A lot of people (myself included) regard the attainment of 'higher consciousness' as one of the most important goals of life. But there is such wide disagreement as to what this entails, that different people mean almost opposite things by the phrase.
For human consciousness to become 'higher' in an objective sense, it needs to become closer to the divine - therefore 'higher consciousness' does not, as a concept, make sense for anyone who denies the reality of deity.
But concepts of deity vary widely.
If deity is understood in an abstract and impersonal way, then to be higher, consciousness needs to lose the ego; the self, that which makes consciousness personal and unique.
Those who attain higher consciousness will converge on a type - become more similar to each other - as each loses distinctiveness.
For such people, the attainment of higher consciousness is a negative matter: a losing, a letting go, a giving-up, perhaps a process of dissolving.
For such people, the body is an impediment; and the attainment of higher consciousness entails losing the body and becoming pure spirit - and that pure spirit becoming continuous with the divine.
However, at the other extreme; for the believer in a personal god, with which one hopes for a personal relationship - the attainment of higher consciousness is aiming at becoming more like that god in terms of consciousness.
Such a goal does not aim at loss, but instead a 'gain of function', and enhancement of man towards god. The man's consciousness would need to be 'increased' to become more god-like.
And implicitly - since god is a person, then one who aims to be more like god will need to remain a person. Those who attain higher consciousness will diverge - become more different from each other - as each becomes 'more himself'.
(Being 'like god' is therefore a matter of godly capacity, not character.)
If the personal god is regarded as a discarnate spirit, then that will also be an aim; if the aimed-at god is incarnate, has a body; then a divine body will be required - and the (temporary, corrupt) mortal body will need to be transformed and enhanced in order to attain more of the attributes of god.
'Higher consciousness'... same name for what is wanted; but maybe opposite intentions and aspirations.
One of my ways of interpreting the Roman Salute is a beckoning to 'Seek Higher Consciousness' or 'See Higher Power' - Which, in either case, if you remove the last word, sounds amusingly like the Hail Victory in German. The hand is pointed up.
I thinking wanting it in the first step. The AA step 2 isn't really different. And if you want that higher thing, you should acknowledge your desire to match it in being. Like someone picking fruit from high in a tree, If you can't match it you won't grasp it. Ideally we grasp the fruit from above, without any worry of falling.
One of my recent prayers (a Creative prayer in addition to the traditional ones) - 'Lord, please help me to refine myself towards your ends; that I might be more (helpful, useful, and so on as words befit the moment)'
One of my intuitions is that for God to help us at all, we have to be honest to God about what is taking place in our Sphere of existence. Our honest conscious contemplations inform them. We give back in this way, and I feel by the grace of God we inch towards them in some spiritual process related to this. If you want to be of God you must work for/with God. Syn Logos....
So it seems the 'higher consciousness" of the East is a vertical movement while seeking the personal God of the West is a horizontal movement. Meister Eckhart said what was required for spiritual development was "detachment" from our limited understanding, a certain distancing from our usual thought process. This detachment can be both vertical and horizontal resulting in a more complete spiritualization of man. A clear mind can allow for other understandings to reveal themselves resulting in growth.
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