Janet Cunningham, Ph.D.

The Mind-Spirit Connection

There are two streams of consciousness, according to bodies of overlapping information that have emerged (Wade, 1966).

Orthodox medicine recognizes only the immature fetal consciousness that is tied to the embryonic body, contingent on the central nervous system and perhaps other physical structures.

Esoteric spiritual systems, particularly eastern philosophies that include reincarnation, also recognize a transcendent source of consciousness, pertaining to an awareness that seems to be more or less independent of the body.

Evolution of Consciousness  

In the evolution of consciousness, mankind has gone from lower life forms to bodily life forms and into early mind (mythical, membership) and today's advanced mind, level 4 (rational, mental-egoic). The next level of development, according to Wilber (1966) is level 5, the psychic (shamanistic), then level 6, subtle (saintly), level 7 causal (sagely), and level 8, ultimate (absolute). Mankind today is at level 4, the middle-point, according to this evolutionary model.

Not all people are at the same level of development, however. While the average mode of consciousness is predominant in a culture, some people are at lower levels of development and a small number have been able to move beyond the average mode to the advanced mode. During the membership culture of the Ancient Egyptians, the most highly evolved priests and pharaohs had moved to the more advanced mode; there is evidence that a breakthrough had been made to the psychic level During this span of the mental-egoic culture, the ultimate causal realm was penetrated by Lao Tsu, Buddha, Krishna, and Jesus (Wilber, 1966).

The Mind-Spirit Connection is the next step in evolution of consciousness. The conscious mind, personality and ego, has been built and strengthened during the mental-egoic period. The rational mind has held dominance for the past several thousand years. Although many authors and scholars, particularly in feminist writings, have abhorred (and rightly so) the loss of the feminine aspect to humanity, nevertheless, a movement beyond the mythic-membership culture was necessary for continued evolution. According to Wilber,
"At this stage [mythic-membership] of evolution, the self was not yet strong enough to detach itself from the Great Mother (other nature, from the body, the emotions, and the food of the unconscious). Mankind, on the whole, remained at this stage and the vast majority of souls were not strong enough to awaken as self-conscious beings, still struggling to step out of subconsciousness."

The problem was that humanity did not take the wisdom, knowledge, and value from the mythic-membership period into our current time, but instead suppressed the feminine aspect deep into the unconscious.
"As consciousness transcended The Great Mother, which is desirable, it repressed The Great Mother, which was disastrous. The Western ego demonstrated not just an awakened assertiveness, but a blind arrogance. The ego rose up arrogant and aggressive, succeeded in repressing access to both realms (subconscius and superconscious)."      Wilber, 1996.

The Awakened Mind, therefore, is one in which a person has made the unconscious conscious. In addition to building the conscious, rational mind, the person has incorporated subtle energies of the unconscious (etheric, lower emotional, lower mental, higher emotional, higher mental, and beginning spiritual levels of consciousness).

A person who has awakened to multidimensional levels of consciousness will have gone through bringing up layer after layer after layer of issues, memories, and experiences in the unconscious mind. S/he will have gone through, not one but many, dark nights of the soul and periods of death and rebirth, as depicted in shamanic rituals and initiation rites of the ancient mysteries. In so doing, spiritual lessons 
and experiences are heightened and when understood, a lightening of the subtle energy fields of the person are being transformed. Continued expansion of the mind-spirit connection results in transcendence into higher realms, from the subconscious to superconscious realms.

A New Order of Consciousness: Wholeness and Balance

In order to make the unconscious conscious, a rejoining of the split (spiritual, mental, emotional, and physical) is required.

The Awakened Mind is one in which a person has made the unconscious conscious. In addition to building the conscious, rational mind, the person has incorporated subtle energies of the unconscious, joining the etheric, lower emotional, lower mental, higher emotional, higher mental, and beginning spiritual levels of consciousness. 
The chakras, a Sanskrit term referring to wheels, bring energy (prana, chi, life force) from higher spiritual vibrational levels to link and integrate our physical and nonphysical bodies. Although Western medicine still does not recognize the chakras, according to Bach (1990), they are located for the most part along the spinal cord and are associated with, but no equivalent to, major nerve ganglia and endocrine glands. The chakras are multidimensional phenomena, integrating physical, psychological, and spiritual aspects of existence. Each chakra has associated with it specific physical, emotional, mental, and spirtual processes, which accordingly are seen in Indian medicine as being interrelated.

Although most people in alternative therapies continue to have a limited view of the chakra system as (a) emotional centers, (b) open or closed, or (c) each associated with one or two characteristics or themes, my image shows that the vibrational energy expands in and through other chakra energies and various levels of the subtle bodies. Therefore, the subtle energies are intertwined and intermingling in relation to characteristics and levels of consciousness.