The End of Awareness
The first stage of Buddhism coming to the West is about finished now. This first stage is the consciousness stage. It has been all about awareness, mindfulness, consciousness, attention, and alertness. We should all be very tired by now. If we have been doing all this attention practice for all these years, then a big part of us must be craving for sleep by now.
it would be better to dream more
To sleep, to sleep, perchance to dream. Ever since Hamlet, modern humans have feared the unconscious. We know that Buddhism is about overcoming the ego, but all this consciousness training is essentially just drilling ourselves in more and more clinging to the ego-ideal. it would be better to dream more.
The Unconscious Stage
The next stage, therefore, is the unconscious stage. Some people have already got a little bit of this but mostly the consciousness movement has just got more and more extreme. The idea that consciousness itself is the goal is a kind of madness. Saying that consciousness is the answer to the spiritual problem is like saying that words are the answer to the problem of literature or numbers are the answer to economics. It does not really mean anything. Consciousness is part of life, not the answer to it, a tool, not a goal.
Nearly all the important things in life go on unconsciously most of the time. We meet somebody. “Hello, who are you?” “I’m John.” “Nice to meet you, I’m Jane.” What does it mean? John is not conscious of who or what John is and Jane is not conscious of who or what Jane is. These are just labels. Also, ‘nice to meet you’ is a secret code, but does anybody consciously know what it means? They are players on an unconscious stage.