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 universally 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
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
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
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). We recommend 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.)
This article first lays out (and critiques) our conventional
notions of "consciousness". It then goes on to
describe what Adi Da means by "Consciousness".
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.
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 itself.
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.
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 ambiguous ways.
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
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",
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.
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
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
the recording (by looking up your name in the hotel database,
and then generating a "personalized" message using a synthesized
* * *
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.
"Self-Consciousness" 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 the centuries).
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
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
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 Matryoshka dolls (aka "nesting 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
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,
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 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 Itself).
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 Itself.
* * *
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
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 Consciousness Matters
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
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 Mandala",
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 doing.
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 over again.
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
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,
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.
That 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
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
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
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
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,
Mitchell's encounter with The Dawn Horse Testament,
Bennett's encounter with The Way That I Teach.
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")
We should note, however, that people's tendency to project
consciousness onto objects (from teddy bears to AI programs)
is well-known. In an infamous example from early AI research,
Joseph Weizenbaum of MIT wrote a simple AI program that he
called Eliza, back in 1965. He wrote it to simulate
a Rogerian psychotherapist. It would use simple pattern-matching
rules to generate its part of the "conversation".
So, for example, if the program user typed in, "I met
my mother today for lunch". Eliza would reply, "Tell
me more about your mother", and ask follow up questions
like "Would you say you a good relationship with your
mother?" But this was triggered by nothing more than
a "rule" in the program that saw the word "mother"
in the sentence, and then asked these "canned"
There was absolutely no consciousness! And little intelligence.
But Weizenbaum was astonished at how many people, after
a couple of minutes at the keyboard, started pouring out
their hearts to Eliza through the keyboard, as though it were a conscious, feeling
person. What it demonstrated was not so much anything about
Eliza, but about people's amazing ability to project consciousnessness
onto objects. (In ultimate terms, there is a sense in which
everything is "conscious", insofar as everything
is a modification of Consciousness Itself. But that's a