“Those who see the truth, have concluded that the material body – is transitory, and the source of consciousness – the soul, is eternal, and does not change. This they have concluded by studying the nature of both” Bhagavad Gita (2.16)

The issue of the phenomenon of consciousness, its origin and relation to matter is as old as philosophy itself. However, this problem exists only in the West. In the Vedic philosophy the consciousness and matter from the outset are defined as the superior and inferior energies emanating from a single source, and can exist in conjunction with each other and independently.

One of the Vedic texts, the Vishnu Purana, says in this regard:

“Lord Vishnu, the Supreme Personal aspect of the Absolute Truth, has a variety of energies known as para (superior) and apara (inferior). Living beings (souls) are the superior energy. The material energy, which entangles the living beings is the inferior energy. It covers the living entities (souls) with ignorance and forces them to act in the interests of a temporary gross material body … »

So, the relation of consciousness and matter is the main question of philosophy. What comes first – consciousness or matter? The answer to this question sets an entire way of life with a priority either of spiritual or material values. The materialistic views state that consciousness is secondary, it is a product of highly organised matter, and it occurs only at a certain stage of development of matter, I.e. consciousness is a kind of electricity that is produced by a dynamo body.


But the Vedas say quite different: consciousness is a sign of a living being (soul), which is called in Sanskrit jiva and has anti material qualities. Consciousness cannot be created nor destroyed, but can only be covered by the material energy, like the sun covered by clouds.

The Bhagavad Gita (13.34) compares a living being (soul) with the sun, and consciousness – with the radiance of the sun.

“O son of Bharata, as the sun alone illuminates all this universe, so does the living entity, one within the body, illuminate the entire body by consciousness.”

Which means that consciousness is not manifested from matter and it does not benefit from contact with it, but, on the contrary, becomes deluded by the contact with matter, which is, by definition of the Vedas, a lower energy.

Originally the living entities, the carriers of consciousness, are parts and parcels of a higher living being or God. The Vedanta sutra ( a summary of all the Vedas ) defines the Absolute Truth or God as the origin and inexhaustible source of all energies . As one of the energies of God, a soul is able to exist without material covering in the spiritual world.

In that environment the consciousness of a soul manifests all his abilities and three main qualities: eternity, knowledge and happiness. In this pure state of consciousness a living entity becomes aware of himself as an immortal particle of the Absolute Truth. In this case, a soul has his own original spiritual form in which he is engaged in a specific service to the Supreme Personality in the spirit of pure unconditional love.

If the soul abuses his partial independence and turns his attention to the material energy, to manipulate it in order to try to imitate God, he loses his position in the world of freedom and goes into the material world as a person who has violated the laws of society, goes into the place of imprisonment.

Depending on desires and actions – karma – the soul gets covered by a certain type of physical body, which hides the original spiritual form of a living being, and only consciousness in a form of signs of life manifests through the shell of material body, as sunshine through a cloud.

There is different density and qualities of material energy, and therefore consciousness of a living being is manifested in different bodies with different degrees of intensity.

The Bhagavad Gita (14.5) says:

“Material nature consists of three modes — goodness, passion and ignorance. When the eternal living entity comes in contact with nature, O mighty-armed Arjuna, he becomes conditioned by these modes”.

The Vedas explain that the soul, having come under the influence of different qualities of matter, displays different forms of consciousness. Made of pure consciousness, a soul is different from all material and is not associated with any qualities of material nature, but only superficially is covered with them. You can feel the presence of the soul through the three levels of consciousness known as Waking, Dreaming and Deep Sleep. Let us consider each of these states individually.

1. Sushupti  or  Deep Sleep – a state of consciousness caused by the strong influence of (tamas ) ignorance . In this state the consciousness is so densely covered by illusion, that the living entity is not even aware of his own existence, or, in the language of modern science, it is devoid of secondary reflection.

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A soul (jiva), trapped under the influence of ignorance, get the body of lower species of life (plants, animals etc) and consciousness (or awareness) of such a living being extends beyond the need of maintenance and protection of his physical body. Due to the strong influence of material energy the living being in this state is able to cognise neither his spiritual nor material nature, and therefore he can not consciously progress. “Dreamless Sleep” is a very deep immersion in ignorance when the soul does not have any idea about himself.

2 . Svapna or Dreaming – a state of consciousness caused by the influence of raja guna (passion). Just like in a dream we identify with situations and other bodies that we dreamed of, and the same way under the influence of passion a living entity identifies himself with the gross physical body and the surrounding situation.


From the soul’s eternal existence point of view, a lifespan of a physical body, covering the soul, is no longer than a dream comparing to the waking state. However, in a subjective perception of time, same as in a dream, all events of this life seem as if real.

According to the Vedas, those who are under the influence of passion, obtain one of 400 thousand species of humanoid bodies. So their abilities of consciousness are manifest much greater. Humans are interested not only in the bodily demands, but also in culture, philosophy, art, religion, social relations, etc.

However a soul is still unaware of his true identity which is different from the physical shell, and therefore he uses his developed consciousness to improving the living standard of the body.

In the Vedas this state of consciousness is called ‘ sleep with dreams’ because a soul in the human body has some sort idea of self-identity, mistaking himself with the body, but he is still asleep in relation to the spiritual reality. Another words, at this level of consciousness a soul dreams that he is a human body of a particular nation, gender, etc.

3. Jagrat or Waking state is even a higher level of consciousness that is born from the influence of sattva guna or goodness. According to the Vedas, the residents of higher regions of the universe, the humanoids of higher order, are at this level of consciousness.Woman yawn

However, some especially prone to spirituality people also have a fair admixture of goodness, which stimulates their spiritual quest.

The essence of the “Waking” state is that while the soul is still living in the body, he gradually awakens to the spiritual reality and begins to realize his fundamental difference from the body.

This is similar to how a person wakes up in the morning and still remembers his dream in which he had just taken an active part, and at the same time he understands that the surrounding reality has nothing to do with his dream.

So, this is the first level of spiritual knowledge when a living entity finally starts to wake up and realize his identity to be different from the physical body. Such a person lives his life aimed at spiritual progress, that is, the evolution of consciousness.

Most important is that all these states of consciousness are not strictly fixed but are in a dynamic and are not confined to certain species of life (lower or higher), but to all of us at different stages of life.

Initially (in early childhood), we are not completely aware of ourselves. Later in life we begin to identify ourselves with the body and actively work for it, and at the last stage of life we hit the point when they say, “it’s time to think about the soul “.


So, in addition to these three states of consciousness in which we regularly dwell – either being sober, dreaming or plunging into complete self-forgetfulness , there is a fourth – the spiritual state of consciousness – Turiya, which is the original and natural for the soul.


Awareness of spiritual reality is only possible on this fourth level of consciousness, which is characterised by pure knowledge. These analogies with different levels of sleep and awakening could be completed with a quote from an article by Leo Tolstoy , published in the journal “Voice of universal love ” in 1908 :

“Just as we go through thousands of dreams in this life, our life today is only one of the many thousands of similar ones in which we come from a different, more real life … Our present life is just one of the dreams of that more real life. And these dreams last forever, until we wake up in our real life – a life with God. “

According to the Vedas, the purpose of life is to elevate the soul’s consciousness from the sleep of oblivion.

Another way to understand the spiritual evolution is to imagine one’s consciousness in the form of a seed, which gradually grows (provided spiritual care) and blooms into thousand petal lotus flower. Consider this example in more detail.

In one of our articles, we briefly discussed the chakras (http://mcknowledge.info/who-are-you-human-part-5-2/). Another function of the chakras, which are the subtle energy centers in the body, is that they mark the milestones in the development of consciousness.

Picture 1The human body can be represented as a seven-story building. It is clear that the residents of the higher floors can see further away. When consciousness of a soul is in the ” deep sleep “, only three lower chakras associated with physiological functions are active.

These three chakras are developed from birth even in animals. Higher consciousness (” sleep with dreams “) manifests when a person identifies oneself with the body and he begins to feel compassion (fourth chakra is the heart) and emotionally communicates with other living entities (the fifth chakra in the throat) .

The state of “awakening” comes when consciousness of a soul rises to the sixth chakra (between the eyebrows – the “third eye “), and is fully revealed at the level of the seventh chakra (the crown of the head ).

This level is characterized by the fact that the soul is not only aware of himself as an eternal identity, distinct from the temporary body, but also his relationship with God.

Obviously, the lesser the consciousness is affected by matter, the closer we are to the spiritual reality and the more evident our original qualities – eternity, knowledge and bliss.

So, the conclusion is that a human being should take care of the ” health ” of his consciousness.

In this day and age of speed and stress, a care of consciousness is of the most importance, since modern man has become very dependent on the chaotic society devoid of purpose and a decent ideology.

People, having lost their spiritual support and guidance in life, have become hostages of the unprecedented development of technocracy, and its devastating side effects in many areas are already irreversible.

The Vedas recommend different practices for elevation of consciousness to the fourth spiritual state. Being situated on the fourth level of consciousness in contact with God, who is always in that higher dimension, the living being perceives occurring life events completely differently.

Such a tune up of consciousness frees one from stress and at the same time not making him socially passive. This is not an escape from reality, but on the contrary, a return to reality, same as the awakening from a dream is an escape from “dream reality” and a return to the conscious reality.

The spiritual consciousness gives a person a lot of advantages, allowing to see the world more holistically and see things and events in the spiritual perspective, from a higher “floor” of consciousness.

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