The term higher consciousness has been for centuries used by religious people to describe a state of mind that they achieved through meditation and concentration. Through the ages, Buddhist monks and ascetics all speak of reaching moments of deep clarity during which their spirit achieves a higher level of consciousness through chanting or mindful meditation. But how does this work? Can we try and explain to secular minds that express skepticism?
Unfortunately, the way in which religious people of the past have described these states of higher consciousness and concentration can be off putting to most. It sounds unscientific, vague, and relies mostly on feelings. But what do these gurus really mean when they speak of becoming mindful and understanding? The idea of a higher consciousness is, in reality, a very interesting one that has little to do with spirituality or religiousness if you do approach it in the right way.
Higher human consciousness can be described and explained in very rational terms: as humans, we spend most of our lives trying to satisfy our needs. Food, air, ourselves, and our survival. During these periods we experience states of lower consciousness, where the only concern is our wellbeing. The actions of others seen irrational and hurtful, and the only thing that matters is our success. Simple worldly things are what affect us the most, these being the food that we eat or the time we have to satisfy our needs. We live within the walls of lower consciousness, we blame others, and are more prone to striking back when someone hits us. Its a survival strategy of sorts and there is nothing wrong with listening to our primordial brain helping us. It helps us stick to an image to who we are, and where we are headed; it suggests subconsciously how to react and to distrust, because the actions of others may be hurtful and against our wellbeing.
However, there are extremely rare moments in which there are no threats or demands. During these moments, perhaps early in the morning or very late at night, it is possible for us to access the higher mind. That is to say the neocortex, the seat of impartial judgement and empathy. We loose who we really are and ascend to a universal perspective of life. No bias and no judgement to mind us, we can cast aside our pride and truly begin to understand the actions of others. In such states of mindful meditation, we can move our thoughts beyond the confines of our own selfish interests, and begin thinking of other people in different and imaginative ways.
During such heightened states, we can see other people’s actions objectively rather than attacking and criticizing their decisions. We start to realize that their own behaviors derive from pressures that come from their primitive minds – just like ours! We can thus understand that their temper and their actions are just signs of being hurt rather than being evil. In such brief and intense moments, we can begin to understand how the world is a place of suffering that comes from misguided efforts, and where people lash out against others only because they wish to be heard more that others.
Just like that, the world can be a place of beauty, vulnerability, longing and need to belong. When we feel like our lives lose value before this greatness, we can contemplate things from afar and become one with all things. From this wonderful point of view, status becomes nothing and possessions have no meaning.
States of higher consciousness are, however, extremely short. And that is not a bad thing! They do not fit well with all the important tasks that daily life asks of us. If we were mindful all the time, we would not eat or drink in bliss of that state. However, when they do arise during buddhist meditation we should make the most of them and remember them for later. Most of us are not gurus or monks, and certainly we are not omniscient, but these states of mind can help us understand others better and live in harmony and acceptance.
Try out mindful meditation, and try and reach that higher state of human consciousness by yourself. Here is some nature music from our main youtube channel to help you out: