You speak about the Consciousness Model in your writings. What is this about and how does the Aware Ego Process fit into this model?
Since the term “consciousness” is used so often by different writers and teachers, it is important that we make clear what we mean by this terminology. In this way, you can build bridges between our work and the work of others.
For us consciousness exists on the following three levels and these levels are not listed by order of importance.
Level One has to do with “Awareness.” Awareness is analogous to the witness state in meditation. It allows us to step back and view what is occurring inside and outside of ourselves. It is not the mind and doesn’t involve thinking. It is not feeling. It is a simple view – a clear and unbiased picture of what is. We often use the analogy of a helicopter that is high up in the sky and from this place we can look down and witness what is happening below.
From the witness state we have no particular feelings or judgments about what is happening. We are not at all attached to the outcome of a situation. Also, and very importantly, it has no power to control or change what it is witnessing. You can think of it as insight. From this place we see the larger picture of things.
It is particularly important to recognize that awareness is not an action state. It does not do things. It does not accomplish things. It is simply a state of viewing.
The second level of consciousness is the experience of the selves or simply the experience of life through the various selves. It is this experience that makes us human and keeps us human. We experience pain and joy; we experience our minds and the ability to think clearly; we experience the drive for achievement; we experience love and hate and our inner voices and we experience other people and their lives and behavior and their impact upon us.
Awareness without feeling would be like living at the top of a mountain in solitude, observing everything quite dispassionately but not being a part of life in any way. Feeling without awareness would be like living like an animal, constantly experiencing from the level of instinct, feeling and emotion without the ability to step back and witness what is happening.
Level three is the Aware Ego Process. Awarenes gives us the ability to step back and witness what is happening. The experience of the Selves gives us the ability to experience life and to think about life. We need our third level so that we can take advantage of awareness and experience and learn to act in life with real choice. The Aware Ego Process allows us to make choices based on what it receives from awareness and experience.
How were things before the idea of the Aware Ego emerged? Historically speaking it was the Ego that was the choice maker. It was the Ego that was the chief executive who made choices about things. It was the Ego that stood between our awareness and our feelings. Why did this have to change? Why is the Aware Ego Process so central and critical to our evolving consciousness?
The Ego is not a unitary thing. It is a conglomeration of primary selves. It is a panel of people in the board room who are all giving advice and who all feel they have the right answers. It is these primary selves that make our choices for us. It is really quite shocking to discover that free will is virtually non-existent until we become aware of the selves and can begin to feel them and stand between the amazing group of oppositional energies/selves/voices that are operating in us all of the time.
For us the goal of consciousness work does not mean becoming clear and centered all of the time. It means having the three levels active in some way. You could be in the middle of an argument with someone and for us a consciousness process could exist at the same time so long as there was a sense of witnessing what was happening, so long as there was the experience of the feelings that were activated and so long as the Aware Ego Process was present at some level even though it may not have been strong enough to stop what was happening at the time.
Consciousness does not mean being perfect or clear or centered. All this does it make us feel terrible about ourselves a good deal of the time.