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Super Consciousness by Colin Wilson - Reviewed

abracad, · Categories: books, consciousness, reviews, spirituality
Super Consciousness

Many people report having spontaneous Spiritual or mystical experiences which commonly include being aware of the interconnectedness of the universe and having access to profound knowledge. You may even be fortunate enough to have experienced it yourself.

Colin Wilson has been a prolific researcher and writer on mysticism for over 50 years, his works including the 1971 classic, The Occult. In Super Consciousness: The Quest for the Peak Experience Wilson makes a broad exploration of such experiences, which he calls peak experiences, considering what induces such states and whether they may be attained at will.

Wilson takes the reader on a fascinating and comprehensive journey through the (mostly) recent history of art and philosophy. He identifies the two dominant and opposing schools of thought about the significance of our existence. The first says we are mere automata trapped in a meaningless universe (tragically endowed with the ability to recognize the futility of our own existence). The second recognizes our place as part of a truly purposeful whole, even though that greater purpose is usually hidden from our limited knowledge.

The Two Selves describes the functioning of the left and right sides of the brain. The left controls language and logic, whereas the right is responsible for pattern recognition and creativity. Wilson dubs them Ollie and Stan respectively (in reference to Laurel and Hardy). Though we are often classed as left- or right-brained, the search for peak experience requires that both sides function in tandem.

In Strange Powers, Wilson recalls he began work on The Occult as a skeptic, however by the end of his labors he came to recognize that 'paranormal' faculties are as as well established as any other scientific 'fact'. The chapter recounts several cases of remarkable coincidences, way beyond the realms of chance. Jung famously termed such instances 'synchronicity', and they are remarkably common, as though offering a tantalising glimpse into the greater reality we inhabit but are usually oblivious to.

Most people, for most of the time, are engrossed in the necessary but tedious trivialities of daily life. So routine is our daily schedule that we carry out these tasks automatically. Wilson describes this as a worm's eye view. To really experience and fulfill our life purpose we need to rise above the daily grind and open our eyes to the big picture, the bird's eye view.

Peak experience can be brought about by crisis, eg Dostoevsky experienced it after being reprieved from a firing squad just three minutes before his scheduled execution. Graham Greene experienced it after surviving a lone teenage game of Russian roulette. Wilson's own experience came after losing, and then finding, his toddler daughter in a busy town. The experience can also be achieved by conscious and sustained effort of the will.

Wilson views nihilists such as Samuel Beckett as mistaken, but furthermore blames their error upon laziness. In short, what one gets from life is directly proportionate to what one puts in. Life is exciting, meaningful, beautiful and fulfilling - if only we make the effort to make it so.


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