“… So the divine level is the one mind, the one consciousness, which is also the same thing as who you are …” ~ Philip Jacobs

one consciousness

We continue the conversation between Paula Marvelly (the host) and Philip Jacobs (the guest-interviewee). Part 4 closed with Philip saying that: “… all these levels – physical, subtle, causal – are enclosed within the divine level, but the divine isn’t really a level, it’s simply the whole thing and is also sometimes referred to as the ground of all being …” … in this final part 5 he takes us deeper into oneness …

So the divine level is the one mind, the one consciousness, which is also the same thing as who you are. You have only mistakenly identified with the physical and subtle, the mind-body mechanism, as the basis of the sense of ‘I’.

If you go back in the chain of causality, you can go through deeper and deeper levels. One of the ways in which I find it useful for looking at this is to look at it from ‘bottom up’ and ‘top down’. In nondual traditions, particularly Buddhism, they have what they call absolute and relative knowledge.

Relative knowledge relates to the bottom up view; so from the bottom up, which is the view of Reductionist science, you’re a physical body in this vast physical universe, which is all running to the laws of physics.


Many esoteric traditions are very much bottom up; consciousness is seen as a remote goal that you achieve only after years and years of intense work. It’s like you are gradually climbing up a metaphorical ladder, through all the different levels to reach it.

Top down or what they refer to as absolute knowledge is looking at it from the point of the one consciousness. From this point of view, it is devastatingly different because it is as if you are the one mind in which the physical universe appears and disappears. From the bottom up point of view, you are only the physical body that appears and disappears, it goes to sleep and then wakes up again; but from the top down point of view, you are already that basic identity that existed when you were five and exists when you’re fifty-five. You are already that, you are consciousness.

If we combine the top down approach with the levels of consciousness, at the causal level, there’s no experience, no images on the screen of consciousness; it’s consciousness at rest. It is sometimes also called objectless consciousness.

Then at a certain point, dream images appear on the screen. This is the subtle level. So when you are dreaming during sleep at night, images appear but they are not as solid and consistent as daytime images; and yet they can still be quite compelling. When you are dreaming, you are a character in the dream and you’re also the creator of the dream; you create a whole dream world and you also create yourself as a character relating to other characters in the dream.

dreaming the universe

When you wake up in the morning, in terms of this model, on the physical level you are still the dreamer creating the dream. But now, the images on the screen are like they are at moment – more solid and consistent than they were in the dream at night. From the point of view of this teaching, you are still the dreamer who is dreaming this whole massive physical universe and you are also dreaming yourself as a character within it.

Every one of us is doing the same thing, so it’s as if the one mind is dreaming this massive physical universe, as well as dreaming all these different characters from all these multiple different perspectives. I have always found that to be a rather awe-inspiring idea!

In the nondual traditions, you don’t remain at the superficial level. In Advaita, they refer to this process of going back in the causal chain as viveka or discrimination. In Buddhism, it is referred to as prajna, which is discriminative wisdom. So it’s the ability to see beyond the world of appearances and go to the ultimate cause, which is itself causeless.

Again, there’s another story from Rumi in the Mathnavi about some ants on a piece of paper and a pen, which is writing on the paper. One of the ants says, ‘Isn’t it wonderful that this pen can do all this writing.’ And another ant says, ‘No, it’s not the pen, it’s the hand that’s holding the pen that does the writing.’ Then another slightly wiser ant says, ‘No, it’s not the hand, it’s the arm that moves the hand that does the writing.’ And the ants go back and back in the chain of causality. However, there’s one ant, who Rumi describes as ‘a little bit sagacious’, who says, ‘No, the writing is caused by none of these things. The writing is caused by the universal spirit that gives movement to all things.’

Universal Spirit Writing

This is a superb example of viveka and prajna; the ability not to be like the ants and stop short of the ultimate causality, but rather going back and back until you come to that which is the causeless-cause.

You can do this quite easily if you are a creative artist or a writer, for example; it’s very much like your ideas are nothing to do with you. When you are full of inspiration, ideas just suddenly appear in front of you, and you look at them and think they’re rather good! Where did they come from? On one level, it’s like everything is passing through you as a vehicle of consciousness.

What happens in my experience with various practices like meditation, yoga and dervish turning is that this vehicle, specifically the subtle and causal levels, becomes transparent. Rumi often uses the analogy of the mirror and polishing the surface of the mirror. From my perspective, all of life, including all the various things that have happened, are all a part of this process of becoming transparent. Sometimes you just have it for moments, but it’s as if you don’t exist, you’re just the vehicle for something flowing through you.

becoming transparent

In reality, this is how it is all the time. In fact, consciousness isn’t only just flowing through you; you and everything else are the very substance of consciousness.

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This part concludes the interview with Philip.

Click here for Part 1 and Part 2 and Part 3 and Part 4.

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Paula Marvelly is the Creator and Editor of The Culturium, a magnificent site about Art and Consciousness. Paula was also an ex Editor of Stillness Speaks.

For more information on the whirling dervishes, visit the Study Society website or The Whirling Dervishes of West London on facebook.

Images: (all edited and logo added) 1) Consciousness by MorganRenCC0 Public Domain, 2) Clock Present by geraltCC0 Public Domain,  3) Milky Way by skeeseCC0 Public Domain, 4) Quill by Clker-Free-Vector-ImagesCC0 Public Domain, 5) C-Curve – Anish Kapoor by Dominic AlvesCC BY 2.0.



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