Spiritual and relationship expert, teacher, counselor, advisor, speaker, and writer James Gray Robinson


              Consciousness is a term which many people talk about but few really understand. Most vaguely know that having it is a good thing, and being un-conscious may be problematic. Many people go through life with the lowest entry level consciousness wishing things were different and wondering why life is so challenging. It doesn’t have to be that way. We are human beings and most of us don’t have the focus and discipline it takes to transcend the quirks and daggers completely all of the time. Sometimes we can, if we understand what the different levels of consciousness are.

            The entry level of consciousness is survival mode. We spend a lot of time in the past in order to survive the future. This is where victim consciousness is strongest, which is the belief that life happens “to” us and we have no control over anything that happens in this world. We are consumed with materialism because we believe that will keep us safe. The more we have in the bank accounts, our stock accounts and possessions hopefully will help us in hard times. We are always wishing life was different or better and we grasp for whatever our desires may be in the moment. Happiness is often confused with pleasure, for we feel good when we get what we want and we suffer when we don’t. We are controlled by our emotions. We suffer at all times, afraid that we will not get what we want and afraid we will lose what we have. We suffer from anxiety, high blood pressure and illness that are caused by the constant stress we create. We are trained by society and the powers that be to be stuck in this level of consciousness because we are controllable and easily manipulated.

            A next level of consciousness is self-awareness. In this level of consciousness we strive to discover who we are and what our purpose is. We begin to understand that our place in the world does not depend absolutely on what we possess. We start to examine the effect of our behavior and actions upon others, we relate to others and the world. We begin to be aware of the world and life is more than just survival and collection of possessions. It is at this level we become to be aware that there is more to life than survival. It is also the level that we begin to suspect that there is a God. Oftentimes we connect with a teacher or guide who has a higher level of consciousness to help us transcend the lower levels. We can transition from survival level to self-awareness through the practice of gratitude.

            The third level of consciousness is the dawning of the awareness that we are not who we think we are. We are not our thoughts, emotions or beliefs. Our awareness is not the same thing as our thoughts, memories or beliefs. The social conditioning that we experienced in the survival level begins to fall away and we seek the truth of what is really going on in life. We begin to connect with a larger consciousness that animates us and sustains us (all along). We are aware that the lower levels of consciousness are a dream state and we are beginning to wake up. We begin to take control of our mind and emotions, understanding that they will control us if we do not control them. We begin to focus more and more on the search for connection to the divine, universal aspect of our being. It is at this level we start to detach from our addictions to pleasure and pain, judgment as well as people, places and things. The need for companionship or a significant other decreases. We can transition from self-awareness to detachment through meditation and mantras.

            The fourth level of consciousness is forgetting our self and our selfish wants and desires. We are concerned solely how we can help others anyway possible. We have a deep and total compassion for all beings, we connect with the universal energy of love. We let go of our desires for sex, companionship, material possessions or status. We are only concerned with serving others and raising the consciousness of the planet. We begin to merge with universal knowledge and consciousness that results in longer periods of bliss and enjoyment of all that is. We spend longer times in meditation and solitude and seek only that connection with the divine that gives us joy. At this level we are in a state of being, and have dropped the need to do anything. Whatever actions we take are directed by our divine consciousness and intuition and for the good of all. We know that all of our needs will be met and we have let go of needless and foolish concerns of materialism. We transcend from the level of detachment to selflessness through focus on the divine.

            The highest level of consciousness is enlightenment. It is difficult to reach this level and to stay at this level for any length of time because it requires long periods of solitude and focused devoted thoughts to your divine self. It is simply a matter of reality because when we are at the highest level of consciousness we are not able to function in what most consider the real world or what some call the 3D world. We meditate for long periods of time, surrender the need for interaction with others because we are connected to the divine. Oftentimes we don’t eat or sleep, we simply bask in the arms of the divine.

            Most of the highest beings will spend time at the level of enlightment and then come back to the 3D world to interact with others. It is their karma to know the difference between being in the arms of their divine self and interacting with the real world. It is their recognized duty to help all beings raise their consciousness. We can be born into any level of consciousness. It is the grace of the divine that we can raise our consciousness anytime we like. It is also our ability to lower our consciousness at anytime based on our circumstances. This is what is known as free will. The choice is ours.

Spiritual and relationship expert, teacher, counselor, advisor, speaker, and writer James Gray Robinson


After forty years of meditation and spiritual practices I must confess that I’m no closer to answering the question “who am I?” than I was when I first became self-aware. I defy anyone to come up with a simple answer to that question. Go ahead, ask yourself, and keep contemplating this question. We are of course a combination of experiences, information, beliefs, thoughts, perceptions and emotions that constantly shift like a kaleidoscope rotating between our ears. I believe that we seek to answer that question because we are trying to understand something called “life”, which defies definition.

Our perception of ourselves is constantly changing as well, which makes the question and answer relative to how we perceive ourselves at any given moment. If we like ourselves the answer will be one thing, if we don’t like ourselves the answer will be different. We drift in and out of self-acceptance/loathing depending on the circumstances of the moment. Most religions and spiritual philosophies are centered on the proposition that we have to be balanced in life, kind of like the tale of “Goldilocks and the Three Bears”, i.e. our perception should not be “not too hot, not too cold, but rather, just right”.

We have also been trained to compare ourselves to others, which creates a need to identify ourselves followed by possible feelings of either inadequacy or superiority. We feel the need to define ourselves so we can understand where we fit into the grand design. We want to know “who we are”, “what our life purpose is” and other philosophical questions that monopolize our minds.  This self-analysis and need for self-definition is what is referred to as “mental masturbation”.  Does it really matter who you are? Do we really have to know what our purpose is? Or is this our mind’s way of distracting us from our real mission, which I believe is to experience life in its infinite variety.

We can become so busy trying to define ourselves, and put ourselves in a box, that we become delusional. There is no box. We can also be so focused on making ourselves unique that we lose the bigger picture of creating heaven on earth with our fellow human beings.

The answer to life’s most perplexing question, “Who Am I?” does exist. The answer is we are the being that we perceive we are. Unfortunately for some people that answer opens up another can of worms because that puts our life circumstances squarely where we don’t want it to be, on our own shoulders, responsible for ourselves. However, if we’re going to make sense of our existence, to be happy with our self-image, to be “just right”, we have to take responsibility for how we perceive our life and our selves. If we perceive life is unfair, it is unfair. If we perceive life is fun and exciting, it will be. It doesn’t matter what is actually happening, what matters is how we perceive it.

I recently experienced something that was very emotionally traumatic. The details are not important, and they never are. Basically, someone I loved very much fired me. What is important is discovering why it was emotionally traumatic, and choosing what to do next.  This experience went to the core of my self-image, my self-confidence and my self-esteem. I had given this person everything that I had – my love, my money, my life, as well as my self-worth – and then I was fired. I was on an emotional roller coaster for months afterward.

I eventually discovered that my quality of life did not depend on my momentary circumstances, and the mental masturbation that followed that experience was only an exercise in self-pity. When I started focusing my thoughts on spiritually and emotionally uplifting thoughts, the pain went away. I stopped fantasizing about this person being punished, and started telling myself that I was talented, worthy and loved by the divine. That was all I needed to get out of the fog caused by the emotional trauma I experienced. Specifically, I kept repeating to myself  “I am confident that better things are on the way”.  And my life began to change.

I’m not selling affirmations as the cure-all for life’s challenges. I want you to understand that what happens to us is much less important than how we think about ourselves to be. If we believe we are talented, worthy and lovable, we will be. If we believe that everything happens to help us be better human beings, we will be. So if you have recently experienced trauma, don’t worry. You are only growing into a better version of you. 


Spiritual and relationship expert, teacher, counselor, advisor, speaker, and writer James Gray Robinson


The source of all misery and suffering is the illusion that we are separate from God. This illusion creates the fear that we will never get what we want or we will lose something we have and don’t want to lose.  It creates the illusion that we cease to exist when our bodies die. When this fear arises, it creates another illusion that if we don’t get what we want, we have done something wrong or we are in opposition to “God’s will”.  This raises the question of what we really want.


The source of all misery and suffering is the illusion that we are separate from God. This illusion creates the fear that we will never get what we want or we will lose something we have and don’t want to lose. It creates the illusion that we cease to exist when our bodies die. When this fear arises, it creates another illusion that if we don’t get what we want, we have done something wrong or we are in opposition to “God’s will.” This raises the question of what we really want.

The truth is we always get what is best for our journey to our own divinity. This is what our soul/spirit wants and is otherwise known as destiny. Only a relatively few beings on this planet actually understand the true nature of divinity and how we manifest events, experiences and even our life to come to it. The ultimate truth of reality is we create the illusion that we are separate from God (however you understand that) and it is up to each one of us to see through the illusion.

When we are born, we are as connected to our divinity as most people are going to get in this lifetime. If you ever look into a newborn infant’s eyes, you can even see God. This is total innocence, total mindlessness. In other words, our ego has not yet formed and we have no idea what is coming. Our world is a blank slate and anything is possible. Then we begin to interact with our world and the illusion begins to form. We are programmed, experience fear, competing egos and learn to compete with and judge each other. In other words, as we learn more and more about the world, we lose our innocence. This is part of the ancient metaphor of being kicked out of the Garden of Eden. When we gain knowledge (as opposed to wisdom), we begin to suffer.

God never leaves us, and is with us at all times in the form of happiness and enlightenment. This concept of divinity lies underneath our intellect, our egos and our false beliefs about the world. In order to experience “oneness”, we have to turn away from our egos and intellect and feel our way back to the bliss of “oneness”. One of the difficulties that we have experienced with finding our way back to the “Garden” of the state of happiness is that our words fail us. It is an experience that everyone can have in their lifetime, but logic and recipes will not get us there. We need help, trust and faith to get there.

The problem goes deeper due to the fact that we have made the intellect the God of our society. People spend far more time scheming, intellectualizing, exercising mind control and practicing “the Secrets” which might be effective to create material things or “attract” what we want, but is totally useless in finding happiness or our divinity. As one observer remarked long ago, “our best thinking got us here.” Again, this is the lesson of the Garden of Eden, when we metaphorically ate of the fruit of knowledge, we created the illusion of right and wrong and duality in its basic form.

The way back to the Garden is a lot simpler than we think (pun intended). What we have to do is to practice seeing through the illusion of separation and duality. If you are reading this article you have taken the first step, in recognizing that this is possible. If you believe this is possible, then it is and you are on the path to oneness with your God/divinity. If you do not believe this, then you will continue to struggle and suffer. Good luck with that. So you have to believe to do it. We are just like Dorothy in The Wizard of Oz going through all of her trials and struggle to get back to Kansas. In the end, she discovered that she had never left Kansas and it was all a dream. She woke from the dream when Glenda, the good witch, told her that all she had to do was to believe she could go back home, click her heels and repeat the mantra “there’s no place like home.” Can you see the “munchkins”, “witches” and “the Wizard of Oz” in your life?

We do not have to go on arduous and painful journeys to go back home. All we have to do is believe that we are there. The illusion will persist as long as we resist the belief that it is simply an illusion. When we believe that life is an illusion and everything we experience is to teach us that fact, we will be able to see through the illusion and experience our true nature and oneness with our divinity. We will no longer be victims, we will no longer hurt each other out of fear and delusion, and we can start living in the Garden again.

We are starting to wake up. I meet more and more people who are starting to truly grasp the notion that we are in a dream/illusion and we can create something else when we stop intellectualizing everything and start living with compassion and grace. It is not hard to be kind to others; it is not hard to have compassion for others. Even in these unsettled times, there is still more than enough abundance to go around. We need to stop wanting to be like rich and famous, we need to start helping each other and share what we have. This is what our divinity is pushing us to do.

Hopefully we will all open our hearts and minds and tear up the lists that must be fulfilled to become happy. When we make our happiness conditioned upon what we have, it is certain to never arrive. When we decide to be happy, no matter what, we can be happy. We need to stop planning for the future and start focusing on what we are doing right now. Are we happy? Are we helping others? Are we responding to each other with kindness and compassion or anger and fear? I am reminded that the quickest way to make God laugh is to make plans. Life is what happens when you planned for something else. So when God laughs, we should too.