“In Unity Consciousness, the individual perceives everything in terms of wholeness. All is truly One Unbounded Ocean of Consciousness in motion.” —Dr. Tony Nader
Tony Nader, M.D., Ph.D., M.A.R.R., global leader of the teaching of Transcendental Meditation and related programs by 120 nonprofit organizations around the world, is a medical doctor trained at Massachusetts Institute of Technology (Ph.D. in neuroscience) and Harvard University. He is the author of the newly released book One Unbounded Ocean of Consciousness: Simple Answers to the Big Questions in Life (Random House, April 2021) and has granted permission to reprint excerpts from Chapters 12–13. Download the e-book at DrTonyNader.com ►
From Cosmic Consciousness to Unity Consciousness
(Excerpts from Chapter 12)
Transcendental Consciousness, which the mind experiences during TM practice, is referred to in the Vedic literature as “the Fourth,” a rich addition that provides a stable yet dynamic basis to the daily cycle of wakefulness, sleep, and dreaming. The next higher step in the growth of Consciousness, called Cosmic Consciousness, occurs when, over time and through the repeated experience of transcending and coming back to ordinary activity, time and again, a person finds that awareness of the Self is not ever lost, not only during waking but also in deep sleep and dreaming. . . .
Alongside these three states, or underlying them, is the ever-present awareness of the Self. Thus, all three common states of consciousness no longer have the same quality but are supported and enhanced by the expansive silence of Pure Consciousness. This state, in which inner silence co-exists with outward activity, Maharishi Mahesh Yogi called Cosmic Consciousness, a fifth state of Consciousness. . . .
For Dr. Nader’s introduction to Cosmic Consciousness see “Cosmic Consciousness—Living the Fullness of Inner Silence and Bliss 24 Hours a Day” ►
An individual’s evolution from this stage onward involves increasing refinement of perception toward the ability to perceive Singularity or wholeness in the objects of perception as well as in oneself, to raise the objects of perception to the same infinite value as the subject. This is accomplished by elevating what we might call the “perceiving ability” of the Observer, through refining the process of observation. This is a very beautiful and rewarding phase of growth, in which the richness and splendor of the subtler realms of nature and creation begin to be perceived and enjoyed, and a sixth state of Consciousness unfolds: Glorified Cosmic Consciousness, or God Consciousness.
For Dr. Nader’s introduction to the sixth state of consciousness see “Glorified Cosmic Consciousness—When Creation Glows with Beauty, Bliss, and Love” ►
An individual’s evolution from this stage onward involves increasing refinement of perception toward the ability to perceive Singularity or wholeness in the objects of perception as well as in oneself.
In the following excerpts, Dr. Nader describes the seventh state of consciousness: Unity Consciousness, the ultimate stage of human development.
Unity Consciousness—Supreme Enlightenment
(Excerpts from Chapter 13)
We have reached the threshold of the highest level of human development, which in Maharishi’s model, he calls Unity Consciousness, a state of being that corresponds in every way with our thesis that Consciousness is all there is.
In Vedic Science, Unity Consciousness is indicated by several time-honored, classic sayings. Perhaps the most famous is, “I am That, thou art That, all this is That, That alone is,” where “That,” of course, is Consciousness. And “this” is the entirety of the relative creation, now seen in its true nature as That. Another great saying is aham Brahmasmi, “I am Brahman,” a word best translated as “the Totality,” the wholeness of all that is, Absolute Pure Being/Consciousness along with all existent and possible relative values. This is expressed in the Chhandogya Upanishad as sarvam khalvidam Brahm, “all this is Brahman, the Totality.”
In Unity Consciousness, the individual perceives everything in terms of wholeness. All is truly One Unbounded Ocean of Consciousness in motion.
In the development of higher states of Consciousness in an individual, all three “components” of what truly undifferentiated Consciousness is—Observer, Process of Observation, and Observed—steadily evolve toward the ultimate level that we discussed early in the book—infinite, unbroken, primordial Consciousness, or Singularity. The first of these three components to reach this supreme level is the most intimate part of our Self, the perception of our own ego, the Observer. The supreme level of observerhood is attained by the repeated experience of Pure Consciousness during transcending, and the gradual stabilization of that unbounded awareness in Cosmic Consciousness.
Next is what connects us to the environment, which gains its highest potential of observinghood, thanks to the refinement of the machinery of perception that has just been described and reaches its height in God Consciousness, or Glorified Cosmic Consciousness.
When the Observer is known in its infinite value—that is, the Self knows itself as Pure Consciousness—and the machinery of perception, the mechanics of knowing, also rises to its full capability and is able to perceive infinite value in all aspects of one’s interactions and all objects that one observes, then Unity Consciousness is automatically attained. This is when the following Vedic aphorisms become not just beautiful words but a living reality—“I am That, Thou art That, all this is nothing but That, That alone is.”
Unity is complete enlightenment, the spontaneous uncontrived ability to look at nature and the entire creation from the perspective of Wholeness….
Unity is complete enlightenment, the spontaneous uncontrived ability to look at nature and the entire creation from the perspective of Wholeness.
As we have seen, every state of Consciousness brings with it a different understanding and different knowledge. In dreams, it’s all an illusion; in the waking state, things exist on a surface level; in Transcendental Consciousness, there is nothing but the Self. In Cosmic Consciousness, I exist, in a permanent and stable way, as the transcendental, unbounded universal Self, but everything else, including “my” thoughts, perceptions, and feelings, is ever-changing. In God Consciousness or Glorified Cosmic Consciousness, this field of change is marvelously beautiful; it’s such a wonderful creation of God and the divine, and our hearts are full of joy at the wondrous harmony of the existence of creation. And now we come to Unity Consciousness, yet another state of Consciousness, in which we will experience things in a new perspective.
But Unity is not just one more system of perception. When you arrive at Unity Consciousness, it is not just “one of those seven states of Consciousness.”
Of course, it is another state of Consciousness, but not just another state of Consciousness in which we have just another perspective. Consistent with our theory that Consciousness is all there is, and as a necessary corollary of that theory, we’re going to say that Unity Consciousness, far from being just another way to see the self and the objects of perception, is the way to see all things in existence. It is the only truth about existence or reality itself. All the other truths are relative, and they are valid in their own domains. They are belief systems, based on limited perception. You can have different limited perceptions of reality, one more expanded than another, and another more glorious than the first, and another so absolutely glorious that it is divine, and we call it God Consciousness. Yet each is relative, an incomplete state of Consciousness from which to view the world.
The one state of Consciousness that is absolutely true in terms of how things actually are is Unity Consciousness. You never know Reality as it truly is until you are in Unity Consciousness. All the other states of consciousness are kinds of perceptions, styles of functioning of your nervous system, modes of experiencing that do convey a more complete assessment of the full range of how things are at every step of growth. But you only come to the true, all-inclusive Reality in Unity Consciousness.
In the process of transcending, the ever-active mind settles, quiets down, and then slips beyond the boundaries of thought and perception, yet remains awake within itself. This pure wakefulness, awareness without an object other than itself, the unified state of Observer, Observed, and process of Observation, is our essential nature, our Self. It becomes accessible to us when we transcend, and we find that always-existent, unbounded, pure Being that is our Self, nonchanging, always equal to itself irrespective of time and space.
In Unity Consciousness, a similar process occurs, only in a sense, we transcend “outside.” “In a sense” means the outside world of boundaries, objects, and relationships doesn’t “disappear” as during the early days of Transcendental Meditation. Rather, in our perception of the object of attention—any object, whether inward or in the “outside world”—we transcend the object in the object itself. Within the ever-changing nature of the object, indeed the very fabric or substance it is made of, is the Self, one’s own Self, expressing itself as the object. Looking at the object, what you see is your Self. It—whatever “it” is—is the same as what you are: unbounded Being. Wherever you turn your attention, what you find is your Self.
That is Unity Consciousness. That is the only ultimate Reality. Everything else is an appearance, a play of that One Absolute.
The ultimate Reality is one unbounded ocean of Consciousness in motion. That’s the only absolutely true, always consistent reality.
Just as we can understand intellectually that everything in the field of gross or subtle creation is essentially Pure Consciousness, pure Being, the Unified Field of Natural Law in physics, Unity Consciousness is the state of directly perceiving that infinitely silent, infinitely dynamic level of life—inwardly in Transcendental Consciousness and continuing in Cosmic Consciousness and God Consciousness, and finally everywhere, in everything and as everything, in Unity Consciousness.
Looking at the object, what you see is your Self. It—whatever “it” is—is the same as what you are: unbounded Being. Wherever you turn your attention, what you find is your Self.
Experiences of Unity Consciousness
What is it like to experience Unity Consciousness? The following descriptions from practitioners of the TM program1 provide glimpses of this state of consciousness:
“Every day I have the experience of ‘I am Totality’ in my program. This is how I feel quite often during regular activity too. This ‘I am Totality’ isn’t just a program thing. It’s a walking-in-the-woods thing, an eating-lunch thing, and a driving-to-the-store thing. It is seeping into my daily life. This is so close to what I have always thought of as a Unity experience. I think my consciousness is changing—I feel it, I see it, and I know it.” —P.L.
“I see that I am everywhere, that my consciousness is everywhere and everything.” —I.G.
“Consistently at the end of the program, point and whole merge. I am aware of a specific object, but I see it as full, unbounded—even though filled with structure. The point does not disappear; it is only in the background. The attention can go into the boundary, but what predominates is wholeness. The specific object is as if a memory in the field of wholeness.” —F.T.
Throughout history, individuals have had experiences of this state of Unity. Here a few descriptions of this exalted state.
“I found myself spreading everywhere and identical with a kind of ‘Space’ that embraced not merely the visible forms and worlds, but all modes and qualities of consciousness as well,” wrote the twentieth-century American mathematician and philosopher, Franklin Merrell-Wolff. “That totality was, and is, not other than myself.”2 Merrell-Wolff described his awakening to higher states of awareness in several books, including The Philosophy of Consciousness without an Object: Reflections on the Nature of Transcendental Consciousness, and Pathways through to Space,3 which lay out, albeit in his own terms, a process of unfoldment similar to the advanced stages of Consciousness described by Maharishi.
“I found myself spreading everywhere and identical with a kind of ‘Space’ that embraced not merely the visible forms and worlds, but all modes and qualities of consciousness as well.” —Franklin Merrell-Wolff, mathematician and philosopher
Here again he speaks of Unity: “Speaking in the subjective sense, I am all there is, yet at the same time, objectively considered, there is naught but Divinity spreading everywhere.” Self and objects, he saw, “are one and the same Reality.” As radical as this realization was, “there was no sense of being in a strange world. I have never known another state of consciousness that seemed so natural, normal, and proper.” And in a passage reminiscent of Maharishi’s description of the transition from God Consciousness to Unity that we described earlier, Merrell-Wolff wrote: “I found myself so identical with all, that the last most infinitesimal element of distance was dissolved in somewhat a more still transcendent. There now remained naught but pure Being. . . . No longer was ‘I’ spreading everywhere through the whole of an illimitable and conscious Space, nor was there a Divine Presence all about me, but everywhere only Consciousness.”2
Another modern “seer” whose awareness opened to higher dimensions was Gopi Krishna, previously quoted in Chapter 12 with respect to his description of transcending. Here he speaks of what we would call Unity: “You do not see the world as a solid, real, objective creation.” Rather than solid physical “stuff,” “the real, objective creation is consciousness. You see consciousness everywhere. . . . It is infinite. It is deathless.” Elsewhere he wrote: “Although linked to the body and surroundings, I had expanded in an indescribable manner into a titanic personality, conscious from within of an immediate and direct contact with an intensely conscious universe. . . . the invisible line demarcating the material world and the boundless, all-conscious Reality ceased to exist, the two fusing into one.”4
Mildred Norman, better known as Peace Pilgrim, spent the last 30 years of her life walking back and forth across the United States (more than 25,000 miles in all) speaking of the importance of cultivating inner and outer peace. Here she recounts the experience on an early morning walk that precipitated her unusual career:
“All of a sudden I felt very uplifted. . . . I remember I knew timelessness and spacelessness and lightness. I did not seem to be walking on the earth. There were no people or even animals around, but every flower, every bush, every tree seemed to wear a halo. There was a light emanation around everything and flecks of gold fell like slanted rain through the air. . . .
“The most important part of it was not the phenomena [but rather] the realization of the oneness of all creation. Not only all human beings—I knew before that all human beings are one. But now I knew also a oneness with the rest of creation. The creatures that walk the earth and the growing things of the earth. The air, the water, the earth itself. And, most wonderful of all, a oneness with that which permeates and binds all together and gives life to all. I have never felt separate since.”5
One of the great themes in the work of Edward Carpenter, the late-nineteenth and early-twentieth-century English author and educator, was the expansion and transformation of Consciousness:
“Since the ordinary consciousness, with which we are concerned in ordinary life, is before all things founded on the little local self, and is in fact self-consciousness in the little local sense, it follows that to pass out of that is to die to the ordinary self and the ordinary world. . . . but in another sense it is to wake up and find that the ‘I,’ one’s real, most intimate [Self], pervades the universe and all other beings—that the mountains and the sea and the stars are a part of one’s body and that one’s soul is in touch with the souls of all creatures. . . . It is to be assured of an indestructible, immortal life and of a joy immense and inexpressible.”6
This is a “higher” state of consciousness simply because it incorporates more of the qualities we all associate with a richer and deeper life—a broader perspective, as if seeing from a hilltop or even a mountaintop; greater access to a source of intelligence; more broad-based and multi-faceted creativity; greater happiness; more genuine and overflowing love; and other positive factors that make life more effective and fulfilling. These factors grow proportionately to the increasing stabilization of Pure Consciousness in one’s awareness.
People routinely speak of a “career path” (or “career track”) typically starting with formal education and advancing through various jobs and training toward positions of greater responsibility, influence, and compensation. Others speak of being on a “spiritual path,” which also entails growth from an elementary level of insights and practices to ever richer apprehension of spiritual values. In truth, whatever we choose to call it, we are all on a path of living, a distinctly unique individual track on which we travel or make our way through the complex, sometimes enormously confusing and even confounding abundance of life in the world.
Some tracks are narrow, with rigid boundaries of beliefs about what is possible, what is right and acceptable, what is healthy, and so on, while some other paths are more open, unrestricted, and inclusive. The process of individual human evolution takes a person from the limitations of largely egocentric thought and behavior to a more universal, generous, and generative connection with life as awareness expands to appreciate and incorporate what we are calling Singularity. This growth takes place in the stages known as higher states of Consciousness that I have been describing over the course of the last three chapters. (See Dr. Nader’s “What Is the First Step to Realizing Higher States of Human Evolution?”, “Cosmic Consciousness—Living the Fullness of Inner Silence and Bliss 24 Hours a Day,” and “Glorified Cosmic Consciousness—When Creation Glows with Beauty, Bliss, and Love”). . . .
All genuine education produces this broadening, deepening effect. “Formal” education aims for it directly, but the education we gain through travel, relationships, work, and reflection on our experiences are often even more invaluable to our personal development and our capacity to understand the world as well as our fellow humankind. These factors may (and should) change our perceptions by expanding the wisdom that comes from the constant and steady intellectual and emotional growth that can (and should) evolve in us through age and experience.
We are never the same. Today you are not the same as you were yesterday. Perhaps you learned something, encountered someone or something that has opened your eyes to new possibilities or uplifted your spirit, given you new information or renewed hope. . . . Your vision has changed. The color of your glasses has been, so to speak, modified, or cleared, or transformed in what we would consider a “positive” direction. Nor is the world ever the same, because you are here. The Greek philosopher Heraclitus is famous for saying that one may never step in the same river twice; yet by stepping in the stream, you yourself have actually changed it. Your existence and your thoughts and activity have altered the continuous currents and eddies of the river waters as they flow downstream.
It is within the range of possibility for any human being to rise to higher states of Consciousness. The journey of evolving into higher states is not strictly for certain “special” people—it is the birthright of every person born in a human body. Growth is natural to life.
The fastest way to strengthen the ability to experience Singularity is by favoring experiences of greater and greater wholeness. By fathoming the field of Pure Consciousness or Singularity, Consciousness itself becomes more and more what we experience and know ourselves to be. That this results in growth towards higher states of Consciousness is not theoretical, but has been the experience of millions of people around the world.
It is within the range of possibility for any human being to rise to higher states of Consciousness. The journey of evolving into higher states . . . is the birthright of every person born in a human body.
© Copyright 2021, Tony Nader, M.D., Ph.D. All rights reserved. Do not reproduce without written permission of the author.