First a brief review of the natural ranges of each level of experience, the koshas or energy bodies:
a) physical, etheric
b) energy, emotional
c) mental, sensory
d) intellect, Buddhi, intuition, fine feelings
e) bliss, celestial, causal
f) qualified or moving consciousness, flow, the “gap”
g) atman or cosmic Self, sat, pure consciousness
Understanding the function and dynamics of each level is useful due to the fundamental principles in play:
1) Itself or Denser:
Each layer or kosha recognizes what it contains and what is more expressed. For example, mind can recognize its thoughts and incoming sensory information. And if we’re not resisting, our emotions and physical sensations. If it’s clear, mind can also reflect on itself.
But that mind meaning is not the experience itself. It is a memory with mind-attached meta-data giving it categories, meaning, etc.
Similarly, the emotional body can experience emotions and recognize physical sensations.
Consciousness can recognize itself (awakening) and all experiences (content). Brahman knows Brahman, beyond the koshas. ParaBrahman knows ParaBrahman.
This principle also means mind can’t know what is beyond itself. It can’t see consciousness, for example. Only consciousness can see itself.
2) Use the Right Level:
Mind cannot experience emotions. It can recognize and label them, but it can’t fully experience them. You need the emotional body to process emotions and the physical body to experience physical sensations. If you try to resolve emotions with the mind, it doesn’t work.
Mind also can’t see ego as ego is an effect of the more-subtle intellect. Ego uses this position to stay in control. But consciousness, being beyond the intellect, can see the ego.
This points to the next principle:
3) Beyond can see All:
Mind can see its content and may reflect on itself. But it’s viewing from within itself. To see mind as a whole, we have to go beyond it. To see the whole house, go outside. The Intellect can discriminate the whole of mind. Consciousness even more so.
Consciousness recognizing the ego from beyond it allows us to see through the egos control. This opens the door to awakening, when consciousness sees itself.
Emotions are primarily experienced by the emotional body, but the mind can get a bigger picture. We just have to be careful not to use the mind in place of experiencing emotions.
After we have subtle experiences with content, they settle into the grosser levels. Then mind can digest them and give words and meaning. Emotions are felt.
Just remember that the mind’s memory of an experience and the stories and meaning it attaches are not the same as the experience itself. It’s just an impression. Mind is a useful tool, but it’s not reality.
Similarly, consciousness isn’t known completely until we step outside of it into Brahman.
These principles can help us understand what is doing the experiencing and from where. We usually focus our attention on an object. If we’re in the emotions, we’re in the emotional body. If we’re lost in thoughts, the mental body. If we stub our toe, the physical body. We shift from layer to layer with our attention all the time.
Being clear on what floor we’re on helps us get to the right office.