The first of these planes or states of Consciousness, above the “Self-Consciousness” of the psychologists (which we have called “Mental Consciousness”) may be called “Ego-consciousness,” for it brings an “awareness” of the Reality of the Ego. This “awareness” is far above the Self-consciousness of the man who is able to distinguish “I” from “You,” and to give it a name.
And far above the consciousness that enables a man, as he rises in the scale, to distinguish the “I” from faculty after faculty of the mind, which he is able to recognize as “not–I,” until he finds left a mental something that he cannot set aside, which he calls “I”–although this stage alone is very much higher than that of the average of the race, and is a high degree of Attainment itself. It is akin to this last stage, and yet still fuller and more complete. In the dawning of Ego Consciousness the “I” recognizes itself still more clearly and, more than this, is fully imbued with a sense and “awareness” of its own Reality, unknown to it before.
This awareness is not a mere matter of reasoning–it is a “consciousness,” just as is Physical Consciousness and Mental Consciousness something different from an “intellectual conviction.” It is a Knowing, not a Thinking or Believing. The “I” knows that it is Real–that it has its roots in the Supreme Reality underlying all the Universe, and partakes of its Essence. It does not know what this Reality is, but it knows that it is Real, and something different from anything in the world of name, form, number, time, space, cause and effect–something Transcendental and surpassing all human experience.
And knowing this, it knows that it cannot be destroyed or hurt; cannot die, but is immortal; and that there is Something which is the very essence of Good behind of, underneath and even in itself. And in this certainty and consciousness is there Peace, Understanding and Power. When it fully bursts upon one, Doubt, Fear, Unrest and Dissatisfaction drop from him like wornout garments and he finds himself clothed in the Faith that Knows; Fearlessness; Restfulness; Satisfaction. Then he is able to say understandingly and with meaning “I AM.”
This Ego Consciousness is coming to many as a dawning knowledge–the light is just rising from behind the hills. To others it has come gradually and slowly, but fully, and they now live in the full light of the consciousness. Others it has burst upon like a flash, or vision–like a light falling from the clear sky, almost blinding them at first, but leaving them changed men and women, possessed of that something that cannot be understood by or described to those who have not experienced it. This last stage is called “Illumination” in one of its forms.
The man of the Ego Consciousness may not understand the Riddle of the Universe or be able to give an answer to the great Questions of Life–but he has ceased to worry about them–they now disturb him not. He may use his intellect upon them as before, but never with the feeling that in their intellectual solution rests his happiness or peace of mind. He knows that he stands on solid rock, and though the storms of the world of matter and force may beat upon him, he will not be hurt. This and other things he knows. He cannot prove these things to others, for they are not demonstrable by argument–he himself did not get them in that way.
And so he says but little about it–but lives his life as if he knew them not, so far as outward appearances go. But inwardly he is a changed man–his life is different from that of his brothers, for while their souls are wrapped in slumber or are tossing in troubled dreams, his Soul has awakened and is gazing upon the world with bright and fearless eyes. There are, of course, different stages or degrees of this Consciousness, just as there are in the lower planes of consciousness. Some have it to a slight degree, while others have it fully. Perhaps this lesson will tell some of its readers just what is the thing that has “happened” to them and which they hesitate to speak of to their closest friend or life companion. To others it may open the way to a fuller realization. We sincerely trust so, for one does not begin to Live until he knows the “I” as Reality.