Only Another Candle can Enlighten A Candles Bottom

The domain of ‘consciousness studies’ is a vast, indeed sprawling, arena. It is bounded by neuroscience, psychology, the social sciences – sociology and anthropology – advanced physics, philosophy, artificial intelligence, parapsychology and comparative spirituality.

Within this vast arena I specialize in that much rarer subset of experiences called ‘Altered States of Consciousness’ (ASC). One reason for this is that ASC present some of the most extreme test cases challenging in highly significant ways our conventional understanding of consciousness and reality. By extension, they also stretch our conception of whom and what we are, and perhaps more importantly, of whom we can be. Another reason is that as a result of my 35 years participation in the fields of breathwork, energywork and healing and because of the contacts that I have been fortunate enough to enjoy with so many gifted healers, I have become aware of a larger range of extraordinary states and incidents than those which befall the average person. These states have clearly indicated that the consensual view of consciousness, reality and the nature of the self is erroneous.

Consciousness is always consciousness of something, the object of our experience. But in most academic contexts were they are discussed ‘ASC’ make no reference to any object. This makes it appear as though ASC are just unusual – and possibly abnormal – physiological and mental states. And this has, until fairly recently, been the approach adopted by mainstream psychological and anthropological science.

I will argue that we need to understand ASC in terms of a much broader spectrum of awareness of ‘something’ beyond everyday reality that is not merely imaginary. This raises a question as to whether consciousness is able to reach beyond the limitations of our immediate senses to know and understand things that are otherwise out of reach. Answering this question provides the main subject matter of my book.

ASC can be used to cover everything from common inebriation to mental disorders to spiritual illumination. But within this vast triangulation of states, I want to focus on just two very special modes of consciousness: the transpersonal and the transformational.

· By transpersonal consciousness I mean states of consciousness that facilitate access to non-local realities. Non-local realities are those that we cannot, ordinarily, connect to because of considerations of time (they are lost in the past or have yet to occur), are too far away, belong to a different life stream or occur in a different dimension.

· By transformational consciousness I mean states of consciousness that move us in the direction of healing, integration and wholeness.

In exploring these two modalities we take a trip into the true possibilities of the human spirit and its evolutionary potentialities. In doing so we start the process of ‘waking up’ from the tight grip of consensual reality that appears to have been designed specifically to minimize and crush our awareness of our own potential.

Copyright © Peter Mark Adams 2011