God and Me

The Evolution of Individual Consciousness in Four Stages

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Mandukya Upanishad is the shortest of all Upanishads (sacred ancient Indian texts) – it has only twelve verses. It describes the meaning of the word “Om” and how it’s related to the evolution of individual consciousness.

It describes the evolution of individual consciousness in four stages – from its primitive beginnings, to the final realization of Self as residing in God.

Here are the described stages:

The first stage of individual consciousness

A person is totally focused on the external, and totally identified with ego and senses. She’s gaining immense enjoyment (and then pain) from sense engagement with the environment. She views the world through the “me” lens only, so fails to notice anything about the real nature of it.

The second stage of individual consciousness

A person likes to dwell in mental concepts, and gains pleasure from those. It becomes more exciting to gain subtle pleasure that mental concepts provide than to engage the senses in the external world.

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Mental impressions are being replayed in the mind, and the person likes to indulge in fantasies of all sorts. Consciousness becomes inward, since it’s no longer invested in the external.

This is the stage that still represents ‘fooling yourself’, since fantasies are not real. But it’s a stage representing a more evolved personal consciousness, since the focus is getting inwardly oriented.

The third stage of individual consciousness

Consciousness completely stops identifying with external things, and it’s even withdrawn from mental impressions and fantasies. All activities of mind cease. Undisturbed by external and internal events, without any kind of desires or fantasies, consciousness becomes pure and stable.

People on such level of consciousness sometimes feel numb because all the senses are withdrawn within, and it’s a new experience. This is the stage which in the West is called the Dark Night of the Soul, and all these awakening stages nicely correspond with the butterfly life cycle.

A passing bliss can be experienced in this state as the person feels composed and totally peaceful. Mind is not agitated by any kind of activity, desire or thought.

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The fourth stage of individual consciousness

It’s the stage of super-consciousness. The biggest difference between this stage and the other three is that consciousness no longer needs to be validated by any external phenomena.

One realizes that one is not related to time, space, or causation of any sort. The being is valid in itself and by itself, without any ‘proof’ of its existence that comes from outside.

The only reason such ‘proof’ was required in the first place was because of the identification with ego. Once that’s left behind, consciousness itself doesn’t need any sort of validation.

In such state of consciousness existence is the only true and real thing. One’s consciousness merges into the absolute existence of all. Perfect peace overtakes such a person because he totally detaches from the need to act, and no longer stirs the ethers in any way with desires or personal will.

Transcendental bliss permanently permeates such a person, since judgment is non-existent and only truth is seen. This state can also be described as conscious awareness of having one’s being in God.


Each individual sooner or later has to go through the process of being totally externally oriented to completely withdrawing within, to finally realize that his being is inseparable from God’s.

You can quite well guess your spiritual progress by how much externally oriented you are. The less you engage with the external world, the closer you’re getting to full liberation.


Source/ Credits- Simona Rich


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1 Comment

1 Comment

  1. Aprajita

    February 18, 2016 at 12:40 pm

    Very useful and insightful article.
    Thanks for this!

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