10.1 Excerpt from Psychiatry and the Sacred by Jacob Needleman


“At the same time, this distinction also communicates that the awakening of consciousness requires a constant effort. It is telling us that anything in ourselves, no matter how subtle, fine, or intelligent, no matter how close to reality or virtuous, no matter how still or violent--any action, any thought, any intuition or experience--immediately devours our attention and becomes automatically transformed into contents, around which gather all the opinions, feelings, and distorted sensations that are the supports of our secondhand sense of identity. Seen in this light, there are no concentric layers of human awareness that need to be peeled back like the skins of an onion, but only one skin, one veil, that is constantly forming regardless of the quality of the psychic field at any given moment.

From this perspective, the main requirement for understanding the nature of consciousness is the repeated effort to be aware of whatever is taking place in the whole of ourselves at any given moment. All definitions or systematic explanations, no matter how profound, are secondary. Thus teachings about consciousness, both of the ancient masters and of modern psychologists, can be a distraction if they are presented to us in a way that does not support the effort to be aware of the totality of ourselves in the present moment.” 

-From the book Awakening the Heart, John Welwood, editor.
Mark