Advaita Vision

Advaita for the 21st Century

'Levels' of Mind and Consciousness
David Spero

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David Spero

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The following is from a Question and Answer session on April 22, 2008.

Inquirer: Is there a point where the subconscious becomes conscious, so that there is no more un-consciousness left in that individual?

David Spero: Yes. But let me clarify. First of all, the  subconscious is not unconscious (in the sense of being dumb or stupid, i.e., without awareness), so in that sense it does not need to be "made conscious." "Sub" simply means under, in the sense of being deeper. It's the deeper or underlying aspect of the (waking-state) mind. When we take one step further and say "unconscious," we are pointing to a still deeper level of the mind. The words subconscious and unconscious, therefore, can be misleading, since they refer to simply  deeper levels of mind (or attention) . 

I feel it's more accurate and intelligent to speak about gross and subtle levels of the mind rather than subconscious and unconscious, for even when Consciousness permeates the entire structure of the mind (in enlightenment), the waking-state-mind is not destroyed. It is simply permeated, from subtle to gross, with Pure Consciousness - the way a plant is permeated, internally and externally, by invisible sap.

The mind continues to function on both gross and subtle levels after enlightenment or awakening, one "part" ("part" is used metaphorically here) of it actually merged into Transcendental Undifferentiation. To say, as many have said (including myself from time to time), that the mind is dead, killed or eradicated after enlightenment is an inelegant over-generalization, kind of like hitting a fly with a sledge hammer. Sometimes that sledge hammer (of exaggeration) works well as a teaching device, though, in instantly communicating something of the great Power (Shakti) of the Absolute to permeate (and yes, dissolve) the entire mind.

We must also remember that to talk about this stuff is to wander into a dangerous area, since the law of non-contradiction may come as so many “sharks” (various angry voices) attempting to bite off our arms and legs for expressing such un-absolute things - the only things that can, unfortunately,  be said. So, the "truth" is that the mind (and various levels within it) continues and does not continue to exist in, during and after enlightenment, but that answer not only makes no real sense, but ends all prolonged discussion on this topic.

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