought, which has put together the `me’ – the `me’ who is ambitious, greedy, aggressive. That `me’ is the essence of the content of consciousness. Can that `me’ with all this structure of selfishness be totally ended? The speaker can say, “Yes, it can be ended, completely”. It means that there is no centre from which you are acting, no centre from which you are thinking. The centre is the essence of measurement, which is the effort of becoming. Can that becoming end? You may say: “Probably it can, but what is at the end of it, if one ends this becoming?”
First of all find out for yourself if this becoming can end. Can you drop, end, something which you like, that gives you some deep pleasure, without a motive, without saying, “I can do it if there is something at the end of it”? Can you immediately end something that gives you great pleasure? You see how difficult this is. It is like a man who smokes, his body has been poisoned by nicotine and when he stops smoking the body craves for it and so he takes something else to satisfy the body. So can you end something, rationally, clearly, without any motive of reward or punishment?
Selfishness hides in many ways, in seeking truth, in social service, in selling oneself to a person, to an idea, to a concept. One must be astonishingly aware of all this, and that requires energy, all the energy that is now being wasted in conflict, in fear, in sorrow, in all the travails of life. That energy is also being wasted in so-called meditation.
It requires enormous energy, not physical energy, but the energy that has never been wasted. Then consciousness can be emptied and when it is emptied one may or may not find there is something more, it is up to oneself. One may like something more to be guaranteed but there is no guarantee.
From a talk on Consciousness
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