The Waking State of Conscious Awareness

Sri Aurobindo translates Mandukya Upanishad, Verse 3:  “He whose place is the wakefulness, who is wise of the outward, who hath seven limbs, to whom there are nineteen doors, who feeleth and enjoyeth gross objects, Vaishwanara, the Universal Male, He is the first.”

The Mandukya Upanishad provides a step-by-step review of the various states of consciousness in relation to OM.  The first review is of the outer, waking consciousness, which focuses on, lives and acts in the created world through various types of interaction based on the senses.  This status of consciousness is not separate from the Universal Consciousness, although through the action of ego and the process of creative fragmentation, it may seem that way.  The seven limbs described are referenced by traditional commentators as being the heaven, the mid-world, and the various aspects of the material creation, thereby making the connection between the universe and the individual aspect of this awareness.  The nineteen doors are the actual modalities of the interaction, which include the five senses of perception, five of action, the five main breaths (Prana, Apana, Samana, Vyana and Udana), and the aspects of the mind that interact and coordinate with the senses, the basic “mind-stuff” called chitta, plus manas (mind), intellect (buddhi), and the ego-sense (ahamkara).

The individual, when he is stationed in this mode of awareness, is fixated on the actions and reactions in the outer world. It corresponds to the day, when the awareness of the vast distances of space and the stars recedes.  It is the normal “waking” state of consciousness for most beings in the world.  It is therefore the starting point for the examination of consciousness and its role in the universal creation.

Sri Aurobindo, The Upanishads,  Mandukya Upanishad, pp.319-321