Journal of Conscious Evolution


This article addresses three ideas: mystical experience, the evolution of consciousness, and gnosis. There are different interpretations of these ideas, so I begin by saying how I intend to understand them. Mystical experience I see as a wider, broader, deeper perception of things and their relations than our usual limited view allows. It provides an ‘unitive’ and ‘participatory’ form of consciousness, in which the usual ‘subject/object’ divide has dissolved. The evolution of consciousness is the notion that our present consciousness is not consciousness per se, but has been arrived at over time. This suggests that there have been other forms of consciousness before it. As Barfield and others have suggested, earlier peoples not only had different ideas about the world than we have, they also saw a different world than we do. This suggests that the consciousness of people of a future time may also differ from ours. Gnosis I see as the cognitive character of mystical consciousness, the ‘knowledge content’ provided by its immediate, direct, non-discursive perception of reality. These ideas are discussed in some length in the present essay.