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Higher consciousness - Wikipedia https://en.wikipedia.


Higher consciousness is the consciousness of a higher Self, transcendental reality, or God. It is "the part of the
human being that is capable of transcending animal instincts".[1] The concept was significantly developed in
German Idealism, and is a central notion in contemporary popular spirituality. However, it has ancient roots,
dating back to the Bhagvad Gita and Indian Vedas.

19th century movements
Modern spirituality

Cognitive science
Further reading
See also
External links

Fichte distinguished the finite or empirical ego from the pure or infinite ego. The activity of this "pure ego" can be
discovered by a "higher intuition".[2][note 1]

Fichte (1762-1814) was one of the founding figures of German idealism, which developed from the theoretical and
ethical writings of Immanuel Kant.[2] His philosophy forms a bridge between the ideas of Kant and those of the
German Idealist Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel.

According to Michael Whiteman, Fichte's philosophical system "is a remarkable western formulation of eastern
mystical teachings (of Advaita)."[2]


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In 1812 Schopenhauer started to use the term "the better consciousness", a consciousness

...[that] lies beyond all experience and thus all reason, both theoretical and practical (instinct).[3]

According to Yasuo Kamata, Schopenhauer's idea of "the better consciousness" finds its origin in Fichte's idea of a
"higher consciousness" (höhere Bewusstsein)[4] or "higher intuition",[5] and also bears resemblance to Schelling's
notion of "intellectual intuition".[4] According to Schopenhauer himself, his notion of a "better consciousness"
was different from Schelling's notion of "intellectual intuition", since Schelling's notion required intellectual
development of the understanding, while his notion of a "better consciousness" was "like a flash of insight, with
no connection to the understanding."[4]

According to Schopenhauer,

The better consciousness in me lifts me into a world where there is no longer personality and
causality or subject or object. My hope and my belief is that this better (supersensible and extra-
temporal) consciousness will become my only one, and for that reason I hope that it is not God. But
if anyone wants to use the expression God symbolically for the better consciousness itself or for
much that we are able to separate or name, so let it be, yet not among philosophers I would have

Almost all religions have a concept have ideas of higher consciousness in at least some sects. It was first
mentioned in recorded human history in the Sanskrit Hindu texts, the Upanishads.

Friedrich Schleiermacher (1768-1834) made a distinction between lower and higher (self)consciousness.[1][7] In
Schleirmacher's theology, self-consciousness contains "a feeling that points to the presence of an absolute other,
God, as actively independent of the self and its 'world'."[8] For Schleiermacher, "all particular manifestations of
piety share a common essence, the sense of dependency on God as the outside 'infinite'."[8] The feeling of
dependency, or "God-consciousness", is a higher form of consciousness.[7] This consciousness is not "God
himself",[9] since God would then no longer be "an infinite infinite, but a finite infinite, a mere projection of

For Schleiermacher, the lower consciousness is "the animal part of mankind", which includes basic sensations
such as hunger, thirst, pain and pleasure, as well as basic drives and pleasures, and [1] higher consciousness is
"the part of the human being that is capable of transcending animal instincts",[1] and the "point of contact with
God". Bunge describes this as [1]"the essence of being human".[1]

When this consciousness is present, "people are not alienated from God by their instincts".[1] The relation
between the lower and the higher consciousness is akin to "Paul's struggle of the spirit to overcome the flesh",[1]
or the distinction between the natural and the spiritual side of human beings.[7]

19th century movements

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Higher consciousness - Wikipedia https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Higher_consciousness

The idea of a "wider self walled in by the habits of ego-consciousness"[10] and the search for a "higher
consciousness" was manifested in 19th century movements as Theosophy[10] New Thought[10] Christian
Science,[10] and Transcendentalism.[11]

The 19th century Transcendentalists saw the entire physical world as a representation of a higher spiritual
world.[12] They believed that humans could elevate themselves above their animal instincts, attain a higher
consciousness, and partake in this spiritual world.[13]

According to Blavatsky, who founded the Theosophical Movement,

By that higher intuition acquired by Theosophia - or God-knowledge, which carried the mind from
the world of form into that of formless spirit, man has been sometimes enabled in every age and
every country to perceive things in the interior or invisible world.[14]

Blavatsky refers to Fichte in her explanation of Theosophy:

Theosophy [...] prompted such men as Hegel, Fichte and Spinoza to take up the labors of the old
Grecian philosophers and speculate upon the One Substance - the Deity, the Divine All proceeding
from the Divine Wisdom - incomprehensible, unknown and unnamed.[14]

Modern spirituality
The idea of "lower" and "higher consciousness" has gained popularity in modern popular spirituality.[15]
According to James Beverley, it lies at the heart of the New Age movement.[16]

Ken Wilber has tried to integrate eastern and western models of the mind, using the notion of "lower" and
"higher consciousness". In his book The Spectrum of Consciousness Wilber describes consciousness as a
spectrum with ordinary awareness at one end, and more profound types of awareness at higher levels.[17] In later
works he describes the development of consciousness as a development from lower consciousness, through
personal consciousness, to higher transpersonal consciousness.[15]

Gerald Edelman, in his 'Theory of Consciousness', distinguishes higher consciousness, or "secondary

consciousness" from "primary consciousness", defined as simple awareness that includes perception and
emotion. Higher consciousness in contrast, "involves the ability to be conscious of being conscious", and "allows
the recognition by a thinking subject of his or her own acts and affections". Higher consciousness requires, at a
minimal level semantic ability, and "in its most developed form, requires linguistic ability, or the mastery of a
whole system of symbols and a grammar".[18]

Psychedelic drugs can be used to alter the brain cognition and perception, some believing this to be a state of
higher consciousness and transcendence.[19] Typical psychedelic drugs are hallucinogens including LSD, DMT
(Dimethyltryptamine), cannabis, peyote, and psiloscybin mushrooms.[20] According to Wolfson, these
drug-induced altered states of consciousness may result in a more long-term and positive transformation of

According to Dutta, psychedelic drugs may be used for psychoanalytic therapy,[20] as a means to gain access to the

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Higher consciousness - Wikipedia https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Higher_consciousness

higher consciousness, thereby providing patients the ability to access memories that are held deep within their

1. See also Daniel Breazeale (2013), Thinking Through the Wissenschaftslehre: Themes from Fichte's Early
Philosophy, and Stanford Encyclopedia of Phiolosophy, "Johann Gottlieb Fichte" (http://plato.stanford.edu

1. Bunge 2001, p. 341. 12. Ladd et al. 2010, p. 33.

2. Whiteman 2014, p. 398. 13. Ladd et al. 2010, p. 34.
3. Cartwright 2010, p. 181. 14. Helena P. Blavatsky, What Is Theosophy?
4. Cartwright 2010, p. 181 note 5. (http://www.filosofiaesoterica.com/ler.php?id=803)
5. Gillespie 1996, p. 194. 15. Hanegraaff 1996.
6. Cartwright 2010, p. 182. 16. Beverley 2009.
7. Merklinger 1993, p. 67. 17. Wilber 2002, p. 3–16.
8. Merklinger 1993, p. 65. 18. Edelman 2004.
9. Merklinger 1993, p. 68. 19. Dutta 2012
10. Heisig 2003, p. 54. 20. Dutta, 2012
11. Ladd et al. 2010, p. 33-34. 21. Wolfson, 2011

Beverly, James (2009), Nelson's Illustrated Guide to Religions: A Comprehensive Introduction to the Religions
of the World, Thomas Nelson Inc.
Bunge, Marcia JoAnn, ed. (2001), The Child in Christian Thought, Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing
Cartwright, David E. (2010), Schopenhauer: A Biography (https://www.amazon.co.uk/Schopenhauer-
Biography-David-E-Cartwright/dp/0521825989), Cambridge University Press
Clark, W. H. (1976). Religious Aspects of Psychedelic Drugs. Social Psychology, pp. 86–99.
Dutta, V. (2012, July–September). Repression of Death Consciousness and the Psychedelic Trip. Journal of
Cancer Research and Therapeutics, pp. 336–342.
Edelman, G.M. (2004), Wider Than the Sky: The Phenomenal Gift of Consciousness
(https://books.google.com/books?id=-ImEgvG1GdkC), Yale University Press
Gillespie, Michael Allen (1996), Nihilism Before Nietzsche, University of Chicago Press
Hanegraaff, Wouter J. (1996), New Age Religion and Western Culture. Esotericism in the mirror of Secular
Thought, Leiden/New York/Koln: E.J. Brill
Heisig, James W. (2003), Jung, Christianity, and Buddhism. In: Polly Young-Eisendrath, Shoji Muramoto
(eds.), "Awakening and Insight: Zen Buddhism and Psychotherapy", Routledge
Johanson, P., & Krebs, T. S. (2013, August). Psychedelics and Mental Health: A population study. PLOS ONE.
Ladd, Andrew; Anesko, Michael; Phillips, Jerry R.; Meyers, Karen (2010), Romanticism and
Transcendentalism: 1800-1860, infoBase Publishing
Lerner, M. M. (2006, June). Values and Beliefs of Psychedelic Drug Users: A Cross Cultural Study. Volume 38,
pp. 143–147.
Merklinger, Philip M. (1993), Philosophy, Theology, and Hegel's Berlin Philosophy of Religion, 1821-1827,
SUNY Press

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Stasko, A., Rao, S. P., & Pilley, A. (2012). Spirituality and Hallucinogen Use: Results from a pilot study among
college students. International Journal of Transpersonal Studies, 23-32.
Tart, C. T., & Davis, C. (1991). Psychedelic Drug Experiences on Students of Tibetan Buddhism, A preliminary
Exploration. The Journal of Transpersonal Psychology, 139-173
Whiteman, Michael (2014), Philosophy of Space and Time: And the Inner Constitution of Nature, Routledge
Wilber, Ken (2002), The Spectrum of Consciousness, Motilal Banarsidass Publ., ISBN 978-81-208-1848-4
Wolfson, P (2011) Tikkun January/February Vol. 26 Issue 1, p10, 6p

Classical western texts

James, William (1917), The Varieties of Religious Experience: A Study in Human Nature (being the Gifford
Lectures on Natural Religion delivered at Edinburgh in 1901-1902) (http://www.gutenberg.org/files/621/621-
pdf.pdf) (PDF), New York: Longmans, Green, and Co
Bucke, Richard Maurice (1901). Cosmic Consciousness: A Study in the Evolution of the Human Mind
(https://archive.org/details/cosmconscious). EP Dutton and Co, Inc.

Secondary sources

Versluis, Arthur (1993), American Transcendentalism and Asian Religions, Oxford University Press
Sharf, Robert H. (1995), "Buddhist modernism and the rhetoric of meditative experience"
/Sharf1995,%20Buddhist%20Modernism.pdf) (PDF), NUMEN, 42: 228–283
Sharf, Robert H. (2000), "The rhetoric of experience and the study of religion"
/Sharf1998,%20Religious%20Experience.pdf) (PDF), Journal of Consciousness Studies, 7 (12): 267–87

Contemporary spirituality (primary sources)

The Degrees of The Soul, Shaykh Abd Al-Khaliq Al-Shabrawi, Quilliam Press (http://www.lotetree.co.uk
The Dhammapada, trans. Harischandra Kaviratna, Online Version (http://www.theosociety.org/pasadena
Discourses of Rumi (Fihi Ma Fihi), trans. A.J. Arberry, Online Version (http://www.omphaloskepsis.com
Edge of Reality, Dawn Hill. Pan Books, Sydney 1987. ISBN 0-330-27096-6
The Evolution of Consciousness, Robert Ornstein
The Psychology of Man's Possible Evolution, P.D. Ouspensky, Online Version (http://www.livingstonemusic.net
Shambhala, Chogyam Trungpa, Shambhala
We are all One: A call to spiritual uprising, J.M.Harrison [1] (http://www.authorJMHarrison.com), A.Lawren
O'Lee Publications

Ātman (Buddhism)

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