Is our collective consciousness different from the consciousness of each individual?

Our exis­tence is shaped by the exis­tence of consciousness–both our own and oth­ers. There is an impor­tant dif­fer­ence, though, between these two types of consciousness. 

Thought waves deter­mine and shape our indi­vid­ual con­scious­ness. Such waves emerge from our brains through­out the day and night. These thoughts are con­stant­ly oscil­lat­ing in what we call a “stream” or “cur­rent”.

Collective unconscious mind: Is it different from the consciousness of each individual?

Collective & Individual Consciousness

The col­lec­tive uncon­scious, on the oth­er hand, has no spe­cif­ic source but emanates out­wards through a num­ber of peo­ple’s minds simul­ta­ne­ous­ly at all times. 

There is no stream but rather a con­stant dif­fu­sion and reflec­tion of all the pre­vi­ous thoughts. Humans have expe­ri­enced the thoughts col­lec­tive­ly through­out history. 

One exam­ple of such a col­lec­tive thought is the Andre Rieu’s song “Ode to Joy” played at high vol­ume at the end of each Olympic Games.

As such, it is impos­si­ble to know or even think about our col­lec­tive uncon­scious with­out simul­ta­ne­ous­ly know­ing what every­one else is think­ing (which no one can do). 

A per­son­’s indi­vid­ual con­scious­ness (the exist­ing thought stream) and the col­lec­tive con­scious­ness have almost entire dis­con­nec­tion from each other.

Although both have an influ­ence on our lives, we should not con­flate these two types of con­scious­ness with each oth­er as they have very dif­fer­ent characteristics.

The col­lec­tive uncon­scious influ­ences our lives to a much greater degree than we real­ize. This uncon­scious thought stream has the pow­er to influ­ence us sub­con­scious­ly and directly.

What way are collective unconscious accessible?

As a rule of thumb, the col­lec­tive uncon­scious is only acces­si­ble through dreams and sim­i­lar means (i.e. access through meditation). 

The indi­vid­ual con­scious­ness, how­ev­er, does not exist in dreams or med­i­ta­tion. But we can only access it dur­ing wak­ing hours.

This also leads to a sig­nif­i­cant dif­fer­ence between the effects of the two types of con­scious­ness on our lives: we can sub­con­scious­ly induce changes in the col­lec­tive uncon­scious just by dream­ing and detect­ing pat­terns in our thoughts with­out any require­ments of overt action on our part (We call this “autom­a­ti­za­tion”).

While it is true that pre­vi­ous thought pat­terns cre­ate the col­lec­tive uncon­scious, it is equal­ly as impor­tant to under­stand that it can also change and dis­solve such thoughts. This is pos­si­ble because the col­lec­tive uncon­scious is cre­at­ed through a num­ber of peo­ple’s minds simul­ta­ne­ous­ly at all times.

Concluding paragraph

We can thus cause changes in the col­lec­tive uncon­scious by learn­ing, think­ing, and expe­ri­enc­ing new things all at the same time. The effects of our indi­vid­ual con­scious­ness are there­fore large­ly depen­dent on all of us simul­ta­ne­ous­ly becom­ing more con­scious or less con­scious. One of the great­est dan­gers in our lives is mix­ing up the phe­nom­e­non of col­lec­tive con­scious­ness with that of indi­vid­ual con­scious­ness when mak­ing gen­er­al­iza­tions about what each entails.

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