Reasoning is not necessarily a fully conscious process. It is more often than not that huge portions of our rational and intellectual processes are happening above or below the normal levels of consciousness. In this text, we give a short description of the planes of mental manifestation that lie outside of our normal awareness. We follow the examples given in the excellent book "Raja Yoga", by William Walker Atkinson. Atkinson was using the pseudonym "Yogi Ramacharaka" when he first presented this work, wherein he gives a detailed account on the Mental planes of manifestation.
He considered several mental planes that are located both below and above the plane of ordinary consciousness. Some sources indicate that as much as 90 percent of our mental functioning occurs outside of the field of normal consciousness. Therefore, it is important to know the features of these areas of the mind, so that we can use them to speed up our present stage of personal and spiritual development.
At the lowest point, Ramacharaka puts the elementary manifestation of the mind at the level of the physical body. Even though the atoms have only rudimentary features, there is intelligence at work there. The law of attraction is also manifesting itself via the processes of choice, action and response in the forming of different molecules from single atoms.
Here we see the mental action underlying the building up of more complex forms from individual atoms. This process is constantly going on on the level of our physical body. However, the mental threshold is far beneath the plane of our normal, everyday consciousness. Therefore we cannot identify ourselves with it. This manifestation belongs to the same universal life present everywhere, even in the minerals and crystals.
The life of the molecules, on the other hand, belong to the next level of mental activity, which is seen in building up the more complex organizational units — cells. This is a plant-like mental activity. This type of intelligence knows everything that is required to make a single cell, as well as duplicate it and promote growth of tissues and organs. At this mental plane of manifestation, we can witness to a constant breaking down and building up of cells and tissues. This is happening in every plant, every animal and every human. Since our human bodies follow the same laws of the vegetative kingdom, this mental activity is also within us. Again, it is below our threshold of ordinary consciousness. We are conscious here only on an instinctive level, and to the extent that we crave for nourishment and tend toward sexual activity and reproduction.
The next level of mental action is the plane of animal forms. Animals are compelled to prey on other life forms and to avoid being preyed upon by other animals. All things that are developed out of the necessity of this basic life belong here as well as the lower impulses. At this mental plane, which is also largly below our consciousness, we see desires and instinctive impulses. From there we are faced with a constant stream of sensations, desires, animal passions, fears and appetites. Depending on the levels of our spiritual development, we are constantly been met with our animal part, and we have to deal with it on a daily basis. Here we also encounter the heritage from our common past that we share with the other memebers of the human race. Our habitual brain is also formed at this level when a certain physical, or even mental action is repeated many times.
Our intellectual or reasoning faculties belong to the next level of mental action. Yogi Ramacharaka points out that our reasoning is not necessarily conscious, because a huge part of its operation happens below the threshold of consciousness. This, in fact, can be beneficial, as there are many instances when we can let a certain problem to be worked automatically on the sub-conscious level. After a certain period of time, the solution is usually handed over to the conscious mind. A lot of people have experience this happening in their lives, even without deliberate intention.
The next level is the level of intuition. Intuition is a direct cognition without using our senses, without perceiving something and without using our reasoning faculties. Intuition is an instantaneous mental ability. Whereas the other planes of the mind were present below, intuition is above the field of our normal consciousness. Whenever intuition is in operation, invaluable insights are being passed down to us, although the very process is hidden from us.
The plane of intuition is our future plane of consciousness. It takes millions of years for us as a human race to evolve to the next level, but one day we will all have full consciousness in this region. Till that time, every now and then we can expect to get tiny insights and flashes from the plane of intuition. Whenever we feel inspired, when we have beautiful visions, life changing ideas, Divine love and truth, and feelings of real freedom, we are in contact with the world of Intuition. Make no mistake, these things are not coming from the domain of the intellect, but from the higher regions of the mind.
Throughout history, many famous writers, inventors, artists and musicians believed that their creative power and inspiration had come to them from a higher source. These higher regions of the mind, while still belonging to us, are also above our everyday consciousness - they belong to our Higher self.
The state of our lower self determines the degree to which we are able to respond to this higher consciousness. If we are closed and in constant doubt about ourselves and the world around us, chances are, we are not going to be able to receive much from the plane of Intuition.
Our Higher Self is our inner guidance, and if we are willing to hand over the control, it will be the best possible source of inner intelligence and wisdom. We only have to let the light of the Spirit shine through.
To the best of our knowledge, there is still a plane higher than the plane of Intuition. It is the level of Cosmic knowledge and unity of all that exists. Apart from a handful of very advanced souls originating from our planet, the rest of us will likely attain this level in some distant phases of evolution.
In conclusion, at the present stage of development our consciousness is confined to the level of intellectual activity and reasoning. On the lower end, we have a number of unconscious or sub-conscious processes that play beneath the level of our normal awareness. On upper end, we are being influenced by mighty forces that are vaguely known to us at present, but that will become dominant power in our future evolution. We have to become more and more aware of these hidden levels of the mind, and use them in our spiritual development.
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