ON THE THRESHOLD
Have you ever found yourself in that curious state of consciousness existing somewhere between sleeping and waking, when you suddenly realize that you have the one and only key to the mystery of life; you have found the answer that makes perfect sense and makes everything fit together … only to have it fade away as you awaken again to the less-than-perfect world that you know as your life? If so, then perhaps you have, from the third state of consciousness, the dream state, between waking and sleeping, glimpsed the magical fourth state of consciousness, called Turiya, or Pure Consciousness.
When coming back from a deep sleep, there is a moment when you are neither here nor there, not yet awake, but not asleep either. You are lingering on the threshold. Being on a threshold is like being in a doorway. It could be between two rooms, or between inside and outside. But being on the threshold between sleeping and waking is like being between worlds. you are actually between states of consciousness. A threshold could be an entrance or an exit, depending on which way you are going. But if you stop on this threshold, and look around, you find yourself not between two worlds, but four worlds! You are at the crossroads between four states of consciousness: waking, sleeping, dreaming, and Turiya, or Pure Consciousness. This is an extremely interesting place to be!
In my last post, I mentioned that the first distinction we draw as conscious beings is the distinction between “in here” and “out there”. This awareness is with us from the beginning. But most of the time, we are only vaguely aware of being “in here”. We are almost totally focused on what’s going on “out there”. There are some very important reasons for this: One reason is simple bodily survival. With a new body, there is a necessary process of training new brain cells, forming effective neural paths that enable the body to react instinctively to threats that would result in suffering physical harm or death. And you become almost completely fascinated with what is going on “out there” because the spark of Pure Consciousness, which is the real you, has an innate desire to learn and grow, and the new brain has a lot of capacity for learning. A deeper reason for the focus on the world “out there”, is that the embodiment of spirit to form an individual mind and soul is how Pure Consciousness experiences itself outside of itself in the distinction between self and other.
From the moment the first flicker of life in your mother’s womb attracts your spark of consciousness to inhabit a new body, until that body is fully formed and ready to survive on its own, you are very comfortable. But the moment the body is forced to draw its first breath, - your first breath as the unique new human being that you are becoming – you are on the threshold; and even then, it is the threshold between the four worlds. One: The world of bodily life, in finite physical existence; Two: The world of unconsciousness, deep sleep, and death, when body and mind are either dormant or disintegrating, Three: The dream world, when the mind is active and the body is dormant; and Four: The world of pure, infinitely continuous consciousness (Turiya) where you are aware of who and what you really are, absent both mind and body.
This new body has the somatic memory of your parents’ ancestors imprinted in its physical DNA, corresponding with your spiritual DNA, being developed through the experiences of many lives and between lives, as you continue to be drawn back into physical existence again and again to be confronted with opportunities to learn and grow spiritually. This is a process of cause and effect. The purpose is to expand your consciousness and accumulate mental, physical, and spiritual virtue. But, because you are in the process of being created in the image of Pure Consciousness, as you advance, you have an increasing amount of free will to choose between actions that will take you toward the goal of Cosmic Consciousness, allow you to linger, or even to regress back to lower levels of unconsciousness and drama.
I am not just regurgitating theories that I read in a book, or things that I heard from someone else. I remember a number of my own past lives. I wrote about several of them in The Book of Atma, published in 1977, and I have learned of several more since then. I don’t remember a great many details about many of them, and I only know the names and places in three or four. Could these memories be just somatic memories coming from my DNA, embellished by reading about the lives of others, instead of being lives I actually lived? You can decide what you choose to believe, but, actually, these memory sources are not mutually exclusive. Both could be true.
Can I prove the authenticity of my memories? Well, I do have corroborating evidence verifying some of them, but I will not use the time or space to discuss such proof here because, with the training and experience in research and analysis I’ve had in this and several past lives, I know how difficult it is to rule out all feasible alternative explanations. In order to keep this post as short and to the point as possible, I will keep relevant personal history to a minimum and focus of the subject at hand, namely the recognition of the existence and importance of a real threshold between states of consciousness that we experience on the spiritual journey, and hope that anyone reading this will see what I have to say as, at least, a convincing feasibility argument. For a more thorough discussion for and against reincarnation, see my latest book, Secrets of the Sacred Cube, a Cosmic Love Story.
I was born October 7, 1936, in a small iron mining town in the San Francois Mountains of Southern Missouri. As a child, I had an excellent memory of events all the way back to my birth and even of a few events before birth. I remember a brief meeting with a group of spiritual guides on the threshold of entering this life, and several early life experiences are still vivid in my mind. The birth process is often traumatic for both mother and child. Mine was no different in this respect, and there was some confusion during the first year of this life because of the lingering memories of several different languages, among them, dialects of German, Latin, Greek, and ancient Egyptian, but my mother reports that I was speaking in short sentences by the age of nine months. My maternal grandmother worried about me as a baby, because, in her words: “He is too smart to live!”
I wrote poems and began to study German and Spanish while in grade school. I had a number of out-of-body experiences (OBEs) by the age of ten and discovered Einstein’s special theory of relativity at the age of fourteen. I began my formal academic career in physics and mathematics in 1955 and eventually became the first member on either side of my family, as far as I know, to earn a PhD.
In 1960, I moved to Los Angeles California and landed a job as an actuarial mathematician and Univac computer programmer. But my real motive for moving to California was to study the teachings of Paramahansa Yogananda. In July of 1960, I drove from Southern Missouri straight to Los Angeles and directly to the Self-Realization Fellowship Mother Center on Mount Washington, just north of downtown LA. There I met and came to know several of the direct disciples of Swami Yogananda. On the day I drove onto the SRF grounds on San Rafael Blvd, I met with Brahmachari Mack, who had been my roommate in college, and Brahmachari Marcel, a French-speaking Swiss disciple of Swami Yogananda. Two years later, Br. Marcel took his Sannyas vows and became known as Brother Turiyananda (Joy in Pure Consciousness). Later that year, Brother Anandamoy, who was to become my spiritual counselor for many years, taught me the basic Yoga meditation techniques, and on September 17, 1960, I received my first Kriya initiation from Sri Dayamata, then President of SRF. I am sharing this brief personal history here because it is relevant to the subject of the threshold of the four states of consciousness.
At the end of the Kriya initiation that beautiful September evening on Mount Washington, after practicing the Kriya technique for the first time in this life, suddenly, I found myself on the threshold between states of consciousness. The lights of the chakras (energy centers usually felt or seen in the spine) merged to form a ball of golden light, spinning, and vibrating in front of me, inviting me into Turiya, the fourth state of consciousness. At once I understood the meaning of being born again, and the promise of “The light of the body is the eye: if therefore thine eye be single, thy whole body shall be full of light.” And my life was changed forever.
After Infinite Continuity was published, I gave a copy to Brother Anandamoy, and he passed it on to Brother Turiyananda. I was living in Los Angeles at the time, and I received a call from Brother Turiyananda, who was in residence at Lake Shrine in Pacific Palisades, asking me to come there to pick up the copy. Jacqui and I had been married in a Yogic fire ceremony at Lake Shrine thirty years before, so the Lake with the Windmill Chapel was a very special place to us. When we arrived, Brother Turiyananda met us in the parking lot and led us to some seats overlooking the lake where we could sit and talk. In his usual enthusiasm and endearing heavy French accent, he asked me some questions about three-dimensional time, and we discussed the Turiya state of consciousness and other subjects of mutual interest.
At the end of our visit, as we stood up to leave, Brother Turiyananda made a surprising statement. He said: “When I reincarnate, I would like to have you as my father!” He was ten years my senior, and sixty-four at that time, but two weeks later, we attended his memorial service at the Forest Lawn Memorial-Park in Glendale, California. The 800-seat auditorium, the Hall of the Crucifixion and the Resurrection
Everyone experiences three states of consciousness: waking, sleeping, and dreaming. In general, twice per day, every morning, and every night, while going to sleep or waking from sleep, every human being on this planet passes through the threshold where the fourth state beckons, but we rarely notice. It’s easy to miss that brief flash of light and remain comfortably in the well-worn path of habit, choosing to move quickly from waking to sleep and sleep to waking, again and again. Twice in each life, we pause there a bit more, just before the trauma of birth and death.
A few years ago, a Nobel Prize Laurate in physics, while reviewing some of my work, said: “Reading your writing is more like reading a magician than a mathematician. You seem to see some deeper meaning behind every equation! Mathematics just isn’t like that.” This was like an echo from a few years earlier when Stephen Hawking took a look at my manuscript for Infinite Continuity, a Theory Unifying Relativity and Quantum Physics, before it was published in 1990, and said: “I can’t imagine three dimensions of time.” At the time, I didn’t try to answer either comment. But I’ve learned a lot since then. Here’s a practical tip for anyone who wants to think on the edge: If you don’t sense something deeper behind even the most mundane thing in your life, you are not in touch with reality; you are living in a dream world of your own making. You are conflating the map with the territory. Remember, the model of reality constructed by your mind in your physical brain is never 100% consistent with reality. It can’t be, because the brain is finite, while reality is infinite.
Infinity, God, if you like, is behind even the most mundane thing you can see. An ant crawling across a rock, a fly on the windowsill, a tree, a cloud, a sunset … anything! The threshold, once you realize it’s there, is everywhere. Your consciousness is your doorway, and the gap between the dreaming of your finite physical life, and the dreaming of your body while asleep, is where all four worlds are momentarily available. There, on the four-fold threshold within your consciousness, if you can pause for a bit, the Light of Reality shines into your consciousness from the Kingdom of Heaven.