Introduction to the Forms of Consciousness
Consciousness is the experience of being alive in this present moment.
For a long time it has been thought that consciousness is a monolithic experience. That is, we have one single consciousness at all times and in all situations. But recent discoveries by science have changed all this. Scientific research into brain activity and its relationship to consciousness has revealed 3 distinct forms of consciousness.
Sentiency is the standard form of consciousness that was once considered the sum total of all consciousness.
Self-Awareness, the sense that I am a separate, autonomous being living at the center of my own world, governs our experience in the personal realm;
Universal Consciousness governs our experience of the Transcendent. The Transcendent is always present and available to be experienced when we open ourselves to experiencing it
In addition to these, we believe that there is at least one more form of consciousness, and perhaps there could be others.
This fourth form of consciousness, which we call feeling, enables us to experience our life in the inner world. Science pays little attention to the inner world so it is not surprising that they should not have found any evidence of an inner consciousness.
But many of us have had rich inner experiences and there has to be some consciousness which enables us to experience this. We deduce that there has to be at least one more form of consciousness.
We experience the outer world through our 5 senses.
We experience the inner world through feeling.
What is Feeling?
There are many meanings for the word “feel”. It can refer to:
- thought, as in “ I have a feeling that what he is saying is true.
The word feeling can be used as a noun or a verb.
But up until now, I know of no one using the word feeling to mean a form of consciousness.
By using brain scan technology, science has identified three forms of consciousness:
But these three forms of consciousness cannot explain all that we humans experience.
Given this, we deduce from our own human experience that there must be at least one more form of consciousness.
Our Own Experience of an Inner World Is Evidence That Another Form of Consciousness Must Exist.
How is it that we experience an inner world?
Science cannot explain it. Yet we experience it.
There is only one possible explanation: there is another form of consciousness that science has not yet identified. This is the consciousness that enables us to experience an inner world.
The inner world comes into being through the consciousness of feeling.
The inner world does not exist until we experience it. It is the experience itself which brings the inner world into existence.
The outer world exists independent of our experience of it. Reality in the outer world is matter and form. The inner world is just the opposite.
The inner world comes into being only as a result of our experiencing it.
Feeling Is a State of Receptivity
If the inner world does not exist independent of us, then how do we go about bringing it into existence?
There is a missing step here. It’s called attention. Attention is focused consciousness. Attention is the direct focusing of our consciousness on something of specific interest to us.
What do we do when we misplace something? We have to narrow our focus and look with laser-like attention for what we have misplaced. Our sentiency shifts from the broad perspective of the room to pinpoint attention of specific areas within the room.
With the inner world, we turn our attention towards our body and focusing on what we are experiencing inside us. It is similar to narrowing the focus of our vision. Only in this case, we are moving into a state of heightened receptivity. We have gone from a general, unfocused awareness of the inner world to a more focused invitation to welcome the inner world in.
Opening Ourself to the Inner World
Feeling makes no requirements on the inner or outer world. It is not based in any belief about the way the world is or the way it is supposed to be. Feeling is receiving from all that is around us. It is a willingness to allow everything to be just as it is in this moment. Feeling is living each moment one moment at a time.
Feeling is holding oneself in a state of constant readiness to receive from either outer and inner worlds. Feeling takes in all of life.
Jung called feeling the feminine function. Feeling is remaining open and still to enable us be experience the subtle movement of energy through our consciousness. Feeling requires that we be still and quiet on the inside. We cannot feel if our personal world is entangled in unresolved emotions or limiting personal beliefs.
Feeling needs our inner world to be stable. It needs our inner world to be anchored and secure. If we are adrift, then we will be feeling insecure in the inner world.
It is just as Maslow described: the lower level need for safety in the moment trumps all other needs. If we do not feel safe, we clamp down on the inside to protect the sensitive areas of the inner world. When we clamp down, we shut the inner world off from the outer world. We shut ourselves off from the inner world. This is an instinctive, protective reaction to keep the inner world safe.
There is a consequence to this instinctive need to keep the inner world safe. If we keep the inner world closed to the turmoil and uncertainty in the outer world around us, we also keep it closed to our own ability to experience it. We do not experience the inner world and we try to direct our lives from only the mind. It is a tremendous loss for us.
Feeling Is a Process of Opening Up to Life and Bringing Life Into Oneself
In the outer world we have the experience of being inside our environment. The outer world is “other”; the outer world is something different than us.
This is reversed in the inner world. In the inner world we open up and bring the “other” into us. We develop a fine sensitivity of feeling which enables us to experience the other in the inner world.
However, we are not always clear about who or what is the “other” that we are feeling. That comes with experience. Feeling in the inner world performs the same function as the 5 senses perform in the outer world. It is the means by which we are able to experience the “other”.
Feeling begins with the heart. The heart can open and close. Today, for moist of us, the heart is mostly closed. As a result, we do not feel much in our inner world.
The best book I ever read that describes this is not about consciousness or enlightnement; it is a book on how to train horses. You can read about it here: