The Four Levels of the Mind

The Four Levels of the Mind

Sigmund Freud’s Iceberg Analogy

It was the psychological pioneer, Sigmund Freud, who first divided the human mind into the three layers of unconscious, subconscious, and conscious. In his model, the mind was presented as an iceberg, with the conscious mind above the water on top and occupying just ten percent of our total consciousness, while all the rest was made up of the subconscious (or pre-conscious) and unconscious parts. While Freud’s findings were new and important, his understanding was limited because of an absence of spiritual perspective. He, together with all the other psychologists who tried to explain the mystery of the human mind, was unconscious of ‘who’ is using the mind, not even beginning to wonder about his subjective identity in intelligence. In Freud, we have an example of an extraordinarily intelligent human being who nevertheless was just as spiritually ignorant as all other people who remain at the human monkey’s level of consciousness.

How can the word ‘conscious’ truly be defined without there being any awareness of the ‘who’ it is who is conscious? How can one assume the presence of the conscious mind if one does not know who the subject to that mind is? What people call being ‘conscious’ is actually far from really being conscious; the truth is that people have no right to the claim of experiencing the conscious mind at any time during their waking reality.


Conscious, Subconscious, Pre-subconscious and Unconscious Minds


Unconscious Mind

We are all fairly clear about what the term ‘unconscious mind’ means. It is the storehouse of all our memories, feelings, and tendencies that are completely outside of our waking awareness. It could also be said to include the basic wisdom of the body that allows us to function in this reality. For instance, it is the unconscious mind that regulates our breathing, the flow of hormones throughout our body, and much of our physical and psychological survival as separate entities. Just by the word’s definition alone, ‘unconscious’ tells us it is below the reach of our conscious awareness. No one is aware of the unconscious because that would be a contradiction in terms. We can obtain a glimpse of some of the unconscious, but only through information that flows from it into our subconscious mind. It is then possible to influence and change some of the content of the unconscious mind based on feedback we give the subconscious, which of course requires a degree of cooperation with the conscious mind.

Pre-subconscious Mind

We would rather call what Freud called the subconscious, or pre-conscious, mind, the pre-subconscious mind, and call his conscious mind the subconscious one. As he did not himself experience the truly conscious mind, his terminology was necessarily limited by his own experience.

When information in the unconscious crosses the threshold to the most rudimentary level of recognition, it becomes part of the pre-subconscious mind. Daydreaming, spacing out, or drifting away on a train of thoughts are, for an ordinary person, examples of being in the pre-subconscious mind. The pre-subconscious mind is present most of the time, but it is being interrupted on and off by what we term the subconscious mind (what most people think of as the waking mind). An ordinary person lives between the two shores of the pre-subconscious and subconscious minds.

Subconscious Mind

What characterizes the subconscious mind’s presence? It is the arising of the observer. The subconscious mind is closer to the conscious mind than the pre-subconscious one, but it is still far from really being conscious. While most of the creatures on our planet live in the pre-subconscious mind, humans have the unique ability to activate the subconscious mind because their mental observer is more developed. Animals also have an observer, but it is mostly the visual one; their observer has not evolved in intelligence. However, even the presence of the mental observer does not mean that the mind is conscious. If you consider people who reflect on different issues, solve problems or pursue contemplative thoughts, you could well be under the illusion that they are thinking consciously, but nothing could be further from the truth; they are in their subconscious minds. Why? Because their observer is unconscious of himself. It seems paradoxical because, although one appears to be thinking consciously, one is still unconscious of the one who is thinking.

Conscious Mind

To have access to the conscious mind, we must become aware of who is thinking. It is as simple as that. Most humans, no matter how impressive their intellectual capacity, not only do not care to become aware of who is thinking, but they do not even realize that they do not know; this includes the vast majority of the ‘spiritual’ people, including Buddhist students, who imagine themselves to be on paths to enlightenment. The result of this state of affairs is that they live lives of clever monkeys, blind to the very purpose of our existence, which is to become conscious.

Only when the outer knower is awakened do we have access to the conscious center of intelligence, which is itself the center of the conscious mind. To think consciously is not just to be mentally present in our thoughts, but to embody – and experience ourself as being – the pure subjectivity of the thinker. In conscious thinking, our thoughts are experienced as creative extensions of the outer knower’s identity.

In a world filled with subconscious and ignorant psychologists, politicians, business leaders, and philosophers, as well as with similarly ignorant spiritual teachers, the very meaning of inhabiting a conscious world has been degraded to a farcical level.

The awakening of the outer knower is the only way to activate the conscious mind, and our planet’s true crisis is the urgent call for a birth to a new era through the awakening to true consciousness. There is no hope for a world which is without the outer knower, because his very absence blocks the possibility of intelligence being able to be part of our waking state. If you really want to help this world, awaken the outer knower as your true identity in intelligence. Such an awakening is the first step towards entering the dimension of love.

Keep in mind that only three levels of the mind are usually present in a person, and these will be different depending on the person’s evolution. If the outer knower is unawakened, only the unconscious, pre-subconscious and subconscious minds can be experienced.  But if the outer knower has been realized, the pre-subconscious mind is replaced with subconscious mind and such a person will have the unconscious, subconscious and conscious minds.

The Higher Levels of the Conscious Mind

The term ‘conscious’ mind is general catch-all description of intelligence experienced from the outer knower, the center of intelligence conscious of its pure subjectivity. However, the outer knower can be realized on several levels which, in turn, determines the quality of how we experience the conscious mind.

The first level of the conscious mind is automatically experienced when the self-conscious observer has been realized, but this initial level of realization is still very limited due to the observer’s continuing instability. For the self-conscious observer actually to become the outer knower, the bare attention of the inner knower – conscious me – needs to be established; we define the outer knower as the awakened observer experienced from conscious me. When the outer knower is thus properly awakened, he transforms into the transparent knower, a name given to reflect the transparent nature of his presence. We call the conscious mind experienced from the transparent knower ‘transparent intelligence’.  Transparent intelligence should not be understood as just being a conscious mind on its own, but as a mind that has been integrated with the pure subjectivity of the soul and, above all, the mind that is experienced from the foundation of the inner knower.

The next level of evolution of the outer knower is his fusion with conscious me, which is a result of the second level of self-absorption. From this fusion with the inner knower, the outer knower becomes the translucent knower and the mind experienced from him is transformed into translucent intelligence. Translucent intelligence is the highest realization of the conscious mind because, with it, intelligence is experienced not only from our pure subjectivity, but each thought itself is absorbed in the inner knower; the mind itself enters samadhi.

To express this in different words, in translucent intelligence each thought is illuminated through intimate relationship with the inner knower and the whole of the mind is the living radiance of our divine self.




For a definition of the terminology used, please visit the Glossary page. Click here for a printable version of this article.