Wednesday, December 02, 2015

Consciousness - The Key To Everything

“For with right methods and the right efforts man can acquire control of consciousness, and can become conscious of himself with all that it implies. And what it implies we in our present state do not even imagine.” The Psychology of Man’s Possible Evolution, P.D. Ouspensky

Even as a child I could not totally believe in the world that surrounded me and the truth of the explanations given to me, often without me asking, by family, teachers, and religious authorities. It was just that I couldn’t whole-heartedly accept either the reality or the importance or the limitations of what I saw or was told.

And so I lived in my own inner world and very few things got into it, the things that did—the things that I responded to with anything more than annoyance, irritation, or concern—were those things that seemed to hold a promise of something more—something more like my dreams.

Peter Pan is a story about a little boy who never grows up. As a child, it touched my inner-world—my dreams—and I loved it because it made me feel that birth, life, and death were somehow not as real or as final  as they appeared to be and as I was being led to believe. For me, the boy who never grew old was about the Reality of the eternal and infinite as opposed to the supposed reality of the passing and transitory. Of course, at the time, it was just a feeling and the words I use today were not there yet.

Rock and Roll Music spoke to me as well, especially the love songs that glorified love to such a degree that they touched the transcendental and whispered to me of what I later would describe as Divine love—much in the same way that Sufi poetry seems to be talking about the earthly lover and beloved but is really about something else, the game of love played out between the earthly lover—Jivatma—and the Divine Beloved—Shivatma.

But I was only a kid, and Reality was but a dream—a dream from which I did not want to be disturbed.

In time I learned that I was not alone and that others not only shared my dream, but some of them had even experienced the Reality they had dreamed of. And so I read, I tried to practice, I took from here and there whatever seemed to be relevant to my search—my dream—but no one thing seemed to have it all for me…

Eventually, I came across books by P.D. Ouspensky and then later the teachings of his teacher, George I. Gurdjieff. Ouspensky spoke very clearly and simply about the higher possibilities of man. He said that man as he is in life is only partly developed, but with the right kind of work on himself could achieve states and abilities far beyond those commonly known, and the key to the whole thing was consciousness.

Consciousness; I felt something very right about that, but what was it? What was consciousness? The word was not new to me. There was consciousness, there was unconsciousness, there was sub-consciousness, there was higher consciousness, there was self-consciousness, and there was Self-consciousness. So many different consciousnesses, but what was consciousness? The word ‘awareness’ seemed similar—was it the same?

I decided that consciousness was like a light—the brighter the light, the more one could see. I pictured a dark room with many things in it, so I could not see anything in the room. But turn on a little light and I could see shadowy forms; increase the light and there was more clarity and I could see more things. So, consciousness was like a light and I decided that awareness was where the light was directed. If consciousness was a flashlight, then the act of pointing it was awareness.

It began to make sense to me—sort of—but was unconsciousness the state of no light, or light without awareness? What about sub-consciousness? I was pretty sure that super-consciousness and Self-consciousness suggested a higher power of light—maybe…

So, I was thinking about consciousness, but was I experiencing consciousness? I had learned that real yogis studied themselves—that their bodies and minds were laboratories. Ouspensky and Gurdjieff talked about self-remembering and self-observation—was self-observation the key to understanding? Was self-observation the tool to employ in the laboratory? 

The senses are superior to the objects of the senses,
The mind is superior to the senses,
And the Self is superior to the mind.
That Self and Infinite, Eternal God are One.”Bhagavad Gita, as read by Jacob Needleman

Gurdjieff and Ouspensky also talked about attention. In fact, in the Gurdjieff Work, it was considered a big deal. But like consciousness, attention was something that I needed to clarify for myself. I went back to my assumption, that consciousness was like a light and awareness was where that light was focused.

In the Gurdjieff Work a distinction was made between two types of attention. There was a mechanical attention, one that gets pulled or attracted by people and things—I hear a sound and I automatically look in its direction—and there was an attention—we could call it intentional—that one could direct with effort to some object while maintaining an awareness of oneself.

To illustrate the first attention Ouspensky used the image of a line with an arrow head pointing from oneself to the object of attraction, and to illustrate the second kind of attention he used a line with arrow heads on both sides; one pointed at the object and the other pointed back at oneself.  

Yes, it all made perfect sense to me, on an intellectual level, but I still needed to experience and observe all this for myself, for as Kabir once said, “If you haven’t experienced it, it is not true.” So it was back to the laboratory of my self to perform some more experiments.

I quickly learned the difficulty of my task. First and foremost was the difficulty of remembering my aim and then being able to remain in the laboratory. Sometimes days would go by in which I didn’t remember anything about my tasks or my laboratory. In retrospect I learned that these periods were when I was asleep, not asleep as I am at night in my bed, but asleep in the way that the Masters—the Awake Ones—are always reminding us we are asleep. Put another way, most of the time I was not running my trip, on the contrary, most of the time my trip was running me. Was this what Gurdjieff meant when he used the term “the terror of the situation?”

While still in the Gurdjieff Work I began reading Meher Baba’s book, God Speaks. Actually, I devoured this book, or maybe it devoured me? For a period of a few days I poured myself into this book. I don’t think I was ever the same after that. About what happened I can only say, and pray that it is not a lie, that some little iota of Meher Baba’s Avataric consciousness merged with my limited illusory consciousness and like a seed began over time to take root.

God Speaks is made up of ten parts—sort of like chapters. The word consciousness is used in the titles of five of those ten parts. God Speaks goes into great detail regarding the evolution of consciousness, reincarnation, and the involution of consciousness. It is so interesting to me that the dedication of the book is, “To the Universe—the Illusion that sustains Reality.”

For me, one of the most striking distinctions that Meher Baba made was that consciousness was full and complete by the achievement of the human form. Evolution was about acquiring that consciousness through the association of consciousness with the experiences of numerous pre-human forms such as mineral, vegetable, animal, etc.

The achievement of the human form marked the beginning of the next phase of the journey which He called reincarnation. Reincarnation was not about acquiring more or higher consciousness, it was about loosening the hold of impressions on that consciousness—like preparing the mirror so that the dirt and grime that had been collected during evolution could be wiped away without breaking the mirror.

The last phase was called involution. The process of involution was about removing the dirt and grime from the mirror so that the mirror—consciousness—could reflect to the Self its own Perfection ending in Union of that consciousness with the ever existing eternal Self—Self Consciousness—God Realization—so many terms have been used to describe it… 

Meanwhile back at the laboratory of efforts…

 Meditation has always been an instrument I have used in my laboratory, and although what I do and how I do it seldom remains the same for long, some aspects of it have remained consistent.
My physical body is pretty obedient to my mind in that I can sit still for a period of time without discomfort.

My mind is a different story however. To borrow a line from an old Bobby Darin song, “It’s never in one place; it roams from town to town.” But I have learned a few techniques that do work sometimes.

One is bringing my mind to the sensation of my breath. The body is always in the present moment and to follow the in and out of the breath keeps my mind from wandering; however, the mind is a pretty good multi-tasker and has found ways to watch the breath and still roam around. I have to make an effort to really watch the breath, I mean, to stay with it all the way through the inhalation and the exhalation and the sandhis that are in-between. Sometimes I can do it, sometimes not. It helps if I just try to do one breath at a time.

When I am successful, an interesting thing happens—it’s easy to miss. I observe that my mind is working—I can see it working. Should I put an exclamation point there? I can see it working!
But who or what is that I who is seeing? It’s not the body; can the mind itself be seeing the mind—or is it something else?

Rumi said, “The mind is a great and a wondrous thing that can bring you to the door of the King…” Who is the King? Earlier in this post, I quoted the Bhagavad Gita:

The senses are superior to the objects of the senses,
The mind is superior to the senses,
And the Self is superior to the mind.
That Self and Infinite, Eternal God are One.”

Based on things that Meher Baba has said, I have concluded, that the King and the Self are one and the same. The King is Infinite Eternal God in either or both His/Its impersonal and personal manifestation.

And so, in my meditation, once I achieve some control of my mind, I can bring it to the door of the King—I can bring it to the door of the Self—and because it is my most sincere conviction, I can bring to the embodiment of that Eternal, Infinite, All Knowing, All Blissful, All Powerful, God—Self—the name and form of the one who I know as Meher Baba. Self and for me, my Self and Meher Baba are one and the same. He said as much, “You and I are not we—but One.” – Meher Baba

I know there are many readers of these posts—some are followers of Meher Baba, but many are not—they are Buddhists, Christians, Muslims, Hindus, Sufis, and followers of other isms and no isms at all. When I say that, to me, that Self and Meher Baba are one, I absolutely believe that anyone can also say that that Self is one and the same as Buddha, Krishna, Jesus; Paramatma, Ahura-mazda, Allah; Higher Consciousness, Beloved God… In other words, one can fill in the blank anyway they wish, the Self and _______ are One.

I have observed that there is a unique kind of joy that I experience when my mind becomes visible to me as it senses my breath. I have also noticed that there is another kind of joy that I experience when the attention of my mind is focused upon the name and form of Meher Baba. These joys are quite different—quite distinct—from each other and from the sense-based pleasures of certain mechanical thoughts and feelings.

But of course Rumi’s remark, “The mind is a great and a wondrous thing that can bring you to the door of the King…” can be taken on many different levels. I can certainly apply it to my experience in meditation, but it can also be applied to the state of the sixth plane saint—which I am most convinced that I am not. A sixth plane saint is on the highest plane of consciousness before the state of union with God. The sixth plane is the highest plane of creation, but as Meher Baba points out, it is still in illusion. It is an incredibly interesting state to ponder;

He ‘sees’ God continuously but cannot see himself in God as God. Therefore he cannot reconcile his feeling-of-sight of God with his own identity with God; and thus he longs for, feels for, has pangs for union with God whom he ‘sees’ face to face.” God Speaks, 2nd edition, page 52

And so I return to my original questions regarding consciousness, because Meher Baba states that there are three different stages of consciousness; gross consciousness—consciousness of the creation as experienced through the senses—, subtle consciousness—consciousness of the sphere of energy—, and mental consciousness—consciousness of the fifth and sixth planes—the planes of the mind—consciousness of the mental sphere, consciousness of God—the Infinite and Eternal “I am God" state of consciousness with all its attendant Infinite Knowledge, Infinite Power, and Infinite Bliss. And so indeed, the story goes on…

All souls (atmas) were, are and will be in the Over-Soul (Paramatma). Souls are all One.” – Part 1, page, 1, first line of Meher Baba’s book, God Speaks

A few lines down Meher Baba states:

There is a difference in the consciousness of souls; there is a difference in the planes of consciousness of souls; there is a difference in the experience of souls and thus there is a difference in the state of souls.”

A few more lines down He states:

“Most souls are conscious of the gross body; some souls are conscious of the subtle body; a few souls are conscious of the mental body; and a few souls are conscious Self.”

 And then He says:

Most souls have experience of the gross sphere (world); some souls have experience of the subtle sphere (world); a few souls have experience of the mental sphere (world); and a few souls have experience of the Over-Soul.”

Now with regard to the capacity of my ‘laboratory’, I can clearly state that exploration—in the sense of experiences—of the subtle, mental, and Over-Soul are not available to me at this time. This is not that unusual with regard to followers of Meher Baba who generally prefers to take His followers through the higher spheres—the subtle and mental—in His own words, ‘blindfolded’.

He has said that the experiences of these higher spheres are so alluring that one can easily get lost in them—jazd—and therefore inhibit the aspirants progress to the final destination—God Realization.

From my own perspective I can definitely see the wisdom in that; I mean, if I can so easily get attached with all the various sense objects of the gross sphere, then how attached would I get to the sight of angels, or the powers to create and destroy whole worlds, or even the seeing of everything as mental projections of my own mind?

Anyway, if one is interested, one can find descriptions of all of these higher experiences of the planes of consciousness in Meher Baba’s book God Speaks and in Bhau Kalchuri’s book, The Nothing and the Everything (the material of which is drawn directly from points Meher Baba gave to Bhau).

It is interesting to me that on the other hand, Gurdjieff never talked much about these higher experiences, preferring to remind his students that, in the words of Kabir, “Until you experience it, it is not true.”  In other words, he was telling his students to work where they found themselves and not give much importance to talk about things they did not experience.

To me, he was attempting to get his followers to the same point of view that Meher Baba was attempting to get with regard to His followers, but from a whole different direction; the former by not giving his followers material to feed their imagination and the latter by revealing so many of the secrets of the spiritual path that His followers would lose their curiosity about them. Anyway, this is just my opinion; but as the Sufis say, “Only God knows—Inshalla!”

In meditation I can become aware of the working of my mind. It’s a subtle and yet profoundly different state than when I am identified with my mind.

When I am identified with my mind there is no sense of self other than my identity with my mind—my thoughts, feelings, sensations, and inner-conversations. When I am identified with my mind I am whatever it explicitly or implicitly tells me I am. For example, the mind perceives a sensation in the body as an itch and the body immediately responds by scratching the itch, while I am only vaguely aware, if at all, of what’s going on. After the itch, the mind moves on to something else, some other topic, again without my intention, direction, or participation.

But in those unique moments when I am aware of the workings of my mind there is someone, some-self, present that is being aware of the workings of my mind and can even choose to watch it work or direct it to certain topics or activities. My question is; is that someone just another part of the mind itself, or is it something other? Understand that I am not seeking an answer to a question; questions have energy while answers kill questions. What I want is to know by experience. Questions unveil Truth while answers obscure it by pretending to know.

In the Gurdjieff Work we talked about the lack of unity in man—that there is no single I who runs the show—that man consists of many I’s—that man’s name is Legion. I have no doubt that my many I’s are of the mind—are the thoughts, feelings, and desires of my mind.

Gurdjieff also said that if a man wishes to become more—more conscious—more whole—more one—He must first get his house of I’s in order by appointing a deputy steward—an appropriate I or group of I’s that are aware of his wish and have the authority—the energy—to put the house of I’s in order. He goes on to say that only when the house is in order will the master of the house move in and take control. The master of the house is the Self beyond the mind.

Rumi said, “The mind is a great and a wondrous thing that can bring you to the door of the King—once there it must be removed—like shoes upon entering a holy place.”

So when I choose to watch my mind and direct it to certain subjects, is that I my deputy steward—my collection of I’s who knows and respects my longing for God—for Self? And when this deputy steward is in charge, is this state connected to what Gurdjieff called self-remembering, attention, or self-observation?

Now, there is a book called Infinite Intelligence. This book came into print a few years ago. It is based upon an extensive series of points that were discovered in a couple of handwritten notebooks years after Meher Baba’s physical death. These points were written in an unidentified hand—not Meher Baba’s—yet it is clear beyond a doubt that the points and style of language are Meher Baba’s.

These notebooks have also been published under the title of Intelligence Notebooks and can be found online at .

Reading the Intelligence Notebooks is difficult not only because of the depth of their content, but also because they are written in a few different languages. In order to make these one of a kind teachings accessible to more people, some followers of Meher Baba created the book Infinite Intelligence with translations and in-depth commentaries. I have read both the Notebooks and Infinite Intelligence and feel that they bring a new insight and perspective to the question of consciousness.

It is my opinion that with regard to the totality of Meher Baba’s teachings, Meher Baba spends a lot of time creating context—that He wants us to know intellectually who we are, who He is, and what both the creation and God have to do with it all. I think He wants to give us an overview of the journey and His role in it.

To accomplish all this He often expresses Himself through metaphor and allegory. For example, in God Speaks, Meher Baba likens God to an Infinite Ocean made up of innumerable drops (souls) in various states of experience and consciousness. The end of the process is when the drop realizes itself to be the Ocean.

“I am like God and God is like me.
I am as large as God; He is as small as I.
He cannot above me, nor I beneath him be.”
– Silesius (Trans. used in the film Cape Fear.)

In the story of the Mischievous Chicken that can be found in the book The Nothing And The Everything, Meher Baba casts Himself in the role of the mischievous chicken whose curiosity about what lies beyond the security of the mother hen causes him to journey forth seven times eating all that he experiences along the way until he finally eats himself!

 In the Intelligence Notebooks, God is represented as Infinite Intelligence. What is intelligence? Intelligence is the capacity to know. What is Infinite Intelligence? The capacity to know infinitely—Infinite Knowledge.

But to know is to think and mind is necessary to think. To know Infinite Knowledge, Infinite thought is required, and to think infinitely, the capacity of Infinite Mind is necessary.

So, what is thinking? In the Intelligence Notebooks, Meher Baba clearly states that consciousness and thinking are one and the same; which, of course, leads me back to the laboratory.

Row, row, row your boat gently down the stream,
merrily, merrily, merrily, merrily,
life is but a dream.”

So goes the old rhyme, but, this dream, where does it come from?”

In the Intelligence Notebooks Meher Baba says that it is the mind that dreams and it is the mind that experiences—takes the experience of—that dream. (Meher Baba uses the Sanskrit word upabhog to convey the nature of taking the experience of. “Enjoyment, pleasure; particularly sensual pleasure; an experience…”) Infinite Intelligence, glossary, page 711

And what is this dreaming—this creating—other than thinking? And what is this experiencing of —this taking of the upabhog of—other than thinking too?

It is natural for the Infinite Intelligence to think and realize (experience) Its imagination but supernatural (super here means above or beyond) for It to think and realize Itself. When superconscious, It thinks and realizes Itself, and this is Real Consciousness; (but) when ordinarily conscious, It realizes the universe, and this is false consciousness.” – Ibid, page 105

Previously I quoted;

The senses are superior to the objects of the senses,
The mind is superior to the senses,
And the Self is superior to the mind.
That Self and Infinite, Eternal God are One.”Bhagavad Gita, as read by Jacob Needleman

Is not the entire universe a sense object that the mind experiences through the senses? What Meher Baba brings to this teaching is that the mind is not only the creator of the universe—that the mind thinks—creates— the universe, but also, by thinking, the mind experiences—takes the upabhog—of its own creation.

So I’m walking around my neighborhood one day, allowing my mind to experience the sensations of my body connected to movement. There is a feeling of being in the moment—being in my body—self-sensing…

Trying to maintain that state, I direct my attention—my thoughts—to the world around me. I see trees and sky and birds and squirrels and shrubs and plants and flowers… I see ‘inanimate’ things too—buildings and automobiles, concrete and signs. I remember the words of Meher Baba;

It is natural for the Infinite Intelligence to think and realize (experience) Its imagination, but supernatural (super here means above or beyond) for It to think and realize Itself. When superconscious, It thinks and realizes Itself, and this is Real Consciousness; (but) when ordinarily conscious, It realizes the universe, and this is false consciousness.” – Ibid, page 105

The Infinite Intelligence and the Self are one—are the same—but to experience Itself It must be conscious, and to be conscious, consciousness is required. Meher Baba said that consciousness is full and complete in the human form, but cannot reveal the Self to Itself because consciousness in the human form is veiled by impressions—sanskaras—the dust, so to speak, of   consciousness’ from the stone form to the human form.

This dust is like the dirt and grime that can accumulate on a mirror and countless incarnations in the human form are necessary to remove it. And this I believe is my situation—I don’t experience the Self, I experience the self and the universe that mind in the state of false thinking creates and preserves and destroys…

I see my neighbor walking down the street in my direction. At the same time a magnificent hawk glides across the sky and lands in a tall tree. I almost lose state my of awareness and become the automaton of my personality, but I hold on to my self-sensing while I greet my neighbor and direct her attention to the hawk in the tree. She see the hawk and we talk…

But if the hawk is my creation then why does she see it—and, as a matter of fact, why do we even see each other and are able to agree on what we are seeing? And that we are on the same street and see the same sky and trees… You see where I am going…

Bob Dylan once said in a song, “I’ll let you be in my dream if I can be in yours…

But let’s remember that this dream is not only mine, or my dream and my neighbor’s, it is also the dream of the hawk and the trees, and, and…

“We’ve all heard the question; “If a tree falls in the forest and there is no one to hear it, does it make a sound?” Of course the question is a non-sequitur because a tree cannot grow without other trees and shrubs and insects and birds… A tree cannot fall and not be heard by the forest and a tree cannot exist without the forest.

In other words, how is it that we all agree on these things? How is it that my neighbor, and the hawk, and I agree that the hawk is a hawk, the neighbor is the neighbor, and I am Michael? The answer is twofold: One, we don’t really agree at all—that my neighbor’s hawk is not my hawk, nor is it the hawk’s hawk. And two, the hawk’s hawk, and the neighbor’s hawk, and my hawk are all the same one dream of Infinite’s Intelligence’s Infinite Mind and that is why it all somehow seems to work together.

More tea Ayushya?”

Yes please.”

More tea Grandfather?”

Yes please, and then dear Granddaughter please read to Ayushya what you and I were reading before.”

So here in Infinite Intelligence Baba says; ‘Through Infinite Thinking the Infinite Intelligence creates the universe, through false Infinite Thinking, It realizes the universe, and through real Infinite Thinking, It realizes Itself.’”

Baba sums it all up so simply and easily.”


When one knows—when one has been through it all—when one has taken the experience of the alpha and the omega and everything in between and then goes beyond it and realizes the Eternal Everything—that which is beyond all beginnings and ends—then all of creation is seen for what it is—nothing—the Nothing—the shadow of the Everything. With this achievement comes Infinite Knowledge and from this comes Infinite Knowing which makes understanding of all and everything effortless, easy, and true.

And Ayushya, why do you think that Baba tells us all of this?”

Perhaps He wants to de- mystify the ‘big picture' for us, while continuing to remind us that our knowledge—our knowing— is not experiencing and that experiencing is the goal.”

That is His game.”

Indeed Grandfather, indeed.

Ayushya, I too enjoy meditation and have had experiences similar to those you describe in your blog and I have noticed that when I am able to be aware of my mind and its thoughts, without becoming lost in them, that some thoughts have much more energy than others. They pull me in more. They make me want to feel that they are really important. I assume that this energy is emotional energy, but I wonder where it comes from.  Is it another aspect of mind or something else?”

“And I too have considered the same question in light of what Baba has said—remember that it was your dear grandfather and you who have so aptly named me Ayushya—Baba’s talking parrot—and what else can a parrot do but to repeat what it has heard, and this repeating in no way suggests that it is the parrot’s understanding or knowledge.

“Now Meher Baba has said that the subtle planes of higher consciousness—the first, second, and third planes, are the planes of power—energy—while the fifth and sixth planes are the planes of mind, thought and feeling. Everything rains down from the higher to the lower and so I have come to the conclusion that it is the second section of mind, the feeling section, that, as it were, rains down to the lower higher planes the energy of the first three planes.”

“And the forth plane?”

“Yes, the forth plane; do you remember my blog about the sandhi?”

“Yes, the sandhi is the joint between things.”

“Yes, exactly, and so the fourth plane of the subtle world is the sandhi between the subtle and the mental worlds of the fifth and sixth planes. Now, as the saying goes,’ as above, so below’, so my sense is that when our thoughts are energized in the way you describe, they are attracting energy from the subtle world that radiates from the second section of mind in the mental world.”

“And why do some thoughts attract this energy while others do not?”

“Yes, that is the question. Again my sense is that desires and attachments pull that energy down.”

“That makes total sense to me, and so what do you do when you are in that state?”

“In fact that is the easiest thing to do; what I do is to bring my mind to Meher Baba. Remember what I said earlier;

 The senses are superior to the objects of the senses,
The mind is superior to the senses,
And the Self is superior to the mind.
That Self and Infinite, Eternal God are One.’

“For me, Meher Baba and the Self—my real Self—are One,  and so to remember His name is to remember myself—my  real Self—and that lifts me right out of the illusory suffering of my illusory consciousness  and I feel happy. Mind you, I am not saying that I am experiencing my real Self at that moment, but what I am experiencing is a shadow, or a reflection, or a radiation, of His consciousness—His Avataric consciousness.”

Perhaps you can say that what you are experiencing is His Mercy and His Grace.”

Yes, that is it my friend, it is His Mercy and His Grace that flows to us through His Avataric Consciousness!

Yes Grandfather, I believe that you have spoken truly.”

Indeed, my dear, if I have, it is by His Grace.”



                                                                                                     (c) copyright, Michael Kovitz 2016

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