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I come from a religious life practice where we learned from the Jesuits about a daily and personal “examination of conscience.” But I found that people with a mature conscience did this naturally anyway, and some way too much. Now many of the Jesuits recommend instead an “examination of consciousness” which to me feels much more fruitful. That is what I would recommend if I were teaching Step Ten.

You must step back from your compulsive identification and unquestioned attachment to yourself to be truly conscious. Pure consciousness cannot be “just me” but instead is able to watch “me” from a distance. It is aware of me seeing, knowing, and feeling. Most people do not understand this awareness, because they are totally identified with their own thoughts, feelings, and compulsive patterns of perception. They have no proper distance from themselves.

You see why so many of our mystics and saints emphasized detachment. Without it, people could not move to any deep level of consciousness, much less to the level of soul. Meister Eckhart said detachment was almost the whole spiritual path, and the early Franciscans seemed to talk about nothing else, although they called it “poverty.”

We do not live in a culture that much appreciates detachment or such poverty. We are consumers and capitalists by training and habit, which is exactly why we have such problems with addiction to begin with. We always think more is better, for some sad reason. For properly detached persons (read “non-addicted”), deeper consciousness comes rather naturally. They discover their own soul, which is their deepest self and thus have access to a Larger Knowing beyond themselves.

from Breathing Under Water: Spirituality and the Twelve Steps

emphasis mine

These make me think of the Beatitudes.

June 2014