As I write the title to this article, I can feel the spirit of Alan Watts frowning. “The point of becoming conscious? There is no “point” to doing a thing,” he might say, “because the activity itself is the reason.” Well hold on Alan Watts, I may not be letting you down after all.
If you are anything like me you have invested a disproportionate amount of time and money into personal development work that has yielded minimal result. When I first started, I was trying to alleviate the intense pain that I was feeling. I was looking for a cure for the human condition. Slowly, but surely, the search for a cure for the human condition led to learning the fundamentals of the practice of life. I began to see that we are not so much looking to fix something, as we are to find ways in each moment to create something that feels good, is positive, and fosters wellbeing.
The point of becoming conscious is to actively practice life. The purpose of therapy is to make us functional, whereas the purpose of consciousness study is to make ourselves, and our world, optimal. In therapy, we want to know how we came to be the way we are. In consciousness exploration, we want to know how to seize our potential. While the path to consciousness can be quite challenging at times (and can leave us wondering why on earth we chose this in the first place), “the point” of it is the lived sense of wellbeing and harmony with the world that we more consistently achieve.
A common misconception about consciousness study is that the point of becoming conscious is to control our lives in order to avoid difficult and painful experiences. This sort of “winning at the game of life” solution is really no solution at all. Regardless of whether we are diligent in our personal development or not, we are guaranteed a fair number of trying events throughout our life. Our years will still have their highs and lows, we will still have misunderstandings, and we will suffer incredible losses.
The point of becoming conscious, the point of personal development work, the point of learning the practice of life – is to learn the techniques that help us identify the pains and lows of life as the beacons of brighter tomorrows. These techniques tear us from the emotional water-wings we have been relying on in our ignorance and highlight the areas of ourselves to which we should turn our attention instead.
The study of consciousness teaches us to listen to and interpret life events differently. As we learn this skill, our reality shifts. What was unbearable, becomes negligible. What was dream-worthy, becomes the foundations for our new reality. We become more resilient, real and kind. The world and it’s meaning opens to us. Our beingness and our life become the point of becoming conscious, the point of everything.