Steve Pavlina gave a summary of the levels of consciousness that span the linear domain as mapped out by spiritual teacher and author David Hawkins. This map, as well as the associated limitations that must be surrendered at each level in order to progress up to the next level of consciousness, is discussed in detail in the book Transcending the Levels of Consciousness.
Let’s take a look at the higher levels of consciousness that begin at enlightenment, the levels that are experienced as the Self abides entirely in the nonlinear/nondualistic domain.
Contrary to what most people believe, there is not just one “enlightenment.” Just like the spectrum of lower level states of consciousness that run from guilt and shame to unconditional love, the higher levels of enlightenment include the gamut from the dissolution of the personal “self” to full realization as God.
“My father’s house has many mansions.”
At lower levels of consciousness, there is “someone” experiencing the various level of consciousness such anger or courage. At higher levels, the personal self is dissolved entirely and the consciousness progresses ever-closer to full Oneness with Divinity.
With the dissolution of the personal self, everything in the world is realized to be an aspect of Divinity and radiates as such. The inner stillness and peace of God is all-pervading and imperturbable. This state is traditionally called sat-chit-ananda (silent bliss). With the dissolution of the personal self, there is no longer a “me” doing anything, nor is there a ‘this’ causing a ‘that.’ The world is seen to operate as the unfoldment of Creation from perfection to perfection, akin to a cosmic wind-up doll. The reality of the dualistic observer and the observed merge into simply observation happening.
With careful observation it is recognized that observation itself is identified with and must be surrendered. Even the exquisite bliss of God must be surrendered to God himself in order to move to the next level.
Prominent spiritual teachers at this level include Lao Tzu, Swami Satchidananda, and St. John of the Cross.
With the surrender of localized awareness as one’s identity comes the nonlocalization of consciousness, awareness which is equally present everywhere. There is no longer any identification whatsoever with the physical body, nor an experience of a personal self separate from all others. The body is simply a tool for consciousness, the main purpose of which is communication. At this level, one’s sense of existence transcends all sense of time and individuality. With the nearly incapacitating bliss surrendered, it is possible for one to resume functioning in the world. At this level, one identifies with aspects of Divinity such as Oneness, Consciousness, and Awareness, but not Divinity itself.
With all of one’s personal resistances surrendered, it is now necessary to surrender the resistances of the collective consciousness of mankind. Since there is no one there to surrender, surrendering happens by itself by virtue of God’s will. With all illusions and fears fully surrendered, the consciousness travels towards the Void, or complete nonexistence. This is the pinnacle of Self-realization, the infinite nothingness. Then the question of existence vs. non-existence arises along with the question of which one is actually real. This is the natural result of the pathway of negation when the consciousness negates all that is as illusion and therefore abides in the infinite Silence.
People at this level include Gandhi, Mother Theresa, Shankara, Bodhidharma, Ramana Maharshi, and Nisargadatta Maharaj.
With the recognition that God is nondualistic Love (spiritual Love as opposed to human love which is false and leads to attachment), the enlightened being recognizes God as existence and sees non-existence as illusion. Love (Divine Love) is the only Truth. Instead of simply identifying with Awareness, Consciousness, and Beingness, which are simply qualities and characteristics of Divinity, one finally recognizes their true nature as Divinity itself. This is the highest possible level of human consciousness. “Full enlightenment realizes the Presence of God and Divinity as the Source and Essence of Life, Creation, Consciousness/Awareness, and Existence. God is therefore descriptively omnipotent, omniscient, omnipresent, and both Immanent and Transcendent, as well as Manifest and Unmanifest (The Godhead).” At this level, one is truly God-realized.
People at this level include the great avatars such as Jesus Christ, The Buddha, Lord Krishna, and Zoroaster.