In initiation, after purification of the lower bodies upto the spirit-man (or atma), see also Man's transformation and spiritualization, with step 10 in Bardon's IIH system the attainment of Unity is reached, or the first experience of God consciousness.
In Eastern teachings, the term 'nirvikalpa samadhi' is used for the state of ecstacy or enlightenment whereby one reaches a higher state of consciousness (eg through one-pointed concentration on the properties of the godhead). One leaves behind one's Individuality and all experiences of the lower worlds, and experiences a state of infinite peace and bliss.
This experience of God consciousness can be further differentiated into different stages. Relatively little information can be found on this, as it is indeed not relevant for people who have not attained a certain level of spiritual development.
Some examples (see below for excerpts):
- Daskalos describes the 'experience of the logos' from personal experience, a state of communion with the logos (higher then IIH step 10).
- Ramana Maharshi (1879-1950) described the state by which the God consciousness is a continuous state, combined with continuous normal activity throughout the day as an incarnate human being.
- Meher Baba (1894-1969) describes three higher stages of experiences of God consciousness, differentiated by the fact whether one can continuously remain in this state for a longer period and still live in a human body normally meanwhile.
- For an overview on these three states, see Schema FMC00.416 and references below. For a short summary overview to this table, see Discussion Note  below. The normal incarnate human being with mundane waking consciousness is described as state 6 (of 10 states), whereas state 7 is the state of Unity as per IIH step 10. The three higher states mapping to levels 8, 9 and 10 differentiate between how the human being can combine his incarnate Personality and Individuality with the highest states of God experience, either for shorter periods or continuously.
- Note these different states are denominated with many multiple labels in various traditions, such as vedantic, sufi, or the european language. See Schema FMC00.416A and the PDF in the 'Further reading' section below
- What is called God-experience can be sketched or positioned on the Planes or worlds of consciousness as the budhi-atma or life-spirit and spirit-man connect, flow, merge into the Monad divine ray of which they come and are part, in other words the pivoting border between the highest plane of the spirit world and the higher budhi and nirvana planes. See eg Schema FMC00.141 on Overview Golden Chain
- Attaining the state of divine God consciousness is the ultimate aim of every spiritual journey and all paths of Initiation. It is however not the end of that journey. Franz Bardon describes that IIH is only the first of the many books of wisdom, see Initiation and the books of wisdom
- See also the description of the boddhisatva and the masters of the White Lodge. Schema FMC00.310 shows seven 'visible' masters whereas five Masters are not visible. Meher Baba also describes (an albeit different and more complex situation, whereby still) every age has five 'sadgurus' and five 'majzoobs' (see Discussion note and Schema FMC00.417A below for explanation). This could potentially correlate to states (rather than ability) of the boddhisatvas.
- As a general remark, (higher) states of consciousness are not something can not be easily classified into a strict taxonomy (a classification with rigid categories). Below follow just a few additional perspectives to approach the theme:
- Pantanjali's Yoga sutras (below) describe a spectrum of the samadhi experience
- see also Kundalini for another description of the state of enlightenment
- different again, Jean Dubuis talks the 'Experience of eternity' and describes a ritual aiming for this in his book with the same title of 2010
- for the lower stages of consciousness experience and their experiential qualities, the Tree of Life is sometimes used to describe the different paths between the sephiroth (see eg Rawn Clark or William G. Gray in Further reading section below).
- 'Tat Tvam Asi', the sanskrit term from Indian Vedanta meaning 'that art thou', that refers to the true identity of one's self, also called 'atma' and Brahman. This term also refers to the realization of one's true nature that Man gets in the spirit world, see also Man's higher triad.
.. one experiences the entire universe as if it were in fact a part of their own self. There is no part of the infinite universe of which the Unity is not aware ... the whole infinite span of space-time is perceived as one single present moment or as a grand, infinite "Now". But, since the Unity is Immortal and eternal, this perspective is not just a from-afar sort of experience; instead, it is experienced simultaneously from the inside-out - from the perspective of each thing involved with the minute details of the physical manifestation of space-time, to the most ephemeral and comprehensive experience of space-time.
Schema FMC00.416 depicts various states of the God experience.
The illustration is a chart executed under the direction of Meher Baba, taken from ‘The everything and the nothing’. Below the three worlds. On the seventh plane of the spirit world, the label Fana is the Unity God experience corresponding to IIH step 10. The two higher states are labelled here as Baqa and Qubtubiyat. See also Schema FMC00.416A
Schema FMC00.416A maps the Indian Vedantic to the Sufi terminology of Planes or worlds of consciousness and corresponding experiential states of consciousness, see also Twelve conditions of consciousness. Click on the drawing three times to zoom and navigate the enlarged schema.
Schema FMC00.417A provides a tabular overview from Meher Baba's 'God Speaks' (see PDF below, p 280-281)
Lecture coverage and references
Note: this topic exceptionally also pulls from eastern traditions of spiritual science
Pantanjali's Yoga sutras
Samadhi is a state of meditative absorption, it is the mind in its most concentrated state and can be compared to normal thought as a laser beam can be compared to normal light. The awareness of the meditator, process of meditation, and the object of your meditation have all merged into one. From knowledge, you have become knowingness. The mind in Samadhi possesses power that a normal mind does not, making it the main tool to achieve the end goal of the joining of the individual self with the Universal Absolute.
Describing Samadhi is difficult to describe as it is a state beyond the normal mind and intellect; it can only be fully appreciated by direct experience. Various levels can be differentiated.
- Level 1: Savikalpa Samadhi has four stages: (1) sarvitarka, (2) savichara, (3) sa-ananda, and (4) sa-asmita.
- Level 2: Nirvikalpa Samadhi is a higher state of conscious awareness where the I and samskaras [editor: soul impressions of the personality and lower self] have been dissolved and only consciousness remains. In Nirvikalpa Samadhi there is no mind as you know it - there is only infinite peace and bliss. Here nature's dance stops, and the knower and the known become one. Here you enjoy a supremely divine, all-pervading, self-amorous ecstasy. You become the object of enjoyment, the enjoyer, and the enjoyment itself. Now the heart is fully awake, you feel that your heart is larger than the universe itself. The universe appears as a tiny dot inside your vast heart. Here, there is infinite bliss and infinite power. You not only feel bliss, but actually become bliss. The past and future are blended into the eternal present. Everything is now. Everything is here. Time and space have been transcended. The exulted blissful state may last for a few hours or a few days. Initially there is no wish to return from this state and it is said that if one stays at this level for 21 days, there is every possibility that the soul will leave the body for good. However, through continued practice, you are able to come down from Nirvikalpa Samadhi and immediately function normally in the world.
Both Savikalpa and Nirvikalpa Samadhis are considered temporary states in that you can only fully experience them by withdrawing from normal life.
- Level 3: Dharmamegha Samadhi is said to arises when you have lost even the desire to know God or to be enlightened. This Samadhi cannot be gained by effort, it reveals itself as a divine gift and comes down as a 'cloud of virtue' when all effort has dissolved. In this state intention can work miracles, what one wills comes into being.
Ramana Maharshi (1879-1950)
stated that (kevala) nirvikalpa samadhi is temporary, whereas sahaja nirvikalpa samadhi is a continuous state throughout daily activity.
Sahaja samadhi is a state in which the silent awareness of the subject is operant along with (simultaneously with) the full use of the human faculties.
Meher Baba 1938-09-19
Meherabad, LM7 p. 2318
How to explain what happens when you become God-realised?
No more body, mind, ego, no more universe, only you as God experiencing bliss. You then experience knowledge too, power too, but you do not use power. You are one with this power, this knowledge, this bliss. When you come down for the world, you take on a universal mind. Now, as God, you see all souls as your own. You see yourself in everything, and your universal mind has all minds in it, as one mind.
What every mind suffers comes into your mind. Your mind suffers the suffering of all minds, and experiences the happiness of all minds. But as ignorance exists in all minds, the suffering is infinitely more than the happiness of those minds. Therefore, you suffer infinitely. However, your soul, which is fully conscious and enjoys God’s bliss continually, and which is also enjoying its infinite state, is not affected by this suffering.
Now you, as soul in your present state, are unconscious of God and God’s bliss. Your mind now suffers or is happy according to your impressions. Soul, as it were, is not affected, because through ignorance your soul is identified with your mind. After attaining knowledge, your soul consciously experiences God’s bliss. If you come down, your mind then experiences suffering or happiness, but soul is not affected. You are soul. When your mission is complete, the universal mind goes, and with it universal suffering goes. Then soul enjoys God’s bliss eternally.
MoS Ch 1, rephrased and SWCC
Christ-Jesus is not a theosized Man, as some mystics would argue. He is the incarnation of the Logos Itself. Whenever I need to call on Him, I raise my elbows up in the direction of an unfinished triangle, and call on the Logos "Come my Love." This is what I call Him when I want to bring Him to me. And He completes the triangle.
To date I have done this four times in this life. It is not easy to do. It is very painful to come back to a normal state after you have brought Him to you. When I call on Him I immediately feel bright rays emanating from my belly and my head, and the room becomes very hot. For example on once occasion the candles in the room bent from the generated heat. I rarely do it because it is shattering to the body. The energy generated is too much for a weak body. The pleasure is so intense that coming back is very painful. You want to stay there with Him. It is like being an astronaut and then ending up in a prison cell.
To be able to call on the Logos and not get burned, you have to reach a certain level of spiritual development. In order to be able to coordinate yourself with the Logos without being 'burned, on has to be in a state of superconscious self-awareness.
- first that you are constantly aware of your Individuality (or 'permanent self'), which often includes being aware of previous incarnations.
- second, you are a master of materialization and dematerialization,
- and third, your consciousness can be simultaneously at seven and even more different places, and be able to get impressions and experiences from all of these places. [editor: see also expansion of consciousness on OBE topic page]
Although these are attributes of theosis, they are not theosis itself. Theosis is God consciousness.
Daskalos stated that he himself could enter into a state of theosis but could not remain there, but only be there momentarily. You have consciousness of God, but you do not live continuously in God consciousness or Theosis. One cannot live in the material world and be a theosized human at the same time.
short excerpt from a talk in 1985 at the Temple of Kriya Yoga in Chicago - see youtube excerpt here
the best way to express God consciousness is that .. everyone of you who are here, are observing everyone else and observing the building, flowers, and so on ... in God consciousness you are the flowers, you are everyone else that are here observing you .. so it's like a complete inversion
in response to a question by Ray Grasse in 1977-78, see 'An Infinity of Gods' More sources on the topic of initiation#Spiritual biographies
What happens once a soul finally attains God consciousness?
Shelly: you have reached the ultimate perfection of Self, which is what God's cosmic dream is supposed to imply, and you're in controlled, balanced equilibrium which you're able to maintain .. in that state the 'end' does not exist. You now have what is called wave upon wave 'ever-new, ever-changing, ever more glorius bliss'? Every creation, every new state of awareness is more blissfull than the previous states of awareness.
Then if you want, you may come down to help others who have fallen by the wayside along the path towards God consciousness. You help them. Because remember, you are God in his expression: you go about and you want to help, and give all that you are to whoever will let you. Because you are expressing the ultimate or unselfish love, and for no other purpose than to give.
If you really have all the money there is in the world, the only thing you can do is give it to others, is that not so? If you have everything, how can you want more? You want to give what you have: it's the only real way of expressing your nature.
and from the same source
In the state of God consciousness, everything is happening all at once. ... Before enlightenment, there's you looking out at the world. After enlightenment, the world is now looking at you.
on IIH step 10, only a short fragment is excerpted here. See more in: 'A Bardon Companion'.
Step 10 is the final Step of IIH. Reading it may give the impression that it is just like any other Step, but this is far from the case. The completion of this step, above all the other steps, is in the hands of Divine Providence. It may take lifetimes for an initiate to complete this Step or it may take only the blink of an eye, or anywhere in between. There is no way to predict what course the initiate might face in this part of their journey, as this depends entirely upon the particular maturity and accumulated karma of the individual.
But just because the realization of a thing may be beyond our ultimate control, doesn't mean that we cannot succeed if we try. In fact, the only way to succeed in this case IS to try. The initiate who patiently persists will, without a doubt, eventually reach their goal. There must be a fearless caution and a willingness to see it through to its ultimate end, regardless of what may come along to test the initiate. Knock and you shall be answered, to paraphrase an ancient bit of wisdom.
... I should clarify some of the terms I will be using. I do not like the term "God" with a capital 'G'. To me it seems too involved in religious conceptions and when it is used it generally brings a very specific religious image of deity to the reader. In order to avoid this, I will be using the term "Unity" to designate the ultimate, All encompassing deity, instead of 'God'. I will use the term "god" or "gods" (with a small 'g') to designate the familiar religious concept(s) of deity. For example, when referring to the pantheon of lesser, more limited deities, such as the Greco-Roman or Kabbalistic deities, I will say "the gods".
It is also, in this context, important to differentiate between the 'communion' with deity and the 'merging' with deity.
- With communion, there remains a separation between the consciousness of the magician and the deity itself. This is a form of face-to-face communication.
- With merging however, there exists an at-one-ness between the magician's consciousness and that of the deity. Here, the magician experiences no separateness from the chosen deity and in fact, the magician functions as the deity; or rather, the magician and the deity become one and function as one.
...While the Unity can be communicated with, on a face-to-face basis, below the veil of the Abyss, it is only when one has crossed the Abyss and entered the non-sequential realm that the Unity can be merged with. Once this merging with the Unity has occurred, the initiate is also instantly merged with all of the lesser gods.
But even in saying this I have implied things that are inaccurate. Case in point is when I say that the Unity is non-sequential.
The deeper mystery is that the Unity encompasses both the sequential and the non-sequential realms, simultaneously. When I say it is non-sequential, I am referring more to how the Unity appears to our sequentialized human consciousness and not to its essential nature. Often, how we attempt to describe the indescribable involves pointing more to the differences between these things and 'normal' things, than it does to their similarities. The greatest problem with this is that pointing out only differences seems to limit our understanding of the essential Unity of Being. In the hopes of avoiding that obfuscation, I will try to point out as many similarities as I can in what follows.
The first thing I should say in terms of describing the merging with the Unity, pertains to the sense of self that the magician experiences. The self-awareness of the Unity is often described as an "I am" state, but what is often overlooked is the fact that this deific sense of self-identity is of the same quality as that experienced by a normal human being. The only difference is in quantity as the Unity encompasses every thing that has existence and the individual human encompasses only a minute portion of that infinite expanse. It is, in fact, this continuum of alikeness that the magician follows in the ascent or expansion of the quantity of consciousness. In simplistic terms, the magician stands firmly rooted in the quality of self-awareness and expands the quantity of that awareness until it encompasses the Unity of All Being.
The implications of this in practice are that the magician, once merged with the Unity, experiences the entire universe as if it were in fact a part of their own self. There is no part of the infinite universe of which the Unity is not aware.
This brings us to the four attributes of deity, which I think will serve as a good foundation for further describing the ramifications of merging with the Unity. ...
1) Omnipotence (All powerfulness): The sort of omnipotence experienced by the Unity, and by one merged with the Unity, is not akin to the popular conceptualization of a god "up there" who points down at us mere mortals and, poof!, things change according to 'his' will. The Unity's omnipotence works from the inside-out of EVERY thing, all at once. There is no splitting of consciousness at the level of the Unity proper -- the splitting of consciousness is only a manifestation of the Unity.
Within the Unity, there is also no willing akin to human willing. Instead, the Unity exists all at once, as a unified whole, and what we think of as divine will is merely the Unity being what it naturally is. When initiates speak about merging with the divine will and say things like "let Thy will be my will", an incorrect impression is given that the individual will is somehow transplanted by a higher will. This is not the case. The individual will is transformed by the experience of merging, not replaced. Again, an initiate follows the continuum of similarity as they rise to the divine. The thread of similarity here has to do with the fact that the human will is an aspect or manifestation of the divine will. And once again, the difference is a matter of quantity not of quality. ...
2) Omniscience (All knowing): The root essence of the Unity - the stuff of which it is composed - is consciousness. Every thing that exists (mentally, astrally and physically) is a manifestation of this consciousness. The consciousness of the Unity is self-aware within all of its parts or manifestations, simultaneously and fully. In other words, the Unity knows EVERY thing, from the inside-out. This is not just the knowing of an external observer; rather, it is the knowing of a participant. .. any thing the magician wishes to know or explore is made instantly available. But this knowing will be from the inside-out in a most intimate manner. It is similar in quality to the sort of knowing we experience in our daily lives as we pass through a specific event. The difference is, as usual, in the quantity of the knowing. For example, we all know how to tie our shoes because we have experienced it numerous time, but in relation to the Unity we are like a small child who has never tied a shoe and our understanding of this mysterious art comes from the descriptions of our parents. In other words, the Unity knows EVERY thing from the inside-out and the normal human knows only a relatively few things from this perspective.
I must say that the conceptualization of this sort of all knowing is quite different from the actual experience. The magician who merges with the Unity is not only ABLE to know everything, she/he DOES know everything 'while in the merged state'.
3) All-Love or Mercy (Divine benevolence): The divine Mercy is similar in quality to human love, except that in the human manifestation of love we tend to direct it at specific persons, ideas and things. Thus our human love is more limited than the divine love and it is a projection from ourselves to something external (self-love aside). The deific love of the Unity comes from a broader perspective that includes EVERY thing and it works from within each thing. It is without bias and is shared equally with All that exists.... The Unity permeates the whole of the infinite universe all at once and completely, thus it has an eternal perspective from which every event is seen as conforming to the universal lawfulness of things. In other words, from the eternal perspective of the Unity, benevolence is an undercurrent in All events, even the most unpleasant ones.
4) Immortality (Omnipresence): The divine Immortality is not the same thing as what we consider when we think about the immortality of a human form. .. The Immortality of the Unity occurs at an eternal level -- the moment-by-moment duration is only a manifestation of the eternal Immortality. But, .. nothing that is either astral or physical in its nature is eternal or immortal. True Immortality exists only at the level of the eternal, non-sequential realm.
... the whole infinite span of space-time is perceived as one single present moment or as a grand, infinite "Now".
But, since the Unity is Immortal and eternal, this perspective is not just a from-afar sort of experience; instead, it is experienced simultaneously from the inside-out - from the perspective of each thing involved with the minute details of the physical manifestation of space-time, to the most ephemeral and comprehensive experience of space-time.
Note  - on 'Ten states of God'
Hereby short notes on the ten states of God in Meher Baba's description (PDF below, pages 160 onwards).
Note specific terminology is used: soul (atma) and over-soul (paramatma). Some Western writers inspired by Eastern sages have adopted this terminology, e.g. Paul Brunton's use of the oversoul.
Meher Baba uses extensive mapping with Vedantic and Sufi terminology not known outside the Eastern cultures, hence the below tentatively maps to the concepts of Western spiritual science as described on this site.
- state 1 (p 160) describes the first Logos
- state 2 is the same, 'in no way different from state 1', but still has substates A,B and C which correspond to The three Logoi
- state 3 brings the threefoldedness of Brahma (creator), Vishnu (preserver), and Mahesh (destroyer).
- state 4 (p 170) - God as embodied soul, description of the over-soul. See also p 187 onwards (and illustrated p 229), this could be mapped to the Monad
- state 5: God as soul in the state of evolution - this could be mapped to the Individuality (or group soul, life-spirit budhi at a level above spirit-self manas)
- state 6: God as human soul in the state of reincarnation - this could be mapped to Personality, see Personality and Individuality
- state 7 (p 181) - God in the state of spiritually advanced souls. This is the path of Initiation (eg upto step 10 of IIH.)
.. the spiritual progress of the soul through the subtle spheres is entirely in imagination. The pilgrim's progress in the involution of his consciousness consists in replacing one realm of imagination for a better and higher level of imagination, right from the first to the sixth plane of involving consciousness. In the seventh plane the involving process is complete, imagination comes to an end and Reality is realized and is no longer a concept.
See also the description on pages 208 and 250.
- state 8: God as the divinely absorbed, a state the sufis call Majzoob and whereby Man is - for a temporary period, while in that state - continuously divinely absorbed and hence at that time has no awareness of the lower worlds or own individuality.
- state 9: God as liberated incarnate soul, labelled by the term Paramhansa, whereby Man is sometimes divinely absorbed and sometimes recovering normal consciousness of the three lower worlds.
- state 10: God as Man-God and God-Man, also denoted with the terms perfect master, qutub (sufis) or sadguru. In this state
.. he permits himself to be bound by the limitations of time, space and causation while continually experiencing consciously his 'I am God' state and infinite power, knowledge and bliss.
Further description of the sadguru state is given on p 251.
Interestingly (p187), Meher Baba describes Zarathustra, Rama, Krishna, Jesus of Nazareth, Buddha, Muhammed all as manifestations of God-Man in this highest state, but he does make the distinction
Jesus of Nazareth, the Son of God, is [like the above mentioned] .. the God-Man; whilst Christ .. is the divine state of Jesus.
- p 187 onwards describes the descent of the logos on this journey of atma.
- p 254 onwards describes the greater circle of adepts around the White Lodge
References and further reading
- Meher Baba: 'God speaks' (1955) - see wikipedia page on the book
- 'The ten states of God', Chapter written by Eruch B. Jessawala as dictated by Meher Baba
- Rawn Clark
- A Bardon Companion
- The 231 gates of initiation: & the 32 paths of wisdom tarot
- William G. Gray: Language of the Gods