I thought it would be interesting to take the qualities mentioned in the Natural Tendency song* Cosmic Consciousness and relate them to the process.
– shining within
– awake during sleep
– witness the mind from “behind”
– beyond pain
– pleasure arises within
– unshaken by change
– silent being
– life like a song or play
– beyond the sky
– beginning to see the hand of divinity
Key to understand this list – it is subjective descriptions of being consciousness rather than a separate local person. We are consciousness, discovering its own qualities and observing our person.
But this list isn’t absolutes. For example, “beyond pain” – you are the detached witness beyond the field of pain and suffering. This doesn’t mean pain is not experienced. It is simply not as personal. We do however wind down suffering – created by ignorance of who we are.
Keep in mind that we don’t have any experiential reference points for awakening. It’s not something we’ve done, even in past lives. (with rare exceptions) So it’s easy to be unclear on what’s happening and what it is. Clarity does come in time but a little pointing can be very valuable. Like finding out how to get around and where the good restaurants are in a new city.
Unlike some aspects of later stages, all of these qualities can be experienced prior to awakening. But as an experience, it is aspects of the whole but not the whole, and it will fade. For example, we may experience boundless peace for a moment or a time.
A clear experience can have a profound impact on us with a lasting intuitive sense of it. But we want to keep in mind this isn’t it. It’s a memory of an experience, not awakening. Be careful not to put too much weight on memories of experience or it will impede growth as another attachment.
Don’t be concerned if you’re not having such experiences. That’s not a “sign” and you have one less thing to let go of.
Also, don’t be concerned if experiences came for a bit and then stopped. Sometimes, experiences are triggered by channels opening. Once the energy settles, the experience fades and doesn’t return.
Such experiences may not come with the usual markers for memory and get easily forgotten. But when they return, they’re familiar.
One of the mentioned qualities is witnessing, perhaps even of sleep. Like other experiences, it can come and go. But for some people, the witness can come and stay without awakening. I’ve seen that with a few people including myself. Occasionally people confuse this with awakening.
But there’s a key distinction between witnessing and awakening. In the first, the Self has woken up within to the person. It observes life in a detached way and most of the above qualities are present to some degree.
However, it has a key weakness. The ego is still identified. We experience being the observing Self and ego both. This means we can still get caught sometimes and lose some of the above features.
From a kundalini Shakti perspective, the energy has reached makara, just above the third eye. It then doesn’t go back down again, and the witness is sustained. It is a short distance from there to the bindu of the crown chakra and awakening but sometimes, the process pauses there to prepare the vessel more completely first. Thus you have an ongoing witness but not quite awakening.
Occasionally people here are confused by the experience. They are kind of half in and half out, half awake. Some even declare their enlightenment even though still ego-identified.
Sometimes, the Self does wake up to itself here less clearly. There is a hazy shift but when the mind comes up again, it overshadows it. The listed qualities tend to come and go, much like Experiences.
A major issue in this phase is doubt. Because the qualities are not stable, we can doubt the vague shift happened. We tend to have noticed the release of the shift (like laughter or crying) more than the shift. The doubt itself creates resistance to clarity. I’ve even seen people forget they woke up until they where lead into it again.
However, at some point, clarity will dawn and Self Realization will be ongoing, as below.
Self Realization or Cosmic Consciousness happens when the Self also wakes up to Itself here. This is what shatters the ego identification. Only then can the qualities and awakening be said to be ongoing.
The depth of the above qualities become much deeper and richer without ego constraints. This is true liberation.
If there has been a witnessing period, it’s more likely to be a clear awakening. If there hasn’t been, it’s more common to see the above qualities develop over time as clarity increases.
Reading this, the differences between Self awakening to the person and to Itself may seem small. But they’re not at all. Moksha or liberation is profoundly deeper than a hazy sense of Self or witnessing alone.
Some people spend awhile, gradually getting clearer and further embodying Self Realization. Eventually, sat chit ananda dawns.
Others begin flowering into new stages in some months or even days. God Consciousness will dramatically advance the last quality and add a whole new layer of qualities. “Shining within” shows up outside in the world too.
Unity will change some of the qualities completely. For example, rather than being a detached witness, we are progressively discovering that we are whatever we put our attention on. That tree, car, table, sky, etc. The world becomes profoundly intimate instead. It can be experienced that the witness moves into the world. The “shining within” surrounds us. “Silent Being” stops being so silent. It is found to be the liveliness underlying all experience. Unity also brings other new qualities.
Quite the adventure.
*Update: the lyrics to the Natural Tendency song Cosmic Consciousness have gone off-line. (from the 1972 album Something Good is Happening)
Last Updated on May 20, 2021 by Davidya
oh boy … the perfection of the timing of this post! :o)
Quite the adventure! 🙂 Thx
Yes- this is why it’s often called a path or journey, even the hero’s journey.
It is indeed a grand adventure.
Hi David – so would you say that the witness dissolves in unity? And how about in the Brahman stages?
It depends a little on how you frame it, based partly on how it’s experienced subjectively.
The reason the witness can be very distinct and separate is the subject has woken but not yet the object side of experience. There is a fundamental split or duality in the experience. Self and world.
In Unity, the objects of experience are also recognized to be the same Self and they progressively merge. The sense of detached witness may dissolve in that progression or end suddenly.
However, this doesn’t end the sense of experiencing from a typical point of observation through the body-mind. There is still a point-value quality there. Some might still call this an observer or witness but it is no longer experienced as separate. Some may relate the term to the separate sense of observing of Self Realization and drop the term.
With Brahman, the process of experience is also merged, flattening even very subtle dualities like conscious/unconscious, existing/ nonexisting. There is still an experiencer but there is only the “faint remains of ignorance” inherent in living through a human mechanism. This is as above, only more so.
Yes that makes sense. Thanks.
So is the Cosmic Witness/God beyond the concept of space and time? Then in Unity are we essentially merging that which is beyond space and time with the objective world?
I wouldn’t equate God with the Cosmic Witness exactly, unless you’re a Shaivite. 😉
The God Consciousness phase unfolds after Self Realization where one becomes conscious of the hand of the Divine, then the expressed Divine. It is still distinct from the observer. (see Stages in The Development of Consciousness)
Space is created by consciousness becoming self-aware. Time is created by the process of experience. (other articles explore this in more detail) This means time and space are in and effects of consciousness.
So yes, the process of waking up and Unity are beyond space and time but they are within it.
The subject is discovered to be universal consciousness in Self Realization. The object (the objective world) is discovered to be the same consciousness in Unity. It’s not that we merge with the objective world. Its that we discover the objective world is an appearance (which even physics tells us) then we discover it’s an appearance of consciousness. We and the world become one wholeness.
Lol so what would you equate the Cosmic Witness with using your terminology? You said: “the subject is discovered to be universal consciousness in Self Realization.” And in your description of God Realization you say “we choose to unite with God? Isn’t God the Universal Consciounsness/Cosmic Witness that we unite with? Am I way off here? Hahaha
The Cosmic Witness is Atman, the Self, or Purusha. But the question is – has the witness woken up to itself yet? One can witness and recognize oneself as that yet not have the witness awake to itself. When it wakes to itself, it is Self Realization.
I use the term Realization to mean recognize oneself as. Not intellectually but on the level of being.
In that sense, God Realization is not the same thing as God Consciousness. God Realization generally comes late in the Unity process or even later.
The trick is understanding that the reality is different in each stage. For many, God is meaningless or a belief. With deep introspection, we may come to recognize the hand of God in the order of the world around us. With refined perception, we can come to recognize this process in much deeper detail, perhaps perceiving those who act as representatives of the Divine.
With God Consciousness, we have a more stable platform for very refined perception and can come to experience God directly. But this is God in form, with qualities. Not ultimate God.
Some may label their highest experience God and equate consciousness as God. Or the pure sense of Being. This is perfectly valid in itself and these aspects can be useful ways to express devotion.
But there are those who have transcended consciousness into Brahman. They may describe God as formless, nirguna (qualityless).
But there is a further stage known as ParaBrahman where God comes to be recognized as pure Divinity, the source of the source.
In that sense, the reality of God is dependent on the stage of development. So you’re not way off but the Divine itself is much deeper than consciousness.
Here’s the article to give the stages some context. It’s a fundamental framework of my approach.
Thanks David. When you say ParaBrahman is the source of the source are you saying that Brahman is ultimately manifested? And ParaBrahman is the unmanifest?
No, Brahman might be said to be the “afterglow” of ParaBrahman but none of that is manifested.
The first expressions arise in the dynamics of self-aware consciousness. But those are only known by consciousness itself. Actual manifestation doesn’t start until the 3rd kosha or sheath, what is often called the causal, celestial, or primordial level.
You can browse the layers here:
or explore how this ties into Brahman and the origins of consciousness during my SAND talk last fall:
A somewhat related song by the Beatles
Had the album but a digital version or CD was never released. Would love to share the song as it beautifully captures the experience.
Another experience-oriented song: