If we accept that consciousness changes over time and with it our level of conscious awareness, then it is helpful to be able to map this out – historically as well as within ourselves. Through history we can trace evidence of the development of thinking from Plato and Aristotle onwards. We can also see that thinking has reached its zenith. Prior to Plato the faculty of feeling was fully developed over time.
The element of human consciousness we are currently working on is the will. The fact that we are working on it means that we don’t fully understand it. What we can do is identify this faculty of will within our consciousness and come to understand how we use our own will.
As I have often said, the faculties of feeling, thinking and willing are functions of our soul. They do not operate independently, they are entwined and one of them leads. The more conscious of this activity we become the more control we have over which one leads.
If we are called to act and our feeling is leading, we may fail to act because we are afraid. If we act without thinking, the consequences could be disastrous. If we think without feeling, our thoughts can be hard and cold. We can find examples of this everywhere, in our own lives and in the lives of others.
As we work with our will and become more aware of it, we can identify two kinds of will; gentle will and hard will. These two kinds of will can be identified by their movement. Hard will tends to be ‘closed-minded’ and moves in an outward direction. Gentle will is more flowing, more open, moving towards us rather than away from us, with a receptive quality. Hard will gives us a sense of control over situations, at its base is our ego. Gentle will connects us with the greater good. (I will write more posts about this over the next little while.)
In his book “The Gentle Will” Georg Kuhlewind says, “In our current civilisation, everyday life is governed by the principles of usefulness, and so by the “hard will” of egoism. This has already brought the world to the brink of catastrophe … . I see no other hope of avoiding destruction than for our mentality to change. This means for the hard will to become the gentle will.”
Image: Joan of Arc Kissing the Sword of Deliverance, Rosetti 1863