There are nominally 7 states of human consciousness. You are well acquainted with 3 states: being awake, being asleep, and dreaming.
You may have experienced what are called “altered states of consciousness,” from taking drugs or drinking alcohol. Such altered states typically dim overall awareness, not brighten it. Psychoactive substances which distort perception are a pathetic attempt at reverie – aiming for mental relief, but always with a toll to pay for a measly respite.
If you were content, you’d make no attempt at altering your consciousness other than needing rest. And you would appreciate being mentally clear.
The 4th state of consciousness is transcendence. The mind is quiet, but the body remains alert. Transcendence is the opposite of dreaming. While dreaming, the mind is telling tales while the body is out of it. Transcendence is the state of consciousness aimed at by practicing meditation.
The 5th state of consciousness is enlightenment. Enlightenment can be considered the waking culmination of meditation: you live with abiding contentment, and with a quieter mind. Note that I said “quieter” mind. To keep you breathing, the mind must be relentlessly persistent. The nattering part of your mind can be trained to pipe down, but it will never give up entirely. The good news is that, in enlightenment, you no longer worry or have to suffer ceaseless mental prattle. Your mental focus is sharp. But your mind will still occasionally try to entertain you.
Enlightened people may be momentarily frustrated or otherwise experience occasional negative feelings, but their natural buoyancy quickly bounces back. What enlightened people don’t do is worry or suffer anxiety. For the most part, enlightened people enjoy life more than those in the Collective, who have minds that prey upon them.
A harbinger of enlightenment is an aura of bliss: the same joy of being alive that is obvious in healthy young children. Bliss settles in as you enlighten yourself.
Enlightenment is major mental milestone.
The 6th state of consciousness is more of a slide forward. In coherence consciousness, you intuitively sense an order to the world; a harmony underlying the apparent cacophony.
Some people who are not enlightened but spiritually inclined speak of “peak experiences,” where they experience a blissful calm and the world seems harmonious. This is a glimpse of life in coherence consciousness.
The ultimate, 7th state of consciousness is unity consciousness, or realization. A realized person ceases being a person and is instead a witness to the life of a mind-body. When someone realized is not mentally engaged, there is a sensed dissociation between consciousness and the mind-body occupied. That may not sound like a good thing but consider the process of mental maturation.
Everything to an immature mind is immediate and concrete. Frustration arises from being absorbed in an object of attention which refuses to bend to one’s will. The emotion of anger kicks in as the intransigent object remains psychologically close.
Psychospace is the mental map of existence; how close or distant an object, action, or event seems to be. The more distant something is construed to be, the more abstractly one thinks of it, and vice versa. Whatever is the focus of attention is always a concrete experience. By contrast, you are only able to logically appraise a situation by a higher-level construal, by having some mental distance.
The process of maturing mentally involves enlarging psychospace. A fully developed mental adult may fluidly switch between the concrete experience of focusing on the task at hand to a more abstracted construal, thereby gaining the high ground to have the proper perspective for impartial analysis. Empathy and compassion are intuitive mental accomplishments, attainable only through abstract construal. To put it mildly, in the state of realized consciousness, one’s psychospace is well adjusted.
There is more benefit to unity consciousness beyond having a well-heeled psychospace. We’ll come back to this topic toward the end of this podcast series.
Next, how to meditate.