“Burn in Hell!” To a lot of westerners, this is a big part of how we consider religion. Hell is not a good place to start looking for Higher Consciousness, I think.
Wikipedia has an unusually good explanation of what Higher Consciousness is, but personally I like the term “meditative consciousness”, as it is more descriptive and objective. I am sure everyone who actually has this consciousness will agree that it is indeed higher – somewhat similar to how being alert is higher than being half asleep, or that adult consciousness is higher than toddler consciousness – but I feel that for newcomers it is better to use a more objective term. Once you know it better, you can know what is higher and what is lower.
Meditation is a practice that can be undertaken in religious or secular context. The world’s great religions all have spiritual practices that include some form of meditation, but you don’t have to be religious to practice meditation in some form. Anyway, meditation or a similar practice is necessary to actually experience this new form of mind rather than just read about it. Hopefully we’ll get back to that. But because meditation is so closely aligned with the New Mind, I like the term “meditative consciousness”.
For the past 2500 years or so, the New Mind – the Human Operating System version 3 – has been mostly found in the esoteric branches of the great world religions. It is important to understand that the esoteric traditions are very different from the first impression you normally get of a religion. When you as an outsider think of religion, perhaps you think of the phrase “pie in the sky when you die”. We have to understand that the comic book version of religion is something far removed from the teaching of the founders, and that even inside each religion the esoteric tradition has often been in danger of persecution.
In the past, each person usually only had access to one religion. Messing around with other religions was not just seen as spiritually dangerous, it could also result in severe burn damage to your body, or the sudden separation of your head from your neck. For this reason, it was hard to notice that the inner traditions of very different religions had one trait in common. That trait is the higher consciousness of which I write.
This is not to say that I reject the other functions and qualities of religion. But I believe that in order to understand what religion is all about, you have to have the same mindset as its founders and first practitioners. Since they had the Human Operating System version 3, any attempt to fully implement the religion in H.O.S v 2 is likely to be like the Neanderthals copying the implements of modern man: Imperfect even as a copy, and without true understanding. A Neanderthal wielding a tool copied from a Homo Sapiens Sapiens would still be a Neanderthal. Not that there is anything wrong with that. But their time was gone, and soon so is ours.
Most of my potential readers will probably be atheists or agnostics, so you may find the smell of religion disgusting. Conversely, if you are a Christian, you will be offended by the thought that Christ had a form of mind also found in some other historical figures. This is misguided. The H.O.S v 3 is just a beginning. To us at our current level it is The End, but if having this was the only noteworthy thing about Christ, he would not have been remembered the way he is. The other founders of the great world religions were likewise not copies of Christ, but had their own qualities that set them apart. Each person who had the New Mind also was responsible for how he used it further, and it is this that separate the sun from the stars and the stars from each other.
What I am saying is simply that the founders and the early followers had a more advanced mind than almost everyone at their time, and almost everyone today. To us that mind is so alien that we might mistake it for their only important quality, but that is not the case. They are also distinct.
But because of our prejudices, I believe that it may not be good to seek H.O.S. v.3 in the religion we are most familiar with, regardless of whether we hate it or love it. We will then too easily fall back to what we think we already know. To realize that we don’t know is the beginning of true knowledge. For this reason, since I write in English, I will recommend that people study the teachings of the Eastern traditions, especially the Far East which is the most different from our own. The teachings of the Buddha, of Confucius and of Lao-Tzu are all lucid and amazing when well translated. And nobody here in the West is likely to feel compelled to worship them, neither by society nor by their own heart. So they are well suited to “download” the H.O.S. v.3 from.