Writing to Raise Consciousness—Meaning, Method, and Intent
What does it mean to write something in order to raise consciousness? What method or process does this entail?
Since “Writing to Raise Consciousness” is my author tagline, the branding that captures my writing, I have thought long and hard about the questions I just posed. I’ve also thought long and hard, and continue to do, about what consciousness actually is. I write both fiction and nonfiction, as a result, it might seem challenging to wrap both types of writing into the same brand. It seems hard to wrap your brain around this entire notion of writing to raise consciousness. Eyebrows raise, faces morph into puzzled expressions, and people ask the obvious: “What do you mean? Please explain…”
Ask ten people to define “consciousness” and you will likely get ten different answers. Even among scholars who study consciousness from scientific, philosophical, and metaphysical perspectives, there is little agreement about what consciousness actually is. Without agreed upon definitional characteristics, how do I attempt to raise or elevate something we are not clear about and may not even be able to measure or quantify at all? It isn’t like raising the temperature of something through a process of heating. It isn’t like explaining how to raise chickens in your backyard. Physics and animal husbandry have ways of addressing those processes.
The good news is you don’t have to understand what something is in order to measure it. You don’t have to understand what happens to kinetic energy and all the physics underlying temperature to measure an object’s temperature. You put a thermometer in it and take a measurement. The bad news is some things can’t be measured. In the song lyrics, “I love you more today than yesterday,” how is love measured? It isn’t quantitative. Objects can be measured. Temperature is an objective quality. We have many tools to objectively measure things. A ruler measures distance. A scale measures weight. What is love and how do you measure it? It’s rather subjective how much you love another person today in comparison to yesterday. Subjective “things” aren’t actually things. We do have qualitative ways of talking about these subjective feelings. I am sadder today; I am the happiest I have ever been; I am the angriest I have ever felt–all these statement have the language of some underlying means of measurement, but there are no units of sadness, happiness, and anger that we can actually measure.
Is this a blind men problem—trying to describe an elephant, each with only a fragmented understanding? Is this some sort of dark matter/dark energy construct—useful in trying to understand something we really do not understand? Am I deluding myself in thinking I can write “stuff” that is going to actually raise consciousness? To complicate matters further, while playing my own Devil’s Advocate, if one believes consciousness is infinite and beyond constructs of space and time, then you cannot raise, elevate, expand, or increase it in any way. X + infinity still = infinity. In some ways, it is a thorny thicket. Consciousness might be entirely subjective, like love. That doesn’t preclude us from talking about how to be more loving, or writing about the topic of love to help people to open up their hearts. Or, consciousness might be something objective such as energetic frequency. For me, and more importantly for my writing intentions, it doesn’t matter. I don’t feel there is any necessity or requirement to measure the results of my efforts to raise consciousness by writing.
Despite these measurement issues, I do not back down from my intent to raise consciousness through my writing, nor do I move from my belief that I can actually do so. The method to achieve this works at different levels. It also hopefully works on both individual and collective consciousness.
The first level is rather simple and straightforward. It pertains to raising awareness. There is widespread agreement that a relationship exists between consciousness and awareness. Precisely what that relationship is can be difficult to say with certainty, but for purposes of this explanation, let us simply posit that awareness and consciousness are related. If I write something about a particular social ill such as violence, or racism, or human trafficking, and my writing (fiction or nonfiction) calls attention to this social ill, makes people more aware of the problem, I have raised consciousness at this level.
There is a long history of literature calling attention to social injustice. To name a few examples:
- The horror of war—Johnny Got Your Gun
- Racial prejudice—To Kill a Mockingbird
- Exploitation of immigrants—The Jungle
There is another type of ‘calling attention to an issue’ that goes beyond social ills. Authors often write about potential problems that might occur in order to raise awareness, to get readers to think about a particular issue. What if artificial intelligence got out of control as in Terminator? What would an Orwellian 1984 future of government control and propaganda be like? These topics are often explored in speculative fiction. Robert Heinlein, one of my favorite science fiction authors, often addresses social themes in his writing. In many ways, his writing helps to raise consciousness at this first level. My science fiction novel, Sentient, calls attention to certain social themes. Isolation/separation and how this contributes to competition over cooperation, how we treat people with mental illness, and acculturation to violence are just a few of the issues I touch upon. In my nonfiction book, Pathways to Health, I am asking readers to think about health in a different way, to recognize the distortions and limitations that characterize our beliefs about our own health and how we can achieve better health. In my two-book adventure-thriller, The Saga of Venom and Flame, the underlying theme has to do with humanity’s difficulty distinguishing truth from falsehood and the recognition that this makes us vulnerable to lies, distortions, propaganda, and manipulation. I am calling attention to this in an effort to raise awareness, bring this issue of manipulation by truth distortion into sharper focus. Getting readers to think about all these various issues is my intention. I don’t need to measure whether or not I succeed.
What underlies this first-level approach to raising consciousness is to call attention, to get the reader to notice or to think about something in an introspective way. The process is one of raising awareness in order to effect change. The change may be in a belief, an action or behavior of some sort. Change is the key word in this effort because it leads directly to the second level, i.e., evolution. I’ll loosely go with a broad definition of evolution as the gradual development of something. It is change over time plus development towards something. In this sense, writing to raise consciousness represents an effort to support and promote the evolution of consciousness both on an individual and collective level.
This type of development follows a sequence, much the same as a child first learns to crawl, then walk, then run. This represents increasing motor skill and developmental maturity. On a psychological level, the ego develops along a sequence of self-centered “me” to expanding awareness of others–family, nation, the world, the universe. This is a natural progression of awareness and an evolution of consciousness. This change is accompanied by new ways of thinking, believing, and behaving.
A similar developmental sequence occurs as part of spiritual growth and maturation. Some teachings explain this spiritual evolution as following a path toward enlightenment. I am particularly fond of Integral Theory and how it characterizes the different stages of growth and development along a psycho-spiritual evolution (outward) and involution (inward) path. I am also fond of David Hawkins’ Map of Human Consciousness that delineates characteristic thoughts, beliefs, and actions accompanying each developmental stage of the evolution of consciousness. When I write, sometimes I intend to raise consciousness by getting readers to think differently, to challenge beliefs, in order to assist them in expanding and growing in their consciousness. In some ways this represents personal growth and transformation toward a higher level of consciousness. I have often had this experience myself when reading the wisdom of a variety of spiritual teachers. Some of the chapters in my book, Health Wise—Integral Lessons in Transformation, are specifically targeted towards raising consciousness at this second level.
I’ll touch upon the third level more briefly. I also write with the intention of raising consciousness in a much more expansive way. My explanation thus far has focused on raising awareness and consciousness at the individual level and more broadly at the collective level of society. I also believe that there is a planetary aspect to consciousness that also follows a developmental or evolutionary sequence. The term, “noosphere” was first coined by Teilhard de Chardin. Merriam Webster defines noosphere as: “the sphere of human consciousness and mental activity especially in regard to its influence on the biosphere and in relation to evolution.” Others view it as even more expansive and inclusive of the entire planetary body, and everything on and around our planet.
Basically, you can think of this as not only our species’, but the entire planet’s collective consciousness. It includes what Jung described as the collective unconscious. Such consciousness exists as part of an entire cosmic consciousness. Our planet’s noosphere is evolving towards an expanded capacity as part of the natural evolution of planetary consciousness. This theory/belief is expounded upon in some detail by José Argüelles in his book, Manifesto for the Noosphere. Reading and thinking about the information in this book has helped to raise my level of consciousness.
Many have written about the great shift in consciousness occurring during these times. Rather than writing about this shift, or about the noosphere, I am writing with the specific desire of facilitating the shift to occur, to making my small contribution towards the evolution of our planetary consciousness. My individual consciousness, my thoughts and behaviors, and specifically my writing are all generally intended to promote the expansion of the noosphere. Widespread telepathic communication is a feature associated with a more evolved noosphere. The kind of connectivity we enjoy now is a feature of the technosphere, an evolutionary stage that precedes the noosphere. All of our thoughts have an energetic basis. All of our thoughts contribute to the noosphere of the earth. Still, whether or not anyone reads anything that I have written, anything that I do, write, or even think potentially influences the collective planetary consciousness at this third level. Thoughts are powerful. Words are powerful. Thoughts and words influence our collective consciousness. My intent in taking my thoughts and putting them into words is to contribute to the great shift in consciousness occurring at the individual, collective, and planetary levels.
Complicated…straightforward…perfectly muddy? I don’t expect the typical reader to really understand what I mean by, “Writing to Raise Consciousness.” In some ways, it doesn’t matter if a reader understands my intent, my goal. What matters to me is whether or not something I have written has the intended outcome. Does it work? Am I successful in achieving my goal? I don’t know for sure, but if you are at least thinking about these things, feeling a bit introspective, wondering about your own consciousness or the greater collective consciousness, then perhaps I have had some small success. I think of this effort applied in three different dimensions at which I can potentially raise consciousness. In some small way, I hope what I have written has been instrumental in raising your consciousness…