To grow from a speck of consciousness to complete self-awareness is a natural process, although few people get to the end of it. If you close your eyes and sit quietly, you will experience the same feeling of “I am” that a yogi has, but this fundamental sense of self can be very limited or very large. It can be so fragile that a crisis will easily shatter it, or it can be so firm that you could build the world on it.
The fragmented self pretends to be firm and solid, but the rock inside is made of pain, denied emotions, and guilt. This repressed pain eventually makes itself known, either by causing suffering or by bringing up a mirror image which reveals the presence of pain even if the feeling itself cannot be faced. But denial is incredibly powerful. Any reality, however punitive, can be seen as acceptable, even ideal.
There is a huge difference between different states of consciousness, but each one tends to feel as if one has found unity. “Unity” means a sense of being in touch with reality, of seeing things as they are.
Because we all harbor the secret belief that our level of awareness must be the right one, it seems all but impossible to credit that there is, in fact, a state of true unity. The rishis called it Brahmi Chetna, “unity consciousness,” and declared that it was the goal toward which all other states of consciousness are evolving.
Anyone who has a speck of self-awareness is heading, however haltingly, toward it. The difference between me, a man who lives in ordinary waking consciousness, and a man in unity is that I see the world dominated by differences: billions of separate fragments cluster together to form my reality. A man in unity sees these fragments, too, but underneath them he perceives wholeness. To him, the world with all its diversity is just one thing.
Adapted from Unconditional Life: Discovering the Power to Fulfill Your Dreams, by Deepak Chopra (A Bantam Book, 1991).