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We Are Consciousness Itself

We Are Consciousness Itself

an introduction by
Chris Tong, Ph.D.

We Are Consciousness Itself is now available in English, Czech, Dutch, French, German, Spanish, Vietnamese, and Italian.

This article contains the following subsections:

  1. Why Our View of Consciousness Matters
  2. The Free EBook, We Are Consciousness Itself

1. Introduction

Avatar Adi Da SamrajThe 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 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 ebook:

Click Here to Download Free EBook

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,[11] 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".

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 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.

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:[1]

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 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".[3]

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"[2].

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 why.

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 disbelief.

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 become ALIVE!

"It's ALIVE!" (Frankenstein, 1931)

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 the recording (by looking up your name in the hotel database, and then generating a "personalized" message using a synthesized voice).[15]

* * *

So here is the first point of this article:

1. 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.

3. "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.

Avatar Adi Da Samraj
The Enlightenment of the Whole Body

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 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.

Avatar Adi Da Samraj, Ishta

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 [12]. 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.

Avatar Adi Da Samraj
"The Heart Of Understanding", The Knee Of Listening

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 them.

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).[14]

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 [13]) "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.[10]

* * *

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[6]). 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,[8] 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.[7]

* * *

So here is the second point of this article:

2. 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 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.

The Cosmic Mandala [9]

Adi Da elaborates:

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.[9]

Avatar Adi Da Samraj, "The Cosmic Mandala", Easy Death

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.[4] 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 destiny instead.

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 destinies.

But in what sense is It the greatest of all possible destinies? The answer lies in what being Consciousness Itself feels like.

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 arises.

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.

Realization is not that mere attitude.

Avatar Adi Da Samraj, You Are Consciousness Itself

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 Itself

Consciousness Itself
and Energy Itself
(or Light-Itself)
Are Love-Bliss Itself.

Love-Bliss Itself
Is Boundless—
not controlled at all,
not merely a “point”.
Love-Bliss “Arises”
In Consciousness.
Consciousness Is the Room.
Love-Bliss Is all there is within It.

Avatar Adi Da Samraj, The Aletheon

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 completely happy — 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 Itself.

We do not endlessly long for something that is impossible to Realize!

We endlessly long for what we always already are.

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.


5. Summary

Here is a recap of the basic points of this article:

  1. 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.

  2. 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.

  3. 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 [4]). 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.[5] 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.

Avatar Adi Da Samraj, "I" Is The Body Of Life

6. The Free EBook, We Are Consciousness Itself

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 moment?

  • 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 directly intuit right now that you are indeed Consciousness Itself.

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.


Click Here to Download Free EBook

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R.S.J. Frackowiak (Editor-in-Chief), Human Brain Function (Second Edition), January, 2004.


Ray Kurzweil, The Singularity Is Near.


Leading this field is Professor Henry Markham of the Brain Mind Institute in Switzerland, who is estimating that his team will complete building a hardware duplicate of the human brain by around 2024. See Scientists to build "human brain", Daily Mail, April 15, 2012, and Human Brain Could Be Replicated in 10 Years, Researcher Predicts, Science Daily, September 4, 2009.


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).


For more on these three destinies, listen to Adi Da's talk, What Is Your Intention? and read Adi Da's essay, The Three Egos.


Dean Radin's book, The Conscious Universe, is an excellent source summarizing decades of careful research on psychic phenomena.


For a pioneering book by leading psychologists that challenges the materialistic paradigm of consciousness, read Irreducible Mind: Toward a Psychology for the 21st Century. Another important current book challenging scientific materialism altogether is by renowned philosoper, Thomas Nagel, Mind and Cosmos: Why the Materialist Neo-Darwinian Conception of Nature Is Almost Certainly False. Further recommended reading: Dave Pruett, Reason and Wonder: A Copernican Revolution in Science and Spirit (click here for an excerpt); and Lawrence LeShan, Landscapes of the Mind.

8.   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.


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" questions.

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 different matter.)


Quotations from and/or photographs of Avatar Adi Da Samraj used by permission of the copyright owner:
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