Understanding consciousness and its four levels – Jagruti, Svapna, Sushupti and Turya
[Sunday feast class at ISKCON, Denver, USA]
Transcription of Lecture Summary:
Consciousness is not present in the brain because there are people who have no brain substance and still they have consciousness. Consciousness is not present in the brain because the brain is simply… ultimately atoms and molecules and everything that happens in the brain is simply the transmission of electro-chemical signals and they are present in computers, they are present in …1.15(inaudible) they are present in electric cable, there is no consciousness there.
So, if somebody says there is no consciousness at all, then their denial of consciousness also requires consciousness. So, consciousness is an undeniable, fundamental reality, and that the Bhagavat Gita explains… comes from another category – the soul, the spiritual reality. It’s just like a bulb which gives out light, the soul radiates our consciousness, and then how the soul radiates consciousness at different levels I talked through this diagram. Normally the consciousness of the soul comes out through the mind, through the body to the outer world. That is the state of jagruti… a wakeful state.
When the soul’s consciousness comes to the level of the mind, that is the state of dreaming. I have also discussed about how if we were ourselves the bodies, and if the body was the experiencer of everything… in dreaming we experience but the body doesn’t experience. At least the experiencer is something different from the body, and experiencer is the soul. So, science can tell us when somebody is dreaming, but what they are dreaming that is a first person reality which we have to ask. No probe can tell us that. That is because the consciousness… the source of consciousness, the experiencer of consciousness is not in the brain, it’s somewhere deeper.
So, there is a dreamless state which is called the susupti state. Some people conceive of liberation as just becoming thought-less… free from thoughts, but we can… even the desire to be free from, even the thought of being free from thought is a thought.
We may physically not touch something, but mentally I cannot say I will not think of something, because to not think of something is to think of that thing. The way to not think of something is to have something else to think about. Like that, we need our consciousness to be channelled somewhere else. Somebody who is having pain in the body because.. and they feel the pain whenever they move their hands, the pain is not because of the motion, the pain is because of the disease and to stop the pain… stopping motion is what is required, curing the disease is what is required.
Similarly stopping consciousness is not the solution, curing consciousness is what is needed. Curing consciousness means raising the consciousness to the spiritual level which is where we belong as spiritual beings, and the process of yoga in terms of astanga yoga… that involves disconnection of consciousness from matter so that eventually it can explore spirit. Bhakti yoga involves directly connecting the consciousness to the spirit, and one way to elevate our consciousness is through the chanting of mantras.
So, if conceive that in the ground floor there is storm and there is rains, there is floods, and the first floor is security. So, at the material level we may experience anxiety, insecurity, fear but if through the process of bhakti yoga, through the chanting of mantras which acts like an elevator of consciousness, we raise our consciousness upwards. Then we can experience peace and joy. We can be concerned without feeling disturbed, without feeling threatened, and in this inner security, in this channelling of our consciousness in the spiritual level… is the fulfilment of all our aspirations for peace and joy.
Than you very much.
(Transcription by Sadananda Krishnaprema Prabhu)