We are responsible for our unconscious as well as conscious thoughts, emotions and actions.
This Spiritual Energy Principle can be a challenging one! For most of us, it makes sense that we are responsible for our thoughts, emotions, and actions of which we are aware. But, how is it that we are also responsible for all mental, emotional and behavioral patterns that reside in our unconscious mind and which are outside the field of our awareness?
Ancient wisdom traditions have long taught that the mind is vast and contains every thought, emotion, sensation and action that we have ever experienced. Most of this knowledge simply drops into our unconscious mind, outside our conscious awareness. But even though this information is no longer readily available to us, it is not totally forgotten. In fact, it continues to strongly influence and drive our life decisions.
One powerful model of mind is that of an iceberg. Most of the mass of this huge chunk of ice is below the water. Just the tip of the iceberg juts out into the sea and is perceivable. That tip is analogous to our conscious mind and represents the information about ourselves, others and our world of which we have some awareness. And yet, we have an immense reservoir of information, knowledge and experience – made up of our wounds and our wisdom – that lies beneath the surface and outside our immediate awareness. Spirituality largely involves shaping a new relationship to that reservoir.
One definition of enlightenment – “to make the unconscious conscious” – is found in the tradition of Indian meditation teacher and mystic Osho. This view of enlightenment challenges us to be “mindful” – that is, to become aware of, sensitive to, and take responsibility for all these layers of mind that shape and influence us. By welcoming the “fullness of mind,” we are able to embrace the journey of personal transformation.
David Rock, a motivational speaker and business consultant, helps us to understand the importance of engaging the fourth Spiritual Energy Principle. He understands the power and promise of all aspects of mind and provides yet another image to help elucidate its importance. He invites us to consider an analogy that involves space. The conscious mind is like a cube of three feet to each side. The unconscious mind is like the entire Milky Way Galaxy!
In other words, we each have a virtual inner universe to explore.
The fourth Spiritual Energy Principle speaks to us then of our responsibility to embark on a personal journey of exploration, bringing into the field of our awareness all the mental, emotional and behavioral patterns that drive our lives. We make the commitment to move away from living reactively and unconsciously – even denying any responsibility to what is unconscious in us. We move toward a life of mindful awareness through personal exploration, deeply embracing and applying our Ideal, and transforming even that which we have previously ignored or forgotten.
As with any journey, we need to prepare ourselves. We will meet and work constructively with the difficult challenges and the wonderful spiritual gifts we will surely encounter in the exploration of our inner Milky Way.
In PTCI courses, we teach three steps for working with unconscious information:
First, we create a strong “container” or framework for holding, investigating and constructively working with material from the unconscious mind. We create such a container through engaging in a regular meditation practice and through intentional work with our Ideal. These practices help us to cultivate a stable and calm mind which is capable of doing the challenging work of inner exploration.
Second, we cultivate an attitude of non-judgment and self-compassion. This step is crucial because there will often be tendencies to self-condemnation as we start to awaken forgotten or repressed patterns within us. Being responsible for one’s own unconscious really means being responsible with compassion and love, otherwise we’ll only get stuck in not being able to transform.
Third, we develop skills and techniques that help us transform unhealthy mental, emotional and behavioral patterns as they arise into conscious awareness. These time-tested skills also help us identify and bring forward our wisdom and spiritual gifts that are waiting to be discovered, claimed and joyfully lived.
Spiritual Energy Principle Number Four — We are responsible for our unconscious as well as conscious thoughts, emotions and actions – reminds us that we have a vast inner space to explore, master and heal. It reminds us that it is within our power to work constructively with and transform limiting thoughts, emotions and behaviors – even those deeply hidden in our unconscious mind. The fourth Spiritual Energy Principle leads us also to discover and directly experience our innate wisdom and authentic self. By taking responsibility for all levels of our minds – conscious and unconscious – we become the authors of our future and positively influence the future of our communities and the world. This deeper journey of personal transformation takes courage and commitment. And, it is well worth the effort.