Michael Cremo and Ancient Consciousness

Mikael Kindborg and Gösta Lindwall, Oct 25, 2021

Person moving her consious awareness outside of her thought bubble

Woman shifting her awareness from the analytical mind to the present now. As she steps out of her thought bubble — into the realm of her conscious physical presence — she is no longer restricted to what is mandated by her thoughts, values, and emotions.

A Vedic Model of Human Consciousness

In his book “Human Devolution”, Michael Cremo presents a model of human consciousness that is based on Vedic scriptures, ancient mythology, and contemporary studies.

According to this model, a human being consists of three parts:

Consciousness (conscious self)
Subtle Mind Body (intelligence and synthetisation of sensory input)
Physical Body

Illustration of Human Consiousness based on a model by Michael Cremo

Illustration of Human Consiousness (based on a model by Michael Cremo)

Bhagavata Purana

In “Human Devolution”, Michael Cremo examines accounts of consciousness from several different cultures. One example is the cosmological allegory “The City of Nine Gates”, which comes from the Bhagavata Purana (Shrimad Bhagavatam).

In this allegory, consciousness is represented by Puranjana, a king from the spiritual realm. He comes to the material world where he finds and enters the male body (“The City of Nine Gates”). In this body, he meets with a woman that he becomes attracted to. The woman represents intelligence (“Buddhi”), and she becomes his queen.

Michael Cremo writes:

“The attraction between King Puranjana and the Queen is the root of embodied consciousness. The King, it should be noted, has distinct conscious selfhood, with nonmaterial sensory capability, but this capability becomes dormant when he begins his relationship with the Queen.”
(Quote from “Human Devolution” ebook, chapter: “The Cosmic Hierarchy: A Cross-Cultural Study”)

Consciousness and the Thinking Mind

In the above model, the subtle mind body (“intelligence”) is connected with the physical body, forming an “embodied consciousness”. The mind body is where thinking goes on. Consciousness is the awareness of oneself, and can be experienced separate from the subtle mind body.

We make the observation that we as modern humans tend to live the better part of our lives in our minds. We are more or less constantly immersed in and interact with a stream of thoughts coming from media and social media. These thoughts spread through society as we see them, hear them, think them, and voice them. We are literally shaped by our thoughts and become them. We become the the likes and dislikes, and the beliefs, values and opinions, that are expressed through our subtle mind body.

Stream of thoughts coming from media and social media affecting the state of the subtle mind body

Stream of thoughts coming from media and social media affecting the state of the subtle mind body

By using mental techniques, we can separate consciousness from ordinary thought. In our minds we can reason about consciousness, but we can also become conscious, and become consciousness. One way to do this is to focus awareness on your senses as you experience them in the present now.

As we step out of our subtle mind bodies – into the realm of consciousness – we are no longer restricted (or less restricted) to what is possible or mandated by our thoughts, values, and emotions.

From consciousness, we can experience our existence differently, “unfiltered”, so to speak, free from the influence of the thinking mind. This is what meditators and shamans do. They step out of their minds using mental techniques or entheogens (awareness altering plants).

Experiencing existence differently

Experiencing existence differently, like meditators and shamans do when they step out of their minds.

Researching Ancient History Using Consciousness

Strange as it may sound, we might be able to use consciousness to research ancient human history.

Much of our trouble with understanding ancient human history comes from being locked into our thought patterns (or “knowledge filters”).

For many thousands of years, our minds have been set up and programmed to accept one truth only. In the major religions, for example, we have gone from belief systems that include many gods, to one with a single god. In science, the pattern is similar. It is very hard for alternative researchers to be accepted or even considered by mainstream science.

Person locked into his thought patterns

A man locked into his thought patterns

The Computer Analogy

Michael Cremo writes:

“The Queen (the subtle material element called intelligence) allows Puranjana (the conscious self) to enjoy the City of Nine Gates (the gross physical body). Employing a computer analogy, we might say Puranjana represents the user, the City of Nine Gates represents the computer hardware, and the Queen represents the software that allows the user to interface with the hardware and use it for practical purposes.”
(Quote from “Human Devolution” ebook, chapter: “The Cosmic Hierarchy: A Cross-Cultural Study”)

Model of Human Consciousness illustrating the computer analogy made by Michael Cremo

Model of Human Consciousness illustrating the computer analogy made by Michael Cremo

The computer analogy is interesting, because it tells us that as users (consciousness), we can replace the software (the thoughts), and experience the hardware (the physical body) in new ways.

The software of a computer system has a massive impact on the user experience. It is the same with the thoughts of the mind.

We would like to add that the experience of the physical body encompasses all of our surroundings, experienced by our senses. Thus, “the hardware” includes our entire existence. Changing the “software” therefore affects the “user experience” of the world we live in.

Bypassing the Mind — The Neutral Mindset

Let us assume that the human body has not changed that much since tens of thousands of years back, and that consciousness also is “the same” as way back in time. (Consciousness in Michael Cremo’s model survives death, and can therefore be considered “timeless” or “eternal”.)

Also let us assume that the mind – our software – has changed considerably since ancient times. That is, we think differently today. We have a different belief system.

Now, if you replace your current belief system with a neutral mindset (“blank software”), would you then be able to "bypass" your mind, to view evidence in new ways, and explore different perspectives and reflect without judgement?

This can certainly be difficult to do, given the extent of the programming of our minds. Practicing mindfulness and various meditation techniques, such as Vipassana and Yoga Nidra, can help to cultivate a more neutral mindset.

Consciousness Archeology

Ethnographers and anthropologists commonly observe the subject they study first hand. Taking part in the situation studied is known as “participant observation” in social sciences. An example is when an anthropologist is living with the people she or he studies, taking part in their daily lives and celebrations.

We suggest that there are ways for us to get a glimpse of how peoples of the past experienced the world and what it was like for them to be consciousness. While this may sound next to impossible, we might come a bit closer to their reality by replacing our “software”, and stepping into a mindset that is free from excessive thinking.

Meditators do this all the time. They focus their awareness on something other than their thoughts. That “something other” can be your physical existence, your body and its surroundings.

Woman meditating together with her ancient ancestors

Woman meditating with the spirits of her ancient ancestors. Or is she at a retreat together with people from different parts of the world?

Meditating on your physical body means focusing your awareness on your senses, such as the feeling of touch, the sensation of breath, and the sounds that surround you.

For example, you can meditate (focus) on your body in touch with the ground, the air touching your skin, or the contact with water when taking a shower or swimming.

Awareness is the tool of consciousness. By shifting your awareness to your physical existence, “normal thoughts” get less attention. There will still be thoughts coming, and as you notice that you are thinking about something elsewhere, you just shift focus to your senses again.

Consciousness and body connected, bypassing the mind

Consciousness and body connected, bypassing the mind

We suggest that by using this technique, or other forms of meditation, you can experience a state of being that is more or less similar to what our ancient ancestors experienced thousands of years ago when meditating or being in nature.

This is like “bypassing” the mind, because you as a user (consciousness) interact directly with the hardware (the physical body).

Now you can look around you, and experience the flow of air, gravity, touch, colors, and much more. You are now in a position to tap into your existence using a neutral mindset, from a position of a quiet mind, and eventually you experience consciousness itself.

An Ancient Experience

When meditating, are we experiencing what our distant ancestors experienced when they were connected with the present moment, sitting by the sea or in the woods?

We believe this to be the case. We suggest that you can have a similar experience today. An experience that reminds us of what it was like to be a human being tens or hundreds of thousands of years ago, when the world was not excessively “polluted” by thoughts and distractions.

So-called “primitive” cultures certainly lived close to nature. We can tell from rock paintings that they depicted animals, hunting scenes, and shamans dressed as animals.

More advanced cultures might also have had a much deeper understanding consciousness than we have today. What if their societies were based on “consciousness technologies”, rather than machine-based technologies? Such knowledge could represent the true high-tech of ancient times.

By practicing “ancient consciousness”, like an ethnographer, we could be able to get a glimpse of the world of the ancients. Perhaps this is what monks, yogis, meditators and shamans around the world already are doing, and have been doing for thousands of years. Many “consciousness practitioners” say they build on ancient knowledge and work in the spirit of ancient traditions.


What is the state of our current world? Has our field of vision been framed by a 6 inch display? And what about science, has it become just as narrow-minded?

What if we would investigate consciousness in a way that does not only focus on intellectual studies and analytical reasoning, but also includes practicing meditation and other consciousness techniques for exploring alternative mindsets?

Study of ancient history, legends and myths, is an important aspect of such an approach. We may not find any “one truth”, but we would likely find new ways of relating to and understanding the experience of being a human embodied consciousness.

Next Steps

In our article The Little Bloop Theory, we discuss a theory proposed by Clif High that centers on the idea that consciousness is the fundamental energy in the Universe. In this view of reality, the Universal Consciousness continuously creates the matterium we live in.

Based on our own experience, the matterium (our bodies and the physical world) acts as a portal to the spiritual dimension of our existence. As Clif High points out, meditators can tap into Universal Consciousness by connecting to the so called "void" that exists between the pulses of energy that give rise to the physical universe. This can explain the "stillness" and the "connectedness" meditators experience.

We plan to go into further detail regarding this fascinating subject in future articles and videos. We also plan to connect the dots between ancient cave art and shamanism, and continue our search for the origins of meditation, yoga, and other consciousness technologies.

Veda Sage connecting to Universal Consciousness

A Veda Sage connecting to the flow of Universal Consciousness

List of Links

The following are selected sources related to this article:

"Human Devolution" - book by Michael Cremo where he investigates the origins of human consciousness (published in September 2003, also available on Amazon):

Interview with Michael Cremo: The Krishna diaries Will be Reopened (March 13, 2018):

Part of the above interview discussing the "computer analogy":

Talk by Michael Cremo at Google, where Cremo explains his view on using "higher" evidence as a scientist:

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