Listen to a reading of this article:

If there is a purpose of human life, as near as I can tell from these severely limited sense organs and this very limited brain, it’s to become as conscious as possible.

If you were given a video game to play without knowing anything about it, one of the first things you’d probably try to work out is what the objective is. How do you do well in the game? What do you need to do to move from this part of the game to the next part? How do you win?

If you didn’t receive any instructions, you’d probably try to deduce the game’s objective by seeing what actions make things better for the character you’re controlling on the screen. Does the game reward your character for solving the puzzle? Do you get points for killing the space aliens? Does it make a happy noise and move you to the next level when you find the blue key? Whatever makes things better for the character and their progress through the story probably has something to do with the game’s objective.

If I were looking at the human experience with the same kind of detached, big-picture perspective as someone playing a video game, I reckon I would eventually deduce that what makes things better for the characters in the game is the expansion of consciousness.

I’d probably first start to notice that things get better for humans as they become more aware of the way their world works. As their understanding of toolmaking, medicine and plant life expands, so too does their ability to survive and reproduce. When their understanding of science really takes off, I’d notice their population explode alongside those expansions.

I might later notice that human life tends to become less unequal as people’s awareness of the plight of others expands. By expanding their consciousness of what other people’s experience of the world is like, a slow realization begins to dawn that we’re all basically the same and it doesn’t make much sense for some people to be treated differently from others. This expansion would happen in the same movements as expansions in philosophical, sociological, psychological, political and historical understanding.

I might also notice that individual humans tend to experience greater enjoyment of life as their own personal consciousness expands. As they become more conscious of how their actions affect others, they begin moving more harmoniously in society. As they become conscious of their own unique psychology and their personal history of trauma, they’ll find themselves doing fewer self-destructive things. If they become deeply conscious of how thoughts, perception and experience actually happen on a fundamental level, they may find themselves embodying what spiritual traditions call awakening or enlightenment.

I’d probably start noticing that in fact every major positive change in the way humans operate, whether for an individual or for a group of any size, is preceded by an expansion of consciousness.

And I would probably deduce from there that this humanity game we’re all playing is about becoming as conscious as possible, of as much as possible. Becoming conscious of our own inner processes as individuals, becoming conscious of the human condition, and becoming conscious of what’s true about the world around us.

From there I assume I would deduce that anyone who is on the frontier of expanding human consciousness in any way or in any direction is playing the game well, and that those who are stagnating without learning or growing haven’t quite gotten the hang of it yet.

If you choose to accept this as a legitimate perspective, then it would make sense to assume that our short time on this planet is best spent expanding consciousness in some way, or in all ways.

You might even find that expanding consciousness in one way helps your ability to expand it in other ways. You might find for example that expanding your awareness of how your own mind operates gives you more awareness of how other people’s minds operate, and how they can be manipulated by powerful people using propaganda. You may also find for example that expanding your awareness of the plight of people less socioeconomically and geopolitically advantaged than yourself expands your own personal awareness of the various socioeconomic and geopolitical dynamics which have given rise to the way your life is right now. You may also find for example that expanding your consciousness of your own inner processes gives you a serenity which makes it easier to look squarely at the horrors you encounter when expanding your awareness of what’s going on in the world, and gives you the humility to see that you are not fully separate from those horrors.

The game of humanity will keep improving as long as our consciousness keeps expanding. I’d go so far as saying that’s the only thing that can cause things to get better, and that failing to do it guarantees things will get worse.

Like a video game, I believe we humans are free to either win this game or lose it. We will either keep expanding our awareness of what’s really going on in this weird universe our mothers birthed us into, or we will wipe ourselves out via nuclear war or ecocide.

Either way, if you choose to accept what’s being said here, we do each have the power to make things better by exactly one unit of human effort. We can help spread awareness of what’s going on in the world by fighting the lies we’ve been told by the powerful and drawing attention to things the powerful would rather keep hidden. We can help spread awareness of the human condition with art and with empathy. We can expand our own consciousness by getting very curious about how we operate and what makes us tick, and being very real with ourselves about what we find in that exploration.

Whatever you choose to believe about all this, it’s your adventure. I wish you the best in your travels.


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56 responses to “We’re Here To Become As Conscious As Possible”

  1. Philip Mollica Avatar
    Philip Mollica

    The true end-game if anyone is courageous enough to explore it sounds something like this:

    We create our own reality through our perception.
    We always have choices.
    We are eternal beings.

    It doesn’t get much better than that. We just need to figure out how to live purposely and not as victims.

    1. Not disagreeing entirely.
      “We create our own reality through our perception.”
      Our brain creates a version of reality suitable to not bumping into things, going over cliffs, etc.

      “We always have choices.”
      Yes we do. Our interaction with society/culture has a powerful impact on the young human. We are the only species that will commit suicide, an anti-life decision, contrary to all instincts.

      “We are eternal beings.”
      The universe gave rise to Life, and Life gave rise to me.
      One moment, I am looking out at the world thru my experience/senses,
      next moment, I am part of the giant web of Life. I am it and IT is me!

    2. Check out the gateway experience, and Robert Monroe’s work… binaural beats, and hemisphere synchronization to deep in awareness and expand consciousness

  2. thorsjackhammer Avatar

    Cognitive Dissonance is handy in creating a comfortable bubble of illusion around one’s self when outside reality is just too horrible to accept as fact.

  3. This is a sensitive, uniquely insightful column even by Caitlin’s standards. Like Nietzsche I don’t like to speak of morality. But wisdom like this recharges the moral batteries. Wow!

  4. We are already conscious supreme, and obviously not here to become what we already are. Guess again 🙂

  5. Free to choose to win or lose. But it’s just a “game”. Come again, how can eternal beings lose? It’s not an option 🙂

  6. The empaths will ascend. The psychopaths will descend. The rest will drift endlessly.

  7. BB Benderhaus Avatar
    BB Benderhaus

    We mere humans are complex creatures put together in a myriad of complicated ways. Some when offered a choice between good and evil, order and chaos, will choose chaos every time. Some will reject playing by the rules. Some could care less what new things they could learn. They are happy as a pig in mud, living in their own little piece of chaos. That is free will. The abiliity to choose. Since governments are working hard to take choice away from YOU, expect happiness will soon be upon us.

    1. As George-Bernard Shaw once said, “Never wrestle with a pig. You both get dirty and the pig enjoys it”.

      1. Thank goodness for the kind and caring and loving nature that you display towards others. Now I know why there is so little hope left for this world.

        1. Return to sender-

  8. The assumption here is that you know what a video game is. But what if you had no idea? Not even the concept of what a game is? Or competition, or winning? How then would you even begin to analyse it? What if instead you assumed that it was an attempt to communicate, or a representation of some aspect of human behavior?

    1. BB Benderhaus Avatar
      BB Benderhaus

      Some alien movies use that theme. Aliens who see an old movies series and think everyone on earth is like that. Star Trek episode where people lived in 1920s Chicago.

  9. If one shared consciousness is too much for somebody to accept, single origin of humanity can be traced by mitochondrial DNA.

  10. Ted Christian Avatar
    Ted Christian

    “Purpose” is a quality possessed by things used by animate beings to achieve a particular end, and has no meaning applied to the animate beings themselves. And the modern world is a product of technology, which doesn’t come from inner consciousness but from an understanding of external reality. And the more inner consciousness I have the more aware I become that humanity is mostly a bunch of hateful monkeys.

    1. Good argument. I agree with the implication that there is a large factor of intellectual laziness involved in wanting to blink past the hard work of understanding external reality.
      Adjusting our internal conception of external reality does not change it, but it can inform and expand our understanding of our place in that reality. The awareness Johnstone is talking about can move us forward from a toddler’s self-centered concept of personhood into a much wider and truer conception of ourselves as nodes of awareness in a biosystem that badly needs for us to fulfill our role as the piece of the puzzle that understands how puzzle pieces fit.
      Imagine being educated in a society that neglected neither internal awareness nor external understanding. Picture a technology birthed in an understanding of life and life processes, a technology in which human consciousness acts more like a symphonic conductor and less like a berserk death robot, lol.
      Primates we shall remain, but is hatefulness an inherent characteristic? Not for most, in my experience, brother. We can do this.

  11. Peter O. Childs Avatar
    Peter O. Childs

    Caitlin, your real spiritual (not “woo-woo”) awareness has always been apparent in your writing. The “consciousness expansion” of which you speak so eloquently here (and which was one of the key terms to emerge from the magical Sixties) is spiritual awakening, and it is the only thing that can save us from going over The Cliff to which we are now so close.

    Our mystics have long insisted that “the only sin is ignorance”; that if we knew the truth of things we could not possibly do all the wrong (“bad”, “evil”, “against God’s will”; all words for the same thing) things that we do, the consequences of which are crashing down on our heads. We generally don’t even try to ask the most important questions (“What am I?” “Where do i come from?” “Where am I going?” “What’s going on?”) because we don’t believe that we can answer them.

    But not only can we answer them; that’s what we’re here to do, and with frantic experts (e.g. the U.N. IPCC) shouting at us that we may have as little as three years left to avoid global “catastrophe”, it would seem that we’d do well to open our eyes, minds, and hearts and get going. If we do, seriously, doors will open that could not have opened when we were turned away from them, and the radical change for the better that our hearts yearn for can actually come about.

    I do my best to put all this in an understandable context in “The Choice” (you can check it out on Amazon), a copy of which I’ve been trying as hard as I can to get to you). Here’s a link to a radio interview about the book:

    Go with God, Caitlin; it was always clear to me that your anger is fueled by love.

    1. According to Alan Watts, the three most important questions are “who are we”, “where do we come from” and “who’s gonna do the washing up”?
      The last one being the most challenging.

      1. Peter O. Childs Avatar
        Peter O. Childs

        Indeed! Two fun facts that I think Alan would chuckle over:

        1) The purpose of life is to understand the purpose of life.

        2) If you remove all the space in the atoms of our bodies the entire human race would fit in a sugar cube.

  12. You really ought to look at Scientology if you want to increase your awareness.

    1. Awareness of how stupid people can be, perhaps.
      L. Ron Hubbard was a third-rate science fiction writer with a massive ego who declared that he could start his own religion and then proceeded to do just that.

    2. thorsjackhammer Avatar

      Ah yes, Scientology, one of the many establishment protected (or phoenix-ed) cult brainwashing centres. Hidden in plain sight.

  13. My deeper understanding of life is the only reason I can find ‘peace’ in the midst of the chaos and violence that is going on around me. I wish that all people may know this inner peace.

    Of course inner peace can be present while expressing a resounding NO and STOP to the madness.

    May all those with immense power be blessed with conscience and consciousness so that they may no longer use it to abuse & exploit others. May all of their traumas and wounds be healed so that they pass on this healing to others.

    We are all connected in darkness and light.. and every step we take leaves a wake that others can follow. We can create a groove that makes it easier for other human beings to follow in life no matter where they are in the world. If you can not find enough love for yourself to face your darkness and do what is difficult, do it for someone else. Someone you love or someone you don’t know and may never meet. Applying this to those we do not agree with, those we find acting against the best interests of humanity, is not easy… but we are ALL connected nonetheless.

    Being a mother taught me about unconditional love… I can love everyone… even if I believe some belong in prison for their war crimes… for example. Maybe their is a restorative justice possible in such circumstances, I just don’t know what that would look like.

    Someone said our darkness are pieces of light waiting to be revealed.

  14. When it comes to wisdom, I must say I’m rather partial to Khalil Gibran’s The Prophet and always go back to it. Of course, there are other wise men but they didn’t fare that well beyond their thoughts – not that Khalil Gibran did, who died rather young of cirrhosis, which generally happens when you try to drown your existential despair in alcohol and don’t possess Winston Churchill’s liver.

    Pythagoras was killed by a bunch of propagandized thugs, Socrates was politely asked to drink the hemlock, which he politely did, Laozi was fleeing the intrigues of the Chinese imperial court on a water buffalo to finish his life in seclusion when he was forced by the emperor to put down the basics of his philosophy in what became the Tao Te King, Jesus was crucified, Jiddu Krishnamurti was permanently dissatisfied. His homonym U.G. Krishnamurti, although less known, is more to the point, saying there’s nothing to see. He claimed, like Zarathustra and Buddha, that he had a revelation but that this was nothing to write home about.

    He actually called it “the calamity”, which tells volumes and explained: “The so-called self-realization is the discovery for yourself and by yourself that there is no self to discover”, adding that he rejected the very basis of thought and in doing so negated all systems of thought and knowledge, that there was nothing to understand, reason for which he didn’t want to leave any teachings or be remembered by anybody – which obviously didn’t work with me.

    I had already reached my own conclusion that everything is illusion, including that of knowing it when I became aware of him but his no bullshit Wikipedia entry provided what I took for a confirmation – which is probably an illusion anyway…

    However, The Prophet was published in a very practical format – which is not the least of its attractions – and so I kept it in my rucksack for years and never got tired of it for gems like “You talk when you cease to be at peace with your thoughts” (reminiscent of Laozi’s “the one who knows doesn’t speak, the one who speaks doesn’t know”), “your children are not your children but the sons and daughters of Life’s longing for itself”, “think not you can direct the course of love for love, if it finds you worthy, directs your course”, “the timeless in you is aware of life’s timelessness and knows that yesterday is but today’s memory and tomorrow is today’s dream”, “beauty is eternity gazing at itself in a mirror but you are eternity and you are the mirror” or “what is evil but good tortured by its own hunger and thirst?”

    So I’m rather partial to The Prophet even though it didn’t always make conversation easy with my contemporaries. It seems they’ve got the pronunciation wrong, most of them, and call their own book of reference The Profit… :o)

    1. If everything is an illusion, then the awareness that everything is an illusion is itself an illusion, and so is that illusion of the awareness of the illusion.

      1. BB Benderhaus Avatar
        BB Benderhaus

        Be careful with that train of thought. You may pop yourself right out of existence.

      2. @ Pasha: That’s what I’m saying: everything is an illusion including that of knowing it. Maybe it would have been clearer if I’d said everything is an illusion including the awareness that everything is an illusion.
        For instance, what do we really know about the things we talk about: God, the world, wars in general (told by the victors) and the war in Ukraine in particular? Nothing. Only what we’re told. And that depends entirely on the illusions of who is telling it. Pro and anti-Russians have different illusions about the war in Ukraine. And who am I to arbitrate this?
        Only propaganda can do it, which is of course illusion on steroids, Super-Maya.
        If I identify with the illusion, it becomes a belief over which I might even fight. It’s a takeover of the illusion by the ego but it still remains an illusion like the carnival mask only produces the illusion that you are someone else. However even your persona behind the carnival mask is a mask destined to create the illusion that you really are what you want people to believe you are. Which you are not. You just display reactions to circumstances according to the social criteria the illusions of your specific culture are based upon, like taking your hat off in a church – which won’t make sense for an animist for instance.
        Some people spend fortunes on the psychoanalyst couch trying to work out for years who they really are beyond that illusion and yet, the best they can achieve is to learn to live in relative harmony with the polymorphic cultural illusion (or civilized self) they identify with :o)

        1. BB Benderhaus Avatar
          BB Benderhaus

          When I am hungry, I want to eat. When I am cold I want to get warm. When I am naked, I will take any type clothing to cover my body. This and other basic needs are the only true reality. Everything else is just glitter.

      3. thorsjackhammer Avatar

        lol, excellent. Stop that train of solid logic or you’ll derail the ‘we all live in a simulation’ delusion that the elite are trying to weave for more control.

  15. Caitlin Johnstone will go down as one of the greats. Probably wont see it in this life time, but many have read you and learned from you.

    God bless you.

  16. thorsjackhammer Avatar

    Yeah…..I tried Buddhism for a while, but then reality got in the way. Life is a vicious struggle for survival, but reasonably civil and cohesive societies make it a more bearable journey….Now, where are these societies today?

    1. Destroyed by imperialism and capitalism.

      1. thorsjackhammer Avatar

        100% reality getting in the way yet again.

  17. We reap what we sow, that’s the point, well just imagine how different things would be if most people especially those in power had this philosophy in their heads we can only hope they will eventually

  18. I don’t think figuring out how to win would be my first objective. The first thing we should do with any game is figure out how to make it fun. As kids, we changed the rules to all of ’em! I suppose that had something to do with my objection to so many of them, now. Seems like a better way to get through life, too. Moderation? We don’t need no stinking moderation! But somehow I don’t think I’m disagreeing with anybody here so far.

  19. True for you and me, Caitlin, on our local individual scale. But there are two problems with this game: (a) even on a local scale, some other people have completely different goals, such as accumulating money and power; and (b) on a global/national/international scales the objective is typically accumulation of power, exploiting resources, animals, and people; dominating the world, etc., which apparently leads to the extinction of mankind (and all we can do in that game is to watch, understand, and predict). The only little hope we have (in that game, on all scales) is that the people will recognize their mass power, will understand that we must behave as a fair society of linked individuals (as you describe) simply for the survival of the human species, which is (or should have been) the ultimate objective. In other words, for the simple sake of survival, capitalism in its current form leads to extinction, while some form of socialism leads to the survival of our species.

    1. It’s almost like the little plastic boxes we keep staring at aren’t going to save us.

    2. Well said and I agree. I would add that A sustainable future is the only viable alternative we have IMO.

      We are part of a global epiphany, that Life is short so dont waste it, that Life is too short for conflict, too sweet for greed, too precious to squander when there is plenty for everyone! Life is too important to leave to corporations, governments, or others with an anti-sustainable agenda.

      And that Life is sacred, dont endanger it, that Life is hard, dont make it harder for any life form.

      We could have a Utopia is we worked at it instead of war and waste.

    3. BB Benderhaus Avatar
      BB Benderhaus

      The biggest fallacy of socialism is believing everyone will follow the rules. Lions dont share with mice. The biggest fallacy of capitalism is believing there are rules where no exist. When dog eats dog, some have to get eaten. True enlightenment is accepting reality and learning how to cope.

  20. Isaac Asimov: The meaning of Life is Life and the pure pleasure of being. Seems right.

    I would add: The meaning of Life is more Life, and the awareness of the paradox of it.
    I am an individual in one instance, exploring the world I find myself in,
    and part of a vast web, connected in a multitude of way, in the next instance. I come from bacteria, and am covered in it now, they live in my mouth, stomach and intestines, in fact digests my food.

    Caitlin, I resonate with this vibration of a dawning, and I pray for a global epiphany that we do not have to accept pain, suffering, hostility, destruction, power plays by a tiny minority.

    Let us nurture the future we want to see!

    1. I somewhat agree, that the meaning of life, is life itself, and to me that means to live and to experience this life, to feel the connection to all that lives on this earth of which we are all a part of. It’s really a real pity that there are people who don’t seem to understand and respect life. As we are all temporary visitors to this existence, so why can’t we see and realise this
      reality as it is. We can never hold onto anything in this life, we simply arrive then leave when done.

      1. As Heraclitus pointed out, every phenomenon is in motion toward its opposite (summer to winter, day to night, disease to health – or death -, war to peace etc. and vice-versa) and the only permanent thing is change.

        1. Though I agree that change happens with most things in this life, it is however the unchanging that holds the greatest mystery.

          1. Nothing is unchanging. It’s just a question of time.

            1. Aside from the unchanging physical laws that govern this universe and hold it together, I would say that certain view points never seem to change.

              1. thorsjackhammer Avatar

                Practically everything is changing. Laws of physics being one exception.

                1. Except for the one underlying aspect of yourself that remains constant throughout your entire life, like a thread, that is knowing and unchanging.

  21. You might find, that the game is a coop- game and you cannot solve it on your own.
    You will certainly find that it is a massively multiplayer survival game.
    You likely will find, that different solutions for similar forms of progress in the game exist.
    You may find, that ingame chat can be annoying, trivial, fun, helpful and pivotal all at the same time.
    You might get to the conclusion, that new ways to tackle problems advance the game.
    You might see, that more players using individual solutions, actually helps everybody.
    You will learn, that there are hardcore players as well as casual players.


  22. Possible outcomes for the scorpion and the frog:

    1) The scorpion kills the frog because it is in its nature;
    2) The scorpion honors the frog’s deal and he will kill the first innocent crossing its path;
    3) The scorpion will (not) kill the frog;
    4) The scorpion will (not) kill anyone;
    5) The scorpion will (not) kill anything;
    6); 7); 8); etc etc etc

    So, in real environments, one action can lead no numerous outcomes and possibilities coming from that action. Games are controlled virtual environments following scripts which will not deviate from the course of narrow’s screenplay-timeline.
    Awareness requires quite a lot stress-suffering-anxiety. The human brain can freak out and go mental or it will endure while crossing infinite possibilities unfolding from one action and we got a lot of daily actions.

  23. Beautifully expressed.

  24. When you are enjoying life the purpose of it is self evident, surely?

  25. Beautifully expressed. In my limited, but hopefully evolving, opinion

  26. My world paradigm is that consciousness is the fundamental stuff of existence. This stuff is different than being conscious of. (and it’s not really stuff) It’s just purely conscious, consciousness in and of itself, before being conscious of. That’s what I perceive as the essential nature and source of all beings and ultimately even of all matter. The magical role of human beings is that we are the ability of pure consciousness to be aware of itself.

    Because pure consciousness is the source and stuff of life, being “conscious of”, or ,”aware of” and the expansion of that, in its infinitely varied dimensions is intimately connected with the essence of life itself. Expanding awareness, learning, knowing, feeling are all movements toward the nature of life itself.

    Moments of insights about this nature of life unfortunately cause religions to confuse pure consciousness with “conscious of”, then personify it, and next thing you know there’s a knowing white man judging and dictating where it’s ok and not ok to put a penis and a multitude of other judgements that have nothing to do with the actual nature of life and consciousness.

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