Experiential Participation In Higher Consciousness
but by drinking the healing restorative." 1
Many of the essays on this Web site deal with metaphysical comprehension of higher consciousness. In this essay, we'll concentrate on how a person is able to achieve experiential participation in higher consciousness, actually undergoing psychic and physical transformation.
This essay contains highly challenging metaphysical material which requires intense concentration, study--and participation. The key to this essay cannot be fully expressed in words, but requires that the Seeker actually enter into the elements (sensations, concepts, actions) delineated. In other words, this essay cannot be understod unless it is experienced.
The truth contained within this essay is conveyed by the mutual action of the words and the reaction of the reader. The necessary experience occurs by means of a mechanism which takes over at the point where words leave off--and the reader responds appropriately to apprehend the experience. Hence, while the essay has been deliberately created with the potential for enabling experiential participation in higher consciousness, the results are entirely determined by what kind of response the reader is able to make.
"Then he asked me if I knew the meaning of that other incident where Jesus washed the feet of his disciples.
"You told me once that it meant humility."
"That's right, I did," he agreed. "Do you believe that's what it means?"
"Sure I do," was my prompt reply.
"And does knowing about its meaning make you humble?"
"No. I guess not."
"You see, son, you must try for the Spirit of Christ. Make no great effort to possess the theology of Christ. It is as diversified as the individuals who have it. It is Christ's attention scattered. And the theology of one man may war against the theology of another man. Leave the warfare to the theologians. It is not your field."
I was grateful for this last remark. It has saved me from many a heartbreaking disappointment.
"Try steadily to release in your experience the power which theology conceals, or embodies," he continued. "Remember it isn't your knowledge that transforms your character. You're quickened and renewed by the Spirit embodied in knowledge. Knowledge as such polishes your intellect. The Spirit quickens your soul. When the soul is quickened first, correct knowledge must follow."
Starr Daily, Release
In this essay, we'll examine how a person can learn not only to think, theorize, conceptualize, ponder, imagine, or meditate about higher consciousness--but undergo, feel, sense, and physically, mentally, and spiritually experience various elements of higher consciousness.
In studying the content of this essay, you'll not only need to read and think about what's being said, but in specific instances you'll be encouraged to carry out concrete exercises that will enable you to actually experience selected facets of higher consciousness.
We can sometimes fool ourselves by thinking that our conceptual understanding of an aspect of higher consciousness is the same as an experiential participation in that reality. It somewhat resembles the naive assumption that an image is an object.
We can distinguish states of consciousness in various ways:
1. Sensory or non-sensory
- Physical sensations have some kind of connection with the body. They range across the spectrum from intense pleasure to intense pain. Somatic sensations can "exist" even if we're not aware of them, in the sense that they register on some sensory receptor.
- Mental sensations are what we usually call feelings. These mental sensations also range from intense mental pleasure to intense mental discomfort, but also range across other spectra such as highly meaningful to highly meaningless and highly transformative to highly non-transformative (inane or baleful).
- Non-sensory: Non-sensory states of consciousness are connected with thought or imagination. When we experience an idea, for example, it doesn't necessarily have a feeling (mental sensation) associated with it--though it may. Examples: Sleep, dreams, visions, ordinary thought, ordinary willing, imagination
2. "Higher" or "Lower"
In the latter parts of the essay, we'll examine each of these elements of consciousness and learn how to develop experiential participation in select aspects of higher consciousness.
- "Higher: " Higher states of consciousness involve non-ordinary organs of awareness such as Higher Intellect (Thought or Discernment), Higher Feeling (Sentience or Appreciation), Higher Will, and Love. Each of these states has a counterpart in everyday consciousness: intellect, feeling, will, and love.
- "Lower:" Ordinary states of consciousness
The entire range of ordinary states of consciousness includes:
- Sense perceptions : seeing, hearing, tasting, smelling, touching
- Quasi-perceptional states : hallucinating, dreaming, imagining, trance-visioning, hypnosis
- Emotions, feelings : the complete range from utter disgust to sublime bliss, from rage to benignity
- Conative states : wishing, wanting, intending, trying, acting
- Cognitions : thinking, reasoning, knowing, conceiving, understanding
Making active, available, or usable
Gradual unfoldment or acquisition
Acquaintance with or understanding of a science, art, or technique
The fact or condition of knowing something with familiarity gained through experience or association
Before we examine the differences between these various states of consciousness, we must first distinguish clearly between intellectual (knowledge) and experiential participation (development) in higher consciousness. 2
Intellectual participation in truth is an important accomplishment, requiring thoughtful study and contemplation. Understanding gained through metaphysical study allows us to comprehend important aspects of higher consciousness.
Intellectual understanding is necessary to enable us to distinguish between elements which are genuine or counterfeit, important or unimportant, worthy or not of further examination.
The gratifications of intellectual participation in higher consciousness are so rewarding that we're tempted to be satisfied with those. But we must go beyond conceptual understanding to development of higher faculties which allow us to experience higher consciousness.
"Freedom is won by a perception of the Self's
oneness with the Eternal, and not by the
doctrines of Union or of Numbers." 3
This difference between intellectual participation and experiential participation in truth is like a person who reads all the books about painting he can find. He reads so much that he becomes a so-called expert on painting and finds genuine satisfaction in select artists. That's intellectual participation in knowledge.
Beyond that is the person who not only gains a mental grasp of painting but experientially participates in mixing pigments, selecting brushes, and placing paint on canvas--developing as a painter, not merely a scholarly "expert" on art. In this latter instance, you bring the ideas into being in the physical substance of your body. You have actual sensations, subjective feelings inside yourself as to how to do something called painting. You act on your knowledge and produce an independent manifestation of your understanding.
If we're satisfied with intellectual participation in higher consciousness alone, never going ahead to develop organs that allow us to participate experientially, we're like a person who puts legs on an airplane and has it walk around, never ascending into the air, assuming that that's what an airplane really is.
This is why we have so many "fake gurus" who look like the image above. They claim to be great celestial adventurers and expatiate on the esoterics of "ethereal science." But they never get off the ground.
"Let us compare a horse-carriage with an aeroplane. An aeroplane has many possibilities that an ordinary carriage does not have, but at the same time an aeroplane can be used as an ordinary carriage. It would be very clumsy and inconvenient and very expensive, but you can attach two horses to it and travel in an aeroplane by road. Suppose the man who has this aeroplane does not know that it has an engine and can move by itself and suppose he learns about the engine--then he can dispense with the horses and use it as a motor car. But it will still be too clumsy. Suppose that the man studies this machine and discovers that it can fly. Certainly it will have many advantages which he missed when he used the aeroplane as a carriage. That is what we are doing with ourselves; we use ourselves as a carriage, when we could fly." 4
In this essay we're studying ourselves to discover that we are more than earth-bound beings, that we can actually "fly"--participate experientially in higher consciousness.
We use the symbolism of an airplane to
get a sense of the two very different
dimensions of experience:
Getting a sense of: gaining a discerning understanding of
Dimension: A realm of being or experience
The terrestrial dimension of intellectual participation in higher consciousness helps us gain a rewarding conceptual understanding of metaphysical realities. It assists us in becoming mentally discriminating and precise.
But we must develop an awareness of our primordial endowment of the possibility of "flight:" the power to ascend to the spiritual realm of higher consciousness in actual experience. Our goal is the awakening of our dormant powers of ascent.
"We must not think we have then attained to the right knowledge of Truth, when we have broke through the outward Shell of words & phrases that house it up; or when by a Logical Analysis we have found out the dependencies and coherencies of them one with another; or when, like stout champions of it, having well guarded it with the invincible strength of our Demonstration, we dare stand out in the face of the world, and challenge the field of all those that would pretend to be our Rivalls.
"We have many Grave and Reverend Idolaters that worship Truth onely in the Image of their own Wits; that could never adore it so much as they may seem to doe, were it any thing else but such a Form of Belief as their own wandering speculation had at last met together in, were it not that they find their own image and superscription upon it." "
John Smith (1618-1652), "The True Way or Method
of Attaining to Divine Knowledge"
We often suppose that "ascent" is impossible--because we define ourselves as strange creatures with inexplicable appendages called wings who walk around on the ground. Ascent to a higher realm of consciousness seems like nothing more than a flight of fancy. For some, it's also a frightening prospect to think of leaving the secure earth, of no longer having "our feet planted firmly on the ground."
Those who eagerly desire to experience higher consciousness often remain in the cockpit reading flight manuals, assuming that more conceptual knowledge will enable them to magically "take off." "If I can just find that one occult bit of secret knowledge, I'll suddenly rise into the air automatically," we tell ourselves. "If I read just one more book on flying I'll surely find the secret divination code I need to begin rising."
We presume that we can use terrestrial principles we've mastered, and just make small adjustments to them in order to begin flying magically. But flying is nothing like walking or running. Flight involves entirely different laws and parameters. Flight is not "extended running" or "running and then jumping" or "flapping our arms like a bird." To attain the power of ascent we must experiment with an entirely new dimension. We've got to leave the terrestrial universe behind and begin experimenting with the new realities of the realm of higher consciousness (supersensible being).
In a similar vein, we assume that spiritual "flight" must be merely super-thinking. We've made outstanding gains in conceptul understanding using our intellect, so we suppose that a super-dose of cogitation will propel us into the higher dimension. But, spiritual ascent is nothing like super-normal cerebration; it's an entirely different ball game--a higher realm altogether.
All this may sound so impossible of achievement that we feel like giving up in exasperation. But if we free ourselves from these illusions about flight as super-normal running and jumping--taking mental giant-steps with mythical seven-league boots--then we can begin discovering distinct, straightforward principles that will enable us to gain the power of spiritual ascent.
There are many different techniques and meditation points which help us learn to "take off," to gain experiential participation in higher consciousness. These procedures are not excessively complex or mysterious or unattainable. As we contemplate and practice these exercises, they slowly and systematically lead us into a higher awareness.
All these processes are ways of gaining a new frame of mind, a definite feeling of entering a higher realm, a sensation of contact with something beyond ourselves. It's not easy to gain a recognition of this mind-set, but after we begin to gain a sense of how it feels, it's easier to proceed with a sense of familiarity and conviction.
However, it's necessary to realize that the results grow in us from so feeble a beginning that they don't reach even our watchful consciousness for a long time. The gains we make are very subtle and almost invisible to our awareness and imperceptible to our feelings. But the feelings and sensations we develop are real, and we must make sure we have a definite physical awareness of them, beyond our intellectual comprehension.
Select the sections you wish to study. It's suggested that you study all the sections.
- Process One: Adopting a Completely Changed Way of Thinking
- Process Two: Discovering and Using Portals to Higher Consciousness
- A Respite, As We Discuss the Next Startling Procedure
- Process Four:: Analyzing Apperception to Discover Higher Thought
1 Sankara, The Crest Jewel of Wisdom
2 For related information on higher consciousness, see:
The Perennial Tradition, States of Consciousness Expanding Human Consciousness Discovering the Spiritual Domain Unitive Consciousness
3 Sankara, The Crest Jewel of Wisdom
4 P. D. Ouspensky, The Fourth Way