Recently, I became aware of a book by local philosopher Leonard Angel. It’s called Enlightenment East and West. I’ve not had a chance to read the book but did go over it. He covers a wide gamut of human experience and proposes a model to use in categorizing them.
He groups them by 3 ways subject is experienced and 3 types of experience of the object. Ergo, the process of perception and how it’s reflected in different states.
A1: I am everything; and there is only one object.
A2: I am everything; and there are many objects.
A3: I am everything; and there is no object.
B1: There is some me and there is some not me; and there is only one object.
B2: There is some me and there is some not me; and there are many objects.
B3: There is some me and there is some not me; and there is no object.
C1: There is no me; and there is only one object.
C2: There is no me; and there are many objects.
C3: There is no me; and there is no object.
As he rightly observes, B1 and B3 are illogical and don’t exist as states. Thus, there is 7 variations. B2 is how most people typically experience the world.
Although how each person will step into awakening varies, the framework I’ve used that holds up best is 7 states of consciousness. I’ll use this to illustrate how using the above model is misleading. Part of the issue is that any given experience is meaningless by itself. It’s meaning is derived from context. Secondly, it is an evolution of consciousness which has the effect of changing perception. Perception is the key factor in experiences but NOT the evolution of consciousness. Consciousness is the key and the context.
The 7 states:
1) Sleep State
2) Dream State
3) Waking State
4) Transcendental Awareness or Consciousness
5) Self Realization or Cosmic Consciousness
6) God Realization or Consciousness (may come after Unity)
7) Unity, Totality, or Oneness
1) Sleep State is C3 – no me, no object.
2 & 3) Dream and Waking state are characterized by B2.
4) Transcendental is without object but can be experienced as being everything or nothing, C3 or A3. Yet it is a very different experience from sleep. It’s opposite in fact. And it can be experienced while sleeping. (witnessing sleep)
5) Self Realization is a place where the separate me has ended. At first, it can be like C2 – no me, many objects. But the underlying experience may shift around due to the transcendent experience. There can be a sense that all is one – C1 or that all objects are illusion, C3. But again, this C3 is very different from either sleep or transcendence.
6) GC is kind of a C1 experience – one “object”. But it’s one object that contains many, so C2 as well. But again, much different from the C2 of CC (5) above.
7) Unity is of course an A type experience. But the trouble is, it’s inclusive as it collapses the duality of perception. Thus unity is A1, A2, and A3 all concurrently. Yet at the same time, as subject and object are the same, none of them. If ‘I am Everything’ is true, there are no objects, just one subject appearing as many objects. But there isn’t really an object there.
We can see that while this model may be a way of classifying experiences and organizing information, one must not be mislead by the idea that this classification is a valid way of illustrating the path, the actual process of Enlightenment.
There is also the important point that even the subject, Enlightenment, is itself a concept so has no bearing on the actual process. It’s a concept that must be shed for one to be.
The problem is that this not something that the intellect can actually grasp – until it is direct experience. This is because consciousness and the fundamental layers of reality transcend the intellect. Mind cannot consider what is outside it’s box.
I find it much more useful to look to ancient models of awakening that have been repeatedly verified. THEN you can place the range of human experience into a model that will better hold up your own journey. However, as mentioned, even there you will have to cast the model aside when the time comes to become that which you already are.
I hope to get a chance to read the book though. Always interesting to read examples of the varieties of human experience. Reminds me of Bucke’s old book, Cosmic Consciousness.