According to the Vedanta there are seven states of consciousness. Unfortunately, only a few of these seven have been thoroughly investigated by modern scientists. Some are not even recognized by regular science. One of the most influential Indian seers of the last century, Sri Aurobindo, said that we are collectively at an elementary stage of human evolution and that most of us therefore experience the first three consciousness states: Sleep, dream and wake. Ultimately, we will recognize and understand the broader consciousness states, and once that time has come, concepts such as synchronicity, telepathy, clairvoyance and knowledge about past lives will be widely accepted. The successive seven states of consciousness show an increase in our experience of synchronicity. Every next state brings us closer to the ideal of enlightenment. Everyone experiences the first three. Unfortunately, most people never go beyond these 3 initial stages.
1. The first level of consciousness is deep sleep
In deep sleep there is some consciousness; we still react to stimuli such as sound, bright light or touch. But our senses are for the most part stunned and the activity of cognitive functions and perception is very low.
2. The second level of consciousness is dreaming
During dreaming we are a little more awake and a little more alert than during the deep sleep. When we dream we have experiences. We see images, we hear sounds. We even think in our dreams. When we are dreaming, the world of our dreams seems real, important and relevant. Only after waking up, comes the insight that the dream as reality was limited to the period of dreams and that this reality may not be as directly relevant as our life in waking state.
3. The third level of consciousness is waking state
Most people are in this state most of the time. The measurable brain activity during waking state is quite different from the brain activity during deep sleep and dreams.
4. The fourth level of consciousness
The fourth state of consciousness occurs when we see the soul for a little while, when we transcend, when we, even though it is only a fraction of a second, become completely calm and quiet and become aware of the witness in us. We can end up In this state of consciousness during meditation, we experience a ‘gap’ or void, that moment of silence between thoughts. People who meditate regularly always have this experience.
The fourth state of consciousness also leads to changes in physiological terms. Reducing the levels of cortisol, adrenaline and stress. Blood pressure is reduced and the immune system functions better. Brain research has shown that the difference in brain activity during the experience of the gap between thoughts and in the ordinary waking state is enormous. This means that the sight of the soul causes physiological changes, both in the brain and in the body. In this fourth state of consciousness it is not only possible to catch a glimpse of the soul, we can also see the beginning of synchronicity.
5. The fifth level of consciousness is called cosmic consciousness
In this state, you, the silent witness, is able to observe your physical body. You are no longer only aware that you are awake in your body and that you have a soul that you sometimes catch a glimpse of. The silent witness looks at your body, even when it is in deep sleep, as if you were out of your body. There is an alert, observational attention, not only during sleeping and dreaming, but also when you are awake. You are that silent witness. The witness can observe the body during the dream and at the same time observe the dream. The same experience occurs in waking state. You may be playing tennis, making a phone call or watching your TV. As you do, the silent witness observes your mind/body in these activities. The fifth state of consciousness is called cosmic consciousness because your consciousness has the ability to be similar in two dimensions, the place-bound and the non-place-bound dimension. In this fifth state, in which you know that you are connected with unplaced intelligence, synchronicity really begins to manifest itself. You live entirely in accordance with the understanding that you are one with all the existing ones. Your intuition becomes more powerful and your creativity increases, as well as your insight. Research suggests that people in the state of cosmic consciousness who experience the witness have a continuous brain activity that is characteristic of meditation, even when they are active.
6. The sixth level of consciousness is called divine consciousness
In this situation the witness is becoming more alert. In a state of divine consciousness you not only feel the presence of energy in yourself, but you begin to feel the energy also in all other beings. You feel the presence of energy in plants and eventually in rocks. You see that the driving force behind all life expresses itself in all objects in the universe, in the observer and that what is perceived, in the viewer and in the landscape. This divine consciousness makes us see God in all things. People in this state of consciousness are able to communicate even with animals and plants. For most people, this is not a permanent state of consciousness. You go in and out. But the great prophets and seers like Jesus, Buddha and many yogi’s and saints lived in a state of divine consciousness.
7. The seventh and last state of consciousness, the ultimate goal, is called unity consciousness
In unity consciousness, the energy of the one who perceives and the one that is perceived come together. They become one. If that happens, you see the whole world as an extension of your own being. You don’t just identify yourself with your personal consciousness, you see that the whole world is a projection of your own. The personal self is completely transformed into the universal self. At this stage, miracles are quite common, but they are not really needed anymore because the infinite dimension of potential is available at any time. You transcend life. You transcend death. You are energy that was always and will always be.
The Vedic wisdom say: ‘Knowledge differs and depends on the state of consciousness.’ As your consciousness expands, familiar sentences have a new connotation and meaning, which leads to a deeper understanding. That understanding influences how you experience the world, and these experiences can affect your state of consciousness again.