…is only the beginning…


Anna Rosengren 2016-12-15

Is the statement ”form follows consciousness” only a beginning?
Would it be fruitful to dig deeper into the details?
Let´s see.

When we say that form follows consciousness (Scharmer, Huffington post, 2016) as is often stated within paradigm shifting contexts such as the self organized U-lab community, it is to remind ourselves of what is real and from where manifestation starts. This is of course important to know when it comes to ”transforming business, society and self”, which is the aim of Otto Scharmers Theory U.
From this perspective consciousness is more ”real” than the manifested world of cars, houses, food and all the things we normally call reality. It is more real since it exist before the physical reality and remains whatever the circumstances and forms of manifestation. One could even say that if there is something you can touch, smell, taste or measure – then it is less real than something that is an aspect of our consciousness. Consciousness is that aspect of us that observes and experiences the phenomena in this world, whatever they may be. As human bodies we are, thus, happening within consciousness, not vice versa. This mindset may seem completely upside down in relation to many philosophies and epistemological approaches. However, it is in perfect alignment with for example Buddhist philosophy, where this kind of understanding is a basic foundation. Some may now consider it inappropriate to mix Buddhist philosophy with modern ideas of personal, business and society transformation. Nevertheless, many of the modern ideas that are growing in this area are in fact, if not inspired by, at least in alignment with Buddhist philosophy. And reciprocally Buddhist leaders state that if science shows that Buddhist philosophy is wrong, then Buddhism has to change. In my view it is not important to embrace Buddhism or any other religion for that matter. It may be interesting enough to see the connections and rather focus on exploring the essence of the ideas wherever they may come from or take us.
So therefore I would like to investigate the connection between reality and manifestation from this point of view and explore its essence further, be it Buddhist or not.

Are there, for example, more aspects, layers or dimensions involved in and between form and consciousness?
Can these aspects or dimensions help us in our diverse attempts to heal and transform business, society and self?
In what way does this become relevant when there is an awareness that goes beyond ourselves as separate individuals?
How, more specifically, does form follow consciousness in our collective awareness?

There are many theories about this, and I will not go into them just now, but rather follow my personal experience. In following experience there seems to be many layers of awareness, and thus many aspects on the way from consciousness to form. Before something takes form, there is a feeling involved. My feelings affect the results, just like when I come to work having spilled my morning coffee over my blouse, got stuck in a traffic jam and having had a quarrel with someone on the phone on my way to an important meeting. The results will definitely not be the same as when I come having meditated for an hour, enjoying good music on the radio while driving or singing while walking. The feeling, then, would be affected by my self image, my self esteem. If I have an image of myself that says I need to be in a certain way and then my experience does not match this, well then my feelings will be affected. The same is true in all periods of low self esteem, when there is external or internal resistance to what I believe I need to be. So what shapes my self image or self esteem? Where does it come from? Who perceives it? I guess this is precisely what we rest in, when doing a mindfulness meditation. Mindfulness, interpreted as observing thoughts and feelings, may also perceive and observe our sense of a self. So depending on that perception, the self will be allowed to crystallize in this or that way. Well, who perceives the perceiver then? What holds the perceiver? Following experience here becomes very sublime and, for many of us, not even possible. With patience, though, there will be an opening of a dimension where our intentions and tendencies arise. When we set an intention, through meditation or deep reflection, or when there is an idea popping up, this is where it starts. At this point our sense of a separate self is dissolved, which is why we start experience so many synchronicities and discover ideas that resemble each other. Deeper and wider than this is not very common experience, but there is, for sure, a dimension that holds even our intentions: this is our consciousness, that in its turn rests in pure awareness.
The deeper – or wider – experience is allowed, the more we have access to reality. It may be seen from many angles, two of them described in the image below.
Form follows consciousness.
Yes, but that is only one small part of the story.

So how do I follow experience like this, you may wonder? One way of reflecting on it may be a method that Alan Watts mentions in a lecture about mindfulness. He refers to a traditional buddhist meditation of a man slowly walking, becoming increasingly aware of the lifting of each foot. After a while of walking and reflecting he then becomes aware also of the underlying feeling of the lifting of a foot, then the perception of the feeling of the lifting of a foot, then the tendency/intention of the perception of the feeling of the lifting of a foot, and then the consciousness of all the former. We might go on to mention also the discernment between consciousness and pure awareness.

So, what difference does this really make, on a deeper level? Well, for many of us it might not matter at all, but to the extent that we are more aware of the sublime aspects of our experiences, we may also be more ”complexity-friendly” and focused. Being aware and conscious about all these dimensions may be like having access to all the strings on our guitar, which would allow us to play anything we wish, anytime and even simultanously without being anything but happy and relaxed. More awareness also means that we may prevent suffering in an earlier stage. When awareness is complete and all experience translucent, there is also nothing left to explore and everything is completely dissolved, well I guess that would be the point where all suffering ends and we find ourselves to be completely at peace. There would be nothing to strive for while everything is possible. Wouldn´t that be worthwile?
So yes, from that perspective it seems like a somewhat important detail, very useful to explore.

For years I have, from this angle in time and space, enjoyed this exploration of these sublime experiences and dimensions.
It seems both fun and useful, so I will continue – what else?
Maybe you will join me?