The Fourth State of Consciousness

Four turtle eggs take me there


Four tiny long-necked turtle eggs uncovered in grey sand.
Long-necked turtle eggs accidently uncovered at Evergreen.

Spring at our property, Evergreen, is a time bursting with new life.


Looking outside through my writing room window I can see the May bush displaying brilliant white flowers, several bottlebrush bushes on fire with colour, and a baby crow hopping about demanding food from its harassed parents. And yesterday, while digging in the sand at the top of our driveway, I accidentally unearthed four tiny, white, long-necked turtle eggs.


I held them in the palm of my hand and stared at them in wonder. At that moment I entered what Eckhart Tolle refers to as the fourth state of consciousness.


Humans have four possible states of consciousness:


  • dreamless sleep

  • dreaming

  • ordinary, everyday consciousness

  • being present


It’s generally believed by the spiritual community that this fourth state of consciousness is only attainable after living alone in a windy cave on top of an icy mountain for at least a decade while subsisting on one bowl of gruel a day.


But actually, this level of consciousness is always with us.


We don’t have to go somewhere to get it. We don’t have to wear different clothing or deprive ourselves to achieve it. We don’t need to fast or flagellate our bodies to attain it.


The fourth dimension is our true self. It is essentially who we are. It’s never far away. It’s always with us. It is us.


The fourth dimension is simply what we are when all the layers we’ve added to ourselves, like our personal story, thought patterns, status, and habits, drop away, and we are simply being.


There are other terms for this dimension. Stillness. Spaciousness. Awareness. Being in a state of “no mind”. Being the witness. Being in flow. Pure consciousness. Being a conduit for universal wisdom.


It can occur during moments of awe or wonder, in the gaps between our thoughts, in peaceful moments when our minds are quiet, or when we are open to life without judgment. Some people live this way predominantly, while most people, including me, experience it a little bit here and a little bit there, just enough to keep sane.


Sometimes opportunities to live this way arise unexpectedly, like with me and the tiny turtle eggs, but we can experience this state more by consciously choosing to be fully present in the moment. It can become our way of life.


We need to dream and have dreamless sleep every night and experience the ordinary conscious state that involves our incredible minds planning, initiating, and solving life issues.


But when we are present, fully in the moment, without our time-worn mental clutter, we are being what we truly are.


Back to my moment with the turtle eggs. Holding them was an unexpected gift that made me pause in my rush to finish the job of moving barrowloads of sand down to the garden area. They were so light it was hard to imagine each one contained a developing turtle. I observed them. My breathing slowed; my body calmed down. There was no past or future. I was present, in the now, with no thoughts. My being observed their being.


I know it’s illegal to interfere with this protected species, but the eggs couldn’t remain where I found them. Feeling like a mother turtle, I knelt in the sand, took off my gardening gloves, scraped a hole in similar soil about two metres from the original site, covered them over, patted the soil down, and added some dried vegetable matter for camouflage.


Being exposed to daylight or experiencing a rise or drop in temperature may mean they won’t hatch. If they do hatch and make their way to the soil surface, then head for the water, they may be snapped up by the crow family, the kookaburras, or a fox on the prowl. The chance that even one of the hatchlings will make it back to the wetlands is slim.


Whatever the outcome, I will remember our encounter. The four turtle eggs and I were in the fourth dimension.


I appreciate the moment of pure consciousness they gave me.


With love, Marlane

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