Consciousness is a term that has become synonymous to the idea of God-Being in the context of esoteric, nonconventional spirituality. This is particularly true of modern psycho-spiritual disciplines, metaphysical and naturalist movements, and nearly all systems of nondualist mysticism.
For ages, inquiries into the subject of consciousness and speculations as to its nature were the domains mainly of philosophy, mystery schools, occult teachings, and religious theological pursuits. In earlier times, eastern thinkers speculated on the nature of human consciousness by means of metaphors and symbolism borrowed from the natural world around them. One such example was the comparison they drew between consciousness (or the soul of man) to the lotus plant which abundantly populated ponds and murky pools of water.
Consciousness, they said, is like a lotus flower bud that develops unseen in dark muddy waters. As the lotus bud approaches the blooming stage, its stem would grow longer and the flower bud would rise from the muddy depths up to the water’s surface level. There at the water’s surface, the flower opened its petals to reveal the full glory of its bloom. In some cases, the bud would shoot up beyond the water level where it blossomed above the water in the air. In any case, the flower’s blossom was an amazing display of hidden brilliance, purity and clarity of color, an aesthetic radiance to behold, a floral beauty so clean and pure in contrast to the murky water depths where it came from.
Similarly, it was said that like the lotus flower, the soul or consciousness of man comes from some dim region from where it originates. Then the soul grows and develops through the dark muddy waters of spiritual ignorance, until the soul emerges out of its ignorance and reaches out to the light of truth and enlightenment at the surface of its awakening. Finally the soul blossoms into the full glory of divine being, much like the way the lotus bud opens its petals to the fullness of a flower blossom.
We have seen the context of our spiritual journey along the mystical path, and we have examined the process of the journey. Now, let us complete our spiritual learning by integrating what we have learned so far into our content.
Consciousness is the greatest mystery there is. Now, prepare to unravel its mystery.