Expanding Human Consciousness

"I've heard it said
 there's a window that opens
from one mind to another
but if there's no wall,
there's no need for fitting
the window, or the latch"

Author Discovering the Spiritual Domain Unitive Consciousness Spiritual Contact

Ruth-Inge Heinze's graph depicting altered states of consciousness with two axes: mind expansion or dissociation, and gain or loss of control. From 'Trance and Healing in Southeast Asia Today'            In previous essays we've examined numerous facets of spiritual development, including the evolution of human consciousness. In this essay, we'll explore the expansion of human consciousness beyond ordinary consensus trance. 1

   The chart on the left describes consciousness on two axes:
• Mind expansion or dissociation
• Gain or loss of control

     Human consciousness functions from total possession by another personality or ideology (lower left) to Higher Consciousness (upper right); from total dissociation from ordinary consciousness to complete expansion into the Higher Consciousness.


     Surrounding our ordinary state of consciousness is the subconscious or subliminal consciousness which carries on automatic functions. By entering trance consciousness--what Frederic W. H. Myers called the hypnotic stratum--we can move either down to the subliminal or up to the higher consciousness. While most of the super-normal capabilities of a person in trance trace to the subliminal, some are evidence of having entered Higher Consciousness.

     Frederic W. H. Myers termed ordinary consciousness " the supraliminal self" and the subconscious "the subliminal self." The trance state, he called "the hypnotic stratum." Myers saw the higher self as capable of existing independently of the body in a super-terrestrial realm. He considered our ordinary mental life as a very limited expression of the capacities of higher consciousness, merely that portion that manifests itself through the human brain.

      In reference to our states of being (distinguished from our states of consciousness), we have being in four different realms or dimensions:

  • Spiritual
  • Metaphysical
  • Terrestrial: unconscious
  • Terrestrial: conscious
Realm of Being  Characteristics   Entities   Faculties 
Spiritual Eternal
Higher Ideas
Higher Consciousness
Metaphysical Intellectual
Higher Concepts
Higher Symbols
Higher Intellect
Persons, Objects,
Sensing, Feeling, Thinking
Terrestrial: Unconscious Non-rational
Trance states,
Instinct, Intuition

      We enter the spiritual, metaphysical, and unconscious dimensions through altered states of consciousness induced by trance, meditation, ecstasy, contemplation of transformative art, possession, psychedelic substance, etc. Our ordinary consciousness is incapable of entering or fully understanding the other realms, since effective understanding requires participation in the reality.

      In his widely read book The Law of Psychic Phenomena (1892), Thomson Jay Hudson refers to the subconscious as "the subjective mind" and ordinary consciousness as "the objective mind."
"The objective mind takes cognizance of the objective world. Its media of observation are the five physical senses. It is the outgrowth of man's physical necessities. It is his guide in his struggle with his material environment. Its highest function is that of reasoning.

"The subjective mind takes cognizance of its environment by means independent of the physical senses. It perceives by intuition. It is the seat of the emotions, and the store-house of memory. It performs its highest functions when the objective senses are in abeyance. In a word, it is that intelligence which makes itself manifest in a hypnotic subject when he is in a state of somnambulism.

"In point of fact, that which, for convenience, I have chosen to designate as the subjective mind, appears to be a separate and distinct entity; and the real distinctive difference between the two minds seems to consist in the fact that the 'objective mind' is merely the function of the physical brain, while the 'subjective mind' is a distinct entity, possessing independent powers and functions, having a mental organization of its own, and being capable of sustaining an existence independently of the body. In other words, it is the soul."      

Our Dwarfed Conception of Consciousness

     Comprehending the precise nature of our current MIS-understanding of ordinary and supra-normal consciousness is difficult. It's as though all humans went around in wheelchairs, because they didn't understand the function of the mysterious appendages below their waist. Having long ago forgotten how to use their legs, they now ignored them. Any talk about the appendages doing something mysterious called "walking" seemed the veriest nonsense.

     We've become unaware of, ignorant about our subjective mind--which Hudson equates with the soul. And when we read something like Myer's description of the super-normal powers of the subjective mind (subliminal self), we feel he must be pulling our psychic leg and we quickly dismiss him as a metaphysical con artist.

     Our subliminal self has its own way of knowing, holds a tremendous store of information, and is capable of controlling our bodies in ways our conscious mind can't understand. The conscious mind is actually like the protruding tip of an iceberg, with the submerged, predominant portion representing the subconscious mind.

     If we are to expand our consciousness to once again include the subliminal self, we must first realize what capabilities it has and how best to revivify its powers in our lives.

"You must conceive of possibilities beyond your present state if you are to be able to find the capacity to reach towards them."

Idries Shah, A Perfumed Scorpion

Extra-normal Capabilities Within a Trance State

A person's extra-normal capabilities within a trance state include:
  • Amnesia: selective repression of memory

  • Hypermnesia: selective recall of former experiences

  • Post-hypnotic suggestion: "the execution, at some later time, of instructions and suggestions given in a trance and intended to become a part, either interpolated or integrated, of a later activity" Erickson

  • Dissociation of awareness: "a selective constriction of awareness which excludes all but the hypnotist as a source of stimulation" Andre M. Weitzenhoffer, General Techniques of Hypnotism

  • Marquis de Puysegur Anesthesia/analgesia: loss of sensation (of pain or pleasure) while conscious

  • Positive and negative hallucinations: seeing objects which are not physically present; not seeing objects which are physically present

  • Telepathy: communication from one mind to another by extrasensory means

  • Clairvoyance/clairaudience: the ability to discern (see and hear) entities not present to the senses

  • Telekinesis: the ability to move objects without contact or other physical means

  • Mind projection: focusing of awareness on current, previous or future time periods and living during those time periods

  • Physiological effect (selected):
    • causing a blister when told under hypnosis that they experience a burn

    • correcting eye defects

    • shutting off pain

     All these seemingly unbelievable capabilities of the subliminal mind have been attested to by reputable and trustworthy researchers, starting with a French commission in the nineteenth century, and by independent researchers in the twentieth and twenty-first centuries as well.

Possession and Hysteria

     At present, humankind has not only lost any effective understanding or use of the subliminal mind, we are progressively losing our conscious minds. Our conscious mind "is the outgrowth of our objective existence. It is our safest guide in the walks of earthly life. It is our faithful monitor and guardian in our daily struggle with our physical environment. It is our most reliable auxiliary in our efforts to penetrate the secrets of Nature, and wrest from her the means of subsistence." 2

     Progressive awareness, 3 is an essential capability which humankind must now struggle to regain, since a great many have allowed their conscious minds to be literally taken over by destructive personalities and ideologies. For most humans, the regaining of critical thinking, self-awareness, and critical consciousness must be the first priority, because there is the very real danger of the masses of humankind becoming totally possessed by the structures and ideologies of those few who now rule the world politically and economically.

     Possession is the extreme lower point on a continuum (see right) in which the highest achievement is identification with a Higher Positive Power.

Possession refers to:

  • Domination by something (as a negative spirit, a passion, an obsession, an addiction, or a fixed idea)

  • A psychological state in which an individual's normal personality is replaced by another

     Humans can allow other entities--personalities or ideas--to control them to varying degrees. If they allow other persons or concepts to take dominant control of their thoughts and actions, they lose the ability to think or act autonomously. As a personality or an ideology takes progressive control of them, they become possessed (an obsessive, a bigot, an ideologue) and finally end in hysteria--the manifestation of self-limiting or self-destructive tendencies.

     In psychology, hysteria refers to the loss of sensory or motor function without organic pathology. The person suddenly cannot hear, see, or feel, or his arm or leg may be paralyzed, or he may be unable to speak--even though the bodily organs are completely functional.

     Currently, possession and hysteria are present in much of the world's population. We see these phenomena most clearly in the fixed ideas and obsessive belief-systems of masses of people world-wide who are oblivious to the destruction of their lives by politicians and corporations. The phenomena of possession and hysteria are most evident in the American masses who have lost the ability to see what is happening in the United States and the world.

     As humans become progressively possessed by destructive personalities and ideologies, they ultimately end in suicidal behavior: voting for and supporting people who are deliberately destroying them.

State of Consciousness  Characteristics   Capabilities 
Critical thinking
Awareness of self
and the world
Informing oneself
Improving oneself
Beginning of possession by outside personalities and ideologies Egomania
Mindless pursuit of pleasure
Celebration of ignorance
No longer able to
think for oneself
Illiteracy (unable to read and unable to understand)
Total possession by outside 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

     The technology of mind-control is a mature science. Those who work to control the masses have the most sophisticated tools available in human history. Propaganda and brainwashing take place continually in all forms of mass media, most significantly in television. The masses have been rendered brain-dead by the purveyors of lies and inanity.

"Experiments conducted by researcher Herbert Krugman reveal that, when a person watches television, brain activity switches from the left to the right hemisphere. The left hemisphere is the seat of logical thought. Here, information is broken down into its component parts and critically analyzed. The right brain, however, treats incoming data uncritically, processing information in wholes, leading to emotional, rather than logical, responses. The shift from left to right brain activity also causes the release of endorphins, the body's own natural opiates--thus, it is possible to become physically addicted to watching television, a hypothesis borne out by numerous studies which have shown that very few people are able to kick the television habit.

Peter Russell, "Dehypnosis - Breaking the Trance"

     The horror of possession and hysteria is that the victims--in this case, average citizens--are not aware of their debilitated state. Part of their brainwashing makes them believe--in the face of overwhelming evidence to the contrary--that they are still in control of their minds and that their situation is acceptable.

     The major question currently staring people in the face is whether the world masses who have become "possessed" by such reactionary ideologies as "free-market capitalism," fundamentalist Christianity, or fundamentalist Islam, will wake up enough to be able to SEE what is being done to them--loss of jobs, loss of health insurance, increase in taxes, dying in wars for the enrichment of the worldly rulers--and take back their political and economic systems for their own betterment.

Cultural Trance

     As Peter Russell makes clear, we are the victims of a cultural trance. Whereas in hypnotism, we are aware that someone is trying to influence us, "with our cultural conditioning the situation is the opposite.

  • "Our consensus trance is not voluntary; it begins at birth without our conscious agreement.

  • "All authority is surrendered to the parents, family members and other caretakers, who initially are regarded as omniscient and omnipotent.

  • "Induction is not limited to short sessions; it involves years of repeated reinforcement.

  • "Clinical therapists would consider it highly unethical to use force, but our cultural hypnotists often do -- a slap on the wrist, or severe reprimand for misbehaving. Or perhaps more subtle, but equally powerful, emotional pressures -- 'I will only love you if you think and behave as I tell you.'

  • "Finally, and most significantly, the conditioning is intended to be permanent. It may come from the very best of intentions, but it is, nevertheless, meant to have a lasting effect on our personalities and the way we evaluate the world.

"This is why awakening from our cultural trance entails far more than a simple snapping of the fingers. There is a lifetime’s worth of extremely powerful induction to be overcome.

"We would seem to be firmly stuck with our conditioning. Indeed, for most of the time we are. Yet there are occasions when we do wake up, and see things in a different light. In those moments we are given a glimpse of what is possible."

     Charles Tart 4 maintains that "we are indeed, as a matter of verifiable fact, like zombies most of the time but we have a possibility of becoming conscious." He believes that "normal" consciousness is indeed a zombie-like state of greatly constricted and distorted, if not absent, awareness. Tart gives such ordinary consciousness the technical name of "consensus consciousness" in a purely descriptive sense and "consensus trance" when focusing on it as a restricted state.

Ecstasy and Higher Consciousness

     In a time of mass hysteria--when most people are incapable of recognizing their own interests and support those who literally destroy them--it may seem presumptuous and arrogant to explore the expansion of the human consciousness. We must certainly do everything we can to assist people to regain the capability of seeing reality in a true light through Progressive Awareness.

     But it's also necessary for the few who can to push ahead to develop means of realizing Higher Consciousness. Our efforts in this direction can achieve far-reaching benefits for all of humankind. The expansion of our consciousness into the domains of the subliminal mind and Higher Consciousness are essential if we're to achieve our full potential as humans.

     Possession and hysteria are the negative extremes of loss of mind control. At the opposite end of the continuum it is possible to develop self-control and self-awareness and then develop a higher form of awareness in order to gain spiritual realization: the intense exaltation of mind and feelings, rapturous delight, an altered state that lifts one out of oneself (transport).

     Spiritual ecstasy is a trance state that can be deliberately induced through the use of a variety of techniques:
  • Prayer
  • Meditation
  • Dance
  • Fasting
  • Contemplation of transformative art
  • Psychotropic drugs
  • Hypnosis

     The individual selects a means of inducing ecstasy compatible with his specific belief system and interprets an ecstatic experience within the context of his spiritual understanding.

     The state of ecstasy is characterized by expanded mental and spiritual awareness and can be accompanied by visions and physical euphoria. Ecstasy is distinguished from possession in these aspects:

  • Ecstasy is not accompanied by a loss of awareness on the part of the person experiencing it, whereas possession involves progressive loss of awareness

  • Ecstasy involves persisting self-control, whereas possession is progressive loss of control over one's personality (beliefs, feelings, ideas, actions, etc.)
     While ecstasy is ordinarily a temporary state, the achievement of higher consciousness is a more permanent condition of expanded awareness. These higher states of consciousness should only be attempted by those who have mastered the full powers of reason and self-awareness.

"If anyone doubts the wisdom of investing the objective mind with the controlling power in the dual organization, let him visit a madhouse. There he will see all shades and degrees of subjective control. There he will see men whose objective minds have completely abdicated the throne, and whose subjective minds are in pursuit of one idea,--controlled by one dominant impression, which subordinates all others. These are the monomaniacs,--the victims of false suggestions. These suggestions may be given from without, in a thousand different ways which will be readily recognized by the student of insanity, or by auto-suggestion. Long and intense concentration of mind upon one subject, and inordinate egotism, will be readily recognized as striking illustrations of the power of auto-suggestion as a factor in monomania. The maniac is one whose objective mind is disorganized by disease of its organ, the brain; the result being distortion of objective impressions, and consequent false suggestions to the subjective mind."

Thomson Jay Hudson, The Law of Psychic Phenomena

     Currently, the maniacs are literally running the asylum. Any rational person who remains informed as to what the political-economic rulers are doing would have to agree that their actions are certifiably insane. Yet the masses have been rendered brain-dead to the point that they do not see the emperors' lack of clothing.

Expanding Our Consciousness

     Learning to activate the subliminal (subjective) mind (soul)--as a means of gaining higher consciousness--involves a temporary suspension of conscious mental and bodily functions: reasoning, thinking, analysing, sensing, and feeling. We must learn to bring the subliminal mind into dominance, which involves encouraging the conscious mind to become as quiescent as possible. In other words, we want to achieve a trance state in which the subliminal mind predominates, achieving a higher state of consciousness.

     The most effective ways to achieve an effective trance state is through meditation or through hypnosis, the facilitator helping the person to deactivate the conscious mind and bring the subliminal mind into prominence. The deep relaxation and focusing exercises of hypnotism work to calm and subdue the conscious mind so that it takes a less active role in our thinking process. In the trance state, we're still aware of what's going on, but our conscious mind takes a back seat to our subconscious mind. The hypnotist-facilitator can then work directly with the subconscious.

     Hypnotic trance can be induced using mesmeric passes, through Ericksonian techniques, or through Braid's method of having the subject gaze at (stare at, focus on) an object, while listening to repetitive verbal suggestions that deactivate the conscious mind so that the subconscious mind can become dominant. [this exercise is best experienced using headphones]

     As has been explained in several previous essays and in detail in the author's book The Perennial Tradition, gaining higher consciousness involves moving away from the exclusive use of reason in our life experiences. This is a necessity because the organs of discernment in higher consciousness are of an entirely different nature than our objective sense organs. As Plotinus made clear, our apprehension in the spiritual realm is not of the same nature as sensory perception or abstract thought as is our knowledge of ordinary intelligible objects.

"Our apprehension of the One does not partake of the nature of either understanding or abstract thought as does our knowledge of other intelligible objects, but has the character of presentation higher than understanding. For understanding proceeds by concepts, and the concept is a multiple affair, and the soul misses the One when she falls into number and plurality. She must then pass beyond understanding and nowhere emerge from her unity."

Plotinus, Ennead VI

"We are so accustomed to boast of the 'god-like reason' with which man is endowed, that the proposition that the subjective mind---the soul--of man is incapable of exercising that function, in what we regard as the highest form of reasoning, seems, at first glance, to be a limitation of the intellectual power of the soul, and inconsistent with what we have been accustomed to regard as the highest attributes of human intelligence. But a moment's reflection will develop the fact that this apparent limitation of intellectual power is, in reality, a god-like attribute of mind. God himself cannot reason inductively. Inductive reasoning presupposes an inquiry, a search after knowledge, an effort to arrive at correct conclusions regarding something of which we are ignorant. To suppose God to be an inquirer, a seeker after knowledge, by finite processes of reasoning, is a conception of the Deity which negatives his omniscience, and measures Infinite Intelligence by purely finite standards. For our boasted 'god-like reason' is of the earth, earthy. It is the noblest attribute of the finite mind, it is true, but it is essentially finite. It is the outgrowth of our objective existence. It is our safest guide in the walks of earthly life."

Thomson Jay Hudson, The Law of Psychic Phenomena

The Necessity of Higher Consciousness

     It is becoming increasingly apparent that the mass of humankind is allowing itself to become progressively ignorant and thus enslaved by the forces of violence and greed. In the decades ahead, the fires of civilization will burn even dimmer, perhaps reduced to ashes.

      It's now necessary, therefore, for a "saving remnant" to begin functioning through invisible and extra-normal means. This might mean "going underground" in the Perennialist sense. 5

     By the very nature of the "saving remnant" being an esoteric concept, only adumbrations of its features can be made available.

Boehme: Conversation Between Souls
"There is every reason to believe that the souls, or subjective minds, of men can and do habitually hold communion with one another when not the remotest perception of the fact is communicated to the objective intelligence. It may be that such communion is not general among men; but it is certain that it is held between those who, from any cause, are en rapport."

"In this [subliminal] state many of the most wonderful feats of the subjective mind are performed. It sees without the use of the natural organs of vision; and in this, as in many other grades or degrees, of the hypnotic state, it can be made, apparently, to leave the body, and travel to distant lands and bring back intelligence, oftentimes of the most exact and truthful character.

"It also has the power to read the thoughts of others, even to the minutest details; to read the contents of sealed envelopes and of closed books. In short, it is the subjective mind that possesses popularly designated as clairvoyant power, and the ability to apprehend the thoughts of others without the aid of ordinary, objective means of communication.

Thomson Jay Hudson, The Law of Psychic Phenomena

     A word 6 to the wise is sufficient. . .


1 Consensus trance is a term coined by Charles Tart (in Waking Up) and discussed by such writers as Howard Rheingold and Peter Russell.

2 Thomson Jay Hudson, The Law of Psychic Phenomena

3 See the author's recently published book Progressive Awareness

4 Charles Tart:
  • Mind Science: Meditation Training for Practical People, 2000
  • Body, Mind and Spirit: Exploring the Parapsychology of Spirituality, 1998
  • Living the Mindful Life, 1994
  • Transpersonal Psychologies: Perspectives on the Mind from Seven Great Spiritual Traditions, 1992
  • Open Mind, Discriminating Mind: Reflections on Human Possibilities, 1989
  • Waking Up: Overcoming the Obstacles to Human Potential, 1986
  • Psi: Scientific Studies of the Psychic Realm, 1977
  • States of Consciousness, 1975
  • Altered States of Consciousness, 1969
5 In the author's book The Perennial Tradition, it is explained that at times of political-economic crisis, Perennialist savants have sometimes found it necessary or expedient to work in an invisible manner.

6 In this essay we've examined the nature of and necessity for the expansion of human consciousness. The essay ancillary to this outlines the essence of hypnotic trance induction--as a means of achieving higher consciousness. Those interested in this subject might want to read the ancillary essay: The Essence of Hypnotic Trance Induction.