Models of Awakening

Models of Awakening

When I first began exploring the nature of consciousness, I was fascinated by models of higher states of consciousness. I latched on to a model of 7 states which fortunately was one of the better ones.

Many teachers avoid such analysis as it’s all concepts of mind. This can be a barrier to the process itself. Partly as the process is organic and non-linear and partly because concepts create incorrect expectations. Being has nothing to do with mind.

However, if you have a strong intellect, it will not be satisfied by generalizations. As well, understanding the journey allows you to accept the experiences as they arise.

I have come to the conclusion that a framework is useful as long as it’s understood that it’s a generalization.

It’s interesting to see frameworks evolve. The 7 states model typically describes 3 realizations or awakenings or higher states of consciousness. However, in some of Maharishi Mahesh Yogi’s earlier writings, he describes it a little differently.

In the 1960’s, Maharishi worked with Dr. Vernon Katz to write a new translation and commentary on the Bhagavad Gita and the Brahma Sutras. The first 6 chapters of the Gita were published in 1967. The rest remains unpublished yet.

While researching something else, I ran into his description of 4 realizations in the commentary on verse 6-47, the last verse in the work.

These 4 realizations or levels of attainment were:
1 – realization of Self consciousness
2 – realization of Cosmic consciousness
3 – realization of God consciousness or God realization
4 – realization of all creation in God consciousness, what he came to call Unity in God consciousness, then Unity consciousness.

Later, he introduced Brahman consciousness.

In the usual descriptions, realization of Self is associated with the experience of Transcendental consciousness. It is not described as a separate realization. Yet it’s clear from some other models and my own experience that it’s a separate realization or awakening, as noted above. Or at least it can be perceived as such. For some, it will be a less obvious signpost. It’s interesting I didn’t catch this before. One can assume the usual nature of the mind – it misses things outside it’s conceptual models or beliefs. (laughs)

Seeing this as a separate realization should not be a surprise as any new state of consciousness is typically first experienced in various values until it is fully integrated or realized. One becomes That. Why would Transcendental consciousness be any different?

Not sure why they stopped talking about it like this. Probably because it caused some confusion or distracted people from going further. Self realization is when we realize we are the Self within but ego is still retained. Only In Cosmic consciousness does the ego fall away, when we fully become Self. Until then, the person is still subject to the traps of the ego. “Premature immaculation” is one possible trap.

There is also the simple question of which realizations to include. Which are the key definers of progress? Certainly, the realization of divine love is important. Perception of the finest relative values, where creation is first becoming is also significant. Discovering there are light beings can be profound, or that you have a whole chain of them on your uplink. Seeing the origin of space and time. The reality of God. The origin of existence. The raptures. The structure of the universe. And so on.

Someone has probably made a whole list of these somewhere in the Vedas or Buddhist texts. But such a ‘checklist’ would create far more concepts than would have value, in spite of the clarity one might gain by comparing notes. I moved through one transition very easily as I had heard it described in detail prior. Yet I’ve seen many people holding dearly to their ideas of it, refusing to let it be. Even good experiences can lead to concepts and memories that hold us from what we seek. A focus on just the key signposts is perhaps better. The surprise of a new revelation keeps it more innocent. Although there can certainly be some adjustments if you don’t believe in angels and they start showing up. (laughs)

It also is clear I need a little work on my own terminology. At some point on the journey, the student has to step out of the box of the teacher and find their own way. When I began writing again, I did not have a complete terminology. I began here by using “first awakening” to describe what Maharishi has called Cosmic consciousness. I have mixed feelings about such a generic word as cosmic. Aside from the fact that the term is used loosely in the field, it is also applied to things like space. But First is worse. (laughs) Relative to what?

I then took to calling it Self realization but Maharishi’s list above makes it clear that’s misplaced. There is clearly a realization of Self prior to its becoming full in Cosmic consciousness. What other word does English offer though? Self as Self realization? (laughs)

Fortunately, terms like God realization and Unity continue to be unambiguous and useful. In some ways, unity is better than the more common Oneness as prior states are characterized by an internal oneness that some confuse with true unity.

It also makes it clear that Self realization is different from jiva or soul awakening as the Self is much deeper than that. This means what I’ve identified as soul awakening is only generally.  That explains a great deal for me.

hmm – such a journey it is. Takes the mind awhile to catch up sometimes.


It seems Self Realization is still the most common term for awakening. If we take realization to be equivalent to a switch in who we are, then Cosmic remains the equivalent to Self realization. I can leave that language the same.

Seems I need a term for when we awaken to the Self. Some apparently have that with Self realization, some separately. And some notice an awakening to the soul or jiva before both.
Soul awakening and Self awakening?   Perhaps I need to do a Buckminster Fuller and make up my own terms. (laughs)

And of course, i found the mind charting various realizations into a larger model this evening but I don’t think I have enough data + the lesser realizations are far more variably placed.

Average rating 0 / 5. Vote count: 0

No votes so far! Be the first to rate this post.


  1. karmarider

    Hi Davidya,

    My experience has been very different. A strong intellectual leaning has been an obstacle, and an obstacle that my mind was not willing to give up easily. What is delicate and slippery about the process is that the mind refuses the utter simplicity, ordinariness, and immediacy of the realization. Perhaps a time will come when an intellectual understanding will dawn. I’m open to that. That’s one of the strange things about this: what may be ineffable at one point becomes undeniable at another.


  2. Davidya

    Hi Kaushik
    A strong intellectual leaning is both a blessing and a curse. It can be a barrier when the mind holds to concepts strongly. It also, in some ways, is more work. But it’s also a key aspect of the unity realization. And it can help in other areas.

    The thing to recognize though is that it’s not the intellect that’s the issue. It’s the holding, the attachment or resistance. With a good technique for connecting to source, that gripping is softened and falls more easily.

    I consider myself blessed to have fallen into a decent model. But it failed to account for the awakening that happened before the awakening. (laughs) – hence my intrigue at the above discovery. And in the end all models fail as reality has nothing to do with models. I have come to expect the surprise on peoples faces when they wake up in a group. It’s never what was expected.

    Yes, the utter simplicity and ordinariness.

    It’s quite common for people to experience a period of not knowing before deeper knowledge dawns. My path was a little different as I got a big knowledge dump up front. But I’ve still had to toss everything out a few times.

    Yes, the ineffable becomes undeniable. Everything becomes a dream, then becomes real again, but a different real.

    All I can say is that each of us has a different journey and it all makes a lot more sense when we can look back on it. In the middle we may not seem to be making progress, only to find we’ve been flying through it. At this point in the history of the world, it’s pretty hard not to be cruising at speed.

    Some of it I’m still amazed at.

  3. Mary-Anne

    Questioner: (To Sri Nisargadatta.) Have you no problems?
    Nisargadatta: I do have problems. I told you already. To be, to exist with a name and form is painful, yet I love it.
    Questioner: But you love everything!
    Nisargadatta: In existence everything is contained. My very nature is to love; even the painful is lovable.
    Questioner: It does not make it less painful. Why not remain in the unlimited?
    Nisargadatta: It is the instinct of exploration, the love of the unknown, that brings me into existence. It is in the nature of being to seek adventure in becoming, as it is in the very nature of becoming to seek peace in being. This alternation of being and becoming is inevitable; but my home is beyond.

  4. Davidya

    Hi Mary-Anne
    Thanks for the quote and Welcome here. I’ve read it before.
    Some problems fall away as they were part of the illusion. Some problems remain. Life remains to be lived. But those problems are put into perspective by not being ‘in’ the problems but rather “beyond” them.

    Another teacher might say “even pain is love itself”. Recently I heard a teacher say that when bliss can’t experience itself, it’s experienced as pain.

    Nisargadatta is a remarkable teacher. He sees clearly. The challenge with him and similar teachers like Ramana is that they awoke spontaneously. Thus they have no techniques or process. The simple truth, but nothing between here and there.

    Now, some people are fine without an understanding of process. They can surrender the mind and just see where it goes. Simple inquiry does the trick.

    But for most people, understanding the process helps them move forward. Get a sense of what’s going on. Indeed, many of my biggest openings have occurred as a result of a new explanation or “getting it”. The mind was opened and it created an allowing. Or rather Self’s perception became refined enough to see through the person.

    The challenge with defining any process is keeping it general enough to handle most variation yet specific enough to be useful. People will of course tend to build concepts out of it. And then when the actual experience comes along, can be surprised by the simplicity and non-conceptualness of it.

    This post was mostly a musing on the process of describing the process. I trust I’ve met what you intended the quote for.

  5. Pingback: Soul and Self « In 2 Deep

  6. Pingback: This Blog « In 2 Deep

  7. Pingback: Understanding God Realization « In 2 Deep

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Pin It on Pinterest