Map of Apocalyptic Consciousness
My map of apocalyptic consciousness utilizes a series of simple mandalas. All things begin and end in Mystery, and this map is no different: It is not ‘the way it is’ but one way to look at some of the territory.
At the center of, and underlying everything, is a Great Mystery. When one reaches the end of opinions, beliefs, knowledge and conditioned answers, and stands finally and fully in the awe of ‘don’t know,’ there is a Mystery at the center of life, underlying everything. The thinking mind cannot comprehend it, though it loves to give it names. Names don’t explain or give true knowledge, or gnosis. It just gives word-and-thought-using life forms a name to call the unnameable and unexplainable, that which by its very nature must be too vast for the human mind to hold.
This is a good thing for conversation and communication, but disastrous when one fuses the name with that which is beyond names, and thinks one knows something when all one knows is the limited concepts of one’s thinking mind: That isn’t a good compass for a meaningful life.
In the Christian lineage, many people have been conditioned to think of the Ultimate as a God of Light/Good at war with Darkness/Evil. This war of opposites creates the basis for the apocalyptic ideology of holy war, but the Zohar speaks of a dazzling darkness before God : “A spark of impenetrable darkness flashed within the concealed of the concealed from the head of infinity.… With this beginning the unknown concealed one created the palace. This palace is called God.”
In the Qur’an, Allah puts it this way, “I’m a hidden treasure; I wanted to be known. I created the cosmos so that I might be known.”
How did the Unmanifest blossom into Manifestation in all its diversity? It’s a Mystery; nonetheless, here it is and here we are. Humans have a particular ability / liability to be able to select one particular angle on the multi-facetedness of reality, settle down there and become blind to the rest.
Through the birth of Consciousness from the Womb of Totality (the yellow bit in fig. 2). Mystery gets to play the game of knowing itself through Creation, which includes all the high drama of us vs. them in its numerable forms.
Consciousness, like breath, defies the privatization that has become a prime directive in American ideology. Consciousness, like breath, ultimately subverts the Western compulsion towards individuality without collective responsibility. Consciousness permeates like light, like the sun doesn’t pick and choose who and what to shine on. Can you truly make borders between my consciousness and yours, my breath and yours, my share of sunlight and yours?
At this point in the map, we’ll narrow it down to human consciousness, because that’s where the apocalypse happens.
Psychology helped create an idea that all our internal problems are personal, but it may be that, like local weather in a larger context of atmospheric currents, our internal, personal problems may be part of the collective situation expressing in a unique way. Perhaps it isn’t accurate to appropriate those currents as “me” and identify them as “my” thoughts and emotions alone. Perhaps we have been conditioned to over-privatize. Consumerism would fail if it weren’t for a citizenry that felt unfulfilled and willing to gamble that a new personal acquisition, whether it be a thing, a person, or an experience, might make a permanent difference, and if people didn’t feel isolated in their private consciousness perhaps they wouldn’t make good marks for psychospiritual snake oil. (for a great view into the evolution of consumerism, check out the BBC series The Century of the Self.)