1) In silent slumber, sleeping …
After waking from a good night’s sleep feeling refreshed and ready to go we sometimes wonder what just happened. Where were we (if anywhere) for the past several hours?
You might say, “I know that I was in bed resting with eyes closed and unconscious of what was happening in my room. For the most part my body was lying still. No sound was loud enough to waken me. Cars passed by my apartment on the street all night but I did not see them. For me it was just blissful sleep.”
The heightened anabolic condition during sleep allows the body to rest, rejuvenate and strengthen life functioning systems.
During sleep we experience a unique physiological state – the mind is unconscious while the body is resting.
2) In bed dreaming of fantasy …
Sometimes after waking from sleep we remember that something happened. We may remember a fantasy world or an outing with loved ones, or worry and concern about a current life problem. Sometimes we recall flying or performing other physical feats that seemingly defy the laws of gravity and reason. During this period the mind apparently perceives a visual world, hears sounds, and experiences emotions.
Many scientists believe that dreaming most likely occurs during the REM stage of sleep.
During dreaming we experience a unique physiological state – the mind is somewhat active (illusory) while the body is resting.
3) Awake for the day …
After a refreshing night I am up and adam, bright and early out of bed and ready to go. Now we are awake and conscious of the sensory/perception world that we live in. We see that world, taste our food, smell the flowers, touch the rain drops, and hear the voices of family and friends. We can move about from place to place. We can sit and read a book utilizing our reasoning and cognitive skills. Maybe we are too occupied thinking about past, present or future. Or maybe our heart takes flight with the thrill of discovery and found love.
During waking we experience a unique physiological state – the mind and body are both active and aware of the outer world.
4) Transcendental Consciousness (TC), that silent inner wakefulness of meditation …
Meditation means different things to different people. To one person an afternoon outing in the park on a beautiful day is considered meditation. Perhaps listening to the sounds of nature or a favorite Beethoven symphony would also qualify. Ah, rest and relaxation.
Meditation is also what we do when we sit down in a quite setting and deliberately close our eyes to practice a specific technique. As the mind takes flight on its own we may start thinking about our job or what will happen tomorrow. Maybe we think about lofty philosophical ideas like “what is the meaning of life” and “why are we here.” Or perhaps we just allow the mind to settle down.
Trying or forcing during meditation causes stress and strain. Such practices are not recommended. Instead, we should choose a technique that effortlessly and naturally takes the mind to finer states of thought until thought itself is transcended.
When we are meditating the space between each successive thought is the experience of inner silence or Transcendental Consciousness (TC). No thought, just silence. We may not have noticed this before but it happens. As we continue our practice of meditation and more days pass by we begin to notice that the silence has become more profound. Instead of being in the background, experienced only between successive thoughts, it now becomes more pronounced and begins to be experienced outside of meditation even during dynamic activity. It is now in the foreground rather than in the background of our life.
During Transcendental Consciousness we experience a unique physiological state – the mind is highly alert while the body is resting.
Each state of consciousness has a unique corresponding state of physiology. By physiology we mean the level of mind/body functioning – appetite, respiration, vision, hearing, thirst, weight, locomotion, speech, smell, memory, perspiration, body temperature, blood pressure, heart rate, state of mind, etc..
The experience of Transcendental Consciousness can be described and talked about in books. We can discuss it from an intellectual standpoint and understand its many facets and importance to basic human life. But no amount of talking about it will capture it for you. We can talk about blueberries and describe how delicious they taste, and their wonderful texture, but that is not the same as actually eating one. Like that, unfoldment of awareness occurs through direct experience of its source.
There are hundreds of different types of meditation but these practices fall into three general categories:
Contemplation – thinking about the meaning of words and ideas.
Concentration – focusing on one specific thing
Transcendence – allowing the mind to go beyond itself, and transcend the thought process.
At the seat of the mind is the field of pure consciousness which is beyond the arena of time and space. The past, present and future are concepts of the mind. In meditation we can go beyond the most subtle of thoughts, to transcend the thinking process itself. Transcend the mind to experience awareness in its purity.
In our earthly world we gain experience because there is a distinction between the object of perception – say a beautiful flower, the perceiver (me), and the process of perceiving. When we practice meditation and the mind transcends that distinction begins to blur. When we experience pure consciousness – the object of perception, the perceiver, and the process of perception is all one. There is only the Self, pure awareness.
There are three states of consciousness beyond the four already discussed. They are …
5) Cosmic Consciousness (CC) or Enlightenment
6) Glorified Cosmic Consciousness (GC)
7) Unity Consciousness (UC)
… all of which we will discuss in more detail on another day.
To whatever degree you experience inner silence in your daily life, nurture and cultivate that quality.