Consciousness, Higher or Lower

The quality of our consciousness can be chosen, either actively or passively. Where do you want to take your consciousness today?

Everything we think, say, or do, affects our consciousness. Everything we eat or drink affects our consciousness. Everything we hear or see affects our consciousness too. Our consciousness is shaped by our experiences. Does that sound hopeless or hopeful to you? You can choose your consciousness!

Recently I met one young aspiring spiritualist who had once imbibed some intoxicating substance to “reach a higher plane of consciousness”. I told him that if attaining to a higher plane of consciousness was so cheap that a mere substance could take us there, then all the drug addicts of the world would be sages, great saintly souls who can see the past, present and future, act with perfect equanimity, and help everyone they meet. But this is not the case.

A drunk man may be entertaining or irritating, but a drunk man is a drunk man, not a sober human even.

When we are intoxicated, we hallucinate. Hallucination is not a “higher plane of consciousness”, no matter what the drug peddler might tell you. Hallucination is a lower form of consciousness. Don’t hallucinate with substances, you can reach a higher plane of consciousness by proper meditation.

Substances like tea, coffee, chocolate, alcohol, cannabis, opioids, and drugs, they are all intoxicants. They don’t take our consciousness to a higher level, but to a lower level.

These are, at a high-level, states of consciousness:

  • Unconscious
  • Sub-conscious
  • Conscious
  • Super-Conscious

When most of us are asleep, we’re mostly unconscious, though there are certain things that happen at a sub-conscious level also.

When we’re awake, we’re generally conscious, but there are certain things that happen at a sub-conscious level too.

At the sub-conscious level, usually it is instincts, but also other complex phenomena, like for example suggestions and advertisements that are on a subtle level, always playing with our consciousness, inserting suggestions into our consciousness… making us feel that it is us who want those things or experiences…

यथा प्रकाशयत्येक: कृत्स्‍नं लोकमिमं रवि: ।
क्षेत्रं क्षेत्री तथा कृत्स्‍नं प्रकाशयति भारत ॥ ३४ ॥ yathā prakāśayaty ekaḥ
kṛtsnaṁ lokam imaṁ raviḥ
kṣetraṁ kṣetrī tathā kṛtsnaṁ
prakāśayati bhārata

O son of Bharata, as the sun alone illuminates all this universe, so does the living entity, one within the body, illuminate the entire body by consciousness.

https://vedabase.io/en/library/bg/13/34/

Because consciousness is the symptom of the soul, a symptom of life itself, all living entities are conscious. The quality, the fidelity of consciousness varies though. A plant is aware of very little, and hence conscious at a very low level, insect at a higher level, animal at an even higher level, and so on. Both a drunk human and a sober human are conscious, just that the drunk human’s consciousness is said to be closer to the consciousness of an animal than the sober human’s, in most cases anyways.

A soul in a dog’s body, even though conscious, can’t do much about it’s level of consciousness except accept whatever consciousness was imposed upon it by nature, viz, act like a dog.

Humans, on the other hand, possess a rare gift, in it that they can actively choose a state of consciousness. Consequently, humans can, if they choose to, act like animals or like trees or fish or birds or insects. That is a freedom afforded in human life.

However, only humans can actively choose a higher form of consciousness, super-consciousness. To be aware of what is going on, inside us at a spiritual level, inside our bodies and minds… to be able to see what consciousness someone else is at, and as this gets further developed, know more than can be afforded by the limits of space and time.

Every single thought, word, and deed we engage in, or are part of, for example, reading a novel or a newspaper, watching a movie or television, hanging out with a friend who loves politics or sports… each such experience shapes our consciousness.

When someone practices a genuine form of meditation that is centered around the Supreme Absolute Truth, such as, for example, the chanting of the Maha Mantra “the great chant”:

हरे कृष्ण हरे कृष्ण कृष्ण कृष्ण हरे हरे |
हरे राम हरे राम राम राम हरे हरे ||

Hare Krishna Hare Krishna Krishna Krishna Hare Hare
Hare Rama Hare Rama, Rama Rama Hare Hare

When properly heard and chanted, this mantra lifts the consciousness of the chanter towards super-consciousness. Try it out. Just hear yourself saying this mantra, and let me know if I can help.

इदं ज्ञानमुपाश्रित्य मम साधर्म्यमागता: ।
सर्गेऽपि नोपजायन्ते प्रलये न व्यथन्ति च ॥ २ ॥ idaṁ jñānam upāśritya
mama sādharmyam āgatāḥ
sarge ’pi nopajāyante
pralaye na vyathanti ca

By becoming fixed in this knowledge, one can attain to the transcendental nature like My own. Thus established, one is not born at the time of creation or disturbed at the time of dissolution.

https://vedabase.io/en/library/bg/14/2/

Where do you want to take your consciousness today?

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“I don’t have no time to meditate man”

Meditation? Don’t have the time? But do you realize you’re meditating all the time? What are you meditating on?

I am often out on the street, trying to engage souls in conversation about spirituality. Most ignore me, and I get, it, who wants to talk to a stranger in today’s paranoid times? Some even get angry with me, and make me stronger by trying to abuse me. But after years of practice, I don’t take this all personally. As a messenger of God, my goal is to simply poll every soul I can to see if they are ready. One of my teachers, Vaisesika Dasa, taught me how to try my best to leave everyone with a good impression. So even though I have all sorts of stingers and retorts up my sleeve, I strive to practice humility instead.

But some souls do engage positively, some do take the message, they chant the mantra, or take a book, many even give me a heartfelt donation to help continue the work. It is another thing that we don’t need the money – I am a successful professional in the corporate world, I can afford to give out all those books, all my time and energy, for free… but we do take a donation to help the other soul begin / continue their service to the spiritual cause.

One of the most common responses I get to “Hey, have you ever tried meditation”, is “No time to meditate”, or “I’m too busy for that”, or “I have tried, but I just can’t meditate”. But what most fail to realize is that everyone meditates.

Everyone meditates all the time!

The question is, what do we meditate on? Some of us meditate on the past, some meditate on some imagined future, pleasant or otherwise. Some of us meditate on objects, and some of us on certain sensory experiences.

But meditation on these is pointless and does not give us much benefit. Any benefit, for example, from meditating on conquering the world is temporary because one’s present life is temporary. Meditation on sensory experiences is also futile because such meditation gives no satisfaction, but increases hankering. Meditating on objects is unsatisfying too.

In fact, this is what the Bhavagavad Gita says about meditation on the non-spiritual…

ध्यायतो विषयान्पुंसः सङ्गस्तेषूपजायते ।
सङ्गात्संजायते कामः कामात्क्रोधोऽभिजायते ॥ २.६२ ॥

dhyāyato viṣayān puṁsaḥ saṅgas teṣūpajāyate
saṅgāt sañjāyate kāmaḥ kāmāt krodho ’bhijāyate

While contemplating the objects of the senses, a person develops attachment for them, and from such attachment lust develops, and from lust anger arises.

https://vedabase.io/en/library/bg/2/62/

क्रोधाद्भवति संमोहः संमोहात्स्मृतिविभ्रमः ।
स्मृतिभ्रंशाद्बुद्धिनाशो बुद्धिनाशात्प्रणश्यति ॥ २.६३ ॥
krodhād bhavati sammohaḥ
sammohāt smṛti-vibhramaḥ
smṛti-bhraṁśād buddhi-nāśo
buddhi-nāśāt praṇaśyati

From anger, complete delusion arises, and from delusion bewilderment of memory. When memory is bewildered, intelligence is lost, and when intelligence is lost one falls down again into the material pool.

https://vedabase.io/en/library/bg/2/63/

And, unfortunately, everyone who does not specifically, intentionally meditate on something non-material, something spiritual, ends up feeling increasingly dissatisfied, having to resort to wanton sense gratification, intoxication, and different forms of violence. And this is a cycle, which is how we see most souls in older souls continually grumpy, continually snarky, perennially dissatisfied.

The mind is like a depression on the ground where there is a lot of water – the ditch collects water, and the mind collects thoughts, feelings, and the intents to act. Every single impression is stored somewhere in the mind. And by mind, I don’t mean the “brain” but something more subtle, that is manifested as those synapses and neurons and so on (more on this some other time).

But there is a mediation that takes us out of that negative cycle, that connects us to a source of sublime pleasure that is non-material, pleasure that ever-increases, pleasure that time, distance or anyone else can take away. Purely spiritual, and ever-increasing, this pleasure is endlessly deep, and endlessly delicious, with no sense of boredom and no lack of variety.

When I go out on the street, it is that pleasure that I wish to share with others, some are ready, some are not, and for everyone who is ready, it is a journey.

बाह्यस्पर्शेष्वसक्तात्मा विन्दत्यात्मनि यत् सुखम् ।
स ब्रह्मयोगयुक्तात्मा सुखमक्षयमश्नुते ॥ ५.२१ ॥
bāhya-sparśeṣv asaktātmā
vindaty ātmani yat sukham
sa brahma-yoga-yuktātmā
sukham akṣayam aśnute

Such a liberated person is not attracted to material sense pleasure but is always in trance, enjoying the pleasure within. In this way the self-realized person enjoys unlimited happiness, for he concentrates on the Supreme.

https://vedabase.io/en/library/bg/5/21/

And this pleasure is available, here is a hint. 🙂

Srila A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami chants the Hare Krishna Mahamantra in great ecstasy

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How to meditate Attentively?

Rathin Mandal, 14th December 2013

Hare Krishna,

Please accept my humble obeisances,
All glories to Your Lotus Feet and Srimati Gurumataji,
All glories to Srila Prabhupada.

I will like to ask a question about chanting properly.
Sometimes it do happens that some personal, professional, family thought repetitively comes into the mind.
At times it become very difficult to get those thoughts out of mind.

In such condition, please tell me a way how to continue chanting.

your Servant
Rathin

Bhakta Sunil, 14th December 2013

Hare Krishna everyone

Please accept my humble obeisances
All Glories to Srila Prabhupada

Rathin , during chanting on japa mala please make it a point that during the complete round mind has to be focussed to the transcendental sound vibrations of the holy names of the Lord.  Even if mind gets diverted to other thoughts please  try to bring mind gradually to the transcendental sound vibrations of the holy names of the Lord.  Mind is like a monkey which  jumping from one thought to another. But with proper and determined practice one can control and bring mind to the transcendental sound vibrations of the holy names of the Lord during chanting of the Mahamantra

Regards,
Sunil

Mahabhagavat Das SDA, 17th December 2013

Dear Rathin Mandal,

Please keep chanting and don’t pay any attention to those thoughts – you are not the mind, so if you don’t give the mind fuel by giving attention to those thoughts, then the mind will eventually stop having a grip on you. Chanting while sincerely trying is the only way to better chanting.

Here are some strategies:

1. When you notice that you are inattentive, congratulate yourself on noticing, and bring yourself back to hearing the Mahamantra as you chant.

2. Keep a little diary – if some thought is really troubling you, then make a note of it, tell the mind see it will not be forgotten, and continue chanting.

3. Mind does not like big big projects, this 16 rounds seems like too much. So tell the mind – just three mahamantras, just three, and focus on them, when done, another three, like this 108, and like this 16 rounds.

4. Make sure that every syllable of the Mahamantra is being pronounced – strive to hear each syllable yourself and speed up when you are sure all syllables are there – if you want, you can record yourself while chanting and hear later to make sure.

5. Chant in the association of sincere and serious chanters.

6.Chant early in the morning.

7. Know that the chanting you are doing, if you can try to please Krishna, is benefiting the entire universe, including yourself.

Above all, please keep trying. To tell you the truth I need so many of these reminders myself, as I am weak little fool and Krishna’s Maya is very strong. Another thing to remember is that if you are thinking you are not chanting very well, there is a good chance you can improve, but if I think I can’t get any better than I am now, then I am a sure-fire candidate for falldown.

Sincerely,
Mahabhagavat Das

Rathin Mandal, 19th December 2013

Hare Krishna,

Please accept my humble obeisances,
All glories to Your Lotus Feet and Srimati Gurumataji,
All glories to Srila Prabhupada.

Thank you very much Sunil Prabhu and Mahabhagavat Prabhu for your kind reply and suggestions.

For last couple of days, I have been trying to follow your directions and feel little better than before.

Hope to follow in your footsteps to improve.

your Servant
Rathin

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