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Photo Credit: Alex Grey

What are the planes of consciousness through which a soul descends from source into solid matter? What keeps us anchored in matter? Different traditions have explained the process in different ways.

Several decades ago, to clarify the process for myself, I drew up this chart. It is based on the understanding of consciousness as explained by the respected yoga philosopher Sri Aurobindo. His understanding is itself based in various ancient yogic teachings, which are often adapted to modern times and modern understandings.

Years after drawing up this chart, I realized that when you go below the inconscient level – the level of total darkness – you break through to the source light again. That is, even the inconsient level is held inside the source itself and the next step below that is the return to source.

Working with the merkaba, or star of David, you can see the movement from spirit into matter occurs from both the masculine and feminine points of view. The so-called masculine religions see the descent from the unmanifest spirit into matter; the so-called feminine perspective see the ascent from the vast cauldron of potential into conscious form. Where these two perspectives join together – where the two triangles overlap in the middle – is where most of existence has its strongest form. It’s where we live our everyday lives.

I offer this chart to you as food for thought, and welcome any comments.


Universal consciousness

The consciousness that always was and always will be – eternal, infinite, universal.  The source of all else in creation, inside everything and beyond everything.  At its ultimate source it is one.  At that point at which it becomes aware of its own existence and observes itself duality begins: the observer and the observed.


All creation has blossomed forth from here and ultimately returns to here. This is the source of all.  It exerts a magnetic pull on earth existence, which seeks consciously or unconsciously to return to its all-fulfilling source. Exists in all other levels, in all polarity constructs such as good-evil, dark-light, strong-weak.  Its highest point is oneness and its lowest inconscient matter.
Individualized consciousness (the soul)

All creation is formed of particles of consciousness of the Supreme that are shaped to meet particular purposes, such as color, emotions, thoughts or physical forms from manufactured items to stones to human beings.


This is a part of the Supreme that has been sent into the earth plane to acquire experiences.  The choices and events happening to each particle cumulatively shape it in a very unique way, so that its experiences as it moves towards perfection are unlike those of any other particle.


Begins when duality begins.  Ranges from simple particles that, upon the dissolution of the form return to the universal consciousness, to the highest earth form, the human soul, which carries the essence of its lessons from each life into the next. When weak: can be overwhelmed by the world and retreat into silence.  When strong: serves as the inner pilot for the form, guiding it in harmony with the Will of the Supreme.
Heart The seat of the soul in a human.   The keystone or pivotal point between the inner and outer worlds and in the body chakra system between the mind and the vital. Its function is true love and oneness. This is a magnetic force that connects the soul both to its father source, the realm of spirit; and its mother source, the world.  It keeps the soul constantly moving between the two, seeking to identify with and please both. Carnal love does not come from this plane but from the vital.  Weak: indifference to the world.  Strong: oneness with the world.
Mind The mental plane.  Organizing and discriminating.  Searches and envisions from the inner worlds to manifest on earth. Organizes, orders, inspects. Takes things apart and examines them. Weak: chaotic.  Strong: clarity and order



Life-energy, emotions. Enables soul to move about on earth. Works with polarity constructs – opposition of magnetic forces (love/hate, dynamism/lethargy) – until being learns to master them through detachment, identification & transformation.  Works with flows of energy through chakras and meridians. Weak: overwhelmed by emotions that can’t control, see-sawing between polarities; becomes rigid in effort to experience only one side of a polarity (peace not anger); or shuts down in effort, leading to lethargy and illness.  Strong: calm dynamism, balance, vibrant health
Physical The plane of solid matter on which a soul or consciousness-form manifests its purpose and function.  The playing field. Gives the soul a material form through which it can learn to manifest its will or God’s Will on earth. Ranges from the subtle to the gross physical.  Weak: the body construct breaks apart and death occurs.  Strong: the soul can protect itself and enact its will with physical matter.
Inconscient Matter Matter is at its densest here.  The Supreme has packed Itself so tight that at its base there is no apparent action; yet inside its core it, too, is the light of the Supreme.  Some feel the earth-game will not be done until even this plane has been enlightened and transformed – a goal uncountable millions of years in the future – and all earth existence becomes one with the Supreme, absorbed back into Itself through the oneness of Light; the Game is Done. The anchor of the physical world inside the universal consciousness of the Supreme.  The base of the Supreme’s game of light and dark; the base from which the growth of light is  measured. Weak: the dark forces of the universe take their existence from here.  Total lethargy and inability of the individual form to help itself.    Strong: The powerful base of a form in the material world.  Gives stability & determination so that vision can overcome all opposition and become material reality.

The image in this blog is by the artist Alex Grey.


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