The Worlds and Planes of Consciousness

We tend to take for granted the feelings, emotions, ideas, thoughts, creative impulses, imaginations, insights, inspirations and intuitions we experience. We do not generally try to find out the source of these things, or how they come to be known to or experienced by us. We treat our bodies as some kind of a “black box” that simply “does” these things.

If we look more deeply however, it becomes clear that inanimate Matter, and the mixing of a few chemical reactions, cannot explain any of these things. It also becomes clear that a 3 or 4 year old musical prodigy, such as Mozart, must have access to another well of knowing than simply the development of physical musical skills. There are other unexplained situations such as the frequently reported out of body experience. Where does our awareness “go” when it leaves the body? Near death experiences, with documented clinical death, and a subsequent return to life in the body also poses questions for researchers. What is the source of the experiences so often reported by those who have died and returned in this way? The creative process also has raised substantive questions about the source of creativity and our methods of reaching out and channeling that creativity into our waking life.

When we question scientists, creative artists, musicians, poets, inventors, sages, yogis, mystics and visionaries, we find that they all report, one way or another, the shifting of their awareness, the opening of their consciousness to sources of inspiration from elsewhere, from outside themselves. Sri Aurobindo reported, and made a powerful tool of his yogic practice, the observation of thoughts entering the mind from outside, which he then was able to reject and allow the mind to fall into a receptive silence.

Sri Aurobindo writes: “The physical is not the only world; there are others that we become aware of through dream records, through the subtle senses, through influences and contacts, through imagination, intuition and vision. There are worlds of a larger subtler life than ours, vital worlds; worlds in which Mind builds its own forms and figures, mental worlds; psychic worlds which are the soul’s home; others above with which we have little contact. In each of us there is a mental plane of consciousness, a psychic, a vital, a subtle physical as well as the gross physical and material plane. The same planes are repeated in the consciousness of general Nature. It is when we enter or contact these other planes that we come into connection with the worlds above the physical.”

Sri Aurobindo, Integral Yoga: Sri Aurobindo’s Teaching and Method of Practice, Planes of Consciousness and Parts of the Being, pp. 46-48

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