The Collective Consciousness
We are going to start with a thought experiment.
Think of a group of people; any group that you know of but are not involved with directly. This could be a different shift at work from yourself or a different department, maybe a different family to your own or a club you long to join. It could be the inhabitants of a different city or even the population of an entire country. It matters not the size, but just think about them.
Did you notice anything?
Did you see this group like you would an individual person, with its own traits, emotions or personality?
Maybe you saw a different shift or department at work as always jovial and happy and long to switch from your current ‘miserable’ colleagues. Or perhaps, you view a city or area of a country much different from your own. The West Coast of the USA, namely The San Fransisco Bay Area, has traditionally been seen to have a different consciousness or overall personality to New York in the East Coast. There is nothing wrong with this, it’s just a difference.
WELCOME TO THE COLLECTIVE CONSCIOUSNESS
The collective consciousness is the phenomenon where our own personality, psyche, and individualness, merges with others around us to form a group personality of its own. Every group of people, no matter how large or small takes on the combined personalities of the different people comprising that group, giving it its own outer personality. Therefore, we can then view these groups as if they are one individual person. Think of the different outward personalities of countries as individual people, we would have Mr America, Miss France, Ms England, Mr China, Miss India and they are all distinctly different.
The collective consciousness or group personality embodies all the same psychological traits that we possess as regular people. It has its own history, its own lessons to learn, its own trigger points, likes, dislikes, morals and just about everything else.
In psychological terms, the collective consciousness is known as emotional contagion and it is well understood how our emotional states can pass from one person to another, which also allows us to pick up on the emotions of others.
We can tap into the mood of the nation, the feel of the community, or, you can sense the excitement in the air through the collective consciousness and we do so without really thinking about it. We just have a sense of how others are feeling.
It can also affect us in reverse, where the collective consciousness of a group interferes with how we are feeling ourselves and can adjust our own emotional response. Have you ever been in very close proximity to a group of people, maybe a music concert, maybe a protest, a riot even? Have you ever felt the mood change, like a wave sweeping across everyone like a shadow? This is the effect of our merged psyche with the group.
Or, have you visited an area where you have never been to before, maybe a town and immediacy ‘picked up’ on the energy there and either loved it or couldn’t get away fast enough? Again, the effects of the collective consciousness.
THE ANIMAL KINGDOM
The most obvious place to start explaining the collective consciousness is via the animal kingdom.
Animals that herd, swarm, flock, school and generally think and act as one is the collective consciousness in action.
An individual ant, or termite, or bee are all a part of the larger colony nest or hive. Yet they all instinctively know their own place and the role they are to fulfill for the larger good.
One termite on its own can have very little effect, but this single termite is governed by the collective consciousness of the group, and together can build monuments.
Schooling fish, all merged and thinking as one
As with flocking birds
This abandoned termite mound was filled with concrete and excavated. Yes, all of this was created by seemingly individual termites, working together via the collective consciousness. 1
We are going to use the analogy of Matryoshka dolls, or Russian nesting dolls to explain how the collective consciousness functions.
This is you. All alone and rather pixelated. But you’re OK though, standing there in your red cape looking dashing. Like everyone, you have your own personality and dealing with your own internal baggage.
Let’s say that you live in a suburb or an area of a city. That town has absorbed your personally in all of its forms, and together, with other individuals of that area, you all merge and form a collective consciousness.
So, the collective consciousness of your area is composed of everyone who lives, works and has an association with it in a physical sense.
In turn, your area sits with the local city in which it is a part of. The collective consciousness of the city is now comprised of the collective consciousness of all of its different areas. In essence, it comprises of all of its inhabitants.
The city is then merged into the state or larger geographic region. This state or larger region is comprised of the city, towns and villages and all of their inhabitants, creating an even larger collective consciousness.
The state or region them merges with the country as a whole, forming the collective consciousness and group personality of itself. Again, made from all of the inhabitants of the entire nation, giving the country its own personality.
Which, in turn, merges with the larger geographic region. Maybe Europe, Asia, the Americas, etc. It is also interesting to note here, that this can also apply to philosophy or cultural thinking also. For example, Australia sits within the Asia geographic region but has a consciousness of that of a western nation, and so its personality also reflects that of the larger collective consciousness of the west.
The geographic region is then merged into the collective consciousness of humanity as a whole, giving us one global personality.
Using Russian dolls is a great analogy because it also demonstrates this whole system backward.
Starting with humanity as a whole, that group personality has an influence on us as individuals throughout of its corresponding layers.
Here you are again, this time in a yellow cape and being influenced by all of the layers of consciousness that you are a part of.
But this is only one dimension and is demonstrating the collective consciousness from a linear viewpoint of just where you live.
When we factor in workplaces, meeting groups, faiths and every facet of life we deal with others regularly, a picture soon becomes apparent as to how many group personalities we are effected by being merged within, and how much they also affect us.
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This is article two of my Overview of Metaphysics series.
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