Monday, 15 October 2012

Levels of Conciousness

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Consciousness is a loosely defined concept that addresses the human awareness of both internal and external stimuli. This can refer to spiritual recognition, psychological understanding, medically altered states, or more modern-day concepts of life purpose, satisfaction, and self-actualization.
Most theories map consciousness in a series of levels, some stages of which are more continuous or complex than others. Movement between stages is often bidirectional depending on internal and external conditions, with each mental ascension precipitating a change in reactivity. In the most basic sense, this alteration might lead to a reduced responsiveness as seen in anesthesiology; more abstract facets of tiered consciousness describe characteristics of profoundness, insight, perception, or understanding.
First appearing in the historical records of the ancient Mayan and Incan civilizations, various theories of multiple levels of consciousness have pervaded spiritual, psychological, medical, and moral speculations in both Eastern and Western cultures. Because of occasional and sometimes substantial overlap between hypotheses, there have recently been attempts to combine perspectives to form new models that integrate components of separate viewpoints.



[edit] History

Pyramid of Kulkucan
Pyramid of Kulkucan (found at the center of the Chichen Itza)
Although many cultures have incorporated theories of the layered consciousness into their belief structure, particularly for spiritual means before the separation of church and state within any given civilization, the Ancient Mayans were among the first to propose an organized sense of each level, its purpose, and its temporal connection to humankind.

[edit] Mayans

The pyramid of consciousness has defined Mayan thought since the dawn of its civilization around 2000 BCE. Shamans and priests defined consciousness as an awareness of being aware, commonly referred to as a branch of metacognition. Because consciousness incorporates stimuli from the environment as well as internally, the Mayans believed it to be the most basic form of existence.[1]
This existence, which they referred to as a loose translation of Cosmos, was made up of nine underworlds, depicted concretely through the nine-storied Pyramid of the Plumed Serpent in Chichen Itza, the Temple of the Jaguar in Tikal, and the Temple of the Inscriptions in Palenque. Within these nine underworlds are a specified "day" and "night", symbolizing periods of enlightenment, increased consciousness, and a heightened ability to interact with the universe.[2]
CycleFirst YearConsciousness DevelopedDescription
Cellular16.4 billion years agoAction/ReactionDeveloped all physical laws, chemical compounds, star fields, solar systems, and planets
Mammalian820 million years agoStimulus/ResponseIndividual cells from the Cellular cycle began to develop a survival mechanism with increased consciousness toward stimuli and responses
Familial41 million years agoStimulus/Individual ResponseRecognition of individuals and establishment of the family relationship as opposed to herd, school, or flock mentalities
Tribal2 million years agoSimilarities/DifferencesDevelopment of "the mind" to detect similarities and differences in our experience
Cultural102,000 years ago(Shared) ReasonsSearch for reasons for everything, as a basis of all cultural understanding
National3115 BCELawConcept of right and wrong
Planetary1755 CEPowerUnderstanding and derivation of power from natural laws
GalacticJanuary 5, 1999EthicsUnderstanding of ethical matters
UniversalFebruary 10, 2011Conscious Co-CreationAchievement of godlike status of all-knowing consciousness
A common cause for debate is the exponentially accelerating dates separating each level of consciousness, where each stage occurs roughly 20 times faster than the previous one.[3]

[edit] Incas

Inca Civilization
Inca Civilization
Whereas the Ancient Mayans defined consciousness in almost evolutionary terms, the Inca civilization considered it a progression of awareness and concern for others,[4] similar to the teachings of Siddhartha Gautama.
Level ("Attention")External ChangeInternal ChangeNotes
FirstPerception of space and timeAwareness of physical body; focus on individual survival
SecondSeparate good from evilDistinguish the self from others
ThirdCapable of discriminationChoice to align with goodness rather than evilLevel of most people
FourthReverence toward nature; oneness; against harming othersDecreased attachment to material possessions
FifthAbility to heal others in certain circumstancesPhysical, mental, emotional, and spiritual restorationSignals the taripay pacha (Incan Day of Judgment)
SixthAbility to heal others in any conditionNo value in individuality; importance of community contribution
SeventhTeachers of all othersExemplify four principles of honesty, faithfulness, service, and truthfulnessRevered examples: Jesus of Nazareth, Siddhartha Buddha

[edit] Theories

The Heart Chakra
The Heart Chakra (also referred to as the fourth chakra)
Although historical views of the separation of consciousness into various layers do not exactly mirror modern-day perspectives, many parallels can be gathered from the overarching themes found in Eastern and Western cultures.

[edit] Eastern perspectives

Many specific similarities have been drawn between Ancient Incan and historical Eastern views of tiered consciousness.[5] Within most Eastern belief structures is the principle of the Cosmos as a joint entity with human awareness. Many branches stress the importance of AUM, also written Om, as the first sound produced after the world was created. Within Christianity this concept can be likened to the first words of Genesis regarding the holiness of the Word.[6]

[edit] Historical beliefs

The majority of Eastern perspectives assert that while consciousness originates from the sound of AUM, it has incorporated itself into flesh, which therefore gives humankind the goal of attaining oneness with the universe once more.[7] Unlike Incan tradition, this oneness eliminates the separation of external and internal changes into one general indication of movement from stage to stage, commonly known as the Seven Shamanic Levels of Consciousness.
PersonalKnowledge of the self and of personality
MankindKnowledge of human evolution and its experiences
AmphibiousSense of separate identity between water and land"Water" and "land" are symbolic of man and earth
SphericalPerceive using the five bodily senses
CrystalPerceive using emotions, thoughts, and purityFirst inorganic level undistorted by bodily senses
LightAttained only by near-death experiences; "tunnel effect"First level above the human world
SoundOnly heard when the mind attunes itself to the worldFrom the primeval vibration AUM

[edit] Modern-day beliefs

Like the Seven Shamanic Levels of Consciousness, yoga meditation practices as well as the teachings of Vedanta and Tantra emphasize the importance of self-realization, a concept that has become increasingly popular in Western philosophy after Abraham Maslow's and Carl Rogers's research in Humanistic Psychology.
[edit] Advaita Vedanta
Aum (Om) Mantra
Aum (Om) Mantra
In particular, the Advaita Vedanta school of Hindu philosophy has been a topic of extensive study in both Eastern and Western cultures for its tiered depiction of the steps toward attaining self-realization.[8] Unlike the unidirectional nature of Mayan, Inca, and ancient shamanic perspectives, however, this particular belief structure arranges the attainment of oneness with OM through rows and domains, each of which constitutes a fragment of this vibratory sound.[9]
1: "A"WakingConsciousExternal, active conscious
2: "U"DreamingUnconsciousSubtle images and impressions
3: "M"Deep SleepSubconsciousFocus on latent or inactive thought patterns
4: "AUM"AbsoluteConsciousnessEqual permeation of all three levels
[edit] OM Mantra
Similarly, the seven levels of consciousness defined by modern-day OM mantras strive to reach Absolute Reality through the same four realms described in the Advaita Vedanta, with three transitional tiers in between each.[10]
  • Between the first ("A") and second ("U") levels is the Unmani, similar to the Western concept of hypnagogia, or the movement from full alertness into stage 1 sleep
  • Between the second ("U") and third ("M") levels is the Aladani, mirroring ideas of REM sleep
  • Between the third ("M") and fourth ("AUM") levels is the Samadhi, or the attainment of deep absorption
[edit] The Veda
The ancient Indian Vedas texts have lent a comparable view of unified consciousness, with a key difference in the purpose of human ascension from stage to stage. Instead of oneness with the universe, the Vedic vision of consciousness emphasizes the importance of attaining knowledge and pure intelligence.[11]
[edit] Ananda Sangha
Statue of Shiva
Statue of Shiva
The Ananda Sangha movement has evolved following the teachings of the late yogi and guru Paramhansa Yogananda. Compared to the multi-dimensional theories of consciousness in shamanic and OM mantra perspectives, this particular ideological faction stresses simplicity rather than detail.[12]
  • Subconscious: relatively dim awareness; repository of remembered experiences and consequent mental impressions
  • Conscious: rational awareness; guides daily decisions and can be influenced by others; input from the bodily senses
  • Superconscious Awareness: intuition and heightened mental clarity; problem and solution are seen as one entity

[edit] Western perspectives

Fluctuations in consciousness theories are not particular to Eastern cultures. A surprising degree of overlap can be found within the field of health and social sciences with regard to dulled, standard, and heightened intensities of awareness, both naturally and as a result of injury or disorder.[13]

[edit] Psychological views

Like many psychological theories within the particular field of psychoanalysis, one of the most popular theories of consciousness was proposed by Sigmund Freud, who described three facets of the psychic apparatus: the unconscious (id) or instinctual facet, the preconscious (ego) or rational facet, and the conscious (superego) or moral facet.
Although not unlike the Vedic vision of consciousness as a form of intelligence, Jean Piaget's theory of cognitive development is not commonly considered a form of knowledge awareness but instead as the evolution of the brain's capacity for thought throughout the human lifespan.[14]

[edit] Medical and pathological views

Similar to previously mentioned psychological views, medical and pathological perspectives often hypothesize tiered consciousness as a result of disease or disorders. The Altered Levels of Consciousness (ALC) theory is one such measure, in which a person's arousability and responsiveness to environmental stimuli are classified by their behavioral response.
[edit] Glasgow Coma Scale
Comatose Patient
Comatose Patient (most extreme level on the Glasgow Coma Scale)
Although many such ALC tests take place in hospital settings, the primary evaluation of patient alertness is the Glasgow Coma Scale, which separates levels of consciousness from standard conscious awareness to a comatose state.[15]
  • Conscious: normal, attentive; oriented to self, place, and mind
  • Confused: impaired or slowed thinking; disoriented
  • Delirious: disoriented, restless, clear deficit in attention; possible incidence of hallucinations and delusions
  • Somnolent: excessive drowsiness; little response to external stimuli
  • Obtunded: decreased alertness, slowed motor responses; sleepiness
  • Stuporous: conscious but sleep-like state associated with little or no activity; only responsiveness is in reaction to pain
  • Comatose: no response to stimuli, cannot be aroused; no gag reflex or pupil response to light
[edit] Relationship to schizophrenia
Recent hypotheses have incorporated these ALC theories into the psychopathological study of schizophrenia, suggesting that each altered level of awareness is connected to a degree of suffering or shock experienced by the patient. As the situation increases in seriousness, patients will descend to lower levels of consciousness and consequentially lose the capacity to cry, to smile, or to exhibit a wide range of emotions when reacting to the environment.[16]
In more physiologically based studies, scientists have found that while the reticular formation controls alertness, wakefulness, and arousal in the brain, many mental responses to internal and external stimuli are dictated through signals relayed to and from the thalamus.[17] Propofol and other consciousness-altering drugs are therefore antagonists of thalamus activity, possibly leading to a drug-induced comatose state.[18]

[edit] Modern-day perspectives

Although many of the previously mentioned theories are still widely held today in various groups, beliefs, and areas of study, a majority of commonly accepted perspectives stem from just the past decade. These hypothesized structures of awareness draw from many historical and early eighteenth- or nineteenth-century theories to form an integrated and overarching generalization of consciousness as a means of determining inner and outer recognition of stimuli.

[edit] Holder's three levels of consciousness

Derived loosely from his philosophy of the Kung Fu system, Philip Holder offers three levels of consciousness that feature distinct differences in the way in which they are reached.[19]
SpontaneousThe mind can react to the progression of life and does not account for future or past events; therefore, the mind develops an optimistic outlook
CalculatedThis state reacts to events based on the perception of right and wrong and attempts to direct others accordingly; the mind is focused on achieving what it thinks should happen
ImposedThe mind is short sighted and clashes with the opposition; lack of awareness for surroundings amounts to failure in the long term

[edit] Barrett's seven levels of personal consciousness

Similarly, Richard Barrett proposes seven stages of consciousness that progress in a logical order. The progression focuses on “existential” needs directly connected to and dependent on the human condition, all of which are motivating factors for daily interactions.[20]
SurvivalFeel protected or unprotected
RelationshipFeel in or out of a group
Self-esteemFeel positive or negative about yourself
TransformationAct out of your true self
Internal CohesionFind similarities between your views and goals
Making a DifferenceAlign your views with others to make a greater impact
ServiceLive through voluntary service to meet your personal goals

[edit] Hawkins's Power vs. Force

Shame is one level of consciousness noted by David R. Hawkins
In his book Power vs. Force: The Hidden Determinants of Human Behavior, David R. Hawkins offers numerous levels of consciousness, which arguably maintain a more specific and psychologically driven perspective of internal awareness than the modern views previously mentioned.[21] The features of each level are explicit enough that individuals can most likely place themselves in a stage depending on their perceived state.
  • Shame: Close to 'rock bottom'; possibly caused by a life-threatening or traumatizing event
  • Guilt: Questioning oneself; difficulty letting go of unfortunate past events
  • Apathy: Defenselessness and weakness; minimal power to change the current situation
  • Grief: Sadness, deep loss
  • Fear: Uneasiness; feeling pressured or sensing a need to act quickly to change the current situation
  • Desire: Greed; the need to acquire things; can lead to addictions
  • Anger: Anxiety; typically a result of not meeting expectations while at lower levels
  • Pride: False positive; happiness in high statuses or other superficial benefits; leads to defensiveness and rebellion
  • Courage: Able to rationalize choices and control vision
  • Neutrality: 'No strings attached'; content with current situation and no effort to change
  • Willingness: Moving forward; openness to embark on new adventures
  • Acceptance: Reactive; stepping out of comfort zones; putting goals and values to action after discovering them in lower levels
  • Reason: Separating objectives and tackling tasks that align with strengths
  • Love: Empathy; making decisions from true values
  • Joy: Optimism, possibly caused by a life-changing event
  • Peace: Completeness
  • Enlightenment: Large impact; vision of progress
The applicability of this tiered system can be generalized to rank objects, events, and entire societies rather than just individual people. Barrett hypothesizes that the average human being can fluctuate naturally between levels due to environmental effects, including media, people, places, material objects, food, and awareness of world events.[22]

[edit] Gibson's four states of consciousness

Dr. Bob Rhondell Gibson, author of Notes on Personal Integration and Health and often recognized as a psychic healer, hypothesized the existence of four tiers of extrasensory awareness. Beyond being more applicable to internal states rather than reactions to the external environment, these stages contrast markedly with the previously mentioned modern theories through their emphasis on humankind's immediate interactions.[23] Gibson does not focus on life progression or individual power to move between levels, but rather on momentary instances of personal experience.
SleepUnaware of all surroundings; dreams may or may not occur
Waking SleepSleepwalking; normal tasks can be performed but the individual is not receptive to what is taking place
Self-awarenessAble to identify surroundings and observe what is taking place
Objective awarenessIdentify surrounding events without opinions or input

[edit] Attempts to combine theories

[edit] Leary's 8-Circuit Model of Consciousness

Deep in Thought
Deep in Thought
Timothy Leary and Robert Anton Wilson proposed the Eight-Circuit Model of Consciousness, a psychologically based theory that unifies various interpretations of main altered states of awareness into a single meta-theory, or a hypothesis about an already existing hypothesis. In this case, Leary and Wilson state that the altered levels of consciousness defined in medical fields are products of eight differing brain structures within the human nervous system.
This concept not only connects psychology and the more medically focused studies of neurology and biology, but also incorporates elements of sociology, anthropology, physics, chemistry, and advanced mathematical formulas. Furthermore, critics argue that the inspiration for his theory stems at least indirectly from the Hindu chakra system.[24]
CircuitTitleImprinting StageDescription
BiosurvivalThe Breath of ConsciousnessInfancySuckling, nourishment, cuddling, trust versus suspicion
Emotional-TerritorialFreud's EgoToddlingEmotions, domination, submission strategies, territory
Symbolic (Neuro-Semantic-Dexterity)The Rational MindFrom human artifacts and symbol systemsHandling the environment, invention, calculation, prediction
Domestic (Socio-Sexual)The "Adult" PersonalityFirst mating experiencesPleasure, reproduction, nurture
NeurosomaticZen-Yoga Mind-Body ConnectionNeurological-somatic feedback and reprogrammingConsciousness of the body
Neuroelectric (Metaprogramming)Psionic Electronic-Interface MindRe-imprinting and reprogramming earlier circuitsPerceived "realities", cybernetic consciousness
Neurogenetic (Morphogenetic)Buddha-Monad "Mind"Consciousness maturationEvolutionary consciousness, DNA-RNA brain feedbacks
Psychoatomic (Quantum Non-Local)OvermindConsciousness maturityOut-of-body experiences involving information beyond normal space-time awareness

[edit] Morin's integration

Similar to Dr. Rondell Gibson's view of a simplified hierarchy of conscious states, Alain Morin describes a four-tiered integration of nine past awareness models, focusing explicitly on the two common aspects underlying each belief structure: the perception of the self in time and the complexity of those self-representations.[25]
LevelDescriptionAlternative titles in past theories
UnconsciousnessNon-responsive to self and environmentConsciousness, non-consciousness, arousal, limbic stage, sensorimotor cognition
ConsciousnessFocusing attention on environment; processing incoming external stimuliNon-conscious mind, ecological and interpersonal self, neocortical level, consciousness, sensorimotor awareness; core, peripheral, primary and minimal consciousness
Self-awarenessFocusing attention on self; processing private and public self-informationConsciousness, extended and private self, symbolic level, meta-representational self-consciousness, conceptual self-consciousness, self-concept; reflective, recursive, self and meta-consciousness
Meta-self-awarenessAware that one is self-awareConsciousness, extended self
In summary, Morin concludes that from the many concepts discussed above it is near impossible to settle for only one theory without accepting at least a fraction of another. Although each hypothesis has been debated either in scientific or more spiritually focused literature, she states that consciousness is related most directly to the subjective perception of self-recognition and language, both of which are determined by culture and our external environment as a whole.

[edit] Robert Monroe

Robert Allan Monroe became known for his research into altered consciousness and "out-of-body experience". His book 1985 "Far Journeys" showed numerous levels of consciousness and infinite expansion of consciousness.
“The plants exist on levels of consciousness from one through seven. They are on a vibrational rate on the levels one through seven. It is the same pattern.
Animals exist on the levels of consciousness from eight through fourteen, and when a person attains, when a consciousness attains level fourteen, it can no longer go any higher unless it is willing to change its form of consciousness.
Levels of consciousness from fifteen through twenty-one are what you call human life on this earth.
When a person progresses to level of consciousness twenty one, he then has the choice of going higher or staying within the realm of human form, but he cannot go higher unless he is willing to give up human form.” [26][27]

[edit] See also

[edit] Notes

  1. ^ Calleman, Carl Johan (2000). Solving the Greatest Mystery of Our Time: the Mayan Calendar. Garev Publishing International. pp. 1–260. ISBN 978-0970755803.
  2. ^ Calleman, Carl Johan. "Mayan". Global Oneness. The Global Oneness Commitment. Retrieved 3 March 2011.
  3. ^ Lungold, Ian Xel. "Mayan Calendar Time Scale for Man's Evolution on Earth". The Mayan Calendar Comes North. Mayan Majix Learning Lab. Retrieved 3 March 2011.
  4. ^ O'Neill, Patt. "Inca Shamanic Glossary, F - G". Glossary of Terminology of the Shamanic & Ceremonial Traditions of the Inca Medicine Lineage. Patt O'Neill. Retrieved 3 March 2011.
  5. ^ Gillabel, Dirk (2001). Seven Shamanic Levels of Consciousness. Seattle, WA: House of the Sun. pp. 1–53.
  6. ^ Azariah, Jayapaul (July 1994). "The Symbol OM (Aum)". Eubios Ethics Institute Newsletter 4. Retrieved 3 March 2011.
  7. ^ Austin, James H. (2006). Zen-brain reflections : reviewing recent developments in meditation and states of consciousness. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press. pp. 1–586. ISBN 9780262012232.
  8. ^ Deutsch, Eliot (1966). "The Self in Advaita Vedanta". International Philosophical Quarterly 6: 5–21. Retrieved 3 March 2011.
  9. ^ Victor, P. George; V.V.S. Saibaba (2007). "Studies in Vedanta: Essays in Honour of Professor S.S. Rama Rao Pappu". Teaching Philosophy 30 (3): 332–335. Retrieved 3 March 2011.
  10. ^ Bharati, Swami Jnaneshvara (2007). Om Mantra and the Seven Levels of Consciousness. Raleigh, NC: Lulu Enterprises, Inc.. pp. 1–32.
  11. ^ Singh, Satya P. (2005). Vedic vision of consciousness and reality. New Delhi: Centre for Studies in Civilizations. pp. 1–522. ISBN 9788187586180.
  12. ^ Kriyananda, Swami (2002). Intuition for Starters: How to Know and Trust Your Inner Guidance. Nevada City, CA: Crystal Clarity Publishers. pp. 1–127. ISBN 1-56589-155-4.
  13. ^ Izard, C. (2007). "Levels of emotion and levels of consciousness". Behavioral and Brain Sciences 30 (1): 96–98. doi:10.1017/S0140525X07001045.
  14. ^ Pons, F.; P. Harris (2001). "Piaget's conception of the development of consciousness: An Examination of two hypotheses". Human Development 44 (4): 220–227. doi:10.1159/000057061.
  15. ^ Buchanan, L. (1987). "Assessment of Levels of Consciousness: The Glasgow Coma Scale". University of Nebraska Medical Center, College of Nursing. Retrieved 14 March 2011.
  16. ^ Mates, Maureen (1992). "Altered Levels of Consciousness in Schizophrenia". Journal of Orthomolecular Medicine 7 (4): 216–220. doi:10.1523/JNEUROSCI.5516-09.2010. PMID 20610743. Retrieved 14 March 2011.
  17. ^ Tindall, Suzie C. (1990). "Level of Conscioussness." In H.K. Walker, W.D. Hall, and J.W. Hurst (eds.) Clinical Methods: The History, Physical, and Laboratory Examinations. Boston: Butterworths. pp. 296–299. ISBN 0-409-90077-X.
  18. ^ Mhuircheartaigh, R.A.; D. Rosenorn-Lanng, R. Wise, S. Jbabdi, R. Rogers, and I. Tracey (2010). "Cortical and Subcortical Connectivity Changes During Decreasing Levels of Consciousness in Humans: A Functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging Study Using Propofol". Journal of Neuroscience 30 (27): 9095–9102. doi:10.1523/JNEUROSCI.5516-09.2010. PMID 20610743.
  19. ^ Holder, Philip. "The Three Levels of Consciousness and Humanity". Wing Chun Online. Wing Chun. Retrieved 13 March 2011.
  20. ^ Barrett, Richard (2006). "The Seven Levels of Personal Consciousness". Business & Economics: 248–252. Retrieved 13 March 2011.
  21. ^ Pavlina, Steve. "Levels of Consciousness". Personal Development for Smart People. Personal Development Insights. Retrieved 13 March 2011.
  22. ^ "Levels of Consciousness: The Motivation Behind our Behavior". Life Training Online. Jaeckel LLC. Retrieved 13 March 2011.
  23. ^ Summers, Marsha. "Levels of Consciousness". Studies of the Inner Being. Daytona Music. Retrieved 13 March 2011.
  24. ^ Wilson, Robert Anton (2008). Cosmic Trigger: Final Secret of the Illuminati. Las Vegas, NV: New Falcon Publications. pp. 1–269. ISBN 978-1561840038.
  25. ^ Morin, Alain (2006). "Levels of Consciousness and Self-Awareness: A Comparison and Integration of Various Views.". Consciousness and Cognition 15 (2): 358–371. doi:10.1016/j.concog.2005.09.006. Retrieved 13 March 2011.
  26. ^ Far Journeys (1985) ISBN 0-385-23182-2
  27. ^ The Infinite expansion of consciousness & its levels.Robert Monroe

[edit] References

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