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Meditation, Subconscious Mind and Intuition
 by Swami Durgananda, PhDOne of the most interesting aspects of yoga for understanding your own mind are thethree levels of consciousness. Patanjali Maharishi has defined the various levels of consciousness in a masterly way in the aphorisms of the
 Raja Yoga Sutras
. SwamiVishnu-devananda was himself a great raja yogi, who reached a deep knowledge of themental techniques of Patanjali through the practice of 
. During the beautiful summers at the Sivananda Ashram in Canada he studied the teachings of Patanjali on the various levels of consciousness with us. Many times Swami Vishnu-devananda reminded us that the subconscious mind is not equal to intuition. Very oftensomething which is considered to be intuition is actually a reflection of the subconsciousmind.
The three levels of Consciousness in the Astral Body
Patanjali explains that the various levels of the mind are the subconscious, the consciousand the superconscious mind or intuition. Beyond all three stands knowledge of the Self.This is not a level of consciousness as such, but rather a level of Self-awareness, of absolute consciousness of unity,
. This state cannot be explained inwords. All states which can be described and defined are part of the astral body, not of the physical body. When we leave the body and enter into other planes we take theseexperiences with us. This corresponds to the near-death experience, during which you arestill connected to the body but without having an awareness of being in the bodyanymore. Such experiences can be had during a coma, clinical death or anesthesia, whenone can be lying on the operation table able to see and hear the doctors. The physical body is parked as it where, and does not form part of the awareness anymore – the realawareness is in the astral body and continues to function. The subconscious mind is partof the astral body, which vibrates around the gross physical sheath made of the fiveelements. It is a subtle body of light which goes beyond the existence of the physical body. This is the basis of all yoga philosophy. The sages tell us, ‘Oh man, be wise, do notlive in
or illusion thinking that you are the body.’
 Subconscious Mind and Past Lives
Once we consider that there is more than one life – according to the scriptures of the
we have thousands of lives – and that the various experiences of these lives are being stored in the subconscious mind, then the subconscious mind can be understoodmuch more easily. It is said that all the experiences which you have ever had can be re-experienced and that all talents which were developed at one time are stored in thesubconscious mind. The skill of Mozart suggests that his knowledge and art did not comein this life – he had deep impressions in the subconscious mind. Modern yogis comparethis with computer technology in which everything is saved on to the hard disk. It canalso be deleted; however this is not done by mistake as happens frequently on a
computer, but rather with very conscious yogic techniques. Once something has beendeleted the person feels as if a big weight has been taken off their shoulders.
When you are young, your mind is filled with the happenings of the world, but then youcalm down and reflect more, wondering ‘Why did my life go in this direction?’, ‘Why docertain things always happen to me?’, ‘Why do I feel at home in certain places?’, ‘Whydo I feel more attracted to certain people?’, ‘Why do I have certain talents?’, ‘Why do Ilike to do certain things and not other things?’Patanjali explains in the
 Raja Yoga Sutras
that these are deep impressions from past lives,like big sand banks in the subconscious mind, called samskaras. Whilst these impressionsare still fresh, they glow like diamonds in the dark and often this light reaches even intothe next life.
 Instinct and Subconscious Mind 
However we are not aware of these samskaras, - we are sleeping with open eyes
and donot see the reality of life – because we are constantly veiled by our senses, which allowus to see only that which we desire at the given moment. Thus the subconscious mind is astrong instrument which guides us, yet we believe that everything comes from our ownintellect, or that we think, speak and act out of some great ‘intuition’. We believe that weare thinking something very special, but really it is just a quiet diamond glowing in our subconscious mind, bringing up impressions either from this present life or from pastlives.Instinct within the subconscious mind constantly directs us towards the experience of thesenses. The study of animal life is highly interesting in this respect. The yogis very oftenrefer to the example of animals and many
have the names of animals. Modern psychology also refers to it: fear – the fighting instinct, territorial thinking. When weobserve animals we see a part of ourselves; the main difference is that we haveintelligence which animals do not have. We can cover up many things with our upright body and our hands. It all appears so elegant and we call our behavior socialized, but inreality we have just wrapped our instincts in nice Christmas paper and always accordingto the latest fashion. The closer we look, the more we see how much we are beingdominated by the instincts.The more we allow ourselves to be guided by the senses the less close we are to intuition.Intuition has nothing to do with the instincts; intuition is an experience of bliss, whereasinstinctual behavior is an animal experience which works through the senses. The senseof satisfaction is an animal experience. Swami Vishnu-devananda always addressed thisvery directly: the average person without
or discrimination is mostly occupiedwith eating, sleeping, procreating and building a house or a nest. It sounds harsh, but if you meditate on it, looking at it from all sides, you will recognize that these are allinstinctive actions. If we build a beautiful house, raise our children and arrange
everything in a proper and orderly way, we believe that we are great. But these are allthings which come from the instinct. In yoga it is important to consider this again andagain.It is a major trap of the ego to think that we are unique and irreplaceable. On the other hand however, it is important to be somebody with a specific task in life. Yoga putseverything into the proper light. It is important to know that we are part of the Whole,allowing the ego to melt while we are still in the body. The more we are aware of theinstincts, the more intuition can take over.
 Animal Behavior 
Most people relate to life from the subconscious mind, the animal plane. What is predominant in the animal kingdom? It is fear of the people and objects that are notknown – territorial thinking. When we observe this behavior in animals we consider itquite sweet, but if we look closely we are behaving the in same way: we put our namenext to the door bell to say, ‘This is my place’.Human beings combine instinct with intellect. When we are building a nest, that is animal behavior. The intellect asks: what type of nest? A very special nest, a skyscraper out of glass. Then we sit in it, drink, eat and sleep just like the animal. Animals hide foodunderground for winter and we build big refrigerators, dry food or put it into tins. Withair cargo we ship fresh mangoes in the middle of winter. It all comes from the survivalinstinct and has nothing to do with real intelligence as such.
 Automatic functions of the Subconscious Mind 
The subconscious mind contains many unnecessary thought waves, unfulfilled desires,memories and dreams of the future. None of them relate to the present moment at all: ‘Ifeel cold; I am hungry; Is he going to call?; Where do I have to go?; What do I still haveto do?; I need to clean up, but I feel lazy; I want to loose weight; I want to gain weight’.All our life our mind has been occupied with this ‘me and mine’ thinking. As long as our intellect does not have the strength to apply proper discrimination, this type of automaticthinking continues like a tape recorder. If you allow yourself to be dominated by thesubconscious mind in this way, you will remain a prey of your past.
 Self-awareness and Detachment 
It appears that we are thinking something unique and new. On closer observation werealize that we are being guided by thoughts which we have absorbed unconsciously. Inraja yoga this is called
or discrimination. You take a step outside of yourself and just watch what is going on. Swami Vishnu-devananda compared it to a movie, watchingour own film. It requires a certain detachment from our own emotions, which can only befound during the protected silence of meditation, undisturbed by the telephone or other interruptions. Then we can detach ourselves from our own mind and contemplate themovie of our life. Certain impressions in the movie tend to repeat themselves and these

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