In a layman’s terms, we generally know only one state of consciousness we experience in our daily life – which is the physical consciousness. However, there are many stages of consciousness that we are completely unaware of. Hence, this post we shall see the seven stages of consciousness.
This is a stage of deep sleep, that begins with very few active cells surrounded by inactive cells from both the sides. Hence, any knowledge received at this stage is not reliable because due to the majority of inactive cells that make it difficult for a man to receive and retain the object’s memory.
Simply put in percentages approximately, we get 15% for the active consciousness and 85% for the inactive. Again, this main stage is sub-divided into three minor ones which differ from each other in degrees, though they all follow under the same class. They are:
- Ordinary sleep
- Animal sleep or the mesmerized state of sleep
- The Deep state of sleep
Even in deep sleep, the consciousness is continuous, it is only that the physical mechanism fails to respond to it. It is not broken, or else to make the same man out of him would become impossible. In sleep, the world-consciousness has ceased and also the self-consciousness to a certain extent. It is both voluntary and involuntary, according to the situation, but the average is involuntary. The general property of this state is dull. It is also inwardly alert to attend any reasonable call.
The second stage of inner consciousness is known as Swapna Bhumika or the state of dreams. The underlying consciousness is a little more active than it is in deep sleep. And, though the physical activity has been stopped, the grosser senses are still seen busy with their finer manifestation. The dreams pass in succession in which the man himself becomes the creator and the actor of his creative phenomenon.
The man often loses the control over his finer mind and, consequently, it works out of the center. The main energy is diffused in picturing the various conditions that often forms a scene – a very peculiarly individual, mixed with the latent memories of both past and the present, painted with vivid imaginations that correspond to his present development.
The consciousness has 25% of active cells and 75% of inactive ones. The majority is still greater on the inactive side. The consciousness is still uncontrolled and the condition is still involuntary. It is not self-conscious. The hypnotized condition of a subject is nothing else but the involuntary consciousness forced on his outer mind with certain suggestions for his sensual impressions.
We sometimes forget what we saw in our dreams. Why? it is because the consciousness is not so developed to retain and reproduce the memories of those pictures. And, when we have a certain amount of consciousness even in the dream state, we remember it is our awakening. We forget those dreams which have a low percentage of consciousness.
This is the most common and natural condition of our being. This is a normal state of wakefulness – the state that we originally call conscious. It develops out of the second state of Swapna. When the activity of the cells is increased a little, we come to the physical state of consciousness. The energy is seen manifested through the various outlets – the physical organs of sense. It is the condition in which we walk, eat and perform the physical duties. The perception becomes clear because of the expansion of consciousness. It is the ordinary living state of a man which the Yogis know as Jagruta Bhumika.
But, even in this wakeful state, there are minor stages also which correspond to the more or fewer degrees of consciousness. Hence, Mudha or the state of blank wakefulness falls, no doubt, under this physical consciousness but there are no thoughts, no sending and receiving of vibrations. It is because the inner mind is still involuntary. The outer of the lower mind has become active so as to attend to the physical consciousness but, at the same time, it is not guided by the higher mind. Ksipta or the wandering state of mind is also physically conscious and the man knows, to a certain extent, what happens to his body. But, still, his activity of consciousness is uncontrolled. The cells that are active work involuntarily.
The true mediumistic state of consciousness in which the active and the inactive states are equibalanced is a state which is higher than the condition of mere wakefulness. So this stage is 45% active and 55% inactive. The second move of 5% more consciousness forms mathematically the real state of balance. And, while there is a good deal of world consciousness in this state, there is less of self-consciousness proportion.
The condition of Vicharana or the thinking attitude develops out of the normal consciousness of a being. A man enters a certain region of thought voluntarily – the active cells are directed by him towards something – a thought or thoughts he is concerned with, and thinking with imagination, reasoning with consciousness follows. Sometimes, it is imaginary but imaginary with control.
The thoughts come one after another in succession and thus the energy of the active cells is utilized in constructing thoughts. We know that a thought is a force in the same sense as a blow of an axe on the tree. The difference is that one is physical and the other mental. But, they both have vibrations. It is the activity of the cells, that is used to form thoughts and send out vibrations. Under certain circumstances, they affect the physical world and manifest themselves into actions. But, the thoughts that have been actualized still have their vibrations moving in the infinite space. This is how we create our destiny at every moment.
There are about 55% of active cells against 45% inactive ones. The state is mostly voluntary. It’s minor condition of deep imagination forms just the opposite of a dream – state. In this, he creates pictures for himself, according to his taste and development. He sees himself flying in an airplane, when in reality he may be sitting in his room. Now, the dream state is an activity of the lower mind, mostly involuntary. How these different conditions are produced is a great question of vibrations. But, it must be remembered that this state of imagination is different from that of real thinking.
The fifth stage of consciousness is known to the Yogis as the state of Ekagrahta or one-pointedness. It is what we generally know as the state of concentration. Here the cells are not merely active but are also little self-conscious. The inner mind has also become active, and consequently, the lower mind gets under control. The wandering has stopped along with the imagination and thinking. All their energy is centered on a certain fixed point and then the investigation follows. The mind first tries to analyze the thought and brings into memory all that is concerned with it. Then follows the research and the creative work. Imaginations do occur but to a limited extent. The activity is voluntary and properly used. Moreover, the conscious cells are not only directed to form thoughts as in the case of Vicharna but are also focused on a definite object. The world-consciousness disappears because the activity is transmitted to self-consciousness. The percentage of active cells is seventy, while the inactive cells, is thirty. Hence, the majority is consciousness.
The continuation of the fifth stage of Ekagrahta to a still finer state of concentration is known as Dhyanastha Bhumika or the state of deep meditation. It is very nearly the opposite stage of sleep. It is the most voluntary form of composure where the active cells are directly under the control of the will.
The world-consciousness has ceased as in the case of sleep, but with a corresponding increase of self-consciousness. It is because the cells are active and not dull. The individuality seems to fade away slowly in the object of concentration and the progress of merging begins, though it is not actually complete. Now truth reveals itself from within, due to the majority of the active cells which embrace the universal consciousness – the store of all knowledge and light. Both the internal and external activities are concentrated on that point, which forms the nucleus around which they evolve. The vibrations linger for reaction within their own circumference, having no outlet for their manifestation.
In this state, “The molecules of the mental body are thrown in a very high state of vibration, though the body in all appearance is in perfect calm. This vibration of the molecules of the mental body becomes rhythmic. The swing of the vibration lies between one-pointedness and all-pointedness, between the contraction to a point and expansion to embrace a whole universe. Even what is called one-pointedness is itself a state of utmost activity. When the mind is one-pointed it does not mean that one idea is indelibly impressed upon the mind like an engraving on a stone, but that the mind is working so quickly that the image of one is formed in no time as it were, destroyed in no time, and formed again. This quick succession of the same form is one-pointedness. In ordinary states, one idea is followed by another idea. In one-pointedness, the same idea vanishes and reappears again and again. Thus, what is called fixing the mind to a thought is really making the mind reproduce one thought over and over again, in the utmost quickness of succession, without the intrusion of any foreign thought.
And, though this state apparently seems to be one of inactivity both of mind and body, it is, in reality, the most active state of cells which is involuntarily controlled for a definite purpose. The proportion of the active cells to inactive is approximately eighty to twenty. So, the consciousness, mostly the self-consciousness, has expanded decidedly.
This state of self-consciousness is the most highly developed state of perception in which the subject and the object becomes one. The thing to know and the knower come before each other and unite in higher consciousness. We often know this as a state of realization. Walt Whitman had the experience of this stage once in his life. Tennyson also refers to such a personal experience of realization. This opportunity comes but once in life and to retain it becomes impossible. But, the impressions left, by this realization are always present. Tagore had this realization in his early days, and it is the experience of this stage that he tries to give out in some of his poems.
Sometimes through chance, sometimes through pure natural life, but mostly through the conscious development of inner life, this stage of self-consciousness is realized. And, though it is not the same perfect stage of union or the Brahma Yoga in which the extinction of individuality through the perfection of self-consciousness is complete, so as not to allow any physical connection after the stage, still its experience is most extraordinary for absolutely turning the current of life – physically, mentally and spiritually.
After this realization, he returns to the physical world because of the ten percent of the inactive cells which keep him attached to his body. His individual soul is not free from the sheath but is still in the physical body. He experiences the delight of realization – the joy that is beyond expression; but it is not permanent. The union is neither wholly complete nor substantial.
The yoga practices help us to attain this stage most scientifically and retain it for any length of time we desire. It is the quickening process for the knowledge of the self, systematized by the rational application of the laws of the unfolding of consciousness. It is not that only the mystic is entitled to enjoy this state, it is also the common property of the layman. The system of yoga teaches him to attain it not through emotions, as in the case of a mystic, but through a regular course of conscious unfoldment. Thus, an ordinary layman can also become a mystic by following the system through any of the branches, instead of taking that chance of nature that the mystic does. That is why the yoga methods are so intelligently and scientifically arranged to suit any grade of aspirant as the case may be, beginning with the easy exercise of the body and the mind, and proceeding to the highest unfoldment of realization.
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