The Great Onion of Consciousness

Consciousness is kind of like a really, really big onion. Picture quote.Apart from the facts that fried onions taste great, but peeling and slicing onions will make you cry, onions are also a great metaphor.

An onion seems like this round, solid object, but every time you peel a layer off, there’s another layer beneath it. An onion, then, is basically a bunch of layers.

Well, consciousness is like that, too.

If you like, you can think of life, the universe and everything as The Great Onion of Consciousness.

And while you’re at it you can think of the physical universe and everything in it (including us humans) as a number of onion layers inside that Great Onion of Consciousness.

In short, The Great Onion of Consciousness is … everything, everywhere, at all times.

The Funny Thing about Onions …

Have you ever tried peeling all the layers away from an onion? Just to see what’s inside?

If you have, and even if you haven’t, I have to ask you this: At which point in the peeling process does the onion stop being an onion?

The onion gets skinnier and skinnier … and skinnier still, until there are in fact no more layers to peel off. Is it still an onion?

My answer would be: Well, sure, albeit a very small and skinny one. This final part of the onion is sometimes called the terminal bud or the apex. But it’s still the same onion.

If you’re not like me, but one of those people who would tend to say, “Well, technically that tiny bud is still an onion, I guess, but not really, though, because it doesn’t look like an onion anymore, and there aren’t anymore layers to peel,” then let’s try this question:

Imagine that we reverse the peeling process; play “the movie of the peeling of the onion” backwards, so to speak. Now we’re adding and adding layers of onion and the onion gets fatter and fatter. At what point – exactly – does the onion become an onion again?

There is no good answer to that, of course – any and all answers would be entirely arbitrary. Or, to put that differently, onions come in different sizes with varying amounts of layers, but a small onion with 6 or 7 layers is just as much of an onion as a big one with 11 or 12 layers.

So, the funny thing about onions is that the layers ARE the onion! And it doesn’t matter how few or how many layers there are, each and every layer IS the onion.

Well, consciousness is like that, too.

Layers of consciousness. Picture quote by Soren Lauritzen. Onion rings on a bordeaux plate.

How Many Layers in The Great Onion of Consciousness?

Obviously, before we go on, someone, somewhere is going ask, “So, I’ve counted the layers in the average onion I have at home and not counting the layers of thin skin, there are about 10. How many layers of consciousness are there in The Great Onion of Consciousness?”

Truthfully, I have no idea … but perhaps about the same number as there are decimals in the number “Pi” (π):

The mathematical constant and transcendental number Pi with 50 decimals.

Pi (π) is also known as Archimedes’ constant, and it’s the ratio of a circle’s circumference to its diameter, as well as the area of a circle with radius 1, as well as the surface area of a sphere with diameter 1, as well as several other things. It’s a mathematical constant and an irrational number, but more interestingly Pi (π) is a transcendental number. Which means it’s uncountable – there’s no end to it. Wikipedia has a page devoted to the constantly changing world records in calculating Pi’s decimals. And the BBC has an interesting article from 2010 on what it takes (took) to calculate all those digits. Scientists have passed counting thousands, millions and billions of decimals years ago. Now, they’re counting, trillions or quadrillions, and next up will be quint-sext-sept-oct-illions and someday they may hit href=”” target=”_blank”>googols or even href=”” target=”_blank”>googolplex(es). That’s a lot of decimals.

In other words, I’m sorely tempted to say that The Great Onion of Consciousness consists of an infinite number of layers. Or, that’s how I’ve experienced it. You should consider going on inner journeys and seeing for yourself – your experience (or your interpretation) might be different.

How Many Layers in Human Consciousness?

Okay, I just KNOW that someone, probably the same someones who asked the previous question, are going to ask, “If The Great Onion of Consciousness has infinite layers, how many of those are the ones that belong to human consciousness?”

The answer is … 42. No, seriously folks, that’s the answer to life the universe and everything, the REAL answer is this:

Ultimately all of the layers in The Great Onion of Consciousness belong to human consciousness, even if most of us cannot at this time actually COMPREHEND all of them, or even more than a small fraction of them.

Also, it differs from individual to individual, as well as for each individual over time, how many layers they’re able to comprehend. In the end it doesn’t really matter.

The Point!

What matters is that just like with onions and their layers ultimately each individual human being IS the entire Great Onion of Consciousness and so has access to each and every layer, but is only likely to actually access the layers that make some sort of sense to that particular individual.

In other words, we count all of The Great Onion of Consciousness and we reach the number one. Because really, there is only one consciousness, total.

And we’re it.

As is everything else. Everything we can sense or measure, and everything we cannot.

As far as we can tell from our human perspective there isn’t anything, anywhere, at any time that is NOT The Great Onion of Consciousness. That’s what makes it so Great.

The great onion of consciousness. Quote with picture by Soren Lauritzen. A rainbow-colored bisected onion.

Sooooo … What Does This Mean for Us?

First off, the fact that you are an integral part of The Great Onion of Consciousness (you are it, and it is you) has several implications.

1. Your Perception Filter = You

One of them is that you’ll be experiencing everything through a filter … the filter that is you. You’ll get lots of input, but it will all be interpreted by you (using your existing experience, knowledge, intuition, imagination and more).

So what you perceive as a beautiful big red flower that you come across on an inner journey I might perceive as something else entirely, but my perception is likely to resemble your perception in areas that matter, for example whatever I see where you see a flower might be still be roughly the same size, immobile, pretty and soothing.

This is not just true on inner journeys, it’s actually true in everyday life here on planet Earth as well. The most obvious type of filter we have is beliefs. A person with firm beliefs about something can actually, literally be unable to experience something that lies beyond those beliefs. I know this, not just because I’ve tried it firsthand (which I have, it’s spooky!), I’ve also coached and guided lots of people who experienced the exact same thing. Luckily there’s a way out: we ourselves are the masters of our beliefs, we can examine them, change/expand them or let them go entirely and be free.

2. Your Reach = Unlimited

Another implication (of you and The Great Onion of Consciousness being one and the same) is that you do have access to ALL of consciousness, there’s basically nothing you don’t have access to. You can experience anything you want, from the outside or from the inside, or even from several different angles and perspectives at once.

How would you like to get the actual inside scoop of what it’s like to being an eagle or a dolphin? Or, how would you like to visit another world that sustains life and look around like a tourist? Both are entirely possible, as are an infinity of other options.

3. Limits to Your Reach = Your Beliefs and Assumptions

Even though our potential reach is unlimited the fact that we are our own filters means that our pre-existing beliefs and assumptions define the borders of our perception. In other words, if you believe that something (whatever) is impossible, you are unlikely to experience it.

Before working with consciousness, do a pre-flight beliefs check. Color drawing of bird by Emil Pirchan 1923.

That’s why, before exploring The Great Onion of Consciousness, I always recommend doing a “Pre-flight Check” where you uncover your beliefs and assumptions about yourself, life itself, consciousness, and the whole concept of exploring consciousness. Once you know the ways in which you’ve limited yourself, you have the chance to let those limitations go – and get much more awesome experiences and insights.

4. You = Whole

A third and pretty important implication is that since The Great Onion of Consciousness is WHOLE with no defects and nothing missing, so are YOU. You are whole, always have been and always will be.

Most likely, however, your current self image / self identity (your chosen identity), your current beliefs system and all the other levels of you (your physical body, your emotions, your energetic structure, etc.) do not reflect this inherent wholeness.

We are consciousness and we are whole. Picture quote by Soren Lauritzen. Round drop of water suspended mid-air. Ripples.

In other words, you experience yourself as “broken” even though you are not. Pretty much everyone does. We all have old wounds.

Basically each and every old wound we have is based on a misunderstanding, and healing consists of realizing the truth and thus dispelling the misunderstanding.

In other words, the truth really shall set you free, and if you were to focus your investigations of yourself, life, the universe and everything on one single thing that was actually worth investigating (and trusting), well, truth would be it.

(What we’re actually looking for when trying to find out what the truth is, goes by another name as well: that-which-is, or: reality in one of its more absolute aspects).

5. Healing

Our old wounds and misunderstandings make healing one of the most obvious things that can (and should) happen on our explorations of consciousness. In fact self healing may be NECESSARY before we are able to move on to other experiences in and explorations of The Great Onion of Consciousness.

Take heed, though, that for most people there is an almost infinite number of things that are potentially in need of healing, and honestly: do you want to spend the rest of your life fixing old wounds and misunderstandings inside yourself … or do you want to move beyond that within a reasonable time frame (i.e. after the most essential healing has taken place)?

If so, if you don’t want to spend all your exploration time “micromanaging” your healing, you may want to get the basic healing done and then decide on “wholesale healing”, which basically means that you declare yourself willing to surrender completely and let go of anything and everything necessary.

Yes, your beliefs, what you thought you knew as truth, will most likely be revealed as poppycock (a.k.a. bullshit), and your current your world view will probably crumble and rearrange itself – to a more real one.

And yes, you as a person will NOT be the same afterwards, because you will be more authentically YOU and feel a lot better. You’ll be more happy, more loving, more free and more at peace.

Regardless of how nice those results sound wholesale letting go and healing is some pretty gorram scary stuff!

It works, though.

Wholesale surrender and letting go = wholesale healing.

If you decide to go for it, get ready for some earth-and-ego-shattering insights! And huge changes – for the better.

6. Where’s the Power? Inside YOU! It’s Called Free Will

This is the next-to-last thing I’m going to mention here, but it may well be one of the most important ones.

You have free will to make choices. Commonly referred to as the power of intention or some such, it doesn’t really matter what you call it, the fact remains that our free will is pure and unrivaled power, but our power primarily extends to that which has to do with us (ourselves) and our own experience.

Other people, beings and entities have the same power, but only regarding themselves and their experience.

How come we are so powerful? Simple.

We are The Great Onion of Consciousness! All of us, humans, other beings, entities, etc.

Each of us is both one integral part of The Great Onion of Consciousness and ALL of The Great Onion of Consciousness – at the same time. Trust me, that’s a lot of power we’ve got access to.

And, again, all that power is channeled by our free will and intention, but primarily as it relates to ourselves and our own experience. (Obviously, it’s when we interact and our many different wills and intentions collide, mix and collaborate that things get really interesting).

7. The Joys of Onion-layers

One final reason why it’s important that consciousness is multi-layered like an onion is because it means that it’s not jumbled or random, but ordered.

Consciousness is nicely ordered in layers, like an onion. Photo of onion cut through top-to-bottom.

When you start going on inner journeys (or otherwise working with your consciousness) you’ll discover this, and if you find that you like journeying and want to do it more often, the inherent order just might become important to you.

Why? Because you’ll start to recognize layers (“areas” of consciousness), like you recognize areas of the physical world (e.g. the neighborhood where you grew up), and you can choose to play around in the known areas or go explore the unknown areas. In short, experience makes it much easier to move around and get the type of experiences you want in that moment.

Relating to point no. 5 above (healing), the inherent order of the layers in consciousness means that you’ll be able to recognize that some of the first layers you encounter when working with, playing in, or exploring consciousness are the ones where misunderstandings are cleared up and old wounds are healed.

If you’ve done the most necessary healing already and want to go exploring, then you’re going to want to move past those initial healing-layers.

Surprisingly, this is ALSO the case if you’ve decided that you’re ready for “wholesale healing”. To get wholesale healing – which is the same as learning more about how things REALLY, actually are – you’ll need to get beyond the immediately accessible healing-layers and out into infinite inner space. So to speak.

Because that’s where the big insights are. Where you’ll discover the ultimate truth about yourself, life, the universe and everything. Where you will have your first conscious encounter with absolute reality. Which is precisely what will heal you wholesale! If you let it.

Kinda cute looking onion with natural smiling mouth, round eyes added: Onion face.

Unsurprisingly, there are also layers beyond that, layers which are so far beyond human comprehension that visiting them makes no sense to us. We can still visit them, though. Odds are that we won’t get much out of it.

With The Great Onion of Consciousness being everything, everywhere, at all times, the realms (“layers”) we can potentially visit are endless (literally), but it’s definitely more fun (and more useful) to visit the many, many layers that our human brains are actually able to comprehend.

We Are the Pioneers, the Map Makers

Overall, the fact that The Great Onion of Consciousness consists of neatly ordered layers means that we can start exploring consciousness, fitting the pieces of what we find together and begin mapping it … not only figuring out what goes where, but also what does what and why. And last but not least: try to comprehend – or at least get an inkling of – the sheer vastness of it all.

Of course, some bold humans have been doing that for millennia (at least 3,000 years, as ancient Indian texts show, but probably a LOT longer than that, as archaeology shows use of entheogenic psilocybin-containing mushrooms about 6,000 years ago and the likely use of the exceedingly potent entheogenic bufo toad amongst the The Olmec who lived in Central America as long ago as 12,000 BCE – yes, that’s all of 14,000 years ago!)

Still, though, people exploring The Great Onion of Consciousness today must be considered pioneers, because overall we don’t actually know much about it. We’ve barely begun scratching the surface. And it’s an amazingly big surface, too, the biggest one there is, actually. And that’s just the surface, then there are the infinite layers, too.

Planet Earth seen from space. Showing Africa and Europe. By NASA.

When we humans first started mapping our physical surroundings, the task of mapping a whole continent, let alone the entire Earth probably didn’t even occur to most of us. If it did, it must have seemed not only daunting, but impossible. And given the level of understanding and technology we had back then, it probably was.

So we started by mapping the local area of forests, hills, mountains, rivers, lakes and oceans where we lived. And then we took it from there.

By now all we have to do is go online and we can get a satellite view of nearly anywhere in the world. In many cities we can also get a street view.

In fact, we can even check the Hubble telescope and get breathtaking views of distant galaxies. How’s that for a tribe of hunter-gatherers?

We’ve come a long way.

Next up for the human race: exploring not only outer space, but the even bigger inner space of consciousness!

One tiny step at a time. Starting with you and me. Now.

Bonne voyage!


(End-of-text divider, traditional calligraphic style).

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