COSMIC CONSCIOUSNESS: ITS RELEVANCE IN SIKHISM
by ARDAMAN SINGH MA LLB.
In the course of evolution of human life there are three levels of development of consciousness, the human mind. The first is simple consciousness as was possessed by humanity at its initial stage by virtue of this, human beings were aware of their bodies and surroundings and possessed few other senses but little intelligence. They were in awe of sum, moon, storms, rains, etc.,but did not understand these phenomena.
At the next level, known as self consciousness, human beings have attained wide awareness through all the five senses, with the faculty of recognition of colour and sense of morality added to it; and, above all, the ability to think about one's own thoughts. At this stage language has also been built for communication. There is a big gap between the man at his level and that of the earlier level; but at this second level too man has only a very little knowledge of the cosmos, the extant and purpose of the staggeringly vast expenses of creation on and outside the Earth and the life prevailing there, if any.
The third level is cosmic consciousness which is as
self-consciousness as the latter is above
simple-consciousness. At this level both, simple and
self-consciousness also exist to some extent
simultaneously with the cosmic faculty. In the earlier
level too, similarly, some simple consciousness is
retained. The prime characteristic of cosmic
consciousness is under standing of the mystery of the cosmos, the life and order of the Universe(s). There
is a very high degree of intellectual enlightenment orillumination attained by human beings at this level.
It is a state of moral exaltation, an indescribable feeling of elation & joyousness about which religions also have told. One gets a quickening of moral sense and a sense of immortality prevails.
Scientists who have researched in this field place the Prophets in the category of those possessing cosmic consciousness. The Prophets are thus highly superior persons. They need to be listened to. It is these men exalted by the average self-conscious people to the rank of gods and saints. There are quite a few others also who have attained cosmic consciousness to a lesser degree. Amongst them are poets like Walt Whitman and others. The evolution of mankind on the whole is something like the growth of a tree in which some branches develop fast, in length, strength and quantum of leaves, flowering & fruitation, while other branched are much below the average even; and the tree goes on its path of growth. Similarly the tree of mankind has evolved on its normal course with abnormal as well as subnormal development of some of its oarts, all existing simultaneously, like, more or less, the three levels of consciousness in the present times. Such broad and total view of life helps to understand religion.
In Guru Granth Sahib, Guru Arjun Devji has described,
in the eighth
canto of Sukhmani, characteristics of a person having
cosmic consciousness, called Brahm Gyani.
It states that a Brahm Gyani lives pure life amidst the impurities of the world, unsullied by evil. He looks on all with same benevolence and to him a friend and a foe are alike. His mind is illumined. He is devoid of pride and is humblest in spirit. He is kind to all and is incapable of doing evil to any one. His life is serene. He is benevolent, a person of self-control, and pure motives. No one can appraise his worth. Only a man as perfect as he, can fathom the depth of mystery or measure the reaches of his soul. He is at one with the Supreme Being, God.
To be able to realize what cosmic consciousness is, one needs to have personal experience of it. A prolonged study of those who attained that level, intelligent contact with cosmic conscious minds, personally or through their sayings, can also assist self conscious individuals to ascend to that higher plane. Sikh religion has laid emphasis on this aspect of human life where it exhorts people to keep company of the enlightened, disciplined ones, the activity termed as Saadh Sangat.
There is another approach to the cultivation of cosmic
and thereby be one with God. In the 34th to 37th
stanzas of Japu ji Guru Nanak Devji has indicated five
through which man's mind can progress to the Ultimate.
These are the realm of Duty (Dharm Khand), The realm of Knowledge (Gyaan Khand), the realm of service (Sarm Khand), the realm of Grace (Karm Khand) whereafter man gets in tune with God, the ultimate of cosmic consciousness.
In view of the very large difference between the status of mind and consequent limitation of comprehension of men at one level of consciousness and those of the higher one, communication between them is generally difficult. The higher level mind in order to make his clear or impressive in certain aspects to the next lower mind, uses, at times, certain symbols, signs or illustrations which are familiar and more understandable to the latter. Still quite a good deal of what the men of higher consciousness tell or do is not fully comprehensible to those to those at lower level.
It is for this reason that Guru Gobind Singhji, in the first stanza of Jaap Sahib has stated that God is a light of limitless glow, which can only be experienced and cannot be described. This is based on the Guru Ji's own direct experience of the reality. It transcends the realm of language. The knowledge attained at this level is not derived from our usual sensory experiences. As such our ordinary language, which takes its image from the senses, is not adequate to describe such phenomena of cosmic consciousness.
All mysticism is due to this factor. When the Prophets or saints, or even the modern physicists convey their knowledge about mysterious phenomena, their statements at times appear to be paradoxical and contain some logical contradictions but should not be made a subject for argument. It may thus not be wise to challenge what all a religion or its Prophets have told.
With further progress of human life over the coming years, most of our descendents will some day reach the state of cosmic consciousness just as long ago our ancesters passed from simple to self- consciousness. This trend in evolution is in fact already evident now since men with this faculty are becoming more common and, as a race, humanity is approaching nearer to that stage of self-consciousness from which the transition to the cosmic consciousness is effected. This happens in the human life only; and Guru Arjun Devji has pointed out this in the last hymn of Rehraas, the Sikhs' evening prayer, that human life is the only chance to get one with Gobind (God).