Are there people on this planet in a position of authority who are conscious and know what to do to improve the human condition?
Are there evolved power-possessing beings who direct humanity, whether known or unknown to the world? Perhaps we could say that this is a question about power?
It seems that there are two kinds of power. One kind is what we ordinarily think of as power, which is to have control of people and events in the ordinary world. This has the outward appearance of power and certainly those who are under its influence feel this as power. But if these power-possessing individuals have no knowledge of themselves, they are driven by the same unconscious motives as those they rule and are really no different from them.
In my view, acquiring and maintaining worldly power is not conducive to awakening. I do not believe there are Illuminati guiding human affairs. I have met members of the illustrious families who are thought by some to be in this role and I find them very like the rest of us. Yes, they are wealthy and their wealth has shaped them, but they have terrible relationships and drug-addicted children just like the rest of us. The scope of their self-interest is greater and they exercise influence in support of their self-interest, but they do not have consciousness beyond the measure of ordinary human beings. They have control over others but none over themselves. They sleep along with the rest of us.
Our work suggests the possibility of a different form of power that comes from dismantling self…erasing personal history, overcoming self-importance and learning to serve. Individuals who take this path are reliable because they no longer have personal ambitions. Because they are not blind, they see possibilities that the ordinarily powerful do not see and they are able to marshal forces that are not easily perceived by others. The allegory of Noah is about this kind of power…someone who can see the direction of future events and prepare a response that satisfies real needs. The awakening this role requires does not come to kings and presidents who are preoccupied by the demands of their positions. They do not have attention for anything else.
Can social, cultural or community groups and institutions provide the basis for more enlightened action and self-governance? I understand that the evolution of the community is the current cornerstone of idealists and activists of all varieties. In my opinion, this is most unlikely except in small work groups that avoid public awareness. In my experience, human group behavior and human institutions are deeply unconscious and unable to evolve such that they would be able to support the existence and functioning of real human beings. Again, these are my personal observations. Why is this so? Social action is outer-oriented while the process of awakening is inward and individual.
Conscience is a function of a human heart, not a group or institution. Presence and attention are realized at the level of the individual. They can be shared in a group by the miracle of invocation but activation almost always begins with one person. Groups can share ideas and beliefs, which can be wonderful, but ideas and beliefs are not reliable and they are far from being voluntarily conscious, which is surely the requirement of real change. On an individual level, much is possible; in fact, I would say that only on an individual level can anyone awaken, although group work can certainly be helpful.
The nature of sleep can easily be discovered by impartial observation of self. The specific behaviors and motivations are different from one person to the next but sleep is essentially the same for all of us: to be asleep is to be governed by habitual reactions, to be blind to the consequences of our actions and to limit the possibilities that exist at every moment. Perhaps most important, when we sleep we are unreliable. Ordinary human beings are capable of remarkable acts of courage and charity whether or not they know anything about sleep and awakening, and at the same time they are capable of the most depraved behavior.
Each of us is faced with a choice…I can try to change the world or I can try to change myself. Either direction involves a battle with sleep. Either direction is likely to take all the resources I can muster. If I succeed in changing myself, which is first and foremost a dismantling of self, perhaps I will be able to contribute to the evolution of those who are in relationship to me. Perhaps I can become reliable to myself and others.