Is 'Christ consciousness' and being humane different, seriously?
The idea of 'Christ consciousness' is a syncretic development that caught on bigstyle in the US. Initially it was the product of German Idealist philosophy, but then as soon as it got mixed up with elements of Eastern Mysticism, you've got a quick-fix ticket!
Higher consciousness has come to infer a range of conditions from the reflexive consciousness of self, to that of a transcendental reality, or God.
It is "the part of the human being that is capable of transcending animal instincts", so in that sense there is a correspondence between 'higher consciousness' and what was traditionally called 'rational nature', this being opposed to animals who were assumed to be irrational.
The idea grew out of German Idealism, but once it entered the popular sphere, it became central to contemporary consumer spirituality.
Fichte (1762-1814) a father of German idealism, distinguished the finite or empirical ego from the pure or infinite ego. The activity of the "pure ego" can be discovered by a "higher intuition".
In 1812 Schopenhauer coined the term "the better consciousness", a consciousness that he supposed to lie beyond the experiential, and thus beyond reasons, theoretical or practical.
Ideas of "the better consciousness" stems from Fichte's "higher consciousness", and resembles Schelling's "intellectual intuition". According to Schopenhauer, his "better consciousness" differs from "intellectual intuition", since that requires intellectual development, whereas "better consciousness" was "like a flash of insight, with no connection to the understanding."
According to Schopenhauer,
The better consciousness in me lifts me into a world where there is no longer personality and causality or subject or object. My hope an my belief is that this better (supersensible and extra-temporal) consciousness will become my only one, and for that reason I hope that it is not God. But if anyone wants to use the expression God symbolically fot the better consciousness itself or for much that we are able to separate or name, so let it be, yet not among philosophers I would have thought. (Cartwright, Schopenhauer: A Biography My emphasis)
Schopenhauer tried to point out when happens when intellectual speculation enters the popular sphere! Superstition and sentimentalism.
Schleiermacher made a distinction between a lower (irrational or animal) and a higher (rational or human self) consciousness. For Schleirmacher, higher consciousness contains "a feeling that points to the presence of an absolute other, God, as actively independent of the self and its 'world'."
Even in Schleiermacher's theology, this consciousness is not God as such, since God would then no longer be an 'infinite infinite', but rather a 'finite infinite', in reality merely a projection of consciousness, It's what Frithjof Schuon referred to as a 'relative Absolute'.
In Schleiermacher, higher consciousness is the point of contact with God. Bunge describes it as "the essence of being human".
When this higher consciousness is present, "people are not alienated from God by their instincts".
Here's an interesting turning point. These philosophical systems still mark the distinction between God and man. The higher consciousness is still intrinsically human.
The search for a spiritual dimension of this 'higher consciousness' became the 'holy grail' of 19th century movements such as Theosophy, New Thought, Christian Science and Transcendentalism.
According to Blavatsky, the 'higher intuition' acquired by Theosophia (God-knowledge), carries the mind from the world of forms into the formless.
Theosophy ... prompted such men as Hegel, Fichte and Spinoza to take up the labors of the old Grecian philosophers and speculate upon the One Substance - the Deity, the Divine All proceeding from the Divine Wisdom - incomprehensible, unknown and unnamed. (H.P.B. What is Theosophy?
Suddenly the philosophers were, unknown to themselves, engaged not in philosophy, but HPB's 'Theosophy'! Here we see clear evidence of the syncretic adoption of philosophical ideas and theological speculation ...
The idea of a "lower" and "higher consciousness" gained popularity in modern popular spirituality. Its pretty fundamental to New Age thinking.
Ken Wilber tries to integrate eastern and western models of "lower" and "higher consciousness". In The Spectrum of Consciousness
Wilber describes consciousness as a spectrum, from ordinary awareness at one end, to a more profound awareness at higher levels. He later went on top trace a route from lower consciousness, through personal consciousness, to higher transpersonal consciousness.
In Gerald Edelman's "Theory of Consciousness
", Cognitive Science asserts a distinction between 'higher' or 'secondary consciousness' and 'primary consciousness', defined as the simple awareness that includes perception and emotion. Higher consciousness 'involves the ability to be conscious of being conscious', and 'the recognition by a thinking subject of his or her own acts and affections'. Higher consciousness requires at the least semantic ability, and in its most developed form, requires 'linguistic ability ... the mastery of a whole system of symbols and a grammar'.
William James spoke of the 'New Thought' movement behind groups such as Unity:
... for the sake of having a brief designation, I will give the title of the "Mind-cure movement." There are various sects of this "New Thought," to use another of the names by which it calls itself; but their agreements are so profound that their differences may be neglected for my present purpose, and I will treat the movement, without apology, as if it were a simple thing.
It is an optimistic scheme of life, with both a speculative and a practical side. In its gradual development during the last quarter of a century, it has taken up into itself a number of contributory elements, and it must now be reckoned with as a genuine religious power. It has reached the stage, for example, when the demand for its literature is great enough for insincere stuff, mechanically produced for the market, to be to a certain extent supplied by publishers – a phenomenon never observed, I imagine, until a religion has got well past its earliest insecure beginnings.
One of the doctrinal sources of Mind-cure is the four Gospels; another is Emersonianism or New England transcendentalism; another is Berkeleyan idealism; another is spiritism, with its messages of "law" and "progress" and "development"; another the optimistic popular science evolutionism of which I have recently spoken; and, finally, Hinduism has contributed a strain. But the most characteristic feature of the mind-cure movement is an inspiration much more direct. The leaders in this faith have had an intuitive belief in the all-saving power of healthy-minded attitudes as such, in the conquering efficacy of courage, hope, and trust, and a correlative contempt for doubt, fear, worry, and all nervously precautionary states of mind. Their belief has in a general way been corroborated by the practical experience of their disciples; and this experience forms to-day a mass imposing in amount. (The Varieties of Religious Experience)
It was inevitable that when 'New Thought' began to impress itself in the American public domain, that badging it 'Christian' as opposed to atheist would boost its commercial possibility.
But then 'the mind of Christ' needed to be someone in our possession, it had to be attainablke by effort, according to the idealism of 'the American Dream', rather than something extrinsic to us and a gift of grace ... as is taught by traditional orthodoxy East and West.
So science enters the popular domain, and becomes subject to sentimentalism and pseudo-scientific, somewhat superstitious, notions.
(The same kind of nonsense that is spouted in some commentaries on Quantum Physics today ... What The Bleep?
New Thought as a movement is generally attributed to Phineas Parkhurst Quimby. He suffered greatly from 'consumption' in his youth, and he began experimenting with his own ideas for a cure, especially the mind's ability to heal the body. Such cures were to become foundational to New Thought movements. He because interested in and was trained and practiced as a mesmerist.
Warren Felt Evans, an author, sought healing from Quimby and set up his own 'mental medicine' office in New Hampshire.
Mary Baker Eddy, founder of Christian Science, was afflicted by a nervous disposition, possibly an hysterical response to her father's ill-treatment. She believed illness was an illusion that could be overcome by prayer, and that she had discovered the 'secret' of Jesus' healing powers.
Charles and Myrtle Fillmore attended New Thought classes. Myrtle subsequently recovered from 'chronic tuberculosis' and attributed her recovery to her use of prayer and other methods learned in these classes. Charles began to heal from a debilitating childhood accident, which he too attributed to following this philosophy.
Nona Lovell Brooks, a co-founder of the Church of Divine Science was cured of a 'persistent throat infection' following NT methodology; Malinda Cramer, another co-founder, was cured of 'persistent health problems' that rendered her an invalid.
In all this we cannot ignore the 'prosperity gospel' of America, that good health, material wealth, etc., is a gift of God and that religion is a product, much like anything else in the marketplace ... it should be noted that the various movements of New Thought were not the result of the conflict of ideas, they all preached roughly the same message, but rather the carving out of a niche in the commercial marketplace that has led America to its tradition of itinerant preachers, 'power of the mind', TV evangelism et al
'Christ Consciousness' as such then has no foundation in Christian Scripture or Tradition, rather it's a projection of a humanist philosophy. No doubt some might cite 1 Corinthians 2:16: "we have the mind of Christ", but, as ever, that really plucks a line of scripture out of a context which does not
endorse the meaning people choose to read onto it.
I rather think the whole thing is an attempt to open up the Christian consumer market to New Thought ideas which, examined even from this near hindsight, can be seen to be a rather naive and sentimental psychologisms.
Remember this was a time when mesmerism, scientism, spiritism was all the rage.
The crowning achievement of post-war (WWII) thinking was to render the psychological distinctions, so carefully highlighted by philosophy, totally redundant, by simply conflating Christ with the Ego, thus allowing one to assert that we are divine by nature, which is sure to shift books and playing to everyone's idea of self-determination and self-realisation.
Whilst Wil tries to conflate New Thought 'Christ consciousness' with Buddha and Krishna consciousness, it should be noted that this simply ignores the distinctions between the traditions, and the glaring discrepancies between New Thought which often states as its goals the very things that the Traditions regard as an impediment to Enlightenment.