Consciousness – importance through the ages and lineages
I teach the practical use of awareness in its active form as I have thoroughly and empirically studied the qualities of human consciousness.
When examined in detail, consciousness has seven actively used qualities: awareness, ability to discern, ability to focus, ability to understand, insight, intuition, and inspiration. All of these qualities are natural parts of your consciousness, and I teach how to apply them properly and develop them further to become a truly wise person.
Consciousness is the basis of our existence. Applying the qualities of consciousness allows you to discover your True Self, and that means to complete your quest, reach the final destination and reaching it not only in terms of your current search for answers but in terms of your endless searches.
Everyone is looking for perfection. Your pursuit of positive emotions is actually a quest to find the True Self.
As approached in different lineages
In Vedas: In ancient Indian texts, consciousness is described as something extremely mysterious. At the same time, studying it is called higher science. There are many yoga-related texts dealing with the nature and structure of consciousness, such as “Yoga Vasistha,” “Tripura Rahasya,” “Upanishad.” Modern scientists have discovered interesting parallels between early Vedic theories of consciousness and modern quantum mechanics and neuroscience. Vedic texts, dating from around 2000 BC, distinguish consciousness from processes taking place in the brain, the former based on the conscious principle, the Self (True Self). Consciousness and awareness are distinguished from the senses (seeing, hearing, etc.), mind, and also the being who is becoming aware of things. The being who becomes aware is the conscious Self, or the True Self, who is the source of infinite potential. The visible material world and the invisible consciousness are parts of the same, complementary reality.
Vasugupta aphorisms: According to the sage Vasugupta from Kashmir, Shiva is absolute consciousness. The so-called ordinary consciousness used by man is limited. By studying the true source of this ordinary consciousness, one can discover the universal, or omnipresent, unlimited consciousness that is Shiva. His sutras about consciousness:
– consciousness is the inner essence of man, his Self (caitanyamatma);
– the knowledge that comes from the true inner essence leads to a Shiva-like state. Like wandering in the sky of consciousness (vidyasamutthane svabhavike khecari sivavastha).
Consciousness in Shaivism: Pursuant to the five principles of universal experience in Shaivism, pure consciousness is called Siva. The teaching describes various aspects of consciousness that need to be distinguished from the mind i.e. mental capacities. It also describes the deeper stages of awareness and understanding: awareness means consciousness that is focused. When a process, of which one is aware of, engages him or her and eventually results in alienation, that is called illusion (maya).
Sati in early Buddhism: In early Buddhism, the Pali word sati denotes awareness – one of the seven means that lead to enlightenment. The correct mastery of awareness was the seventh element of the noble eightfold path. Sati meant being consciously aware of reality to see the true nature of different phenomena. Most people are only partially conscious. The opposite of attention is inattention: forgetfulness, being discomposed, being aimless. Awareness is the antidote to illusion and the ability or power to contribute to the attainment of nirvana.
Consciousness in Buddhism: Generally, consciousness in Buddhism means the ability to be aware. Consciousness is also called a state in which one is able to actively apply this quality. In addition to waking consciousness, there are other modes of consciousness: sleep, hypnosis, meditation, etc. A special feature of highly developed qualities of consciousness is the capability to be in a conscious state – being aware of one’s own consciousness. Spiritual development means, first of all, the development of the qualities of consciousness, the development of awareness, to the maximum level. The highest state of consciousness is the aspiration and ultimate goal of human development.
* My additional comment: in Buddhism, the Great Emptiness (Sunjata) is considered to be the highest reality that is the aim of every human being. To orientate in terminology, I call this (Sunjata) consciousness, the first monistic phenomenon. In my teachings, which are rooted in the 18 Siddhar Tradition, it is also known that there exists in each person an even deeper substance than consciousness, which is also the witness of the Great Emptiness – the True Self.
Padmasambhava, Yoga of Knowing the Mind: Padmashambhava (Sanskrit “born from a lotus”) lived in Bhutan and Tibet in the 8th-9th centuries. In the Njingma school, he was considered the second Buddha and was best known as Guru Rinpoche (meaning “precious master”) who brought vajrayana Buddhism from Tibet to India, from which Tibetan Buddhism developed. He practiced yogic techniques and taught great liberation through the ubiquitous Yogic Consciousness (“Tibetan Book of Great Liberation: The Yoga of Knowing the Mind”).
Padmasambhava’s “The Yoga if Introspection:” “The One Mind being verily of the Voidness and without any foundation, one’s mind is, likewise as vacuous as the sky. Being of the Voidness, and thus not to be conceived as having beginning or ending, Self-Born Wisdom has in reality been shining forever, like the Sun’s essentiality, itself unborn. To know whether this be so or not, look within thine own Mind.”
* My additional comment: Words are labels to describe reality, they refer to a tool, process, component etc. The words used in ancient cultures and today may carry a totally different meaning, leading to the choice of wrong components and thus failures in attaining the goal. What has been used and translated here as “Mind” does not refer to our thinking mind, but to our consciousness. Choosing the correct component – consciousness – is the key to understanding and applying his teaching.
Zen: Bodhidharma considered proper meditation to be an essential means of liberation. In practice, he emphasized the importance of becoming aware of the existence of consciousness, contemplation, and inner discipline. In Japan, this branch of Buddhism was called Zen. The word zen derives from the Sanskrit word dhyana (the art of conscious inquiry into the mind i.e. meditation). Bodhidharma is the author of the following statement: “Thinking of nothing is zen. If you can do it, then walking, sitting, lying down – everything you do is zen.” Zen teachings:
– Maintain silence and prefer reality to fiction. Recognize the reality of life without distorting it;
– Follow the Dharma teaching in word and deed. Commit to and experience unity with the Higher without becoming attached to the object of commitment;
– Skepticism should be pervasive. Let unwavering commitment go hand in hand with criticism of authority, dogmas, misrepresentation, the fiction of the mind, and so on.
Wu-Wei, non-action: According to Jean Billeter, a sinologist, this means: “A state of perfect awareness of reality, perfect purposefulness, and an awareness of both energy and economy.” According to Herrlee Creel, a sinologist, Wu-Wei means the following two things:
– true non-action, due to a lack of desire to engage in relationships;
– technique by which the practitioner can gain greater control over the relationship.
* My additional comment: Wu-Wei principle does not mean passivity. Act without acting. Write without writing. Speak without speaking. Love without loving, etc. These statements point to three things: First, be unattached, a witness. Witness is always the one who uses consciousness; Second, continue to take part in activities; Third, a combination of both former principles is possible – this is kriya.
Vipassana: The Pali word vipassana means “insight into the true nature of reality.” Vipassana is a process of concentration that involves correct knowledge, intuitive clarity, and deep contemplation or understanding. This is a meditation practice based on the use of awareness. The goal of the meditator is to be as aware as possible of what is happening to himself / herself and to observe impartially what is going on with one’s body and mind. Although the technical details of meditation vary from school to school, the basic principle remains that of studying phenomena as they occur. According to the instructions, one should not engage in thinking while meditating – if thoughts inevitably arise, they should simply be noticed as a bystander, like clouds floating in the sky.
* My additional comment: the purpose of vipassana is to get rid of identifying oneself as emotions, thoughts, memories, the body. But vipassana does not teach how to release all those emotions and thoughts that emerge in consciousness. It is known that this type of prolonged and intensive meditation often induces unusual states in a person, which in the West are often considered to be sicknesses and which require the intervention of a master or a teacher.
Christianity: The message of Jesus Christ can be seen as an invitation to discover our own consciousness. He called upon people to become aware of their true spiritual nature and relationship with God. His message was that there is no way to enter the kingdom of God without changing oneself. He said: “Be like little children.” This means that one gives up his / her ego and becomes pure and transparent, similar to God. To release one’s ego, while maintaining wisdom, and returning to one’s true essence (True Self) is the greatest challenge for man. This challenge requires one to be aware of actual reality, of the true purpose, and of the common divine Source from which we all originate. It requires a conscious person.
* My additional comment: for example, the Christian prayer “Our Father who art (in) heaven …” does not refer to the physical sky, nor does it refer to a person who is separate from us or lives in outer space. Heaven is used as a metaphor, referring to a phenomenon that is like heaven – omnipresent, boundless, equal to everyone, keeping everything in oneself, just like in heaven, while penetrating every object there. Consciousness is a phenomenon which, by its attributes, is boundless, omnipresent, equal to all, inclusive. Consciousness is monistic, the first quality of God. This sentence says that the Father is consciousness.
Dzogchen: Consciousness is immortal. It does not die with the physical body, but transmigrates due to karma into the new incarnation until one attains Self-realization, transcends karma, and transmigration is complete. Dzogchen is a teaching of this Primordial Essence, which from the beginning has been everyone’s true inner state. The primordial state is timeless, beyond creation and destruction, the pure foundation of causal purity both at the universal and personal levels.
* My additional comment: Dzogchen is an ancient doctrine which can be said is not of Earthly origin. It is not of Buddhist or Hindu origin but is very similar to Kriya Yoga.
Some teachers who have taught about consciousness
Sri Aurobindo (1872 – 1950) was one of the leaders of the Indian independence movement, a yogi and a guru. He says that consciousness is the fundamental phenomenon of all that exists, being the energy that creates both the universe and all that it contains. Consciousness, together with presence and bliss (sat-cit-ananda) form the essence of the True Self. “Yoga is nothing more than practical psychology,” Aurobindo said. But he pointed out that one must first know the whole, and only then can one understand the parts – which is the starting point for a new, much higher “psychology” that is waiting for its time. This new approach will be based on empirical discoveries of reality, outlining such holistic system of man that is based on consciousness and the Self (reference 1).
Ramana Maharshi (1879 – 1950) was a sage and self-realized master of Tamil Nadu, India. After a near-death experience at the age of 16, he became aware of a flow or power, in which he recognized his True Self and later described it as the personal god Ishvara, who is Shiva. Ramana Maharshi taught: “The True Self or the True Me is a non-personal, all-encompassing consciousness. It is not to be confused with ordinary individuality, which does not really exist but is fabricated by the mind and overshadows the true experience of the True Self.” He claimed that the True Self is always there, but emphasized that one becomes aware of it only when the limiting tendencies of the mind have ceased. Ability to remain in a continuous conscious experience of the True Self is Self-realization.
Maharishi Mahesh Yogi (1918 – 2008) is known as the creator of the Transcendental Meditation technique. According to the teachings of Maharishi, every human being has the potential to experience the infinite nature of transcendental consciousness (Being or I). In his definition, pure consciousness is the basic reality of life, the unchanging basis of all subjective and objective existence. He explained the nature of consciousness as follows: “All life is born and maintained in consciousness. Speech, action, and behavior are vibrations of consciousness. The whole universe is an expression of consciousness, an ocean of infinite consciousness.” Pure consciousness is the universal Self and is accessible to every human being through overcoming the thought process. It is the source of pure intelligence, boundless creativity, perfect order, pure wakefulness and alertness, boundless freedom, wholeness, and bliss.
Eckhart Tolle (born 1948) is a German-born spiritual teacher living in Canada, known for the book “The Power of Now.” According to Tolle, the most important thing that can happen to a human being is to separate his or her consciousness from the process of his or her thinking and to realize that consciousness is the space where thoughts exist. At the heart of Tolle’s teachings is the transformation at the level of how we use consciousness, spiritual awakening that he sees as the next step in human evolution. He sees this step not only as a prerequisite for personal happiness but also for the resolution of conflicts on our planet: “Attention is like a beam of light – focused energy of consciousness.”
Mindfulness: A modern practice based on zen and vipassana techniques and involving the practice of sati, or awareness, from early Buddhism. Mindfulness consists of experiencing the moment intentionally and without judgment – the awareness of the thought, the feeling and the sensation as it arises at every moment. Being present at the moment and experiencing one’s thoughts and feelings transiently, they do not disturb one so much anymore. The scientific study of this condition began in 1980 with the initiative of US Professor Jon Kabat-Zinn. In addition, Thich Nhat Hanh and Richard J. Davidson have popularized mindfulness in Western society.
* My additional comment: popular mindfulness techniques are a good start, but unfortunately not comprehensive, effective enough nor do they have long-lasting results. The achieved state of peace of mind tends to disappear as soon as the practitioner finishes his or her practice. There are definite reasons for this. Mindfulness practitioner uses awareness to observe neutrally the phenomena that appear in his or her consciousness. This is the use of consciousness in it’s passive form – witnessing. When one has to return to daily routines, it is no longer possible to continue in the attained state, and it will be replaced by what was before. In order to sustain consciousness in everyday activities, it is necessary to know how to use the qualities of consciousness in an active form. When inner reactions in the form of autopilot are released and cease, full conscioussness becomes the most natural, effortless state. Mindfulness is a good starting point, but very, very much remains to be discovered as we move beyond mindfulness.