In the truth seeking community, the metaphor of ‘waking up’ is widely used to describe people who are becoming clued up, wiser, better informed, or in some way more aware. It is often used in connection with the idea that there is some kind of mass awakening going on, and implicitly, everything will be OK. But is it really a helpful metaphor? And if not, why not?
“Woke” is a related term used to denote social awareness (LGBT and Black Live Matter etc). It’s a mainstream and ultimately meaningless term referring to those jumping aboard the latest alleged social awareness band wagon in the mainstream narrative. There is also the idea of spiritual awakening that is also implying an increase in awareness
The metaphor of “Waking Up”
When we use this metaphor it implies that someone has become (or is becoming) more aware. But what are the deeper implications of likening an increase in conscious awareness to the literal action of waking up?
The metaphor illustrates the transition from a state of complete unawareness to a state of awareness, comparing it to leaving the dream world and emerging into reality. It’s often used with an implication is that everything will be OK. Because people are waking up so the nightmare will end! We will be free, etc. etc.
It means that someone has achieved a significant increase in awareness or knowledge of reality, as indeed they do when moving from unconscious to conscious emerging from sleep. What is really going on is that they have gained some new insight(s) that has been integrated into the sum of their existing knowledge and given them a new, more complete mental map of reality. There is always the possibility, of course, of a pretense or claim to knowledge that is really only jumping aboard an alternative band wagon, or that the information they have assimilated is not true.
But we must be careful likening the simple action of moving out of the sleep state, with the complex deliberate ongoing process of thought required for gaining the conceptual knowledge that distinguishes the new condition of increased awareness from the previous condition of less awareness.
The point I want to make is that this metaphor of waking up, particularly when extended to some kind of “mass awakening”, is unhelpful at best, and I would say counterproductive. And here’s why.
- It fosters an incorrect understanding of what is really happening when someone is becoming more aware.
- It undermines and dis-values the huge effort required and the considerable achievement of gaining knowledge and engaging in the process of learning.
- It’s a dead end that goes nowhere. The metaphor stops you in your tracks. Yes, there is a massive increase in awareness in moving from the sleep state to wakefulness. But it doesn’t go anywhere from there. It reaches the starting gate and goes nowhere. The process of gaining knowledge on the other hand is endlessly informing appropriate action.
- Call to inaction. By effectively over-congratulating the simple achievement of consciousness in wakefulness the metaphor implicitly turns the mere staring point of gaining knowledge (being awake) into an end game. Result! I’ve done it, I’m awake. Hence, the ‘waking up’ metaphor carries with it an implicit call to inaction.
Remember this call to inaction is implicit, unspoken, taken as read, an idea slipped into your mind without you noticing. But it makes it into your subconscious all the same. You may not know why, or be able to express your indifference to taking action, but it will be there, programmed into your mental operating system.
Can you explain your conclusions?
With any claim, the proof that it is genuine knowledge is in the logical explanation. If someone can’t explain why their claim is true then it is only a belief and cannot be considered knowledge. If we are being vigilant as to what ideas are our own, and which ones may have been sown into our minds from the popular narrative, we need to be conscious of propaganda, spin and what some refer to as mind control. The way to counter all of these is to be able to explain all of your conclusions with your own reasoning.
The only defense against mind control is to get fully strapped in to the driver’s seat of your mind. Be conscious of any inconsistencies, contradictions, or faults and failures of the logical connections between ideas in your mind. This renders them ineffective at influencing your conclusions.
So let’s compare the action of waking up to the action of gaining knowledge
- Waking up is automatic – gaining knowledge is not
- You don’t have to want to wake up – You do have to want to gain knowledge
- Waking up doesn’t require any effort – gaining knowledge requires a lot of effort
- Waking up requires no specific action – but gaining knowledge does require specific action
- Waking up is almost certain – but gaining knowledge is far from certain
- Waking up is inevitable. Eventually everyone wakes up (excepting cases of death in sleep) – gaining knowledge is NOT inevitable
- Being awake or asleep is binary – but gaining knowledge is on an increasing sliding scale
- The end game of waking up is only the starting point for gaining knowledge.
The metaphor of “waking up” illustrates an effortless, automatic and inevitable increase in conscious awareness. But this is not what happens when we gain awareness of reality.
So how do we really increase our conscious awareness?
If it’s not inevitable, and DOES requires specific actions, what is involved?
Increasing conscious awareness
Becoming more conscious can only be achieved on the conceptual level by the action of gaining knowledge, of both the external world and of your own mental operations of how you use your consciousness. We look inwards to gain knowledge of self and of our thinking processes. And we look outwards to gain knowledge of the world in which we live. Both are important and both should be practiced continuously throughout life by the fully functional human being.
So what is knowledge? And how do we achieve it? The most accurate and meaningful definition I have found is this.
Knowledge is the correct identification of some aspect(s) of reality in conceptual form
So let’s take a look at what exactly is required to gain knowledge.
- Acquiring knowledge is volitional, you have to choose to do it, you have to want to know. Everyone has the potential to gain knowledge, few have the will to do so.
- Acquiring knowledge requires the conviction that gaining knowledge is possible. No one struggles to achieve what they consider impossible.
- Acquiring knowledge requires process of reasoning with logic as the method, and an implicit recognition of reason as the only means to acquire it.
- Acquiring knowledge requires psychological independence, and the ability to stand alone from the crowd in terms of ones convictions. This means being able to explain your conclusions even if you are in a group where everyone else disagrees with you.
- Acquiring knowledge requires the ability to think conceptually and move beyond the identification of individual concretes, to see patterns and principles, to see implications and to think long term. The ability to perceive the immediate surroundings in the moment is implicit in being conscious (awake).
- Acquiring knowledge requires thinking as opposed to feeling. Emotions are not your means to understanding reality
- Acquiring knowledge requires use of reason as opposed to faith. Belief in something without evidence does not constitute knowledge. To hear something and believe in it without an accompanying process of reasoning and without understanding why it is true, is not the same as possessing knowledge.
Digging a little deeper
Your mind works in two basic ways to provide you with knowledge, on the perceptual level for identification, and on the conceptual level to construct a non-contradictory sum of integrated ideas.
Knowledge begins with perceiving the given with your senses. Gathering the raw data, the empirical evidence from the world around you. For example, measuring the floor before laying some tiling, or counting how many guests to cook lunch for, or looking into a Petri dish in a lab to make observations.
But its important to note that you can’t turn up your senses. You cannot hear or see more. Either your sense are functioning to their full capacity or not. Either you are attending to the information they offer or not. You cannot amplify or crank up their sensitivity to perceive more.
Your only means of increasing your awareness is by using your conceptual faculty. This means that you need to be able to see more than what is in front of your eyes. You need to be able to see beyond the range of the moment and think long term – i.e conceptually.
The perceptual is a vital first step, but to be stuck in the perceptual level is to be concrete bound. Which means only seeing the immediately obvious or what is in front of our eyes and in the moment. It should be obvious that this will never render you an understanding of the world beyond your front door.
The concrete bound mind is stuck at a low level of awareness. It can grasp the immediate, the tangible, what is literally there to see, including the simple concept of waking up. But it is severely hampered in its attempt to gain knowledge.
It is thinking, and more specifically reasoning, that enables us to truly gain knowledge of the complex world we live in because it uses our conceptual faculty. This means we can “see” and understand ideas beyond our immediate surroundings. for example, love, peace, marriage, justice, holidays, friendship, etc, etc. These are conceptual ideas that cannot be perceived.
It is important to grasp that gaining knowledge is not just about gathering information, but also integrating it into a non-contradictory sum. In other words a mental map of the world that is consistent with itself.
You need to be aware of thinking skills that lead to certainty beyond a reasonable doubt. This means making generalisations, observing principles, integrating connections between seemingly unrelated subjects. Conceptual thought enables us to spot implications, to extrapolate and predict likely future outcomes. Reality is a whole integrated sum. Our mental map of reality must correlate with it.
The method is to continuously alternate between perception and conception, between identification and integration.
Most people believe in things. They hear stuff in the media, and they choose what to believe in. Very few people hold convictions and genuinely possess knowledge.
Even in the category of so-called “awakened people” the vast majority are simply believers on an alternative bandwagon. They are not thinkers but followers, and can thus be controlled. (see above)
People say “we must wake more people up”, as though it is as simple as shaking them by the shoulders or shouting loudly at them. Or they say “people are waking up”, there is a “mass awakening going on” and they think for a moment that everything will be OK.
But in reality, for the condition we call ‘Freedom’ to exist, and therefore for peace and abundance to be possible, far far more individuals must strive to acquire genuine knowledge and thus increase their conceptual awareness. A massive change is required in our culture. Reason must once again be recognised as our only means to knowledge. Specifically the widespread adoption of a lifelong habit of self-education, of finding out, of seeking to know and understand with the consistent use of reason as the only method. This should be normal practice for functional human beings because it is our means of survival no less.
Rather than waking up, people need to increase their conscious awareness by gaining knowledge. We all need to do this and encourage others to do it by setting an example and engaging in rational conversation.
And if the practice of acquiring genuine knowledge really caught on…
One day, we will become a race of fully rational beings and peace freedom and abundance will at last be possible
June 23rd, 2021