Dimensions of Being 

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      As a comprehensive system of metaphysical thought and activity, the Perennial Tradition includes exploration of ontology: the study of being. We have being potentially in three different realms, dimensions, or levels:
  1. Spiritual

  2. Metaphysical

  3. Terrestrial

Level State of Being  Characteristics   Entities   Faculties 

3

Spiritual

Eternal, Unchanging

Forms, Higher Ideas

Higher Consciousness

2

Metaphysical

Intellectual
Nonmaterial

Higher Concepts
Higher Symbols

Higher Intellect
Inspiration, Intuition

1-C

Terrestrial: Conscious

Measurable
Tangible

Persons, Objects,
Concepts

Sensing, Feeling, Thinking, Reasoning

1-B

Terrestrial: Unconscious
Subliminal

Non-rational
Malleable

Images
Symbols

Trance states, Instinct

1-A

Terrestrial: Pre-conscious

Irrational
Ignorant

Undisciplined feelings
Unfounded beliefs

Prejudices
Programmings

     One of the first procedures a philosopher learns is to distinguish between states of being and states of consciousness (compare the chart below with the one above):

State of Consciousness  Characteristics   Capabilities 

Unitive State

Realization of unity with Divinity

Unification awareness, Ecstasy

Higher Consciousness

Discernment of Forms

Higher Intelligence
Philosophical Meditation

Self-Possession
Self-Awareness

Critical thinking
Critical consciousness
Self-control

Reasoning
Informing oneself
Improving oneself

Primary possession by extrinsic 1 personalities and ideologies

Egomania
Mindless pursuit of pleasure
Celebration of ignorance

Unable to think for oneself
Illiteracy (unable to read
and unable to understand)

Total possession by extrinsic
personalities and ideologies

Hysterical blindness
Hysterical deafness
Suicidal behavior

Unable to see or hear
what's happening in the world
Supporting people who are destroying you


      At what level persons have their being determines how much they can perceive and do. Because of the deliberate destruction of education by malevolent forces, most persons today have their being at levels 1-A and 1-B.


Level State of Being  Characteristics   Entities   Faculties 

3

Spiritual

Eternal
Unchanging

Forms
Higher Ideas

Higher Consciousness

2

Metaphysical

Intellectual
Nonmaterial

Higher Concepts
Higher Symbols

Higher Intellect
Inspiration, Intuition

1-C

Terrestrial: Conscious

Measurable
Tangible

Persons, Objects,
Concepts

Sensing, Feeling, Thinking

1-B

Terrestrial: Unconscious

Non-rational
Malleable

Images
Symbols

Trance states, Instinct

1-A

Terrestrial: Pre-conscious

Irrational
Ignorant

Undisciplined feelings
Unfounded beliefs

Prejudices
Programmings

  • Level 1-A represents the level of ignorance of our own ignorance. At level 1-A, the self a person imagines himself to be is nothing more than a concoction of ideas put into him by others--parents, teachers, authority figures--and is not his real self at all.

  • Level 1-B depicts the level of the unconscious, the elements which are unavailable to consciousness, and if contacted through hypnosis or subliminal communication (e.g. television commercials or religious or educational conditioning) can be programmed

  • Level 1-C represents the conscious level, achieved through developing critical thought, critical consciousness (social intelligence), and self-control

     Level Two represents the beginning of awareness, when we catch glimpses of our non-real self and glimmerings of a higher real self. The beginning of the movement to Level Two is when a person discerns the programmed puppet elements in him. He then begins to sense that there is something more real in his being than the conditionings put into him by others and by himself.

     Level three denotes Higher Consciousness, one's Real Self. Higher states of consciousness involve non-ordinary organs of awareness such as Higher Intellect (Thought or Discernment), Higher Feeling (Sentience or Appreciation), Higher Will, Higher Love, and Higher Apperception (Inspiration or Intuition). Each of these states has a counterpart in everyday consciousness: intellect, feeling, will, love, and apperception.

     Most humans are conscious of having being only at the terrestrial level, because they have realized their being at that level exclusively. Persons realize their being at the metaphysical and spiritual levels by working assiduously to become cognizant of these higher dimensions and then learning to act at those levels.

"After much effort, as names, definitions, sights, and other data of sense, are brought into contact and friction one with another, in the course of scrutiny and kindly testing by men who proceed through dialectical interchange, without ill will, with a sudden flash there shines forth understanding about every problem, and an intelligence whose efforts reach the furthest limits of human powers . . . After long continued interchange between teacher and pupil, in joint pursuit of understanding, suddenly a light is kindled in the teacher's soul by a flame that leaps to the student's soul, and thereafter sustains itself."

Plato, Seventh Letter (341c)


     Such awareness is possible only for persons who strive to become philosophers: aspirants who seek for and love wisdom. Through mastery of dialectic which enables them to grasp supersensible (philosophic, mathematical, logical) Forms, philosophers discern the metaphysical domain of being. Philosophers realize their being at the spiritual level through mastering a definite form of philosophical meditation as discussed and taught by Plato and other Perennialist adepts, as well as poets, musicians, and artists within or associated with the Perennial Tradition.

     Persons are able to communicate relative to the levels at which they have worked to realize their being. In the example we'll explore, Person One has realized her being at all three levels while Person Two has realized his being only at level one.


Level of Being State of Being  Person One   Person Two 
3

Spiritual

X

(x)

2

Metaphysical

X

(x)

1

Terrestrial

X

X


     In this hypothetical example, Person One--we'll call her Diotima--is focusing her awareness on the spiritual realm of being. Person Two (Agathon) has his consciousness focused on the terrestrial level. Diotima will be able to see Agathon's being as potentially residing at Level One, Level Two, and   Level Three. That is, Diotima will see Agathon in a way that Agathon does not see himself: as having potential being above the state of ordinary terrestrial being. Diotima will be able to interact with Agathon in a way that takes into consideration Agathon's potential realization of a higher being than he understands himself to possess, higher states of being than he has thus far realized. What Diotima says and does may seem strange or incomprehensible to Agathon, because a person at Level One cannot fully understand a person at a higher level.

Level of Being State of Being  Diotima   Agathon 
3

Spiritual

X

(x)

2

Metaphysical

X

(x)

1

Terrestrial

X

X


"These higher planes are actually at every moment acting upon and in communication with our own plane of being, although this action is naturally not present to our ordinary waking or outer consciousness, because that is for the most part limited to a reception and utilisation of the contacts of the physical world. . .

"The moment we either go back into our subliminal being or enlarge our waking consciousness beyond the scope of the physical contacts, we become aware of something of this higher action. We find even that the human being can project himself partially into these higher planes under certain conditions, even while in the body. . .

"The consequences of this relation and this power of transference . . . immediately justify . . . the ancient tradition of at least a temporary sojourn of the human consciousness being in other worlds than the physical. . ."

Aurobindo, The Life Divine


     Diotima will be able to discern Agathon's reality as composed of all three levels of consciousness: ignorance, incipient awareness, and higher awareness; and Diotima will discern Agathon as possessing being at all three levels: terrestrial, metaphysical, and spiritual. Diotima can interact with Agathon in such a way that Agathon actually--during that specific encounter--realizes his being at Level Three, though Agathon may have only limited awareness of this process.

"Only the uniting with a higher consciousness bestows the successful completion of processes of the spirit that go beyond reasoning."

Proclus


      Such encounters may occur during genuine dialectic as first explicated by Plato and practiced by Perennialist adepts in all eras. Socrates was able to interact with persons in dialectical interchange in such a way that the other participants could make contact with their Higher Self (Level 3), discovering unknown ideas and feelings within themselves.

     Socrates or any other Perennialist Person One-type--a savant 2--interacts with Person Two-types--seekers--in such a way that during that interchange seekers are able to realize 3 their actuality at all levels of being.

      Thus, if you participate in genuine dialectic with a savant, through the dynamic of your interaction with this sage you realize your being and you can carry out activities at all levels of being during the time you are interacting.

"In the presence of someone whose own consciousness is in the Overself, he will receive the inward inspiration which can energize and lead his personal efforts in the same direction."

Paul Brunton, Notebooks


     A savant will see and relate to a seeker as being an enlightened person, because that is the seeker's ultimate reality. 4 A seeker may have only limited awareness of his reality as an enlightened being, perhaps feeling merely a vague presentiment of something higher in himself. As a savant dialectically interacts with a seeker as possessing a higher being, the seeker can attain that consciousness momentarily through the operation of the savant's discernment. Since a seeker has not himself fully realized (understood, become aware of) his being at higher levels, it will be an experience largely induced by the sage's powers. However, an advanced teacher can assist the seeker to use the momentary presentiment of higher being to begin developing advanced capabilities of awareness.

"The higher consciousness is a current; not a pool of still water. . . It is an infiltration of your bit of universal substance into what is below you. When I bring the higher force to someone else, then I have utilized for practical purposes what has flowed into me, and the principle of movement is established. It is the acknowledgment of a sensation of spiritual alignment with what is above and what is below, permitting the force of the higher consciousness to flow through."

Betty and Stewart Edward White, Across the Unknown






__________

1 Extrinsic: not an inherent part of the self; either an external (objective) or internal (subjective) aspect or element of the self such as a personality, ideology, or influence. The Perennial Tradition teaches that the ego may allow itself to be controlled by negative selves.

2 Savant: a person of deep wisdom or learning; a sage, genius, thinker, master, Teacher

3 Realize: make real or concrete; give reality to; be fully aware or cognizant of

"The integral Knowledge is something that is already there in integral Reality: it is not a new or still non-existing thing that has to be created, acquired, learned, invented or built up by the mind; it must rather be discovered or uncovered, it is a Truth that is self-revealed to a spiritual endeavour: for it is there veiled in our deeper and greater self; it is the very stuff of our own spiritual consciousness, and it is by awaking to it even in our surface self that we have to possess it."

Aurobindo, The Life Divine

4 "This higher mind is able to perceive and deal with other souls as other forms of its pure self; it is capable of sensing them by pure mental impact and communication and no longer only by vital and nervous impact and physical indication; it conceives too a mental figure of unity, and in its activity and its will it can create and possess more directly--not only indirectly as in the ordinary physical life--and in other minds and lives as well as its own."

Aurobindo, The Life Divine