The world around us can be perceived through several distinct lenses. Our past experiences certainly are a major influence, not to mention our dominant sense, our culture (group consciousness), our stage of development, and so forth.
Through an appropriate spiritual practice that brings transcendence (Samadhi, Turiya), we not only touch into consciousness (presence) but we refine the physiology and our senses of perception. Refinement takes place through purification of the subtle layers of our physiology and a shift in the overall tone or dominant guna we carry. This combination refines our perceptual abilities.
Each of us comes into this life with a distinct level of development in each of consciousness and refinement, of Atman and Sattva. We all start in different places.
As our perception refines (sight, hearing, touch, etc) and subtler layers of the world around us become clear, other modes of experience eventually become available.
Our culture emphasizes an impersonal, masculine*, mental approach to the world. This is an emphasis on principles and processes. At the finest level of becoming, these are expressed through fine vibrations structured into fields and form. This is finer values of the usual surface appearance.
We may see things shimmering, hear tones or subtle music, feel vibrations, and so forth. Eventually, we come to experience a great deal of detail.
Another way of seeing is a personal, feminine*, heart approach. From this perspective, as purity rises, we can come to perceive not just subtler levels but their doership.
Before awakening, the ego claims one’s actions and results for itself. I had the thought, I did the action, and so forth. After Self Realization, we shift to experiencing ourselves as the observer, as a detached awareness that notices thoughts and actions taking place. We lose a sense of doership. We may then ask – if I’m not doing the doing, what is?
This is what the personal reveals with refined perception. By perceiving through the heart, we can come to recognize that everything happening is being done. The world is not just a machine. Every law of nature and principle is embodied and hierarchies of beings are running the world.
We discover that all of this is driven by the Divine. And that life is a grand play of various beings vying for prominence or balance.
Fundamentally, we discover those fine vibrations are produced by groups of devata in relationship. Their relationships give rise to the structure. We can say they are the fundamental doers. Flows of consciousness (Shakti) drive the devata.
It’s not necessary to be awake for some of this to unfold but a platform of being makes it much clearer and more stable. Inversely, awakeness in consciousness supports but may not develop much refinement. This depends on factors like prior development, karma, and the techniques regularly practiced.
In our day-to-day life, we may find the first mode more convenient. It’s a simpler perspective that allows us to focus on the task at hand. But if we want to understand what is taking place, shifting to the heart reveals motivations behind events in our life. For example, if we want to understand the weather, what better way than communicating with its doers.
But there is also another subtler mode.
In a recent webinar, Dorothy Rowe mentioned 3 modes of perceiving. As vibrations, the first I mentioned, the impersonal, mind-driven approach. As forms and beings, the second personal, heart-based mode. And she mentioned a third mode as spaces.
Those vibrations and the relationships between devata are determined by the space they’re in. The infinite space created by consciousness aware of itself is progressively “subdivided” into smaller spaces, spaces within spaces aka nested spaces.
For example, your computer exists in its own space. This space exists in the space of the room. This room exists in the space of the building. This building in the space of your community. This community in the space of your city. This city in the space of your region. This region in the state or province. This state in the country. This country in the continent. This continent in the world. This planet in the solar system. This solar system in the region. This region in the galactic arm. This arm in our galaxy. This galaxy in our galactic cluster. This cluster in our supercluster, Laniakea. This supercluster in an unnamed larger region. This region in our universe. Our universe in a cluster of universes. This cluster in our creation. Creation in the space of cosmic self-awareness.
You can also go the other way – the computer into its parts, its molecules, atoms, sub-atomic particles, quarks, and virtual fluctuations in the vacuum aka vibrations in space. Consciousness is at both ends. We as experiencers sit in the middle, integrating it all.
Every object in our experience arises in a space of consciousness as that’s what everything begins with, both locally and cosmically. The vibrations that give rise to structure, lively fields and forms begin with a defined space. It is the liveliness of consciousness that stirs space to vibrate and express.
The space of consciousness in which creation and the spaces of universes arise is not a manifest space that expresses into form. Actual manifest space doesn’t begin until the bliss body or causal level. There, the space of our universe expresses and manifestation begins in a progressive series of nested spaces to support all the forms we perceive.
You may have noticed a pattern here. The first mode is mind-driven, powered by the 3rd gut chakra. The second mode is heart driven, the 4th heart chakra. The 3rd mode is about space, the 5th throat chakra.
This points to several other modes we can describe. A mode where the first chakra is dominant is about survival, getting through life, a very physical existence. A second chakra mode is a focus on possessions, identification (Mine), and pleasure.
Flipping up to the top, a 6th chakra mode is the cosmic, beyond time and space and our universe. Here we learn the structure of consciousness itself and the mechanics of creation. The 7th is consciousness itself.
It’s fascinating how the upper modes are more personal and intimate yet universal while the lower modes are more impersonal even though they’re more about the person and individuality. This is about coming closer to home.
* By masculine here, I don’t mean gender but the impersonal observer aspect of consciousness. The feminine is the observed, expressed aspect. We all contain both but some of us express more of one or the other in various parts of our life, including in our physical gender.
Update: To be clear, I don’t mean the chakras determine our experience. They are the energy centers in the physiology related to the layers (koshas) we’re consciously functioning in.