The Yogic View of Consciousness 26: Inside Out


YVC 26 cover-1

This chapter in the Yogic View of Consciousness dispenses with explanations.  Now we move through the inner realms of the mind where words and ideas become inadequate.

Contents for The Yogic View of Consciousness:

Intro Ch 1 Ch 2 Ch 3 Ch 4 Ch 5 Ch 6 Ch7 Ch 8
Ch 9 Ch 10 Ch 11 Ch 12 Ch 13 Ch 14 Ch 15 Ch 16 Ch 17
Ch 18 Ch 19 Ch 20 Ch 21 Ch 22 Ch 23 Ch 24 Ch 25 Ch 26
Ch 27 Ch 28 Ch 29 Ch 30 Ch 31 Ch 32 Ch 33


Corridors of the Mind
For the most part, words fail when discussing this stuff. Therefore, I rely in this chapter on videos and animations more than usual.  The flow is set up intending that you watch each video before proceeding to read the subsequent text.

To get us started, the following quote is from one of my all-time favorite fiction books, Michael Moorcock’s The Dreaming City, a story about the tragic albino king Elric of Melniboné. Elric was a wizard and here is what he experienced when he went into trance to cast magic:

“When he had meditated for more than five hours…Elric sent his mind into twisting tunnels of logic, across endless plains of ideas, through mountains of symbolism and endless universes of alternate truths; he sent his mind out further and further….”

What might this be like to experience? By way of introduction to our excursions, please watch this brief video (1 min 14 sec) by Dr. Ralph Abraham. I briefly mentioned Dr. Abraham in Chapter 8, in the context of using math to describe the inner worlds. Here Dr. Abraham explains how using computer graphics helps us convey these experiences to those who have not yet had them.

Ralph Abraham: Using models to relate the experience

Perhaps his key idea is that the computer graphics “…at least can be considered as a kind of poetic metaphor for these kinds of experiences…”

Endless Plains of Ideas
Having said the above, please watch the following animation, preferably full screen, to get some small sense of what it’s like to move through the inner realms of the mind. It’s 10 minutes long.  I suggest watching it all the way through for maximal effect. For reasons discussed below, this was the best animation I found to make my points. There were others that came close to fitting the bill. If you would also like to see the runner ups, they are here and here.

Kameelian’s The Stationary Journey: 2012 Fractal Forums competition 720 HD.mp4

So much can be said about how this animation captures aspects of the inner dive. Here are three other perspectives before I give my own.

First, a favorite quote of mine from Allan Watts:

“Closed-eye fantasies in this world seem sometimes to be revelations of the secret workings of the brain, of the associative and patterning processes, the ordering systems which carry out all our sensing and thinking. …they are for the most part ever more complex variations upon a theme—ferns sprouting ferns sprouting ferns in multidimensional spaces, vast kaleidoscopic domes of stained glass or mosaic, or patterns like the models of highly intricate molecules—systems of colored balls, each one of which turns out to be a multitude of smaller balls, forever and ever. Is this, perhaps, an inner view of the organizing process which, when the eyes are open, makes sense of the world even at points where it appears to be supremely messy?”

Second, another favorite quote from C.W. Leadbeater:

“Every thought gives rise to a set of corresponding vibrations in the matter of this body (the mental body), accompanied with a marvelous play of color, like that in the spray of a waterfall as the sunlight strikes it, raised to the nth degree of color and vivid delicacy. The (mental) body under this impulse throws off a vibrating portion of itself, shaped by the nature of the vibrations   as figures are made by sand on a disk vibrating to a musical note   and this gathers from the surrounding atmosphere matter like itself in fineness (at the same frequency) from the elemental essence of the mental world. We have then a thought form pure and simple…”

Finally, third, let’s listen again to Ralph Abraham who offers a framework for understanding these “visions”.  This is 3 min 25 sec. (For those interested, here is the full list of Dr. Abraham’s video interviews):

Ralph Abraham: Where enlightenment information comes from

If you want to hear him go deeper on this point, here is a nice follow-up video. The follow-up is interesting because he links the interpretation of the visions of the inner realms to what he calls the “Sanskrit literature” meaning, among many other works, the Yoga Sutras.

Not to sound critical, because I think there is much value in the above three viewpoints, but they all share a certain weakness that is not found in the “Sanskrit literature” such as the Yoga Sutras.  There is a tacit assumption that we can actually understand these experiences.  The Hindu thinking doesn’t share this assumption (or delusion). That is why the word “maya” is front and center in Hindu thought.

Now on to my take on Kameelian’s The Stationary Journey as a “poetic metaphor” of the inner dive through consciousness. First to qualify: I don’t know this artist. I have no idea of Kameelian’s motivations or previous knowledge in making this video. I am now speaking solely of my own personal interpretation. Kameelian’s animation captures important aspects of the dive through consciousness. Even the artist’s name captures a fundamental truth: Kameelian.

First, Kameeliann accompanies the visuals and sounds with words, with a narrative of sorts. All three elements are important. The words correspond to what might be going through the mind of a yogi making the dive into consciousness. The imagery obviously is what is being seen, and the sounds are what is being heard. The sounds also capture something of the shifting emotions that are felt as one moves through experiences that cannot be captured easily, if at all, by word and thought. Often the emotion is the main means of understanding. The sounds and imagery are both abstract and literal at the same time.  They are abstract because they are, well…incomprehensible.  They are literal because they are real. Experiences like this are indeed quite real, therefore literal.

Notice the whimsical nature of the words and how they spin a fanciful plot of sorts.  Notice the abstract nature of the passing thoughts associated with the shifting sounds and images. “Everything is made of everything else”; “There is no inside or outside”; and so on. Whimsical and abstract. Profound, yet at the same time, silly. Something is revealed in these visions that leads to the juxtaposition of the the absurd and the profound, the serious and the silly. Everything changes and shifts so quickly. At each instant the vision is so profound, but it is gone as soon as you perceive it, to be replaced with something that seems even grander and more glorious. It transforms so quickly that you cannot remember any of it, let alone comprehend it.

In the end it comes down to one repeating motif: there is only change, movement. The Gunas. The idea that everything is only made of movement comes to life. It becomes the reality, the only reality. There are no things, only movement. The Gunas.

And what does it mean, all this movement? There are no tags or labels that tell us what it means. We read into it, like seeing faces in clouds. What meaning is there we put there. Intrinsically, it doesn’t seem to have any meaning other than its incessant movement. That seems to be its only purpose: to move, to constantly transform into something else. The Gunas.

When the experience is over and done, and we return to the realm of our “normal” consciousness, one carries the insight back. One sees that it is quite the same thing: movement, change. “Here” just moves more slowly than “over there”. But it is all the same. Things that seem to be are seen to be only movement. Movement. Gunas. Where have all the nouns gone? There are only verbs. Only one verb: to move.

One sees oneself and others superimpose meanings over the movement. Everything becomes like seeing faces in the clouds. There is only movement. Incessant, ever changing. Nothing is ever twice the same. We never step in the same river twice. Is the movement really light?” or “is the movement in the head?

As one with the knowledge and magic of the source
Attuned to the majesty of music
They marched as one with the Earth

The whimsy of the movement becomes profound.

One sees the preachers and teachers, philosophers, and scientists, all like children playing at the sandbox, making up rules, names, definitions: it is this, it is that. All said in such seriousness. Even the seriousness becomes a game in the sand box amongst the children who revel in playing pretend. It is all make believe at its core. There is no pattern. Surely they see it too?  Surely they know they only play? Perhaps, it seems, they forget themselves in their game.  They take it all so seriously. It becomes a fascination to watch the others and their need to superimpose a pattern over what has no pattern. To try to freeze what forever moves and changes.

We see faces in the clouds. Consider the following image. It is a fractal I generated (Click here to see a high resolution view of this image). It is the equivalent of one frame in Kameelion’s animation. It’s fairly easy to see different deities in the image, if one is so inclined, as one sees faces in clouds. I have attempted to animate this with the following short video.

Seeing Faces In Clouds

We can see Avalokiteśvara or Garuda in the momentary freeze-frame. They are not there in any obvious or literal sense. But they are kind of there. One may certainly expect that someone so inclined to interpret the imagery as such will come out of the vision and seek to convey what they saw in such terms.  Hence the origins of the psychedelic imagery of Buddhists, Hindus, and Tibetans.

Crude as this example is, it illustrates how the protean imagery of the visions of the inner realms can be frozen in a moment of interpretation.

In fact, in these shifting patterns one can see all things: the gods, great architecture, animals, landscapes, being, love, life. Look at the following images glancingly and tell me which is the real thing and which is the visionary image (where the visionary images are captured by various fractal generations).

cathedrals comp2smMozart heard complete symphonies play in his mind’s ear. The sounds of the inner worlds broke through to his surface consciousness.  Or, as the above illustrates, we can go below the surface,  experience the mindscapes, and bring back gods and great cathedrals, temples and palaces.

When you visit these realms, you return with the understanding of where all meaning comes from.  Where the gods come from. Where great art and architecture comes from. Where even word sounds and the shapes of our symbols of speech and other forms of writing come from. But it is so much more than just the human-created world.  You understand the Movement. The trees, the clouds, a pile of sand, the wind blowing over the grass. It all makes sense now. It makes sense in a way that words cannot capture.  But it doesn’t matter.  The words themselves, the thoughts, the meanings, are all just more examples of the movement.

Is that all there is? Is there only the Movement?

Go to Chapter 27.

2 thoughts on “The Yogic View of Consciousness 26: Inside Out

  1. Great post, again – thanks Don.

    These images are very familiar to me. I used to lie in bed as a child and watch fractals moving around in the air in front of my face. It was like they were projected on a screen that surrounded me, and the screen slowly revolved clockwise and at the same time would pulse in and out like it was breathing. The fractals would move constantly and morph into each other – just like the video. I didn’t know what to make of it at the time – I would just lie back and enjoy the show!

    These days I occasionally see mandalas and patterns – either stationary or moving. They appear when I slip into a trance, sometimes during meditation, but usually just before falling asleep. It’s like the body is extremely relaxed but the mind goes hyper alert and opens into an infinite space – and that’s where the images appear.

    Recently I saw a fractal made from tiny black and white buddhas sitting on clouds – they almost looked hand-drawn – and they spread across my vision from right to left, sprouting from each other like branches on a tree. As they moved to fill my vision, I thought, “They’re everywhere!” Everything is buddha. 🙂

    • Hi Jessica!

      Thanks for sharing your experiences. They are really interesting and I can relate very much to what you describe. I too had visions when I was a kid, which I’ve described a couple times elsewhere. I saw what I took to be green baby pins arranged in rows and layers, filling the space around me, with occasional flashes of red static sweeping through the scene. Now I believe I was somehow seeing the cells of my brain. Even though I don’t have this particular vision anymore, I still get the hypnagogic images when I fall asleep.

      I’ve been reading a brand new book (2015) about “hallucinations” that I will probably link to in my next post. It’s amazing the wide diversity of both normal and pathological conditions under which hallucinations occur. One thing that is incubating in my mind right now, and I am trying to figure out how to express is how some people come up with explanations of these experiences as if they have figured out what they mean. van der Leeuw captured really well the spirit of what I am getting at when he said:

      “For a while it may satisfy evolving man to know that the splendors of a sunset are but the breaking of light-rays in a moist atmosphere; he will come to realize that he may have explained the method, but has not touched the mystery at all.”

      It’s the same with hallucinations, except that no one has really even explained the methods either.

      But I’m thinking that the next post will be some reflection on these experiences and how Yoga helps give us an orientation towards them that is not too well appreciated in our overly-cerebral culture. I pretty much already said it above: gunas; whimsy.

      Again, Jessica, great to hear from you! Take care!


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