Every person, at the center of their being, is pure unconditioned awareness; an individualized unit of divine consciousness. So why do we not consciously experience this all the time?
Visualize your divine essence as a sphere, and then around it are layers and layers representing the subconscious mind, finally an outside layer representing the conscious mind. This illustrates our expression from the inside out. The outer layers are like clouds and is where the various conditionings reside that obscure the purity of our awareness as it flows out to the external world – but at the source it remains ever the same.
Depending on our individual subconscious conditionings, our thoughts, beliefs and behaviors are modified accordingly. The purity of our soul is always here, the subtlest of the subtle, always conscious, always clear – it is always in the background, witnessing all our states of consciousness (even in the deepest sleep stages). We do not achieve, deserve, or earn our divinity. The ‘I AM’ of us is already one with omnipresent divinity…always has been, always will be. Our path if we are so inspired, is to redirect the outward flow of our awareness and to inquire within, “Who am I?”. This inner questioning will ultimately reveal the same truth for us all. Every soul, in this life or in another, is destined to discover this. Studying books, teachings, or following teachers cannot give us this awareness – they can only point the way. Only our diligent inner seeking, learning to quiet and calm the mind and clear away the clouded layers of the subconscious, can lead us to the inner unveiling and realization of our true being.
It can be useful to understand the layers of the subconscious that cloud awareness and how we can manage and navigate through them. Contemporary psychology has relatively little to offer us in regard to reaching our highest potential as spiritual beings. It can help us manage our ‘human’ problems: our relationship issues, neurosis, and the day-to-day problems and challenges but does little to give us the tools that will provide us with the answers to life’s greatest mysteries. We can look to authentic enlightenment teachings for these answers. This information comes from individuals who have gained access to their higher mind, the superconscious mind. Most contemporary psychological theories do acknowledge unconscious and subconscious levels of mind but do not recognize the highest potential of the superconscious mind. In order to comprehend this higher reality we must first accept it as a possibility and then engage in spiritual practices that have been passed down over millennia so that we may experience this. These practices have been tested and proven and have allowed individuals to reach the highest states of Self and God realization. We, through these practices, can begin to glean the potentials of spiritual unfoldment – and move beyond just wanting to become more psychologically ‘normal’ and have stress free lives. There is nothing wrong with ‘normal’ or seeking stress free lives. In fact, becoming more psychologically sound and growing into emotional maturity is part of, and the result of, our spiritual growth. We become more responsible, learn to make a real contribution to our world and become more functional in all areas of our daily lives. As we follow the spiritual teachings and disciplines, cultivate the virtues, and apply them in our lives, the healing, balancing and harmonizing of our lives and personalities will inevitably occur along the way.
The Levels of the Mind
The mind has conscious, subconscious and superconscious levels.
The Conscious Mind:
What we believe to be our conscious mind is somewhat of an illusion.
Interacting and engaging in life and the world around us, we believe our motivation, judgments, thoughts, intellect and decisions are being determined from our conscious, rational mind. But in truth our conscious mind is being driven by our subconscious conditionings. The conditionings include ideas, concepts and beliefs: everything we assume to be true and have learned about ourselves and the world around us. Learning occurs when information first passes through our conscious mind and, if accepted, gets stored in our subconscious and programs our brain – the brains auto-pilot, default mode network (DMN), is imprinted with the information. We then believe and behave accordingly, perhaps never really examining the basis of the information and determining if the information we stored away is true. The question is: What is the source of the concepts and beliefs our brains software has accepted as truth? If we examine the sources we may find that, yes, there are some obvious facts and things that are true. But in regard to many concepts and beliefs, much of what we hold to be true is just someone else’s opinion – and this could include information that came from less-than-enlightened minds. The only information we want to accept into our minds and hence, into our subconscious, is that which is accurate and enlightened. Enlightened information that emerges from the superconscious as a result of spiritual practice is higher knowledge. The source of this higher knowledge is Self-revealed and is unveiled as we learn to access superconscious levels of our inner being.
The Subconscious Mind:
The subconscious is the storehouse of the impressions we take in. Everything we have experienced is a memory recorded electro-chemically in our brain and body.
The beliefs that make up the content of the subconscious are like a magnet and attract circumstances that confirm them and reflect back to us as our outer lives. In a sense the subconscious projects out and attracts what we call the good and bad things in our lives. In this way our experiences are self-created. If the subconscious impressions are negative we will have corresponding experiences until we eradicate the wrong or harmful subconscious belief. Success too is a manifestation of subconscious conditioning. The problem though, is most of the time we are unconscious of this principle. Our minds tell us, “things happen,” but in truth things can only happen according to our subconscious beliefs. Learning to recognize the subconscious impressions is the key to releasing the unfavorable conditionings and a first step to gaining more conscious access to the superconscious level.
A popular theme among the new age community is around the notion of reprogramming the subconscious. If our goal is to awaken to the reality of our being and to consciously experience our divinity, then reprogramming is not a good idea. That just creates more mental impressions and more mind stuff that has to eventually be cleared away. The subconscious cannot be programmed to experience the divine essence – the divine essence is behind the subconscious and is what we refer to as the superconscious. Unconditioned pure awareness is our real identity. Anything else just obscures this. So clearing away the subconscious impressions that are not useful is the proper approach but first we have to learn how to recognize the impressions and the manifestation of them in our lives; to make our subconscious transparent.
Learn to Observe Your Subconscious: Make it Transparent
If you can just take a minute the next time you are in a public place, driving, shopping or eating and try to observe your mental chatter…notice the background internal conversation going on in your mind. You may notice a running commentary on people and things, sometimes an internal dialogue, occasional judgments and pre-judgments towards others. It can be very revealing and give a notion of how much is actually going on in the subconscious that is almost totally outside of conscious awareness. Notice if there is anything habitual that you do or think, a judgment about a certain type of person or a persistent attitude that you may not have noticed before. If you can do this you are witnessing the play of your subconscious mind as it projects its contents onto the outside world. When we are not consciously being present our subconscious colors all our perceptions according to its content and beliefs.
If we continue to observe ourselves, over the course of time, many of us will begin to identify the contradictions between our conscious and subconscious mind. Our conscious mind tells us we believe and behave in certain ways, but if we can be present and observe we will see that oftentimes this is not the reality. We ‘know’ better than we ‘do.’ This requires keen observation and being very honest with ourselves. We have internal mechanisms that keep us from the discomfort of seeing that what we find most annoying and disturbing in others is usually a prominent feature in ourselves – just unrecognized. Our judgments of others, complaints of unhappiness with the world and other people’s weakness or behaviors is usually because we see this reflected in ourselves. When we discover these inconsistencies we do not want to start judging ourselves but rather practice compassion. If we can have compassion for ourselves the same principle applies and we will see this compassion extended and reflected to the world and people around us too – judgments will cease. But first we have to practice being conscious and alert to our own inconsistencies – this is what is meant by making the subconscious transparent.
Often simply reading the type of information contained in this sutra will pull on the subconscious and information and in-sight will be brought into your conscious mind awareness. Because of this it is useful to read this sutra several times over the course of several days and you will experience more and more insight. Dreams also provide a look, symbolically, into the contents of the subconscious. If you become aware of subconscious conditioning, beliefs, attitudes, thoughts or behaviors that are not conducive to your highest good, the practical exercise outlined in the next sutra, Clearing the Subconscious, will help.
The Superconscious Mind
The inner source in each one of us that gives us our hunches, our intuitions, our inner guidance, higher knowledge and higher revelation is the superconscious mind.
Great inventions, discoveries, and breakthroughs are not just the result of individual genius or brilliance but rather of individuals gaining access to this level of ‘brilliance’, of superconscious knowledge. We do not each have a personal superconscious mind – the superconscious mind is one. It is universal, sometimes called the over-soul, the mind of God, and we are a portion of the one mind at the level of superconsciousness. All knowledge resides here…not in books, not outside of ourselves but within each one of us. When we read a spiritual truth over and over and then suddenly we understand it for the first time, the understanding is a recognition of what we already know within – the book just helped remind you – your teacher is your own realization. This is a level of pure potentiality, stillness and infinite knowledge. When we learn to go within, silence the mind and touch the superconscious level, we tap into a “peace that passeth understanding” and begin to experience an out-pouring of infinite divine knowledge and inspiration. The etymology of the word inspiration is from ‘inspire’: to inhale or breathe in. Great spiritual adepts say that the ancient scriptures were ‘realized’ within and recorded. The way to the superconscious requires us to clear away the subconscious conditionings that cloud our inner vision. This is why superconscious meditation is the primary tool recommended in virtually all enlightenment traditions. We go within, and within and within…passing through the layers of the subconscious until we reach the point of profound stillness – we become aware of being aware.
In the next sutra¸ Navigating Through the Layers of the Mind (Part 2): Clearing the Subconscious, this theme will be continued…until then reread this sutra a few times when convenient and practice the exercise described above.