Beyond Duality and Deeper into Unity Consciousness
Reality is merely an illusion, albeit a very persistent one.Albert Einstein
All that we see or seem
Is but a dream within a dream.Edgar Allan Poe
Dreams – we all enjoy them when we go to sleep, but how many of us pay close attention to what happens when you dream?
Scientists describe the REM (rapid eye-movement) state of sleep – the phase of the sleep cycle when brain activity peaks and the subconscious mind generates vivid images that tend to be a way for the human subconscious to work out anxieties and problems. There has been a great deal of research into the physiology and psychology of dreams, especially by the famed psychologist Carl Jung, who identified and proposed the reality of “mythical” or “archetypal dreams” arising out of the “collective unconscious” and conveying important insights and information to the human mind.
Mapping the Dreamscape
In very simple layman’s terms, however, it may be said that when we dream, the human mind enters into a “virtual reality” of sorts – a virtual universe that is a construct of and that resides inside the dreamer’s subconscious mind. While one is dreaming, this dreamworld is indistinguishable from reality – one simply takes for granted that the universe of the dream is reality, however bizarre the logic or circumstances of the dream may be. As long as one is in a dream state, the dream is one’s experienced reality. There is an exception – “lucid” dreamers, who are aware, at some level, that they are dreaming, and who are able to exert a measure of control over their dreams.
The universe experienced by the dreaming consciousness is a construct of the dreamer’s subconscious mind. Everything that the dreamer experiences in the dream is internal to the dreamer’s subconscious mind. I am, of course, discounting the possibility – suggested by some thinkers – that dreaming might, in fact, involve the subconscious transport of the dreamer’s souls to parallel realities that are external to their minds.
In essence, when you dream, you are experiencing an entire universe inside your head, as it were. What this means is that everything and every person – every “other” – that one encounters while in the dream state, in fact, resides inside one’s head. Every “other” in the dream is, ultimately, a projection of one’s own consciousness. This applies not only to “other” people, but to everything – every inanimate object – as well. The entire universe of the dreamscape is a projection of the dreamer’s subconscious mind. Every individual person or character in the dream – including the dreamer’s concept of self – is a projection of the dreamer’s consciousness. This is similar in nature to how every character and inanimate object in a novel is a projection of the author’s consciousness.
Thus, it may be said that in the universe of the dream – an universe that exists entirely within the dreamer’s subconscious thoughts – there is no “other” – there is only the “one” – the one being the dreamer or the dreaming consciousness. In this dream universe or dreamscape, every “other,” including the dreamer’s concept of self (in other words, the dreamer’s “avatar” of themselves) is, in effect, a projection of the dreamer’s self – the dreamer’s subconscious thoughts. Again, this applies not only to every other person in the dream, but to everything in the dream. The entire universe of the dream is a projection of the dreamer’s consciousness – of their dreaming subconscious thoughts.
In other words, when one dreams, one experiences, in effect, the fractalization or splintering of one’s subconscious mind. An entire universe is spawned from the dreamer’s subconscious thoughts – an universe with its own (dream) logic, its own (imaginary) timestream, its own laws of physics and causality, its own landscape, its own inanimate “props,” its own cast of characters and its own protagonist, that is to say, the dreamer’s “avatar” or their concept or projection of self. This universe is really no more than a projection of the dreamer’s dreaming self. Therefore, in the context of the dream, the dreamer experiences an “illusion of separation” – an illusion of the “other” and of engagement or conflict with the “other.” In actual fact, there is no “other,” as the other is merely a projection of the dreaming self.
The dream may be said to be an illusion that the dreamer experiences while they are still dreaming. Only when they awaken from the dream are they able to perceive that it was, in fact, only a dream – that the “other” never existed – that any duality or conflict experienced in the dream was never real – and that there was always only the one – the self – the dreamer. Every “other” in the dream was merely a projection of that singular self, of the dreamer’s consciousness.
The Illusion of Reality
The idea behind “unity consciousness” is that reality is similar in nature to a dream – that dreams are, in effect, scale models of waking reality. What this suggests is that behind the illusion of “reality,” behind its illusory surfaces – the illusion of separation and of separateness, and of the self versus otherness – behind the illusion of the universe itself and of its seemingly tangible, coherent surfaces – there is a singular universal consciousness – pure, infinite Being – the “I AM” of existence – and that everything that we experience as the universe – including ourselves – is a projection of this Infinite Consciousness, of the One Infinite “I AM” of Being. As this includes every “other” as well as the “self,” we are all, along with everything else in the universe, projections of the One Infinite Consciousness similar to the way that the “universe” of a dreamscape is a projection of the dreamer’s subconscious mind.
There is no “other,” ultimately, because every other is a projection of the One.
What is true of dreams also applies to waking perception in a different sense. Every “other” that one encounters even in waking reality is also really only a projection of oneself and also really exists only internal to one’s consciousness – inside one’s mind. This concept of projection is applicable not only in the Jungian sense. All perception is, ultimately, internal to one’s own consciousness because everything that one experiences as “reality” really only resides inside one’s head. This is so because all perception happens internal to the consciousness. The human sensory apparatus picks up stimuli from (what it considers to be) the external world. However, these sensory excitations are only processed in the brain and interpreted into a coherent image and understanding of reality within the human consciousness – and subconscious mind. In that sense, every “other,” even in waking reality, is a construct or projection of the “self,” because the very concept of the other only truly exists in the mind, constructed from external sensory stimuli that may or may not be an accurate representation of reality. When we are dreaming, after all, we really have no way of knowing if what we are experiencing is reality or a dream – unless one teaches oneself to “hack” the dream and practice “lucid dreaming.”
Schools of meditation suggest that through meditative practices, the waking consciousness, by means of the transfer of attention deep within, is able to connect and communicate with the One Infinite Consciousness that underlies everything in the universe and of which everything in the universe is a projection. This would be similar to the experience of one’s dream “avatar” making a connection with one’s dreaming consciousness in the course of the dream. There are various methods by which this may be achieved – for example, by means of the meditative “mantra” (used in the school of Transcendental Meditation or TM), by means of focussing on one’s breath (used in the practice of Mindfulness Meditation), or by other means.
As we are all projections of the One Infinite Consciousness, we are, in effect, all “avatars” of the One Infinite “Dreamer.” In other words, at a deep, fundamental level, we are all One. There is no “other,” because we are all fundamentally projections of the same Infinite Consciousness who pervades all of reality, in the way that a dreamer’s dreaming subconscious mind pervades the universe of their dreams.
It is the contention of yogic and meditative practitioners that such esoteric practices, among others, can give us a deep, vivid experiential awareness of this fundamental nature of reality and the universe. It is a truth that one becomes increasingly aware of through the meditative practice, until one becomes fully and deeply immersed in it – in other words, one achieves “Unity Consciousness.”
The Ethics of Unity Consciousness
One concern shared by some ideologues on the concept of “Unity Consciousness” is regarding the ethical underpinnings of the idea. Is it morally sound? Does it reinforce ethical behavior, or does the thought that reality is akin to a dream suggest that nothing really matters in the end? Can this become a justification for nihilism and radically immoral behavior? In response, I would suggest that the core emphasis underlying the concept of “Unity Consciousness” is not that nothing matters in a dream universe, but, instead, that there is no “other” – that we are all one, essentially. This underscores what is universally regarded to be a foundational precept of ethical thought and behavior, namely, the Golden Rule: “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you” (Matthew 7:12). If there is no “other,” ultimately, then whatever you do unto others, you do unto yourself, which is, actually, a more radical interpretation of the idea.
The idea of “Unity Consciousness” reinforces the two fundamental pillars of Judeao-Christian ethics. It underscores the reality of monotheism – of a single, omnipotent creator that we may call the One Infinite Being, the “I AM” of existence. Additionally, it underscores the importance of universal love, of Christ-like agape, as the force for universal reconciliation in “unity consciousness.” These concepts match up with the Judeao-Christian ideals that Christ identifies as being central to his ministry, namely, the Greatest Commandment: “Love the Lord your God with your whole heart and soul” and “Love your neighbor as yourself” (Matthew 22:35-40). If these ideas are central to all ethical behavior, then, if anything, the ideas and practices promoted through “Unity Consciousness” reinforce and emphasize these ideas immensely. Many proponents of the idea of Unity Consciousness, including the channelled text The Law of One, which is believed to be of extra-terrestrial origins, also place an emphasis on “service to others,” as opposed to “service to self,” as being instrumental to the experience of “ascension” to “higher dimensions” – in other words, achieving a state of consciousness that is closer to the state of “Unity Consciousness.” This, too, underscores the ethical and humanitarian underpinnings of these ideas and reveals how closely they parallel teachings of the great humanitarian adepts of history, especially Christ.