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States of Consciousness
Update: Ive rewritten and updated this article here.
It is quite common for people writing about enlightenment to mingle different distinct states of
consciousness. Different views of reality. There are a number of reasons for this. Human development
is not a tidy process, so many people have mixed experiences, tastes of much higher states along with
what is established. Many people write of their experience before they are fully established, mixing
values. If they have no context or framework, descriptions will tend to be far more subjective. Whole
traditions are founded on first awakening. Some dont move past that, especially if they dont know
there is more.
One of the keys to understand is that states of awakening are about being, not experience. While
experiences can offer tastes and symptoms of development, they are not being.
In the early 70!s when I first began reading about consciousness, it was still a young field in the west.
There was no Internet, just a mixture of speculative books and ancient hard-to-read texts. Buckes old
book Cosmic Consciousness was a key for many but it tosses experiences and awakening together in a
basket. Without a framework, there is a missing western nomenclature for the process, everyone
coming up with different definitions for fundamental terms like consciousness or cosmic. As science
has lacked tools for a systematic study of awareness, its been relegated to an effect.
A small book I read around then was Anthony Campbells Seven States of Consciousness. It was based
on Maharishi Mahesh Yogis teaching which was in turn based on ancient Vedic understanding. It was
the first to offer me a framework for experiences and the nature of the process of opening.
The states were as follows with additional remarks by me:
1) Sleep state dreamless, mind & ego asleep.
2) Dream state REM sleep, mind is active, body asleep.
3) Waking state typical reality
In some ways, these first three are really states of mind within a single state of consciousness.
4) Transcendental Consciousness a state of restful alertness where the mind is awake but quiet,
silent but alert. May be experienced less clearly as a blank spot. Typically arises in meditation but can
come up almost anywhere. Characterized by cessation of breath (automatically) and brain wave sync.
Stepping into and out of this state one may experience a wave of happiness. We are said to step into
this momentarily each time we change states above, like a neutral gear. Has been established by
scientific research, with a fully definable unique physiology.
22/07/2014 01:47 States of Consciousness - Davidya.ca
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5) Cosmic Consciousness Where Transcendental consciousness becomes full time, beneath
waking, dreaming and sleeping states. The ego idea falls away and we become Self, permanently. We
are a witness or observer to all activity, including deep sleep (when clear). This is also referred to as
first waking or self-realization. [Self Realization can also arise prior to the actual shift in being of CC]
Several recent books talk about the transition; while the shift is distinct, various degrees of clearing
may be required after. Fully established, it is Sat Chit Ananda, absolute bliss consciousness. The
subject of perception is awake but not the object.
6) God Consciousness also called Celestial Con. or God Realization. With time in above states,
finer values of perception develop and the divine heart opens. We come to experience the finest values
of creation; the full mechanics of the story of the world. This is a process of refinement and opening
that does not have its distinct realization until after Unity. [updated] It can begin before first waking
and continues indefinitely. It is the awakening of the object, the bridge to Unity.
7) Unity Consciousness Also Oneness. Characterized by a realization, when the Self is seen in the
object, we realize I am That, Thou Art That, All This is That. (Upanishads) The subject-object duality
collapses, the dream of God is seen through and all illusion ends. It is characterized by the loss of
identity or sense of person, the subconscious driver of the former ego. There is no longer inside and
outside but rather a continuum. The world out there ceases to exist. Many paradoxes are resolved in
the inclusiveness of the One.
Now there are no longer states of consciousness, everything is consciousness itself. But this is not the
end of the evolution of consciousness. At first in Unity, what the attention is on is One, but memory
and other is not. Over time, all becomes one including all past and future. Time collapses into the
moment.
I have heard of 5 more stages above this. How could we possibly describe or relate to realities so
removed from waking state where we live within a dream of a dream of a dream? But we can know that
this is the potential of each one of us and the blessing of a human form. We are said to be in a unique
place on the ladder of evolution that gives us the capacity to move very quickly up this road. But that
same choice allows us to fall into despair.
Of course, the process is not all tidy. Many have big unity experiences long before they reach that level
permanently. Growth and development is ongoing and unique for each of us. But the overall process
and goal is the same for everyone. By goal, I mean the deep silence within, not any state.
Some people are real space cowboys, exploring and experiencing reality in all sorts of ways. If your
path is like that, always remember the source. Everything else is just the dream. If your path is not like
that, dont regret that you may be missing something. Flash is trash and tends to hold people back.
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They may seem to rush forward but often get stuck on a side street.
In my writing, I have often used the word Perspective for State of Consciousness. This is because
each state of consciousness brings with it a unique world view. If we understand that world view, we
can see its reflection throughout life. In the separation of the baby from its mother, in the tribal
behavior of teenagers, and the unity we may experience in love. All of human growth is a mirror of the
process of awakening. It gives us a sense of where we are going and why.
For some people, understating this process is just a mental game, another story to clutter the mind.
Some people are blessed with an easy acceptance of whatever comes along, even a complete change of
reality. But for many, this mysterious road is helped by knowing context. It allows us to allow what is
unfolding and understand what is happening. It helps us to place experiences on a continuum and
assists in validation and understanding.
In the end though, any concept must be shed. Even if a fortune teller gives you an accurate reading of
your future, how it plays out is never what you expect. Such is the nature of the path home. If we are to
continue forward, at each stage we must let something of what we once held true go. But what replaces
it is always better than we possibly could have dreamed. Davidya
[UPDATE] 1 Deepak Chopra refers to the 7 states as coming from Vedanta. After the first 3 he calls
them Soul, Cosmic, Divine, and Unity.
2 It can be noted that the first 3 continue over top of the last 3. One still sleeps and dreams after
awakening. This means that theyre not fully equivalent. In some ways, we could call the first 3 states of
mind over 4 states of consciousness however, we can define 7 stages or primary perspectives. This is
why I prefer that model.
http://davidya.ca/2009/01/19/which-reality-is-which/
3 It can also be useful to think of the first 4 as states of consciousness and the last 3 as Stages of
consciousness. Once the 4th, TC, becomes established, it is pure consciousness and not a state or stage
but rather underlies all others. Thus, 3 states, 3 stages post waking, and consciousness itself.