Ken Wilber identifies major categories of transcendent mystic states as variations on the everyday states of human consciousness of waking, dreaming, and deep sleep. While Wilber offers a spiritual interpretation of these experiences as realizations of the identification of self (ego) with Self (consciousness), or pure Witness, I conjecture that these reported phenomenon also may be explained by whether or not certain mental faculties/brain networks are simultaneously integrated*:

State “Realm” Experience Sensation Imagination Self Memory
Waking Gross Everyday Wakefulness yes continuum1 yes yes
Nature Mysticism yes no no yes
Dreaming Subtle Everyday Dreaming no yes2 yes yes
Deity Mysticism no yes no yes
Sleeping Causal Everyday Deep Sleep no no ? no
Formless Mysticism no no no yes


  • Sensation: Integration of sense receptor networks
  • Imagination: Integration of various systems of recombining sense impressions stored in memory
  • Self: Integration of internal models establishing sense of self/ego/boundary with environment
  • Memory: Storage of activated integrations for later retrieval

1Everyday Waking Imaginative Continuum:

  • yes, “directed”: thinking
  • yes, “undirected”: day dreaming
  • no: mindfulness

2Everyday Dreaming:

  • “undirected: normal dreaming
  • “directed”: lucid dreaming

*NOTE: Since I think panpsychism is the best solution to the hard problem of consciousness, this treatment doesn’t necessarily invalidate the core of the spiritual claim of the I-I/self-Self identity, but does differentiate between the Witness experience of human consciousness with its various integrated faculties and other, less integrated, sentient experiencers.