We live most of our life through three states of consciousness: waking, dreaming and sleeping. In the waking state of consciousness, we experience the world through the five senses through which we seek elevation and joy. If any one of the senses is missing, the entire dimension of that sense is lost. When you cannot hear you are bereft of the whole arena of sound. Similarly, when you cannot see you are deprived of all beautiful sights and colours. So, the sense is more important and much bigger than object of sense.
The mind is higher than senses; it is infinite, with many desires but the capacity of senses to enjoy is limited. Greed wants more and more of sensory objects. Even though you can only enjoy a limited amount during a lifetime, you want all the wealth in the world.
Giving too much importance to sensory objects leads to greed; giving too much importance to the senses leads to lust; and giving too much importance to the mind and its desires leads to delusion.
We cling to mind concepts and want things to happen in a certain way. Thus, they impede us from perceiving infinite consciousness that is part of us. All mind senses are not bad; learn to discriminate and be aware of what is happening at all times so that there is clarity. This is the first step towards higher state of consciousness.
In the waking state, you are constantly engaged in looking, eating, working and other pursuits. Sleeping state is where you are completely cut off and dull. Dullness and heaviness linger even after waking. The more you sleep, the duller you feel since much energy is expended in sleep. In the dreaming state you are neither asleep nor awake. Here, you neither feel at rest nor are aware of your surroundings.
Higher state of consciousness is somewhere between the waking, sleeping and dreaming states. Here, we know we ''are'' but we don't know ''where'' we are. This knowledge i ''am'', but don't know ''where'' i am or ''what'' i am, is called Shiva. This state gives the deepest possible rest that one can experience. And you can achieve this through.
Meditation prevents stress from entering the system and also releases accumulated stress. With the assimilation of meditation into daily life, a higher, cosmic state of consciousness dawns within. Cosmic consciousness perceives the whole universe as part of oneself. Then love flows between us and the world, empowering us to overcome opposing forces and disturbances. Anger and disappointments become fleeting emotions.
Higher state of consciousness will not suddenly happen one fine morning. The sapling of consciousness is within you - nurture it through spiritual practices like meditation. Some coconut trees yield in three years, some in 10 years. And those that are not nurtured never yield, they simply exist.
Attaining higher states of consciousness demands no complicated strategy; just learn the art of letting go. The confluence of knowledge, understanding and practice makes life complete. When you grow into higher states of consciousness, you are no longer thrown off-balance by situations and disturbances. You become strong yet soft - a delicate and beautiful individual capable of accommodating different values in life without conditions. As your consciousness opens and you get physically, mentally and spiritually elevated, life truly becomes worth living.
By Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: first published in The Times of India