From Simple to Universal Consciousness - Love

For Edward Carpenter, in Pagan and Christian Creeds: Their Origin and Meaning, there are only two main factors in life; love and ignorance (actually an absence of perception, of a sense of unity with others, of love). This is the defining factor of what he calls the second stage in the evolution of consciousness.

The first stage being tribal and the third stage being whatever comes next. Out of this has come the origins of religion. There are three phases. The first is connected to our own bodies; sex and fertility (phallic cults). The second to the earth and the seasons; connected to growth and survival (magic and earth-divinities). And the third connected to the movement of the planets in the sky, and those distant divinities (God in heaven).

One of the biggest forces coming out of ignorance is fear, and fear is the defining trait, Carpenter says, of this the second stage, what he calls self-consciousness, where we became conscious of the self, separate from the tribe. This has resulted in a history of cruelty, greed, possession, power, lunacy (barbarism and slaughter) all dressed up as moral righteousness, and the project of commerce, which has divorced love from our natural harmony (including and especially, the great cohesive force of sex).

He quotes Heinrich Scham in Nackende Menschon, which I love;

“What will become of us,” cried the tailors, “if you go naked.”

And all the lot of them, hat, cravat, shirt, and shoemakers joined in the chorus.

“And where shall I carry my money?” cried one who had just been made a director.

Carpenter’s key point is that all the different religions and creeds across the world have such similarities it is impossible not to conclude that there is a predisposition and susceptibility to what is already stored in the subconscious mind. The obvious conclusion of this being that we are on a path towards a one-world religion (the whatever comes next, stage three on the evolution of consciousness).

There are strong links here to Jean Gerber’s The Ever-Present Origin and Ken Wilber’s Integral Theory (which is impressive, I think, when you consider Carpenter wrote this book in 1919).

This is not though, Carpenter says, a return to some Golden Age (an idealised sexual garden of Eden during the first stage, which was based on simple-consciousness). It is important we progress through self-consciousness to learn whatever lessons it is we need to learn, to shift into universal-consciousness.

There is much we can learn from Eastern Mysticism here when considering the shift to universal-consciousness and a practical approach to oneness, especially through such works as the Upanishads and the Bhagavat Gita (but only if we can clear away much of the rubbish that obscures their essential teachings).

The Upanishads were written between 800-400 BC. They were a reaction against the rituals of adoration at a distance, such as in the Songs of the Vedas. The Upanishads show “that the Spirit can only be known through union with him, and not through mere learning.” This is a complete turnaround from the Vedas. God is no longer far away, out there. God is in us, our innermost Self, our higher Self; Thou art That, I AM THAT.

Bringing it all together

We need to shift from our current preoccupation with “idiotic wars, its senseless jealousies of nations and classes, its fears and greeds and vanities…” Carpenter thinks this is inevitable as ignorance and non-perception can only destroy themselves. For fear to be defeated we must restore the sentiment of the common life. This is not a return to the golden age of tribalism, but a new order of consciousness that expands outwards from the Heart. This is reminiscent of the central message of the Upanishads; a yes to life and to love, where “The truth of love is the Truth of the universe.”

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