The Fifth Tier of Consciousness

Daniel J. Neumann

Professor Carsey (Advanced Composition)

October 30th, 2012

Project 3




The Fifth Tier of Consciousness

Last semester, I wrote an essay for my European Literature since 1600s course called “Tiers of Consciousness.” I outlined four levels of self-awareness. A gradient scale of sentience seemed necessary to me, since self-hood appears so basic and yet can be so complex. I was analyzing the Metamorphosis by Franz Kafka, matching characters to tiers and realized that the protagonist bug, Gregor, acted more human—and his family and society behaved more as bugs would. But I admitted in that essay that there could be more than four levels of consciousness, although I had no reason to define them since no characters of the story evidenced it. But the fifth tier is the most important of all, since I think it connects the whole architecture, the so-called ‘hierarchy,’ into a circular or looped shape. The fifth tier of consciousness reigns in a characterization of the first. In order to further elaborate, I must explain the original premise, the first four levels:


  1. The first tier of consciousness includes microorganisms and plants. The functionality of these organisms includes a set of parameters that must be met for the continuation of the system: for survival. In other words, plants and bacteria desire resources for themselves solitarily. Selfhood emerges by an organism’s separation from the environment. (This tier loosely aligns with the Freudian concept of Id).
  2. The second tier of consciousness includes most animals. The ability for the organism to react to the environment reaches further than the first tier, being seasoned by neurological sensations. Experiencing pain and pleasure by nerves embodies this tier. The more complex the desire experience, the higher the tier. (This may be comparable to the Ego).
  3. The third tier of consciousness includes animals that have language capability, like humans, whales, dolphins, apes, etc. (A complex communication system socially develops what Freud may have related to the Super-Ego). Language, as a system, implies an inherent subject that is reaffirmed. I acknowledge my existence and your being when I talk with you because I used the word, “I,” and “you.” These symbols allow for unprecedented articulation of inner desires and reflection.
  4. The fourth tier of consciousness sometimes includes human beings. The facility for engagement and imagination combine to do something peculiar, something unique to only us (for all we know): deictic meaning emersion. Albert Einstein said, “The true sign of intelligence is not knowledge but imagination” (Think Exist). Interpreting things, other people, and ourselves for emotional and rational value requires a higher state of self-awareness than the lower three tiers of consciousness. It takes mindful, empathic, and creative deliberation. In effect, it emerges from what Socrates called “the examined life.” It is an attitude that measures import dynamically and a philosophically framed process of assigning significance to people, places, poetry, paintings, politics, poverty, pride, or my choice of words. By adding meaning into the world around them, those that exist in the realm of the fourth tier interact and add their own significance in a partially linguistic—yet inter-subjectively interpretive—process representing the self as related to a system. The fourth tier of consciousness—the highest state of awareness among these categories—is a deeper and more enriching mode for living.

Each tier of consciousness builds off of the former and directly correlates to the experience of desire that relates the self to the environment (or system). The fifth tier furthers this pattern to the extreme, understanding identity as absolutely and truly formless. All of existence—every potential verse of the infinite multiverse ocean—came from a cause-less cause that has to be outside of space and time. Time and space shape matter and energy, causing both of them to have form that must change. The Supreme Being has to be formless to exist outside any space or time, the First Initiator of Existence.

If the Supreme Being is the formless imagination that created everything, then we all have a common origin. God would be truly omnipresent and transcendent, which means God is in us as well. The fifth tier of consciousness is realizing and experiencing this truth.

I claimed earlier that the fifth level reconnects to the first because seeing the self as a piece of the formless can be compared to visualizing yourself as a single cell of the divine. There seems to be a fractal, a reiterating pattern, of consciousness. Cells of anybody perform action and sense experience, yet those pieces unite their will to form a complete body. Each individual cell dies at some point. No cell is permanent. The body outlasts individual cells. Cells outlast their organelles. And all along, these pieces are changing: swapping matter and energy. There are as many stars in our galaxy as grains of sand on Earth. There are more galaxies in our universe than stars in our galaxy. Every particle is its own universe. If the pieces of God awakened to the realization of the system—the body—they belong to, then God could experience complete self-awareness through us. It’s both humbling and liberating, grounding and empowering, emptiness and bliss. The formless divine is the true thinker of our consciousness, and the ego (which is more complex the higher the tier) brokers this information in our brains, creating an illusion of a continuum. Consider the inability to feel the interim of no time when patients are placed under anesthesia. That happens between every moment. You’re already dead.

Right now will always already be here and consciousness will express itself within the faculties observing it. For example, the formless imagination is like an infinite ocean that seeps into brains (or any vehicle for consciousness) through the path of least resistance. Different brains will desire uniquely, yet all minds are here for the common reason of creating truth, of being the formless in a different, fragmented way—to love each other.

The fifth tier of consciousness is about seeing divinity in yourself and others, feeling the intimate connection infinitely around us in every moment. It dissolves the complexity of desire. It illuminates your life with confidence and eagerness to help others. Helping others, you’ll understand, is, in the most absolute sense, helping yourself. The distinction between people becomes as arbitrary as distinguishing one neuron from another in your brain. Sure, you can give the cells names. Sure, the cells are doing different things at different times. But all the neurons cooperate together to fashion reality from sensory information and a bit of imagination. In this manner, individuals experiencing the fifth tier of consciousness can identify as a member of an expanding community.

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