According to Wikipedia, pseudoscience is a claim, belief, or practice which is presented as scientific, but does not adhere to a valid scientific method, lacks supporting evidence or plausibility, cannot be reliably tested, or otherwise lacks scientific status. Things that are characterized as pseudoscience are often discussed using the look and feel of science. The term pseudoscience is used in a derogatory way, usually by people who value science, to refer to things that are masquerading at scientifically founded. Of course, it is easy to determine if something is scientific or not, as there are clearly articulated principles of science.
But what about pseudo-consciousness? Society has embraced the trend of non-denominational spirituality in the West. There are talk show hosts who speak consciousness at us. Yoga studios are more popular than the gym. We can download meditation files, and there are now post secondary Holistic Health practitioner certificates. At what point is it possible that by making the norms and concepts of consciousness mainstream, we have lost the essence of spiritual consciousness?
In Tantra Illuminated, we are told that for a thing to be spiritually true, it must be built on three legs, so to speak. The first leg is that it occurs in scripture; the second leg is that a living teacher teaches it; and the third is that it is experientially true for you. Scripture of some sort is almost like peer reviews – at some time, a group of seekers felt it was important enough and agreed to document a truth. A living teacher can reflect and coach you in your experience. Scripture balances out false teachers to an extent. Teachers balance out our blind spots. And ultimately, if you cannot access it yourself at some level, it is not yet a truth for you. From where are we garnering the essence of spiritual truth today?
I have sat at some of the conscious community gatherings, and enjoyed listening to the variety of people on their journeys. Some people are at the early stages of their path, and I smile as I listen to the same issues being debated that I debated 20 years ago. Others are living their consciousness as easily as they breathe. It is beautiful, and a taste of the divine experience in its fullness.
Occasionally, though, the language of consciousness is used as a mask for good old fashioned co-dependency, arrogance, and repression. It appears in forms like “I forgive you, because that is about me, but you really need to do your healing work,” or “I need to set a boundary with you, because I need to take care of myself first” when what it is in response to is disappointment that the other did not behave as you hoped. Phrases like “I know you are going through your own stuff now, but I am really disappointed in how you expressed yourself” can sound caring, and even be authentic, unless it masks the need for an individual to show up the way YOU think they should show up or be in that situation. Each of those phrases moves to focus on to the Other, and can be a way of avoiding looking at how energy in the self is stuck, or what was triggered in the self.
There is an undercurrent in Western society where self help is a valued activity, particularly in the realm of spiritual development. We work from an assumption that we are not good enough, or not fully healed, and it is through constant self improvement like yoga, vegetarianism, meditation and the like that we can redeem ourselves. It is not dramatically different from the piousness that was valued a hundred years ago – eating fish on Fridays, doing penance, and serving the church may have transmuted into a new form of self-flagellation that we call consciousness.
If we are to set standards of consciousness, consider the Buddhist principles:
- Universality principle – “How would I like it if someone did this to me?”
- Consequences – Does the act cause harm and regret (in oneself or others) or benefit and joy?
- Utilitarian principle – Will the act help or harm the attainment of goals (ultimately spiritual liberation)?
- Intention – Is the act motivated by love, generosity and understanding?
Simply sprinkling the words of consciousness into our everyday interactions is a form of pseudo-consciousness to me. This YouTube video called “Things New Age Girls Say” may have been tongue in cheek, but it would not have been made or been as funny if we could not relate to it, imagine people we know who are like this in some way.
The solution to me is true authenticity. “Authentic’ means from the source or origin. Being authentic in a spiritual sense means ‘as expressed directly from the source’, through the soul. It is the raw, naked, unhindered expression of beingness of the soul. Authenticity is a quality of being.” –Trinty Bourne If we are expressing from soul, and from source, we are less likely to be talking about the other, and more likely to be inquiring into ourselves. It is said we do not experience the world as it is; we experience it as we are.
And of course, simply by writing this, I am faced with needing to look at myself, my beliefs, and how my own triggers are reflected in everything I have written. And that is all ok with me.