How To Increase Your Consciousness


© Copyright 1993 By Frederick Mann, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

"A conscious life is the highest value." - Jacob Needleman

We humans are free and powerful by nature. Practically all "unfreedom" and powerlessness we suffer from, we have learned. Some of us may find the idea of being naturally free and powerful, frightening. There may be an overpowering psychological "wimp" in our mind that blinds us to our freedom and power. If so, the next step is to overcome that wimp.

Deep within the psyche of practically every human there resides a pernicious wimp. Your wimp is like gravity. It is invisible. It is powerful. It pervades your life. It pulls you down. It affects your every thought, your every action... It usurps your power.

The wimp within you makes it possible for people to manipulate you. The reason politicians, lawyers, bureaucrats, IRS agents (tax/theft collectors), etc., get away so easily with their fraudulent and criminal activities is that practically all their victims are afflicted with virulent wimps that inhabit the core of their psyches. In general it is easy to dupe wimps and separate them from their consciousness and their money.

Once you begin to understand your own personal wimp and recognize when it exerts its influence over you, you can begin to overcome it. You do it little by little. An understanding of the evolution of human consciousness will help you identify the nature of your personal wimp. Consider the bicameral model of the mind - table below:


1. Pre-conscious;
Bicameral stage 1:

Automatic visions and voices tell you what to do.
You automatically obey the "voices of authority."
You think and speak like a slave.
Obedience is paramount.

2. Proto-conscious;
Bicameral stage 2:

Automatic feelings and thoughts tell you what to do.
You behave like:
(a) A true believer (sometimes a fanatic fighter for a "great cause"); or
(b) A helpless wimp (languishing in apathy, sometimes complaining); or
(c) A self-righteous preacher (making self "right" and others "wrong"); or
(d) A macho rebel (compulsively fighting "the system," "the IRS," "the government").
Being "right" is paramount.

3. Conscious;
Conscious stage:

You have largely mastered your feelings and emotions.
You have the ability to critically examine every concept, every thought, every action.
You strive to increase your competence in every aspect of your life.
You carefully observe the results you produce, using that as feedback to improve your concepts, thoughts, communications, and actions.
You live free and creatively - you are a Freeperson.
Producing results is paramount.

According to Dr. Julian Jaynes (The Origin of Consciousness in the Breakdown of the Bicameral Mind), up to about 3,000 years ago humans were not conscious as we know consciousness today. Their minds worked like this: Situations triggered mental voices and/or visions that were automatically generated in the right brain, from where they were communicated via the anterior commissure to the left brain, where the visions were "seen" and the voices "heard." The mental voices and visions "told" people what to do. Today, some people still manifest this form of mentation - sometimes called schizophrenia. I call this stage in the evolution of consciousness, bicameral stage one - the pre-conscious human. In this stage obedience is paramount.

Many people are aware of an automatic, apparently uncontrollable "stream of thoughts" going on in their heads. Sometimes a situation will trigger an automatic thought like "she doesn't love me," followed by automatic feelings and emotions - apparently not under control. When I watch and listen to a TV talk show like "Good Morning America" or "Morton Downey, Jr.," it seems to me that most of the participants, including the host and the specially invited speakers, merely regurgitate their automatic thoughts - their emphasis being on trying to prove self "right" and others "wrong." I call this bicameral stage two - the proto-conscious human. In this stage being "right" is paramount.

A rapidly growing number of people have started questioning and critically examining concepts, beliefs, and behaviors, held sacred by their elders and most of their contemporaries. These people want to produce better results in their lives: their health, their relationships, their careers. In any area where they think their results are below expectations they seek to improve their knowledge, their skills, their competence. They also realize that some of their difficulties stem from destructive thoughts and behavior patterns acquired or developed during childhood. Their emphasis is on producing results. I call this the conscious stage.

By conscious I mean critically aware, particularly critically self-aware. The proto-conscious person in bicameral stage two operates "on automatic" most of the time - like driving a car without thinking, or regurgitating automatic thoughts, or reacting emotionally like a puppet, or compulsively making self "right" and others "wrong" without critical awareness of the results being produced.

The critically conscious are conscious of their consciousness. They critically monitor what they think, say, and do in order to produce the results they want. They develop the thinking skill of self-observation.

Many people are in transition from bicameral stage 2 to the conscious stage. Some are still in transition from bicameral stage 1 to bicameral stage 2. Some show signs of all three stages.

Where does your wimp fit into all this? If you believe in total obedience to something outside yourself (an external "authority"), your wimp may have total control over your life. If you're a bicameral stage two proto-conscious human, your wimp will probably make you a true believer, a somewhat helpless apathetic, or a compulsive rebel. These three types compare to three of the life-orientations identified by Dr. Eric Byrne in Transactional Analysis: "I'm not OK - you're OK" (true believer); "I'm not OK - you're not OK" (helpless apathetic); and "I'm OK - you're not OK" (compulsive rebel). As you evolve into the conscious stage you move towards "I'm OK - you're OK."

The way you recognize your wimp is to identify any area of your life where the results you produce don't meet your expectations. If you are inclined to lose your cool in certain situations, or in the presence of certain kinds of people, you have another pointer to your wimp. If you consistently blame things or people outside yourself for your lack of success or your lot in life, you have another indication that your wimp is at work. If you're involved in any activity where it is claimed that "X is the only truth, philosophy, politics, etc.," your wimp is of the true believer kind. Similarly, your wimp may be the helpless apathetic or compulsive rebel type. If there are things you want to do but somehow you don't think you can do them, or you just never get around to doing them, that is another pointer to your wimp. If you're stuck in some destructive habit - you want to drop it but don't seem able to - that is your wimp at work. If you often get victimized - for example, provoke violence or coercion against yourself - that is a definite wimp pointer.

If you believe you can't escape the clutches of the Internal Revenue Stealers (IRS), then your wimp has you - there are probably at least ten million people in the USA who are largely free from IRS taxes and the government. You can join them whenever you want to.

The steps for overcoming your wimp:

  1. Recognize that there is a wimp within you.
  2. Identify the areas in your life where the wimp seems to get the upper hand - areas where your results are below expectation.
  3. Ask, "What knowledge, skills, or methods (competence) do I need to improve in that area?"
  4. Replace the incompetence with competence. For many this is a life-long process. We simply stick to it year after year.

  5. Read and apply Mind Traps: Change Your Mind Change Your Life by Tom Rusk. Rusk identifies self-doubt as the root of all evil:

    "The effects of self-doubt go far deeper than an inability to accept one's talents and attributes. Self-doubt is a mental abscess which can penetrate to the very essence of your being. Like a slow-growing but highly adaptable fungus, self-doubt is a creeping rot which eats away at your sense of worth. It can be so insidious you may be unaware of its damaging effect on your life. And self-doubt is extremely durable; it is resistant to all but the most sophisticated and determined efforts at eradicating it.

    Introduced by painful experiences in childhood, self-doubt weaves itself into the fabric of your identity. There, disguised as the truth, utilizing the self-defeating attitudes (Mind Traps) it generates, self-doubt asserts its poisonous influence over every aspect of life, from work to relationships. Self-doubts and Mind Traps are hardy enough to withstand overwhelming conflicting evidence. They are even resistant to good common sense - no matter how much some people may love and respect you, you may still doubt yourself. And you may find yourself sabotaging your own welfare."

  6. Read and apply Learned Optimism by Martin E.P. Seligman. The wimp is a pessimist. Optimism is a methodology or technology that can be learned. Doing so will eventually defeat the wimp.

  7. Consider again the central theme of this report:
    "To feel that we are worthwhile individuals, to know that we exist, we have to express our power - feel that we are in control. This imperative to express our power and experience control is central to human behavior. Every human does something to express his or her power in the world. This power can be expressed creatively or destructively.

    Humans first attempt to express their power creatively. If such attempts fail repeatedly, they experience themselves as powerless. They may feel helpless and hopeless, and become depressed. What they experience is that they cannot make a positive difference in their own lives or in the world. A cognitive breakdown occurs between their actions and the results they produce. Mentally and intellectually they cease to understand the connections between their behavior and the consequences of their behavior. Then they express their power destructively.

    This phenomenon is at the root of practically all individual and societal problems.

    Understanding this phenomenon and its implications leads to the solution of practically all individual and societal problems."

Your wimp can be described as that part of you that expresses power destructively - those parts of your personality where the cognitive connections between actions and consequences have broken down.

An important distinction here: We think, we "emote," and we act. Of the three the easiest to change - in some cases - is action.

The wimp is afraid. It is a coward. Unfounded fear is a breakdown of the cognitive connection between action and consequence. We fear taking a certain action because we have a weird idea (cognitive connection) of what the consequences might be. The ultimate way to beat the wimp is to do the things we are most afraid of - those things where the fear is unfounded - like public speaking, door-to-door selling, asking a stranger for directions, etc.

Observe the consequences of these actions and formulate new cognitive connections. Discover your freedom and power.

You may think that when people walk around with open eyes, they're conscious. You may think in terms of two states: sleep and consciousness. You may think that when you walk around with your eyes open, or watch TV, you're conscious. It's very easy for us to deceive ourselves! Most people are pretty unconscious during their supposedly "awake" hours.

Observing bicameral or unconscious behavior in others may assist you in recognizing and overcoming it in yourself. For some more examples, read the articles: Dumb Obstinacy, and The Blind Men and the Elephant (which also demonstrates the subjective nature of "truth"). Report #11: How to Increase Your Intelligence also contains important additional information on this subject.

I see consciousness as a continuum, rather than as a "black/white something" that is either completely absent or completely present. I say there are many degrees of consciousness. I also regard "continuum thinking" as a thinking skill.

You could regard the extent of your consciousness as the number of things which you are conscious of; for example, suppose you identify one hundred things about yourself and your environment - at any particular time you may only be conscious of two to five of these things. Breathing is an example of something which your body usually does unconsciously or automatically - until you deliberately control your lungs, such as by taking several deep breaths, do you become conscious of your breathing; though the process reverts to an unconscious state shortly thereafterwards, replaced by whatever else you later began thinking about, or focused your attention on. Therefore, in order to increase your consciousness in this respect, you need to increase the number of things which you can simultaneously maintain consciousness of.

A key realization is that consciousness is intentional. It's not something that just happens or something we have automatically. For there to be consciousness, we have to direct our consciousness. We have to will consciousness. Consciousness is active.

In his book On Disobedience and Other Essays, psychologist Erich Fromm indicates why disobedience is the first step toward developing real consciousness. When you obey others, you're like a puppet sleepwalker on a string. By thinking for yourself and making your own decisions you develop consciousness.

Another important way to develop consciousness is to question everything. Don't take anything for granted. Whatever you accept blindly from others, tends to make you a stimulus-response robot. Particularly question all your past knowledge.

When we are conscious, we are reflectively conscious on a continual basis. "Reflective" is the key word - it implies observing how you think and act - awareness of your consciousness, if you like. Some additional aspects of consciousness include your perception of the process whereby you trigger your emotions; an awareness of your habits as habits; and the ability to distinguish between (a) reality, (b) your perception of reality, and (c) your reaction/response to your perception of reality.

In addition to perception there are four important words:
"Apperception" is the perception of what goes on in your mind, observing your own thoughts (introspection).

"Proprioception" is the perception of what goes on in your body, observing your feelings, sensations, and emotions.

"Subception" is a term used by Michael Polany to describe the perception at the level of what he calls "tacit knowledge." Much of the knowledge we apply to ride a bicycle is tacit or unexpressed. We find it difficult to articulate this knowledge. Subception is perception at this level.

"Projectoception" is a term I invented to describe the "perception" of what's really not there. Consider the so-called "crab nebula." From a certain vantage point, a "group of stars" seem to have the shape of a crab. So we collectively call them "the crab." Some of these stars are much closer to earth than others. If we were looking at these stars from a very different place in the universe, we wouldn't see them as being "grouped together." The supposed "perception" of "the crab" really constitutes the addition or projection of something to the information actually being received. A great leap in intelligence occurs when we develop the ability to recognize our own projectoception. Much of human stupidity is due to the unrecognized and unwarranted addition or projection of "collectivities" and ascribing magical powers to these "collectivties." An example of such a "collectivity" is "government."

A simpler example of such addition or projection occurs in the case of a "policeman." An ordinary man, when clothed in a "uniform," is projected as having "special qualities." Something added to the perception changes "ordinary man" into "policeman."

Addition or projection is also involved when the noises and scribbles of coercive political agents are regarded as "the law" (so-called). Projectoception occurs when you perceive more than there really is to be perceived. (Much of culture consists of agreed upon projectoception. Optimum survival often requires that we pretend to share the common projectoceptions of our fellows.)

When we are in control, as opposed to being stimulus-response machines, we use our cognitive intermediary ability to be in control. In a stimulus-response orientation people react to input from the environment automatically and produce output without the use of their cognitive systems (consciousness). An example of this is Ted. When Ted's girlfriend told him she didn't want to go out, he automatically (unconsciously) got upset because he thought she was mad at him. Ted never bothered to use his cognitive ability (consciousness) to either realize that there are legitimate reasons why she does not want to go, or to control his own emotional reaction.

Another example is Thom. When Thom's girlfriend tells him she does not want to go out he uses his cognitive ability (consciousness) to consider alternative possibilities as to why she does not what to go out, such as the fact that she had a long day and is tired. He then controls his emotions and consciously creates an appropriate response, rather than an automatic unconscious emotional reaction.

In his superb book The Philosophy of As If, Hans Vaihinger explained the principle of the preponderance of means over ends. It seems to be a human tendency to forget the end and to get lost in the means. The means tend to become more important than the end. So people can devote much of their lives (even sacrifice their lives) to futile means with little or no prospect of achieving any worthwhile end. To escape this trap - the tendency towards unconsciousness? - you need to constantly focus on producing the (end) results you desire, whilst keeping whatever you need to do to achieve those results (the means) as a subordinate function.

The famous mystic Gurdjieff claimed that what we generally regard as the awake state is in fact a kind of "sleepwalking." I call this bicameral stage two, in which people operate "on automatic" without really observing themselves. Gurdjieff and his disciple Ouspensky were well known as teachers of self-observation. Self-observation is a thinking skill that enables you to become critically aware of what you think, say, and do - and the consequences you create.

Many people most of the time are not critically aware of their thoughts, communications, and actions. For many, critical self-observation is a difficult skill to learn. Many use reason to rationalize their actions after the fact - to make themselves "right." Gurdjieff, Ouspensky, and their followers have written several books on the lifetime work of becoming critically self-aware.

Philosopher and psychologist Nietzsche indicated that human consciousness is in its infancy. Suppose the universe is four billion years old, humans have existed for about 200,000 to 300,000 years, and have been conscious for maybe 3,000 to 5,000 years. In evolutionary terms, our consciousness is in its infancy. We are at the level of a baby just beginning to learn to crawl.

Consider that all the problems in the world - unhappiness, crime, drug abuse, suicide, rape, terrorism, coercive government, war, pollution, poverty, famine, child abuse, depression, unemployment, inflation, homelessness, unhealth, etc. - are a consequence of the fact that human thinking skills are still at a very primitive infancy level.

What if we are like primitive, backward, barbaric infants who are yet to learn to crawl - but we deceive ourselves into believing that we are the finest olympic athletes?

Let us learn to crawl, walk, run, and jump!

Contents -- Next Section: Annotated Bibliography


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