At least three times this weekend, both online and off, I got into conversations with people about the word metanoia. The link is to its Wikipedia entry, which provides a succinct look at the different ways in which this delicious Greek word can be understood.
Is metanoia about repentance (stopping doing things that are unloving, addictive/abusive, inimical to the grace of God), or is it about entering into a new mind: a heightened consciousness, a spiritual quantum leap?
I don’t think the answer to this question has to be either/or. In fact, I think Christian mysticism is all about how metanoia is a both/and proposition. Christian metanoia means both repentance and higher consciousness.
One of the persons I spoke with this weekend does a lot of dream work, and when I mentioned this idea that metanoia involved entering into higher consciousness, he asked “but what about the unconscious?” gesturing with his hands to show that he (like I) recognizes the body as the “location” of unconsciousness.
“The unconscious is still part of consciousness, it’s just consciousness at a different level of awareness,” I replied. “We need to get away from any dualistic ideas that separate consciousness from unconsciousness.”