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Friday, July 1, 2011

Experiences of Consciousness

"Your experiences are in the realm of consciousness." Sri Nisargadatta Maharaj.

Consciousness is the act of being awake. It is in this consciousness where your experiences occur. Your mind is always in one of five states of consciousness at any one time no matter what you are doing. You can test it out for yourself. What we are going to do is go through these five states of consciousness and you can see them first hand.

The first and lowest level of consciousness is waking sleep. It is also called "mind wandering" or "day dreaming" and it happens to us more often than we realize.

Waking sleep is a period of time when you are thinking of one thing and your body is doing something else. Or, you may not be thinking at all - just "spaced out." You might be driving your car while thinking about arriving at your destination or thinking about something else while reading this paragraph. Most of the time the mind is in the future or past but waking sleep can also happen in the present such as while walking down a flight of stairs, while working a crossword puzzle or reading a road map while driving. It is like being in two different places at the same time. You basically know what your are doing (driving, walking, working) and you are vaguely aware of your surroundings. To see waking sleep from the outside, just watch people walking or driving while they are texting or talking on their cell phones. Just about everyone knows what waking sleep is because they have experienced it firsthand. Most people can tell you about their own experiences of being in waking sleep.

Why is waking sleep so common? Because the mind/brain machine is usually on automatic, like a machine without an operator. It is cranking out programs of beliefs, thoughts, images, perceptions and feelings without anybody home. The self is absent, the house is vacant so to speak. Also, it takes no effort to be in waking sleep, so humans being human, take the plath of least resistance and the mind will "slide" into waking sleep before you know it. It's easier to be in waking sleep than paying attention to what you are doing.

This morning I went into the bathroom to get a spray ointment to put on my dog's paws and when I got there I forgot why I went there. I was thinking of something else while walking toward the bathroom and when I got there the reason for going slipped my mind. About ten minutes later I saw my dog licking his paws and remembered why I went into the bathroom.

Next, we will look at the second level of consciousness - absorption.

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