Mark Pottenger


Until my brother Bill brought it up in the June 12 LA-CCRS meeting, I let habit and familiarity lead me to ignore an important language issue.

The terminology I have used in my musings and LA-CCRS meetings since the death of James Pottenger refers to First Reality, Second Reality, and Third Reality. I learned that terminology from years of the writings and classes of James Pottenger, but a look back reminds me that that was only the last iteration of wording that changed more than once over the years. Some older writings and graphics refer to Psychological Stages 1, 2, & 3. Some refer to Levels 1, 2, & 3 (without the word Reality). Some refer to Physical, Mental, & Spiritual Levels of Consciousness.

I have emphasized in LA-CCRS meetings that these levels of reality refer to the subjective reality experienced by individuals, and that they are all based on interpretations of a single underlying physical+ reality that the subjective realities are attempting to interpret, but it never occurred to me to change the wording!

Since Bill brought up the issue, it is blindingly obvious that a wording change might make understanding easier for people not previously exposed to years of James' wording.

I am currently thinking that saying First Level Awareness, Second Level Awareness, and Third Level Awareness will convey the concepts much more clearly. I think numbered Levels or Stages without any other clarifying word is too vague and prone to value or hierarchical interpretation. I think the label Levels of Consciousness, though it was used at times by James, is too easily confused with conscious / unconscious or awake / sleeping or conscious mind / subconscious mind.

First Level Awareness is the to-from daily-life world of external causes.

Second Level Awareness adds awareness and possible development of internal causation.

Third Level Awareness adds awareness and possible experiences of the infinite/universal.

Most human experience, as we know it, is primarily First Level Awareness. All the individually experienced Levels of Awareness actually occur in a single underlying physical/spiritual world/universe, the nature of which is best approximated by the description of the personal Third Level Awareness. We acknowledge that our understanding of the underlying real world is still very incomplete, and that many more levels/realities may be described as better understanding develops.

Some personal experiences

I don't have any photos of what was probably the most spectacular sight I have ever seen (during a 2001 vacation near Sedona, AZ). One day we went into Sedona during the day, returned to our time-share, and were going back to Sedona near sunset to go to dinner. Since I'd been there earlier in the day, I left my camera in the time-share. The dinnertime drive (mostly north) was in the middle of a thunderstorm. We had the Sun setting to our left and a spectacular rainbow to our right, with occasional flashes of lightning (with accompanying thunder). For part of the drive, the rainbow was double. For much of the drive we could see the whole arch of the rainbow from end to end (rather than the more common partial arch). Since we were driving during this display, we saw the rainbow against a beautiful, constantly moving background of different Sedona-area red-rock formations. It was an incredible experience.

Maybe the second most amazing visual experience I can recall was watching a planet rising behind the great pyramid at Giza during an evening light show in 1979. This wasn't visually flashy, since to the naked eye the planet was just a dot, but for an armchair astronomer like me, knowing what I was watching made it very impressive.

I grew up in Tucson, AZ (high desert) and there were some winter nights I would look up at a sky that looked close enough to touch. The feeling of being out under such a sky was nearly mystical.

An Analogy

The Sedona vacation experience can be used in an analogy. My analogy compares that stormy drive to an underlying Third Level world. First Level Awareness would be like experiencing that drive while wearing a blindfold and earplugs—having no awareness of the grandeur of the experience, just passively riding along in the car. Second Level Awareness would remove the earplugs, to have a little awareness from hearing the thunder. Third Level Awareness would also remove the blindfold, to be able to enjoy all the sights and sounds. This analogy equates outward-oriented hearing and sight, letting us perceive things far (hearing) and farther (sight) from our bodies, with different depths/levels of inner mental/spiritual perception and awareness (Second and Third).

The Giza and Tucson night experiences were primarily visual, without major auditory components, so in this analogy they would be First and Third level, without going through Second.

This analogy suggests that we are not born limited to First Level Awareness, but that our upbringing, acculturation, education, and training impose the blinders that limit most of us to First Level Awareness most of the time.

It fits the observation that mystical and spiritual experiences sometime require as much or more unlearning as learning, and the classic answer: "I am awake".

Copyright © 2021 Mark Pottenger

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