THEOSOPHY, Vol. 60, No. 11, September, 1972
(Pages 331-334; Size: 12K)

STATES OF CONSCIOUSNESS(1)

The Future is only a word for the present, not yet come. 

--WILLIAM Q. JUDGE
CONSCIOUSNESS is a condition of the monad, as a result of (embodiment in matter and the dwelling in a physical form. We men must remember that because we do not perceive any signs, which we can recognise, of consciousness, say, in stones, we have no right to say that no consciousness exists there. Everything in the Universe, throughout all its kingdoms, is CONSCIOUS: i.e., endowed with a consciousness of its own kind and on its own plane of perception.

What is Time, for instance, but the panoramic succession of our states of consciousness? Our ideas on duration and time are all derived from our sensations according to the laws of Association. Mind is a name given to the sum of the states of consciousness grouped under Thought, Will and Feeling. Matter, after all, is nothing else than the sequence of our own states of consciousness, and Spirit an idea of psychic intuition. It must not be forgotten that we give names to things according to the appearances they assume for ourselves.

The question while dealing with what earth-men call Time does not touch the real meaning of time itself, that is, of what may be in fact for this solar system the ultimate order, precedence, succession, and length of moments. It is a question which may be answered in respect to our time, but not certainly in respect to the time on the planet Mercury, for instance, where time is not the same as ours, nor, indeed, in respect to time as conceived by the soul.

Everything is relative in this Universe, everything is an illusion. But the experience of any plane is an actuality for the percipient being, whose consciousness is on that plane; though the said experience, regarded from the purely metaphysical standpoint, may be conceived to have no objective reality. There is a world of beings known to the Indians as that of the Devas, whose inhabitants can produce illusions of a character the description of which would throw our wildest romances into the shade. These illusions may last for five minutes and seem as a thousand years, or they may extend over ten thousand actual years. Into this world the purest theosophist, the most spiritual man or woman, may go without consent, unless the knowledge and power are possessed which prevent it.

The pure object apart from consciousness is unknown to us, while living on the plane of our three dimensional World; as we know only the mental states it excites in the perceiving Ego. So long as the contrast of Subject and Object endures -- to wit, as long as we enjoy our five senses and no more, and do not know how to divorce our all-perceiving Ego (the Higher Self) from the thraldom of these senses -- so long will it be impossible for the personal Ego to break through the barrier which separates it from a knowledge of things in themselves (or Substance).

That Ego, progressing in an arc of ascending subjectivity, must exhaust the experiences of every plane. The divine spark in man being one and identical in its essence with the Universal Spirit, our "spiritual Self" is practically omniscient, but it cannot manifest its knowledge owing to the impediments of matter. Man is a correlation of spiritual powers, as well as a correlation of chemical and physical forces, brought into function by what we call "principles."

As we rise in the scale of development we perceive that during the states through which we have passed we mistook shadows for realities, and the upward progress of the Ego is a series of progressive awakenings, each advance bringing with it the idea that now, at last, we have reached "reality." But only when we shall have reached the absolute Consciousness, and blended our own with it, shall we be free from the delusions produced by Maya. Immortality is but one's unbroken consciousness; the personal consciousness can hardly last longer than the personality itself.

The more these impediments are removed, in other words, the more the physical body is paralysed, as to its own independent activity and consciousness, as in deep sleep or deep trance, or, again, in illness, the more fully can the inner Self manifest itself on this plane. Our philosophy teaches us that, as there are seven fundamental forces in nature, and seven planes of being, so there are seven states of consciousness in which man can live, think, remember, and have his being. As to the physical consciousness, as it is a quality of the sentient but lower "principle" (Kama-rupa or animal instinct, illuminated by the lower manasic reflection), or the human soul -- it must disappear.

There is but one real man, enduring through the cycle of life and immortal in essence, if not in form, and this is Manas, the Mind-born or embodied Consciousness. The "principles," save the body, the life, and the astral eidolon, all of which disperse at death, are simply aspects and states of consciousness. Man, philosophically considered, is, in his outward form, a living body, not a living being; since the realization of existence, the "Ego-Sum," necessitates self-consciousness, and an animal can have only direct consciousness, or instinct. In Occultism every qualificative change in the state of our consciousness gives to man a new aspect, and if it prevails and becomes part of the living and acting Ego, it must be (and is) given a special name, to distinguish the man in that particular state from the man he is when he places himself in another state.

Spiritual mind (the upper portion or aspect of the impersonal MANAS) takes no cognizance of the senses in physical man. There are two distinct beings in man, the spiritual and the physical, the man who thinks, and the man who records as much of these thoughts as he is able to assimilate. Therefore we divide him into two distinct natures: the upper or the spiritual being, composed of three "principles" or aspects; and the lower or the physical quaternary, composed of four -- in all seven. In dream life we have a different set of senses: we feel, talk, hear, see, taste and function in general on a different plane; the change of state of our consciousness being evidenced by the fact that a series of acts and events embracing years, as we think, pass ideally through our mind in one instant. That extreme rapidity of our mental operation in dreams, and the perfect naturalness, for the time being, of all the other functions, show us that we are on quite another plane.

Hear what Coleridge says with respect to the probability that "all thoughts are in themselves imperishable." "If the intelligent faculty (sudden 'revivals' of memory) should be rendered more comprehensive, it would require only a different and appropriate organization, the body celestial instead of the body terrestrial, to bring before every human soul the collective experience of its whole past existence (existences, rather)." And this body celestial is our Manasic EGO. We may paraphrase verse v, in the first chapter of St. John, and say "and (Absolute) light (which is darkness) shineth in darkness (which is illusionary material light); and the darkness comprehendeth it not."

There can be no manifestation of Consciousness or semi-consciousness, except through the vehicle of matter. That is to say, on this our plane, wherein human consciousness in its normal state cannot soar beyond what is known as transcendental metaphysics, it is only through some molecular aggregation or fabric that Spirit wells up in a stream of individual or subconscious subjectivity. Consciousness implies limitations and qualifications; something to be conscious of, and someone to be conscious of it. But Absolute Consciousness contains the cognizer, the thing cognized and the cognition, all three in itself and all three one.

Believing in seven planes of Kosmic being and states of Consciousness, with regard to the Universe or the Macrocosm, we stop at the fourth plane, finding it impossible to go with any degree of certainty beyond. But with respect to the Microcosm, or man, we speculate freely on his seven states and principles. The three upper are the three higher planes of Consciousness, revealed and explained in the Kabalistic and the Eastern schools only to the Initiates; the lower ones represent the four lower planes -- the lowest being our plane, or the visible Universe. These seven planes correspond to the seven states of consciousness in man. It remains with him to attune the three higher states in himself to the three higher planes in Kosmos. Before he can attempt to attune, he must awaken the three "seats" to life and activity.


COMPILER'S NOTE: The following is a separate item which followed the above article but was on the same page. I felt it was useful to include it here:

GARMENTS OF THE SOUL

And when his body falleth off altogether, as an old fish-shell, his soul doeth well by the releasing, and formeth a new one instead. ... Ye who now lament to go out of this body wept also when ye were born into it. ... The person of man is only a mask which the soul putteth on for a season; it weareth its proper time and then is cast off, and another is worn in its stead. ... I tell you, of a truth, that the spirits which now have affinity shall be kindred together, although they all meet in new persons and names. 


--The New Koran

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