A course in Consciousness

Chapter 8. Transcendental realms

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Chapter 8. Transcendental realms

8.1. Similarities between the different transcendental realms

So far, we have encountered two transcendental realms, that of Plato's cave allegory (see Section 1.4), and that of Goswami’s quantum theory within monistic idealism (see Chapter 7). Now we shall consider three other transcendental realms, one by the sage Nisargadatta Maharaj, one by the sage Ramesh Balsekar, and one by Buddhism.
On p. 381 of I Am That (1984), Nisargadatta says,
"The memory of the past unfulfilled desires traps energy, which manifests itself as a person. When its charge gets exhausted, the person dies. Unfulfilled desires are carried over into the next birth. Self-identification with body creates ever-fresh desires and there is no end to them unless this mechanism of bondage is clearly seen. It is clarity that is liberating, for you cannot abandon desire unless its causes and effects are clearly seen. I do not say that the same person is reborn. It dies, and dies for good. But its memories remain and their desires and fears. They supply the energy for a new person."
Nisargadatta's concept has been reformulated by one of his students, Ramesh Balsekar, whose teaching will receive much emphasis in this course. Ramesh uses a concept of the source and sink for the manifestation that is similar to the other transcendental realms. He calls it the "pool of consciousness" and it implicitly contains all of the forms from which consciousness "selects" the components for an object of manifestation such as a body-mind organism. On p. 78 of Consciousness Writes (1994), Ramesh says,
"The future body's personality will be drawn from the totality of the universal consciousness, which is the collection of all of the "clouds of images" that keep on getting generated. This total collection gets distributed among new bodies as they are being created, with certain given characteristics which will produce precisely those actions which are necessary to the script of the divine playwright. No individual is concerned as an individual with any previous entity."
At the death of the organism, the mental conditioning that was present in the organism, such as thoughts, fears, desires, aversions, and ambitions, return to the pool where they become ingredients to be used by consciousness in creating new forms.
The Buddha taught a similar idea about rebirth. On p. 33 of What the Buddha Taught (1974), Walpola Rahula says,
"What we call death is the total nonfunctioning of the physical body. Do all these forces and energies stop altogether with the nonfunctioning of the body? Buddhism says, 'No'. Will, volition, desire, thirst to exist, to continue, to become more and more, is a tremendous force that moves whole lives, whole existences, that even moves the whole world. This is the greatest force, the greatest energy in the whole world. According to Buddhism, this force does not stop with the nonfunctioning of the body, which is death; but it continues manifesting itself in another form, producing reexistence, which is called rebirth."
Nonlocality in time means that some nonlocal minds are sensitive to projections from the transcendental that include some aspects of past and/or future. This would explain those talented individuals that can read the "akashic records" and thus see past lives, or those that are precognitive and can see some aspects of the future. Nonlocality in space means that some nonlocal minds are sensitive to projections from the transcendental of images of locations far outside the direct perception of that individual. The inevitable inaccuracy and unreliability of such nonlocal projections can be explained by realizing that only part of the transcendental realm is projected.

Question: Do you know somebody who claims to be precognitive? Somebody who claims to be clairvoyant? Somebody who claims to remember past lives? Is there any way to verify that these claims are true?

We can now see the similarities between the different transcendental realms. All of them transcend space-time, but all are the source of space-time and of the entire manifestation. In each moment the entire manifestation arises and dissolves, to be replaced by the manifestation of the next moment. These processes of manifestation and dissolution go on continuously. (This process is directly observable by advanced Buddhist meditators, see Sections 14.5, 14.6, 24.2.)

None of the transcendental realms can be described or defined using space-time concepts because they are all transcendental to space-time. They are unperceivable to us but all contain the blueprints for the perceived manifestation. The material world is projected from the archetypal realm of Plato in our adaptation of the cave allegory, and appears by wavefunction collapse from Goswami’s transcendental realm. It is manifested from leftover memories, desires, and fears in Nisargadatta's version, is selected by consciousness from Ramesh's pool of consciousness, and is reborn from unfulfilled desires according to Buddhism.

8.2. The meaning of the transcendental realms 

The purpose of postulating a transcendental realm is to attempt to explain phenomena that have no other explanation. This is done in order to maintain some semblance of an objective reality, but the desperation in doing so is exposed by the fact that all transcendental realms are intrinsically unverifiable. In this they resemble the epicycles that Ptolemy invented in A.D. 140 in order to retain an earth-centered cosmology. The need to resort to such gimmicks conceals a fundamental defect that it would be better to reveal than to conceal.  

We have come a long way from our discussion of objective reality and materialism in Sections 1.1 and 1.2. We have persisted in trying to find an objectively real explanation for all observable phenomena. In doing so we have seen that the concept of objective reality starts to become so unwieldy that it threatens to collapse under its own dead weight. The transcendental realms can hardly be called objective since there is no agreement at all about their properties, existence, or even necessity. The inescapable progression of our thought from the material and tangible to the immaterial and incomprehensible strongly suggests that we are reaching the limits of science, and perhaps even breaching them (see also the discussion of this point in Section 6.10). It also strongly suggests that science is incapable of explaining everything, a possibility we already discussed in Section 5.6.


The transcendental realms were invented in an attempt to explain how the manifestation arises, but perhaps the real problem is our insistence on an objective reality in the first place. We question that assumption in Chapter 9.

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