The Nature of Consciousness

Here’s a little excerpt on Transformational Leadership from our book in progress, “Transformation! Using the Integral Agile Transformation Framework to Create Breakthrough Results”….

We do not often think about consciousness. We experience it all the time, but we are typically not aware of it. When we do, it may become self-consciousness, we are aware of ourselves being aware; it can be an awkward internal moment. On the other hand, our awareness is what makes it possible for us to change, to create, recognize a new idea, see that the process needs changing, or come back to ourselves. If we look closely — perhaps by meditating or praying — we see that awareness is always on, consciousness does not turn off, only our mind does; consciousness persists, but we sometimes go to sleep. When we ‘wake up,’ if we look back, we realize awareness did not actually disappear, we just became unaware that it was there.

Sometimes the overwhelm, the pain, the challenges become so great that we feel our soul just goes to sleep. Our mind and our will take over our lives, determined to become greater than that overwhelm, that pain. During those times, we are operating without heart, without soul. We have lost the integration of heart, mind and will. But the heart is always there, the longing of our soul to bring our humanity to its true destiny, to what we all desire deep within us, not just in the love of our family, but in the love of work and of humanity. We can “check our soul” at the door, and it seems we do, but do we really? What is the pain people feel everyday, at work, in relationships then? That is the pain of the heart, the soul. Not the mind or the will. Writing this, is consciousness. Aware of what we are truly aware of, the mind of the mind. Cultivating awareness is a path to greater consciousness, greater freedom, and the path to awakening for people and organizations.

The moment to moment experience, and practice with, cultivating awareness can help us integrate heart back into mind and will. If we look, we see that at times, awareness becomes absorbed into what it is aware of — a challenging problem, an intense emotion, a pleasurable thought – we call that identifying with the ‘objects’ of awareness. But the awareness itself is always there, always on, even when ‘we’ get lost inside those objects. That awareness, when we look closely, is the ground of our being. The only thing that persists — in us and our experience — is that always on awareness, consciousness. As we said in the first Part, human development is about the subject-object: the subject of one stage, the thing through which we look, becomes the object of the next stage, that which we look at. Applied to consciousness, the “highest” level of development — Unitive mind — happens when we stop identifying with the various objects of consciousness, and instead identify with consciousness itself. We allow the free play of our awareness — thoughts, emotions, problems, resolutions — but without identifying with them, not attaching to them, or any certain outcome; instead, we become willing to accept ‘what actually is’ rather than rejecting it. That does not mean we do not see the need for things to change in our world. If we are seeing clearly, we know some things are changing.

There is a calling, a global world calling, for humanity to wake up to the change that is happening, wake up to how we are ‘being’ with and in the changing of our world. If you are truly a ‘transformational leader’ — not in title only — but one who is called to catalyze transformational, breakthrough kind of change, you are called to this global consciousness work. We cannot ignore that calling; to do so would be to go back to sleep. Organizations are called to do more than create products; organizations and their leaders are being called to bring the consciousness of humanity into the workplace, into society, for the changes the world needs.

– Michele Madore & Michael Spayd
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