Pure; cosmic; universal and individual consciousness - exploring some of the basics
To see consciousness in its purity is to experience what is called universal consciousness, to experience the mind as pure consciousness. When you experience the mind as consciousness, it is also knowingness, the very element of knowing. Either the individual consciousness has to go through the ego dying and then be reborn as universal consciousness as we have described, or individual consciousness must expand to become universal consciousness. It is as if space experiences space, rather than someone experiencing space, and it is limitless. It is difficult to describe what universal consciousness or what the mind as consciousness means, because there are no thoughts in it. The moment there are thoughts, the content separates you from the consciousness. - A. H. Almaas, Diamond Heart Book 2, The Freedom to Be
“Is he conscious?” the doctor asked.
Most people think of conscious as being awake, alert to the world, feeling and thinking. We normally get reactions or responses from a conscious person.
To be conscious implies consciousness, does it not? Being conscious allows us the opportunity for understanding ourselves.
Dr. Antonio Damasio, a neuroscientist who has studied the neurological basis of consciousness for years, tells Big Think that being conscious is a "special quality of mind" that permits us to know both that we exist and that the things around us exist. He differentiates this from the way the mind is able to portray reality to itself merely by encoding sensory information. Rather, consciousness implies subjectivity—a sense of having a self that observes one’s own organism as separate from the world around that organism.
Is there such a thing as objective consciousness?
What is the nature of the self?
Consciousness must be at the heart of existence and individual experience, right?
Which poses another interesting question: Is there experience other than individual experience? We can talk about group experience or nondual experience, but isn’t individual experience connected to all our experience?
Here is a great example of external consciousness pondering: What is consciousness and the roots of consciousness? Imagine your reflection in the mirror being capable of independent pondering around what’s the nature of me?
A closely related theory, panpsychism, holds that all aspects of reality have some “psychological” properties apart from their physical properties. This type of property dualism suggests that the universe has consciousness at its base. While this theory certainly is elegant, it is thought by some to carry metaphysical baggage. One complaint has been that, if this theory is true, then all matter would have a certain element of consciousness to it. Because consciousness is inherently connected with the phenomenal, this is a peculiar result, for it’s hard to imagine how there could be something it’s “like” to be an electron, table, chair, tire or other inanimate object. - Dr. Antonio Damasio
From the mystical perspective, pure consciousness is not dependent upon psychological properties, but psychological properties are dependent on consciousness.
Furthermore, consciousness seems to have boundaries. There is something that it’s like to be me, to be you and to be someone else. Panpsychism has trouble explaining how phenomenology has a boundary. If consciousness is a fundamental property of matter, it appears as though all matter and collections of matter have a conscious aspect. Collective consciousness entails that, not only do individual electrons have consciousness, so do neurons and collections of neurons. It’s hard to see the level at which you would exist as a conscious being. - Dr. Antonio Damasio
Those who have experienced nondual realization, cosmic consciousness, universal consciousness, enlightenment and the like, seem to agree that psychic or self boundaries are a creation of the mind and a normal stage of development. To them, most people are living in a state of arrested development or at least taking a long pause in the process of what’s possible.
Transcending the Body/Mind
All of existence is a manifestation of consciousness, just ask any mystic. Your body, the chair, the bird, an idea, a sensation - all forms of consciousness. To experience consciousness as such, one must transcend identity with the body and the self. Common experiences of universal consciousness include:
- Being an infinite and boundless ocean of presence or love or consciousness.
- Our body and the universe appear as forms arising out of the primordial substance of consciousness.
- Experiencing divine love for everybody and everything.
Consciousness is fundamentally an ontological presence, meaning:
- It apprehends consciousness in itself.
- Consciousness is independent of the function of consciousness of objects.
- Depth begins to open up.
- Knowledge is a fundamental mode of existence.
- What we are is more fundamental than all the content of our experience - sensations, feelings, emotions, thoughts, images, symbols, ideas, concepts…
- It is beyond time and space.
Knowing pure consciousness, universal consciousness as existence and the source of everything is an experience of pure sensitivity. The brain/mind can’t grok consciousness because it has nothing with which to contrast it.
Pure Consciousness is Pure Existence
- Consciousness is the experience of pure existence
- The source of mind
- The seed of all experience the root of all concepts.
- A field of awareness that includes our capacities of perception and experience.
- Consciousness is the underlying ground of everything.
- Pure consciousness is nonconceptual
- It is the ground of all concepts and all kinds of knowing
It is not possible to understand what universal consciousness is without experiencing it, because it eliminates the ordinary level of understanding. The understanding of universal consciousness is exactly the elimination of separateness, of any division in perception, including thoughts about consciousness. There is no consciousness of anything in particular. This is a foreign experience for most of us, because we know consciousness only in terms of consciousness of something.
Back to the doctor, “Is she conscious?”
In the pure experience of consciousness there is no experience of body or thoughts; there is no experience, no experiencer, no self. Hence springs the Buddhist notion of no self. Buddhism says that ultimately there is no self because in that aspect, universal consciousness, you cannot experience a self. Any entity-ness stops you from experiencing this vastness which is the elimination of separateness, the elimination of discrimination. There is complete non-differentiation. There is no separation, no two, and no thought that there is one.
Characteristics of Universal / Cosmic Consciousness
- It is a Presence.
- Presence is experienced as the very stuff of consciousness.
- It is the substance of light - "light upon light".
- It is Love, an ocean of Love that is conscious, the Loving Light
- It is boundless. It pervades everything and extends infinitely It is the nature and substance of all existence
The Field of Consciousness is the Soul, a Self-aware Medium
The primary difference between ordinary inner experience and direct knowing of consciousness is that when we discern the inner field that is the soul, we experience it as a presence, independent from and more fundamental than all the content of consciousness and all characteristics of subjective experience. When we recognize pure consciousness, then, what we become aware of is the presence of consciousness, its existence, its ontological truth. We are contrasting the recognition of presence with awareness of the objects of consciousness as well as with awareness of consciousness as activity or process. Experience of pure consciousness is awareness of the thereness, the isness, of consciousness. Consciousness is fundamentally presence, presence conscious of its own presence.
In the Diamond Approach, we refer to this presence of pure consciousness as the essence of the soul. Essence is the ground, the pure nature, of the soul. Essence and true nature are the same thing,
The Diamond Consciousness is the prototype, on the level of Being, of the faculty of understanding. The ordinary capacity for understanding is only a reflection of this capacity. When an individual manifests an unusual or brilliant capacity for analysis and synthesis in his or her understanding, it is usually an indication of some degree of realization of the Diamond Consciousness.
This aspect affects the consciousness in a very specific and unmistakable manner.
- One feels clear and objective.
- One’s consciousness becomes sharp, precise and luminous. There is an immediate sense of a brilliant and precise intelligence.
- One’s consciousness becomes crystal clear, exquisitely objective but alive.
“Diamond” in the Diamond Approach is used to refer to the clarity, precision, purity, indesrucibleness, multifacetedness and objective understanding. When our consciousness perceives reality directly without filters of beliefs, the past or reifications our state reflects these diamond qualities. Additionally, when we penetrate knowledge of any particular to its ground of gnosis, the knowledge or wisdom of particular and its relationship to the totality of other particulars feels like diamond knowledge or understanding.
Diamond consciousness is objective consciousness, meaning it is perceived directly without the influence of our normal subjectivity of self.
Qualities of Diamond Consciousness
- Allows freedom from the personality
- Our strength is objective
- Our will is objective
- Our joy is objective,
- Our kindness is objective
- Our peace is objective
- Our capacity to be absorbed, to be dissolved is objective
- Is a panoramic consciousness
- Diamond consciousness is not influenced by:
- Past experience
- Diamond consciousness is not influenced by:
What is needed for the experience of universal/cosmic consciousness to arise? Vulnerability! Understanding and vulnerability hand-in-hand.
The Necessity of Individual Consciousness
Our perception is always through us, our individual consciousness - as the organ of perception. Without the organ of experience there is no experience, no reality, no existence, nada, zip. God created the soul so it could know itself.
The Transcendent, the Universal, the Individual are three powers overarching, underlying and penetrating the whole manifestation; this is the first of the Trinities. In the unfolding of consciousness also, these are the three fundamental terms and none of them can be neglected if we would have the experience of the whole Truth of existence. Out of the individual we wake into a vaster freer cosmic consciousness; but out of the universal too with its complex of forms and powers we must emerge by a still greater self-exceeding into a consciousness without limits that is founded on the Absolute. And yet in this ascension we do not really abolish but take up and transfigure what we seem to leave; for there is a height where the three live eternally in each other, on that height they are blissfully joined in a nodus of their harmonised oneness. - Auribindo
More insight and perspective:
- Leading neuroscientists and Buddhists agree: “Consciousness is everywhere”
- The Cosmic Joke behind Enlightenment
This article is based upon the writings of A. H. Almaas, founder of the Diamond Approach.