There are seven states of consciousness that can be experienced by a human being (see Seven States of Consciousness for more information about each state):
- Deep Sleep - body and mind are inactive
- Dreaming - body is inactive but mind is active
- Waking - body and mind are active
- Transcendental - the gap between any two states of consciousness in which awareness takes on a witnessing quality because it is not embedded in a state of consciousness
- Cosmic - a dual state in which Deep Sleep, or Dreaming, or Waking state is present along with Transcendental Consciousness
- God - awareness of the celestial (non-physical) realms of the universe
- Unity or Brahman - This state of consciousness arises out of God Consciousness and appears to be two states of consciousness, but in fact it is a single state of consciousness that is like the two faces of a coin. On one face, Unity, the awareness is unity with the supreme level of blissful, silent, pure being consciousness known as S'îva. On the opposite face, Brahman, the awareness is unity with the Creator of our Universe, Lord Brahma. The width of this "coin" is infinitely thin so it is possible to experience either "face" at any moment.
Unity Consciousness can be sensed while in the physical body, but cannot be practically lived in daily life because of the intensity of the Bliss which is beyond anything a human nervous system can endure for more than a few minutes. Those who attempt to remain in Unity Consciousness for extended periods of time do so at the loss of normal human sanity and exhibit the "Divine Madness" such as that found in the lives of the great saints S'rî Ramakrishna or S'rî Caitanya. Such a saint that lives in Unity is very rare.
Some do attain to the experience of a refined state of "relative" Unity Consciousness while in the physical body as a result of an introspective, orderly and cloistered lifestyle for many years. These individuals experience the underlying unity of all life on the level of consciousness in a very real and vivid manner. Many who practice Transcendental Meditation come to experience a more common state of "relative" unity in which the unity of all life on the level of consciousness is their daily reality, with flashes of Unity from time to time.
However, everyone is entitled to attain to Unity upon death of the body - it is gift available to all simply for the asking. Most of the world's religions provide a means for obtaining this gift, which is often termed something like "eternal heavenly life." One must ask for this gift from one's own Âtman, or a physical being who is living Brahman Consciousness, or a celestial being such as Lord Vishnu, Lord S'iva, S'rî Krishna, Lord Brahma, or S'rî Ganesha, or Ascended Masters such as Jesus or the Virgin Mary.
Those who request the gift of Unity will go immediately to unite with S'iva upon the death of the body.
They will avoid all future rebirths due to karma and also avoid the long period in the disembodied state in the astral worlds prior to rebirth. These periods of existence in the transitionary disembodied state are quite miserable to endure, as are most physical existences. Rebirth into a human body is very rare, more commonly the individual will take many lower animal forms and suffer greatly in each life. Everyone should request the gift of Unity and avoid this misery.
In the Âtmavedî Course there is an infallable method for requesting the gift of Unity Consciousness from one's own Âtman.