Process of Discovery
The process of discovery is regulated by consciousness. Not all that brilliant a comment, but it takes on meaning when we look at the mechanics of it, the pulse of it. The heartbeat of learning consists of continually expanding into imagination and then contracting that awareness into practical application, a purposeful regulation of energy body cohesion.
We can make this expansion of worldview function more to our advantage by understanding the process behind it. The work of psychologist Charles Tart helps to explain perceptual evolution, for instance. In States of Consciousness, Tart puts forth the concepts of a baseline state of consciousness (b-SoC), altered state of consciousness (ASC), and discrete altered state of consciousness (d-ASC).67
In a nutshell, a b-SoC is your normal, waking consciousness, your normal cohesion. An ASC is a state of consciousness that in some way differs from a b-SoC and differs sufficiently to result in awareness outside of the norm; thus, an altered state. A d-ASC is a stable altered state. When you’ve learned how to use an altered state it becomes a discrete state. It is something clearly and consciously separate from your baseline consciousness yet may be returned to time and time again. With an ASC, such as your first out-of-body experience (OBE), you have minimal connection and coherence to new awareness. With a d-ASC, repeated OBEs have taken on meaning, and the increased coherence produces a cohesion allowing you to gain at least a modicum of control to induce and guide it.
This can be related to an energy body paradigm, which details the evolution of your energy body through stages of different cohesions. Start with your stable cohesion that you use to get you through the workday, pay the mortgage, and raise a family: the cohesion—the baseline—of ordinary life. To change the entire baseline state, you need to experience a number of different cohesions. This is accomplished by plowing as many influences as you can into your energy field: art, literature, music, religion, science, and economics . . . whatever. How you address these, and the skills you develop, are between you and the world. That is the subjective element, the individual component of cohesion. The overriding, objective practice involves exercising consciousness in many different ways. Doing so forms different cohesions, and when these are oriented toward a common goal they result in a profound shift in your baseline.
At the beginning stage of learning, a topic may be outside your daily reference. It may even be completely unrecognizable. An OBE, for instance, is something that is not usually included in daily inventories, and serves as a good example for non-ordinary experience. If you have an OBE, you may even work hard to forget it because you have no context for it. At this point, the OBE is an altered state. However, if you have repeated, spontaneous OBEs, at some point you will no longer be able to turn your back on them. You might even start researching what they mean. You then continue your study and effort. Over time, you may learn to bring about an OBE whenever you wish. Then it becomes a discrete altered state; your efforts have helped shift, or entrain, your cohesion to express that ability. It is the same for learning any skill, esoteric or mundane.
Psychologist Susan Blackmore presents another way of looking at this dynamic of potential becoming realized. In reviewing studies on the synchronous nature of perception, how bits and pieces of awareness bind into a single recognition, she indicates that “when unconscious information becomes unified it magically ‘enters consciousness.’"68 Put yet another way, when you have a sufficient amount of experience with related altered states, they organize to form a coherent discrete altered state.
Along with OBEs, perhaps you have been learning how to solve problems using imagination, as well as how to fly an airplane, speak a foreign language, and conjure up various science-fiction style cities for a novel. If you develop these to a knowledgeable level, each realm of exploration represents a distinct cohesion. In the beginning, each was an ASC which developed into a d-ASC. Your b-SoC changes when they all have been integrated into a greater whole.
Throughout your life you then perceive and participate from a new vantage point. It comes down to a continual state of discovery, and one that can be enhanced by understanding the process of it through discovering states of consciousness.
Next Section: Stages of Awakening