The reality of higher states of consciousness
The Transcendental Meditation
® technique (which is integrated into the curriculum here at MUM) is widely accepted as a method for reducing stress and anxiety, reducing high blood pressure, and promoting well-being and peace. But it is so much more.
The ultimate goal is to cultivate the growth of enlightenment — the development of total human potential in higher states of consciousness.
Awakening to one’s unbounded nature
The many remarkable benefits of Transcendental Meditation® practice — boosting intelligence and creativity, promoting health, fostering balanced personality development and enhanced relationships, even creating peace in society — are all merely byproducts of growing toward enlightenment.
Enlightenment, Maharishi explains, means awakening to your true nature, your true Self, unbounded and infinite. It means spiritual realization, culminating in the experience of unity with all of existence — recognizing the entire universe as identical with your unbounded Self. It entails living spontaneously in accord with all the laws of nature, so that you fulfill your desires easily. It means growth of bliss, peace, power, and ability to nourish everyone.
Growth to enlightenment, Maharishi emphasizes, does not involve adopting some new philosophy or idea or mood. It does not involve trying to control the mind in any way. But it does involve cultivating the brain and nervous system so that they are able to support the experience of higher states of consciousness. This is what Transcendental Meditation® practice accomplishes. The effects of Transcendental Meditation® practice are real, and they are cumulative.
Confirmation by scientific research
Brain research by noted faculty member Fred Travis has documented the unique brain characteristics of individuals who are having experiences of enlightenment. Their brain functioning is highly coherent and integrated, displaying EEG patterns not seen before during waking, dreaming, or sleeping.
An assembly of the enlightened
Scientific research documenting the effects and practical benefits of Transcendental Meditation® has been a focus for decades, but Maharishi always returned to his message of gaining enlightenment, awakening to one’s true nature. And in recent years, just as the research led to increasing acceptance of the physiological and health benefits of the technique, there has been another culmination: growing experiences of enlightenment.
These experiences have been especially pronounced among the long-term practitioners who have gathered to participate in an ongoing assembly on the Maharishi University of Management campus, taking part in longer daily practice of the Transcendental Meditation® and TM-Sidhi programs, including Yogic Flying. Maharishi established this assembly in 2006. And each day for months he also personally listened as participants described their advanced experiences of higher states of consciousness, commenting one by one on the significance of these experiences. He remarked that he had been waiting 50 years for people to begin reporting these experiences, because of the knowledge of enlightenment they enabled him to bring out.
Experiencing pure awareness during Transcendental Meditation®
During Transcendental Meditation® practice, the mind gets quieter and quieter, leading, at its deepest moments, to the experience of complete quietness, with no thoughts at all. Objects of awareness disappear, and one is left with the experience of consciousness knowing itself in its pure state — pure, unbounded awareness. Maharishi refers to this pure, silent field of consciousness as the Self, designated with an upper-case “S” to distinguish it from the localized self we typically experience.
This experience represents a fourth major state of consciousness, distinct from the familiar states of waking, dreaming, and sleeping. Maharishi called this state Transcendental Consciousness.
Here is how one person on the Assembly describes his experience:
"When I began my Transcendental Meditation program, immediately my awareness spread out in a field — as if I were immersed in a river at the point where it flows into the sea, spreading out in all directions and merging with the ocean. Within just a few seconds my whole being was engulfed in a state of oneness — an experience of totality so profound that I was overwhelmed by a deep feeling of awe. It was an instantaneous transformation of consciousness, yet so natural. . . .
My physiology and consciousness were one united whole, which was like an immovable rock — in perfect rest yet suffused with immense power, highly integrated yet without parts. The intensity of fullness and bliss in this unified consciousness was very great."
Experiencing the transcendent outside of meditation
Maharishi explains that regular Transcendental Meditation® practice gradually cultures one’s physiology so that eventually this experience of pure, unbounded awareness can be maintained outside of meditation, as an ongoing reality.
This experience — Transcendental Consciousness being maintained simultaneously with waking, sleeping, and dreaming — represents a fifth state of consciousness, which Maharishi calls Cosmic Consciousness.
In this state, with the mind fully awake down to its most silent level, all experience takes place from this innermost level of silence, which is transcendental, beyond time and space. This gives rise to an experience Maharishi calls witnessing, in which one experiences oneself as the nonparticipating observer of all change in the surroundings. One continues to think and act — in fact, thought and action are more closely integrated and more effective than ever before — but deep within is the ever-awake, never changing ocean of pure consciousness, the Self.
Once one reaches this state, then the senses of perception begin a remarkable process of refinement that leads to the ability to perceive the very subtlest, most refined values of the world around us. This, Maharishi explains, represents a sixth state of consciousness, which he calls God Consciousness, because now one experiences the full range of God’s creation, down to its most intimate, celestial value.
The experience of unity
But there is the possibility of growth even beyond this exalted state, Maharishi observes. As the nervous system becomes progressively cultured, one gains the ability to experience what underlies even the most refined value of creation — which turns out to be pure consciousness itself. All the forms and phenomena in creation, in this understanding, are like waves on the ocean of pure consciousness. And human beings have the natural ability to experience this innermost value pure consciousness within everything.
Because pure consciousness is the Self, this experience brings the realization that everything around us is, at its deepest level, nothing other than the Self — the same Self we initially experienced during Transcendental Meditation practice. We experience unity with everything around us. Thus Maharishi calls this seventh state of consciousness Unity Consciousness.
One of the Invincible America Assembly participants describes an experience that suggests values of the fifth, sixth, and seventh states of consciousness.
"I was on a short walk, and after some time a very sweet level of witnessing came about. I felt a very soft, warm glow inside that bubbled up into my awareness. It was more than just a sense of Self, it was a warm flowing bliss in my awareness. It made me feel like there was nowhere to go or anything I needed to do or any place I needed to be. This feeling became stronger as I went along on my journey.
My awareness was inside, absorbed in Being. Yet, at the same time, I felt that my movement, my senses of perception, and my physiology were all embraced by a soft flow or glow of Being that was most natural and automatic. It wasn’t like I was watching myself; I was the Self flowing and glowing. This experience translated into everything around me. The boundaries of the relative were not in my awareness, just the flow, and I felt I was walking in a heaven. I felt perfect and everything around me was perfect."
The account begins with the experience of witnessing (pure inner wakefulness and bliss and peace), suggesting an experience of Cosmic Consciousness. Then it shades into an experience of refined perception (everything, including the senses of perception, being embraced by a “soft flow or glow”), suggesting God Consciousness. This grows into the experience of the Self within everything (“I was the Self flowing and glowing”), suggesting Unity Consciousness.
“Everything is a little bit of me”
Here’s another person describing the experience of Unity Consciousness and its sense of oneness with everything:
"Opening my eyes after [meditation], everything that I see I recognize as an arrangement of my inner bliss, my Self. It’s just that simple — there is a warmth of recognition. Everything is exhibiting orderliness, sequence, symmetry, wholeness, which are all signs of my infinite Self. Everything is a little bit of me. Everything as such is dear, and yet not too important next to my unbounded Self.
When seeing other people there is the quiet knowledge that 'This is me,' which accompanies the more intellectual recognition of the particular person. When speaking to others, there is a quiet feeling that I am the listener who is being spoken to by me — but that listener is not my ego or my intellect, it is the unbounded bliss. It is all very simple and natural, much simpler than these words."
Here is how another Assembly participant describes the experience of everything as “one wholeness”:
"When walking outside I notice the scenery is filled with some new quality; some vitality is there yet the quality is without description. Both the unbounded and its point are seen existing together. The infinity is held along with the finite boundaries of the plant leaves. The blue sky and the outline of a tree are being held together as if one substance. I see both the tree and the sky as being one underlying wholeness. I’m beginning to perceive the different shades of boundaries as one wholeness. The finite and the infinite are blending together to be one totality. The finite is seen as embedded in the infinite, and the infinite is holding the finite.
It is indescribable to be seeing the same scenery in a different way, without having done anything. Infinity is being expressed everywhere, and nowhere can I find finite only. Nowhere can I find finite alone. There is no end to the continuum of boundaries — all expanding into wholeness. Unrestricted creativity is awakening in the continuum of unity in diversity."
The dawning realization that the whole universe is identical with my Self
Here’s how an Invincible Assembly participant characterizes the experience:
"The experience of “I” is growing into “That which always was, has been, and will be.” I am becoming a silent witness and humble servant to the process of Being in its ever-expanding state of bliss. The experience is far beyond what I could attempt to describe with words.
Absolute and relative have become one infinite totality of ever-changing sameness. All silence and diversity coexist simultaneously, as do all pairs of opposites. Time seems to be an illusion; there is only the wholeness of infinity — the present. . . .
This eternal state of silent dynamism, or dynamic silence, completely transcends the intellect. Most of what I experience I cannot put into words; I can only witness Being being itself as it is occurring. Being knows how to Be perfectly. It changes so fast, yet the underlying, unshakable wholeness of totality is always present."
Each of these higher states of consciousness represents a progressive stage in the growth of enlightenment.
Neurophysiological correlates of higher states of consciousness
It’s one thing for individuals to describe their subjective experience, another to see if this subjectivity can be verified scientifically. Dr. Travis has done just that in a significant body of published research.
Dr. Travis has studied how brain functioning changes when subjects close their eyes and practice the Transcendental Meditation® technique. Here he has documented the highly integrated functioning that subjects experience right from the start. This style of functioning is a “neurophysiological correlate” of Transcendental Consciousness, the fourth state of consciousness.
Furthermore, Dr. Travis has looked at how brain functioning changes in long-term meditators. Here he has found that subjects exhibit highly integrated brain functioning even outside of meditation, during the day, associated with the experience of transcendence during activity. This gives us a picture of the neurophysiological correlate of Cosmic Consciousness.
World-class performers and transcendental experience
Working with the Norwegian researcher Dr. Harald Harung, Dr. Travis studied world-class performers in sports, business, and music — and found that, indeed, they score more highly on the Brain Integration Scale. They have published this research in a series of scientific journal articles.
Integrated brain functioning goes hand in hand with growth of higher states of consciousness, as many studies of the Transcendental Meditation® technique have documented.
The conclusion is that the secret to success in any field is highly integrated brain functioning, and that now anyone can cultivate integrated brain functioning through the simple practice of the Transcendental Meditation® technique — while simultaneously growing in higher states of consciousness.
Transcendental Meditation® as a vehicle
Maharishi emphasized that enlightenment is the birthright of every human being — that all people should have this experience of transcendence and realize their true, unbounded, infinitely blissful nature. He taught the Transcendental Meditation technique as an effortless way of regularly experiencing transcendence and cultivating growth of higher states of consciousness.
And now there’s a community of people in southeast Iowa, on the campus of Maharishi University of Management, who are regularly having these profound experiences and growing rapidly in the most exalted state of human life — enlightenment..
MUM and Enlightenment
MUM is a great place to go to school not only because you gain the knowledge practical skills that will help you in your profession, but because you practice the Transcendental Meditation® technique, developing your total potential from within and growing in life in enlightenment.
Contact us to learn more about MUM
To learn about the TM technique in your area, see www.tm.org
||About the authors
Dr. Jim Karpen
BA, Maharishi University of Management • PhD, Bowling Green State University
Dr. Craig Pearson
BA, Duke University • MSCI, Maharishi European Research University • MA, Maharishi International University • MAW, University of Iowa • PhD, Maharishi University of Management