|Year : 2013 | Volume
| Issue : 1 | Page : 1-2
Layers of consciousness
Swami Vivekananda Yoga Anusandhana Samsthana (A Yoga University), #19, Eknath Bhavan, Gavipuram, KG Nagar, Bangalore, India
|Date of Web Publication
H R Nagendra
Chancellor, Swami Vivekananda Yoga Anusandhana Samsthana (A Yoga University), #19, Eknath Bhavan, Gavipuram, KG Nagar, Bangalore - 560 019
Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None
|How to cite this article:
Nagendra H R. Layers of consciousness. Int J Yoga - Philosop Psychol Parapsychol 2013;1:1-2
Modern science has unraveled great secrets of the physical universe probably unparalleled in the history of mankind. Over the last four centuries, science has fathomed the structure and laws of the entire physical universe. Everything in the physical universe is ultimately molecules, atoms, made of protons, neutrons and electrons. Science has been successful in finding out that they are made of energy bubbles called quarks and quantifying its energy content by the equation E = mC 2 , C representing the velocity of light. The Newtonian laws of motion are included in classical mechanics featured by deterministic approach. However, when we go to very small particles as electrons swirling round the nucleus nearing the velocity of light, determinacy ends , and we move to the world of probabilities featuring quantum mechanics. Applications of these dimensions have brought great dividends in the era of science and technology including our comfortable living. Quantum coupling, super conductivity and quantum tunneling have become the basis for super computer and micro miniaturization technologies.
| Transition from the Gross to the Subtle
Now science is in a transition  to consider biological systems fathomed with Prana as an independent entity beyond mere functioning of deoxyribonucleic acid and ribonucleic acid molecules, taking into consideration a-brainal existence of mind, emotions and intellect. The field of neurosciences has advanced greatly and the processes of the brain are understood much better than ever before, thanks to the availability of hi-tech electronic gadgets as functional magnetic resonance imaging. Positron emission tomography, polysomnography, brain-atlas, etc., These new researches have opened up the possibility of existence of "consciousness" as an independent intelligent creative entity governing the processes of the brain. The classical matter based world-view that the mind is nothing but a complex process and the working mode of the brain and its circuitry are being reluctantly given up.  Thus science developed over the last four decades, is in a transition to move beyond the physical in search of reality; to understand Prana,  mind, emotions, intellect and consciousness to bring them into the folds of scientific explorations.
Consciousness studies have become the frontier areas of research not only in psychology, para-psychology and philosophy, but also in hard core sciences as physics, chemistry, mathematics and biological sciences. This scientific revolution is augmented by the shattering blows received in handling the modern life-style ailments as asthma, diabetes, cancer, depression and coronary artery disease, which have become incurable on one hand and breakdown of social fabric with increasing divorces, student unrest, drug culture and terrorism on the other hand. No more is the study of consciousness considered esoteric, mystic and belonging to philosophical realms, but is becoming the region of research among the top researchers of our globe. In most conferences, a full session is often allotted to presentations and discussions on "Consciousness Research."
| Consciousness-Based Research, the Need of the Hour
Systematic research to unearth the secrets of consciousness from texts of Yoga and Spiritual Lore developed in India thousands of years back as also from such wisdom available in different cultures of our globe and their applications to solve the challenges of modern era will be the main objective of this Journal.
Most of the philosophical traditions in India were centered round consciousness research. Whereas most mystic traditions and ritualistic believers accepted the consciousness-based approach of the Vedic heritage, they fathomed not the philosophical depths in which Sanatana dharma (the ancient science) of the Vedic traditions were rooted. Sanatana dharma contained in Prasthana traya (shruti, smriti and nyaya prasthana) as the essence of Vedas enunciated pure consciousness as the fundamental reality and the whole creation as its manifestation.
Indian Wisdom-base of Yoga-Spirituality had unraveled these subtle and causal layers of consciousness as creation thousands of years ago evolving philosophies (of Dvaita, Visistadvaita and Advaita), para-psychology and psychology in their total perspective. The concept of Panca kosha (1) Annamaya kosha, (2) Pranamaya kosha, (3) Manomaya kosha, (4) Vijnanamaya kosha and (5) Ánandamaya kosha enunciates the five layers of gross, subtle and causal layers of consciousness each layer governed by its own structure and laws. It is this knowledge base that describes the ever changing creation. These laws become more and more general as we move from the gross to the subtle. And the subtle encompasses the gross. Beyond these five layers is the unchanging reality or pure consciousness from which the whole creation has emerged. The infinite world coming out of the infinite reality does not change the reality as infinity minus infinity can still be infinity. This pure consciousness is called Brahman, Kaivalya by Patanjali, Brahma nirvana in Bhagavadgita, Moksha in Vedanta and is the self of all of us. This provides a solid foundation for fathoming the six systems of philosophy developed in India. The laws of subtle layers enunciate the laws of para-psychology and psychology, which this journal aims at unraveling.
| Research Methodology for the Subtle
Sanatana dharma used the methodology of hypothesis and its examination through experimental observations, repeated experimentations, subtler observations by more and more yogis as researchers removing all confounding variables by Purva paksha (critical questioning), testing for many centuries before finally leading to conclusions provided in the Prasthana traya. This approach of Sanatana dharma had left this tradition no more concealed in mysticism or subjective as many people believe even today. Sanatana dharma is just an ancient science of the subtle. As we grow subtler, randomized, double-blind studies - the gold standard for drug trials - the edifice of objective experimentation in modern science will no more be applicable. We have realized that it is valid only at the gross, macro world and holds no more validity as we move to even quantum region of subtleties. The observer starts interfering with the phenomena outside. The explorations naturally cannot neglect subjectivity. Then how do we establish the validity? By repeating the experiments many times by many independent researchers in different parts of the globe and following the norms of prescribed interventions as strict protocols. Hence there will be articles on such designs needed to establish gold standards in these subtler areas of investigations in this journal.
| Yoga Way of Life and Society
Yoga concretizes this wisdom-base of Upanishads into our day to day life and provides a basis for social transformation.  Yoga not only provides techniques for our growth from our animal instincts to heights of perfection, it carves out a way of life for us. Yoga as a science of Holistic living offers us a way of life characterized by peace and tranquility, harmony and health, love and happiness, precision and efficiency.
Swami Vivekananda proclaimed that this transformation can come only through a new education system, which incorporates the best of the West (Modern Science) with that of the East (Yoga-Spiritual Lore).
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