Higher Consciousness in Six Hundred Forty Words

The following description of consciousness is written from the Transmodern Spirituality perspective. And done so intentionally without reference to God or Spirit. Readers should feel free to add them if they wish.

Over millennia, philosophy, science, religion, and spiritual traditions have studied human consciousness and have distinguished ordinary from higher consciousness. The mind is considered raised into higher consciousness when it transcends, but also retains its usual personal capabilities. Consciousness is discerned and distinguished by its resulting awareness on a spectrum from ego self-awareness to enlightened non-dual awareness. Along the way ordinary individual consciousness matures into integral individual consciousness. Lived as existential awareness, one uses abstract reasoning and intuition to identify commonalities, drawing conclusions about oneself, life, and the world. Resulting experience is characterized by meaning, authenticity, and fulfillment. Consciousness beyond ordinary and integral is considered raised, and commonly referred to as being transcendent and/or transpersonal. 

There are four major forms of higher awareness recognized in consciousness studies: subtle awareness, unitive awareness, unmanifested awareness, and non-dual awareness. These states may occur for only a moment, or may last considerably longer. Notably, these forms may combine in various ways and to various degrees. Sometimes spontaneously, but usually through disciplined practice, one’s mind and behavior become permanently changed. One remains in, or has easy access to a higher stage of awareness. 

Subtle awareness occurs when one experiences reality without the usual restrictions placed upon it by time and space, or by the relationship laws of mind and matter. Colloquially, these are frequently referred to as psychic phenomena, extraordinary human experience, or supernatural phenomena. Whether occurring by chance or by intention, these events involve a psychic consciousness that reveals a reality not usually seen or lived by ordinary or integral consciousness. Examples of this awareness are clairvoyance, kundalini awakening, astral projection, and near death experience.

Unitive awareness occurs when one transcends one’s individuality and joins with another person, object, event, etc. Awareness expands outward into the other, while simultaneously moving deeply into the unconscious, resulting in a profound feeling of oneness. If the mind is primarily of unity consciousness one’s character is significantly more virtuous, altruistic, and unconditionally loving than average. Then, one is said to be heart-realized, living in an ongoing compassionate union with the world.

The next form of higher consciousness is the state of unmanifested awareness arising from formless consciousness information. Consider this consciousness in the same way that “beyond concept” also implies “pre- and non-concept”; formless is “pre-form, beyond form, and lacking form”. It is the creative and sustaining “something” of all that exists. But whose true nature, and ways of manifesting reality, defy definition. This consciousness is experienced as unmanifested awareness. An awareness without either a thinker or an object of thought, the formless completely defining the mind. It is a momentary “loss of awareness”, an annihilation of sorts, not unlike deep sleep. Best to call it unmanifested awareness, though many call it no-mind. It is often called self-realization because it is understood to be the direct apprehension of one’s true nature, the absolute source of existence, the mystery second to none. Experiencing, and correctly understanding this awareness, profoundly empowers the transpersonal mind.

Non-dual awareness results from a form-formless consciousness that arises from, but transcends all previously mentioned forms of ordinary and raised consciousness. More than the unity of these, it is its own unique type of information, with its own unique awareness colloquially referred to as enlightenment. Non-dual awareness experiences itself as being existence. A direct-knowing wisdom and immortal cosmology inform this non-dual reality, and one thinks, feels, and acts without conscious volition. Living in a subjective state of “being”, it is divine omniscience, omnipotence, and omnipresence living through one’s human form. Like the other types of higher awareness, one may experience enlightenment more frequently over time until it remains a permanent state of mind.

Consciousness: Information, Awareness, Experience, AKA

Awareness TypeDefining Element of ExperienceAka   
Ordinary  Self-AwarenessIndividuality/ IndependenceEgo
Integral  Existential AwarenessMeaningAuthentic Self
Psychic  Subtle AwarenessPsychic PhenomenaSupernatural Experience
Unity  Unitive AwarenessOnenessHeart-Realization
Formless  Unmanifested AwarenessNo-MindSelf-Realization
Form- Formless        Non-Dual AwarenessBeingEnlightenment


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