“The greatest happiness of the thinking man is to have fathomed those things which are fathomable and to reserve those things that are not fathomable for reverence in quietude.” To that great poet and thinker, Goethe, religious beliefs were essential to the well-being of humanity. They necessitated a man’s emergence from the narrow, restricted thoughts of everyday life, and his entry into a more spacious world. But in order to reach this ampler world a man had to escape first from the egocentric thinking of his personality and then to establish contact with a larger and more conscious “Self” than his usual “self.” Religion is one of the several methods by which an individual may establish contact with a higher level of consciousness.
But before this is discussed something must first be said on the subject of “consciousness,” for even the meaning of that word is often misunderstood in the West. Consciousness has often been equated with “thought” in Western writings, but consciousness is no more thought than it is emotion, sensation or movement. It is none of our functions but is an awareness of our various activities at the moment at which they are occurring in us. A little self-observation will be sufficient to prove to us that we usually think, feel, move and respond to the stimulations acting on us, without our being aware of what is happening within us. In other words, we react entirely automatically to the various stimulations which provoke our reactions. Often we are not even aware of these reactions.
There are several different ways of classifying degrees or levels of awareness, Gurdjieff describes five different levels of consciousness, namely (1) the level of deep sleep devoid of all dreams; (2) lighter sleep troubled by dreams; (3) the ordinary level of consciousness, a state of waking sleep, maintained during the day; (4) the state of true Self-awareness which we may seldom attain even momentarily; (5) the highest level of Cosmic or Universal Consciousness, that is to say, a state of Supra-consciousness.
“The Supra-Conscious State” by Kenneth Walker is an extract from The Highest State of Consciousness edited by John W. White, published by White Crow Books and available from Amazon and other bookstores.
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