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Four States of Consciousness

States of Consciousness are similar to the way States of Matter (solid, liquid, gas, plasma, etc.) are defined in physics - that is, the states are a spectrum of the qualitative changes in 'energy', demarcated by relative 'degrees of freedom' in organizational complexity. There are four States of Consciousness:


1. Organic-Sleep Consciousness


Our ordinary sleep - organic in nature - is a complete mystery, although it takes up about a third of our life. There is no fundamental physiological reason for sleep, only that if we do not sleep, it results in functional disruption in a few days, and ultimately death if left longer than that.

Too much sleep, or too little, or none at all, and we become dysfunctional or die. For the body, unconsciousness is just as important to its life as consciousness.

The key characteristic of organic-sleep is one's complete identification with the contents (dreams) of consciousness and commensurate loss of self-identity.


When consciousness begins to disembark from the physical body, there is nothing to anchor the energies of the mind if one has not developed sufficient, inner infrastructure (Soul formation). We are lost in dreams, consumed with wherever our mental associations take us.

 

There are a number of spiritual exercises that help to make sense of the questions of organic sleep. These questions include: What makes us go to sleep? Why are we never conscious of moving into unconsciousness? Where does our consciousness go when we do sleep? What brings our consciousness back to allow us to wake up? The results of these exercises shed light on the nature of the 'Will of Action', the 'Power of Attention' and the 'Field of Consciousness'.

 

For most people, organic sleep is the only opportunity for their consciousness to be still enough to automatically process some of the impressions received during the waking cycle. This processing is always haphazard (often disturbing) until some degree of conscious intention is brought to bear to help 'order' or 'place' or 'integrate' the impressions within the data of the Soul.


If impressions are unable to be 'digested' consciously, there is significant risk that this food - used for Soul formation - becomes spoiled and must be eliminated (or rendered inert) through specific spiritual exercises so as not to produce harmful effects.


2. Waking-Sleep Consciousness


Waking-Sleep (or what is commonly called our 'waking-consciousness') is almost identical to organic-sleep except the movement of our bodies are no longer deactivated. This is akin to 'sleep-walking'.


There is a significant risk that our 'waking-dream-states' (constant imaginings and fantasies) manifest into unconscious action or that we just drift through life on 'auto-pilot', simply 'going through the motions'.


While there is a greater probability that the movement of our bodies can provide a semi-automatic stimulus (through sensory shocks of all kinds) to anchor the energies of the mind, experience shows that most often it is not strong enough.


This is because the degree of freedom we have in waking-dreams is immense - we can fantasy about doing anything or being anyone - and contributes to their allure in keeping us from experiencing reality.

 

There are a plethora of spiritual exercises that can easily validate our 'somnambulistic' mode of existence. If the results of these exercises don't terrify you, it is also confirmation that you are already dead inside.

 

Waking-dreams are generated through the unproductive use of the transformation of creative (or sexual) energy ( Gurdjieff's Exioëhary) into 'Piandjoëhary' (the fuel of creative imagination) that helps explain the 'slave-like-power' that fantasies can have over people.


3. Subjective (Self) Consciousness


When the field of consciousness begins to concentrate around a 'self' (the subject of consciousness), a separation begins between the 'witness' of the contents of one's consciousness and the contents of consciousness itself. This demarcates the emergence of an 'I' - the center mass of Being or the scaffold of individuality - a critical property in the development of a Soul.

 

Public speaking is the number one phobia. The infusion of energy from multitudes of people paying (transmitting) attention to the public speaker can raise the speaker's level of consciousness. For those unaccustomed to it, an increase of self-consciousness increases the awareness of any pre-existing anxieties, fidgets, and deficiencies - causing a feedback loop that only amplifies them. This, then, is the true phobia - the phobia of seeing myself as I am and not as I imagine myself to be.

 

For most people, self-consciousness is fleeting or comes in flashes. It almost always begins in the intellect as the 'seeing' of one's thoughts.


But if there is any hope of a fully articulated and coherent self-consciousness - one that can embrace the entirety of one's Being to enable 'self-remembering' - the initiation of self-consciousness must move into the energy of the feelings and the sensations of the body.

Self-remembering is the key to the First Liberation, the liberation from oneself.

4. Objective (Cosmic) Consciousness


When the field of consciousness begins to 'look out' from the 'I', and is strong and structured enough to embrace not only the contents of one's own consciousness but towards the universe itself, something can 'look back'.

 

Objective Consciousness belongs to the mystical experiences of the perennial wisdom. It is cosmic because it is beyond the language of concepts - just as any language describing 'hunger' or 'thirst' can never capture these experiences unless you've had them.

 

When a connection, a relationship is established between the 'I' of one's own consciousness and the particles of consciousness that exists 'outside', a new feeling can arise that transforms understanding and refines perceptions.

What is truly seen can never be unseen.

In Objective Consciousness, I begin to concretely recognize that 'my' consciousness is not mine at all - like the air that I breath is not mine - but shared by all.

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