Tuesday, February 3, 2009

The "Unconscious" Doesn't Exist

Is there really a nebulous lower domain or netherworld of impulses and drives outside conscious awareness that we refer to as the unconscious? If reality is nothing more than the flow of concepts within a ‘field’ of consciousness, where is this region of consciousness we call un-consciousness? (or subconscious) Seems to me it’s merely a perfect alibi for irresponsibility.

Psychology loves the unconscious, because it's used to make sense of absurd and irrational behaviors, while not making sense of anything at all. In fact, it may be this all-encompassing theory of the unconscious that perpetuates our collective mental illness and our failure to accept responsibility for our world.

The rule is that we can never really have full culpability with any of our actions due to unconscious impulses. The field of consciousness merely attaches coordinates to the objects of consciousness. The coordinates provide either personal ownership or locates some objects of consciousness as separate and external to you.

Yet, essentially, it’s ALL IN your consciousness and, hence, it’s all you, all the time.

Therefore, objects of consciousness, which includes all perceptions, conceptions, thoughts, feelings, emotions, images, everything you could consider as experience, are either allotted a personal coordinate in space/time (as belonging to you) or it's cut off and given to the world.

Yet these coordinates are delusional as nothing exists outside your consciousness.

The "evil" you repress is never really tucked away in some mental basement, it's merely projected outward and attached to objects or the people you see all around you everyday. However, since your ego has arranged that "evil-doers" be separate from a "you," now you can easily deflect responsibility for all the nasty stuff “out there," and easily ignore what you SEE as not your responsibility. Somebody else needs to take care of that. The entire science of psychology supports this basic premise of "personal responsibility" so how can I remedy what is not my fault?
The entire world seems to be crumbling before your very eyes, yet, of course, there's nothing you can do. It's "out there"! All you can do is take care of your own little world, or that within consciousness which your ego has allowed personal responsibility.
The ego determines what you own and what will be given to the world or, essentially, projected away from you while still in consciousness. Anything the ego does not wish to own, is merely given an external coordinate and thus, you perceive it as outside you, in the world. This becomes a 'knee-jerk' classification that merely requires acknowledgment in order to collapse. But who wants to acknowledge guilt for what the world has become? No, it's all become quite comfortable to let the ego do its magic.

Nothing is ever repressed into unawareness and no such unconscious, subconscious, preconscious, etc, levels of the mind exist. You are unconscious of nothing, since everything is in conscious awareness, but merely allocated 'external" coordinates. All your "primitive impulses" are available for full view. All your fears and nightmares are in consciousness and you view it daily in one form or another. War and destruction are in your mind. There is no need to forgive another, as you are both victim and victimizer.

The evil is NOT 'out-there,' it’s 'in-here.'

Why would ego desire some experiences of consciousness be externalized, while others be personally owned? Obviously, if hell is of your making, you would certainly seek to change it. Yet, extracting and externalizing parts of hell, as not your doing, works well in keeping the separation machine humming and keeping you apart from your own consciousness. Let's face it, if you were forced to take responsibility for the whole kit and Kaboodle, you’d fix it in a cosmic heartbeat since it really sucks. Unfortunately, this would fix your ego-self as well since, if there is no separation, then there could be no “you” to deny ownership, requiring full responsibility. But, if there's NO "you," what happens to the 'world'?

This poses a problem for many awakening programs, which rely on a “you” having an unconscious requiring you plumb your “unconscious” depths in order to finally realize the obstacles to "awakening." The exalted teachers claim it’s not the conscious mind that obstructs your progress but all the unconscious conditioning that you have repressed from consciousness. This Freudian perspective is really anathema to achieving a unified consciousness or that oneness we all tend to give lip-service.

Why would they seek to partition consciousness thereby allowing you to avoid your responsibility in saving the world? You can’t seek what is outside awareness. Therefore, to maintain the awakening game there must be some part of your mind inaccessible to you. Because if consciousness is all there is and you are not separate from any of it, how could you ever seek to realize this fact if there is a part of consciousness, or unconsciousness, that you have been taught is not available to you. It's time to deeply question the conventional wisdom of the "masters."

Nevertheless, we're all as guilty as "sin." So instead of spending everyday steeped in hours of meditative wandering with the intent of finally overcoming your unconscious impulses, just look outside your head and SEE it all in vivid technicolor. Once you take responsibility for what you see , then go back into your consciousness and change it.

It's as simple as that!


  1. Hi Mike
    You have some great articles here but I have to disagree with this one.
    I agree that the sub-conscious has become a catch-all and excuse for all sorts of things. But the model that we have a conscious mind and a much faster sub-aware habit mind fits my experience well. Just because it is in consciousness does not mean it's conscious.

    I found for example that the path included a series of making 'holdings' conscious for release. I also found sub level drivers that were not conscious until further along - deeper values of the ego and identity for example.

    I would say that as we get aware enough, there is little that remains sub-conscious. We may leave it outside of attention, but it is accessible as needed. But the average bloke has all kinds of non-conscious behaviour drivers. It's one of the reasons they don't see themselves creating the world - because the energy that does it is not seen.

    Some of your other points are very good. Thanks for sharing.

  2. I think that the term 'unconscious' is a confusing word. The unconscious isn't anything in particular. Rather, it's just our relationship to certain things. It seems to me that consciousness is normally used as meaning ego consciousness and so refers to what the ego identifies with or focuses upon. But much exists outside of the ego whether sublimanally or peripherally... and hence the unconscious.

    I don't always like the term itself, but I agree with Davidya. The general idea of the unconscious does fit my experience. It's very common to notice something about another person that they seem completely unaware of. I suppose you could argue that the person is choosing to be willfully ignorant, but that probably wouldn't be helpful.

    I was trying to remember how Jung describes the unconscious. As far as I know, he didn't treat the unconscious as unavailable to the conscious mind. He defined the unconscious as being that part of the individual that relates to that which isn't limited to the individual. So, there is the conscious sense of self and there are other aspects such as biological instincts, collective traits, and archetypes.

  3. Unconscious mind doesn't fit my experience--but I can only say that after 40 years of rooting around in my 'Unconscious' trying to find the culprit for all that ailed me.
    It is all there, out in the open--but that doesn't mean that much of it is subject to change. Maybe none of it really needs to change?

  4. Quite true. It all does seem impervious to change.

    Yet, I often wonder if that may be because we believe we are separate from it and thus, need not take responsibility for messes we believe are not our doing. I often feel that those religions advocating it's all "illusion" only serve to keep us separate from it, rather than engaged with it.

    Great comment, thanks!