Consciousness is the inner spark or inner link in us, the golden link within us that connects our highest and most illumined part with our lowest and most unillumined part. Consciousness is the connecting link between Heaven and earth. Now, where is Heaven? It is not upstairs or somewhere far away. Heaven is in our consciousness. But it is the divine consciousness that connects earth with Heaven. The ordinary human consciousness will only connect us with something very, very limited and, at the same time, very fleeting. For one second we will be able to focus our consciousness on another person, and then our concentration disappears. But when we deal with the inner consciousness, which is the boundless, illumined, transformed consciousness, then our focus of concentration can go on, go on, go on.
It is not that only spiritual people have divine consciousness. Ordinary people have it also, but in them it is dormant. If they would concentrate, meditate and contemplate properly, this consciousness would come forward, and then they would have a free access to the soul, which is all Light, Peace and Bliss.
Consciousness is only one. It houses silence and it houses power. When it houses silence, at that time it houses its own true form. When it houses power, at that time it manifests its inner reality. A portion of the infinite consciousness that has entered into the gross physical and is possessed and used by the physical itself, we call the physical consciousness, the vital consciousness and the mental consciousness. In these there is a tiny portion of the infinite consciousness, but it is not the pure infinite consciousness that we speak of.
The eternal soul and the infinite consciousness must go together. They have a common friend, or you can say, a common father, and that is life, eternal life. One complements the other. The soul expresses its divinity through consciousness, and consciousness expresses its all-pervading power or silence through the soul.
Consciousness and the soul can never be separated, whereas the body can easily be separated from consciousness. What we, in our human life, call consciousness is usually only a feeling. When we perceive something subtle, immediately we call it consciousness, but it is not consciousness at all; it is a very subtle desire. We enter into the desire and immediately feel that this is our consciousness. Everything which is subtle in us and which we cannot define with words, we call consciousness; but consciousness is something totally different.
Awareness and consciousness are also two totally different things. If I talk with someone or mix with someone, then my mind becomes aware of his qualities. That is awareness. But consciousness is not a mental awareness or understanding. Consciousness is an inner revelation or an inner state of being. It is something infinitely deeper and more inward than awareness.
Human vs. Divine Consciousness
Human consciousness is made up primarily of limitation, imperfection, bondage and ignorance. This consciousness wants to remain here on earth. It gets joy in the finite: in family, in society, in earthly affairs. Divine consciousness is made up of Peace, Bliss, divine Power and so forth. Its nature is to expand constantly. Human consciousness feels there is nothing more important than earthly pleasure. Divine consciousness feels there is nothing more important and significant than heavenly Joy and Bliss on earth. Human consciousness tries to convince us that we are nowhere near Truth or fulfilment. It tries to make us feel that God is somewhere else, millions of miles away from us. But divine consciousness makes us feel that God is right here, inside each life-breath, inside each heartbeat, inside everyone and everything around us.
Human consciousness makes us feel that we can exist without God. When it is in deep ignorance, human consciousness feels that there is no necessity for God. We see millions and billions of people who do not pray or meditate. They feel, “If God exists, well and good. If He does not exist, we don’t lose anything.” Although they may use the term ‘God’ in season and out of season, they do not care for the reality, the existence of God either in Heaven or in their day-to-day earthly lives. But the divine consciousness is not at all like that. Even the limited divine consciousness that we have makes us feel that at every moment there is a supreme necessity for God. It makes us feel that we are on earth precisely because He exists. And when we cherish divine thoughts, the divine consciousness makes us feel it is He who is inspiring us to cherish these divine ideas. In everything the divine consciousness makes us feel that there is a divine purpose, divine aim, divine ideal, divine goal. In ordinary human consciousness there is no purpose, no positive goal; it is only a mad elephant running amuck. In the divine consciousness there is always a goal, and this goal is always transcending itself. Today we regard one thing as our goal, but when we reach the threshold of our goal, immediately we are inspired to go beyond that goal. That goal becomes a stepping-stone to a higher goal. This happens because God is constantly transcending Himself. God is limitless and infinite, but even His own Infinity He is transcending. Since God is always making progress, we also are making progress when we are in the divine consciousness. In the divine consciousness, everything is constantly expanding and growing into higher and more fulfilling Light.
Planes of Consciousness
If you can meditate deeply, each plane of consciousness will present itself before you. Just in a flash it will come and present itself to you. The seven main planes of consciousness are like seven rungs of a ladder. As we aspire sincerely and soulfully, we climb up the ladder rung by rung. Or you can say that there is a tree with seven branches, and our consciousness is like a bird that flies from one branch to another. When you are seated on one branch, you can see the next branch which is a little higher. Then, when you climb up to that one, you will see another one, which is still higher. Similarly, when you are making progress in the inner world, you will see these different planes, each one higher than the other. But when you are at the top of the tree, you are at a place where there is no limit, no distance above you. At that time, you are looking at the sky and you forget that the tree even has branches.
Right now if you try to learn about the seven planes of consciousness, your knowledge will be all mental and theoretical, a matter of curiosity. You feel that by knowing the seven planes of consciousness, or by concentrating on them, you will make rapid progress. But I wish to say that at this stage in your development it is not advisable for you to think of them or meditate on them. Always do the first thing first. Right now only pay attention to your own aspiration. For a sincere seeker, what is of paramount importance is conscious and constant aspiration. This conscious and constant aspiration can alone lead you to the destined Goal. Try to ask yourself this most significant question: “Am I ready to cry for God, the Supreme?” As a child cries to the mother for food, so also you have to cry to the Supreme for Nectar. And if you can drink Nectar from Him, then you will be energised and your consciousness will be immortalised.
The Three Main States of Consciousness
There are three main states of consciousness: jagriti, swapna and sushupti. Jagriti is the waking state, swapna is the dream state and sushupti is the state of deep sleep. When we are in the waking state, our consciousness is focused outward; when we are in the dream state, our consciousness is turned inward; when we are in the state of deep sleep, our consciousness is roaming in the Beyond.
When we are in the waking state, the identification that we make with anything or anyone is vaishwanara, that which is common to all men. When we are in the dream state, we identify with tejasa, which is our inner brilliant capacity, our inner vigour. And when we enter into deep sleep, there we identify with and experience the subtle. In this third state it is not the mental consciousness, not the intellectual consciousness, but the inner, intuitive consciousness that we deal with. In sushupti there is no collective form; everything is indefinite. It is all infinite mass. In this state we get an experience of a very high order.
There is also a fourth state, turiya, which means the transcendental consciousness. This consciousness is neither outward nor inward; at the same time, it is both outward and inward. It is and it is not. It has the capacity to identify itself with anything and everything in the world and, again, it has the capacity to transcend anything and everything on earth. Furthermore, it constantly transcends itself. Turiya is the highest state of consciousness, but there is no end, no fixed limit, to the turiya consciousness. It is constantly transcending, transcending its own beyond.
The turiya state is like being at the top of a tree. When we are at the foot of a tree, with great difficulty we see a little bit of what is around us; but when we are at the top of the tree, we see everything around and below. So when we enter into the turiya state, we have to feel that we have entered into the highest plane of consciousness. From there we can observe everything.
In order to enter into the turiya state, for at least five or ten minutes every day we have to consciously separate our body from our soul. We have to say and feel, “I am not the body; I am the soul.” When we say, “I am the soul,” immediately the qualities of the soul come to the fore. When we are one with the soul, that state is a kind of samadhi. We can function in that particular state safely and effectively.
Nirvikalpa samadhi is also a state of the soul. When we have become one with the soul and are enjoying the eternal Peace, Bliss and Light of the soul, this is called nirvikalpa samadhi. In this state there is no thought. The cosmic play has ended; there is absolute Peace and Bliss.
In sahaja samadhi, while we are meditating, thoughts may be taking form in us, but we are not disturbed by them. In ordinary life we are disturbed by thoughts, but when we are in sahaja samadhi with the waking consciousness, although the earth sends a variety of thoughts from various angles, we are not disturbed by them.
“The Summits of God-Life: Samadhi and Siddhi” by Sri Chinmoy