The 3 levels of consciousness have been common knowledge for a long time. However, it is only relatively recently that people have started to look into the connection between spirituality and consciousness. I am writing this article to look at my views and hopefully give you a little bit of information.
The 3 Levels of Spiritual Consciousness | What are they?
Many people have different views on this. Some believe that there are the “common” 3 levels of Consciousness that include Subconscious and Unconscious, while others believe there to be a ‘Superconscious’ (This will be another article!).
In this article I am going to take a brief look at what each of these mean to me and how they relate to spirituality. I am not a scientist, so if you want more technical explanations, you may need to look elsewhere. Although I do have an interest in it, so I will do my best! All definitions in Italics in this article are taken from Dictionary.com
If you look into what consciousness is, you will find that it is still a subject for debate and uncertainty within the scientific community. So this article is only going to look at what I think of it in a spiritual sense.
This was slightly covered in our Pendulums for Beginners post, however, I would like to try and expand a little into each of them:
The Conscious Level of the Mind
This is also referred to as the ego. This is the controlled part of our brain where our thoughts are, and all things we are aware of. The conscious part of the mind takes up around 10% occupancy within the mind space.
The definition for consciousness is: ‘the state of being conscious; awareness of one’s own existence, sensations, thoughts,surroundings, etc.‘
That is a very simple statement that seems very easy to understand and makes it seem like there may be no point in continuing, however, it is only simple until you look into what each one of the nouns mean:
You can go through several pages on a dictionary website and get almost nowhere on what the word conscious means: Aware, having knowledge, an acquaintance of facts etc…
Has this helped you in the quest of what consciousness is? If you are anything like me, all it has done is to raise more questions.
What is consciousness?
- Awareness? Well, we are back to having knowledge and acquaintance of facts again… Lets try another:
- Existence – the state or fact of existing; being.
- Sensation – the operation or function of the senses; perception or awareness of stimuli through the senses.
- Thoughts – the product of mental activity; that which one thinks.
- Think – to have a conscious mind, to some extent of reasoning, remembering experiences, making rational decisions, etc.
And we are full circle back to consciousness. Therefore, none of the above can really explain what consciousness is on its own. If we look through the explanations individually and combine some of the words perhaps we can get a better idea?
Is it as simple as ‘having knowledge of stimuli through the senses and accompanying mental activity? I don’t think so. Surely all living creatures have this level of mental processing. The most basic of wild predator such as the Ichneumon wasp lave must have these prerequisites to eat their prey.
That leaves think. Reasoning, remembering experiences, making rational decisions…
It has long been thought that only humans have the neurological substrates to generate consciousness, however evidence is leaning heavily towards all mammals and birds, as well as many other animals have these substrates.
Are all of these animals capable of reasoning and making rational decisions? Possibly, but to what extent?
Reasoning and rational decisions
Reasoning seems to be the first gray area here. Is reasoning, the process of forming conclusions, judgements, or interferences from facts or premises, the decision maker in being conscious? Or do all animals, no matter their development, not have some ability to know danger from food through the process of forming conclusions? i.e fish from their school keep getting eaten when whales or dolphins are around, so they try to stay away from dolphins and whales.
What about rational decisions? Or sensible choices. Surely even the herring in the school just mentioned are using rational decisions to know they don’t want to be eaten. Which, to me, seems a sensible choice.
What this means
To me, all of the information above does not give us any definitive answer to the question of what is consciousness. All it seems to do is raise more and more questions:
- Are humans the only species in the world that have consciousness?
I think that most, if not all animals have this “ability”, but what is very possible to me is that there are varying levels of consciousness. Although I also do not think that these levels are like levels in an elevator, more like a “funnel of consciousness”:
How far up or down this funnel we, or any other creature are, seems to be quite elusive. This is mainly because of Einstein’s theory of Relativity. “All things are relative to the observer’s viewpoint”. That is not a direct quote, however it does sum up what I am trying to get across.
This is easy to look at in another way other than consciousness first:
How clever are you?
Before we start looking through this section I would like to point out that we are not judging!
What is the measure of how clever someone is? Without scientific measure you may feel that you are are reasonably clever, and I agree.. But what are you measuring your smarts against?
Is it your child? Surely, being their parent, you know best right? You cook for them, you clean, you tell them when it is bedtime. They come to you for help in situations they feel like they are lacking or struggling. However, talking to my children I often find myself having to use Google to help them with their homework… So I can not be intrinsically more intelligent than them can I?
Is it your brother, sister or any other family member? Again, you may be older, wiser and maybe even have better grades than them. Talk to them about their jobs or hobbies. How much about those things do you know? Do you still know more? Probably not, right?
Now that we have looked at the people that you feel you may automatically outsmart, let have a quick look at the other end of the spectrum.
Albert Einstein. No way you could be more intelligent than him, right? Possibly wrong…
- Can you swim?
- Did you pass your University entrance exams first time?
- Could you speak by age 4?
- Are you fluent in more than one language? (I personally, am not!)
If you answered yes to any of the above, then you could be considered to be more intelligent than Einstein himself! Even if it is in those specific areas only.
How does this relate to consciousness?
You may now be thinking: “Right, I am more intelligent than Albert the scientist and less than Albert the 10 year old… how does that work? The answer is: It is all relative.
You are only good at something, or knowledgable at a subject, or physically strong in relation to something or someone else. (Unless you are Iceland’s Hafþór Júlíus Björnsson reading this to add a little spirituality into your life).
Everything being relative can be the answer to almost everything. How fast, slow, hot or cold something is can only be measured against something else that is known. The same must go for consciousness too then. The only difference is that there is not any exact measurement for consciousness, therefore there is no way to say for definite if animals are conscious, or if someone is more or less conscious than yourself.
Conclusion to the Conscious Mind
Can there be a conclusion to something that has no conclusive evidence or facts? Probably not, but I feel like I need to add one to this article, so here goes:
Consciousness is something that can not be seen, measured or even described with definitive certainty. It does however seem to be what we as humans use to collect all of the data from our senses and turn them into knowledge and memories. We then use those memories and that knowledge to make decisions based on past events of either personal accounts or the teachings from others.
The Subconscious Level of the Mind
This is the part of the mind where most of the action takes place. It’s the place of our recent memories and creates a bridge between the conscious and the unconscious mind. The subconscious mind is in constant communication with the unconscious making you able to tap into it during meditation and using visualization techniques.
Sigmund Freud said that the subconscious mind contains things that we are usually unaware of, but could become aware of if we wanted or tried to.
The word subconscious has as much of a definitive meaning as you may expect, given the fact that the only change of the word conscious, is the prefix “sub”.
Existing or operating in the mind beneath or beyond consciousness
However, this part of the mind seems a little easier to explain after the very brief and almost uneventful look at the conscious. The subconscious is where all of the automatic actions we do take place.
For example, have you ever driven somewhere and then thought, “how did I get here?” Agreed, this is not a good thing to have happen, but I bet it has happened to you at least once before, if you drive that is.
How about another: Have you ever got onto your pushbike to go to the shop and fell off because you have forgotten how to ride it? No, you probably haven’t. That is because, although you think about doing the action (riding your bike or driving your car), you do not always need to think about the process of completing that action (where to place your hands, when to pedal, when to break etc).
Here is another example that you can see in action right now, as you read this. If you have read all of my article so far, then you have probably managed it without noticing something very obvious and that I am about to bring from your subconscious into your consciousness:
You’re breathing. You have done it for a long time, and will hopefully continue for a long time too. You do not notice it anymore and if you could, you would probably go mad. But as soon as it is brought to your attention you can rarely continue doing it without noticing it for a little while.
Unconscious Level of the Mind
This is where all your past experiences, memories and traumas are stored away. Although this is all your stored away information and memories it is the part of the brain that moulds us in to who and what we are. The unconscious mind then filters the information through to us within our dreams, imagination, feelings and sensation as well as our emotions.
Mr Freud says that this is the part of the mind that contains things we are unaware of, and can not become aware of no matter how hard we try.
This is the part where I believe science and spirituality must take different paths into uncharted territory.
Spirituality and Consciousness; the Connection
Personally, I believe that we can tap into this area of the unconscious mind that scientists believe to be impossible. I do not think that it is easy, nor do I think that I, or anyone else can just open it and dive into it like a swimming pool of forgotten memories. I do however feel that with the right training, self discipline and correct techniques that you may be able to reach in and take a cup of that knowledge to take a sip.
The unconscious is a very deep and unknown area of the mind. You can not just think about it as you can your breathing. You’re thinking about it again aren’t you?
It is here that I believe that everything is connected. All of your past lives and everything that was involved in them and all of your past traumas that your mind blocks. It is also where all of the spiritual paths join. Not just your own spiritual paths, but those of every other spirit that ever existed. It is here that you have the ability to find out who your spirit guides are, who you were in past lives. It is also where your loved ones watch over you when they pass over.
This is all what makes the unconscious mind such a special place. It could hold the key to everything you ever wanted to know and all you ever need to know. It is here that I believe we train our minds to go when we meditate and when we practice working with spirit.
Spirituality and the unconscious will have to be a separate article at some point because of its vast and immense diversity. It encompasses everything. There are roads you must follow, paths you must take. It would be amazing to just be able to jump straight in at the deep end with the unconscious. Although this is not possible, nor could many cope with it.
I hope this helps. Blessings to you. Please Share this on your social media if you like it. 🙂