there is a vertical axis of depth that spans across all the locations. These allow for many variations of how each location is experienced. These variations in depth are usually mistaken for different types of Fundamental Wellbeing.
Unlike the locations, which appear to be related to a rewiring of neural networks and are thus not present before someone transitions to a location, the layers are related to fundamental aspects of the nervous system that are always functioning and are merely brought into subjective awareness as one deepens into Fundamental Wellbeing.
The layers of depth are essentially layers of the nervous system originally established through millennia of evolution, most of which are out of conscious awareness in the majority of people, but become accessible again in Fundamental Wellbeing.
As one deepens through the layers, one is moving from more recently evolved, complex, and differentiated layers of the nervous system to older, more fundamental and undifferentiated layers. This involves deeper and deeper qualities of stillness as the complexity diminishes.
Normally, the deeper layers in the system are occluded by the activity of the Narrative Self/egoic mind. The activity covers over the stillness at deeper layers making them imperceptible, and the strong association with the Narrative Self precludes awareness of deeper and less individualized layers of experience, such as an experience of pure beingness or the raw cognizance of existence itself.
This means that one is essentially disassociated from the majority of one’s being, and perceptual awareness is effectively locked into a very narrow band of experience related to only the most recent layer of evolution in the nervous system. This condition is very limited in the context of the full potential of human consciousness and experience.
There are four fundamental layers in the nervous system that operate in synchrony to make human consciousness and all its capacities possible. These four layers are also reflected in our modern understandings of the brain and consciousness.
The subjective experiences associated with each layer were uncovered through researching the experiences of hundreds of Finders across cultures and continents. They are also described in religious and spiritual traditions throughout history that are oriented to directly experiencing forms of Fundamental Wellbeing.
Most people are only aware of the most active and complex layer, the Mind Layer. However, with transitioning to Fundamental Wellbeing, the fixation of attention and identification in the mind diminishes, progressively making deeper layers accessible. With enough practice and deepening, all four can be accessible in any moment, and even integrated in such a way that they are simultaneously visible to subjective perception. This is actually natural if one considers that all four layers are fully functioning in an integrated way in the nervous system all the time. Most people are simply not aware of them.
The four layers, in order of decreasing complexity and differentiation, are 1) the Mind Layer, 2) the Consciousness Layer, 3) the Awareness Layer, and 4) the Life Layer (“Existence Itself”). These terms seemed most descriptive from our neuroscience perspective, but essentially we could have called them anything. The same words may have been used in different sources to meaning something different. That does not matter here, they are just labels. The important thing is the experiential qualities of each layer, which will be described in the following sections.
These general descriptions of each layer are in some way coloured by the location in Fundamental Wellbeing that they are experienced from. In addition, bear in mind that these are best attempts at descriptions, and not equal to the subjective experience itself. They are literal descriptions, not metaphors or concepts, even though they may seem abstract or inconceivable if someone hasn’t experienced them yet.
The primary reason we provide these descriptions is not so that the mind can understand what a layer is – it can’t. It is because having knowledge of the qualities of the levels helps people to recognise where they are if they end up there. Alternatively, if someone already experiences two or more of them, they can have much more clarity regarding their experience, rather than a smear of different levels and locations together.