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.
Scientists Studying Psilocybin Accidentally Prove the Self Is an IllusionQuartz Magazine
On February 9th, 2018 this startling headline appeared in the online magazine Quartz. Neuroscientists studying psilocybin, the psychoactive ingredient in “magic mushrooms”, discovered that the drug had the ability to suspend “normal” consciousness.
When normal or “self” consciousness was suspended, the idea of being a separate and distinct self that is different from everything else around us disappeared. Self-consciousness was gone. A different kind of consciousness arose which gave test subjects the feeling of universal oneness. Instead of feeling like a separate and isolated self, test subjects felt like a seamless part of everything.
The changes were more than just in their subjective experience. Under psiloclybin a different part of the brain became active.
The dmn turned off. Awareness is off. The subject’s brain wave patterns were dramatically different than those of other forms of consciousness.
Quartz put it this way: psilocybin seems to offer some people a route to an alternate view of reality in which they shed the limitations of their individual consciousness and embraced a sense of interconnectedness and universality.
This is exactly what the ancient spiritual traditions of the far east have described for centuries. When ordinary consciousness is suspended, this oceanic experience of oneness rises up and takes its place.
Gone was the sense of having an outer world around them. Gone was the sense that I am a separate self. Gone was the experience of being a distinct “me”. “Me” was obliterated. “Me” no longer existed.
The test subjects reported experiences which are not unknown. Similar descriptions of reality have come down to us from ancient mystical traditions of the Far East. They have referred to these experiences as the Transcendent. Participants described feeling a sense of oneness with all existence. They felt a deep sense of unity, as if they were one with the entire universe. They all felt a sense of peace and ease. Everything was fine just as it is. Nothing needed to be changed. Nothing needed to be improved. Life is perfect just as it is.
A great sense of peace and ease came over them. Perhaps most important, it did not go completely away. After the effects of the drug wore off, the subjects continued to experience a lingering sense of peace and ease.
This was change that really matters. It was profound. It was life-changing. It was life-validating.