Yogic philosophy teaches us about the ‘fourth’ state of Consciousness, also known as ‘Turiya’, beyond the waking, dream and sleep states. It is often described as a state of ‘great awakeness’ and ‘deep rest’, which can both be experienced simultaneously during meditation. 

The teachings speak about ways for the seeker to experience the stillness of the ‘Self’, which is the Atman or field of pure awareness. The Self is said to be ever-awake within us, and yet it gets veiled by the compulsions of duality that create constant fluctuations of thoughts, emotions and feelings. While our attention is incredibly joined to an outer reality that changes through the flow of time, there is an unchanging ‘axis’ or ‘anchor’ that seems to hold the outer reality together. There may be different ways by which we choose to orient ourselves to this unchanging truth. The practices of ‘asana’,  ‘pranayama’ and ‘mantra’ are some of the tools and techniques that allow us to be awake to both – the fullness of experience outwardly and the power of silence inwardly. 

The texts say:

“That reality which is Shivam – infinite silence;

which is Shantam – infinite peace;
which is Advaitam – the undivided;
is said to be Chaturtham, the fourth (state of consciousness)
That is the Self, that is to be known.

~ The Mandukya Upanishad

An awareness of our mortality can often be a powerful reminder to take the time for some self-enquiry, as well as to explore deeper questions around the great dilemma of the ‘ephemeral’ vs. the ‘eternal’ that we are constantly presented with, through the journey of life.

The veil between the purely physical realm and the subtle realms is fragile. From my own experience, when I have sat by loved ones and comforted them as they transitioned in to the light, I have had the awareness of a powerful ‘dimension’ that opens as life energy is uplifted in to its subtle form. Being witness to this can be heartbreakingly difficult on a human level in that moment, and yet it changes one’s vision of life at a deep, profound state. It is a great gift to present oneself to a loved one at such a time with love and tenderness, rather than with panic and fear.

Shiva (Mahadeva) is referred to as ‘Mrityunjaya’ or ‘One who is victorious over death’. When life is generous to us with health, beauty and wealth, and we enjoy their fruits, it is often unimaginable that this play of the elements will ever end.

Shiva reminds us that the ‘beginning, middle and end’ are all contained within a ‘stream of consciousness’. Regardless of our human condition, we exist simultaneously in the physical (embodied) and subtle (disembodied) realms.

Often referred to as ‘Akasha’ or a kind of ‘sky’ due to its unchanging and eternal nature, Pure Consciousness is seen as the true nature of the Self. In our embodied existence, we have the opportunity to experience the dance of dynamism and duality in the outer world, and also remember our true inner nature as the ‘Self’ that transcends pain and suffering

Shiva reminds us that it possible to be fully awake and present to the outer world that is bound by time and space, and yet to experience the nectar of Ananda or bliss through the remembrance of the Self that transcends time.



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