There are ten major partitions of consciousness, but most people live their lives using only three. How do we reach the others? Why would we want to?
The Rainbow of Consciousness
People tend to think of all partitions of consciousness like a strict hierarchy, level upon level. But what if that’s not correct? But what if consciousness is more like a rainbow? Perhaps it’s not a strict hierarchy, but like plants growing from the ground with several connections to the earth? Or like a rainbow that is shifts in brightness and intensity.
“People are doing the best that they can from their own level of consciousness.” ― Deepak Chopra
Our talk about consciousness, we start with the three default states. We all can recognize them from our daily cycle. These three are waking, sleeping, and dreaming. These three default states are important because they provide our bodies with the connection to consciousness. They are three plugs in a pegboard with many other holes.
Perception & The Expression of Consciousness
Most people think of these three states as separate entities like vertical silos on a bar graph. Waking is not on top of sleeping. However, some people see dreaming as a part of the sleeping state because we generally go through the sleep stage to reach it. However, this isn’t always the case. Daydreaming is the case where you go straight from waking to the dream state.
The fact that you can go from one state to another seamlessly is an important finding. It tells us that consciousness is not hierarchical in its structure, at least not with the default states. Instead, they are linked and possibly related, like the vertical silos on the bar graph. (1)
When we are in the waking state, our perception and awareness are fully engaged in this partition. Yet, we still have access to both the sleep and dream states under the right conditions. It’s simply that our awareness is not using either of these partitions.
You are familiar with the first three; these are the default partitions that enable us to use this marvelous machinery of mind, body, and spirit. Many people never move beyond this default platform.
But, as you will soon discover, there is much more to the experience available. Nietzsche describes life as a series of questions and experiments. Consciousness is the apparatus through which we make this adventure.
The Ten Levels of Consciousness
Remember that the partitions of awareness are not static and fixed. The rainbow of consciousness is fluid. (2)
We concentrate most of our efforts on the normal waking state of awareness. It becomes the benchmark for ordinary reality, even though we know we experience everything within the mind.
We tend to think everyone “sees” the world exactly like we do. However, we know this isn’t the case, even in practical matters. Seven people can witness the same thing, but each gives a slightly different account, sometimes drastically different. EEG brain waves of 8 Hz and higher are typical.
We start our discussion of the ten levels of consciousness with the waking partition. Most people spend most their time in this partition. It’s not necessarily the most important, but we’ll come back to this issue in a moment.
We spend almost half of our lives in the partition, yet most of us have no recollection of it. When we sleep, our cognition of reality shuts off.
We go through multiple NREM cycles (no rapid eye movement) and REM (rapid eye movement) when we sleep. In normal adults, each cycle lasts for about 90 to 120 minutes. Most people cycle through 4 to 5 phases during a typical 8-hour sleep cycle. NREM sleep is maximum in the first part of the night, while REM sleep predominates in the second half. When we are in the sleeping partition, the EEG is 12 to 14Hz waves with a range of 11 to 16 Hz.
Our dreams are proof of non-ordinary reality, yet most people discount this fantastic conclusion. When we dream, we enter the stage of sleep known as REM for rapid eye movement.
The dreamscape seems as real and concrete as our experience in the waking state. EEG is the same for sleeping unless we experience nightmares, which escalate respiration and heart rates into the waking state’s realm.
The partition of dreaming opens other avenues for expanding consciousness, outlined under the seventh state.
Sleeping and dreaming are two of the ten levels of consciousness that we overlook. These two states are portals which expand awareness. One of the easiest ways to increase the bandwidth of awareness is by increasing our awareness of sleep and dream states through lucid dreaming exercises.
4) Transcendent State of Pure Awareness
Without a doubt, the fourth state of consciousness changes things. It’s the beginning of what many Indian masters call the higher states of consciousness, and with good reason.
It’s a partition of awareness with profound rest while the mind is active. When you arrive in this partition, you feel the change. The other significant characteristic of this partition is its absence of internal dialogue. You are simply awake and aware. Here, the brainwaves operate in the theta-wave area around 4 to 7 Hz. So, it produces lower but more coherent brainwave patterns than waking, sleeping, or dreaming.
Many people learn to reach the fourth state with the proper type of meditation. We recommend Japa or Transcendental Meditation as the most efficient technique. After using this technique, many people report they experienced this state before; but they didn’t realize it. This state of pure consciousness is the silence that lies in between waking, sleeping, and dreaming.
Maharishi Mahesh Yogi describes the transcendent state like the sap in flowers. Although colorless and shapeless, it feeds the firm stem, the green leaves, and the colorful flower. It’s the expression of consciousness manifest in different ways. Maharishi calls this portion of awareness bliss consciousness. Patanjali refers to it as Samadhi.
Many people report they encounter this state after learning to meditate as they transition from waking to a sleeping state. Some also say the experience between sleeping, dreaming, and sleeping to waking. It shows the 4th state of consciousness supports our platform of default awareness. It is not a state of awareness above but below holding them up.
5) The Shamanic State of Consciousness
This partition of awareness has some unique properties, including directing attention in an imaginary landscape. This landscape is the home of our subconscious imagination. We need to access the subconscious when we dream.
Of the ten levels of consciousness, this represents humankind’s first technique for exploring awareness. This technique is one of the most significant doorways to non-ordinary reality.
6) Cosmic Consciousness
Next, we have the sixth state of consciousness, is a combination of the transcendent 4th state with the waking state. This partition of consciousness is known as cosmic consciousness and witnessing.
Many Eastern teachers refer to it witnessing because in this partition of awareness, one experiences reality from two vantage points simultaneously. You are aware in your body and observe from another vantage point normally above our physical body. This aspect of witnessing is also an element of the lucid dream state.
7) Lucid Dreaming
Now we come to the seventh state. Lucid dreaming is the combination of at least two or possibly three states of consciousness. It’s a most interesting experience. You are present, and you “know” you are dreaming, so it offers some sense of control over what’s happening. This level of awareness is the same as the waking state.
Lucid dreaming has the presence and awareness of the waking state, the dream state and control over the dream like the spirit world of the Shamanic State of Consciousness. These characteristics lead some to the opinion that Lucid Dreaming is indeed a separate 7th state of consciousness.
8) God Consciousness
This partition is a perceptual leap where one comprehends the highest relative value of ordinary reality while maintaining the sixth state’s unbound awareness. God Consciousness as a label for this partition is a well-known oxymoron.
Consciousness and God are the same things, although they appear to be opposites before gaining the proper perspective. We understand we are as much “a god” as any other anthropomorphic being or avatar of religion when we achieve the correct observational perspective. We are the creator, “the god,” or the sap within the flower.
It combines the waking state, the fourth and sixth state, which produces the ultimate physical perspective of reality.
“There is a God part in you. The consciousness. The pure Self. Learn to listen to the voice of that Power.” ― Amit Ray, Nonviolence: The Transforming Power
9) Unity Consciousness
In this state, one lives in the realm of oneness. When we reach the fourth state or apply the correct process to remove bias and prejudice barriers, we can get glimpses of oneness. These glimpses of oneness are temporary, but show us what is possible. Unity is the highest state of awareness one can achieve in ordinary reality.
10) Unbound Awareness
With this state, we step into the realm of non-ordinary reality. There is no good label for this partition, which is another interesting combination of different flavors of awareness. The closest examples we have for this state are Australian Aboriginal Dreamtime or the astral projection and time travel experiences of Carlos Castaneda. Some call this state the essence of sorcery or alchemy.
In this partition, we combine the landscapes of lucid dreaming and the Shamanic Journey, and the fourth and tenth states of consciousness. You don’t achieve this state unless you’ve done some serious inner work.
These ten levels of consciousness are the main ingredients for our life experiment. But, like a rainbow, there are varying degrees of each. For example, as you learn to lucid dream, the first step is knowing when you are in the dream state. But at this point, you do not yet have control over what’s going on.
Those who are new to meditation only realize they reach the 4th state when they leave it. You don’t recognize it at first because it is absent of any internal dialogue, a state where time does not exist. As you become more familiar with this state, you’ll look forward to the peace while you are basking in the silence. This will help us understand the difference between a state of emotional enchantment and a genuine change in awareness.
(1) The Status and Future of Consciousness Research, The National Library of Medicine: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5641373/
(2) Assessing levels of consciousness with symbolic analysis, The National Library of Medicine: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7398453/