"Higher Consciousness" by Justin F. Stone

T'ai Chi Chih originator Justin F. Stone (1916-2012) describes the nature of consciousness and how meditation helps us access a "non-dual" state.

Higher Consciousness

Reprinted with permission from the Autumn 1986 issue of the TCC journal, The Vital Force.

People often speak of “higher consciousness.” A man is coming from another state to videotape me in a research project to find those in “higher consciousness.” The truth is, there is no such thing. There is only Consciousness, and at the deepest level, it is not individual. Sometimes this consciousness is obscured, and then there seems to be “lower” consciousness. It is usually obscured by habit-energies and tendencies; ultimately, this all proceeded from thought and thought-patterns.

The sun remains the same, always, but we speak of “weak sunshine today” or talk of the strong sun in the autumn season. When clouds obscure the sun, we see it as “weak sunshine,” but the sun has not changed. Similarly, consciousness remains unchanged but, when obscured by what [some in Asian traditions] call “the dusts,” it appears “low.”

Just as the life essence remains unchanged as there is constant transmutation, so consciousness is not affected by the obscuring elements. One Zen Master spoke of keeping the mirror clean, wiping away the dusts so that the basic nature of the mirror – which reflects unchangingly – will not be affected. Consciousness is like the mirror. It is necessary to remember that consciousness can only exist where there is duality. The polarity of subject-object relationship makes consciousness possible.

When we enter deep meditation, where there is only subject and no subject-object relationship, the world disappears. With the reappearance of thought, consciousness and the subject-object relationship reappear, along with self, other and God.