This is chapter six in the evolving + becoming book: “What Is Consciousness?”
Love = The feeling of loyalty to the family/group/culture—we want to learn its rules, and take them on as ours, because we want to feel connected in a way that goes beyond the feeling of belonging.
Fear = If I don’t comply with the rules, I will disappoint them (my family, group, culture), won’t be accepted by them anymore and will lose my connection to the group.
Keep in mind that…
Consciousness is a cloud of potential awareness, part of the unseen world that permeates all of the space and material of existence. We grow in consciousness in response to different conditions life presents to us and must consider how we’ll respond. Will we respond from an internal position of love, or will we choose to react in fear?
This facet of consciousness describes the way in which we learn and adopt the rules of our family/group/culture and we learn the consequences we’ll suffer for breaking them. We begin to believe in a system that gives us an experience of order into which we will anchor our moral, ethical and civil behavior. The rules and consequences contain the culture’s ideas about right and wrong and we begin to strive to implement them in our lives. We very likely take on the belief that the ideas and values that our group holds are the only right ones, the ones that should be held by everyone.
As we enter into and live from this facet of consciousness in any area of life, the need for certainty and dependability, order and control is a priority. We want to know our own proper social role, caste, grade, race, class, seniority level, military rank, etc., and we want to know where everyone else fits into that schema too. During childhood we begin to take notice of how others are valued and how we are valued. Often unconsciously we begin to take on those messages about our relative worth, and then live and create our lives as if the messages are true.
Remember that this facet of consciousness describes all of the following:
- It is a facet of human development that we continuously go through, in every aspect of life, throughout our lives; and because of that, it also is
- A facet in which an aspect of ourselves can either participate or be stuck, while the dominant part of us lives from within a different facet of consciousness;
- And can be the dominant facet expressed by a group while individual members may be functioning from within another facet.
It is helpful to recognize that our thinking from within this facet can be very rigid and dogmatic. We can be very judgmental, lack understanding, and be intolerant of the perspective expressed by others. We see things as being absolutely right or absolutely wrong; we find fault and we assign blame. We likely use guilt, shame and fear of punishment to control our own behavior and the behavior of others. We may even invoke the sacred name of God to punish the offenders (or think to ourselves that Karma will get them). We believe our version of truth will be shown to be the one and only Truth.
From within this facet of consciousness, Love equals the feeling of connection and belonging we gain by investing our loyalty in the culture first. We want to learn its rules, and try to make life into an acceptable version of them. Fear is in the knowledge that if we don’t comply with the cultural rules, we will no longer be accepted by the family/group/culture and lose our felt sense of connection and belonging. Our fear may be great enough that it causes us to live perfectly what we’ve been taught to feel is our proper social role.
Once we become conscious of an internal constriction/tension while trying to live a proper version of a culturally acceptable role, we are faced with a choice. This is tough because the very rules we internalize within this facet create the embedded structures that can begin to feel limiting to us. As we become conscious of an internalized structure that feels limiting and challenge its validity in our lives, we grow as conscious human beings, and become more aligned with our own core self. Often we take this risk in one area of life at a time.
Because we anchor our moral, ethical and civil behavior in the cultural rules and mores we develop within this facet, and because we feel so completely loyal to the family/group/ culture, taking a risk in any area of life can be as difficult as a divorce. But when we become aware of a rule that no longer aligns with our core self, at some point, we must find a way to move our loyalty from culture to self in that area. That inner move to break from societal rules and invest instead in our core self is a signal that we have effectively moved into a more expanded facet of consciousness in this area of life. That’s how it normally happens—with one piece of life at a time, we divorce ourselves from an idea of rightness the culture in which we are immersed holds, and move into an idea of rightness that we hold for ourselves.
We begin this process of staying true to ourselves in a thousand ways, both large and small.
Here are some lighter examples of cultural rules we learn in this facet of consciousness that stay with us and serve us well through the course of our lives.
In the United States, we take driver’s education classes to learn the rules of the road. We have to demonstrate our knowledge of those rules in both a written and a driving test before we’re allowed the privilege of a driver’s license. My dad taught me how to drive. Once I sped up to get through a yellow light before it turned red. Dad said, “Reggie, yellow lights mean slow down and prepare to stop. They don’t mean speed up and hurry to get through the intersection!” You can imagine how often I’ve wished other drivers had learned how to drive from my dad! In fact, it’s become essential to check the rear view mirror when coming up to a yellow light to make sure the person behind me isn’t stepping on the gas!
Another example is the process of learning how to cook. We are likely taught how to follow a recipe, and the importance of measuring correctly for the success of the dish. As we acquire more experience and skill in following a recipe, we might simply continue making the dish in exactly that way throughout our lives. But at some point, we might begin to feel constricted by the recipe and decide to change it up by imagining the dish with other ingredients or spices. If the dish is Mom’s traditional recipe for three-bean salad, a dish that has been made exactly the same way for every family gathering throughout history, and you decide to eliminate the sugar and add cumin, you will get some (hopefully) good-natured flack. (Trust me on that.)
The same thing can happen with living a culturally acceptable version of a “proper” woman or man, or in the process of belonging to or leaving a church, or in the career we initially pursue, or leaving a marriage, or…(you get the idea).
We can recognize an aspect of ourselves that might be stuck in this facet of consciousness, by examining where we feel constricted in an aspect of our lives.
One Action to Take Today to Explore Consciousness:
Think about any felt sense of discomfort you experience because you are following an internalized rule that no longer suits you. Notice what that discomfort feels like in the body. What one thing could you bravely do today to live more authentically aligned with your own core self?