An Exercise in Consciousness

This article is designed to provide you with a subjective experience of the quality that powers your sense of identity behind the scenes. In other words, this is an exercise in consciousness.

If you wish to get the most out of this, make sure you are not in a rush while reading this article. Do as much as you can to make it less likely that you could be interrupted. Check that you are not too tired, hungry, or thirsty. Go ahead! Take a minute to use the restroom, drink some water, or eat a banana. Then come back. There is no rush.   

Once you’re ready and undistracted, make your body comfortable by getting into any position you like. Some people find that sitting with their backs supported and straight helps, but this is entirely up to you. Use 45 seconds or so to take deep and slow breaths. Deep and slow. 15 to 20 times. Notice the brief stillness at the end of a long, deep exhalation. It is brief and fleeting, but it is there. Notice it. It will calm your mind. While doing this, apply as much attention as you can to your breathing—that will put you in the right mindset. Once ready, read this article at a slow pace. As you go, try your best to use all of your senses to create an experience in your mind and in your body.

Now, start…

Imagine a space in front of you. Envision it in whatever shape comes to your mind. Imagine that this space has been there for a while. You’ve been observing it with curiosity for quite some time. You dismissed it somewhat when you first noticed it, but now its presence weighs on your awareness. This space is right there, right in front of you. It intrudes into your thoughts constantly. You ask yourself, What is it? How did it get there? Does it want something? This space feels strange, yet oddly familiar.

You contemplate this space some more. Looking at it, your sense of dimension becomes irrelevant. Depending on your mood, this space shifts. It is as big as the infinite universe or as small as a speck of dust. At first, the space seems empty. You look at it, and your eyes tell you without a doubt that there is nothing there. But you know otherwise. You sense it—there is something there. What is it?

You close your eyes and reach into this space with your bare hands. As if they are entering cold water, your hands immediately feel something. You were right! The space isn’t empty. You cannot identify the sensation in your hands, but there is a vibration. Something is tingling. It’s as if you interrupted the march of a million ants, and now they are rushing about above and underneath your hands.

With your hands still inside the space, you open your eyes. There aren’t any ants. You see nothing. To your eyes, the space still seems empty…yet the sensation of vibrancy in your hands remains. You close your eyes again, always keeping your hands inside. You curl your fingers into fists. They grab nothing. Your curiosity spikes.

The thought comes briefly, but you don’t hesitate: you plunge your entire body into this space. It envelopes you instantly. You don’t know whether someone else could still see you from outside, but inside, you feel like floating, suspended in the air. The whole world is gone. All your senses are on high alert. A curious expectation halts your very breath, your heartbeat, the blood flowing through your veins.

Within ten seconds, the tingling sensation in your hands expands throughout your body. It runs through every inch of your skin. A continuous stream of warm energy flows through you—in and out, in and out. Your internal organs feel it, too: your lungs, your guts, your heart, your brain…all of it. You feel engulfed by a life-giving, gentle fire within.

Another five seconds, and—like sugar stirred into hot coffee—your body begins to dissolve into the current flowing through you. To your amusement, your molecules spread out far and wide. They merge into the immaterial substance in this space, absorbed into its very nature. You do not fear; you do not despair. You feel like you are expanding, as if you are the one enveloping the space, giving it meaning.

Soon, you are everywhere; soon, you are as big or as small as the space itself. You occupy it completely; it is your space. It feels surprisingly pleasant. It feels warm and welcoming. Intimate. It feels safe, like a womb; it feels protective, full of life, full of potential. You belong here. You recognize it. You are home now. You are back. You could joyfully stay like this forever, for this is the source. This is who you truly are. You relish this sensation for a few moments. Home…

When the awe of your new state becomes a new normal, you remember your previous curiosity. What is it? you asked of this space before. What are you? Yet now the question feels like it is What are we? What am I?

You look with the same eyes you had then. It still seems like empty space, but now you know that you are here. And you are everywhere. You don’t have a physical body, no, but you remain aware of yourself. The space is not empty—that you now know. It contains your awareness; it contains the certainty that you exist; it contains you.

You find it hard to convey, but you feel as if this seemingly empty space is your body. An immaterial body, yes. This space sustains your continuous consciousness and points to a source for it. You relish this notion! An immaterial body sustains your awareness. It is timeless. Undecaying. Unbounded. Eternal. You exist; you perceive; you know. You are everywhere, and you fill everything.

This new body of yours, this seemingly empty space—as big or as small as you wish it to be—is filled with a brimming, vibrant energy. Your energy. And this energy is ready to spring into action at your slightest command. This energy is the space, and this space is you. This energy can transform itself into anything you wish it to be in this private space of yours. Anything, including matter and form and other energies. Anything. This energy is you, and your very thoughts are its commands; it responds to you like your arms and legs do. This energy is pure potential waiting impatiently for a command, for something to flow into, for something to do, for something to be.

And so it is that your being has no material form. Yet, it exists in awareness and in the potentiality of being anything it wishes to be. You can have anything. You can do anything. You can be anything.

And yet, only one thought occupies your mind. Two questions fill your consciousness: What am I? Who am I? And the curiosity becomes desire, and the need to know rises like a tidal wave in your body. And this longing becomes the intent in your mind, the subject in your consciousness, the purpose in your heart.

And a command is felt with crisp certainty. A command is born without words. And it resonates in your space with the unstoppable intensity of a single-minded intention: Know Thyself.

The energy in your body explodes into material existence. And a cosmos is born inside of you. Energy springs into matter—matter impregnated with a creative force—and it rolls forward, seeking to fulfill your desire. What am I? Who am I?

You are here to know yourself. Your true self. The one behind transient forms. The one behind matter. The one who is eternal, ever-present, and immortal.

Every flower, every blade of grass; every black hole, sun, and every sprawling galaxy; every single one of us here on Earth, now and in the past and in the future; everything perceivable and everything that is not too clear to the senses. Everything is our attempt to comply with the command to Know Thyself, to know who we truly are.

So, how do you know yourself?

You know yourself through your actions, through your doings, through your thinking and your emoting. An infinite being requires an infinite universe to know itself. The entire cosmos is the entire being in its current manifestation. Each one of us is a part of such manifestation. You are here to satisfy a need, to fulfill a desire rooted deep within.

How does one fulfill oneself? How do other creatures in nature fulfill themselves? What does a fulfilled eagle look like? What does a fulfilled tree look like? They grow to the very best they can be. They are fully realized within their own forms.

Likewise, you are also gifted with individual self-awareness and conscious attention. As such, you must grow into the very best you can be. You must follow your deepest desires and evolve to new heights, pursuing your dreams and goals to the very end. The limits of these dreams will be the limits you self-impose. Because the space to create and the space to be is boundless. You must then fulfill yourself to the brink to answer the call to Know Thyself.

As you evolve the self, the consciousness that sparked this universe will fill more and more of your daily life—and the lives of those around you. We are entering a new stage in the development of our species. It is a stage featuring an increased understanding of our true nature, a stage where we can grow into our very best. We are standing at a threshold.

I wish to welcome you into this new chapter in our history by echoing the divine command: Know Thyself.


JC Ramos Paulino

This Post Has One Comment

  1. Shawn Shawmlou

    I also believe the ultimate goal of creation and existence as we know it and experience it is to evolve in consciousness and reach higher states of awareness. Everything in a daily life that brings joy and bliss is caused by increased awareness of the self. The attempt to answer “Know thy self” is the path to evolution that will end at a single point where consciousness sits by itself being aware of nothing but itself.

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