Alternative Experiences of Conscious Awareness

There are other statuses of consciousness than that of the witness and the nature (Purusha and Prakriti). Sri Aurobindo describes some of these states which are experienced by practitioners of yoga and have been described in various ways within the limitations of the language and the attempt to describe what is an unusual state of consciousness for most people.

There is a state of awareness where the conscious awareness is seated above the being and is able to “observe the various parts of our being, inner and outer, mental, vital and physical and the subconscient below all, and act upon one or other or the whole from that higher status.”

Another state of awareness involves going down from the heights into one of the lower states “and take its limited light or its obscurity as our place of working while the rest that we are is either temporarily put away or put behind or else kept as a field of reference from which we can get support, sanction or light and influence or as a status into which we can ascend or recede and from it observe the inferior movements.” Obviously this status is one in which movements or habitual actions at various levels can be addressed and modified and change in the nature brought about.

Then there is the state of trance, to “get within ourselves and be conscious there will all outward things are excluded; or we can go beyond even this inner awareness and lose ourselves in some deeper other consciousness or some high superconscience.” The trance state is one that is frequently invoked in the practice of yoga and there is a huge body of information about both how to achieve the state and the qualities of the state of trance.

“There is also a pervading equal consciousness into which we can enter and see all ourselves with one enveloping glance or omnipresent awareness one and indivisible.”

While those who are locked into the normal limited human scope of awareness may find these alternative states either exotic or delusional, there is sufficient history and documentation of these experiences in both the yoga literature and that of Western mystics, philosophers and psychologists that we must accept them as both real and having value as standpoints from which to grow our understanding and integrate our consciousness in a more complete way under the “logic of the Infinite.”

reference: Sri Aurobindo, The Life Divine, Book 2, Part I, Chapter 2, Brahman, Purusha, Ishwara–Maya, Prakriti, Shakti, pp. 345-346