Essay 4 Expanding awareness

Challenges of Birth, Life and Death – Expanding Awareness
Chapter 13 of Mysteries and Challenges of Birth, Life and Death


The spiritual school does not posit a popular faith, but a clear and positive knowledge; not in the sense of collecting facts, dogmas, phrases, theses, hypotheses and so on, that ultimately leave man empty-handed, but knowledge in the sense of ‘comprehending’, discerning, an inner possession which is irresistible and absolute.
When the relationship between the School of the Rosycross and the interested person develops on this basis there is no question of authority or mindless docility. There is an inner recognition, a conscious following of a path, authenticated within one’s own self. Three latent faculties should reveal themselves in the life of the pupil: the faculty of the new will; the faculty of the new wisdom; the faculty of the new activity. […]
The new will is developed in the pupil by the spiritual school by means of the spiritual law; the new wisdom by the phi- losophy of the spiritual law; the new activity by the application of the spiritual law.

J. van Rijckenborgh,
Elementary Philosophy of the Modern Rosycross, chapter 2

What in you encourages you to read this book? What in you ensures that you recognise the neatly arranged tiny spots of printing ink on this page as letters and words, and understand which thoughts are represented by the authors? What in you notices that while reading the sentences thoughts come to mind? What in you might turn you to perhaps do something in your life with what you read in this book? You can answer all these questions with: my consciousness! In a certain sense that is correct, because it is indeed about consciousness, a name that is actually more a verb than a noun: to be aware!

However, the question is whether it is actually about your consciousness. As personalities, we are naturally inclined to appropriate everything we experience for ourselves, to identify ourselves with the thoughts, feelings, and activities of the will that arise in us. Consciousness manifests itself in and through the personality, and determines the state of being of the personality, but it is more than the personality.

A correct understanding of consciousness is essential for people who want to follow a spiritual path. All authentic spirituality is especially aimed at widening the consciousness of humans and humanity. Many of the problems we face on earth stem from a lack of awareness. In the plan of God it is indisputable that our deepest being grows in consciousness, unto infinity!

But what actually is consciousness? The internet encyclopedia ‘Wikipedia’ defines it: ‘Consciousness is the ability to experience or perceive, or to have an experience or awareness of yourself and the environment. Consciousness is a reflection on impressions from the outside world, for example from people, objects or light, and from the inner world, for example from emotions, thoughts or needs. Consciousness is knowing or experiencing what is both sensory and cognitive within yourself, with the possibility of being able to communicate about it in a certain way’.

In order to give a broader picture of consciousness, seven quotes from spiritual teachers and researchers follow below.

  • Awareness is the most fundamental aspect that exists. The univer-se and everything in it is created by the energy and movement of consciousness. The microcosm and the macrocosm are nothing more than consciousness that organises itself. (Sri Aurobindo)
  • Everything in the universe, throughout all realms, is conscious, Is equipped with consciousness of its own kind and on its own level of perception. (Helena P. Blavatsky)
  • If we stop thinking primarily of ourselves and our self-maintenance, we are truly undergoing a heroic transformation of consciousness. (Joseph Campbell)
  • As we grow in consciousness, there will be more compassion and more love, and then the boundaries between religions and nations will fade away. Yes, we must overcome separation. (Ram Dass)
  • That aspect in ourselves that we do not let penetrate into our con- sciousness, appears in our lives as fate. (Carl Gustav Jung)
  • Every attempt to meditate is its denial. Only being aware of what you think and do is meditation and nothing else […] Meditation means stripping consciousness of its content. (Jiddu Krishnamurti)
  • Just let go. Let go of your thoughts about how you think your life should be and welcome the life that is trying to find a way in your consciousness (Caroline Myss).

State of consciousness is state of life

All those statements are in accordance with the vision that Jan van Rijckenborgh conveys in his books. In the first chapter of his book ‘The Gnosis in Present-day Manifestation’ he writes, among other things:

‘Cultivated theory is never practice and becomes practice in the sense of the Gnosis. To the ordinary world practice is always applied theory. One learns something for a while and when it has been lear- ned one puts it into practice. In our field of life the individual passes from the theoretical into the practical. But in the sense of the gnosis practice is always the result of a state of consciousness. And a state of consciousness always entails consequences. For a state of consciousness is a reality out of which one tries to live. The state of life that develops as such and from which one works and strives, is then just as real as the state of consciousness and has nothing to do with applied theory. When your consciousness draws your attention to a particu- lar object and makes you see it as right, it may be that all theorists tell you: “Please do not go that way”, but your consciousness places you be- fore it and so you turn your consciousness into a state of life. Therefore we say to you: a state of consciousness is a state of life. One reality must project itself in and through the other. Then there is equilibrium. If the equilibrium fails to come about, man always feels quite wretched, very unhappy, profoundly uneasy. That is a natural law. Therefore, a state of consciousness is at the same time a state of blood.’

The classic Rosicrucians from the early seventeenth century lived in a time when many new scientific discoveries were being made and new denominations were being established. They strived to develop knowledge of science, religion and man on the basis of a new consciousness, to connect human beings with each other, for they experienced that such a renewal was desperately needed because many people were holding on to obsolete concepts and, partly due to that, there were many conflicts.

In the manifesto ‘Fama Fraternitatis R.C.’ from 1614 man is called a microcosm and three symbolical books are mentioned: the book M (which refers to Mundi, that is: world or cosmos), the book T (that refers to Theos or God) and the book H (that refers to Homo or man).

The classical Rosicrucians derived this idea from hermetic philosophy, in which the relationship between cosmos, Theos (God)and anthropos (man) is central. At the end of the twentieth cen-tury this idea was further elaborated by the Spanish theologian Raimon Panikkar (1918-2010). He is a great advocate of inter-religious dialogue and regards the so-called cosmo-theandric intuition as a good starting point for this. Pannikar builds on the classical idea that the undivided awareness of the totality is characterised by a cosmic dimension, a divine dimension and a hu- man dimension.

This cosmo-theandric worldview therefore assumes that we live within one dynamic reality in which the divine, the cosmic and the human are related to each other and belong to each other. In humans, those three dimensions are respectively known as the mind, the soul and the body. These three dimensions cannot be known separately from each other, but can only be experienced from awareness in their coherence by people with active receptivity.

Jan Amos Comenius (1592-1670) incorporates the relationship between cosmos, God and man in his pansophy which he describes as ‘Universal wisdom, namely the knowledge of all things that exist, of the way in which they exist and the knowledge of their purpose and use, for which they exist’. Comenius writes about this in 1641 in his work ‘Via Lucis’:

‘According to the Creator’s objectives, the world is nothing more than a foreplay to eternity, as it were a primary school where we are sent before we can be promoted to the heavenly college. And that is why he has lavishly equipped his school with his books. Because since it is our task here to learn, and learning without books or oral instruction is not possible, he teaches us, in the meantime with the help of his books, since the latter is reserved for eternity.
He has given us three books, all three of which are copies of his eternity, that means, of himself, as it were as from an original. The first and largest book of God is the visible world, written in as many letters as there are creatures of God. The second book is man himself, created in God’s image. To him, inspired by the breath of divine life, that is, by the reasonable spirit, made according to the measure of all things.
However, God has handed man a third book, as it were an explanation of the outer book of the world and as a guideline for the conscience, which is the inner book: the Holy Scripture, in which he sheds light on some more hidden aspects of both other books, and teaches the true purpose and use of all things. In this threefold book of God everything is included that we humans must know or do not know, and clearly explained for the benefit of all.’

Matter and spirit

The combination of science and religion as desired by the classical Rosicrucians and Comenius did not take place. On the contrary! The two domains grew more and more apart since the seventeenth century, because matter and spirit were seen as two opposing principles. The French philosopher René Descartes (1596-1650), who lived in the Netherlands for twenty years of his life, is often seen as the initiator of this dualism. His famous quote is ‘Cogito ergo sum’ or ‘I think therfore I am’.

Descartes thus derived his identity from his thinking, with which he apparently identified himself. He was a convinced Christian and, among other things, wrote a manuscript in which he revealed that he would write a work dedicated to all scholars in the world, but in particular to the brothers of the Rosycross.

René Descartes was looking for a fixed point in a constantly changing world and, very paradoxically, found his certainty in his doubt. He reasons: ‘I doubt, so I think, so I am’. This position gives the impression of being opposite and separate from an objective reality, which is object, the object of his seeing, his hearing, his smelling, his tasting , his feeling and his knowing. He incorporated that idea into his own philosophical system with which he laid the foundation for the stream of rationalism.

Partly thanks to Descartes’ method and vision in scientific research, natural sciences and technology were allowed to develop to great heights. But a high price was paid for this: a development that the sociologist Max Weber (1864-1920) indicates as ‘the disenchantment of the world’.

We could also call it: the desecration of the mysteries of life. After all, within the natural sciences the existence of divine powers is not recognised and it is assumed that we can understand and explain everything rationally if we do enough scientific research.

If we see man merely as a species of animal, come into existence more or less by chance during a long evolution, having a certain consciousness as a result of physical-chemical and biological processes in the brain, then what is the point of life? If there is no vertical dimension that you can have contact with as a person, if there is no divine plan, if there is no grand perspective for human- ity, if we know that we will no longer be there in a hundred years and if we know that it will end forall human life on earth, what can still inspire us?

According to Max Weber, modern science cannot solve meaningful problems, but only give rise to them and strengthen them. Since he concludes that there is no way back in this, modern man can do nothing but accept this tragic fate without illusions – to try and persevere in the meaninglessness of existence heroically, without resorting to utopian dreams or promises.

Can science really not offer us perspectives on the basis of which we can give meaning to our lives? The French paleontologist and philosopher Pierre Teilhard de Chardin (1881-1955) was convinced of the fact that science and religion can absolutely work together and that we, as human beings, have been integrated into a powerful whole that is constantly evolving. Teilhard was a Jesuit and a Catholic priest, and wrote books in which he tried to reconcile the Christian faith with the theory of evolution based on Charles Darwin (1809-1982). His supporters saw him as a brilliant visionary, but he was banned by his order, his church and also by many scientists, because his vision was inconsistent with religious teaching authority and scientific paradigms.

Teilhard de Chardin assumes that nature can internalize, be- cause matter possesses an ‘inside’ that he refers to as ‘psychism’. All manifestations contain this psychic element, but in different degrees and concentrations. According to this view, known as panentheism – not to be confused with pantheism – God is immanent throughout the universe, the universe is part of God, and God is the driving force in the universe. This monistic view we also find in Hermeticism, in some movements of Judaism, in most movements of Hinduism, with the church father Origen (185-254) and with the philosopher Spinoza (1632-1677). The Sufi-mystic Rumi (1207-1273) poetically formulates this principle as: ‘God sleeps in the rock, dreams in the plant, moves in the animal and awakens in man’.

Cosmogenesis, biogenesis, anthropogenesis, christogenesis

According to Teilhard, the internalising energy is the driving force behind evolution that leads to three processes: cosmogenesis (the origin of the universe), biogenesis (the leap in mutation from inanimate to living matter) and the noogenesis (the change to self-awareness). In this way, three spheres can be distinguished for the earth, one evolving after the other: first the geosphere with the matter of the planet, then the biosphere with all earthly organisms and then the noosphere that is related to human consciousness and that is expressed in society. welcome in the Anthropocene noosphere technosphere biosphere geosphere mineral kingdom plant kingdom animal kingdom human kingdom technical facilities for living, producing, consuming, communicating etc.

Nowadays, a fourth sphere is often distinguished that relates to technical facilities that man has created, such as agricultural and horticultural land, homes, factories, infrastructure, vehicles, appliances and computers. Human activities have an enormous impact on nature and the environment. So strong in fact that the earth has been changed by man, the anthropos, in such a way that several scholars already speak of a new geological era: the Anthropocene (see image 15).

With the noogenesis, the development of self-consciousness, the biological species known as Homo sapiens arises, the know- ing human being characterised by self-consciousness that can continuously develop further. Teilhard argues that man has risen above the animal level through the power of internalisation and that he is able to transcend the cosmos and himself through his ability to reflect.

Rudolf Steiner distinguishes three spheres of life in society, known as the social tri-articulation, in which human consciousness is expressed. It starts first of all with the economic life with its production, distribution and consumption. Secondly, there is the judicial life with laws, regulations and agreements in order to lead everything in the right direction. The principle of equality is essential in this domain. And thirdly there is the cultural life with among other things science, religion, art and education, which needs to be seen in the light of freedom.

Radical developments have occurred in those three social spheres of life in the course of history. In economic life, productivity has leaped forward. In extremely primitive societies people hunt and gather in order to provide for their livelihood. With the rise of agriculture just one person might be able to produce 50 times as much food as one hunter-gatherer. Productivity increased again 50 times with the rise of industry using machines.

Enterprises that focus completely on the present era of information may be fifty times as productive as comparable industrial enterprises. So in economic life, man’s consciousness has started to play an increasingly bigger role. Several contemporary thinkers are of the opinion that the numerous devices have come into our lives to enable us to grow as human beings. The big question is where the referred to biological processes will lead.

According to Pierre Teilhard de Chardin the developments will eventually result in something that he calls ‘the point omega’ or ‘the omega point’, derived from the Revelations of John. Teilhard sees the point omega as the condition of humanity redeemed by Christ. Then people have internalised themselves in such a way that they have become the mystical body of Christ. That is possible because the Creator makes himself subject to the evolutionary process by becoming human in the form of Jesus Christ as part of a development which Teilhard calls ‘Christogenesis’, the genesis of Christ.

In Teilhard ’s vision, Christ, present from the beginning of creation – the big-bang – unfolds himself in the form of consciousness in the universe and reaches explicit consciousness in the person of Jesus. That moment in history can be seen as a new big-bang, starting a development in which people grow and reach fullness in love in the point omega. In his book ‘The Phenomenon of Man’, Teilhard de Chardin writes: ‘The success of evolution of humanity will not be determined by the “survival of the fittest”, but by our own ability to converge and to unite’.

Growing in consciousness

As human beings we are called to grow in consciousness. And if our consciousness increases, our responsibility also becomes greater. In the Bible the concept of consciousness as such is not mentioned, but in several parts of the Bible we can read about growing in knowledge, wisdom and grace, which means the same. The process of growth of awareness leads up to automatically let- ting go of old ideas, because they are no longer functional and even hinder further development. As a consequence of increasing awareness, obsolete paradigms perish and perceptions change. Paul compares growing in consciousness with becoming adult:

‘When I was a child, I spake as a child, I felt as a child, I thought as a child: now that I am become a man, I have put away childish things. For now we see in a mirror, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know fully even as also I was fully known’
(1 Corinthians 13:11, 12).

From a different point of view we expand our consciousness by becoming like children who, openly and without prejudice, meet everyone and everything full of wonder and who still are – much more than older people – in contact with the vertical dimension. That is why Jesus said: ‘Except ye turn, and become as little children, ye shall in no wise enter into the kingdom of heaven. See that ye despise not one of these little ones; for I say unto you, that in heaven their angels do always behold the face of my Father who is in heaven’ (Matthew 18:3, 10).

Growing up, and at the same becoming like a child, is therefore not a contradiction, but an apparent contradiction, a paradox. Paradoxical spiritual statements are often experienced ass con- fusing and threatening by a lower consciousness that is focused on the external level, because such consciousness needs clarity and thinks in opposites, such as good – bad, biblical – not biblical, christian – heathen, we – them, etc.

For a higher consciousness that is focused on connecting and transcending opposites, spiritual citations with a paradox are very valuable because they distinguish the external from the internal level so clearly. The New Testament is full of paradoxes, among which:

    • He who has found his life will lose it, and he who has lost his life for My sake will find it (Matthew 10:39).
    • But many who are first will be last; and the last, first (Matthew 19:30).
    • Let no man deceive himself. If any man among you thinks that he is wise in this age, he must become foolish, so that he may become wise (1 Corinthians 3:18).
    • Therefore I am well content with weaknesses, with insults, with distresses, with persecutions, with difficulties, for Christ’s sake; for when I am weak, then I am strong (2 Corinthians 12:10).
    • But what everthings were gain to me, those things I have counted as loss for the sake of Christ (Philippians 3:7).


If you go the path of the Christian mysteries, your consciousness changes. In the beginning you can notice a rather rapid growth of consciousness within yourself. There is however a good chance that after some years this comes to an end. If you then give in to the temptation to give up your spirituality and just continue steadily, a progression of which you are not aware will take place within your system. At a given moment the encounter between the purified soul and the spirit can take place. The new state of consciousness that results from this alchemical wedding is hard to express in words. Jan van Rijckenborgh names its most characteristic property as ‘omnipresence’. That means experiencing and possessing of all dimensions: cosmic, divine and human. He writes about this in his book ‘Dei Gloria Intacta’:

‘The pupil sees no space any more, no Logos, no reason and no plan, no creature or appearance. He sees only Light in which he blissfully dissolved; only Power with which he is one, a glorious omnipresent Nothingness with which he is identified without ties.
But this is the first sensation, the first wonder of the new consciousness. It is the prelude, the triumphal entrance of the heavenly man into the New Jerusalem. It is the emotion of Love, into which the candidate is emerged as in a blissful non-being.
And then… … then the eye of Shiva is opened, the eye of Dangma, the third eye of mythology; then the door of heaven, of which the Apocalypse speaks, is opened.
That eye of Shiva definitely is not related to the binding of the final gland with the activated pituitary body of the dialectic bodilyfigure, as the union of fire and light, but it is the binding of the heavenly thinking faculty with the dialectic thinking faculty newly become virginal.
And that eye of Shiva, that door to heaven, to the statics of the Divine Order, the Immovable Kingdom of which Paul Speaks, becomes even brighter, opens ever wider, as the pupil succeeds in tearing down his old temple and rebuilding it in three days. He who can understand, let him understand!
Now, as soon as this eye of Shiva gazes clearly and brightly into the new world, after the resurrection on the third day, which is like ascending a mountain, the omnipresent pupil is no longer a gloriously intoxicated visionary of light in mystic non-being, but he is then, he becomes then, together with him who bears the heavens and the worlds, an executor, a co-heir, a co-builder of the Divine Plan for world and mankind; he is then a living conscious member of the Body of Christ, of the Divine Hierarchy, of the Temple bid without the sound of hammers.
The new consciousness renders the pupil prepared to take part in the mighty plan of creation and purification which has been initiated and is being carried forth in the name of God.’