extraordinary little book, We Are Consciousness Itself,
is a Gift from Adi Da. He indicated (beginning November 30,
1998) that He expressly wanted all human beings to receive this
Gift and begin to intuit the transcendent truth communicated by the book's title. He wanted
that truth to become the foundation of our culture, and
the basis for sanity in our lives because lives are only sane
if they are based on the actual truth of our existence, rather
than on illusions about who and what we are (like the false
but prevalent notion that each of us is a "separate self" or
a "separate consciousness").
The cover of this book reads:
Science says we are the body.
Psychology says we are the mind.
Religion says we are the soul.
But what are we in reality?
We are Consciousness Itself.
And the one-page introduction to the book makes what may seem to many a very mysterious statement (since there is no further explanation):
Consciousness Itself is the reality that pervades all of human existence.
Having read just this far, the reader having no familiarity
(or only a little familiarity) with the spiritual traditions
of the East may be more than a little confused by the language.
Here are just some of the questions such readers might have:
Isn't "my consciousness" the
same as "my mind"?
Why the capital C in "Consciousness"?
Is something special meant by that additional
word "Itself" in "Consciousness Itself"?
I sort of get "I am consciousness", but
what does "we are consciousness" mean?
I know that I am conscious, and so I could be said to have "a consciousness", whatever and wherever that might be (the brain?). But I haven't the slightest idea what you mean by "Consciousness Itself is the reality that pervades all of human existence."
If you don't have these kinds of questions, then we invite
you to go straight to the page where you can read or download this
But if you do have questions along these lines (and I'm
guessing most of our readers will), then please read on!
This book communicates a truly extraordinary message
incredibly good news, in
fact but one must understand
the language, to appreciate the communication. Adi Da uses the word "Consciousness"
in a very different way than we conventionally use it.
The book, We Are Consciousness Itself, is Revelatory, not explanatory. For this reason, we have
created this article to help the reader better understand
the conceptual framework behind this book — to
serve the Revelation,
and to help the reader better appreciate the implications of what this book is communicating for our lives (and for beyond this lifetime).
that you read the article first, and then read the book.
(We will provide a link to the ebook again at the end of
This article first lays out (and critiques) our conventional
notions of "consciousness". It
then goes on to describe what Adi Da means by "Consciousness".
2. Materialistic Notions of Consciousness
The notion of "consciousness" that we all share
whether we are a trained neuroscientist, a Spiritual Realizer,
or "the man on the street"
is that we are aware. We are aware of "external"
objects like trees, desks, and other people
these "external objects" are things that everyone else
is (or can be) "aware of" too. And we are aware of
"internal" objects — thoughts, feelings, and sensations
— that only "I" am aware of. "Consciousness"
whatever it is exactly
is not any of the objects, external or internal. "Consciousness"
is what is aware of the objects, or even just aware, period,
when there are no objects (as in deep sleep or deep meditation).
Consciousness is the "subject", aware of the perceived and
conceived "objects". And that's what makes it so mysterious!
Over the last few centuries, science and technology have made great advances in our understanding of objects. The scientific
method is all about studying and refining theories about objects.
Fields like psychology and neuroscience have even furthered
our understanding of our "subjectivity" — exploring internal objects like feelings,
thoughts, sensations, etc. But our sciences have had relatively
little to say about the subject, the one who is conscious of the objects, consciousness
Because the scientific method is all about studying objects,
it is perhaps not too surprising that many scientists try to
reduce the "subject"
consciousness to a kind of object (confusing "subject" with "subjectivity"),
as we'll explore a little bit now.
The "neuroscience" view of consciousness. If
you ask a neuroscientist, "what is consciousness?",
he or she might tell you that it is an "emergent phenomenon
of the brain" and "if you get millions of neurons
firing at the same time, all kinds of complex things can happen,
and one of them is the sense that we are conscious."
But despite all these musings, not a single neuroscientist
has actually been able to back up the view that consciousness
is a material phenemenon with a detailed explanation of how
exactly consciousness is produced by the brain.
In 2004, eight neuroscientists wrote in the book, Human Brain Function:
We have no idea how consciousness emerges from the physical activity of the brain and
we do not know whether consciousness can emerge from non-biological systems, such as computers. . .
At this point the reader will expect to find a careful and precise definition of consciousness.
You will be disappointed. Consciousness has not yet become a scientific term that can be
defined in this way. Currently we all use the term consciousness in many different and often
This statement continues to be an accurate assessment of the state of the field today. And so, not having found it "yet" (but ever hopeful that they eventually will),
neuroscientists continue to hunt for the mysterious "ghost in the machine".
It's also worth considering a statement (made in 2014) from the renowned physicist, Edward Witten, who is the creator of "string theory", often considered on a par with Albert Einstein and Isaac Newton in terms of "genius". He goes further than the neuroscientists, in not only acknowledging that we don't know what consciousness is yet, but we cannot know what it is:
I think consciousness will remain a mystery. Yes, that's what I tend to believe. I tend to think that the workings of the conscious brain will be elucidated to a large extent. Biologists and perhaps physicists will understand much better how the brain works. But why something that we call consciousness goes with those workings, I think that will remain mysterious. I have a much easier time imagining how we understand the Big Bang than I have imagining how we can understand consciousness.
Edward Witten, quoted in John Horgan, "World's Smartest Physicist Thinks Science Can't Crack Consciousness", Scientific American
The "computer science" view of consciousness.
Computer scientists also speculate about consciousness in the
form of an "artificial intelligence". Their notion
is that the brain is like a computer. If consciousness is purely
materialistic, a side-effect of the brain, then in principle,
we should be able to construct a brain-like computer that is
conscious. A group of researchers who straddle the boundary
between neuroscience and computer science are currently working
to build artificial brains (out of computer chips or supercomputers)
that specifically replicate the biological organization of the
neurons and synapses of the human brain, in order to see if
they can simulate the brain's properties: from its intelligent
problem-solving behavior, to its "consciousness".
In addition to researchers deliberately attempting to replicate
a human brain, there are also technologists who theorize that,
because computers and computer networks are growing at an exponential
rate in number, complexity, sophistication, and "intelligent"
behavior, it is inevitable that a "superintelligence"
maybe even a conscious one
will appear sometime in the twenty-first century, spontaneously
emerging out of all those computers and computer networks, much
like neuroscientists claim consciousness emerges from the brain.
They refer to this event as "the singularity".
Science has been unable to account for consciousness.
As a former leading researcher in Artificial Intelligence
(I entered that field back in 1980 out of a desire to better
understand the nature of consciousness), and as a devotee of
Adi Da since 1989, I now have to smile a bit at these
"neuroscience" and "computer science" views
of consciousness that I used to find more compelling. Here's
Both the neuroscientists who believe in consciousness as an
emergent phenomenon of the brain and the computer scientists
who believe consciousness could come about as an emergent phenomenon
of computers and computer networks are indulging in a form of
"magical thinking" (despite their claims to being
scientists). The neuroscientists believe that it is the sheer
number of neurons and synapses firing in the brain (about a
hundred billion neurons and trillions of synapses interconnecting
the neurons) that "accounts" for consciousness, and
the complexity of what happens when billions of neurons fire
is why neuroscientists haven't been able to explain consciousness
to date. They use the word "emergent" almost reverently, as a kind of "magician's hat"
out of which they pull "consciousness" like a rabbit.
The computer technologists then just borrow that "magic
of sheer quantity" argument from the neuroscientists, saying
that the total number of computers and computer networks on the planet is going
to equal and then exceed the amount of "brainpower"
in a human brain a few years from now. If consciousness arises
from the brain just because of sheer numbers of neurons and
synapses, then consciousness could arise from large numbers
of computers and computer networks in much the same "way".
Of course, this notion that "consciousness emerges
from large numbers of neurons or computers" is not
even close to constituting a scientific account of consciousness!
In fact, what it most reminds me of are the tricks science
fiction movies sometimes use to get viewers to suspend
Imagine this . . . Dramatic music is playing in the background. The movie transports us to the mad scientist's laboratory,
where all kinds of special effects are happening: lots of lights
flashing, lots of devices, lots of Jacob's Ladders with
sparks rising up each (right)
with the keyword being LOTS. The craft of the filmmaker
in making such films "work" is to so over-stimulate
the senses (with the visual effects and the music) that the viewer is entirely diverted into the
perceptual mind, leaving his or her conceptual mind
behind, unused (suspending disbelief by literally suspending the mechanism of
disbelief). Disabling the viewer's ability to think
enables the viewer to believe that anything could
happen next . . . for example, a cadaver could suddenly
"It's ALIVE!" (Frankenstein,
Of course, this is just a filmmaker's trick, sometimes leading
to a very entertaining movie. The same concept should not
be used as (or accepted as) a serious scientific explanation. The
"large number of neurons firing" argument really does
not hold up as a viable "explanation" of consciousness.
I haven't the slightest doubt that, over the next few decades,
we are going to see computers do increasingly more intelligent
things. As a former Artificial Intelligence researcher,
I've personally gotten computer programs to do quite sophisticated
things (design electronic circuits, write other computer programs,
learn to improve their own behavior, etc.). But I can also tell
you there is not the slightest bit of consciousness in these
"smart" programs. They simply mimic the intelligent
behavior of human beings.
Think of it this way . . . You stay overnight at a hotel. You order a wake-up
call for 6am. When you pick up the phone in your half-asleep state, you might even mistake it (at least for a moment)
for a live person, rather than an automated recording.
Something like that simply wasn't possible a hundred years ago, and it's a useful
technological advance. But you wouldn't call the wake-up call
"conscious", just because it successfully mimicked
a human person on the other end of the phone. You wouldn't call
it conscious even if it uses your name
"Wake up, Joe!" in
* * *
So here is the first point of this article:
In a lot of areas, our faith in science and technology
has been amply justified (determining the laws of physics,
building a better iPad, etc.) But on the matter of consciousness,
such faith is misplaced. Scientists don't have the slightest
idea what consciousness is; all attempts to account for
consciousness in material terms have failed. This is a huge
clue to the reality that consciousness is not
material! And a huge clue that we must turn to
a different kind of expert if we want to learn something
real about it.
vs. Transcendental Consciousness
The "consciousness" whose nature philosophers, religious believers, psychologists,
and scientists debate is an extremely limited notion of consciousness:
"self-consciousness". Here are a couple of key points
about this "self-consciousness":
Self-consciousness is limited to an individual. "My"
consciousness is definitely not the same as "your"
consciousness, and is not in any way connected to "your" consciousness.
Self-consciousness either dies when the body dies (if consciousness
is purely a brain phenomenon), or it survives death in
a greater-than-material body of some kind (some religions
call it a "soul"), where it continues to be "my" consciousness.
At this point, you might well be thinking: "But what other
kind of 'consciousness' could there be?"
Adi Da communicates a very different view of consciousness,
based on a completely different "cosmology", or view
of reality and how it is structured. His view shares many elements
with some of the spiritual traditions of the East (along with
many mystics in spiritual traditions around the world and across
Instead of viewing reality as purely material (and consciousness
as a mysterious, inexplicable "ghost" in a purely
material machine), Adi Da views all of reality as arising in
a single Transcendental Consciousness, in a manner similar to the way
dreams arise in "my consciousness" at night
but on a universal scale.
You are constantly imagining that you are experiencing objective things, but you are not. You do not actually see an object that lamp over there, for instance. It is not the object you are seeing. Isn't it obvious to you that you are experiencing a phenomenon of the brain? You cannot see the lamp. You are not inside your head looking out at the lamp. A bizarre phenomenon of the brain produces the sensation that there is a lamp over there. Where is it anyway? A reflected image twists around in the eyeball, and nerve impulses and electrical currents flash around the meat-brain in order to construct an illusion, a sensation, an idea. What is objective about it? It is just your own fascination. It is your own mind. It is your own Consciousness, modified by organs of experience. It is mind.
It is harmless enough in itself, really, but you are so distracted by it that you have lost your humor. You have lost your true position. You do not have a right relationship to experience. The right relationship to all experience is to exist as the Transcendental Consciousness, the Radiant Reality Itself, in which phenomena arise without necessity, humorously. The wrong relationship to experiential phenomena is to presume that you are a separate person, a separate consciousness, in the midst of a world that you know nothing about, that somehow encloses you, that is objective to you, that is separate from you. In that case, you see, experience is a very serious business. You have no option but to submit to it, to be distracted and tormented by it.
In this alternate, non-materialistic view, the "dream" arising in Consciousness
has different dimensions: the material dimension, the subtle
dimensions, and the causal dimension. We are generally aware
only of the material dimension. But in Adi Da's view,
human beings have not only a material body, but
also a subtle body (or "mind"), and a causal body
(or "self"). And all things and beings are rooted
in (and arising in) Consciousness Itself (the single Transcendental Consciousness).
These dimensions are hierarchically related to each other.
For example, each person's bodies are arranged hierarchically.
When my material body dies (or "drops off"), I still
am associated with my subtle and causal bodies ("mind"
and "self"), which are rooted in Consciousness. My awareness and experience
is now in the subtle dimensions (not the material dimension), just as my awareness and experience was in the material dimension
when I had a physical body. And
if all of these bodies were to die, I would still exist
as Consciousness Itself.
While one "has" a physical body, one is easily confused (by the pain and pleasure
of the physical body) into identifying exclusively with the physical body. But when
the physical body "dies" (or "drops off"), one is in the position of the subtle body,
and it is suddenly obvious how peripheral, superficial, and unnecessary the physical body was.
While one "has" a subtle body (but no physical body), one is easily confused (by the mind forms
of the subtle body) into identifying exclusively with the subtle body. But when the
subtle body "dies" (or "drops off"), one is in the position of the causal body,
and it is suddenly obvious how peripheral, superficial, and unnecessary the subtle body was.
While one "has" a causal body (but no physical body or subtle body), one is easily confused (by the attention
of the causal body) into identifying exclusively with the causal body. But when the
causal body "dies" (or "drops off"), one is in the position of Consciousness Itself,
and can see how peripheral, superficial, and unnecessary the causal body is, and indeed how peripheral, superficial, and unnecessary all the
conditional bodies are.
The Hindu tradition refers to these bodies as "koshas" or "sheaths".
A sheath is just a covering for something else. You can remove the sheath and there is something else
"beneath" it. In the case of the human body-mind-self complex, these sheaths are organized like
Russian dolls. Underneath the physical sheath is the subtle sheath. Underneath the subtle sheath
is the causal sheath. And underneath the causal sheath is That which is not a sheath: Consciousness Itself.
Brain is not mind. Brain is a vehicle of mind. Brain is a limit on mind, as well as a servant of it. Like many other organs of the body, the brain is a mechanism that limits energy. It is associated with fields that transcend the body but are yet associated with it. The body is one with these fields, and it is apparently a part of them, but the physical body can be relinquished while other "bodies", if you will, may remain active. Then these bodies must also, in their turn, be transcended in the pattern of growth. But until they are transcended, there is still apparent individuation and still an apparent psycho-physical entity. This is why you are not all of a sudden projected on Infinity when you die. You are still egoically "self"-identified with bodies, or fields, that apparently individuate Consciousness Itself. You are not projected to Infinity at death, at least not in the typical case, because there is still egoic "self"-identification with limits, limited fields, limited organs, limited bodies, if you like, or "sheaths", as they are called in the Hindu tradition. These limits persist. They do not disappear just because you have died physically. And they continue to determine the form of your awareness. They determine perception. They determine your capability to "experience" in the planes of the cosmic domain, and their force, when it is not transcended, limits your capability to transcend the cosmic domain. Basically, all that happens at the point of death is a relinquishment of the physical body. That within Which the physical body appears is not lost, and everything subtler than the gross physical entity remains as a force of individuality. Therefore, you do not go any further than you have out-grown your egoic and limited "self". Ultimately, you do not "go" anywhere anyway. The True Heart, the Position of Divine Being, just "experiences" Itself through apparitions within the fields of cosmic Nature, which project themselves spatially in a great space and in time.
Avatar Adi Da Samraj, 1987
If you die, the condition that is actually so, actually true, of so-called you in this moment will be the same then as it is now, because it is identified with the universal reality, as you are, in reality. The death of the body does not change anything of that. Nothing is ever destroyed. Appearances pass through forms of transformation, but the Ultimate Condition, which was the case for them to begin with, Persists. Parts pass into elements, are transformed again, made into new apparent forms, but the Ultimate Field in Which the elements and forms are arising Persists all the while. When all the planes of appearance disintegrate, just That One Ultimate Field remains. It is the Divine Condition, the Ultimate Condition.
Beyond the endless round of apparent lifetimes, endless changes, and mis-identifications with lesser forms or "sheaths" (like the physical body),
what we always really are is
Consciousness Itself — "The Heart" as Adi Da sometimes calls It . Because this is so, Adi Da opened His autobiography
with the following liberating words, that inspire us to transcend our mistaken identification with limited forms
(including the physical, subtle, and causal bodies) and stand free as Consciousness Itself:
Death is utterly acceptable to consciousness and life. There has been endless time
of numberless deaths, but neither consciousness nor life has ceased to arise. The felt
quality and cycle to death has not modified the fragility of flowers, even the flowers within the human body.
Therefore one's understanding of consciousness and life must be turned to That
Utter, Inclusive Truth, That Clarity and Wisdom, That Power and Untouchable Gracefulness,
That One and Only Reality this evidence suggests.
One must cease to live in a superficial and divided way, seeking and demanding consciousness
and life in the present apparent form, avoiding and resisting what appears to be the end of
consciousness and life in death.
The Heart is Real understanding. The Heart is Real Consciousness and
Real Life. The Heart is What Merely and Only Is, but Which Is also Appearing
In and Behind the conditions of mortal life and its death. Therefore, it is said of old, the
One That Is Is neither born nor come to death, not Alive merely as the limitation of
form (itself), not Itself (or Entirely) Rendered in what appears, and yet, It Is the Living One,
than Which there Is no lesser other (and no Great or Greater Other), Appearing As all of this Play
of changes, but Eternally One, Unchanging, and Free.
In Adi Da's view, what we experience as "self-consciousness"
is in fact Consciousness Itself. The different bodies have no
"self-contained consciousness" of their own. All "self-consciousness"
is Consciousness, since there is only a single, universal Consciousness.
But "self-consciousness" is Consciousness confused
by all the intervening "layers" of causal body ("self"),
subtle body ("mind"), and physical body ("brain").
"Self-consciousness" is Consciousness as experienced
through the limits represented by a multi-dimensional "self-mind-brain"
complex, and the unconscious act of identification with this complex.
We are now in a position to grasp what is meant by the book
title, "we are Consciousness Itself".
Even though what each of us is experiencing in any moment is
completely unique to our specific self-mind-brain, the Consciousness
that is aware of my experience is the same Consciousness that
is aware of your experience. There appear to be vast numbers
of seemingly independent "beings", but in Reality,
there is only one Being, only one Consciousness (hence
the capital "C"), and for this reason, we can rightly say that we are
Consciousness. And because our real identity is not the
physical body, the subtle body, or the causal body (since all
these "coverings" can die, and yet awareness still exists), but Consciousness, we
are Consciousness Itself.
* * *
If you fully appreciate Adi Da's view of the structure of conditional
existence in which conscious
beings are not merely material but multi-dimensional
you can now see why I said I was a smiling a bit at my
former scientific colleagues, and at projects like constructing
artificial brains, or networks of millions of computers, and
the speculation that consciousness might somehow spontaneously "emerge" from
From the multi-dimensional viewpoint I've just described, to
imagine one could "build" a "self-consciousness"
out of a brain alone is something like imagining you could
create a functional car out of, say, just the wheels and the car body
without an engine, and without a Driver (Consciousness
From an engineering standpoint, to create a human being-like "self-consciousness",
you'd have to not only build a computer that simulated the functioning
of the material brain; you'd have to build a multi-dimensional artifact
in the material, subtle, and causal dimensions, and figure out how to connect the parts across the dimensions, so the whole thing
works as a single "body-mind-self".
You'd have to "build"
an artificial construct in the subtle dimensions that simulated
the "mind"; you'd have to "build" an artificial
construct that simulated "self" in the causal dimension;
you'd have to "glue" these "parts" together across the dimensions into a single unit by creating means
that simulated (as Adi Da described it ) "the tiny organisms
by which energy and conditional awareness are transferred and
communicated between the various levels of existence";
and you'd have to figure out how to "interface" that
whole multi-dimensional construct with Consciousness Itself
so the artificial "body-mind-self" unit could be animated and made "conscious" by Consciousness Itself, in
the same way that the human "body-mind-self" is animated by,
and derives its "consciousness" from Consciousness
* * *
Simply put, the reason scientists are never going
to find "the ghost in the machine" is because they
have it backwards. "Consciousness" is not an emergent
phenomenon of the material brain. Rather, the human body (including
its brain) is emerging in Consciousness Itself, and that is why
and how we are conscious. The ghost is not in the machine. The
machine is in the Ghost!
* * *
The materialistic theory that consciousness is
a brain phenomenon has no evidence behind it. But it also has
no explanatory power relative to many increasingly well-researched
phenomena (for example, psychic phenomena).
In contrast, the view that everything is arising in a single
universal Field of Consciousness naturally resonates with phenomena
like ESP, telekinesis, synchronicity, quantum entanglement, etc., and provides the deep reason
why practices like mindfulness are effective.
For reasons like this, a number of scientists and philosophers are beginning
to seriously challenge the view of consciousness as brain phenomenon,
and even scientific materialism (the philosophical view that everything can
be reduced to material terms) altogether.
* * *
So here is the second point of this article:
The notion of "consciousness" shared by virtually
all of us not only scientists, but believers in conventional
religion, and just the average person, regardless of religious
or philosophical view is an extremely limited (and, in
reality, confused) notion: "self-consciousness".
But there is an ancient, radically different view which
holds that consciousness is not ultimately individual. All apparently
separate "beings" and "things" are arising
in a single, universal Consciousness (hence
the capital "C"). What we mistake for a
"self-consciousness" confined to an individual
body (due to association and identification with an individual body, senses,
thoughts, etc.) is still always only Consciousness Itself
being aware of these experiences.
4. Why Our View of
Now at this point you might be thinking, "This is all
very interesting, but, even if it is true, what difference does
it make for me?"
As it turns out, it makes a huge difference!
What I know or believe about reality and consciousness affects
how I live my life.
And how I live my life where I devote my time, energy, and
attention creates my destiny.
The different "levels" in the dream material, subtle,
or causal correspond to different possible destinies.
My destiny could be the usual one most of us settle for, not
knowing of any greater alternative: the best possible material
existence I can arrange . . . a brief life filled, at best,
with fleeting pleasures, and every now and then moments
of limited happiness.
Or my destiny could be a better-than-material destiny in one
of the more "heavenly" (subtle or causal) dimensions
of the dream.
Or my destiny could be that of Perfect, Eternal Happiness
awakening from the dream altogether as Consciousness Itself.
These different destinies coincide with different "places"
in what Adi Da calls the "Cosmic Mandala" (picture
below). Adi Da has indicated that the multi-dimensional cosmos
can be visually perceived as a pattern of concentric circular
bands (or, more accurately, spheres) of certain distinct colors,
with a brilliant, white five-pointed Star at the center. Each
band corresponds to a different dimension of conditional existence.
If attention were free to simply see the universal mechanism
in which the phenomena of near-death experiences are arising,
however, what would be seen is a Mandala of light, or
light-energy, made of concentric circles. . . .
Each of the levels of this Great Mandala of the Cosmos
represents a quality of energy, or light. In each of the
rings or portions of this Mandala that move out from the
central Whiteness are infinite numbers of possible worlds
and kinds of embodiment. In this gross plane in which
you now exist, you are at the outskirts of the Great Mandala
of the Cosmos at this present moment. There are grosser
conditions of awareness, grosser possibilities, than the
present one, which may be called "hells", or degraded
states, or states of embodiment less than human. They
may appear as forms of worlds other than the present one,
as well as states in the plane of this gross world that
are not necessarily apparent to vision.
You are presently existing in the outer frame of the
Great Field of the Cosmic Mandala. . . .
Subtler worlds exist closer to the Center of the Cosmic
Mandala. Even in the golden-yellow ring there are subtler
worlds closer to the Center. In the blue field, there
are all kinds of worlds. In general, to live in any of
the worlds closer to the Center is to live in a condition
that is more benign, with greater powers and with a greater
range of phenomenal possibilities, than the usual life
in this gross world. But to live in these worlds is not
to be inherently and Divinely Enlightened, Free, or immortal.
Nor would immortality be desirable in those planes, because
there is no Ultimate Happiness there, even in the state
of equanimity. . .
All possibilities, all forms of embodiment and experience
in the planes of manifested light, or the rainbow of the
Cosmic Mandala, are temporary. . .
Unless there is responsibility for attention, there will
be no movement closer to the Center. Unless there is Divine
Enlightenment, there will be no permanent residence in
the Center, or the Source, of the Cosmic Mandala, and
there is no permanence anywhere but in the Source.
Avatar Adi Da Samraj, "The Cosmic
Let's consider the different possible destinies a bit more.
A material destiny. If consciousness is just a brain phenomenon that will end when
the brain dies, then about the best destiny we can hope for
is a modestly pleasurable life here before we die and our consciousness
comes to an abrupt end.
Those who believe that the material universe is all there is are pretty much assured that destiny, by
their own belief. But even those of us who believe that consciousness survives death
(based on religious beliefs, personal consideration, etc.) aren't assured a greater-than-material destiny, simply
because we believe it exists. Most of us who believe that consciousness survives death would
also have to acknowledge that almost all our daily time, energy, and attention is invested in the material destiny, because we
are devoting little or no time and energy to greater-than-material
dimensions of reality.
By contrast with those who are mere believers in life after death, genuine saints and yogis
— those who are going to "heaven" at death, rather than reincarnating here — do something very different with their
energy and attention throughout the day than most of us are
Some of us also believe in (or at least consider the possibility
of) reincarnation. Adi Da confirms that reincarnation does indeed
occur. But, apart from the time
we spend between lives, reincarnation essentially just extends the material destiny.
I live a lifetime devoted
to material existence. I die. I'm reborn in this material dimension (because of
my lifelong devotion to material existence) and then I lead
another lifetime devoted to material existence. . . over and
So, largely because we are not directly aware of a greater alternative, we invest almost all our time and energy
in the material world. And as it turns out, by so doing,
we end up doing all the things that continue to lock us into
a material destiny (in the red/yellow realms of the Cosmic Mandala),
lifetime after lifetime. Materialism thus ends up being a self-fulfilling prophecy. We would have to live our lives in a radically
different way for this not to be so, and enable a greater-than-material
A heavenly destiny. Most of us who follow a traditional
religion believe that our consciousness survives death in the
form of a non-material vehicle or body of some kind (a "soul"
is a traditional Western term for it). But most religious believers
also tend to place this survival in a larger context
in which there is a "heaven", and if one has been
a good person, one may end up in "heaven". This conventional
religious view resonates with the multi-dimensional view we
presented earlier that there are material, subtle, and causal
dimensions; the "heavens" of our religious myths reflect
(however distortedly) the subtle and causal dimensions, which
have less conflict and difficulty, longer lives, etc. So this
is, in some sense, a better destiny than mere material survival!
However while traditional, "exoteric" religion
associates the destiny of "heaven" with being a believer
and a good person, esoteric spirituality suggests that a far
more profound, lifelong spiritual practice is required to be
able to stably stay in a subtle dimension after death, rather
than just reincarnating here in the material world again. (In brief: you have to already be "in heaven" in spirit during your life here
on "earth", in order to be able to stay "in heaven" after the physical body dies. Such saints and yogis are not merely thinking about greater-than-material
dimensions of Reality; they are visiting them and residing there for extended periods of time regularly — through profound meditation, mystical experiences, and other means.)
You will not go to "heaven" or into the Transcendental Domain on the basis of any belief or any conventional manipulation of
behavior. All such things are part of birth, part of the process of tendency, in your attempt to compensate for the fearful aspects of conditional
existence. Those beliefs do not represent an impulse, a gesture, a form of energy, a motion that will break your confinement to the present motion.
So, even though you will die, you will simply be transformed. You will not, on that basis, be Translated into the Transcendental Domain, or
go to "heaven", or even "a heaven", a higher "world". You will be transformed along the lines of the motions, the qualities, the tendencies with
which you are already associated.
Avatar Adi Da Samraj, from a gathering in July, 1987
Even supposing that you did what was necessary to stably reside
in a subtle realm after death, like all conditional destinies
in the outer rings of the Cosmic Mandala, such a "heavenly"
destiny still is temporary, and it is not the greatest possible
destiny, which is at the very Center of the Cosmic Mandala
the Realization of Consciousness Itself.
Basically, what I am Calling you to do is to Identify with That Which Is at the Core of the Matrix of the Cosmic Mandala, That Which Is at the Core of Nature. And That Which Is Where you Stand, at the Core of your own existence, then. That Is Consciousness Itself, Which is Realized to Be the Divine or Self-Existing and Self-Radiant Transcendental Spiritual Self-Nature, Self-Condition, and Self-State of Reality Itself. Thus, I Call you to understand yourself and Identify with this Matrix Condition of your own being, and enter into It so profoundly that you Realize It to be the Condition of Nature Itself.
Avatar Adi Da Samraj
The destiny of Consciousness Itself. So the view that
we are Consciousness Itself suggests the greatest of all possible
But in what sense is It the greatest of all possible destinies?
The answer lies in what being Consciousness Itself feels
Consciousness Itself is not some dry, analytic state . . .
feelingless, merely aware, dissociated from its objects.
You are not attention, which exists over against all "objects".
Consciousness Itself is not that which is over against what
Consciousness Itself is That Which Is the Self-Nature, Self-Condition,
Source-Condition, and Self-State of what arises.
To Realize Consciousness Itself is not to merely stand over
against things and sort of "not be" them but regard them.
The Feeling of Consciousness Itself is the Feeling of Being
Itself. It is Feeling without limitation without the
suffering produced by mis-identification with the limited physical body, or the limited subtle body,
or the limited causal body. The Feeling of Consciousness Itself is Infinite
Love-Bliss, Perfect Happiness. And just as Consciousness Itself
is Eternal, standing prior to time and space, so the Feeling
of Consciousness Itself is Eternal.
A way to describe it is the word Love. . . Consciousness
is Infinitely Radiant. It is not contracted, it is not separate.
Avatar Adi Da Samraj, 1995
The self-aware pleasure of existing is the fundamental
gift, the Divine gift, the persistent gift that you are
tending to ignore. . . When conditions arise, or change,
or pass away in the view of Consciousness, Consciousness
Itself remains always as the same Free Love-Bliss of Being.
Avatar Adi Da Samraj, We Are Consciousness
and Energy Itself
Are Love-Bliss Itself.
not controlled at all,
not merely a point.
Consciousness Is the Room.
Love-Bliss Is all there is within It.
We are under the incredibly absurd illusion that there is an objective world "outside" Consciousness and there is a "me" inside this body.
There is not a shred of truth in these presumption. What "you" presume in your everyday consciousness in any moment is the drama of the seriousness of your independent existence. When you awaken, even for a moment to its true Position, which is senior to any phenomena, then the full of humor and freedom of necessity to any experience is brought forth. There is only Enlightenment, Divine Freedom. No matter what arises.
Avatar Adi Da Samraj
All of us can confess, if we are honest with ourselves, that
we are always wanting to be completelyhappy
forever. That heart-longing cannot be fulfilled if we
settle for the material destiny that becomes clear to anyone
who has lived in the material world for a few decades.
heart-longing cannot be completely fulfilled even if we settle for a "heavenly"
destiny in the subtle realms.
That heart-longing for Perfect Happiness arises from Consciousness
Itself, and can only be completely fulfilled if we are restored to the
Realization of Consciousness Itself. That constant heart-longing
for Perfect Happiness is another big clue that we are not the
body, but Consciousness Itself, since we always are longing
for a State that can only be Realized in the position of Consciousness
We do not endlessly long for something that is impossible to
We endlessly long for what we alwaysalreadyare.
The core of this Teaching is the Revelation that the
human individual is structurally intended to be surrendered,
body and mind and self, through love, into the Radiant
Transcendental Consciousness or All-Pervading and Divine
Current of Life. The ultimate Destiny of those who love
in this manner is transcendence of both mind and body
in the Divine. Our Destiny is not in Heaven or Earth,
but in literal and total Sacrifice and Translation into
the Transcendental Divine Radiance, Infinite Consciousness,
and Absolute Personality that is the Truth and Support
and Paradoxical Source of this world.
Here is a recap of the basic points of this article:
In a lot of areas,
our faith in science and technology has been amply justified
(determining the laws of physics, building a better iPad,
etc.) But on the matter of consciousness, such faith
is misplaced. Scientists don't have the slightest idea what
consciousness is; all attempts to account for consciousness
in material terms have failed. This is a huge clue
to the reality that consciousness is not material!
And a huge clue that we must turn to a different kind of expert
if we want to learn something real about it.
The notion of "consciousness"
shared by virtually all of us not only scientists, but believers
in conventional religion, and just the average person, regardless
of religious or philosophical view is an extremely limited
(and, in reality, confused) notion: "self-consciousness".
But there is an ancient, radically different view which holds
that consciousness is not ultimately individual. All apparently separate
"beings" and "things" are arising in a
single, universal Consciousness (hence the capital "C").
What we mistake for a "self-consciousness" confined
to an individual body (due to association with an individual
body, senses, thoughts, etc.) is still always only Consciousness
Itself being aware of these experiences.
How we view reality
has everything to do with where we devote our time, energy,
and attention; and that, in turn, creates our destiny. Not
knowing better, most of us keep confining ourselves to a material
destiny (even for lifetimes, via reincarnation ).
Those few of us who are aware of greater-than-material dimensions
("heavens") and engage in a profound, lifelong spiritual
practice have at least the possibility of stably residing
in such greater-than-material dimensions after death (though it turns out that merely
"believing" and "being good" are not nearly enough to ensure that destiny). But an even
greater destiny is possible: The realization of (and Awakening
as) Consciousness Itself, free of all the limits of (and unhappiness
associated with) the conditional dimensions of reality, both
material and heavenly. The most perfect realization of Consciousness Itself
is the realization of Perfect, Eternal Happiness.
We think that someone who pretends to be Napoleon is crazy because he obviously is not Napoleon.
But everybody is pretending to be someone. Everyone is simply Consciousness, but not realizing this, everyone is crazy,
everyone presumes he or she is something that he or she is not. Therefore, you must begin to practice identification
with Consciousness, with the true Self, and allow that Self to be revealed. If you live in the Condition of the Self,
or the true Being, then you are totally free of the body-mind, its limitations and illusions, and all of the suffering
and disturbance that it represents.
There are many additional questions one could ask, given the
framework I've just presented, including:
How is it that I am "forgetting"
(or failing to notice) that I am Consciousness Itself in every
Is there a Way to permanently and perfectly
Realize Consciousness Itself?
Are there different forms or degrees of the Realization
of Consciousness Itself?
How different would our world and future be
if all our human cultures were based on the intuition that "we are Consciousness", rather than
"we are inherently separate beings"?
Adi Da's Wisdom-Teaching comprehensively
addresses these and many other related questions. But rather
than try to include His Wisdom about these further questions
in this article, I'll instead direct you next to Adi Da's Gift
to you: the ebook, We Are Consciousness Itself. Now that
you have some sense of what Adi Da means by "Consciousness
Itself", and the profound implications (including the possibility
for all of us to Realize the Perfect, Eternal Happiness of Consciousness Itself), you will be able
to read and appreciate Adi Da's book, which is a series of communications
aimed at helping you directlyintuitrightnow that you are indeed Consciousness
The first step on the road to a greater destiny is to become aware that there is a greater destiny. May this
article and Adi Da's book serve that realization in you.
Adi Da's view of Reality includes reincarnation, which
He instructs His devotees to seriously consider as part
of their studies in support of their practice of the Way
of Adidam. (More from Adi Da on reincarnation can be found
in His book, Easy Death.) There is a growing body of evidence
in support of reincarnation, most notably, the extensive
work done by Dr. Ian Stevenson, which involved his travelling
around the world and documenting 3,000 cases of children
having "past life" memories that he personally
confirmed (by identifying the places and people in their "past life"
memories and actually finding and visiting those places and people in present time). For more, read
Dr. Stevenson's books, which include Twenty
Cases Suggestive of Reincarnation, Children
Who Remember Previous Lives, and Where
Reincarnation and Biology Intersect (1997).
Quantum entanglement is a phenomenon
of quantum physics in which two particles interact physically, then are physically separated (even by great distances), and yet still affect each other.
Albert Einstein referred to it derisively as "spukhafte Fernwirkung" ("spooky action at a distance"), bothered by what appeared to be non-local interaction. But what may seem
"non-local" in the space-time continuum may not be non-local at all in a Field of Consciousness that is prior to space and time, but in which
all of space and time arises, and in which all objects and beings arise (and therefore, in which all objects and beings are non-separate).
Note that the Vision of the Cosmic Mandala is not suggesting that Consciousness is a White Star. Consciousness is not an object. The White Star appears in
this Vision as a representation of (or symbol for, or pointer to) Consciousness Itself, just as the words, "Consciousness Itself", are a representation of (or symbol for, or pointer to) Consciousness Itself, but are not themselves Consciousness Itself.
I suppose in contrast with having to build everything from scratch, one possible "shortcut" might be to built an artificial body in such way that a human "soul" (i.e., a "mind-self" without the "body") looking to reincarnate is attracted to incarnate through it, i.e., to produce a "body-mind-self" cyborg in which the "mind-self" part is human and the "body" part is a synthetic artifact/machine. If it turns out "souls" only combine themselves with fetuses, it's possible that the "artificial body" might have to be an artificial fetus (capable — like a biological body — of growing into an adult body).
The Revelation Adi Da communicates through His books is generally helped if the reader understands the words and the conceptual framework behind them. But — amazingly enough — conceptual understanding is not always necessary. Many people (who are not yet devotees of Adi Da) have simply picked up (or looked at) one of Adi Da's books, and received the Revelation of the book directly! Read, for example, Trish Mitchell's encounter with The Dawn Horse Testament, or Pamela Bennett's encounter with The Way That I Teach. Or Tom Jacob's encounter with The Way That I Teach, where, as he puts it, "one strange thing I noticed immediately was that I had this pleasant flow of energy flowing through me every time I picked up the book. I did not understand this, but remember looking forward to reading the book just because the book itself made me happy!"
There are different forms and degrees of the Realization of Consciousness Itself. Adi Da uses phrases like "the Heart", "Divine Enlightenment", "the seventh stage Realization", and "the Realization of Conscious Light" to refer to the Most Perfect Realization of Consciousness Itself, in which Consciousness and Light are Realized to be a Unity, and everything and everyone is directly, tacitly recognized to be a modification of Consciousness Itself.
Adi Da has (briefly) described the "connections"
between the various "bodies" or "functional
sheaths" in His autobiography, The
Knee Of Listening:
. . . now all of these things
the forms, the levels of functional being and conditional
identity (including the physical body, and even all the
functional sheaths, and all the conditional realms, and
all conditional experiences)
stood within the Radiant Sphere of my own Presence, and
I understood and inherently (and Divinely) Self-Recognized
them all, without recourse to them (as if they were "outside"
my own Self-Nature), and without recourse to any sense
of self-separateness (as a limited subjective identity
in apparent relationship to them) . . .
I was able to see subtle mechanisms within these bodies
(or functional sheaths) and perceive the relations of
various forms and currents of energy beyond the physical.
I saw the tiny organisms by which energy and conditional
awareness are transferred and communicated between the
various levels of existence.
The first shift many consciousness researchers would have to make is to realize that a computer simulation with
a behavior similar to a conscious human being is not the same thing as a conscious computer. A few "consciousness" researchers are aware
of this crucial distinction. For example, here is Christof Koch, chief scientific officer of the Allen Institute for Brain Science in Seattle:
"[Integrated Information Theory] clearly says that a digital simulation would not be conscious, which is strikingly
different from the dominant functionalist belief of 99 percent of people at MIT or philosophers like Daniel Dennett.
They all say, once you simulate everything, nothing else is required, and it's going to be conscious." (This is from an interview with Christof Koch,
"What It Will Take for Computers to Be Conscious",
MIT Technology Review, October 2, 2014.)
The second thing consciousness
researchers would have to realize is that consciousness derives from something greater than the individual organism, and that what is crucial
in creating an artificial consciousness is designing it so that it "plugs into" this "something greater" (whatever that is, altogether). Again, Koch
is on the right track, but he presumes the "something greater" is purely material:
"I think consciousness, like mass, is a fundamental property of the universe. . . I am not saying consciousness is a magic soul.
It is something physical. Consciousness is always supervening onto the physical. But it takes a particular type of hardware to instantiate it. . .
If you were to build the computer in the appropriate way, like a
neuromorphic computer, it could be conscious." In fact, "building the
computer in the appropriate way" would not only require creating the appropriate physical hardware, but also the appropriate etheric, astral, and causal hardware, all designed
so as to "incarnate" (or to use Koch's word, "instantiate") Consciousness.