People confuse consciousness with intelligence or with intellect, thus, they qualify a very intelligent or intellectual person as a very cognizant person.
Undoubtedly—and without fear of deceiving ourselves—we affirm that within a human being the consciousness is a very particular means of apprehending internal knowledge and is completely independent of any mental activity.
The faculty of consciousness facilitates the knowledge of ourselves.
The consciousness grants us the integral knowledge of what is, where it is, what is really known, and what is certainly ignored.
Revolutionary psychology teaches that only the individual by himself can know his own self. Yes, only we ourselves can know if we are or are not cognizant at any given moment; only by oneself can one know about one’s own consciousness, and whether it was active or not at any given moment.
Only the individual by himself—and nobody but himself—can become aware at any given instant, at any given moment, if before that instant, if before that moment, he was not really cognizant, that his consciousness was very asleep. Thereafter, he will fall asleep again and forget that experience, or will keep it as a memory, as the memory of a strong experience.
It is essential to know that the consciousness within rational animals is not a continuous or permanent entity. Normally, the consciousness within these intellectual animals mistakenly called humans sleeps profoundly; thus, the moments in which their consciousness is awake are seldom, very seldom. Yes, intellectual animals work, drive cars, marry, die, etc., with their consciousness totally asleep, and it awakens only in very exceptional moments.
Sadly, the life of present human-like people is a life of dreams, yet they believe they are awake and will never admit that they are dreaming—that is, that their consciousness is asleep.
If any of them were to suddenly awaken, he would feel terribly ashamed of himself, he would immediately comprehend his clownishness, his own buffoonery, since this life is frightfully ludicrous, horribly tragic, and seldomly sublime.
If a boxer in the middle of a fight was to unexpectedly awaken—covered in shame—he would see the entire fascinated public and then—before the astonishment of the sleeping and unconscious multitudes—he would flee from the horrible spectacle.
When a human being admits that he has his consciousness asleep, you can be sure that he has already begun to awaken.
The reactionary schools of old-fashioned psychology that deny the existence of the consciousness—and that even declare the term useless—reveal a most profound state of sleep. The henchmen of such schools snooze very profoundly within an utterly infraconscious and unconscious state.
Those who confuse the consciousness with psychological functions, i.e. thoughts, feelings, motor impulses and sensations, are indeed very unconscious: they are profoundly asleep.
Those who admit the existence of the consciousness, and nonetheless, utterly deny the different degrees of cognizance, reveal their lack of cognizant experience, that is, they reveal their sleeping consciousness. Any person who—even for a brief moment—awakened his consciousness, knows very well by his own experience that different degrees of observable consciousness exist within oneself, namely:
First: time; how long did we remain cognizant?
Second: frequency; how many times have we awakened our consciousness?
Third: amplitude and penetration; what was one cognizant of?
Revolutionary psychology and the ancient Philokalia affirm that the consciousness can be awakened and made continuous and controllable by means of a special kind of super-effort.
A fundamental education has as it’s objective the awakening of the consciousness. It is worthless to expend ten or fifteen years of study in school, college, and university if upon completion of our studies we are sleeping automatons.
It is no exaggeration to affirm that—by means of great effort—intellectual animals can become cognizant of themselves for a brief couple of minutes; nonetheless, it is clear that, in regard to cognizance, there exist remarkable exceptions that we must seek with the lantern of Diogenes. These remarkable cases are represented by authentic human beings such as Buddha, Jesus, Hermes, Quetzalcoatl, etc. Yes, these founders of religions possess continuous cognizance: that is, they are great, enlightened men.
Commonly, people are not cognizant of themselves, yet have the illusion of being cognizant in a continuous manner; this illusion is due to memory and all the processes of thought. For example, any individual who practices a retrospective exercise in order to remember their entire life, can truly recall, remember the number of times they married, how many children they begot, who their parents were, their teachers, etc. However, this does not signify the awakening of their consciousness; this is simply the remembrance of unconscious actions, and that is all.
Here, it is necessary to repeat what we have stated in former chapters. There are four states of consciousness:
- Vigil state
- Objective cognizance
The wretched intellectual animals mistakenly called humans live only in two of these states, since they expend one half of their life in their bed sleeping and the other half in the wrongly called “vigil state,” which indeed is a sleepwalking state. Yes, the individual who in bed sleeps and dreams believes that he awakens by merely returning to the vigil state, but he continues dreaming, because for him the vigil state is indeed a sleepwalking state. This is similar to daybreak: the stars seem to hide when the sun rises, yet they continue to exist even when the physical eyes cannot perceive them.
In normal life, the populace knows nothing about self-cognizance, and much less about objective cognizance. Nevertheless, people are proud and everyone thinks that they are cognizant of themselves. Yes, intellectual animals firmly believe that they have cognizance of themselves and they would never accept—under any circumstances—being told that they are actually asleep and that they live unconscious of themselves.
Exceptional moments exist when the intellectual animal awakens, but these moments are very rare. This awakening can occur in an instance of great danger, or during an intense emotion, or in some new circumstance, or in some new, unexpected situation, etc. Nonetheless, it is indeed a disgrace that the intellectual animal does not have any control over those fleeting states of awakened consciousness, and that he cannot evoke them in order to make them continuous.
Nevertheless, these fundamentals of Gnostic education affirm that any individual can acquire control over his consciousness and thus attain self-cognizance. Yes, this revolutionary psychology has methods, scientific processes, to awaken the consciousness.
In conclusion, if we want to awaken the consciousness, we need to start examining, studying, and thereafter eliminating all those obstacles that appear on the path. In this book we have taught the path for the awakening of the consciousness, starting from the very school desk.
This chapter is from Fundamentals of Gnostic Education (1970) by Samael Aun Weor. The print and ebook editions by Glorian Publishing (a non-profit organization) are illustrated to aid your understanding, and include features like a glossary and index. Buy the book, and you benefit yourself and others.