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THE FOURTH
STATE OF
CONSCIOUSNESS:

Pipeline to the Infinite

For centuries into the past, the fourth state of consciousness
has seemed as elusive as the unicorn — as much a
myth, as much a merely storied essence of purity and
innocence. Poems have extolled the beauties of this ineffable
state, tales have identified this subtle reality as the key that
unlocks the full potential of life, paintings and statues have
shown wise men with crossed legs and closed eyes enjoying its
fullness in blissful contentment.

Yet what is this fourth state really?

In the modern scientific
civilizations, this most basic state of consciousness has been so
elusive as to essentially disappear altogether. In an objective
world the fourth state of consciousness has had no objective status,
and thus it has simply dropped out of sight. Until recently
it was rarely spoken of, or even thought of, and life has been lived
as well as it could be through the recurring cycle of the three
common states — waking, sleeping, and dreaming. What the
Vedic tradition defines as the most crucial capability of human
consciousness — the faculty of contacting the field of infinite
potential at the basis of creation — has been unknown to most
and closed to nearly all.

PERSONAL EXPERIENCE
Because of the importance ascribed to this fourth state of consciousness
in Maharishi’s Vedic Science — because it is said to
be the state that connects the individual mind with a field of
unbounded possibility — the idea deserves systematic attention.

As with the other ancient descriptions discussed in this book,
the Vedic description of the fourth state of consciousness has
been recorded in simple, straightforward language. It is known
in Sanskrit as samadhi (unwavering mind), or simply as turiya (the
fourth).
We can turn to the Upanishads for a definition that places
it in the context of the common three states of consciousness,
those experienced by every ordinary person every day:

The first is the waking state, the experience of the reality
open to everyone;
The attention goes outward, enjoying the world in all its
variety.

The second is dreaming, the experience of subjective, inner,
imaginative worlds. . . .

The third is deep sleep, when the mind rests and all awareness
[both inner and outer] is suspended.

The fourth is the pure Self alone. . . .
It is ineffable, beyond thought.
It is indefinable.
It is known only through becoming it.
It is the end of all activity, silent and unchanging.

These definitions suggests a central principle long emphasized
by Maharishi: Knowledge is different in different states of consciousness.

In the sleeping state of consciousness, for example,
the mind is aware of no knowledge at all. The sleep state is a state
of total dullness in which “all awareness is suspended,” and
knowledge of anything whatever, real or imagined, has disappeared
altogether. In the dreaming state, on the other hand,
there is knowledge available, but it is unreliable. Dreams are selfcreated,
“subjective, inner, imaginative worlds,” without direct
connection to the real world. The world of dreams evaporates
with the morning light.

Only with the waking state do we find knowledge as commonly
understood. It is true that the waking state of consciousness
is limited in its scope. It yields direct perception of only the
outer, surface level of nature — “the attention goes outward,
enjoying the world in all its variety” — and the inner, more subtle
workings of nature, everything from the molecular level to
the unified field, is unavailable, sealed away from the mind’s
direct perception as if the mind were still asleep.
But the mind
in the waking state is at least directly aware of nature’s surface,
and it gains knowledge that is usually both coherent and useful.
If, in a dream, the ground may suddenly dissolve into water or
dissipate into air, in the waking state the earth is always solid
beneath our feet. Knowledge in the waking state may be incomplete,
but at least it’s practical for day-to-day existence.

Analyzing states of consciousness thus, in terms of the type
of knowledge they yield, what could a fourth state of consciousness
be?
It must be different from lack of awareness (sleep),
or awareness of imaginary visions (dream), or awareness of the
surface level of nature (waking). Thought about this way, the
fourth state of consciousness can first be understood as a selfreferral
state, a state of self-interaction — as human awareness
circling back to become aware of itself — as awareness of awareness
alone.
In the Vedic understanding of the fourth state, consciousness
is said to turn back upon itself and become aware only
of its own inner nature — “the pure Self alone.”

This is samadhi (unwavering mind), an experience Maharishi
calls pure consciousness or transcendental consciousness or the state
of pure knowledge. Tracing the path the mind takes to this most
inward experience, Maharishi says,
"Once we give the mind the correct angle it will settle down
automatically to more refined, inner levels. As the mind experiences
finer aspects of the thinking process, it experiences more
refined levels of awareness. This makes the mind more and more
awake. And when our awareness has gained maximum wakefulness,
the next step of refinement allows the mind to transcend
the field of thinking. We attain a field of pure awareness, of transcendental
consciousness, in which the mind is awake within
itself, but without a thought. This is the state of pure consciousness,
a state of least excitation of consciousness, and in this selfreferral
state, consciousness is its own observer. It is the observer,
the observed, and the process of observation — all three values
in one — a quality of awareness we can call pure knowledge."

In this state, rather than no awareness at all, as in the sleep
state, there is what Maharishi terms “maximum wakefulness.” Yet
there are no thoughts in that awareness, neither the imaginary
creations of dreaming nor the more common thoughts of the
waking state.

In a definition of this fourth state published in his
translation and commentary on the Bhagavad-Gita in 1967,
Maharishi says “there is no trace of sensory activity, no trace of
mental activity,” and that the awareness in this state of samadhi
is like “a lamp which does not flicker in a windless place.”

If we are watching a movie, the colorful images on the screen
might begin to fade away, becoming lighter and lighter, until our
vision transcends the particular images altogether and confronts
only the pure white screen. The pure screen would be there
without the activity of the movie. In a similar way, the mind can
settle down deep within its own nature, experiencing finer and
finer aspects of the thinking process, until finally it transcends
particular thoughts altogether and is left only with pure consciousness
— the background, or screen, upon which all thoughts
and feelings play.

The major limitation to this analogy is that, in a movie, there
is duality — the audience is left to watch the white screen —
while in the fourth state of consciousness, there is indivisible
unity — consciousness is left aware of its own pure nature. It is,
a “self-referral mechanics.” In the fourth
state of consciousness, the observer and the observed are completely
unified.
This self-referral nature of pure consciousness seems to
be an important tie to the quantum mechanical level of
creation, and especially to the unified field. As we have seen, the
unified field is a completely self-sufficient, self-interacting reality.
It is the self-interacting mechanics deep within the unmanifest
unified field that give rise to all the laws of nature on the
more superficial levels of creation.

For Maharishi, this self-referral nature of the unified field
completes the logical connection between consciousness and creation.
“The unified field is found by modem physics to be selfreferral
in its nature,” he says, “and this identifies it as a field of
consciousness. For only consciousness in its pure state can be
fully self-referral.”

This self-referral state of consciousness, moreover, is in itself
a unified field of consciousness. As pointed out above,
in the fourth state of consciousness, consciousness itself is the
observer and it is also the observed. In fact, as he has often
explained, consciousness is the observer, the observed, and also
the process of observation — all three in one unified wholeness. In
the fourth state, therefore, consciousness is in a completely unified
state.

In this sense, both the fourth state of consciousness
and the unified field of natural law are completely unified and
self-referral — interacting only within themselves.

Speaking in 1983 at the Taste of Utopia assembly, Maharishi
developed the relationship between the fourth state, pure consciousness,
and the unified field of physics:
We know from the ancient Vedic literature that the world
must rise to enjoy the full dignity of life. And if that is to be, it
can only be on the basis of the fourth state of consciousness, the
experience of consciousness in its self-referral state, which is now
coming up in scientific language as the unified field of all the laws
of nature. The unified field is a lively field of all possibilities at
the basis of creation. It is a transcendental reality. And because
the unified field is completely self-referral, then knowledge of it
can only be completely self-referral. It can only be gained by the
mind within itself in its self-referral state, in pure consciousness,
transcendental consciousness, where the awareness is open to
itself alone. In this state, the mind identifies itself with the selfreferral
reality of the unified field. That level of consciousness
alone is a suitable field for directly cognizing the unified field,
for completely identifying with the self-referral nature of the unified
field, in a state in which consciousness actually has no difference
from the unified field.

THE STATE OF LEAST EXCITATION
Although the fourth state of consciousness is not a state most
people ordinarily experience, it is said to be a completely natural
state, and it is not uncommon for people to recognize in its
description memories of one or two special moments in their
lives. It is also not difficult to find, in the writings of artists and
poets, descriptions of specific experiences which make new sense
in this context. Wordsworth, for instance, has described such an
experience:
that serene and blessed mood,
in which the affections gently lead us on —
and even the motion of our human blood
almost suspended, we are laid asleep
in body, and become a living soul;
while with an eye made quiet by the power
of harmony, and the deep power of joy,
we see into the life of things.

As we will see, this quotation provides some specific clues for
scientific research. One of Wordsworth’s successors Alfred, Lord
Tennyson describes a related experience in one of his letters:
out of the intensity of the consciousness of individuality, the individuality
itself seemed to dissolve and fade away into boundless
being; and this not a confused state, but the clearest of the clearest,
the surest of the surest . . . . utterly beyond words.

The German philosopher Georg W.F. Hegel, for whom meditation
experience was the touchstone of philosophy, described
a similar state of deep inner quiet in which a self-referral experience
reveals the deepest being of life. He said,
The condition of ecstasy through which alone that which is
true Being comes to be known, is [referred to as] a simplification
of the soul, through which it is brought into a state of blissful
repose, because its object is itself, simple and at rest.

These and countless other such passages from all cultures and
throughout the ages have been largely ignored in recent times.
They have been termed mystical, a word which has come to
mean vague, imaginary, impractical, and unreal. And given the
varied, unsystematic, and imprecisely poetic way in which these
descriptions have usually been stated, such confusion is not
hard to understand.

To reclaim the fourth state of consciousness
from this obscurity, it needs to be defined scientifically.

FINDING THE SUBJECTS
To take measurements of such a state, the state itself must first
be available. This has been a major contribution of the TM and
TM-Sidhi programs. When Maharishi first started his teaching
in the late 1950s, even the concept of a fourth state of consciousness
was absent from scientific circles. Science deals with
empirical data, and the fourth state of consciousness was at that
time not empirically verifiable — because essentially no one was
experiencing it. Since that time, however, nearly six million
people have taken up the practice of the basic Transcendental
Meditation technique, over a million of those in the United
States, and tens of thousands have learned the advanced TM
Sidhi program.

Twenty years ago experimenters seeking the
fourth state of consciousness might have been forced to backpack
equipment up a Himalayan peak, but now they can easily
find a population of expert meditators. The TM
technique and the TM-Sidhi program are taught through highly
systematic procedures which are followed precisely everywhere
in the world that the techniques are taught.Meditators in any
city includes people of every age and from every socio-economic
class, and thus scientific studies need not become biased
due to a narrow range of subject types.

In the full book entitled Permanent Peace, the research evidence
on the fourth state of consciousnessis presented in detail,
emphasizing the challenges the researchers faced while trying
to capture such a subtle reality through objective equipment. In
this much briefer manifesto, we will simply mention some of the
more important studies.
STUDIES RELATING TO REST AND RELAXATION
The first study published on the Transcendental Meditation
technique, done by physiologist R. Keith Wallace at UCLA
and published first in Science magazine in 1970, and then in variant
forms in 1970 and 1972 in the American Journal of Physiology
and in Scientific American, showed both an extremely
deep state of rest for the body as well as alterations in the usual
brain wave activity. Wallace used these and other indications to
define what he tentatively labeled “a fourth major state of consciousness,”
and a “wakeful hypometabolic state.”
John Farrow, a Ph.D. in neurobiology from Cornell University
who held a research position with the University of California
for nearly a decade, pioneered the use of extremely sophisticated
equipment for measuring breath rate and oxygen consumption
in meditation studies, demonstrating that the deep rest
experienced during the fourth state of consciousness was even
deeper than Wallaceís study suggested. At the deepest points,
people practicing the TM technique would not breathe at all for
30-60 seconds — periods that coincided with deep inner experience
of perfect mental quiet and alertness.
Fine-grain studies by researchers at the University of California
(Irvine) showed that during the Transcendental Meditation
technique subjects showed a marked reduction of cortisol
(the key hormone produced during stress), while red blood
cells, which ordinarily never reduce their metabolism, begin to
rest deeply.
French physiologist Dr. Jean-Paul Banquet, who performed
his research both at the Harvard Medical School and at the
French National Institute for Medical Research, found a new
pattern of EEG in the brain, a pattern indicating deep mental
relaxation. If people are relaxed because they are drowsy, an audible
clicking noise will wake them up and change the EEG pattern
for several minutes. With people practicing the TM technique,
however, the clicking sound registered briefly in the
EEG, which then returned to the relaxation pattern. The fourth
state of consciousness appeared to combine relaxation with
wakefulness — a state unaffected by outside interruption. This
finding is consistent with both the ancient description of the
fourth state as samadhi, unwavering mind, and with the reports
of TM meditators who report that noise does not interfere with
their meditations.

STUDIES RELATING TO INCREASED ALERTNESS
Research at the University of California (Irvine) have shown
that, during the practice of TM, there is a marked redistribution
of blood flow in the body — a sharp decrease of blood flow
to the bodily organs and a matching increase in blood flow to
the brain. The increase of blood in the brain is, conservatively
estimated, twenty percent more than usual, a particularly impressive
finding since blood flow to the brain almost never increases
to any significant degree.
With experienced meditators, a naturally occurring hormone
named arginine vasopressin (AVP) has been shown to increase
a remarkable 500% during the regular period in which people
meditate each day. Studies have associated AVP with, on the one
hand, regulation of blood pressure and, on the other, direct
improvements in learning ability and memory. This latter effect,
the increase of mental clarity, has been so well established that
AVP is now used as a prescription medicine to decrease the
effects of senility.
Another study by Dr. Banquet utilized a Fourier transform to
analyze the EEG into its component patterns. He found that
during the TM technique, experienced meditators produced a
wholly unprecedented pattern — long rhythmic trains of theta
waves (which usually appear only temporarily on the way to
sleep). Moreover, trains of theta were sometimes accompanied
by trains of beta (usually produced only when the mind is wide
awake and engaged in outside activity). After this deepest state
of theta (rest) and beta (wakefulness), subjects would ordinarily
report their deepest experience of transcendence (the purest
experience of the fourth state).
Eight published studies have shown that, during the fourth
state of consciousness, brain wave patterns become more coherent
— separate parts of the brain begin to fire coherently (in step
with each other). When subjects start to fall asleep, EEG coherence
falls and then disappears, while as subjects go more deeply
into meditation, EEG coherence rises to a peak — coherence in
brain functioning seems to be a measure of increasing alertness.
It is also interesting that the fourth state of consciousness which,
theoretically, radiates coherence into the surrounding society, is
itself characterized by a high level of coherence internally.

THE PURE SELF ALONE
Physiological evidence has thus provided objective indicators
of the fourth state of consciousness. Moreover, this physiological
definition of the fourth state parallels remarkably the mental
experience of the state as it has been long described. The central
indicators:
1. A state of least excitation. During the fourth state of consciousness,
the body rests more deeply than in sleep, a quality
of rest that produces a previously unknown style of metabolic
functioning. At the same time, the brain becomes less random
and disorderly, with rhythmic, unchanging patterns.
2. A state of heightened wakefulness. During the fourth
state of consciousness, increased wakefulness is indicated by the
increase in brain wave coherence, the increase in coefficient of
wakefulness in brain wave patterns, the increase in blood flow
to the brain, and the increase in the hormone AVP.
3. Unwavering mind. Rather than the different parts of the
brain functioning in different ways, each part itself constantly
changing, there is a marked increase in coherence between different
parts of the brain. It is also significant to find continuing
trains of brain wave patters, with the disappearance of the rapidly
changing patterns that usually accompany rapidly changing
thoughts.
4. Self-referral and self-sufficient. The metabolic activity
of the body becomes more self-sufficient, requiring less oxygen
from the outside, while the mind becomes more awake than normal
without requiring any outside stimulation to maintain this
wakefulness.
For Maharishi, these physiological discoveries have been
important examples of the interplay between the understandings
of ancient Vedic Science and the investigations of modern science.
He says,
This is why we are fortunate to live in an age of science. The
fourth state of consciousness is now no more a fantasy or only a
metaphysical reality. Now we have it on the objective basis of
modern science. The Transcendental Meditation technique produces
its own style of physiology — brain wave patterns are different,
the metabolic rate is different — and due to that particular
style of activity in the body, the mind experiences a state of
least excitation, the fourth state of consciousness. The teachings
of Vedic Science have now been verified in the research laboratories
of modern science.

VEDIC PREDICTIONS AND
SCIENTIFIC VALIDATION
The plan of this book has been to take Maharishi’s articulation
of central tenets of the Vedic tradition and compare them
against the relevant science. As we have seen in the last four chapters,
the Vedic “predictions” have fared well under such rigorous
examination.

1- Unified field. Physics has glimpsed one unified field of all
the laws of nature.
2- Mind and matter. Leading physicists have realized that a
profound connection exists between consciousness and the
apparently physical world — and especially between the unified
field of consciousness and the unified field in physics.
3- Fourth state. Physiologists have defined a fourth state of
consciousness, the putative pipeline to the unified field,
with physiological fingerprints consistent with the ancient
descriptions, and profound benefits for individual life.

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Subject Views Written By Posted
A Field Theory of Consciousness..#1 184 Astikapati 07-Jul-02 09:54
A Field Theory of Consciousness...#2..#1 130 Astikapati 07-Jul-02 10:00
Re: A Field Theory of Consciousness...#3(conclusion) 140 Astikapati 07-Jul-02 10:06
Exerpt from a book 68 Fuzzy 07-Jul-02 10:35
Fuzzy 70 Astikapati 07-Jul-02 13:02
This is not science 74 B L Zeebub 07-Jul-02 12:48
Zee, bub it looks like Science to me :)) 84 Astikapati 08-Jul-02 04:39
Scientific rigour 71 B L Zeebub 08-Jul-02 09:47
Re: Scientific rigour 62 Hoppy 08-Jul-02 11:47
Re: Scientific rigour 63 B L Zeebub 08-Jul-02 13:41
Re: Scientific rigour 64 mephisto 09-Jul-02 02:50
Re: Scientific rigour 85 B L Zeebub 13-Jul-02 12:25
Re: Scientific rigour 65 Hoppy 14-Jul-02 21:43
Re: Scientific rigour 51 B L Zeebub 14-Jul-02 22:30
Re: Scientific rigour 142 Astikapati 09-Jul-02 06:02


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