In an online discussion, the subject of the stages of Unity came up. I thought I’d share the summary here, edited for context.
Maharishi Mahesh Yogi compared the 10 mandalas (books) of the Rig Veda with both the aspects of Prakriti (nature) and the stages of Unity. The Rig Veda is the oldest known text in the world, arguably written down over 3,000 years ago after a much longer oral tradition.
The aspects are: mandala 1 = Prakriti as a whole, then 2 = earth, then water, fire, air, space, mind, intellect, and ego. The 10th was equated to Purusha or to Brahman.
There is a related Descent process were the elements are integrated as Shiva descends through the chakras, with space at the throat, air at the heart along with it’s deeper awakening, and so forth. But this relates more to embodying the shift prior than the later Unity becoming.
Maharishi also described these same values as stages of Unity. We could say layers of Unification. More broadly, he talked about all the layers of experience, memory, even the farthest reaches of the galaxy beyond perception being merged, often as they arose in experience. This is the “aggregate” process described in the Brahma Sutras but not recognized in any currently printed translation I’m aware of.
I summarized this list on The Veda of Unity but here add the Prakritis.
(keep in mind Unity is an experience and become process – this is not conceptual)
1 – stirring the aliveness, the liveliness of silence (Prakriti)
2 – deeper, aliveness seen in objects (Earth)
3 – observer moving into the flow (Water)(note observer merging more deeply into objects)
4 – witness engages in perception (Fire)
5 – deepening on level of energy (Air)(aka prana)
6 – space seen on surface (Space)
7 – cosmic mind (Mind)(this part is a little vague)
8 – cosmic intellect (Intellect)
9 – cosmic intelligence, mechanics of soma (Ego)
10- Purusha, Brahman Consciousness
I can further note the usual senses and organs of action correspondences to the 5 elements and the Shiva Sutra (Vyakaran) correspondence of the 8 Sanskrit vowels with the Prakritis above. ie: the specific sounds/ vibrations that give rise to those qualities. Also the correspondence with Patangali’s Ashtanga, the 8 limbs of Yoga.
The 8 vary from the 8 qualities of Vaisheshika (it uses time, direction (in space) and Atman as the later 3). It also varies from the usual Samkhya teaching of Purusha, Prakriti, buddhi, ahamkara, manas, then the Indriyas. Maharishi described these approaches as arising from stages of development prior to awakening. (These are 2 of the 6 darshanas or systems of Indian philosophy that also include Yoga and Vedanta)
From my perception, it’s not quite that linear. Qualities of nature arise as effects of consciousness being aware of itself at every point. A point value is ahamkara/ ego, buddhi/ intellect is that which recognizes the distinction of one point from another, and manas/ mind is the field created by the point interacting with the whole; the lively inner surface of self-aware consciousness. They arise together. Of course, there are several ways the process can be described and none of it ever exists outside of the whole.
There is a secondary sequence that some in Unity experience related to the Mahavakyas – the primary realizations of Unity. In this case, it is a list of recognitions of progressively deeper values of our body. This broadly corresponds with the above list. For example, mind, intellect and ego are devata values. It also corresponds to the 3 deeper kosha values.
Aham Vishvam: I am the Universe (the body is and contains the universe)
Devo Hum: I am the Devata (the body is the devata body (made solely of), not individual) I am and contain the devata that create all forms of all beings in all universes in all time, all concurrently.
Aham Shrivir: I am the Cosmic Body (the body is cosmic, not individual)
Veda Hum: I am the Veda (Everything is knowledge alone, reverberations in wholeness. Nothing has happened or ever will.)
Because we are that, those resources are available to us at any time.
In essence, this is a few ways to describe the vast process of an apparent individual recognizing they are everything, then that which contains everything, then that which contains the container. 😉