One of the benefits of aging is that you are more aware of the moment by moment changes in your body, mind, and emotions. The ability to focus one’s thoughts in that way is a type of consciousness. One day last week, I realized that I felt less centered than I usually do -more fragmented, in a sense – and I did not like the feeling. I realized that I needed to center myself, consciously, in order to regain my internal equilibrium.
I knew that the way to accomplish that was simply to sit down, reflect upon my inner spirit for a few moments, and focus on who I am and who I was meant to be on this Earth, in a larger context. I knew that, when I was able to redirect my concentration into that deeper state of being, the more transitory and superficial concerns, which had caused me to become less focused, would disappear. And so it was. Although not being centered is rarely my state of consciousness now that I am older, because of my life’s experiences I have learned how to regain wholeness, quickly.
Upon reflection, it seems to me that being too desirous of temporal concerns of the world, including transitory wishes and wants, although positive in that those feelings can create the energy to action, can nevertheless create internal conflict if action to those ends is not advisable. That internal conflict creates the feelings of fragmentation. Resolving the conflict helps to restore psychic balance. Thus, when one centers upon the eternal – that inner self which is forever present – instead of on the temporal concerns of the body and mind, balance is restored.
I thought of Nelson Mandela. The primary reason that Mandela was able to be so centered during his 28 years of incarceration in that small prison cell in South Africa was because he knew that who he was was not bound to his body and the limitations imposed upon it. Who he was – his inner spirit – was free of that cell. He knew that to be true on a gut level, not just intellectually. Likewise, I believe that the primary reason that Martin Luther King, Jr. was able to face the blatant racism, imprisonment, as well as the constancy of knowing that he could be assassinated at any time, and yet still carry on his destined mission with such centeredness and grace under pressure, was because he had reached a higher consciousness about who he was and why he was born into this world. He lived with that heightened awareness day in and day out, so that temporal concerns were not significant distractions to him. You can see that higher consciousness in his eyes in his last speech. He had said, “I may not get to the Promise Land with you, but we, as a people, will get to the Promise Land. So, tonight I’m not fearing any man. I have seen. . .”
Please listen, first, to the videotape of Joseph Campbell, below, speaking of how Jesus Christ walked voluntarily toward the cross with full awareness, like a “bridegroom to the bride,” in that, while knowing his body was temporal, he also knew that he carried the eternal within himself to that cross – and beyond it. That awareness, as well as his meeting of his death voluntarily, make him not only a transcendent figure, but also a “heroic and triumphant” one, according to Campbell. To many, the cross symbolizes both the earthbound and the eternal, joining in Christ. The horizontal part of the cross represents the earthbound part of human nature, or that which is temporal and timebound, and the vertical part of the cross represents the soul, or the inner spirit, which reaches for the eternal – that which is beyond time and space.
In another video, not shown in this posting, Joseph Campbell had said that a man of 40 years of age, who is still concerned about his mother’s ties to him, has been arrested in his psychological development, just as an 80 year old who might still be concerned about his golf game has been arrested in his development. Each man should have reached a certain stage of psychological development at his particular time in life. At eighty, a person should have reached at a higher consciousness about what life is about than aspiring to score well in a golf match. The actor, Paul Newman, in his sixties, had revealed that he finally “got it,” relatively late, about what life is about, but, he said, better that he had “gotten it” finally, than not at all. I believe that the earlier in life that we are aware of this higher consciousness, the more centered we are able to become, for a longer duration of our lives.
Today, the world is moving faster than ever before, with its global tweeting and social networking, but is it becoming more sane and wise? We will know the answer to that question in days to come, as we observe how the collective consciousness of human beings will manifest itself throughout the world – just as we have observed its positive force spreading throughout Egypt, in recent days. Hopefully, in the days to come, the consciousness of individual human beings will reach greater wholeness and enlightenment, which, in turn, will create a collective consciousness of wholeness and enlightenment throughout the world. If this higher consciousness fails to develop within individuals, I foresee a more fragmented world for all of us. Through the benefit of mass media, we will be able to observe, firsthand, what our common future will probably be. Also, through the miracle of mass media, we will be able to witness firsthand – and not simply to posit in theory – that what effects one, truly effects all.
In the second video, Carl Jung, the world famous psychiatrist whose writings Joseph Campbell had studied, reflects upon the possibility of life after death.
The third video, of the Lord’s Prayer sung by Denyce Graves at President Gerald Ford’s funeral, is a bonus for readers to help in the quieting of their souls.