Conscious Universe


“The acknowledgement of a single possibility can change everything.”
― Aberjhani, Splendid Literarium: A Treasury of Stories, Aphorisms, Poems, and Essays1

OPD without patients

I was sitting in a Saturday OPD. Only one patient had managed to reach me so far for consultation. The city was observing a weekend lockdown on Saturday and Sunday. I guess everyone was scared to come out on roads after seeing social media videos of lathicharge on the lock down violators.

After sitting idle for 15 minutes, I decided to stretch my legs and moved into the lobby. I was drawn towards a coffee kiosk. From a distance, I could see my friend GK,2 standing there with a cup in his hand. GK is a senior radiologist in the same hospital. He saw me asking for coffee and grinned. Standing about a meter away he asked, “Have you seen the recent news on consciousness?”

Coffee chat

I had not heard about it and I told him so. He announced, “The mathematicians think that the universe is conscious.”3

I raised my eyebrows,”Universe meaning the whole universe? We don’t even know how big it is!”

 He elaborated, “The basic mathematical model working on this is called Integrated Information Theory (IIT).4,5 When applied to non-living things like machines, subatomic particles, and even the universe, it claims that they too experience consciousness of some sort.”

“Are you worried that your CT-scan machines will get upset with you for making them work day and night during COVID-19?” I said in jest. GK was fond of physics and knew the subject as well as a doctor could.

He explained further, “IIT relies on a value called phi (see figure-1 below) that represents the interconnectivity of a node, whether it’s a region of the brain, circuitry, or an atom. That value represents the node’s level of consciousness. The cerebral cortex, for instance, has a high value because it contains a dense cluster of widely-interconnected neurons.”

Human consciousness

Consciousness has always been a hot topic in biology in general and medical science in particular.6  The debate had recently heated up due to newer insights.7 

Current medical knowledge suggests that the consciousness emerges in human foetus by activation of the cortex by thalamocortical connections around 24 weeks after conception.8 After this, the human foetus in the mother’s womb can be potentially conscious, as it is aware of its body. It reacts to touch, smell and sound and shows social expressions in response to external stimuli. Since it mostly remains asleep, it may not be aware of itself and its environment. 

The development of consciousness seems a progressive, stepwise, structural and functional evolution of multiple intricate components. However, there are some important missing pieces of knowledge at this stage. It is unlikely that the foetus can remember its past or anticipate anything about the future.

As per biological knowledge, consciousness is an active process with multiple facets. Sensory perceptions are modulated as per individual requirements, stored somewhere (we do not know how and where) in the brain, and decompressed again when required. Science understands very little about cognition of thoughts, emotions and of course, awareness that provides a sense of continuity in everyday life.9,10

Mathematics and consciousness

I remarked, “Consciousness is a biological phenomenon. Why are mathematicians getting into it?”

GK asserted, “Consciousness may not be merely a biological phenomenon! Remember Roger Penrose? One who got a Nobel Prize this year for his work on blackholes! He wrote books titled The Emperor’s New Mind and Shadows of Mind on relationship of physics and consciousness over two decades back. ”11

Personally, I wasn’t sure that consciousness can be a physical thing. “How can a machine be conscious?”

He replied, “According to IIT, a system’s consciousness is determined by its causal properties and is therefore an intrinsic, fundamental property of any physical system.12,32

I countered, “ I really do not understand your IIT. Wasn’t it David Chalmers who talked about the ‘hard problem’ of consciousness?13 I think he said that any attempt to explain consciousness in purely physical terms may not be possible. You will be doing all the thinking within that consciousness.”

GK replied, “For centuries, modern science has been shrinking the gap between humans and the rest of the universe. There is a famous quote from Carl Sagan that says ‘we are made of star stuff‘ — that the atoms of our bodies were literally forged in the nuclear furnaces of other stars.14

I remarked, “We may be made of star-stuff, but we are aware! Mind is peculiar to living beings, and is difficult to imagine in any inanimate matter .” 

A stranger arrives

While I was uttering those words, I became aware of a young gentleman in an orange dhotikurta close-by, looking expectantly at me. He was carrying a blank monogrammed prescription paper of our hospital that I could recognise from a distance. Possibly, he was another stray patient who had landed up to consult me. 

I looked at his orange robes. He was probably a sanyasi or a devotee in some Ashram. There were plenty of them in this area. I asked him, “Are you waiting for me?” 

That man politely replied. “Sir, I have been referred to you. Someone pointed you out to me and I decided to come here to meet you.”

I said, “Could you please wait in my OPD chamber? I will be with you in a few minutes.” 

He smiled and said, “Sir, please do not hurry. I have plenty of time. But would you mind if I listened to what this doctor is saying about consciousness? I find it very interesting.”

I looked at GK for approval. GK ignored our exchange and that person in orange. He responded to what I had commented earlier, “Latest research shows that neural network in the brain and the cosmic web of galaxies in the universe are strikingly similar.15 In any case, what is it that you call inanimate matter?” 

The orange robed gentleman also ordered coffee and stood just a meter away quietly sipping from his cup. Now, I wanted to quickly close the discussion with GK, but I answered his question, “Inanimate objects? All this stuff that we can touch and feel. Brick and mortar, made of up molecules and atoms!”

Physics and conciousnesss

GK asked, “And what are these molecules and atoms made of?”

I could not fathom what was he driving at, “Of course the subatomic particles – electrons, protons and neutrons.”16

GK smiled as he asked again, “And what are these particles made of?”

I was now perplexed,”I believe there are even further smaller particles known as fermions and bosons17,18 i.e. leptons, quarks, and gluons,19 but I am not sure!”

He laughed, “I am impressed with your knowledge. You are right. But what are these fundamental particles made of?”

I asked, “Are there still smaller particles? I don’t know exactly. What are they made of?”

GK said in a mocking tone.”AC, this a question that separates a student from a professor.”

“Why?” I was still confused about which way this conversation was going.

GK answered with that persistent smile that I was now finding a bit irritating, “Because a student would answer – I don’t know! And a professor will answer – nothing is known about it!” And he laughed again.

I asked, “But what is your point?” I saw that gentleman in orange had patiently made himself comfortable and had closed his eyes as if meditating.

Quantum physics explains

GK suddenly became serious, “I am not an expert, but from what I understand, beyond this level, there  are only theories,20,21 like superstrings or supersymmetry. Matter seems to disintegrate into vibrations in the quantum field. Many of these small fundamental particles and their antiparticles are known to appear out of nothing and merge into nothing. In effect, matter is made of nothing that we know.”

My irritation had evaporated and I must have looked surprised, “But I see and feel everything. See there – a bright red rose and this green shrub in the terracotta pot here!”

GK said, “As per science, there is nothing red or green there! It is just our perception.”

I wasn’t convinced, “How?”

GK explained,”Humans have limited sensory input organs. Take the example of our eyes! We receive various frequencies of electromagnetic waves in our lens and these waves initiate a chemical reaction in our retina, which is converted to into an electrical impulse in the nerves. Similarly our ears convert pressure waves into an electro-chemical reaction in our inner ear. Even our nose picks up vibrations in the chemicals floating in the air, and our skin too responds to contact with extraneous substances by creating chemical and electrical signals.”

I was now getting impatient, “What has all this to do with consciousness. Skip the physiology lesson and make a point!”

GK said, “I am coming to that. All these electrical impulses are taken to different parts of  our brain in different nerves. The patterns of these electrical impulses allows our brain/mind complex to create a virtual reality inside us, that we perceive as the outside world!”

Virtual reality

I was astounded, “What?”

GK calmly replied, “Outside you, there is just a jumble of random vibrations at the quantum level! You create a beautiful world out of it in your own consciousness.”

“You feel all this I see is a virtual reality?”

He elaborated,” At the gross level, the structural probabilities may be deterministic, but all the qualitative beauty that you see outside (like the texture, feel and colours) is the virtual reality created in your brain by your consciousness!”

“Hmmm!” I was trying to imagine but finding it difficult.

GK further said, “The philosopher Thomas Nagel had once asked an interesting question. What is it like to be a bat? Bats use sonar22 to echo-locate and seem to ‘see’ with the sound they produce. What would their world be like? Will extraneous sounds interfere with echo-locations? All the scientific knowledge about the physiology and neurology of bats cannot help us experience ‘being a bat’— the way a bat experiences it subjectively. The virtual reality world of bat would be nothing like ours”

I asked, “What are you trying to say?”

He replied, “The virtual reality world we create will depend on what sensory apparatus we have. There is a significant gap between the descriptions of science (physical phenomena) and our personal experience (subjective phenomena),23 and consciousness may be the missing link!”

“How?” I asked.

GK said, “How do we know that the vibrations that make up our fundamental particles are not in a medium or field that is made up of consciousness? After all, subatomic particles change their behaviour when they are observed!”

“Is that true?” I asked.

GK’s irritating smile was back,”It is a well known fact that electrons behave as waves, as long as we do not try to observe them. When we try to observe them, electrons are being “forced” to behave like particles and are no more waves.24 Thus the mere act of observation changes experimental results.”

We had finished our coffee and both of us started walking towards our respective departments. GK had also apparently exhausted his knowledge of physics. The gentleman in orange dhotikurta was now watching us with fascination. He too started walking, albeit a step behind us. 

Clarity of mind

I addressed that gentleman,”Swamiji, sorry you had to wait. We were just discussing something meaningless. I will see you immediately in my chamber.” And I turned to GK to gesture “See you!” 

The gentleman in orange  interrupted me.”No, no, sir. Your conversation is not meaningless. It has started clearing my mind.”

I was confused. So was GK. What was he talking about?

The gentleman looked at our perplexed faces and said, “Sir, I did come to consult you as I have been found to have hepatitis B infection. But your conversation has resolved all my mental confusion.”

I was finding our conversation weird and this man was saying that it had resolved his confusion “How come?” I looked at him and asked.

“Sir, I am a student of Advait Vedanta, a sadhak.” He replied. “I was having difficulty in understanding the concept of ‘non-duality’ but your discussion has made it crystal clear to me. In fact our scriptures say exactly what you were discussing!”

GK suddenly appeared very much interested. He changed his course to walk towards my OPD chamber with us, “Can you clarify? We were discussing the modern physics of subatomic particles.”

He folded his hands,”You may find it strange, but this is exactly what we are studying in Vedanta.”

GK asked, “Isn’t Vedanta the natural resource company involved in mining operations here? I have some of its shares.”

The swami in orange robes was taken aback, “No, no, no sir. India’s holy scriptures are four Vedas. The last portions of vedas dealing with higher knowledge are called Upanishads. Hence the philosophy of Upanishads is called Vedanta. These scriptures are dated by some to have originated seven thousand years back.”

GK said, smiling to himself,”Oh, so your Vedanta mines ancient knowledge! What does it say about particle physics?” 

Swami was not perturbed. He replied, “Vedanta says nothing about particle physics, but yes, it says a lot about consciousness!”

GK asked mockingly,”Does it say that the universe is conscious?”

Vedanta and Consciousness

Swami looked sideways and cryptically replied,”More than that, It says the universe is nothing but Consciousness.”

GK remarked, “Just like that?”

“Instead of focusing on the external world, our ancient rishis had started studying the enigma of our awareness or what you call consciousness. They declared that we are that (Tat-twam-asi).25 Rational enquiry into the self shows that although each one of us identifies with our body or our mind, we are neither. Each one of us is primarily Consciousness.” Swami replied without minding GK’s rudeness.

I asked, “I did not follow you. Can you elaborate?”

He did,”Rishis discovered that this life is nothing but a series of experiences. Every moment of our life is a new experience. Every experience has two components – an object being experienced and a subject who is the experiencer. The experiencer in us is the witness (sakshi) Consciousness.”

We had reached my chamber. GK had followed us in. I offered both of them chairs that were kept about 2 meters apart. “Our mind is conscious! What is new in that?”I asked

The gentleman in orange robes answered,”Upanishads differentiate between mind and consciousness. It says our mind (antahkaran) is also an object to our Awareness or Consciousness!”

“What if I say that my mind is the experiencer?” GK asked

Swami calmly explained, “That is a very common doubt. Drig-drishya viveka (seer-seen argument) of the Upanishads says that an object and a subject in an experience can not be the same. If you see an object for example this pen on the table, then the seer of the pen has to be different. It cannot be that pen itself.  If you look inside yourself, you will be able to observe (see) your thoughts, perceptions and emotions, all of which change from moment to moment. You, the subject Consciousness remain unchanged. Not only during the day, but throughout your entire life, as a continuous thread.” 

Brahma satyam jagat mithya

GK said, “That is logical enough. But what difference does it make?”

The gentleman in orange spoke,”Vedanta says that this Consciousness is the only reality (Sat or truth) in this universe. Everything else borrows its reality (existence)  from this Consciousness. Consciousness has been given various names like Brahman (literally ‘the vast’), Atman or Sat-Chit-Anand.

I asked, “But how is it connected to our discussion?”

He said, “Understanding of Vedanta is a two step process. What I just now talked about is step one. Accepting this step is not very difficult. But the second step is.”

I asked, “What is the second step?”

He slowly said, “The second step is more complex for those of us living a practical life. It is not that Brahman exists, but that it is existence itself. This Consciousness (Chit) is the only reality (Sat) in this universe, which is complete and self content (Anand). Since it is the only existence, it is non-dual. The duality we see around us as this world is a false appearance. It has been created through Maya (roughly translated as illusion) and is therefore unreal (mithya)!”

These words rang a bell somewhere in my mind as I remembered the oft repeated sentence from my childhood -“Brahma satyam jagat mithya”. It was more of a slogan in my mind and I had never understood it completely.

Before I could ask anything, GK spoke, “How can it be the only reality? Isn’t my consciousness different from yours?”

The man in orange robes said, “No it isn’t. Your perceived world exists in you mind and my perceived world in my mind. It is the common radiance of this Consciousness that illuminates it to us in our respective minds.”

GK was intrigued as I was,”And what is out there? What is this physical world outside us that we perceive?”

Origin of universe

Swami spoke, “The Upanishads say that it is Brahman or Consciousness that has some how (through Maya) created everything, just as you were suggesting with your particle physics. In fact the Kashmiri Shaivism says explicitly that the vibrations (spandan) of Consciousness produces matter or universe.26 It is the same as you mentioned while discussing particle physics.”

GK asked, “Do our scriptures talk about the origin of the Universe?”

Swamiji elaborated, “Vedanta says that the Consciousness  is the fabric of creation. In Chandogya Upanishad, Rishi Uddalaka, teaching his son, says – in the beginning, dear son, there was nothing but reality (Sat or Consciousness) alone.”(Chhandogya Upnanishada 6.2.1) (See figure-1A)

Figure-1: Some shlokas (Sanskrit verses) used in this discussion are presented here. The symbol in the centre represents Phi

“Then how did this Universe begin?” GK was getting impatient.

He said, “A verse in Mundaka Upanishad (1.1.7) says that just like the spider creates a web and then retracts it into its naval (body), Consciousness creates this world with Maya and then retracts it into itself.”(See figure-1B)

GK’s eyes started shining. I am sure he was visualising the assertion of astro-physicists that the Universe expands out of a singularity and finally contracts into it.27

GK asked,”If your and my mind are lit up by the same Consciousness, why don’t I know your thoughts?”

Swamiji looked at him for a moment and then said. “It is somewhat like the same electricity lights up your computer as well as mine, but my computer does not know what your computer is doing.”

After a pause he helpfully added, “Don’t think of Consciousness as a person! A single source of light (for example sun) can illuminate a million things! This Consciousness is a universal reality. As I mentioned earlier, it is reflected in and illuminates every mind. It is not something physical (as matter) or even a perceivable energy (as light). Think of it as more like a magnetic field, maybe even subtler than that because we can not infer it or detect it yet. The perceptions we have lie in our mind, not in Consciousness! Consciousness only illuminates it for us.”

GK again asked,”But where in Universe does it reside?”

Fabric of creation

Swami gave a simple answer, “As I said, it is the subtle fabric of creation. It pervades each and every part of the universe and even beyond!(Purush Sutra, Rigveda) (See figure-1C)28 Personally, I was finding it difficult to comprehend how Brahman could pervade and create everything but your discussion about how particles are made, has given me clarity. God bless your mathematicians.”

I was curious, “Have Upanishads given a description of Consciousness?”

Swami replied calmly,“At many places. One description is in Mandukya Upanishad, 7th mantra.(See figure-1D)  Its approximate meaning is that it is neither directed outwards (as in waking state), nor inwards (as in dream state). Neither is it sentient, nor insentient. It cannot be perceived by any sense organ and cannot be comprehended by the mind. One can not infer it, imagine it, or describe it in words. It is the silence of the universe and complete in itself, peaceful, blissful and non-dual. Some call it the Turiya (literally the Fourth – one that remains after you have discounted the experience of three mental states i.e. being wakeful, dreaming or in deep sleep). This is the Ātman and it has to be realised.”

I asked, “You have referred to waking and dream state twice. What does it imply?”

He looked at me and replied, ”If I use the analogy given by this learned doctor (pointing to GK), in waking state, you create a virtual reality from current sensory inputs. During sleep, in the dreaming state, all your sensory input is blocked in your brain and you create a virtual reality from whatever information is stored in your memory. Both these virtual realities are created in your mind and are illuminated by Consciousness. In deep sleep, inputs from sensory organs and from memory are also blocked and are present only in a seed form. Now there is no virtual reality to illuminate and there is just blankness! The One that reveals this blankness to us is our Awareness or Consciousness (or Brahman).

“And all this is written in Upanishads?” GK had disbelief in his voice.

Are newer discoveries embedded in ancient wisdom?

“It is sir, but the term virtual reality is new. It is a product of modern science.” he said and then after a pause added. “Vedas are considered śruti (“what is heard”) and apaurusheya (Not of human origin).29 It has been taught in India as word of mouth for several millennia. Apparently Vyasa compiled Vedas, and arranged the four kinds of mantras into four Samhitas. They were committed to writing around 1500 BCE.30 Over ages detailed discussions (commentaries) on these Upanishads have been written by great scholars such as Gaourpada, Adi Sankaracharya, Swami Vivekananda, and Swami Chinmyananda.”

“You said Apuruseya?” GK was thoughtful, “Is it possible that this cutting edge knowledge came from an advanced alien civilisation, who may have visited the earth back then?”

Swami was not impressed, “That is an interesting thought! I am sure you know that a gentleman named Erich Anton Paul von Däniken has been talking about this theory.31 We don’t have enough evidence to say that, do we?”

GK and I were lost in our thoughts for what seemed like an eternity, each of us noodling the questions this discussion had raised.

“Can I have my consultation now?” Swami demanded.

His voice pulled us out of our rabbit holes, and left our questions suspended as gently floating motes of dust in a sunbeam, to be roiled up again when the leisure of a lazy winter morning would permit it. May be during another coffee break dictated by a lull in lockdown OPD.


2 All character names are fictitious, though the facts stated are true.
6 Maillé S, Lynn M. Reconciling Current Theories of Consciousness. J Neurosci. 2020 Mar 4;40(10):1994-1996. doi: 10.1523/JNEUROSCI.2740-19.2020. PMID: 32132221; PMCID: PMC7055139.
7 LeDoux, Joseph E., Matthias Michel, and Hakwan Lau. “A little history goes a long way toward understanding why we study consciousness the way we do today.” Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 117.13 (2020): 6976-6984. Web. 11 Nov. 2020.
8 Padilla N, Lagercrantz H. Making of the mind. Acta Paediatr. 2020 May;109(5):883-892. doi: 10.1111/apa.15167. Epub 2020 Jan 31. PMID: 31922622.
9 Young GB, Pigott SE. Neurobiological basis of consciousness. Arch Neurol. 1999 Feb;56(2):153-7. doi: 10.1001/archneur.56.2.153. PMID: 10025420.
10 Fleming SM. Awareness as inference in a higher-order state space. Neurosci Conscious. 2020 Mar 11;2020(1):niz020. doi: 10.1093/nc/niz020. Erratum in: Neurosci Conscious. 2020 May 10;2020(1):niaa011. PMID: 32190350; PMCID: PMC7065713.
12 Tononi, Giulio; Boly, Melanie; Massimini, Marcello; Koch, Christof (2016). “Integrated information theory: from consciousness to its physical substrate”. Nature Reviews Neuroscience. 17 (7): 450–461. doi:10.1038/nrn.2016.44. PMID 27225071. S2CID 21347087.
15 Vazza F, Feletti A. The Quantitative Comparison Between the Neuronal Network and the Cosmic Web. Frontiers in Physics 2020; 8: 491. 0.3389/fphy.2020.525731
19 Braibant, Sylvie; Giacomelli, Giorgio; Spurio, Maurizio (2012). Particles and Fundamental Interactions: An introduction to particle physics (2nd ed.). Springer. ISBN 978-94-007-2463-1.
20 Vafa, Cumrun (1996). “Evidence for F-theory”. Nuclear Physics B. 469 (3): 403–415.
21 New theory links neutrino’s slight mass to accelerating Universe expansion”. ScienceDaily. 28 July 2004. Retrieved 5 June 2008.
22 SOund NAvigation and Ranging
23 Hick, John (2006), The Fifth Dimension, Oneworld, Oxford pp.32-83
25 Chhandogya Upanishad, Chapter 6



  1. DR (Brig) Sankar Prasad Gorthi said:

    Dear Sir
    Fantastic explanation of Integrated Information theory and Its connections with Vedas.. Its indeed a great learning experience from your narration about many things: @non-living things experiencing Consciousness of sort, and phi. Matter disintegrates into vibrations in the quantum field. @Matter is made of nothing that we know@. The concept of Virtual reality and explanation of @Atman@. Definition of @Non-duality@. All these concepts are mind-boggling and made me more inquisitive to attempt to read Upanishads- my better half is already reading them. Thank you very much sir

    28 November 2020
  2. Dr Amogh Dudhwewala said:

    Tat twam asi.

    Never understood the meaning of this, until today.

    Incredible sir. Medical science, quantum physics, spiritual science – all in one.

    Read it twice (lockdown opd effect) and still pondering over the questions raised and answers shared.

    So much to learn. Thanks for inspiration sir

    28 November 2020
  3. Yashvir Mathur said:

    Dear sir,
    Its great to see articles like these, explaining the nature of consciousness and Adwait Vedanta philosophy in a language so easy to understand. Drig Drishya Vivek, Aparokshanubhuti and other texts are a recommended reading for all those who are interested in this subject.

    28 November 2020
  4. Dr Vijay Mohan Kohli said:

    Dear Anil,
    Thank you for this beautiful thought provoking blog. I love your inimitable style of presentation, making a difficult subject look simple.

    Please permit me to share my views, which I had written as a blog on Speaking Tree some years back. Have modified it a little from the original one in order to respond to you.

    Looking at it from the Scientific perspective, it is the very “ground of being” says Amit Goswami, the famous physicist, and this “being” includes both mind and matter. He further adds that ‘consciousness is the mediator of the interaction between mind and body.”According to Schrodinger it is a “singular without a plural”.

    It was with the advent of Quantum Physics that Consciousness received its due and we need to go into some detail. Nick Herbert in 1993 said ‘The world exists not as a solid actuality but only as shimmering waves of possibility…….Whenever someone chooses to look at it, the atom ceases its fuzzy dance and seems to ‘freeze’ into a tiny object with definite attributes, only to dissolve once more into a quivering pool of possibilities as soon as the observer withdraws his attention from it. This apparent observer induced change in an atom’s mode of existence is called the collapse of the wave function or simply the quantum jump.’

    It then became clear that something new must be added to ‘collapse the wave function’. John von Neumann concluded that the only known entity fit for this task was consciousness. He said that ‘the world remains everywhere in a state of pure possibility except where some conscious mind decides to promote a portion of the world from its usual state of indefiniteness into a condition of actual existence.” The term ‘collapse’ basically means the change from possibility into actuality.

    Our Sages concept of Consciousness:
    – –
    Our sages have called it “existence-awareness-bliss- which we know as ‘Sat-Chit-Anand”. Here ‘Chit” stands for Consciousness. As we are aware there are three states of Consciousness…..Jagrat, or Conscious, awake or wakeful state, Supta or Subconscious or sleeping state and the Sushupta state, also called the Superconscious state, Krishna Consciousness or Christ Consciousness.
    The above is what the yogis have to say, but the reality is that Supreme Consciousness is far beyond the conventional yogi’s experience and is the Absolute Reality or Parmeshwar, which created itself through the ‘Shabd’, ‘Word’ ,’ Amen’ , ‘Holy Ghost” (as described in the Bible), ‘Kalma’ and ‘Ameen’ (of Islam), ‘Naad’ of the Upanishads, et cetra. This is a vibration comprising of Sound and Light, which then created everything. This Consciousness permeates all of us, though only a very few of us are aware of it.

    According to Swami Jnaneshwar Bharat, the Aum Mantra denotes four levels of Consciousness and three transition levels. Each of the three sounds of the Aum Mantra (A, U and M) symbolize specific states of Consciousness after which there is silence which is the Fourth State and is Consciousness or awareness itself, while in between are the transition states. (Kindly refer to my earlier blog for more

    Sri Paramhans Yoganandaji has called it ‘primordial awareness” Consciousness basically arises from God. ‘God the Father and Cosmic Consciousness are synonymous; Christ, the Son and Christ Consciousness are one and the same. God the Father emanated from Him His son, Christ Intelligence and Cosmic Energy, the Holy Ghost.”As we are aware Holy Ghost and the word “Aum” are one and the same. Holy Ghost , Aum or Shabd is the vehicle for union with God the Father.

    Sri Nisargadatta Maharaj feels that “awareness is primordial, which is the original state , beginningless, endless, unsupported, without parts, and without change.” According to him “Consciousness is on contact, a reflection against a surface, a state of duality. There can be no consciousness without awareness, but there can be awareness without consciousness as in deep sleep. Awareness is absolute, while consciousness is relative to its content” he further says that Consciousness is partial and changeful while awareness is total, changeless, calm and silent and is the common matrix of every experience.

    According to Yoga, God Consciousness is called ‘Kaivalya”, which means touching Ultimate Reality. Samadhi is the technique to achieve it. In this state God is seen differently at different times and in different “forms” depending upon the karma of the person seeking Him.
    The Samadhi of those initiated by fully realized sants, is , however, different, in that, they are ‘fully aware’, yet deeply connected and a part of the Supreme Reality at the same time and can snap out of this state at any time, unlike the ‘jada’ Samadhi of the yogis.

    How has Cosmic Consciousness ‘descended’ to permeate all matter?

    Sri Paramhans Yogananda has given a beautiful narration….’As a mighty river that brings fertility to the plains has its source in the mountains high above, so the source of the river of consciousness is Cosmic Consciousness, Spirit, the ever existing, ever conscious ever-new Bliss that transcends creation. Descending into creation –into every particle of thought, life energy, and matter constituting the causal, astral and physical realms-Cosmic Consciousness is called Christ Consciousness. Flowing into the soul and pure mind of man, it is called superconsciousness. Carried on the current of life energy down through the subtle spinal centres (chakras), losing its divine awareness in body in body identification, it is called subconsciousness, operating the body-mechanism through the life energy in the physical brain, spine, and viscera. Descending further, out into the muscles and senses, the river of consciousness settles in the level of the ordinary waking state ,enlivening the muscular and sensory activities of the body, and creating desires for and attachments to material experiences.’

    As long as consciousness is identified with the senses of sight, hearing, smell, taste and touch it makes us conscious of matter. But when we meditate, we withdraw our consciousness from the five senses and gradually attain superconsciousness.

    The internal consciousness of ordinary people operates only from the lumbar, sacral and coccygeal centres. Those who love the Divine work from the heart centre, but the calm, unshaken yogi operates from the cervical centre. Someone who can feel his presence in the entire vibratory creation has awakened his medullary and Christ centres, while the illumined yogi functions in the cerebral centre of Cosmic Consciousness. (Sri Paramahans Yogananda).
    Realized sants, however, ‘operate’ from the level of the Supreme Reality or Consciousness since they are forever merged in that Reality

    What this translates into is that those whose consciousness is focused on the lower three centres are predominantly tamasic, when related to the Anahat Chakra, Rajasic. When, however, people whose consciousness is focused on the higher centres are either Sattvic …or have moved beyond.

    How Does Consciousness Manifest? –

    Consciousness is the ground of reality, of the reality which connects one reality to another… pervades everything in the universe, the link between ‘matter” and what is unmanifest, between the various sheaths or the five koshas, body, prana, mind, intelligence and bliss. It is the driving force which initiates all processes……acts as the ignition for all chemical processes in our body, initiates all thoughts and thoughts into action, it is the ‘primordial awareness” and if i may say, it is the “awareness of being aware”…it is always present even when ‘unconscious’ as that stage is the stage when we are not aware of being aware…but all functions continue as if by remote.

    It is the very foundation…’mula-adhar’ of not only our being but also of the entire Universe…remember the Muladhar chakra, the four petals of which denote ‘Mana’, ‘Budhi:, ‘Chita” Ahankar”. This is the same as ‘Antahkaran ‘ as mentioned by you.

    Consciousness is that subtle reality which is present between all of us…present in all beings and links us all by merging into each other….i am you and you are me at the same time being him/her….it is like a loving mother whose love is always enveloping us whether we are in her physical presence or not.

    It is that Divine Light permeating all of the manifest or unmanifest worlds, it is the vibration which initiated all of creation… is the Aum/Shabd/Amen….continuously- creating, maintaining and ‘destroying’……changing- form and recreating the same into another form…the moisture in the cloud…the rain drop….which drops on the ground, loses its individuality as the drop, merges with the earth …..only to change form again as
    it is the energy which cannot be destroyed nor created. It is that ‘prana’ which is present in all, the energy responsible for keeping us alive. It is consciousness, the energy which changes form to carry out the myriad functions required for the functioning of the entire Universe.

    When the One became conscious of itself it gave rise to the entire created and manifest or umanifest universe (s).

    It is the very thought which comes in our mind, initiates an action, seemingly disappearing but remaining in the ether only to initiate another action elsewhere or in someone else’s mind and the process goes, on ad infinitum. It is the initiator of the thought, the thought itself, the action culminating from the thought, the after effect of the action, the consequence…it is the feeling i have whether of love, kindness, compassion, forgiveness or dislike, jealousy…..

    It is what makes us ‘see’ a sound, as it is what initiates it, is present in it and still remains when the sound has disappeared….so also with our hearing…….it is consciousness which makes us “see,” “hear” , “talk”…….the external organs for these being essential only till we retain the body …after which we can still continue to do so without these ‘appliances’…all because of consciousness.

    During advanced stages of meditation as described by sages, consciousness is ‘felt’ as the divine light descending down into one’s being from the head going down to each and every cell and atom of the body in its brilliant silvery sheen or golden splendor, perfusing every nook and cranny of the body, emanating out, expanding the body aura multifold, going out in to the Universe to merge with all its surroundings…..the Universe and I become one.

    Sri Paranmhans Yoganadaji has described it ever so beautifully ‘The yogi learns to expand his being into Spirit and Its cosmic consciousness……the yogi’s soul not only feels the cosmic consciousness in all creation, but beyond it, to the farthest reaches of the vibrationless sphere.” The yogi being one with God, beholds His consciousness appearing as the sapidity in waters, the luminescence of the moon and the sun, the cosmic sound and light roaming in the universes and the eternal ether, the perception of all sentient beings and saintly souls, and the Aum or truth vibrations of the Vedic Scriptures ……

    How can we experience it?

    As is obvious Consciousness is is in front if us, behind us, above us, below us, it is both inside us as well as outside us…… fact we are totally immersed in it but are not aware of it. We need a teacher, a realized Guru to first make us aware of its existence and then to help us experience it and to finally merge with it completely.

    A Guru does this by making us learn to open our Third Eye at the centre of the eyebrows after which we come face to face with our atma and our ‘Nij ‘mind disengages us from our bonds with our ‘Pindi’ mind, which is keeping us stuck to the dictates of our senses…takes us higher and higher finally dropping off itself and bringing about a merger of the Atma with the Paramatama. The three components of Consciousness namely knower, knowing and known become one!

    28 November 2020
    • Anil C. Anand said:

      Thanks Vijay, for agreeing with me and elaborating on what I said.
      What you have attributed to Swami Jnaneshwar Bharat, is directly from the Mandukya Upanishad verses 8-11.
      I have just tried to simplify the narrative.

      28 November 2020
      • Ganesh said:

        The silence of fourth part, is what we can call the basic acceptance and understanding of the unknown which is only experienced by direct perception. In Nasadiya Sukta too, it is ‘AVeda’ the unknowable, beyond the Gods, beyond The Realms of Celestials . Throughout Upanishads the word ‘Indha’ resonates as the secret form of Indra, just as we use the word Linga to consecrate the concept Alinga. The Upanishads as they appear and the Siddha teachings that predate them( my firm belief after some study in both streams) are full of this exactitude of an interconnected, sentient world that is simply a ‘consciousness’ or Awareness. Practically it made Siddhas think of metal, ore, mud, volcano, river, deluge, ice, snow, every thing they documented as sentient, as in ‘interchangeable’, ‘immutable’ and Amenable to Will . Shivoham is a concept of unitary energy expressing itself as every thing. I found this personally the only explanation when Maruti engineers were flabbergasted at how a seized engine continued to run, or a 800 travelled without the driver wheel for 1 km to park at the appointed garage. The law of Miracles as Yoganandaji tried to explain is this operation of interconnected sentient experience we individually perceive as our universe! This IIT is just science realising this experience in a fuller sense. Think of how we attach ourselves to favourite pens, stethoscopes, or how we seem to be able to coax our vehicles to start, or how in tight spots we just seem to wish some thing away and it goes away. One day, may be IIT will give us a laser pointer type device with which we can ‘touch’ these inanimate things around us? Or better still touch with great empathy the lives around us?
        Of course no person I know can present such a ‘boring’ topic as Universal Reality like Anand sir has! His chart buster image of disparate sets of Sanskrit verse collaged into one seamless whole is just his style of toying with his readers…as far as he is concerned, his IIT is all done and dusted! Thank you sir 🙏🏻 for bridging the extraordinary with the everyday!

        30 November 2020
  5. Dear Sir,
    very many thanks for this tbought provoking blog.
    Really enjoyed reading it.

    28 November 2020
  6. Cari said:

    Not just your blog, the comments too are enlightening!

    29 November 2020
  7. P k patnaik said:

    Many things of the article is above my head. ( any common man). All I understood is that Universe is consciousness & consciousness is the Universe. That was my take home. A GREAT WRITE UP.🙏

    29 November 2020
  8. Arindam Chatterjee said:

    Sir, liked the story telling, but a subject as deeply entwined in mythology, science, culture and psychology wud be very difficult for a easy 2 minute DIY explanation, and that too for some like me who are immersed in the interpretation of their perceptions. Was reading about the affect heuristics and that as a theme makes sense whenever I encounter a cross pollinated thought process. …. If everything is an illusion, why is knowledge not !!!😊. Just a thought. Enjoyed the read as usual Sir. Phenomenal energy and insight. Regards.

    29 November 2020
    • Yashvir Mathur said:

      Sir, knowledge is an illusion too. Vedanta speaks about the knower and the Witness (Sakshi). We, our minds think of ourselves as knowers, knowers of knowledge, perceptions, but Vedanta says that in reality it’s only the Witness that is the illuminator of the mind and intellect. This knowledge is the higher knowledge, the experiential knowledge, and it’s beyond any heuristics. It’s called Aparoksh Knowledge. And its the only Reality.

      30 November 2020
  9. Dr Pankaj Sinha said:

    Pankaj Sinha: Beautifully written and conceptualized in a simple language, with examples. Thought provoking to those of us , who have lot of idle time during the pandemic. Ancient vedas and upnishads have been nicely connected to modern theories of science. A must read article in A C’s inimitable style and language. Simply brilliant, all I can say!
    …Especially for those interested in philosophy of life !

    30 November 2020
  10. Neeraj Nagpal said:

    Very interesting

    2 December 2020
  11. Ravi gaur said:

    Very well written and thought provoking..I think there is no other problem which is so mysterious as the problem of consciousness, and we should ma k e a real attempt to uncover this mystery…this will help us to create a better world for sure..
    The process may be tortous and long, but will worth… Thanks for sharing Sir.. Rgds

    3 December 2020

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