I believe as below/above above/below so I think the hierarchies do exist, but I'm not clear on how or why they exist and I think mapping them out would be a worthwhile endeavor. Someone with the time should make a list of potential hierarchical organizing principles and look for evidence for and against them in NDEs and OBEs.
Where the confusion is, is that the original question was "Are there hierarchies of consciousness?" which is a completely different concept than a religious hierarchy, which is essentially a hierarchy of authority with God at the top, followed by angels, prophets, popes, cardinals, bishops, and other clergy, down into the congregation, with all us lowly non-religious humans near the bottom — just above the plants and animals.
Where the members of these different hierarchies reside is also an entirely different concept than whatever constitutes their consciousness. If the Mother Sea Theory of Consciousness is valid, then consciousness is an omnipresent and fundamental variable in the fabric of existence that we experience via our interaction with it, and consequently consciousness per sé has no "hierarchy".
Similarly, consciousness and range of perception are two fundamentally separate variables. Therefore, although we might be tempted to argue that differing organisms will have different spectrums of perceptual ability, that doesn't have anything to do with whether or not they are more or less conscious. So from either perspective, it doesn't look to me like there is any rationale for claiming the existence of a hierarchy for consciousness.
What it does look like, is that either way, consciousness is a variable that is only accessible by organizing particular materials in particular ways. For us, that organization takes the form of a functioning brain-body system, and it is that particular unique system that makes you "you" — that gives you your own unique first-person experience of the world. Getting from there to immortality or life after death seems like a leap in logic to me.
There might be an argument for a hierarchy of consciousness if we adopt the more familiar brain generated field theory of consciousness. In that theory we can make an analogy to other types of generated fields ( like EM ). If we look at it that way, then we can look at the intensity of the field the same way we look at the intensity of light, and create a scale from dim to bright that might be expressed as "levels".
Which one is correct? I don't know. Maybe neither. Whatever the case, it seems to me that all versions require at minimum, something equivalent to a functioning brain someplace to work, and therefore no model ( standard or VR ) can get around the idea that once that brain is destroyed, it's over for that particular entity, and that the best case scenario is that some kind of backup copy can be created.
This creates a really interesting situation in which one can imagine that if all the other functions performed by the brain-body system can be preserved, and only the consciousness module is damaged, if it can be repaired, then is the patient the same person as they were before? I would argue "yes", because what constitutes us as persons is far more dependent on everything else. Consciousness alone, does little to define who we are.
Who we are involves variables like our memories, intellect, personality, senses, biology, emotions, and our relationship to the environment, including other people. In other words, if consciousness is a fundamental variable preceding humans in the evolutionary timeline, then it was rather useless until entities came along that were capable of experiencing it.