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Ego development and higher states of consciousness: New research on the brain as the interface between the Self and the outside world
by Global Good News staff writer
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30 November 2008
Speaking from Maharishi University of Management in Fairfield, Iowa, USA, on a recent Maharishi Global Family Chat, Dr Fred Travis, a leading researcher in the field of encephalography, brain wave research, spoke about the relation of ego development to higher states of consciousness.
In his presentation Dr Travis drew on the profound knowledge brought out by Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, Founder of Maharishi University of Management and the Global Country of World Peace, in his Vedic Science about the seven states of consciousness and how they develop spontaneously through Maharishi's Transcendental Meditation Programme.
Showing slides with his presentation, Dr Travis explained that the brain is an interface between transcendental, self-referral consciousness and the outside world. As this interface changes so does our understanding of the world and how we can respond.
Dr Travis showed a chart of age, brain maturation, cognitive development, and ego development. In answer to a question about when higher states of consciousness develop, Dr Travis showed a slide about Cosmic Consciousness (the fifth state of consciousness), when the Self or Atma, pure consciousness (the fourth state of consciousness), is maintained alongside the other three states: waking, dreaming, and deep sleep.
Dr Travis explained that one does not have to remember this state, it is just a question of being it.* It is maintained by itself because the very nature of the mind is infused or saturated with the state of Being, pure Transcendental Consciousness. 'When the mind then comes to live in the world of sensory perception, all things are experienced as before, but not as before,' Dr Travis said. 'Now the full interface with Being is lived.'
One's individual machinery of perception continues, but now there is an awareness of the transcendental state. In one research study 11 individuals were tested who reported inner awareness during sleep—one indication of Cosmic Consciousness. Brain integration and ego development and descriptions of the sense of Self were examined.
Dr Travis showed a slide of the three components of the brain integration scale. Other slides showed the results for non-meditators, seven-year practitioners of Transcendental Meditation, and those who reported 'witnessing' sleep and the experience of deep silence during activity.
One individual experiencing Cosmic Consciousness reported that before practising Transcendental Meditation 'the world was concrete and awareness was abstract. I had my tendencies, I had my likes and dislikes. After practising Transcendental Meditation for two years, there was a shift. Consciousness became dominant; it became the concrete part of life.' This individual showed high levels of brain integration score.
Dr Travis explained that ego development is thought to be 'meaning making'—how we make sense of the world. 'It's a process of knowing, a cognitive process,' he said. This would be due to our natural tendency or our body type. 'Higher states of consciousness is a growth of context within which the meaning is made. Higher states of consciousness means growth of the knower,' he said.
Dr Travis said that what the researchers see, and what is guiding their research, is that higher states of consciousness are independent of measures of ego development as typically established in modern science. 'Measures of ego development are more measures of cognitive processing, processes of knowing more relative to each individual—but the basis of all knowing, the knower, can grow.'
* Maharishi has explained that Transcendental Meditation is an effortless technique for the mind to settle down and experience progressively refined levels of the thinking process, eventually experiencing directly the silent, unbounded field of Transcendental Consciousness within one's own Atma, the Self—the basis of the mind's activity; and that through the regular alternation of this state with regular daily activity, higher states of consciousness naturally develop.
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