Just about everything we actively do is on the conscious level. While this is happening on the surface, our body and all its organs are subconsciously being given instructions and messages so that they can function. Not only the body, but the mind is working subconsciously as well, as it filters those impulses that bubble up to our conscious level.

Some of the subconscious level depends on our genes. A memory of past experiences is embedded in our DNA and acts out in instinct.

Some of the subconscious level depends upon our Akashic Records, which is a spiritual and physical memory of all past experiences of human beings, animals, plants and minerals.

But the most important level is the individual karmic past experiences that our subconscious psychically retains and plays out daily.

We can't change our DNA overnight, or the Akashic Records, but what we can change is the karmic influences. This is where we can vastly improve our present life (although there will be lingering old karma that must be played out), and of course change our destiny in subsequent lives. But these changes must be done at the subconscious level.

When we solicit God in prayers for example, or read the Bible, we are using our conscious facilities, i.e., we are conscious of what we are doing. Subconsciously, while all of this is going on, the mind is filtering up impulses and inclinations that will soon become conscious from our DNA, the Akashic Records, and our karma. Therefore, we are slaves to our subconscious, as the subconscious acts like social director, while mistakenly believing that we are in charge of our destiny.

Unfortunately, most religious practices are concerned with only the surface, conscious level; "Be good!" appeals only to our conscious awareness. We will consciously see how a good person acts and attempt to mimic that. No subconscious change takes place where our actions will be naturally good.

When we remain at the conscious level of awareness, we are helpless to change our habit patterns; we keep repeating what we have done in the past. If we are accustomed to lying or dishonesty, we will continue down that path, and when we do this individually, society follows suit. If salespeople are trained to jam their customers (jamming is selling a product at all costs, regardless of the nefarious means employed), society will follow suit, and if these practices are accepted, soon no one will trust anybody.

This jamming results from living only on the conscious level. Short-term considerations such as gain and loss, pleasure and pain, fame and obscurity, and praise and blame are the only ones that are important on the conscious level. These short-term considerations are what the world considers its truths, and this is our substantive problem; that these things are considered truths but are really illusions.

This is the result of operating at a conscious level. Operating at the subconscious level is not considered because few can relate to this level and can only react from it. Therefore, the changes that are possible through the subconscious, which have the power to change the world, cannot be implemented. This is mainly because we haven't been introduced to our subconscious. Our religions fail to not only instruct us on how to access this subconscious and change it, but they actually ignore this area of consciousness because they don't believe that people are ready to do the heavy lifting required to access and alter their subconscious. This would take discipline and sacrifice.

"Skillful means " is a Zen term describing method, a way to introduce practitioners to the subconscious in a way that is interesting and not intimidating. Buddhism generally is dedicated to the development of the subconscious, because Buddhism recognizes that unless changes are made in the subconscious, the conscious mind will only run after pleasure at any cost, and pleasure sought will always lead to pain.

Therefore, the effort involves exploring and understanding the subconscious, which means understanding and letting go of the "self," and this effort must be understood as a long-term benefit. If there is no incentive to explore the subconscious, the mind will remain in its delusions of pleasure seeking, and remain in a constant state of stress. The Buddha therefore, in his first teaching, directed his disciple's attention to life, and the investigation of life. He asked that they study life and see if in fact life involves suffering, and if it does, how would we eliminate that suffering completely.

If life is studied closely, instead of merely basking in it, one can see that life is unpredictable. The other shoe can drop when we least expect it, and we subconsciously feel as though we are living on borrowed time regardless of how good things are going. This is underlying fear. The Buddha said that if we explore our subconscious through the means of discipline, meditation, and the insight thatresults, we can end all of our fears.

Living from a conscious existence promotes underlying fear, simply because a "self" is constructed in the conscious that requires protection and concern. On the other hand, the subconscious, when explored, reveals the falsity of this contrived self. This then frees the conscious from fear and stress.

Therefore, if you ever wonder to yourself what life is all about, know that the answers all lie within the subconscious. All you have to do is access it, and meditation is an excellent way to do that.

Author's Bio: 

E. Raymond Rock of Fort Myers, Florida is cofounder and principal teacher at the Southwest Florida Insight Center, http://www.SouthwestFloridaInsightCenter.com His twenty-nine years of meditation experience has taken him across four continents, including two stopovers in Thailand where he practiced in the remote northeast forests as an ordained Theravada Buddhist monk. His book, A Year to Enlightenment (Career Press/New Page Books) is now available at major bookstores and online retailers. Visit http://www.AYearToEnlightenment.com