Summary: There is some specific feature of consciousness that allows it to move among the different planes. The most obvious is the idea of “rate of vibration”. But this doesn’t account for the main dichotomy of consciousness where a subjective self seems embedded in an objective external world. The main idea I explore here is that consciousness is like a Möbius strip: it seems to have two sides, but really only has one side. This Möbius property is what allows consciousness to transfer from one plane to the next. Yoga has long known this property to exist and calls it “bindu”; a hole in consciousness that, as I speculate here, may be the “fold” that allows consciousness to literally shift from pointing in one direction to pointing into another direction, e.g. into another plane.
I’m currently working on a book called “ATOM: A synthesis of Science and Yoga”. One of my intentions with this blog is to use it as a scratch pad to explore idea snippets I wish to express in ATOM. The snippet today has to do with an idea I wrote in Beyond the Physical back around 1990. In chapter 10.2 I said:
“The actual point of intersection of our non-physical psyche with the physical world, this actual point … is a funnel, passageway, tunnel, or channel by which our primarily nonphysical psyche expresses itself in the physical world. …[It] is somewhat analogous to what the heart is to the anatomy of the physical body; a valve, a place central to flow, a mechanism that drives circulation….
…dynamic description of something more akin to spherical whirlpools spinning and swirling at any conceivable rate…… it is not a rotating motion that spins through 360 degrees and returns to its origin…it could be accurately called a “Möbius spinning”. It is a spinning motion that seems to rotate through itself much the way a Möbius strip folds back onto itself.
…the ego…has a very definite geometry…of the Möbius surface. As the point of connection between the physical and nonphysical components of our overall anatomy, the ego is “pointing in both directions”, so to speak. The ego points in the direction of our objective, outer physical experience, but it simultaneously points in the direction of our inner, subjective and nonphysical experience. We can think in dualistic terms that there are two distinct “sides” to our experience, these being the objective and the subjective. But such a view is obviously wrong in some sense because we dwell in both objective and subjective spheres simultaneously.…it does not have two distinct sides, but only appears to do so.…Thus we exist simultaneously in objective and subjective spheres of experience.
So, I got this much straight in my mind 20 years ago. These insights were not mere speculation, but were rationalizations of both my sleep- and drug-related altered states experiences. I was trying to describe in words things I have experienced.
Over the past 20 years I keep coming back to this idea of a Möbius point as something very fundamental, and my subsequent research and reading has borne this out. The snippet here links this idea of the Möbius center of our consciousness to well-established ideas in Ashtanga Yoga, which is the yoga of Patanjali as described in the Yoga Sutras. It also links to the idea of the Anu as described in Kashmiri Shaivism, which is related to the Hindu idea of bindu, or center of consciousness.
In the Yoga Sutras, Patanjali teaches a technique called samprajnata samadhi (samadhi with a “seed”), in which consciousness becomes an unchanging dynamic equilibrium focused on the same thought (the thought focused on is called a “pratyaya” in Yoga Sutras). The next step is to let the pratyaya fade away, but keep consciousness in the highly focused state (asamprajnata samadhi; samadhi without a “seed”). I.K. Taimni, in his Science of Yoga, describes this thus:
“Now, in Samprajnata Samadhi there is a Pratyaya (which is called a ‘seed’) in the field of consciousness and the consciousness is fully directed to it. So the direction of consciousness is from the centre outwards. In Asamprajnata Samadhi there is no Pratyaya and therefore there is nothing to draw the consciousness outwards and hold it there. So as soon as the Pratyaya (P) is dropped or suppressed the consciousness begins to recede automatically to its centre O and after passing momentarily through this Laya centre, tends to emerge into the next subtler vehicle. When this process has been completed the Pratyaya (P’) of the next higher plane appears and the direction of consciousness again becomes from the centre outwards.”
Taimni’s “Laya centre” is just another word for “bindu” or “center of consciousness”. But what he is describing is quite amazing. It is not just “quite amazing”, it is unbelievable, incredible! He describes here in the clearest terms I have ever seen, the exact mechanism of how consciousness moves from one plane to the next! The man should get a posthumous Nobel Prize for writing the above lines!
The Point of This Post
But there is one obviously weird aspect to Taimni’s description. First, for argument’s sake, let’s grant his picture as true. Ok, so a thought in the mind is like a magnetic force that pulls consciousness out from this laya center. Ok, so by getting rid of all thought (Ha! No easy task!) this magnetic influence is eliminated. Then, consciousness spontaneously recedes back to the center. But then it hits the laya center and, here’s the rub: where does it go?
The laya center obviously goes somewhere else. It is, by definition, a hole of some sorts. But as a hole, where does it go? It is easy enough to follow his logic and say it goes to the next plane inward in our subjectivity. But to me, this seems to be leaving out a really big step. Actually not just one step but a two really important steps.
The first big step that I only mention in passing is the cosmology implied here. This relates to “rate of vibration” and is the cosmology of the planes according to occult teachings such as Theosophy. Each plane represents a discreet range of frequencies representing the energies that define that plane. To those who are familiar with such ideas, this is standard thinking and is uncontroversial.
But the step being left out I wish to consider is what is the actual mechanism of passage through the laya center, designated “o” in Taimni’s diagram above? This is where I think the Möbius idea may be useful. If consciousness is such that its nature is to always be pointed in two directions simultaneously, just like a Möbius strip, then perhaps the movement through the laya center is not like passing through a hole at all. Maybe the movement is more akin to tracing a line along a Möbius strip. As one so traces, one eventually comes to the fold that is the main feature that allows a rectangle to become a Möbius strip. In the abstract, this fold is a single point on the surface (or more precisely, a line). Maybe what is happening then is that, finding the laya center by yogic means is the same as finding the fold point on the Möbius strip. At this point, one transitions imperceptibly from one seeming direction to the other seeming direction. I use the term “seeming” because the surface of a Möbius strip only points in one direction, but creates the illusion of seeming to have two surfaces, each pointing in opposite directions.
So, that’s the beef with this snippet. The center of consciousness, the bindu, the laya center, may not be a hole, at least in the normal sense, but may be more like the point on a Möbius strip where the orientation seems to shift from pointing in the outward direction to pointing in the inward direction.
No matter how you slice it, it is an issue of the most fundamental importance. Perhaps the most important one can imagine. Consider if this whole line of thought is true, or at least pointing in the right general direction. This would explain not only how we get from the waking state of consciousness to the dream state of consciousness, it also explains the other altered states, mainly described in yoga. It also vindicates something occultists have been saying for a long time: when we die, our consciousness doesn’t cease to exist, it just permanently moves to the next plane over, traditionally called the Astral Plane in occult literature.
This point, this center of consciousness, this is a central topic in ATOM and is the main reason the book will have that name. This center is irreducible, indivisible. It is an atom.