Most of us know what its like to stand between two mirrors. When I was a child I had a suspicion that a mirror facing a mirror might be a portal to a magical world. I never found that it is, but it is a sort of echo of images as our reflection curves out of sight, sight, sight…
When I was a kid I used to have moments when I’d ponder the notion of being conscious and why I knew I was conscious, why I knew anything and was aware of knowing, why I knew I was, just was. Being conscious of consciousness is kind of like standing between two mirrors, eventually the idea echoes out of sight.
In college I recall the Philosophy class in which I read about Rene’ Descartes and his “I think, therefore I am” claim—that thinking (or consciousness about thinking) is the basis of knowing that one exists.
There are undoubtedly many facets of consciousness like having a conscience—the ability to know right from wrong and that one has a choice between the two—or feeling guilty when one chooses the wrong or having an understanding of ethics, which arises from the question “how would I feel if I were in this person’s shoes and I was treated that way?” Remember that this is the premise of the story of Pinocchio, that if he was to be a real boy then he needed a conscience.
Ultimately, I think consciousness is the gift that helps me know that I can and do make a difference and the difference I make can be good or not so good and that I can choose; that I am aware that I can, with what little I may have, influence my little sphere in a positive way; that I can take whatever comes my way and not simply react with instinct, but respond with insight.
I like all of the seasons of the Church year, but something about the season of Epiphany, that follows Christmastide, really captures my attention. It is the Eureka! season. Eureka is from a Greek word that means, of course, “I found it!” My consciousness, however, whispers to me that when it comes to the big Epiphanies of life, it’s really not me finding anything, but me being found. That’s a humbling epiphany. And if there's a magic portal, then that's it.
And if the universe has taught me anything, then it can be summed up as: Pay attention!
© 2016 Stephen Carl