Consciousness and Energy

by Puran Bair   

Puran Bair

The two great topics in spiritual study and practice are consciousness and energy. They are like the software and the hardware of the universe. Consciousness exists at different levels and energy has different forms, and the experience of these levels and forms is what makes a mystic.

Consciousness is the field of one's awareness, starting with one's own body and extending into nonphysical realms. The Buddha asks us, "Can you be conscious of your bodily sensations, of your thoughts, of your emotions, and of your energy? Can you even be conscious of your consciousness? Can your consciousness become independent of self, space and time?" By an expansion of consciousness we can experience the cosmic intention, the software of the universe that contains the codes of creation and destruction, and the accumulated experience and discoveries of all Life. We can even reach a state beyond consciousness, called pure intelligence, in which there is neither observer nor anything to be observed. To rise in consciousness is our contribution to the One Who Is Conscious, for to the extent that we are aware of the universe, the universe is aware of us and assimilates our experience, and through our awareness of ourselves, the universe is aware of itself and discovers its hidden potentials that are revealed in our existence.

The other great topic is energy, which mystics have called by such names as magnetism, prana, or chi. Energy in its finest form is spirit, the energy behind prana, also called ether, which then forms vibration and light, and divides into the spirit of peace, the spirit of love, the spirit of power and the spirit of insight. As energy becomes more dense, the four elemental energies each subdivide into a myriad of qualities, which express themselves as spirit beings of various ranks, thought forms and physical matter.

To call energy the "hardware" of the universe uses a metaphor of computers, which are physical objects with peripherals that can manipulate physical reality, have complex, interconnected circuits, and are powered by electricity, which produces magnetism and light and operates sub-atomic particles in crystalline matrices. Therefore computer hardware is an example of energy at many different densities. So too are human beings, all living things, stones, vapors, and all that exists. It is the energy called spirit that appears in a condensed form as the energy called matter. Spirit is to matter as water is to ice.

What is the relationship between consciousness and energy? It is bidirectional: it is the consciousness of time that induces vibration, which gives rise to spirit, the most subtle form of energy. And energy gives rise to life, which evolves progressively and becomes increasingly intelligent, enabling a higher consciousness throughout creation.

"Consciousness Rides on Energy" was a favorite expression of our teacher, Pir Vilayat Inayat Khan. Consciousness is supported like a ball that floats on a fountain of energy. To lift consciousness to an extraordinary level, extraordinary energy is needed. A second relationship between consciousness and energy is like that of information and force. This relationship is described by the famous neurosurgeon Karl Pribram, developer of the holonomic brain model and a friend of Vilayat's, who wrote that two things are necessary to create change: a vision of the future state and sufficient energy to overcome resistance and make the leap. It is energy that carries out the instructions of consciousness to form the vibrations, structures and forms of all reality.

An example of consciousness riding on energy is the practice we teach called "Contemplation", in which we feel in our own heart what another person feels in their heart. The way the practice is done is to first build a bridge of heart energy between yourself and the other, using a conscious, full, rhythmic breath as we do in Heart Rhythm Meditation. Then you draw the consciousness of the other person over that bridge of energy. If you don't make an energetic connection, then it is doubtful if you will really enter the consciousness of the other -- you may begin to think that the other person is simply a projection of your own consciousness, a creation of your mental and sensory systems, a delusion. This doesn't lead to understanding another; understanding comes through love and respect. This is not expanded consciousness; it is isolation, not connection.

When one develops an expanded consciousness, the sense of individuality gives way to one's universality, a contradiction in terms. However, this condition is fragile and prone to sudden collapse unless a corresponding psyche is built to support it. It's like the blueprint for a house and the physical structure. Matter is not transformed directly by consciousness; energy does the actual work of building the forms that consciousness has designed.

Consciousness directs energy, and energy inspires consciousness. When one is in a highly energetic state, optimism abounds, creativity springs up, the expanding energy field stretches the sense of self, and emotion becomes an intense and rich spectrum. Consequently the world seems to be transformed, revealing its hidden potentials and holographic interconnections. Free from the low-energy constraints that limit consciousness to a point-of-view, one is able to directly experience reality without a personal lens.

But if energy is intensified without an understanding of what the accompanying consciousness is revealing, the expanded view of reality is distorted and twisted to conform to established paradigms. An example of this is the exhilaration of watching a beautiful sunset that heightens awareness and appreciation of the all-sustaining sun. Unless the earth-centric view can be superseded, one thinks one is seeing the sun descend, whereas actually the earth is tilting upward.

Another example of energy developed beyond the scope of consciousness that directs it, is energy healing. It is commonly assumed that more energy creates more healing. But some ailments need energy to be removed; more energy can be fatally over-stimulating to cancers and aneurysms, for example. And there are different types of energy suited to different functions. The careful refinement of vision in higher consciousness illuminates the the body's needs, the cause behind the need, and the cause behind the cause. Although it is easy to develop the ability to send energy, It can be dangerous to do so before one's insight into the nature of reality has matured.

Knowing that both consciousness and energy have to be developed together, the ancient mystics developed methods for dual processes that were safe when done under supervision. In the old days, these methods were kept secret to prevent misuse or corruption. Today, physicists are writing books about mysticism, without any training in either energy or consciousness, as if a scientific understanding of quantum theory was sufficient. Certain principles of the unseen world are being exposed as if they had just been discovered for the first time, by people who cannot take responsibility for their effects since they have neither the experience nor knowledge to know what they do. Consequently, the mystical schools have opened their doors to the public to produce teams of mystics with genuine training.

The safe approach to development of the extraordinary powers of the masters of energy and consciousness is to train the breath, stay centered in the body, uncover the divine within the heart, and relate to all forces, emotions and thoughts as beings. Our school, The Institute for Applied Meditation, teaches the access and application of consciousness and energy through our courses, and especially on our retreats. A private retreat is the most efficient and intense training; a group retreat is also an invaluable experience of the software and the hardware of the universe.