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By The Deathless Master, Satgurudeva Mahavatar Babaji I have known Swamiji for many of his incarnations now, and can personally testify that he is the most pathetic and absolutely worthless excuse for a disciple I have ever had, and I’ve been around for a really long time! I well remember that dark and dismal day when he first appeared, with his ghetto-blaster and collection of heavy-metal rock and roll CD’s, at my secluded hermitage nestled far above an opalescent lake (where I windsurf on weekends) that is fed by rainbowed waterfalls, high in the Indian Himalaya beyond Badrinath. It was here in my cave that I attained soruba samadhi, the state of physical immortality, at the age of sixteen. When he requested that I initiate him into the ancient Swami Order, I had to muster all of my powers of yogic self-control in order to refrain myself from throwing him off the nearest cliff, or simply dematerializing him. Anyways, against my will (“Thy will be done!” – You know I’ve got to stop doing that mantra; they really crucified a good buddy of mine, J.C., a hip dude from Israel, for using it.), I bestowed sannyas on Swamiji and gave him the monastic name of Avidyananda, which means “the bliss of ignorance.” His favorite saying to this day is “What you don’t know won’t hurt you.” The unpretentious title to Swamiji’s new book – All the Secrets of the Universe and Beyond – is quite appropriate. They will still be secrets after you finish perusing this extremely incoherent and confusing treatise; perhaps the worst ever drafted throughout all of the countless Kali Yugas, or Dark Ages. I simply couldn’t wait to stop reading and to put it down! In keeping with my vow of satya, or truthfulness, I cannot recommend this book to anyone except politicians, like George W. Bushwhacker, who are already utterly confused anyways. Hopefully it will keep them distracted for a while during which they won’t be able to muck things up any further. In closing I will quote another one of my disciples, Swami Beyondananda who at least has a sense of humor – “The only thing I don’t like about my higher self is that it’s always getting high without me!” For all of you who can relate to these words, but are too apathetic to do anything about it, I would suggest his easy-to-read, short and concise The Lazy Man’s Guide to Enlightenment.
In the year 306 of the ascending Dwapara Yuga, or Electrical Age
THE EVOLUTIONARY STAGES OF CONSCIOUSNESS
DEDICATED, WITH DIVINE LOVE, TO
THE REVEREND MOTHER YOGACHARYA MILDRED HAMILTON
THE ONE PURE AWARENESS I Am the WITNESS always blissful equanimity - right now, right here beyond all hopes and fear!
TABLE OF CONTENTS
A – Pseudo-Title & Foreword, and Genuine Title Page B – Dedication Photograph, and Cosmic Affirmation Poem C – Table of Contents CHAPTERS: I – Body, Mind and Spirit II – “The Holy Science” III – Physiology of the Astral and Causal Bodies IV – The Eightfold Path of Yoga V – Patanjali’s Kriya Yoga Sutras VI – Raja Yoga VII – The Five Levels of Preliminary Meditative Absorption VIII – The Bhagavad Gita and Its Symbolism IX – The Four Levels of Savikalpa Samadhi X – The Generation Stage of Nirvikalpa Samadhi: Its Transcendence and Integration Phases XI – The Process of Liberation and Karma-Destroying Visions XII – The Completion Stage of Nirvikalpa Samadhi: Supreme Enlightenment and Liberation; And Wielding the Siddhis, Miraculous Yogic Powers Appendix: “The Evolutionary Stages of Consciousness”
BODY, MIND AND SPIRIT
LEVEL #1: UNCONSCIOUSNESS – This stage represents: a) the state of deep sleep that, according to various texts on yoga, is actually the awareness of nothingness; and b) the passive inertia of gross matter. LEVEL #2: SUBCONSCIOUSNESS – This stage represents: a) the state of dreaming; b) the depository of memories; c) instinctive drives; and d) the active response to stimuli as found in plants, animals and man. LEVEL #3: PHYSICAL CONSCIOUSNESS – This stage represents the most basic state of ordinary wakefulness, perception of one’s body and the material world through the physical senses. It is the worldview as held by the consciousness of an animal, or a human baby. At this stage one’s ego, or sense of being a separate self, is based on a primary identification with the body and its sensory impressions, which, throughout the next six levels below, expands to also include the mind with all of its thoughts and feelings. LEVEL #4: MAGICAL – This stage represents the primitive belief that the forces of nature can be harnessed in order to control one’s environment through intention and specific rites. It is exemplified by shamanism, or the process of “wish fulfillment” in the development of a small child as described in modern psychology. LEVEL #5: MYTHOLOGICAL – This stage represents the dogmatic belief that a particular god or goddess of any given culture may be invoked to manipulate the world on one’s behalf through the power of ritualized worship and egocentric prayer. It is epitomized by religious fundamentalism, a form of cultural conditioning in which one simply accepts blindly, on an emotional level, what he has heard or read without any critical discernment, nor real effort to verify its actual validity. LEVEL #6-8: RATIONAL – These stages represent discrimination based on the mental powers of logic and reason. They are subdivided into a) the early phase; b) the middle, or developmental, phase; and c) the late, or mature, phase where one has become adept at playing the various roles his life has created. LEVEL #9: EXISTENTIAL – This stage represents the rite of passage to superconsciousness, or transcendental awareness. Here, a profound and intense dissatisfaction with the limitations of body and mind, and deep contemplation on the true meaning of one’s own existence, finally culminate in a yearning for the bliss of freedom in Spirit. *******
I have only touched in passing on these initial stages of consciousness, levels that form a basis for the progressive unfoldment of increasingly more complex worldviews: physical, magical, mythological, rational, and existential. For an absolute wealth of information regarding these, the many intricate facets of cognition involved, and their correspondence with social and cultural developments throughout the hunter-gatherer, agrarian, empire state, industrialized nation, and information age, phases of man’s evolution over the last few thousand years, see The Collected Works of Ken Wilber. In radical contrast to the mythological worldview as most blatantly personified by religious fundamentalism, which is pre-rational and ethnocentric, genuine spirituality is not only trans-rational and transpersonal, but also universal. It is grounded in the direct perception and experience of the all-pervading Spirit beyond name and form – pure mystical realization as told by saints and sages around the world through the ages. ******* “This existential question is within everyone: What is the meaning of life? But in words themselves there can be no answer. That which is inside us – call It the witness, observer, consciousness; call It whatever you like. It is nameless, so give It any name you want – God, nirvana, liberation, whatever you choose – fullness, emptiness, or being, whatever; It is without name and within you – submerge yourself in That. I am not saying that you will find answers; the questions simply dissolve and disappear. Then your very consciousness itself will become the answer. When you go beyond questions the joy of life, the great benediction and blessing, comes raining down. You dance, you hum a melody, you sing. Samadhi, or divine ecstasy, has flowered. Now you do not ask anything for there is nothing to ask. Life is no longer a question; it becomes a mystery instead, not a problem to be solved but a mystery to be lived, to be danced, to be sung – A mystery to be celebrated! Go within – beyond the body, beyond the mind, beyond emotions – go deeper and deeper within.... When we search outside of ourselves, our life seems to be without meaning. But when we search within, we ourselves become the meaning of life. There is only one thing in this universe that does not come and go. It is pure awareness, the witnessing consciousness, inside all of you. And when you are free of your little self, the ego, you discover the sacred and divine revealed within you. You find that what you were searching for had always been present inside of you, simply waiting for you to awaken.” (Enlightenment: The Only Revolution – Discourses On The Great Mystic Ashtavakra, pages 240 & 346-47, by Osho) *******
Evolution is basically a process of transcendence and integration. One’s sadhana, or spiritual practice and discipline in all of its varied forms, is the primary driving force. Peak experiences into higher levels of consciousness that are increasingly stabilized through repetition are the quintessence of transcendence. On the other hand, you will inevitably find yourself falling back repeatedly into lower states, too. Meditation in its broadest sense means utilizing the power of concentration to focus on a specific aspect of Spirit, and to experience it directly through intuitive awareness. The process of integration means to abide in the aftereffects of meditation to the best of one’s ability – a deep sense of unshakeable peace, or a continuous flow of joyful bliss, for example – throughout the various activities of the day. Your particular level of consciousness is determined by its “center of gravity” – the overall mean influence of every higher and lower state that you are experiencing, whether it is drawing you towards, or repelling you away from, the realization of oneness with God. Onwards and upwards! Transcendence, generated by intensive sadhana practiced with fiery resolve and the utmost devotion, creates the space for an accelerated process of integration so one can complete as quickly as possible the next step forward on the path of spiritual evolution.... “Pure yoga is superconsciousness: the various procedures, if attended to, lead to this. Only when involvement is focused on enlightenment are you truly on the spiritual path.” (Life Surrendered In God – The Kriya Yoga Way Of Soul Liberation, page 144, by Roy Eugene Davis) NOTE: All of the quotes throughout this treatise may have undergone some minor changes in wording, or have been somewhat condensed, on my part without, hopefully, affecting the essential meaning. This has been written so as to serve as a reference guide for my own journey of awakening, to be shared with a small circle of friends, and to also fulfill a request made by my guru, so many years ago, that I complete my graduate studies in Eastern philosophy and religion. My next step will be to stop PhiDling around, and get down to pursuing a real Master’s degree!
“THE HOLY SCIENCE”
Swami Sri Yukteswar Giri, the guru of Paramhansa Yogananda, was requested in 1894 by Mahavatar Babaji to write The Holy Science as an exposition on the underlying harmony between the scriptures of Christianity, to include the highly symbolic book of Revelation, and those of Sanatana Dharma, “The Eternal Religion,” of Hinduism. The sutras of Sri Yukteswar are based on the Sankhya-Yoga philosophy of India. “All inherence, perception, and understanding about creation are explained in Sankhya philosophy. Yoga is the science or techniques for practical realization of the philosophical truths of Sankhya. The word yoga signifies “union,” mergence. When the soul of man unites with the Spirit, the union is described as yoga.” (God Speaks with Arjuna – The Bhagavad Gita – Royal Science of God-Realization, pg. 267, by Paramhansa Yogananda) “The first aphorism in Sankhya declares that the highest necessity of man is the eradication of physical, mental, and spiritual suffering at the root, so that there is no possibility of recurrence. Yoga philosophy teaches the technique by which the threefold human afflictions can be removed forever. Vedanta, which means “end of the Vedas” (complete knowledge of all truth to be known), describes the Omnipresent and Eternal Spirit, the ultimate goal of man. The first aphorism in Vedanta states: “So begins the inquiry about Brahman, the Infinite.” (The Bhagavad Gita, page 1027, Yogananda) “The purpose of this book is to reveal as clearly as possible that there is an essential unity in all religions; that there is no difference in the truths inculcated by the various faiths; that there is but one method by which the world, both external and internal, has evolved; and that there is but one sacred goal admitted by all scriptures.... The book is divided into four sections, according to the stages in the development of knowledge. The highest aim of religion is Atma-jnanam, Self-realization. But to attain this, knowledge of the external world is necessary. Therefore the first section of the book deals with Veda, “The Gospel,” and seeks to establish fundamental truths of creation and to describe its evolution and involution.” (The Holy Science, pages 4-6, by Swami Sri Yukteswar Giri) The following quotes are from this first section exclusively. I found it to be absolutely essential to reword and simplify some of Sri Yukteswar’s explanations in order to make them comprehensible. I also took the liberty to make a few small adaptations in the translation of Christian scriptures.
SUTRA 1 “The Supreme Aspect of God, Parambrahma, is everlasting, absolute and complete, without beginning or end. It is one indivisible Being.” “The Infinite and Eternal Spirit, Parambrahma, is the only real Substance, Sat, and constitutes all and everything in the Universe.” ******* “Truth is one, sages call it by various names.” (Rig Veda, the oldest extant scripture on planet Earth) “The transcendental Supreme Spirit exists in relationship to the vibratory cosmos but is also beyond it. Sat, or Being; God the Father, of the Christian Bible; Brahman of the Bhagavad Gita and Vedanta philosophy; Paramatma of the yogis; and Purushottama are various names of this unchangeable One Absolute Spirit existing beyond the dreamstructures of vibratory creation.” (The Bhagavad Gita, page 713, Yogananda) God is described in the Hindu scriptures as Sat-Chid-Ananda (satchidananda). Sat is Existence, Being, Substance, Reality, and Truth – or that which is permanent and unchanging. Chid is Pure Nondual Awareness, Omniscience, Cosmic Consciousness, and the Attracting Magnetism of Divine Love. Ananda is Spiritual Joy, Bliss, Rapture, and Ecstasy. Sat-Chid-Ananda can be rendered in numerous ways – “The Ultimate Reality of Divine Love and Spiritual Ecstasy” or, on a personal level, as “the always blissful pure awareness at the very heart of being,” for example. The translation most favored by Yoganandaji is “ever-existing, ever-conscious, ever-new joy,” or simply – “God is Bliss.” The sacred works of India, and the testimony of the enlightened masters, proclaim that oneness with God, or Spirit, is the realization of Eternal Life, Absolute Omniscient Consciousness, and the Highest State of Bliss. (“It’s all too much! And that’s just alright by me.” – Yogi Rob) ******* SUTRA 2 “Parambrahma is the origin of all wisdom and love, the root of all power and bliss.”
“The Almighty Force, Shakti, being Ananda or Eternal Bliss, which produces the world, and the Omniscient Feeling, Chid, which make this world conscious, demonstrate the Nature, Prakriti, of God.... As man is made in the likeness of Spirit, directing his attention inwards he can comprehend within himself the same Almighty Force and Omniscient Feeling, as the very properties of his own true nature, or Self.” “So God created man in His own image, in the image of God.” – Genesis 1:27 ******* SUTRA 3 “Parambrahma causes inert Nature (Prakriti), to emerge as creation. From Aum (Pranava, the Word, the manifestation of the Omnipotent Force), come kala, time; desa, space; and anu, the atoms (or basic units of vibratory structure, tiny solar systems of fine material essences).” “The Word, Amen or Aum, is the beginning of creation. The manifestation of Omnipotent Force (Repulsion away from Spirit) and its complementary expression of Omniscient Love (Attraction back to Spirit) is vibration, which appears as a particular sound: the Word, Amen, or Aum. In its different aspects Aum represents the idea of change, which is time, kala, in the Ever-Unchangeable; and the idea of division, which is space, desa, in the Ever-Indivisible. The ensuing effect is the idea of particles, the innumerable atoms, or anu. These four – Aum, time, space, and the atoms are essentially one and the same, a fourfold vibratory configuration that is substantially nothing more than ideas. The emanation of the Word creates this visible world. The Word, Amen, Aum, is inseparable from and nothing but God Himself, being the manifestation of His Eternal Nature, just like fire and its power to burn.” “These things saith the Amen, the faithful and true witness, the beginning of the creation of God.” – Revelation 3:14 “In the beginning was the Word, and the word was with God, and Word was God.... All things were made by God: and without God was not anything made that was made.... And the Word was made flesh and dwelt among us.” – John 1:1,3,14 ******* SUTRA 4 “The basic vibratory structure of creation is anu or the atoms. En masse they are called Maya or the Lord’s illusory power, that is reflected individually within each incarnate soul as avidya, ignorance.”
“These atoms, which represent the four ideas mentioned above, are the throne of Almighty God, the Creator, who by shining on them brings this universe into materialization. They are known collectively as Maya, the Darkness, for they keep the Spiritual Light out of comprehension. An incarnate soul (jivatman) is veiled by ignorance, avidya, through the effect of Maya, Cosmic Delusion, which makes man unawares of even his own true Self. Hence these fundamental ideas that give rise to all this confusion are referred to as “beasts” in Revelation. Man, so long as he identifies himself with his gross material body, holds a position far inferior to that of the subtle essence to be found in the primal fourfold construct of manifestation. But when he raises himself to the level thereof, he not only comprehends this fourfold structure inside and out (as his consciousness and physical form, respectively) but also the whole of creation, “before and behind” in both its unmanifested and manifest aspects.” “And in the midst of and round about the throne, were four beasts full of eyes before and behind.” – Revelation 4:6 ******* SUTRA 5 “The Omniscient Love aspect of Parambrahma is Kutastha Chaitanya, Cosmic Consciousness. The individual Self, being Its manifestation, is one with It.” “The manifestation of Chid, Omnipresent Spirit and Omniscient Love, the force of Attraction, or Life, is called Kutastha Chaitanya or the Holy Ghost, which shines on the Darkness, Maya, to draw every portion of it back towards Divinity. But the Darkness, Maya, and its expression as ignorance, avidya, present in each man, being Repulsion itself, cannot receive or comprehend the Spiritual Light. This Holy Ghost, the Nature of Eternal Spirit as Cosmic Consciousness, is no other substance that God Himself; and these reflections of spiritual rays, or individual souls, are called Purusha, the Sons of God.” “In God was life; and the life was the light of men. And the light shineth in darkness; and the darkness comprehended it not.” – John 1:4-5
SUTRA 6 “An incarnate soul, as the evolution of Chid, Cosmic Consciousness, is endowed with chitta, self-awareness and the power of feeling, that when spiritualized is called buddhi, discriminative intelligence. Its opposite is manas, the sensory mind, in which dwells the ego, ahamkara, the idea of separate existence.”
“Through the force of Universal Love, or the Holy Spirit, an incarnate soul becomes spiritualized, like iron filings in a magnetic aura, and possessed of consciousness and the power of feeling. This is called the Spiritual Heart, chitta, and the sense of being a separate self, ahamkara, appears within it. Being thus magnetized, it has two poles, one of which attracts it toward the real Substance, Sat, and the other repels it from the same. The former is called buddhi, discriminative intelligence, which determines what is Truth. The latter is manas, sense perception and consciousness, being an expression of the Almighty Force that creates the ideal world for enjoyment, Ananda, or Bliss.” ******* SUTRAS 7-10 “Sentience, chitta, in which ahamkara, the idea of separate existence of self appears, has five manifestations, or auric electricities, that make up the causal body of man. The three qualities or gunas – sattva (positive), rajas (neutral), and tamas (negative) of the five auric electricities produce jnanendriyas (the five sense organs), karmendriyas (the five instruments of action), and tanmatras (the five objects of sense perception). These fifteen attributes plus sensory consciousness (manas) and discriminative intelligence (buddhi) constitute the seventeen elements of the subtle astral body of man.” “The five auric electricities that evolve from sentience, chitta, are in a magnetized state. They result from the extremities of sattva and tamas, from rajas in the middle, and from sattva-rajas and rajas-tamas produced by the intervening spaces. These auric electricities are called panchatattva, the five root-causes of creation. Their positive attributes, jnanendriyas, are the sense organs of smell, taste, sight, touch, and hearing. Their neutralizing attributes, karmendriyas, are the instruments of action – excretion, reproduction, locomotion, manual dexterity, and speech. Their negative attributes, tanmatras, are the objects of the five senses.” A fully enlightened being has become the pure reflection of a spiritual ray emanating from the Source, and is know in esoteric Christianity as a Son of God. However, for the ordinary man, the Self, or soul, is shrouded by ignorance and compelled through desire to incarnate until liberation is attained. The fourfold vibratory structure of creation, Maya, and the individuation of consciousness, chitta, endowed with ignorance, avidya, and its ensuing result as the sense of separate existence, ahamkara, or the ego – being “the son of man,” are expressions of the force of Repulsion away from Spirit. Sentience, as self-awareness and the power of feeling, is also simultaneously affected by the force of Attraction back to Spirit, Cosmic Consciousness. As a consequence a magnetic field is created that produces five auric electricities with their positive and negative poles of discriminative intelligence, buddhi, and sensory consciousness, manas. *******
SUTRAS 11-12 “The five sense objects, which are the negative attributes of the five auric electricities, being combined produce the idea of gross matter in five forms: kshiti, solids; ap, liquids; tejas, fire; marut, gaseous substances; and akasha, ether. These five forms of gross matter and the fifteen attributes, together with manas, sense consciousness; buddhi, discriminative intelligence; chitta, the Spiritual Heart, or power of feeling; and ahamkara, the ego, constitute the twenty-four basic principles of creation.” “Matter which appears to us in five different varieties – solid, liquid, fiery, gaseous, and ethereal – make up the gross material body.... These twenty-four principles that evolve the world of Darkness, Maya, Cosmic Delusion, and its individualized reflection as ignorance, avidya, within the awareness of man, are nothing more than the Nature, or Creative Power, of God’s Consciousness. In reality creation has no true existence of its own, but is a mere play of ideas on the only real Substance, Sat, the Infinite and Eternal Spirit.” “And round about the throne were four and twenty seats; and upon the seats I saw four and twenty elders.” – Revelation 4:4 ******* “Realizing the theoretical Sankhya philosophy by practical Yoga has a definite meaning. The yogi “involves” creation (reverses the twenty-four evolutionary processes of Nature, as expounded in Sankhya), starting with matter (the grossest form of creation) and proceeding through the linked chain of the twenty-four primordial qualities, whose origin is Spirit. By ascent of the consciousness through the subtle centers of life and spiritual awakening in the spine, the yogi learns the inner science of changing the consciousness of gross matter into the consciousness of its primordial principles. He resolves the five vibratory elements along with their manifestation of the five senses, five instruments of action, and five differentiations of lifeforce from grosser to finer principles: changing the consciousness of earth into that of water; the consciousness of water into that of fire; the consciousness of fire into that of air; the consciousness of air into that of ether; the consciousness of ether into that of the sensory mind (manas); the consciousness of sensory mind into that of discriminative intelligence (buddhi); the consciousness of discriminative intelligence into that of the intuitive feeling of the heart (chitta); the consciousness of the intuitive feeling of the heart into that of one’s sense of individuality (ahamkara). By thus dissolving the twenty-four principles successively into one another, the yogi then merges the consciousness of one’s sense of individuality into that of the primordial cosmic vibratory force (Aum), and the consciousness of Aum into Spirit. He thereby reaches the Ultimate and Absolute, the One from whom has sprung the many. By gradual steps the yogi in this way converts all consciousness of matter into the consciousness of Spirit. This realization is not attainable through either reason or
imagination, but solely through intuitive experience. Such experience is, in nearly all cases, the result of practicing meditation and yoga techniques as taught by the great sages of ancient and modern India.... Sankhya-Yoga philosophy, therefore, is not only analytical and discriminative knowledge of the cosmos but includes definite methods for Self-realization. By Sankhya-Yoga the yogi perceives the exact nature of his body, mind, and soul, as well as the cosmos in its entirety. Through scientific techniques he attains by gradual steps the knowledge of the Ultimate Substance of creation.” (The Bhagavad Gita, pages 267-69, Yogananda) (NOTE: The correspondence between the five elements and the senses is earth and smell, water and taste, fire and sight, air and touch, ether and hearing. The correspondence for the instruments of action is earth and excretion, water and reproduction, fire and locomotion, air and manual dexterity, ether and speech. The correspondence for the differentiations of lifeforce is earth and the eliminating current (apana), water and the circulating current (vyana), fire and the assimilating current (samana), air and the crystallizing current (prana), ether and the metabolizing current (udana). ******* “According to Sankhya, the twenty-four principles of the evolutionary process of Nature, from Spirit into matter, are as follows: (1) Prakriti – the basic creative power bringing forth all phenomena; (2) Mahat-tattva – Cosmic Consciousness, Sat, referred to in Yoga as chitta, the sentience from which comes buddhi (discriminative intelligence); (3) ahamkara (egoism); (4) manas (sensory mind); (5-9) jnanendriyas – the five organs of sense perception; (10-14) karmendriyas – the five instruments of action; (15-19) tanmatras – the five supersensible or abstract qualities of matter; and (20-24) mahabhutas – the five subtle elements or vibratory motions, the conglomeration of which appear as gross matter in solid, liquid, fiery, gaseous, and etheric form. In Yoga, which is concerned with the practical application of the principles by which Spirit becomes matter and by which matter can be resolved again into Spirit, Sankhya’s tanmatras (abstract qualities of matter) and the mahabhutas (subtle elements of gross matter that arise from the tanmatras) are implicitly included as one. The five pranas, or differentiations of lifeforce, are enumerated instead of the tanmatras. Elaborated on, the Sankhya-Yoga cosmology is as follows: Prakriti is the creative power of God, the aspect of Spirit as Primordial Mother Nature. As such it is imbued with the seed of twenty-four attributes, the workings of which give birth to all manifestation. From Prakriti evolve: (1) chitta (sentience, selfawareness and the power of feeling – the basic mental consciousness – Sankhya’s Mahat-tattva), inherent in which are (2) ahamkara (ego); (3) buddhi (discriminative intelligence); and (4) manas (the sensory mind). From chitta arise five causal
creative principles (panchatattvas) that are the quintessence and root causes of the remaining twenty evolutes of creation. These causal principles are acted upon by the three gunas, or qualities, of Nature (sattva, rajas, and tamas) and, polarized into buddhi and manas, become manifested as (5-9) the jnanendriyas (five organs of sense perception); (10-14) the karmendriyas (five instruments of action); (15-19) the mahabhutas (or mahatattvas: earth, water, fire, air, and ether – the five subtle vibratory “elements” or individualized forces (motions) of the Cosmic Creative Vibration); and (20-24) the five pranas (five instruments of lifeforce empowering materialization, circulation, assimilation, metabolism, and elimination). The pranas, together with the five subtle vibratory elements, inform all matter in solid, liquid, fiery, gaseous, and etheric form.” (The Bhagavad Gita, footnotes on pages 267-68) ******* It would be worthwhile at this time to examine and review the key Sanskrit terms – chitta, ahamkara, buddhi and manas – as they are not only basic to an understanding of Indian philosophy, but also involve essential processes in the actual practice of yoga meditation. To make a concise translation for these, and still do them justice, as each possesses various shades of meaning, is therefore difficult. Context plays a vital role. I have edited some of the renderings by Sri Yukteswar and Yoganandaji so that they might have a greater impact on me personally. “The mind (chitta) is made up of three components – manas, buddhi, and ahamkara. Manas is the recording faculty which receives impressions gathered by the senses from the outside world. Buddhi is the discriminative faculty that classifies these impressions and reacts to them. Ahamkara is the ego-sense which claims these impressions for its own and stores them up as individual knowledge. For example, manas reports: “A large animate object is quickly approaching.” Buddhi decides: “That’s a bull. It is angry. It wants to attack someone.” Ahamkara screams: “It wants to attack me! It is “I” who am frightened. It is “I” who am about to run away.” Later, from the branches of a nearby tree, ahamkara might add: “Now “I” know this bull is dangerous. There are others who do not know this; it is my own personal knowledge, which will cause me to avoid this bull in the future.” (How To Know God – Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras, pages 1-2, by Swami Prabhavananda) Chid, emanating as Cosmic Consciousness pervades every single atom throughout limitless space. It is the power of Attraction back to the Source – Spirit, Absolute Pure Consciousness, which lies beyond all of creation. When an incarnate soul (jivatman) is created, the macrocosmic Chid evolves into the microcosmic chitta. Chid is detached from, and thus unaffected by, the power of Repulsion being Maya, or Cosmic Delusion, and the play of cosmic forces (gunas) inherent within Nature. However, the sense of being a separate self arises within chitta, due to Cosmic Delusion (Maya), and it is polarized into sensory consciousness (manas) and
discriminative intelligence (buddhi). The ordinary human being is plagued with spiritual amnesia, forgetfulness of the indwelling Self as his own true nature. Chitta can denote the individuation of consciousness; mind as an allcomprehensive term for the faculties of cognition; the spiritual heart; sentience; self-awareness and the power of feeling. My favorite rendering for chitta is by Yoganandaji – “the intuitive feeling of the heart,” which to me seems to capture the essence of chitta as an emanation of Cosmic Consciousness, and thus points to the way back home. When the heart is stilled, it becomes a mirror, silently reflecting the Spirit all around us, and within every sentient being. It is interesting to note that the English language lends itself nicely to making some clear distinctions between the Seer (Self), which can be symbolized by the subjective case, capital “I”, and that which constitutes what can be seen (sense impressions, thoughts, and feelings) represented by the small and objective case “me”, the reflective case “myself”, and the possessive case “mine”. “I” is for discriminative intelligence, buddhi, the pure subjectivity of the witnessing consciousness, while “me, myself, and mine” are for Maya, Cosmic Delusion. Aham Brahmasmi – “I am the Infinite and Eternal Spirit!” I am not the little me and myself that identifies with objects – the body, its sense impressions, and the mind of thoughts and feelings – that it considers to be mine. A fully illuminated master and great adept named Patanjali wrote the renowned Yoga Sutras, one of the most definitive texts on yoga, or “union” with God. Instead of ahamkara (literally, “I am doing” or “I am the doer”), he utilizes the term, asmita (“I-am-ness”). In three places (Sutras II:4&6, and IV:4), it is used, like ahamkara, to denote egoism, or identification with the seen (sense impressions, thoughts and feelings). But in Sutra I:17, it clearly means “I-am-ness” as the pure subjective awareness of the Seer (Self). Thus, unlike ahamkara, the term asmita has a flexible range of possible meaning, and therefore can be used as an extremely powerful tool for not only understanding, but also realizing, the process of transformation that one’s sadhana, or spiritual practice, is really all about. For that reason I have frequently chosen to use it in lieu of ahamkara throughout this treatise. Ahamkara denotes egoism, ego, egoity; the sense of being a separate self; individuality; the illusion of doership. Asmita can be used in three different ways: a) as being identical to ahamkara – “Asmita is the identification of the Seer with the instrument of seeing (body-mind).” – Yoga Sutra II:6; b) as one’s sense of identity, or self, that is being purified and transformed throughout increasingly deeper states of spiritual realization; and c) as a pure sense of being, identification with the Self, absolute Subjectivity – a complete metamorphosis from “I am the doer, the bodymind” to “I am one with Spirit.” Manas literally means “mind” but is limited in definition to the sensory mind or sense consciousness. It denotes sensory awareness or perception, sense impressions. Buddhi also denotes “mind” but in the sense of discrimination and discernment. It is
the intellect, power of reason, and intelligence that are transformed, when they have been spiritualized, into discriminative insight and intuitive wisdom, or soul awareness. If I had to choose, on a philosophical level, translations that were as concise as possible to describe the manifestation of individualized consciousness, they would be “sentience” (chitta), “egoism” (ahamkara), “perception” (manas), and “intelligence” (buddhi). However, in terms of actual spiritual practice, I would list them in the order that they are essential factors in the progressive stages of meditative absorption. I would also translate them differently as “sensations” (manas), “discernment” (buddhi), “feeling” (chitta), and “identity” (asmita). I have drafted the following charts in order to hopefully clarify all of the preceding information in this chapter: ************************************************************************
Infinite and Eternal SPIRIT Absolute Pure Consciousness (the fundamental cause and support for the universe of gross matter)
Through the Divine Will to express, Absolute Pure Consciousness is transformed into Creative Power Primordial Nature / Prakriti or Maya The force of Repulsion away from Spirit AUM Cosmic Sound and Cosmic Light
Time and space, and the subtle essence of cosmic particles that form the building blocks of the universe _______ Absolute Pure Consciousness also emanates simultaneously
as Universal Intelligence / Mahat-tattva All-pervasive Cosmic Consciousness The force of Attraction back to Spirit _______
These opposing powers of Attraction and Repulsion generate an electro-magnetic field and cosmic forces known as gunas
Causal, or etheric, impressions are created for an infinite possibility of forms through the power of sattva guna
Their expression on the astral plane manifests as the five tanmatras or subtle qualities of matter through the power of rajas guna
Combinations of the five “great elements” mahabhutas (earth, water, fire, air, and ether) take form as gross matter through the power of tamas guna
ATMAN the Self or soul as the individualized reflection of SPIRIT
Absolute Pure Consciousness
Through the force of desire incarnates as a human being endowed with Chitta – sentience, awareness, the power of feeling; Inherent to chitta are: Ahamkara – egoism, or the sense of being a separate self; Buddhi – discriminative intelligence; Manas – sensory consciousness _______ Buddhi and chitta, when spiritualized, generates Soul Awareness while ahamkara and manas obscures its realization _______ These are individualized expressions of Universal Forces – Cosmic Consciousness and Delusion (Maya) or Attraction and Repulsion _______
THE CAUSAL BODY As a consequence the aura is created, an electro-magnetic forcefield, and “the five auric electricities” – panchatattva _______ Sattva guna and tamas guna are the positive and negative poles _______ Rajas guna of neutral charge is in the middle _______ Sattva-rajas and rajas-tamas
result from the gaps in between _______
THE ASTRAL BODY The positive manifestations of “the five root-causes” – panchatattvas are the subtle counterparts of the five organs of sense perception - jnanendriyas (smell, taste, sight, touch, and hearing) _______ The neutral manifestations are the subtle counterparts of the five instruments of action - karmendriyas (excretion, reproduction, locomotion, manual dexterity, and speech) _______ The negative manifestations are the subtle counterparts of the five objects of the senses - tanmatras (as perceived in the dream state, or in superconsciousness as astral perceptions) _______
THE PHYSICAL BODY The five “great elements” or mahabhutas (earth, water, fire, air, and ether) being emanations of the tanmatras take form as the gross material body _______ The physical form is enlivened and regulated by the five differentiations of lifeforce – prana (materialization, circulation, assimilation, metabolism, and elimination) that are astral by nature _______ (I have combined elements of both Sankhya and Yoga cosmology above – specifically the tanmatras, mahabhutas, and pranas – to create a fuller perspective.) ************************************************************************
Now let us proceed to the last two verses in the first section: SUTRAS 17-18 “Liberation is attained through the realization that the soul is one with the Universal Self, the Supreme Reality.... What we need is a Guru, or Savior, who can awaken us to devotion and to perceptions of Truth.” “When all the developments of ignorance are withdrawn, the heart, being perfectly clear and purified, no longer merely reflects the Spiritual Light but actively manifests the same, and thus being consecrated and anointed, man becomes free, or Christ the Savior. That is he becomes one with the Christ, or Cosmic Consciousness, the sole reflection of Almighty God in creation, immanent in the Word or Aum, the Holy Vibration. Thus is he liberated or saved from the darkness of Maya, the delusion of being separate from God, or Spirit.” “Upon whom thou shalt see the Spirit descending, and remaining on him, the same is he which baptizeth with the Holy Ghost.” – John 1:33 “Through a Savior, or True Spiritual Preceptor, Satgurudeva, the son of man is baptized or absorbed in the stream of Spiritual Light, and rising above the creation of Darkness, Maya, enters into the world of Spirit and becomes unified with Purusha, the Son of God, as was the case of Jesus the Christed One. In this state man is saved forever from the bondage of Darkness, Maya.” “But as many as received It (the Christ, or Cosmic Consciousness), to them gave It the power to become the Sons of God.” – John 1:12 “Verily, verily, I say unto thee, except a man be born of water (the holy stream of Aum, Amen, “the sound of many waters” mentioned in Revelation) and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God.” – John 3:15 ”When man thus enters into the Spirit and becomes a Son of God, he comprehends the universal vibration of Aum, the Holy Ghost, as a perfect unity, and his Self as nothing but a mere idea resting on a fragment of Aum’s Cosmic Light. Then he sacrifices himself on the altar of Spirit, to the Holy Ghost, by abandoning the vain belief in his own separate existence, and becomes one with the integral whole. He unites with the only real Substance, God. This union of the Self with the Eternal Spirit is called kaivalya, the state of liberation.” “To him that overcometh will I grant to sit with me, even as I also overcame and am set down with Almighty God in His throne.” – Revelation 3:2
PHYSIOLOGY OF THE ASTRAL AND CAUSAL BODIES
“The physical world is in reality nothing more than inert matter. The inherent life and animation in all forms, from atoms to man, come from the subtler forces of the astral world. These, in turn, have evolved from still finer forces of the causal or ideational creation, the creative vibratory thoughts emanating from the consciousness of God. Man, the microcosm, is in all aspects an epitome of the macrocosm. His physical body is gross matter; his life and his ability to perceive through the senses and cognize through the consciousness are dependent on the subtle powers and forces of his astral and causal bodies – instruments of the indwelling soul, or individualized consciousness of God. The physical body is directly created and sustained by the forces of the astral body. The astral body and powers are principally life current or prana. Life current is a mixture of consciousness and electrons. The former is intelligent and the latter is mechanical. The electricity shining in a light bulb did not create the bulb. There is only a mechanical relationship between the bulb and the electricity burning inside it. But life current present in the united sperm and ovum cell develops that primal cell into an embryo and ultimately into a full-grown human being. The creative life energy of the astral body descends into the physical body through seven subtle centers in the brain and spine, and remains concentrated in and expresses outwardly through these centers. Within days after conception, a “neural grove,” the medulla oblongata, may be distinguished in the embryo. From this first developmental phase is formed the spine, brain and nervous system, and from these developing parts, the rest of the human organism evolves – all the work of the forces of nature. As the physical body has a brain, spinal cord with nerve pairs forming plexuses at the cervical, dorsal, lumbar, sacral and coccygeal regions, and a many-branched peripheral nervous system, so the astral body has an astral brain of a thousand rays (the thousandpetaled lotus), an astral spine with subtle centers of light and energy, and an astral nervous system whose myriad luminous channels are called nadis. The physiology of the astral body animates the physiology of the physical body. The astral body is the source of the powers for the physical senses of perception and instruments of action. The astral nervous system channels the flow of lifeforce or prana in its five differentiated forms that in the physical body manifest as materialization, circulation, assimilation, metabolism, and elimination. The main astral spine of light, the sushumna, has within it two other luminous spines. The sushumna, or outer covering of light, controls the gross activities of the astral lifeforce (those associated with all of the functions performed by the seven astral cerebrospinal centers and their five vibratory creative elements – earth, water, fire,
air, and ether) that create and sustain the physical body. The sushumna extends from the muladhara chakra, or coccygeal center, to the brain. Auxiliary to the sushumna are two astral nadis on either side of it – on the left, ida; and on the right, pingala. These two, pre-eminent among 72,000 nadis, constitute the primary channels of the astral autonomic nervous system – which, in turn, controls the corresponding autonomic nervous system of the physical body. Within the sushumna is the second astral spine called vajra that regulates the astral body’s powers of expansion and contraction, and all of its other activities of motion. The vajra extends upwards from the swadhisthana chakra, or sacral center. Within the vajra is hidden the chitra astral spine, which controls the spiritual activities, those related to consciousness. The functions of these three astral spines are controlled primarily by the astral brain or sahasrara of a thousand rays. Specific rays of life and intelligence from the thousand-petaled lotus of light are directly reflected in the different astral spinal centers, giving each it characteristic activities and consciousness, just as portions of the physical brain are connected to specific nerves and nerve centers in the physical spinal plexuses. As the physical body is made principally of flesh, and the astral body of prana, or lifeforce, so the causal body is made specifically of consciousness. It is the presence of the forces of the causal body behind the astral and physical bodies that creates and sustains their very existence and makes man a conscious, sentient being. The causal body has a spiritual brain of wisdom, and a spiritual spine called the brahmanadi. The brahmanadi has no covering of light, as does the threefold astral spine; it is made of a strong current of consciousness. The brahmanadi is commonly described as inside, or the inside of the chitra astral spine. This is at once both a fact and a misnomer. The brahmanadi being the “spine” of the causal body, which is thought vibrations or consciousness, can only be described in relative terms as being “inside” or covered by the astral spines, which in turn are covered by the spine of the physical body. The “forms” of the three bodies and their “spines” are a matter of degree of grossness superimposed on one another, with the finer obscured by the grosser, though not obstructed by it. The physical, astral, and causal instruments of the soul exist and function as an integrated whole through interaction between the various gross and finer forces. Within the causal cerebrospinal “channel,” or brahmanadi, are seven centers of consciousness, corresponding to the subtle centers of light and power in the astral body. The physical, astral, and causal bodies are knitted together at these centers, uniting the three bodies to work together: a physical vehicle, empowered by astral lifeforce, with causal consciousness providing the power to cognize, think, feel, and will.” (The Bhagavad Gita, pages 59-62, Yogananda) *******
“The anatomy of the gross physical body, being an externalization of the finer astral forces, is patterned in a general way after the astral form. The physical spinal cord and the chains of ganglia of the autonomic nervous system that run alongside the spine coincide, respectively, with the astral sushumna and the nadis of the ida and pingala on the left and right of the sushumna. As the sushumna is the outermost sheath of the two subtler astral spinal channels (vajra and chitra), and of the causal “spine” of consciousness (brahmanadi), likewise, the physical spinal cord consists of four concentric layers protected by the vertebrae: 1) Outermost is a narrow lymph-filled capillary space bounded on the outside by a sturdy membrane, the dura mater; 2) a layer of spongy tissue filled with cerebrospinal fluid, covered by the delicate arachnoid; 3) the white and gray matter, which is surrounded by a vascular membrane called the pia mater, containing afferent and efferent nerve tracts connecting the brain to the muscles, vital organs, and senses via the periphery nerves; and 4) an extremely thin central channel in the middle of the gray matter.” (The Bhagavad Gita, footnote on page 61) *******
I have changed “sympathetic nervous system” to “autonomic nervous system” in both the commentary and footnote above. This is more exact. I feel that Yoganandaji was obviously implying by his use of “sympathetic” for it to mean both the sympathetic and parasympathetic functions. The former increases the heart and breath rates and, in general, prepares the body for action; the latter slows the heart and breath rates down, and decreases other bodily activities, in order to conserve energy. Not only do the physical ganglia of the autonomic nervous system, and the ida and pingala nadis, run parallel to the cerebrospinal axis and its corresponding astral channel, the sushumna, but they also intersect with each and every one of the cerebrospinal plexuses and their astral counterparts, the seven chakras. In other words, the entire functioning of the periphery nervous system – both physical and astral – is intimately connected to the autonomic nervous system and the two side channels known as the ida and pingala nadis. The ida nadi, flowing to the left of the sushumna, is associated with one of the five subdivisions of prana, or lifeforce, already mentioned in the commentary above. It is the most important, the “materializing” or “activating” quality of prana’s light (referred to as “the life-supporting” and the ”subtlest” of the five “winds,” or lifeforce currents, in Tibetan Buddhism), and is also call prana. It is linked to the inhalation of the breath, especially through the left nostril. Ida nadi is associated with the afferent, or sensory, nerve impulses carried from the periphery of the body to the spinal plexuses and brain; the right cerebral hemisphere; and the emotions. In yoga meditation it is symbolized by the moon and visualized as being feminine in nature, white and cool. The pingala nadi, flowing to the right of the sushumna, is associated with apana, the ”eliminating” or “purifying” aspect of prana, lifeforce; the exhalation of the breath, especially through the right nostril; the efferent, or motor, nerve impulses that are carried from the brain and spinal plexuses to the periphery of the body; the left cerebral hemisphere; and the intellect. In yoga meditation it is symbolized by the sun and visualized as being masculine in nature, red and hot or warm.
“The causal brain is a reservoir of absolute pure consciousness, the ever-existing, ever-conscious, ever-new bliss of Spirit, and of Its individualized expression, the soul. As this consciousness descends through the causal cerebrospinal centers, it manifests as wisdom in the cerebrum, intuition in the medulla, calmness in the cervical center, the consciousness behind the power of lifeforce in the dorsal center, the consciousness or power of self-control in the lumbar center, the power of adherence in the sacral center, and the power of restraint in the coccygeal center. These manifestations of the absolute pure consciousness of the soul descending through the causal cerebrospinal centers, send wisdom, through the action of will, to the ”cells” of endless thoughts which constitute the causal body. As this consciousness flows outward from the causal body into the astral body, and then into the physical body, drawn by the magnetism of sense attachment to matter, the fine expression of original absolute pure consciousness becomes increasingly deluded and gross, losing its true Spirit nature. Pure blissful intelligence, or wisdom, becomes discrimination. Discrimination distorted by the limitation of sense impressions becomes the blind whim-led mind. Expressing ever more grossly, mind becomes life without cognizing power. Life becomes inert matter.” (The Bhagavad Gita, pages 59-63, Yogananda) ******* The universe is encased in one or more of five sheaths, or koshas as they are referred to in yoga philosophy. These are screens of delusion, each of which, in descending order, obscures to a greater degree the real Cause and Essence of all creation, God. In regards especially to man, the koshas are sometimes called “bodies.” The subtlest of these is anandamaya kosha, “the body of bliss,” and consists of individuated consciousness, chitta, the spiritual heart that possesses the power of feeling and the ability to experience divine joy. It corresponds with brahmanadi, the causal spine. Ignorance arises simultaneously with the expression of chitta due to Cosmic Delusion, and results in egoism, ahamkara, or the sense of being a separate self. Next is jnanamaya kosha, “the wisdom body,” made up of discriminative intelligence, buddhi, whose development culminates as supramental knowledge born of pure intuition. It corresponds with chitra nadi, the highest astral spine. Manomaya kosha, “the mental body,” is comprised of manas, or “mind” as sense perception and consciousness. It corresponds with vajra nadi, the intermediary astral spine. “The vital body,” pranamaya kosha, constitutes life, prana, or lifeforce and its five differentiations. It corresponds with sushumna nadi, the lowest astral spine. And last we have “the gross material body,” annamaya kosha, the physical form and cerebrospinal axis of man constructed from the five great elements. *******
“In ascending order, from matter to Spirit, the five natural evolutionary stages of life are results of these five sheaths. When one by one the sheaths are unfolded, there is a corresponding manifestation of a progressively higher expression of life. Inert minerals are enlocked in all five sheaths. With the unfolding of the annamaya kosha or sheath of matter, pranamaya kosha the vital sheath is revealed, and the resulting manifestation is the life in plants. When pranamaya kosha is unfolded and manomaya kosha or the mind sheath becomes manifest, the animal kingdom is expressed. (Animals have perceptions and consciousness, but not the intellect to discriminate between right and wrong.) When manomaya kosha is unfolded, and jnanamaya kosha or the discriminative sheath is revealed, we have the manifestation of intellect, or man, with the ability to think, reason, and guide his actions by discrimination and free choice. When man rightly uses this discriminative power, jnanamaya kosha is ultimately rolled back and anandamaya kosha or the bliss sheath is revealed. This is the state of the divine man, with just a thin veil of individuality between himself and God. Man, being a microcosm of the universe, has within him all five sheaths – matter, life, mind, intellect, and bliss. He, alone, of all known forms of creation, has the capacity to unfold all of these sheaths and free his soul to become one with God. Yoga, as described in the Bhagavad Gita, is the method through which this liberation can be attained. By the correct practice of meditation, the accomplished yogi, through pranayama, or lifeforce control, unfolds the vital sheath (pranamaya kosha). He finds that this life energy is the link between matter and Spirit. With mastery of the lifeforce he realizes the true nature of matter (annamaya kosha) as a delusive objectification of Spirit. And as the inwardly flowing life energy disconnects the consciousness from identification with the limited sense-mind (manomaya kosha), that sheath unfolds so the discriminative qualities of the intellectual sheath or buddhi (jnanamaya kosha) can predominate in his life and meditation. The cultivation of the discriminative qualities by right spiritual action and yoga meditation gives him ultimately the ability to roll back the intellectual sheath to reveal the fine sheath of bliss (anandamaya kosha), which is the causal body encasement of his soul with its faculty of pure all-knowing intuition and wisdom. Unfolding the bliss sheath in deepest meditation, the yogi merges his soul in ecstatic oneness with God.” (The Bhagavad Gita, pages 62-65, Yogananda)
THE EIGHTFOLD PATH OF YOGA
“India’s great sage Patanjali, whose date is a matter of conjecture by historians (many of them assign him to the second century B.C.), explained the spiritual science of yoga in definite metaphysical terms in his renown Yoga Sutras. While the Bhagavad Gita describes in allegory the process of realizing God, Patanjali speaks of the scientific method of uniting the soul with the undifferentiated Spirit in such a beautiful, clear, and concise way that generations of scholars have acknowledged him as the foremost exponent of yoga.... Patanjali begins his Yoga Sutras with the definition of yoga as “the neutralization of the alternating waves in consciousness” (chitta vritti nirodha). Chitta is a comprehensive term for the faculty of cognition, which includes the pranic lifeforce, manas (mind as sense consciousness), ahamkara (egoity), and buddhi (intelligence). Vritti (literally “whirlpool”) refers to the waves of thought and emotion that ceaselessly arise and subside in man’s consciousness. Nirodha means neutralization, cessation, control. Patanjali continues: “Then the Seer abides in his own nature.” This refers to his true Self, the soul. That is, he attains Self-realization, oneness of his soul with God. “The yogi who makes keen efforts without being impatient – he who possesses devotion, vital energy, recollection of his true Self, discrimination, and calm persistence in deep meditation – achieves emancipation in a short time” (Yoga Sutras I:20-21). Its attainment is nearest to those possessing tivra-samvega, divine ardor (fervent devotion and striving for God-realization, and extreme dispassion toward the world of the senses). The essential limbs of yoga, the yogangas, are listed in Yoga Sutras II:29 – 1) yama – ethical conduct, the avoidance of immoral actions; 2) niyama – spiritual observances; 3) asana – right posture for bodily and mental control; 4) pranayama – control of prana or lifeforce; 5) pratyahara – interiorization of the mind; 6) dharana – concentration; 7) dhyana – meditation; and 8) samadhi – divine union, oneness of the individualized soul and Spirit.... Yama entails generating the mental power to resist one’s evil inclinations toward immoral behavior.... This first step of the Eightfold Path is fulfilled by observing the “thou shalt nots” – abstaining from injury to others, falsehood, stealing, incontinence, and covetousness. Understood in the full sense of their meaning, these prescripts embrace the whole of moral conduct. By their observance, the yogi avoids the primary or fundamental difficulties that could block his progress toward Self-realization. Breaking the rules of moral conduct not only results in present misery, but long-lasting karmic effects that bind the devotee to suffering and mortal limitation. The power of mental resistance subdues
the desire to indulge in actions that are contrary to spiritual law, and helps to neutralize the karmic effects of past mistakes.... Niyama is the power of mental adherence to what is good or auspicious, conducive to one’s welfare.... the “thou shalts” – purity of body and mind, contentment, discipline, study and self-analysis, and devotion to God. Yama-niyama are the foundation on which the yogi begins to build his spiritual life. They harmonize body and mind with the divine laws of Nature, or creation, producing an inner and outer well-being, happiness, and strength that attract the devotee to deeper spiritual practices and make him receptive to the blessings of his guru-given sadhana.... Asana is the faculty derived from the poise or control of the body, for the correct posture is essential to the yogi’s practice of lifeforce control. Asana supports the ability to invoke divine life energy in preparation for the practice of pranayama. Asana prescribes the necessary correct posture for yoga meditation. Though many variations have evolved, the essential basics are a steady body with straight, erect spine, chin parallel to the ground, shoulders back, chest out, abdomen in, and eyes focused at the center of cosmic consciousness between the eyebrows. The body must be still and unmoving, without strain or tension. When mastered, the correct posture or asana becomes as expressed by Patanjali, “steady and pleasant.” It bestows bodily control, and mental and physical calmness, enabling the yogi to meditate for hours, if so desired, without fatigue or restlessness. It is evident, then, why asana is essential to lifeforce control: It supports the inner dispassion toward the demands of the body and the ardent power necessary to invoke the aid of the life energies in turning the consciousness inward to the world of Spirit. Right posture creates the physical and mental pacification required for overcoming the bodybound tendencies toward lethargy, restlessness and fleshly attachment.... The lifeforce (prana) is the link between matter and Spirit. Flowing outward it reveals the spuriously alluring world of the senses; reversed inward it pulls the consciousness to the eternally satisfying bliss of God. The meditating devotee sits between these two worlds, striving to enter the kingdom of God, but kept engaged in battling the senses. With the aid of a scientific technique of pranayama, the yogi is at last victorious in reversing the outward flowing life energy that externalized his consciousness in the action of the breath, heart, and sense-ensnared life currents. He enters the natural inner calm realm of the soul and Spirit.... Pratyahara is the withdrawal of consciousness from the senses, the result of successful practice of pranayama or control of the lifeforce (the astral powers) that enliven the senses and bears their messages to the brain. When the devotee has attained pratyahara, the lifeforce is switched off from the senses, and the mind and consciousness are still and interiorized....
Self-mastery, or perfect self-control, is attained through the intense mental state in which the consciousness is drawn “toward” or “into” union with the object of its concentration. It is referred to by Patanjali in Yoga Sutras III:1-4 as samyama, a collective term under which the last three steps of the Eightfold Path are grouped together. The first five steps are the preliminaries of yoga. Samyama, from sam “together,” and yama, “holding,” consists of the mystical trio, dharana (concentration), dhyana (meditation), and samadhi (divine union), and is yoga proper. When the mind has been withdrawn from sensory disturbances (pratyahara), then dharana and dhyana in conjunction produce the varying stages of samadhi: ecstatic realization and, finally, divine union. Dhyana, or meditation, is the focusing of the freed attention on Spirit. It involves the meditator, the process or technique of meditation, and the object of meditation. Dharana is concentration or fixity on that inner conception or object of meditation. Thus arises from this contemplation the direct perception of the Divine Presence, first within oneself, and then in the vastness of Spirit, omnipresent throughout and beyond all of creation. The culmination of samyama self-mastery is when the meditator, the process of meditation, and the object of meditation become one – the full realization of oneness with Spirit.” (The Bhagavad Gita, pages 73-76, Yogananda) ******* “Some devotees follow the eightfold path of yoga, neutralizing the scintillations of feeling (chitta) so that in its clear waters they can see the undistorted reflection of the moon of the soul. Such yogis cultivate the restraints and observances of self-discipline (yama-niyama), but they go further. They practice body control by postures (asana) in order to make the body amenable to their will, able to sit quietly during long hours of meditation and protracted ecstasy. The yogi then assumes any correct posture and practices lifeforce control (pranayama) by a technique such as Kriya Yoga. With this technique he disconnects his mind from body consciousness by switching off the life current from the senses, and unites mind and lifeforce with superconsciousness in the brain and spine. He thus reaches the state of true interiorization, or withdrawal of the mind and lifeforce from the senses (pratyahara). After the yogi becomes strong in body and mind by self-discipline, posture, lifeforce control, and interiorization of consciousness, he devotes his newly mastered body and mind to concentration on the Infinite (samyama: dharana, dhyana and samadhi), conceiving Spirit as the cosmic Aum vibration, he begins to expand with it – feeling the vibration not only in his own body but in the vast cosmos. The yogi is then able to attain ecstasy of oneness with God – vibrating in the universe as Cosmic Sound and Cosmic Light – the Holy Ghost vibration. Inherent in this Vibration he finds the Universal (Kutastha) or Cosmic Consciousness, and through that he merges with God in Absolute Pure Consciousness.
By following the principles of the ethical conduct, and by posture, lifeforce control, interiorization of the mind, concentration of the attention, meditation on the cosmic conception of God, and ecstasy, the self of man can be united to the Spirit. Practice of the eightfold yoga dissolves the waves of attachments and aversions that infest the intuitive feeling of the heart (chitta). When the sensations, thoughts, and emotions have been stilled, a perfect image of the Spirit-Sun appears as a reflection in the clear deep waters of intuition within the soul. Then the yogi unites his soul reflected in the calm heart with the actual Source, the Sun of Omnipresent Spirit.” (The Bhagavad Gita, pages 494-95, Yogananda
PATANJALI’S KRIYA YOGA SUTRAS
Kriya Yoga, as disseminated in the West by Paramhansa Yogananda, refers specifically to a particular technique of pranayama, or lifeforce control, and to all of its supplemental meditative practices. However, in a broader sense, Kriya Yoga, can also mean any action done with awareness of the Self as the witnessing consciousness. “Janaka asked: Master, how does one acquire wisdom? How does liberation happen? How is nonattachment obtained? Please tell me this. Ashtavakra replied: My child, if you are seeking liberation renounce the passions as if they were poison, and seek forgiveness, sincerity, kindness, contentment and truth as you would nectar. You are neither earth, nor water, nor fire, nor air, nor ether. Know yourself as the witnessing consciousness of all these five elements. Understanding this is liberation.” – The Ashtavakra Gita “Know yourself as the witnessing consciousness!” – The witness is the key. This is the most important sutra in existence! Be a witness. Wisdom will happen through it. Nonattachment will happen through it. Liberation will happen through it. The questions were three but the answer is one.... Whatever is, observe it. Be a witness. Just watch. If there is ego, then watch the ego. What else can you do? Only watch – and by watching, the transformation happens.... Just observe, and when you observe, the doer disappears, only the witness remains.... Master just one thing – the witness. There is nothing else to be done.... What is the relationship between meditation and witnessing? Meditation is the path, witnessing is the destination. Witnessing is the culmination of meditation. And meditation is the cultivation of witnessing. Witnessing is meditation.” (Enlightenment: The Only Revolution, pages 31, 305 &128, Osho) *******
The opening verse of Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras is “Now, an explanation of yoga begins.” “The word “now” indicates an auspicious or favorable occasion. What is to be taught is authoritative, of superior value, and based on established means already tested and verified. After preliminary study of basic philosophical principles the aspiring yogi should be ready to investigate subjective realms of mind, and to learn about and engage in practices, which can generate the experience of superconscious states that confer illumination of consciousness and soul liberation. Without preliminary study and adequate preparation, a truth seeker will not progress to being a genuine disciple on the spiritual path, and will neither be able to meditate deeply nor understand the subtle processes of mental transformation that occur due to superconscious influences. The ideal devotee is inspired by the tradition of enlightened teachings, eager to follow the way that facilitates intensive spiritual growth, and completely dedicated to God-realization.” (Life Surrendered In God, page 76, Davis) ******* The second chapter entitled “Spiritual Practice,” begins by defining Kriya Yoga: “Intense practice (tapas), self-observation (svadhyaya), and devotion to God (Isvara pranidhana) constitute Kriya Yoga.” “The Yoga Sutras shed light on what qualifies as tapas – “intense practice” and they indicate that it reflects no particular technique, but a way of practicing. Tapas literally means “straightening by fire,” and yogic literature is filled with stories of how intensive yoga practice has lead practitioners beyond their limitations.” (The Kriya Yoga Sutras of Patanjali and the Mahasiddhas, page xxv, by Marshall Govindan) Svadhyaya, which is usually translated as “self-study” or sometimes “self-analysis,” and interpreted to also include such activities as the study of scriptures and the keeping of a spiritual journal, I have rendered as simply meaning “self-observation.” “The essence of the practice is to watch one’s own mind.” – Milarepa, Tibet’s great yogi and poet, who was one of the forefathers in the lineage I have received profound teachings through. Regarding Isvara pranidhana, “devotion to God” must be some rite of going inwards, not an outer ritual of worship. “The kingdom of heaven is within.” Therefore this could only really mean that one should be completely devoted to the practice of being aware that God is the indwelling Spirit, or Self, the witnessing consciousness. We find Patanjali included in most lists of the eighteen Mahasiddhas (“Great Adepts”), a tradition from South India. A Mahasiddha is one who has attained soruba samadhi, the state of physical immortality. It is reputed that Babaji was the chela, disciple, of two of these exalted yogis. The teachings of the Mahasiddhas were recorded almost exclusively in the Tamil language. However, the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali were written in Sanskrit. Patanjali calls God, the Supreme Being – Isvara. Among the other Mahasiddhas He is known as Isa, a
Tamil name for Shiva. He is always described, without exception, as being formless, and can only be found if one looks within. Patanjali’s Isvara is a derivative of the Tamil Isa – Shiva. “For the Tamil Mahasiddhas, Isa is another name for the Supreme Being, Shiva, who is not to be confused with the limited deity with the same name in the Vedas, nor the one third of the trinity referred to by early Western scholars. He defies limitation or description. Shiva means “own.” Therefore, Isvara means “Shiva, one’s own Being,” the Supreme Being who is immanent and transcendent in relationship to all manifestation. Self-realization may come when we surrender the perspective of being apart from the Supreme Being, and recognize Shiva as our own being. This surrender must be complete. In devotion, we feel “not my will but Thine.” This perspective makes transcendence easy. When we completely surrender that “I” to “Thou” we rise above nature and are free in the pure Self. This form of surrender involves feeling the existence, in the innermost core of our being, of the presence of God, and to feel always that our actions are prompted by Him. Kailasapathy in The Writings of the Tamil Mahasiddhas has made the relevant point that “the Mahasiddhas were not devotees in the sense of idol-worshippers. The believed in a supreme Abstraction. The recurrent use by the Mahasiddhas of the word “civam” in Tamil (Skt. shiva) is an abstract noun meaning “goodness,” “auspiciousness” and the highest state of God, in which He exists as pure Intelligence, in preference to the common term “civan” meaning Shiva, makes this point very clear. They believed in an abstract idea of Divinity rather that a personal God.” Babaji has said that winning the grace of God depends upon our devotion, sadhana, and service to God in others. By devotion we learn what pure love is: the lover and the beloved become one. You surrender the ego perspective. Such love brings us from duality to nonduality. By sadhana, which includes all forms of yoga practiced to remember our Self, the subconscious is purified and duality is dissolved. We become aware of the Presence everywhere. Through service we forget our little ego-based self and our petty problems, and develop the universal vision of love.” (Kriya Yoga Sutras, pages 28-29, Govindan) ******* “Intentional regulation of sensory and mental impulses, self-analysis, profound metaphysical study and meditation, and letting go of egoism in favor of Godconsciousness, are the practical means of attaining the perfect state of ecstatic spiritual realization. This is the path of Kriya Yoga.” (Life Surrendered In God, page 121, Davis) *******
“Yoga is the cessation of (identification with) the fluctuations arising within consciousness. Then the Seer (or Self) abides in his own true form.” – Yoga Sutras I:2-3 The fluctuations arising within consciousness are classified into five categories. “Mental images and transformations can be based on valid knowledge or on illusion because of accurate or false perceptions. The remaining three kinds of mental modifications are purely subjective and occur solely in the mind.” (Life Surrendered In God, page 82, Davis) ******* 1) THE MEANS OF ACQUIRING TRUE KNOWLEDGE are sensory data, discriminative intelligence, the testimony of a spiritual master, and the study of sacred works. “As we will find it more difficult to remove false identification with all the types of fluctuations within consciousness simultaneously, it is better to distinguish them and to use the means of acquiring true knowledge to help us become aware of the other types of mental modification: illusion, conceptualization, memory, and sleep.... Direct perception via sensory impressions is what we validate by personal experience. This is why the scientific approach is emphasized with respect to the techniques, which are viewed as hypotheses to be tested in the laboratory of one’s own consciousness. The powers of reason such as inference are another source. An example of inference is: “Where there is smoke, there must be fire.” The cause is inferred from the effect. Scriptural testimony from sacred works is the recording of sages and prophets who have perceived the Truth, and which has been handed down since ancient times by others who have found it to be effective. While it may appear in different forms of presentation, its essence is the same. It is important to validate what you believe and conclude against the teachings of the scriptures. You should not believe something or someone blindly. Refer to scriptural authority. If you also find the teaching there, you may follow it as a tried and true method.” (Kriya Yoga Sutras, pages 8-9, Govindan) ******* “Accurate perception is discernment without error. Inference is the process of determining conclusions from assumed premises based on probabilities. Starting with a reasonable theory, we can arrive at a probable conclusion. Inference is not always infallible because it is dependent upon sense testimony and the faculty of intelligence, both of which are mental functions.
Inductive reasoning is the process of logical thinking, using known data. Deduction is to arrive at a conclusion by subtracting, or taking away, those aspects of the problem that cannot be part of the solution. Vedic seers taught their students to look upon the world of multiplicity and inwardly say, “Reality is not this. Reality is not that.” Through an indepth examination of the universe, we may infer that there must be a creative Intelligence behind it all. By induction we might determine that God exists, but if our data is not accurate or complete, we will not be able to fully comprehend the nature of the Creator. Deduction, or the elimination of everything that is not of God from our sphere of observation, can enable us to realize what God is. Whether by induction, deduction, or inference as the beginning mode of inquiry, if the devotee persists with the intention to know, sooner or later the Truth will be discerned through enhanced intellectual capacities and awakened intuition. The use of discriminative intelligence can empower us to understand almost everything about the realm of nature, including subtle factors on the inner plane, which are also of material substance. However, to know that which transcends nature, intuition, the soul’s ability to directly perceive, must be brought into play. Another source of valid knowledge is the personal testimony of a sage. If such a one informs us, we can take his or her word about the matter and proceed. We must then engage in study and careful examination of the evidence if we are to know the Truth for ourselves. One is initiated on the spiritual path by faith in the teachings of the masters. And we are indeed fortunate if we have a relationship with someone who can declare the Truth as well as show us the way to its realization.” (Life Surrendered In God, pages 82-83, Davis) ******* 2) ILLUSION is false identification, lack of discernment, misinterpretation, and erroneous conclusions regarding the true nature of things.
“Illusion results when the reality of an examined object is misinterpreted.” – Yoga Sutra I:8
“Because of errors in perception, we may not accurately see what is before us. One might be walking at dusk, for example, and mistake a bush to be a threatening animal or person. One might see a mirage hovering over the desert sands or above the hot pavement on the road ahead. In one sense, the universe is real because it is a manifestation of cosmic forces. The assumption that the world of appearances is independent and self-sustaining is based on a lack of true knowledge and the inability to discern subtle levels of supportive influences. It is our misunderstanding of the world that creates illusion. Yet, in another sense, the world as a sequence of shifting realities is illusory because it is subject to change.” (Life Surrendered In God, pages 83-84, Davis) ******* “Illusion, or misconception, begins with an external objective stimulus. Most of our experiences are colored by attachment and aversion – we see someone or experience an event and because of our prejudices and attitudes we form conclusions that are illusory. When we base our judgments upon what is imagined, feared or desired, we suffer from misconceptions. If we want to see things as they truly are, we need to let go of all our illusions.” (Kriya Yoga Sutras, pages 9-10, Govindan) *******
3) CONCEPTUALIZATION: “Conceptualization is the result of knowledge acquired from verbal communication that has no real abiding substance.” – Yoga Sutra I:9 “Conceptualization includes the thoughts and ideas which flow through the mind as in daydreaming or abstract thinking. No external object is required. It is “the internal dialogue,” or incessant commentary of the mind talking to itself, and so is said to be an expression of that which can be put into words. Mentally thinking about our experiences, because it never stops, prevents us from perceiving reality as it is. Our mind tells us something and we believe it even though it has nothing to do with the truth. We get caught up in thoughts and, consequently, are unable to experience what is actually happening. One must learn to still the mind and stand back in silence as the witnessing consciousness.” (Kriya Yoga Sutras, pages 10-11, Govindan) ******* “Conceptualization is a psychological projection having no corresponding object. It is distinguished from an illusion that has an external object as a basis but is misinterpreted. There can be a variety of causes for conceptualization. If one harbors a desire that has been suppressed, it may manifest itself in mental images as a way of finding expression. Disordered thinking can produce delusion and false beliefs.” (Life Surrendered In God, pages 84-85, Davis) ******* 4) MEMORY: “Memory is the mental representation of prior perceptions.” – Yoga Sutra I:11 “Information presented to the mind is stored as an impression, a memory which can be accessed or recollected. The ordinary function of memory is selective. We recall impressions by choice or memories surface when they relate to present circumstances. Memories are as real as the objects they represent, but more subtle. They exist in the subconscious as images, sometimes holding emotional energy. Memories, along with the psychic force they retain, can be the cause of compulsions and destructive behavior. Even to recall an unpleasant memory can trigger an upsurge of painful emotion that causes fear, anger, resentment, guilt, and a host of similar feelings. Such memories, if repressed, can block the flow of psychic forces, create mental and emotional conflicts, and interfere with endeavors to function creatively in everyday circumstances. They should be acknowledged, processed objectively as information, and their forces released and directed for constructive purposes. By intentional use of creative imagination we can visualize ideal circumstances and experiences with such vividness that memories of imaginary creations are retained in the subconscious.” (Life Surrendered In God, pages 87-88, Davis) *******
“Memory is a function of desire. We tend to remember our likes and dislikes. Memories fall into two general categories: those remembered voluntarily, and those that arise spontaneously. The latter are usually stimulated by associations with present experiences and fueled by desire-laden emotions, which are stored in the subconscious. Memories, and the emotions born of attachment and aversion, constitute the subconscious tendencies that drive us. Yoga involves cleansing one’s consciousness of subconscious impressions (samskaras) through detachment and living more and more consciously in the present. As one’s sense of detachment grows these desires and subconscious impressions lose their force. Memory becomes increasingly of the voluntary type. All phases and techniques of Kriya Yoga contribute to this purification and expanding awareness.” (Kriya Yoga Sutras, pages 12-13, Govindan) ******* “Forget the past. Live in the present with the sacred goal of enlightenment.” – Beru Khyentse Rimpoche, one of the Tibetan lamas in my lineage ******* 5) SLEEP: “Sleep is a modification of the cognitive powers of awareness.” – Yoga Sutra I:10 “According to Patanjali the fluctuation of sleep is based on a belief in non-existence. During deep sleep there is only the thought of nothingness. If one has other thoughts it is in the dream state. There are four states of consciousness: ordinary wakefulness, the dream state, deep dreamless sleep, and superconsciousness (turiya), which is pure awareness unclouded by any thoughts, even the belief that there is “nothing” in deep sleep. Superconsciousness does not withdraw but instead transcends the subject-object duality as found in the other three states. During sleep consciousness first turns inwards, away from outer sounds and sensations, then gradually away from even thoughts and dreams. At its climax, it withdraws from everything except the one experience of nothingness. Upon awaking from deep sleep, one remembers being only conscious of nothing.” (Kriya Yoga Sutras, pages 11-12, Govindan) *******
Dreams are a process of thinking (conceptualization) while one is asleep. They are real in the sense that you dream them. But, like thinking, which is dreaming while awake, they are unreal in that they correspond to no reality. Thinking is always about something; it is never a direct perception of reality.
******* “The fact that we remain somewhat aware when we are sleeping is indicated by our memory of the experience. During sleep, the influences of darkness and inertia (tamas guna) prevail, clouding our field of consciousness. Since superconsciousness is negated when any mental modification is a controlling factor, even sleep should be acknowledged
as a condition to be overcome. Through mastery of a practice known as yoga nidra, or “superconscious rest,” we can remain fully conscious inwardly and transcend the influences of mental transformation while the body assumes all the physiological effects and benefits of deep sleep. Similarly, by cultivating the art of lucid dreaming we may not only become aware of the fact that we are dreaming but also even able to modify the dream content.” (Life Surrendered In God, pages 85-86, Davis) ******* For the sake of simplicity, I have condensed the above five categories to “sense impressions, thoughts, and feelings” as being representative of all these modifications in the process of cognition. ******* “By constant practice (abhyasa) and with detachment (vairagya) arises cessation of identification with the fluctuations in consciousness. In this context the effort to abide in the cessation of identification with the fluctuations in consciousness is a constant practice.” – Yoga Sutras I:12-13 This means it has to be a practice that can be done while doing whatever you might be at present engaged in, whether seated in meditation, shopping at the marketplace, study of some scripture, or just washing those funky old dishes. ******* “By “constant practice” Patanjali refers to concentrating on what one truly is, the Self.... “Detachment” refers to letting go of or releasing what one is not: passing thoughts, emotions, and sensations coming from the five sense organs. “Constant practice” and “detachment” can be thought of as the two magnetic poles of any yogic discipline. The former represents the endeavor to actualize the Self by means of the techniques of interiorization and experience of unity; the latter represents the corresponding attitude of “letting go” of the craving for the external world of diversity.” (Kriya Yoga Sutras, page xxiv, Govindan) ******* The word “detachment” sometimes has the negative connotation of being cold and indifferent. However, true detachment is a state of equanimity where you are able to stand back as the witness and simply observe the ups and downs of life without identifying with and reacting to them. This can free us from all the effects of tumultuous memories, thoughts and feelings that toss and turn on the surface of our consciousness like a ship on a stormy sea, and anchor us in the peaceful depths of the Self or soul which is the abode of unconditional divine love and infinite compassion, never that of cold indifference.
******* “The ordinary person, who does not practice yoga, is involved with desires that he has little control over and experiences fleeting glimpses of happiness. We are subject to much illusion. By the practice of yogic sadhana, peace of mind grows. We begin to gain some control over the desires and to cleanse our subconscious tendencies. There is some detachment from objects of desire, which were former sources of pain and pleasure. But we are still subject to their memory and consequently we frequently fantasize. At first detachment requires effort. However, when we permanently realize the Self, the joy and peace is so fulfilling that automatically we gain discrimination between the Self and the ego, and with this we lose desire for involvement even in subconscious motivated desire, memories and fantasies. They lose their force and wither away. It is desirelessness not based upon control but on the spontaneous and constant awareness of our greater Self, all pervasive and ever joyful, in all circumstances. Supreme detachment is effortless. The discriminative knowledge, which this latter stage of detachment brings, allows the yogi to see the limitations of all objects of desire. The resulting clarity of vision provides a steadiness in detachment, and enables lasting Self-realization.” (Kriya Yoga Sutras, pages 18-19, Govindan) ******* “However, this practice only becomes firmly established when properly and consistently attended to over a long period of time.” –Yoga Sutra I:14 “The natural tendency of the mind is to flow outwards towards sensory experience. Here, Patanjali tells how to establish a counter habit of inward mindfulness. “Firmly established” means that this yogic practice becomes integrated into all the aspects of our being, including its foundation, the subconscious, when it has been practiced for a long time, continually, with devotion and faith in its results. “Practice” means that in all activities we maintain the perspective of the witness, the pure subject, as distinct from the objects of awareness.” (Kriya Yoga Sutras, page 16, Govindan) ******* The following sutra is very inspiring and joyful! We are told that the more fiery devotion we have for our spiritual practice, that the more intense and continuous our practice becomes, the quicker we will experience states of ecstasy (samadhi) and, as a consequence, be well on our way to Self-realization. We do not have to wait “a long period of time” in order to begin feeling divine fulfillment. We can be filled with Spirit now!
“For those practitioners who are utterly resolute in their practice, the accomplishment of samadhi is imminent.” – Yoga Sutra I:21 ******* “The fluctuations in consciousness are fivefold, being afflicted and non-afflicted.... Ignorance, egoism, attachment, aversion, and clinging to life are the five afflictions.” – Yoga Sutras I:5 & II:3 “Intense practice, self-observation, and devotion to God constitute Kriya Yoga. They are used for the purpose of weakening any affliction and cultivating samadhi.” – Yoga Sutras II:1-2 “Ignorance is perceiving the impermanent to be eternal, the tainted to be pure, the painful to be pleasurable, and the ego to be the Self. Egoism is the identification of the Seer (or Self) with the instrument of seeing (body-mind).” – Yoga Sutras II:5-6 “Patanjali enumerates “the five afflictions” that prevent Self-realization. The order in which they are presented is significant. Due to the ignorance of our true Self, the ego arises; egoism, being the habit of identifying with our thoughts and sensations, creates attachments and aversions (likes and dislikes) and ultimately the fear of death (clinging to life).... The primary cause of suffering is ignorance (avidya), and it brings about the other afflictions. It refers not to ignorance in general, but specifically to an absence of Self-awareness. It is the cause of the confusion between the subject “I am,” and all objects of awareness. It conceals our inner awareness and creates a false identity: “I am the body, mind, senses, emotions,” and so forth.... Egoism (asmita) is the habit of identifying with what we are not – the body-mind-personality, the instrument of cognition. We falsely identify with sensations, thoughts and emotions without recognizing that they are only objects, mere reflections of our awareness. This leads to the individuation of our consciousness – “I-am-ness” and its confusion with “I am the body,” “I am this thought,” “I am that feeling.” This subject-object confusion is resolved by the practice of detachment and discernment. This error is a product or our basic ignorance as to who we truly are.” (Kriya Yoga Sutras, page 68-71, Govindan) *******
“The Self is the pure, absolute subject, and is experienced as “I am.” But in ordinary human consciousness, the Self has become an object: “myself”, a personality, an egoridden collection of thoughts, feelings and sensations which assure the role of the subject.” (Kriya Yoga Sutras, page xxvi, Govindan)
******* “Attachment is the clinging to pleasure. Aversion is clinging to suffering, or pain.” – Yoga Sutras II:7-8
“Because of the individuation of consciousness, its false identification with a particular body and set of thoughts and memories, we are attracted to various pleasant experiences in our environment. Attachment, like fear, springs from the imagination. It occurs when we confuse the internal experience of bliss with a set of outer circumstances, or factors, and we call this association – pleasure. Even when we possess the external factors, we may still experience attachment because of the fear of losing them. However, in reality, bliss is self-existent, unconditional, and independent of external circumstances or factors. One need only be aware to experience it.... In the same way we are repulsed by various experiences in our environment. These are relative terms, and what is painful for one, may be pleasant for another. There is a third possible response, however, detachment, which Patanjali proposes as the key practice for going beyond the dualities of pleasure and pain, attachment and aversion.” (Kriya Yoga Sutras, page 72-73, Govindan) ******* “Clinging to life, which is self-sustaining, arises even in the wise.” – Yoga Sutra II:9 “This is the basic drive of self-preservation, the fundamental will to live, which exists in all living beings. It is an instinct, and is based upon the fear of death and false identification with the body. We have had to go through the painful process of death and rebirth so many times, that we shrink from having to repeat it. Once we realize we are the immortal Self, we can free ourselves from all these afflictions.” (Kriya Yoga Sutras, pages 73-74, Govindan) ******* “If you detach yourself from identification with the body and rest in consciousness, then this very moment, you will be happy, at peace, and free from bondage.... You are the witness.... You are the one pure awareness.... You are that bliss, the ultimate bliss.... The soul is the witness – all-pervading, perfect and free.... Give up the illusion that you are an individual self.... You are the unchanging, conscious, nondual soul.... You are neither the doer nor the enjoyer.... Know that which has form is false, and know the formless as unchangeable and everlasting!” – The Ashtavakra Gita Ashtavakra has told us (as already quoted at the beginning of this chapter) that we are to seek “truth” with all “sincerity” (or by “constant practice” to dispel ignorance), “contentment” (to overcome attachment or desire), “kindness” and “forgiveness” (to remedy aversion) “as you would nectar.” We are also to “renounce the passions” (one’s desires or “likes”) “as if they were poison.” It is most interesting to note that the Sanskrit word for “nectar” is amrita, which means ambrosia – the drink of immortality, while the word for “passion,” vishaya, is derived from visha that means poison, a substance, which if eaten, will cause death. Now, in the quote immediately above, Ashtavakra tells us to “detach” ourselves from “identification with the body,” to “know” that we are “neither the doer nor the enjoyer (who is identified with, and thus attached to, the pleasures of the senses),” and to “give up
the illusion that you are an individual self.” So here egoism is succinctly defined, and we are also given the means for overcoming it – detachment and wisdom – that which liberates, the antidote to ignorance, being specifically a lack of Self-awareness, or egoism. We are to “rest in consciousness” and “be happy, at peace, and free from bondage.” Ashtavakra again reminds us – “You are the witness,” the witnessing consciousness, “the one pure awareness.” “You are that bliss, that ultimate bliss,” which simultaneously arises when you abide in a state of pure being, “rest in consciousness,” as the witness. This is a state of “non-doing” as the Zen masters call it. We are to realize, or “know” that the soul, or Self, is “the witness – all-pervading, perfect and free,” and that we are “the unchanging, conscious, nondual soul.” “Know that which has form is false, and know the formless as unchanging and everlasting.” Or, in other words, through soul-realization we can rise above any “identification with the body” and “know” that we are “formless... unchanging” and “everlasting.” And that by drinking this nectar of wisdom we shall be “free” of our clinging to life as a body, and liberated from the fear of death forevermore. So here in the opening lines of the pristine and absolutely profound Ashtavakra Gita, we are given the means to overcome “the five afflictions” as defined by Patanjali – ignorance, egoism, attachment, aversion, and clinging to life (“the fear of death”) that must be transcended in order to attain Self-realization. And we are told once again that the witness, or witnessing consciousness, is the key. We are also reminded that constant practice and detachment – so emphasized by Patanjali in his KriyaYoga Sutras – are core elements of this practice. I find that whenever I am able to stand back as the witness that the bliss is always there, always, and it is divine, full of nectar! In “this very moment” I truly do feel liberated, “free from bondage” – all of my false identifications and illusions seem to simply fall away by themselves, as I abide in the “one pure awareness” of “the witnessing consciousness.” This is what I call “instantaneous enlightenment” which takes place “this very moment” or instant. Zen masters use the term “sudden enlightenment.” That is a permanent state; this is only momentary, a sacred glimpse, but it is happening now in the timeless presence. And it need not be postponed until tomorrow! That’s the really great news. These glimpses into the one reality are flashes of enlightening. As these wholly gifts keep showering down and grow more frequent and continuous, you begin to really know in the depths of the soul that some day you will be free, completely liberated, forever! ******* “Only what stands beyond time as a witness is true.” “Ashtavakra says “rest in consciousness,” relax, let yourself unwind. Let go of this tension. Where are you going? There is nowhere to go – “rest in consciousness.” Then, right now – “this very moment you will be happy, at peace, and free from bondage.” This statement is unique. No other scripture is comparable to it.... Ashtavakra says it can happen now. There is no need to delay even a single moment.
There is no reason to leave it until tomorrow, no need to postpone it. This happening does not occur in the future, it happens now or never. When it happens, it happens right now.” “Stay detached, beyond, transcendent, above, far away. Be identified with only one thing: You are the observer, you are the witness.” “Bliss is the definition of truth. Bliss is above truth, even above consciousness – Sat Chid Ananda – truth, consciousness, bliss. Whenever bliss flows, whenever you find ecstasy, know that truth is nearby.” “Contentment means: Look at what you have! Open your eyes a little and see what you’ve already got. Existence has given you enough glory. It gave you life. It has blessed you with eyes – open them and see these green trees, the flowers, the birds. It has given you ears – listen to music, to the splashing of a waterfall. It has given awareness so you can become a buddha: What more do you want? You have already been honored.” (Enlightenment: The Only Revolution, pages 30, 34-35, 54, 73 & 84, Osho) ******* Patanjali says there are nine distractions to Self-realization (Yoga Sutra I:30). “The obstacles to inner awareness, or witnessing, are the distractions listed here. However, they are not insurmountable. Through the practice of various yoga sadhanas, or spiritual disciplines, they may be over come: 1) Disease is both physical and mental. It results from how we react to the stress of life; 2) Dullness occurs when there is not adequate energy to keep a continuous awareness. We should not waste energy and must avoid fatigue; 3) Doubt is the tendency of the mind to question, and when it is not accompanied by a seeking for answers, it may leave one cynical and unprepared to continue making efforts; 4) Carelessness is inattention, dispersion, and an absence of focus; 5) Laziness is a habit, due to discouragement, lack of enthusiasm or inspiration: 6) Sense indulgence, or addiction, occurs where desires are not detached from, but rather encouraged; 7) False perception is not seeing the underlying reality; 8) Failure to reach firm ground occurs when there is lack of patience and perseverance; and 9) Instability is the failure to maintain equilibrium during the highs and lows of life due to a lack of consistency in one’s practice; getting lost in the transitory show.” (Kriya Yoga Sutras, pages 39-40, Govindan) ******* “Some of the accompaniments of these distractions are trembling in the body, unsteady inhalation of the breath, depression and anxiety.” – Yoga Sutra I:31
“The nine mental distractions are those movements, which cause us to forget, or lose, inner awareness. When we become unduly absorbed by our thoughts, and lose our equilibrium, there may be side effects in our emotions, such as anxiety and depression, and physiological reactions like shaking and agitated breathing.” (Kriya Yoga Sutras, page 41, Govindan) ******* What is commonly known as “emotions” are dualistic; they always have an opposite: love and hatred, joy and sorrow, and so forth. These are the feelings referred to in my phrase, “sense impressions, thoughts, and feelings,” that I use to represent all of the fluctuations in consciousness. Emotion is from a Latin word that means, “to stir up, or disturb.” In the Buddhist teachings, these feelings are actually called “disturbing emotions.” In contrast, we have the spiritual qualities of soul peace, bliss, and unconditional divine love. These are nondual by nature, having no real counterparts. They are not disturbed, or stirred up, but are revealed or reflected in deep states of stillness and silence. ******* “The practice of concentration on a single object is the best way to prevent the obstacles and their accompaniments.” – Yoga Sutra I:32 “This practice keeps the mind from getting dispersed, or lost in its own thoughts. Inner awareness grows. The mental obstacles and their emotional accompaniments gradually retreat. All yogas involve concentration on an object: the body, breathing, a mantra, meditation, or upon the subject itself, being the Self, the witnessing consciousness.” (Kriya Yoga Sutras, pages 41-42, Govindan) ******* Absolutely fundamental to the practice of yoga meditation is the purification of subconscious tendencies (samskaras). The most superficial ones can be effectively addressed with affirmations and mantras. However, only the deeper dualistic states of spiritual ecstasy (savikalpa samadhi) will roast the seeds of the more deeply rooted impressions. And ultimately any last remaining and deepest samskaras, or subconscious tendencies, can only be offered up in the sacred fire of the highest nondual states of ecstatic bliss (nirvikalpa samadhi). My guru, Yogacharya Mother Hamilton (who was a direct and intimate disciple of Paramhansa Yogananda) used to say: “You have to pass through the hell of your subconscious mind in order to reach the heaven of your own being.” This can be a long drawn-out, and sometimes very painful, experience of purging oneself of the effects created by all of one’s previous thoughts, words and deeds. “Full price has to be paid for God-realization” – Papa Ramdas. *******
“In the active state, these fluctuations arising within consciousness are destroyed by meditation.” –Yoga Sutra II:11
“The elimination of the fluctuations arising within consciousness is a pre-requisite for samadhi. They can be stilled by the practice of meditation (dhyana) that is defined in Sutra III:2 as “the experience of having the mind fixed on one object only.” Meditation is the easiest process, but narrow in results. Continuous awareness is more difficult, but greater in results. Self-observation and liberation from the chains of thought is the most difficult of all, but greatest in its results. One can choose one or all of these methods.” (Kriya Yoga Sutras, page 75, Govindan)
Here Govindan seems to divide and separate the process of spiritual practice to clarify essential components. I view my own practice as a space-time continuum. Whatever you do with Self-awareness is “meditation.” The time is always now as in “constant practice.” The space is defined by what you are actually doing at this moment – seated with eyes closed and focusing on Spirit within you; or meditating one-pointedly on the Self, as the witnessing consciousness, in the middle of some duty that requires action; and whenever appropriate, observing an aspect of your ego with detachment and, thus, transcending its limiting hold on your being, pure awareness. Devotion to the witness inside of you is the key. It’s really all quite simple. Abiding in divine bliss generates the ultimate motivation to keep on practicing with all your heart and soul. Everything becomes nectar. Just go with flow and when the inspiration arises to do a specific technique – a certain affirmation or mantra, or some yoga poses, whatever – do it, but do it with awareness. It’s that easy. “The Great Way is not difficult!” as Sosan, the Third Chinese Patriarch of Zen, so rightly enlightens us. ******* “These afflictions in their subtle form are destroyed by tracing their causes back to their origin.” – Yoga Sutra II:10
“The five afflictions (ignorance, egoism, attachment, aversion, and clinging to life) maintain our false identity and separation from the Self. On the subtle level, they exist as subconscious tendencies (samskaras) that can be eliminated only by repeated going to their source through the various stages of samadhi. Because these subconscious impressions are not accessible to us in ordinary consciousness, or even meditation, one must eliminate their root, egoism, by repeatedly identifying with our true Self. The little “me” becomes gradually subsumed in the greater “I” and as it does, the subconscious impressions dissolve.” (Kriya Yoga Sutras, pg. 74, Govindan)
******* Govindan translates samadhi as the rather flat and dull sounding, “cognitive absorption.” I prefer the much more inspirational rendering by Paramhansa Yogananda of samadhi as being the spiritual realization of ecstasy! Or, as the
experience of oneness, yoga, with God as Bliss! Therefore, I have made a few changes here and there in translation. Oops! Our author does slip up in one place, while recounting a story in one of his commentaries, and uses the phrase – “a divine state of ecstasy, or samadhi.” The word “ecstasy” comes from the Greek – “standing outside of oneself.” This is not only a concise, but very precise, description of ego transcendence! Roy Eugene Davis, the author of Life Surrendered In God – The Kriya Yoga Way of Soul Liberation, defines both yoga and samadhi as simply being the state of superconsciousness. Bliss sometimes expresses itself as laughter. Cosmic humor is divine, and it really is so much fun just to laugh or simply smile. “Where’s the fun?” as our ever-lovable and fully enlightened Papa Ramdas was so fond of asking. And as Wavy Gravy says, “If you’ve lost your sense of humor, it just isn’t funny anymore.”
HA! HA! HEE! HEE! HO! HO! HU! HU!
is one of my very own personal mantras. I dare you right now, and I mean now, to repeat it until you are feeling really good, or perhaps even too good! And, by the way, the bija or seed-sound of HU is used by Sufis, who are the Islamic mystics, to awaken the heart. In Tibetan mysticism, the seed-sound HUNG is utilized for the same purpose. Do it now: Just keep repeating it over and over again, out loud if you like... ******* “Because of the conflict between the fluctuations of consciousness and the constituent forces of nature, and with suffering that arises from the subconscious impressions, anxiety and change, for the discriminating person, indeed all is sorrowful.” – Yoga Sutra II:15
“Even getting what we want creates suffering (dukkha) when we begin to fear losing it, or when the habit of craving leads to more craving, fear and anxiety. While we may have moments of pleasure, they are bound to end, and the knowledge of this creates anxiety, fear and suffering. No experience gives everlasting happiness. When we realize this, we begin to discern the source of lasting happiness as lying beyond attachment to things or persons. It is not the experience of pleasurable things which creates suffering, but the attachment to them. So the wise allow things to come, or to go, without becoming lost in thoughts of fear, desire, and sorrow. The wise cultivate detachment (vairagya) in order to end the habit of attachment and the confusion between well-being and external objects and circumstances.” (Kriya Yoga Sutras, page 80, Govindan)
******* “The cause of suffering to be eliminated is the union of the Seer (Self) and the Seen (Nature).” – Yoga Sutra II:17
“When our body feels some pain or we have experienced a loss, we say, “I am suffering.” We confuse the Self who “sees” with the constituent forces of Nature, everything else – that which is objective. Ask yourself: “Who suffers?” You will immediately realize it is not you. You are only the observer. Misplaced identity is the root cause of suffering. The Seer and the Seen are apparent only.” (Kriya Yoga Sutras, page 81, Govindan) ******* “The Seen is of the quality of brightness, activity, and inertia, and consists of the elements and sense organs whose purpose is to provide both experience and liberation to the Self.” – Yoga Sutra II:18 “This aphorism defines the constituent forces of Nature, the Seen. It includes everything capable of becoming the object of the transcendental subject or Self. Nature’s three principle modes of manifestation correspond to the three primary constituents of Nature (tri-gunas). Brightness or equilibrium accompanies the guna know as sattva. Activity or movement accompanies the guna of rajas; and inertia or denseness accompanies tamas. These three modes occur at both the material and psychological levels. Nature provides us with experience that ultimately liberates our consciousness from its bondage of false identification. Eventually we feel that we have had enough suffering in the hands of Nature and seek a way out of egoistic confusion (“I am the body-mind,” etc.). Nature includes the elements and our own bodies, minds, and emotions. It is constantly changing. With detachment and discernment we learn to go beyond it. Liberation of the Self from the bonds of ignorance occurs as we learn from the experiences given to us by Nature.” (Kriya Yoga Sutras, page 83, Govindan) ******* “The Seen exists only for the sake of the Self.” – Yoga Sutra II:21 “With reference to Sutra II:18, the Seen exists only to serve the Self’s liberation. Once the Seer is liberated from its confusion with the Seen, the Seen serves no further purpose. The Seer is just a witness, not a doer nor an enjoyer. Until then the Seen gives experience and by such experience we gradually wake up from the dream that we are the Seen. Those Mahasiddhas who remain on the physical plane indefinitely do so to assist in the liberation of other.” (Kriya Yoga Sutras, page 85-86, Govindan) ******* “For one who has attained the goal of liberation the Seen disappears, yet the Seen is not destroyed because of its common universality.” – Yoga Sutra II:22
“This aphorism rejects the notion that the world exists only in our minds, but in reality does not exist. Patanjali herein asserts that external objects do have their independent existence and they are not affected by our Self-realization. Selfrealization is an individual event that does not annihilate the external world. This is in contrast to the teachings of many schools of Vedanta which hold that Nature is illusion (Maya), with no objective reality.” (Kriya Yoga Sutras, page 86, Govindan) ******* “This union of the Seer and the Seen is the result of ignorance.” – Yoga Sutra II:24 “The false identification of our Self with the objects of experience is not illusory, but based on ignorance.” (Kriya Yoga Sutras, page 88, Govindan)
Or, in other words, Nature as the Seen is not illusory; but it is delusive (Maya) – the cosmic source of ignorance, the force of Repulsion away from Spirit. In one sense the world is most obviously real; just stub your toe and you will know from your own direct experience! “How can a real God create an unreal world?” – asks Osho, a mystic in his own right, who fully understands that the world is, in fact, illusory – because it is not seen for what it truly is by those who are unenlightened, each perceiving the world in a different way due to his own individual conditioning, or unique fluctuations arising within consciousness – and that when the inner revolution does takes place, subject and object – the soul, Self and God, Spirit – turn into one, and the “world” as a totality of seemingly separate objects, the mere appearance of forms, is transformed by an enlightened shift in perception – an infinite universe arises in its stead. This inner Selfrealization is nondual in that subject and object have merged as one; and this is reflected in the perception of the outer “world” where the one formless underlying reality is revealed – all boundaries melt away, and everything flows together as a “universe,” interpenetrative and connected. That does not mean the rocks and trees, mountains and rivers, suddenly just vanish. They still are but not in the same way as before. Everything has been transfixed in a new light; the sun of enlightened consciousness has risen.
“Philosophers with clouded understanding may vainly try to explain away the field of nature by simply stating that it does not exist! While expressing through a body and mind formed of the substance of nature they dismiss it as not “real.” When seers say that the universe is not real they mean that it does not have independent existence and is not permanent as it presently expresses. They teach that the only thing that is Real is Consciousness, which makes possible the realms of manifestation. They do not deny the existence of the universe: they merely point to That which is its cause and support.” (Life Surrendered In God, page 33, Davis)
******* There is a “world” of difference between philosophers and genuine mystics. The former are great thinkers who play with ideas. (“I think therefore I am” pretty
much sums up most of Western philosophy for me, which is usually devoid of any real spirituality. But at the heart and core of Eastern philosophy is the basic question – “How can I myself realize the one universal spiritual reality?” That is why it has always appealed to me so greatly and has become my passion in life.) Philosophers waste their time in foolish arguments over whether the world is real or illusory, full or empty, and whatever. Existence simply is. It does not need to be proven. Philosophers would rather keep on thinking about absolutely nothing of any real value (“just fooling around” as Osho so humorously put it!) than getting down to the real work to be done – stilling the mind and entering the silence, so as to become enlightened themselves. ******* When Adi Shankaracharya (one of the greatest mystics of all time, expounder of Advaita “Nondual” Vedanta, founder of the ancient Swami Order, and a disciple of Babaji as ParamhansaYogananda claims) says the world is “unreal,” it is in the sense that only the Real – God and the Self – is permanent, unchanging, has been and always will exist or be, and that the world is “unreal” because it is relative, always changing, is never the same, comes and goes, and thus ceases to be. “You go on saying to yourself the world is illusory, Maya, that it is not there. You keep denying the reality of the world and convincing yourself that it is but a dream. So now you believe this to be so but this feeling is not true. It is only a deception. The Advaitin philosophers always do this, go on saying the world is unreal. But it happened differently to Shankaracharya, he realized his being, he became the infinite, and then the world disappeared.” (Hsin Hsin Ming: The Book of Nothing – Discourses on Sosan’s Verses on the Faith-Mind, page 60, by Osho) ******* OCEAN OF BRAHMAN “My mind fell like a hailstone into the vast expanse, the ocean of Brahman, the Infinite and Eternal Spirit. Touching one drop of it, I melted away and became one with Brahman. This is wonderful indeed! Here is the ocean of Brahman, full of endless Bliss!” - Adi Shankaracharya “Everything belongs to one essence. When you see the formless then the whole world is just like an ocean, and all forms are simply waves. In all the waves, the ocean is waving, pulsating, as one.” (Hsin Hsin Ming: The Book of Nothing, page 181, Osho) The “world” is objective, a totality of all separate forms; while the “universe” is a oneness; universe literally means, “turned into one.” To quote Aldous Huxley: “If
the doors of perception were cleansed, we would see the world as it is – infinite!” This is subjective – “a turning about in the deepest seat of consciousness” as it states in one of the Buddhist Sutras. “Emptiness here, emptiness there (egolessness within, vast open limitless space without), but the infinite universe stands always before your eyes” (Sosan, the Third Chinese Patriarch of Zen). ******* “You must first become Brahman, then the world becomes an illusion, not the other way around. How can you become one with Brahman by simply realizing the world is unreal? And it can never really become an illusion this way because it is only a concept, something that you think. Advaitins go on saying the world is unreal, but just look: Throw a stone at them and they will get angry and start fighting with you! The world is not an illusion for them, only a conception, a philosophy. And philosophers can be very cunning.” (Hsin Hsin Ming: The Book of Nothing, page 61, Osho) “Stop talking and thinking, and there is nothing you will not be able to know” – Sosan. ******* Ashtavakra says that the soul is “nondual.” It is one with God. And as God is one with everything, then the soul has to be, too. God and Self, or soul, merge within, and Spirit and Nature become a unity without. Even the boundary between inside and outside dissolves with the enlightened view. Everything comes together as part of an integral whole. I am still pondering the doctrine of “a multiplicity of souls” that Govindan in his introduction claims that the Mahasiddhas hold. Ashtavakra also says that the soul is “all-pervading.” If that is so, a multiplicity of souls means it’s going to get awfully crowded out there! I would take this to its nondualistic, as well as quite logical, conclusion. All souls are the individualized reflections of the same Chid, the immanent Cosmic Consciousness, springing forth from the one transcendental Spirit of God, and therefore all souls are one in their essential nature. How could it be otherwise? Adi Shankaracharya would certainly agree and he knows from his own mystical realization. “Everyone is my Self” – from this full realization, the universal vision of love becomes a reality, infinite compasssion arises, and I thus “do unto others as I would have them do unto me” because we are one and the same. Whatever you give with this consciousness, you immediately receive – everything moves full-circle; space is curved. And love is everywhere! One heart, all hearts – the shining jewel in the lotus. As I see it, all of this confusion, as to whether the world is real or illusory, stems to a great extent from the dualistic limitations of language itself, which is based on opposites, while existence is advaita, or nondual. Existence is one. These are all merely various descriptions, utilizing word symbols, to depict the same underlying reality. Concepts are very useful as points of departure, or “launching pads” into
the states of superconsciousness, and once you are soaring through the luminous realms of inner space, they may then be discarded. “The mystery is solved when you have become the mystery itself, you will then know. But that knowledge is so delicate it cannot be put into words. That knowledge is so paradoxical it defies all language. That knowledge is so contradictory – because opposites lose their boundaries, they become one – no word can say it.” (Hsin Hsin Ming: The Book of Nothing, page 120, by Osho) ******* “Ignorance is destroyed by the means of uninterrupted discriminative discernment (wisdom).” – Yoga Sutra II:26 “How are we to remove this ignorance (avidya) and reach Self-realization? Patanjali advises us to distinguish what is permanent from what is transitory: the Real from the relatively unreal, the Self as distinct from the world. We take the perspective of a witness and train the inner consciousness to gradually withdraw, to stand back even from our own mental processes. In the final stage of this discernment, we identify with the Self in ecstatic nondual spiritual realization (nirvikalpa samadhi) – “an unceasing vision of discernment.” In order to grasp the Truth, moment-to-moment observation is necessary. Each of us must decide for ourselves what needs to be let go of, and what may stay.” (Kriya Yoga Sutras, page 89, Govindan) ******* There are two levels of discernment: the first is sporadic, waxes and wanes, as one is consciously striving to cultivate its quality, while the second becomes such a deeprooted habit that “discriminative discernment” flows as an unbroken stream of insightful awareness, continuous and “uninterrupted.” It is this latter, and higher, level that is instrumental to the process of burning off any last remaining karma – the effects of one’s past thoughts, words and deeds – in the form of “seeds,” subconscious impressions or samskaras, that finally culminates in supreme enlightenment and liberation. This transpires while one is abiding in nirvikalpa “nondual” samadhi, the highest state of spiritual ecstasy. ******* Patanjali, as I do, likes to use his own terminology! Although the Yoga Sutras are very deeply rooted in, and perfectly aligned with, Sankhya-Yoga philosophy, he only uses its terms ahamkara, egoism, once, and buddhi, discriminative intelligence, twice. He prefers asmita and viveka, respectively. Asmita can also denote “pure Subjectivity, awareness of the Self.” I have a strong preference myself for the use of this term, as you will see in later chapters of this treatise. Patanjali, however, is very fond of the word chitta and uses it often to denote “consciousness.” The fourth key
term – manas, sensory perception, does not appear at all; here he substitutes pratyaka, which is identical in meaning. Buddhi, our basic intelligence, when spiritualized, is transformed into knowing, true understanding, discriminative insight, direct perception of reality, discernment, or intuitive wisdom – soul awareness. This is exactly what Patanjali means when he uses viveka (I believe the Sanskrit root translates as “to know”) as he does in the above sutra. Buddhi also denotes intellect, to include the process of discursive thought, which viveka most certainly does not. Buddhists use a similar term, prajna, which is usually rendered as “penetrative insight” or “transcendental wisdom” that is used to discern the true nature of one’s self and all “appearances” or the objects of perception. As you may remember, I chose “discernment” as my concise definition for buddhi in relationship to the actual practice of yoga meditation. Govindan’s rendering as “discriminative discernment” definitely sets it apart and gives it extra power. I also really like his use of “relatively unreal.” Wisdom is discriminative discernment between the Real and the relatively unreal. The universe of form is transitory, relative to time and space, being the emanations of Aum, Cosmic Sound and Light, which is the “Nature” of God as an omnipotent and omniscient creative Being. Everything is a play (lila) of Absolute Pure Consciousness. ******* Based on scientific data gathered by the physical sense of sight, magnified through the most highly advanced telescopes, and through the power of reason, aided by extremely complex computer analysis, modern astronomers conclude that an average-sized galaxy contains over 100,000,000,000 stars, and that there are at least 100,000,000,000 galaxies in our universe.
THAT’S ONE HUNDRED BILLION GALAXIES, AND TEN BILLION TRILLION STARS!
(OR MORE STARS THAN ALL THE GRAINS OF SAND ON ALL THE BEACHES OF PLANET EARTH)
And, as technology evolves, these astronomical numbers keep on expanding – just like the universe in their Big Bang Theory.... “Radio telescopes can detect very faint, very distant objects. As we look deep into space, we also look far back into time. The nearest quasar (a highly intense luminous star-like source of light) is perhaps half a billion light-years away (and light travels one million kilometers every 3 1/3 seconds). The farthest quasar may be ten or twelve or more billion. But if we see an object twelve billion light-years away (roughly the observable universe at this time), we are seeing it as it was twelve billion years ago in time. By looking far back into
space, we are also looking far back in time, back toward the horizon of the universe, back toward the epoch of the Big Bang.” (Cosmos, page 216, Sagan) The Hindu scriptures speak of a universe that is literally infinite; and the Buddhist Sutras describe it as vast open limitless space. This cosmos interpenetrates the infinitesimally small world of our experience in bodies where electrons spin in their microscopic orbits at velocities of thousands of miles per second, on the threshold of the speed of light itself. So here we are on “an unknown planet on the edge of some obscure galaxy.” And all one can do is stand back in awe “outside oneself,” perhaps high on some Himalayan peak, well above tree-line, where the only signs of life are scattered tufts of grass and the most delicate shapes of tiny mountain flowers in shades of sunburst yellow and mystical violet that blossom from the otherwise barren rocky earth. Just to be, without boundaries created by thought, in the presence of such radiant form, and attuned to the infinity at the very heart of all things! ******* “One’s wisdom in the final stage is seven-fold.” – Yoga Sutra II:27 “These occur as we begin to abide in “our own true form, or nature” (svarupa) as it is called in Sutra I:3 – 1) We realize that the source of all wisdom is within us. Our seeking for expressions of the truth outside of ourselves comes to an end. 2) The cessation of pain occurs as our attachments and aversions fall away. 3) In the state of spiritual ecstasy (samadhi) all sense of individual separation or lack is gone. There is a sense of oneness with all. 4) We feel that we are no longer the doer; there is no attachment or individual selfish desire. 5) The ego subsides and the subconscious impressions (samskaras) can no longer disturb the mind. 6) The subconscious impressions drop away “like rocks fallen from a mountain peak, never to return” (Mahasiddha Tirumular). 7) Only the Self remains, resting in its own true form, or nature, completely peaceful, pure and alone. The illusion of identification with the mind is gone, and we abide permanently in the ultimate blissful ecstasy, nirvikalpa samadhi, of supreme enlightenment and liberation.”
(Kriya Yoga Sutras, page 90, Govindan) *******
So far I have only quoted a few select passages from Patanjali’s extremely lucid exposition on yoga, the science of Self-realization. By the time “the eightfold path” is shared in Sutras II:28 through III:8, he has already given us seventy-eight rare and precious gems that cover various multi-dimensional aspects of consciousness, spiritual practice, samadhi, enlightenment and liberation. Patanjali has also clearly defined Kriya Yoga as being “intense practice, self-observation, and devotion to God,” which is to done as a “constant practice” with “detachment.” “Patanjali prescribes “constant practice” and “detachment” as the means of yoga. As few persons are naturally endowed with much inclination towards these, he also prescribes preliminary practices – ashtanga, or “eight-limbed” yoga. However, this was not Patanjali’s yoga as has been commonly thought by most translators. Textual analysis reveals that these verses were merely quoted from another unknown source. There are frequent references to ashtanga yoga in the Shaivagamas, and some of these works are older than Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras.” (Kriya Yoga Sutras, pages xxiii & 65, Govindan) “In conclusion, while Patanjali cites various specific practices of yoga such as asanas, pranayama, and meditation, he does not emphasize any particular techniques. This is consistent with the culture of the Mahasiddhas, wherein the highest teachings were shared in person. These supreme teachings were crystallized in the form of “kriyas” (from the Sanskrit root kri, to do). These “techniques to be practiced rigorously” were only imparted during initiation sessions. During such sessions the kriyas are both revealed and practiced under the supervision of the teacher. The kriyas were never written down so that only those who practiced them regularly could remember them. Thus the tradition of the Mahasiddhas has been handed down orally to this very day by an unbroken line of sincere practitioners. All have their place in an integral process. Patanjali tells us of the obstacles, the mental distractions and emotional accompaniments, but lays emphasis above all else on the means for overcoming them – constancy of practice and detachment, abhyasa and vairagya.” (Kriya Yoga Sutras, page xxxi, Govindan)
In the end, we might conclude that the essence of Kriya Yoga is the intense and constant practice of devotion to God as the indwelling Spirit, or Self, the witnessing consciousness that observes all of our sense impressions, thoughts and feelings with detachment by simply letting them come and go...
Kriya Yoga is a direct transmission through a timeless tradition known as Sanatana Dharma or “Eternal Religion,” which is also called Raja Yoga. It is the “royal” path of meditation, but also integrates the quintessence of all the other primary yogas – those of action, wisdom, and devotion – to create a truly wholistic practice. ******* “The exalted Lord said to Arjuna: I gave this imperishable Yoga to Vivasvat (the sun-god); Vivasvat passed on the knowledge to Manu (the Hindu lawgiver); Manu told it to Ikshvaku (founder of the solar dynasty of the Kshatriyas). Handed down in this way in orderly succession, the Rajarishis (royal sages) knew it. But, O Scorcher of Foes (Arjuna)! By the long passage of time, this Yoga was lost sight of on earth.” – Bhagavad Gita IV:1-2 “Spirit (Absolute Pure Consciousness, here symbolized as Krishna) gave the indestructible Raja Yoga science – the technique of uniting soul and Spirit – to the ancient illuminato, Vivasvat, the “Deity of the Sun” (symbolic of God’s omnipresent Light or creative Cosmic Energy, which is manifested also in man as the microcosmic sun or light of the spiritual eye, epitome of all life and consciousness in the incarnate being). Vivasvat imparted this sacred yoga to the great exponent of dharma, Manu (symbolizing manas, the mind, the instrument from which sentient human consciousness derives). Manu bestowed it on the founder of the solar dynasty of Kshatriyas, Ikshvaku (symbolic of the intuitive astral eye of life and consciousness in man). In that orderly succession, this Yoga was then bequeathed to the royal sages (symbolizing the descent of the life and consciousness into the senses, giving man sensory perception of and interaction with the material world). Thereafter, when the cycles of the world entered the Dark Ages, knowledge of this divine science deteriorated and was lost (symbolically, throughout many incarnations the senses are engrossed in and identified with matter, and man thus loses the knowledge and ability of reuniting his soul with Spirit).... In the beginning of creation and the advent of man, the Infinite impregnated His intelligent creative Cosmic Energy (Maha-Prakriti or Holy Ghost) with not only the power of repulsion – the individualizing of Absolute Pure Consciousness into souls and a universe of matter – but also with the power of recalling souls from their prodigal wanderings in matter back to unity with Spirit. All things come from, are made of and sustained by, and ultimately resolve into this intelligent Cosmic Energy, and thence into Spirit. Ascension follows in reverse order to the exact course of descension. In man, that course is the inner highway to the Infinite, the only route to divine union for followers of every religion in all ages. By whatever bypath of beliefs or practices a being reaches that singular highway, the final ascension from body consciousness to Spirit is the same for everyone: the withdrawal of life and consciousness from the senses upward through the
gates of light in the subtle cerebrospinal centers, dissolving the consciousness of matter into lifeforce, lifeforce into mind, mind into soul, and soul into Spirit. The method of ascension is Raja Yoga, the eternal science that has been integral in creation from its inception.... My guru Sri Yukteswar discovered the mathematical application of a 24,000-year equinoctial cycle to the solar system of which earth is a part. As planets revolve around their sun, so the sun has for its dual a distant star around which it rotates in approximately 24,000 earth-years. According to Hindu cosmology, the rotating sun, additionally, moves in a far vaster cycle around a magnetic nucleus of Spirit (Vishnunabhi), “The Grand Center,” seat of the creative power of Brahma. The 24,000-year cycle is divided into an Ascending Arc and a Descending Arc, each of 12,000 years. Within each Arc fall four yugas or Ages called Kali, Dwapara, Treta, and Satya, corresponding to the Greek idea of Iron, Bronze, Silver, and Golden Ages. To identify the predominate characteristic of each Age, I have referred to them, respectively, as the Material Age, the Electric or Atomic Age, the Mental Age, and the Spiritual Age. During the Ascending Arc of each cycle, when the solar system in an inward evolution begins to move closer to the “Grand Center” of Spirit, there is a gradual unfoldment of intellectual and spiritual qualities, reaching a zenith of enlightenment in Satya Yuga, or the Spiritual Age. The shadow of delusion then slowly begins to eclipse the light of knowledge during the Descending Arc to the Kali Yuga or Material Age farthest from Spirit. Western astronomers have postulated an equinoctial cycle of our solar system as consisting of 25,900 years, based on a cosmic phenomenon known to astronomers as “Precession of the Equinox,” determined by its present rate of motion. According to the Hindus, however, that rate varies at different stage of the cycle. (“Numerous other stars in our galaxy have been found to exist in pairs. The possibility that our sun has a dual is not dismissed in modern astronomy, and has actually come under discussion by serious scientists in recent years.” – Swami Kriyananda in Conversations with Yogananda, page 58) Even though almost completely buried during the Material Age, the science of Yoga can never be annihilated, for it is linked to the Reality within man. Whenever he questions the phenomena of life and awakens spiritually, through God’s grace he encounters a true guru who acquaints him with the art of divine union – no matter in what cycle the devotee has incarnated.... In this once-more-ascending Atomic Age, the indestructible science of Raja Yoga is being revived as Kriya Yoga through the grace of Mahavatar Babaji, Shyama Charan Lahiri Mahasaya, Swami Sri Yukteswar, and their disciples.... Foremost among Lahiri Mahasaya’s Kriya Yoga disciples was my guru, Sri Yukteswarji, for he was chosen by Babaji to continue the lineage through which the sacred science would be disseminated in all lands. As a matter of special divine dispensation, I was selected to spread the Kriya Yoga science worldwide through the unity of the same underlying Truth to be found in the original teachings of both Sri Krishna and Jesus the Christ.
That Jesus knew and taught to his disciples the Raja Yoga technique of uniting soul with Spirit is evidence in the deeply symbolic Biblical chapter “The Revelation of Jesus Christ to Saint John.” John speaks of the “mystery of the seven stars” and the “seven churches” (1:20); these symbols refer to the seven astral centers of light in the spine. The recondite imagery throughout this vastly misunderstood chapter of the Bible is an allegorical representation of the revelations that come with the opening of these centers of life and consciousness, the “book sealed with seven seals” (5:1). In Autobiography of a Yogi I have written: “Babaji is ever in communion with Christ; together they send out vibrations of redemption and have planned the spiritual technique of salvation for this age.” Esoterically interpreted, these two stanzas of the Gita explain the genesis of Yoga. The first manifestation of Spirit is Cosmic Light. God vibrated His Cosmic Energy, or Cosmic Light, referred to in these verses as Vivasvat, “one who shines forth.” ....All the intelligent creative power of omnipresent Cosmic Energy is present microcosmically in the spiritual eye. It is through the spiritual eye – the various states experienced therein, correlating to the activities of the cerebrospinal centers of life and consciousness in the physical, astral, and causal bodies – that the soul descends into embodiment and ultimately re-ascends to Spirit....
Omnipresent Cosmic Energy (Vivasvat) is the source of the lifeforce that becomes manifest in the astral body of man through the instrumentality of the mind (Manu). Manu means man, the possessor of the thinking principle, from the Sanskrit manas, mind. Thus lifeforce and mind are intimately associated, for in the body of man one cannot exist without the other. When they descend from Absolute Pure Consciousness and Cosmic Energy, their pristine manifestation is through the eye of intuition (causal phase of the spiritual eye relating to the causal spinal channel of consciousness) and thence into the astral eye (astral phase of the spiritual eye, corresponding to the three spinal channels of the astral body). The astral eye, through which life and consciousness come into astral embodiment, is symbolically referred to in these verses as Ikshvaku.... The soul is identified with the intuitive state of ego perception; that is, it experiences its individualized existence as limited by confinement in the astral body in which the astral ego’s power of knowing and perception comes not from sensory experience but through the sixth sense, intuition. The astral ego perceives the forces at work in the astral body as the true components of matter. From the intuitive astral Ikshvaku state, the soul then further descends to the various powerful sense-perception states, manifesting first as the more subtle astral sensory
powers (jnanendriyas) and then flowing into the gross physical manifestation of the senses. This is spoken of as the Rajarishi, or sense-identified, state.... The five instruments of knowledge are described as “royal sages” because all wisdom from outside sources (sacred scriptures and the oral discourses of spiritual masters) must reach the mind and intelligence through the sense channels. These are “royal” or glorious instruments for perceiving and enjoying God’s entertaining phenomenal universe when they are guided by the discriminative intelligence of the soul’s wisdom. But when soul meditation is forgotten, the senses of knowledge become dulled and unreceptive to spiritual teachings because of constant identification with material desires and sense objects. Man’s consciousness, having thereby descended to the plane of materialistic attachments, loses the memory of its union with Spirit during the long dark period of material consciousness, man’s knowledge of yoga or divine union thus declines and is forgotten.” (The Bhagavad Gita, pages 423-31, Yogananda) ******* “Spiritual results begin as subtle transformations in the consciousness of the inner being. They are to be measured according to their peace-giving qualities. When a devotee meditates deeply, he is bound to feel an ever-increasing peace, which, after all, is more precious that any worldly possession!” (The Bhagavad Gita, page 271, Yogananda) “Happiness is positive and tangible. In order to be really happy, however, one must first win the state of unbroken peace.” (The Bhagavad Gita, page 314, Yogananda) “The joy in man’s immortal all-blissful soul is not dependent on sense experiences. In its natural state, the soul remains ever conscious of its innate ecstatic joy.” (The Bhagavad Gita, page 1078, Yogananda) “Shun attachment to the objects of the senses, like poison. The more a man satisfies his cravings in the objective world, the more his cravings will increase. But if he controls his cravings and ceases to gratify them, the seeds of desire will be destroyed. Therefore, let him gain self-control.” (The Crest-Jewel of Discrimination, Adi Shankaracharya) “Blind renunciation of material objects does not insure freedom: it is by enjoying the bliss of Spirit in meditation and by comparing it with the lesser joys of the senses that the devotee becomes eager to follow the spiritual path.” (The Bhagavad Gita, page 270, Yogananda) “The yogi who strives scientifically to unite his soul with Spirit through guru-given techniques of meditation realizes that the greatest dharma or protective virtue of the soul is ever-new joy. The religion of the soul consists in the manifestation of this true spiritual happiness, gained by constant efforts of deep meditation.” (The Bhagavad Gita, page 256, Yogananda)
“Unattached to the sensory world, the yogi experiences the ever new joy inherent in the Self. Engaged in divine union of the soul with Spirit, he attains bliss indestructible.” – Bhagavad Gita V:21 “One who is in tune with the soul possesses all of its qualities, including peace, divine bliss, and unerring wisdom.... Discrimination born of intuition through soul contact insures right judgment in any given situation. The soul, through the agency of intuition, bestows divine guidance to the consciousness of the devotee; the intuitive guidance manifests as wisdom through the discriminative faculty to guide the intellect or reason to the right determination.” (The Bhagavad Gita, pages 314-15, Yogananda) “In the perception of pure wisdom, there is an absence of all inner tumult, a stilling of all oscillating waves of the mind. Perception is solely through the all-knowing intuition of the soul.” (The Bhagavad Gita, page 85, Yogananda) “An advanced Kriya Yogi, who in samadhi meditation has withdrawn his consciousness and lifeforce from the realm of the gross body and senses, enters the inner world of wisdom revelations. He becomes aware of the seven sacred altars of Spirit in the spine and brain, and receives all knowledge emanating from them. Thus in tune with truth through intuitive soul-perception, he knows invariably the correct guidance for all aspects of his spiritual and materially dutiful conduct.” (The Bhagavad Gita, page 982, Yogananda) “When the devotee’s consciousness soars to the transcendental Kutastha state, he is attuned to Cosmic Consciousness, the presence of Spirit immanent in all creation and individually manifested in each being as the soul whose voice is intuition...Any sincere, persistent, devotee can feel in meditation the urgings of Spirit within. But it is evident that the devotee must be far advanced on the path of meditation before he can prevail on the Infinite to vibrate Its presence through an actual intelligible voice of counsel.” (The Bhagavad Gita, page 173, Yogananda) ******* “Other devotees offer as sacrifice the incoming breath of prana in the outgoing breath of apana, and the outgoing breath of apana in the incoming breath of prana, thus arresting the cause of inhalation and exhalation (rendering the breath unnecessary) by intense practice of pranayama (the life-control technique of Kriya Yoga).” – Bhagavad Gita IV:29 “By the concentrated practice of Kriya Yoga pranayama – offering the inhaling breath into the exhaling breath (prana into apana) and offering the exhaling breath into the inhaling breath (apana into prana) – the yogi neutralizes these two life currents and their resulting mutations of decay and growth, the causative agents of breath and heart action and concomitant body consciousness. By recharging the blood and cells with life energy that has been distilled from breath and reinforced with the pure spiritualized lifeforce in
the spine and brain, the Kriya Yogi stops bodily decay, thereby quieting the breath and heart by rendering their purifying actions unnecessary. The yogi thus attains conscious lifeforce control. The Bhagavad Gita clearly mentions in this stanza the theory of Kriya Yoga. Kriya Yoga pranayama or life control teaches man to untie the cord of breath that binds the soul to the body, thus scientifically empowering the soul to fly from the bodily cage into the skies of omnipresent Spirit, and come back, at will, into its little cage. No flight of fancy, this is rather the singular experience of Reality: the knowing of one’s true nature and the recognition of its source in the bliss of Spirit. By Kriya Yoga pranayama as described in this stanza, the soul can be released from identification with body and united to Spirit. Pranayama is derived from two Sanskrit words – prana (life) and ayama (control). Pranayama is therefore life control and not “breath control.” The broadest meaning of the word prana is force or energy. In this sense, the universe is filled with prana; all creation is a manifestation of force, a play of force. Everything that is, was, or shall be, is nothing but the different modes of expression of that universal force. The universal prana is thus the Para-Prakriti (pure Nature), the immanent energy or force which is derived from the Infinite Spirit, and which preserves and sustains the universe. In the strictest sense, on the other hand, prana means what is ordinarily called life or vitality of an organism on earth – the prana of a plant, an animal, or a man means the lifeforce or vital force enlivening that form.... Prana is an intelligent force, but it has no consciousness in the empirical, nor transcendental, sense. It is the basis of the empirical consciousness, but soul is the conscious unit. Soul through ego dictates, and prana, its servant, obeys. Prana, neither grossly material nor purely spiritual, borrows from the soul its power of activating the body. It is the power lodged between soul and matter for the purpose of expressing the former and moving the latter. The soul can exist without prana, but the prana in the body cannot exist without a soul as its substratum. Universal prana comes into being in the following way: At the beginning, One Great Spirit wished to create. Being One, He wished to be many. This desire of His, being omnipotent, had a creative force to go outward, to project the universe. It split the One into the many, Unity into diversity. But the One did not want to lose His wholeness into many. So simultaneously He wished to draw the many back into Singularity. A kind of tug-of-war thus broke out between the wish to be many from One, and the wish to draw many into One – between projective force and indrawing force, between attraction and repulsion, between centripetal and centrifugal force. The result of the pull between the two almighty opposing forces is universal vibration, the evident sign of the first disturbance of spiritual equilibrium before creation. In this vibration is blended the creative wish of the Spirit to be many, and the attracting wish of the Spirit to be One from many. Spirit, instead of becoming absolutely Many, or absolutely One, became One in many.
The universal prana underlying all combinations in creation is the basis of unity that has prevented the One Spirit from being irrevocably split into many. It permeates every atom in the universe and all of space. It is the primal, direct, subtle link between matter and Spirit – less spiritual that the Great Spirit, but more spiritual that the material atoms. This universal prana is the father of all so-called forces, which Spirit (in Its immanent form) utilizes to create and sustain the universe. When different atoms coordinate into an organism – a plant, animal, a human being – then the universal prana embedded in each atom becomes coordinate in a particular way, and we call it specific prana, vital force or life. Though each cell – nay, each atom of a man’s body has a unit of prana in it, still, all the units of prana of all the atoms and cells are ruled over by one coordinating prana, which is called specific prana, or lifeforce. Specific prana enters the body with the soul (in the soul’s astral encasement) at the time of conception. At the soul’s command, the specific prana gradually builds from a primal single cell the body of the infant – according to that individual’s astral karmic pattern – and continues to sustain that form throughout its lifetime. This bodily prana is continuously reinforced not only by gross sources such as food and oxygen, but primarily by the universal prana, the cosmic energy, which enters the body through the medulla and is stored in the reservoir of life in the cerebrum, and in the centers of the spine, whence it is distributed by the functions of the specific prana. Specific prana pervades the whole body and differs in its functions in different parts. It can be classified into five different pranas according to these functions: 1) prana (by pre-eminence), or the crystallizing power that brings all other functions into manifestation; 2) apana, or the power of excretion, the scavenger energy of the body by which bodily waste products are thrown out; 3) vyana, or the power of circulation; 4) samana, or assimilation, digestion, by which various foods are processed and assimilated for the nourishment of the body and for building new cells; and 5) udana, or the power by which cells are differentiated in their functions (some growing hair, or skin, or muscle, and so on) by infinite disintegrations and integrations among themselves. These five pranas, though separate, are interrelated and act in harmony and interdependence. In truth, they are but the one prana acting in five different yet indissolubly connected ways. The basis, or primary seat, of bodily prana is the nervous system and cells of the cerebrospinal axis and the autonomic nervous system; but it is also in their infinite ramifications in the form of cells, fibers, nerves, ganglia in even the remotest corners of the body. Thus prana works primarily in the autonomic, or involuntary, nervous system; but in addition, voluntary activities are possible only because prana, in its five constituent forces, pervades and works throughout the body. This Gita verse deals with two specific functions of lifeforce in its differentiations as prana and apana. As there is a “tug-of-war” on the macrocosmic scale reflecting Spirit’s projecting wish to create and Its opposing attracting wish to bring the many back into the
One, so does this same contest in duality take place on a microcosmic scale in man’s body. One expression of this positive-negative duality involves the interaction between prana and apana. There are two main currents in the body. One, the apana current, flows from the point between the eyebrows to the coccyx. This downwardly flowing current distributes itself though the coccygeal center to the sensory and motor nerves and keeps the consciousness of man delusively tied to the body. The apana current is restless and engrosses man in sensory experiences. The other main current is that of prana, which flows from the coccyx to the point between the eyebrows. The nature of this life current is calm; it withdraws inwardly the devotee’s attention during sleep and in the wakeful state, and in meditation unites the soul with Spirit in the Kutastha (Cosmic Consciousness) center in the brain. There is thus an opposing pull exercised by the downwardly flowing current (apana) and the upwardly flowing current (prana). Human consciousness is pulled downward or upward by the tug-of-war between these two currents to bind or release the soul. The vital current flowing outward from the brain and spine to the cells, tissues, and nerves becomes attached to and caught up in matter. It is expended, like electricity, through bodily motor movements (voluntary and involuntary) and mental activity. As the life in the cells, tissues, and nerves begins to be exhausted by this motor and senseperceptive activity – especially through excessive, inharmonious, non-equalized actions – prana works to recharge them and keep them vitalized. In the process of consuming life energy, however, they give off waste products, “decay.” One such product is carbon dioxide excreted by the cells into the blood stream; the immediate purifying action of prana becomes necessary to remove the accumulation of this “decay” or death will occur. The physiology of this exchange is breath. From the opposite pulls of the prana and apana currents in the spine, the inhalations and exhalations of breath are born. When the prana current goes upward, it pulls the vital breath laden with oxygen into the lungs. There prana quickly distills a quantity of necessary lifeforce from the oxygen atoms. That refined energy is sent by the prana current to all bodily cells. Without such replenishment of pure lifeforce, the cells would be powerless to carry on their many physiological functions; they would die. The life energy distilled from the oxygen also helps to reinforce the lifeforce centers in the spine and at the point between the eyebrows, and the main reservoir of life energy in the cerebrum. The surplus oxygen from the inhaled breath is carried by the blood throughout the body, where it is distributed by the five vital pranas in various physiological processes. As noted, bodily activity produces decay and the consequent waste product of carbon dioxide. This waste is excreted from the cells by the apana, or eliminating, current, and is carried by the blood to the lungs. Then the downwardly flowing apana current in the
spine causes exhalation and pushes out the impurities in the lungs through the exhaling breath. Respiration, activated by the dual currents of prana and apana, is accomplished physiologically through a series of complex nervous reflexes – chemical and mechanical – involving primarily the medulla oblongata and the autonomic, or involuntary, nervous system. The intricate autonomic nervous system, in turn, is empowered by the prana and apana currents working through the vital branches of astral life currents that correspond to the physical autonomic nervous system – the main branches of which are called ida and pingala nadi.... Inspiration and expiration go on largely involuntarily throughout one’s life. So long as the life current (prana) pulls the inhaling breath into the lungs, man lives; whenever the downwardly flowing current (apana) in the exhalation becomes more powerful, man dies. The apana current then pulls the astral body out of the physical body. When the final breath leaves the body through the action of the outgoing current, apana, the astral body follows it to an astral world. It is thus said that the human breath knots the soul to the body. It is the process of inhalation and exhalation resulting from the two opposite spinal currents that gives man perception of the external world. The dual breath is the storm that creates form-waves (sensations) in the lake of the mind. These sensations also produce body consciousness and duality and thus obliterate the unified soul consciousness. God dreamed the soul and encased it in a dream body heaving with dream breath. The mystery of the breath holds the solution to the secret of life. When through disease, old age, or any other physical cause the breath vanishes, the death of the body follows. Yogis therefore reasoned that if the body did not decay and toxins did not collect in the cells, breathing would not be required, that scientific mastery of breath by preventing decay in the body would make the flow of breath unnecessary and provide control over life and death. From this intuitive perception of the ancient rishis came the science and art of pranayama, life-control.... The ancient sage, Patanjali, foremost exponent of yoga, also extols Kriya Yoga pranayama: “Liberation can be attained by that pranayama which is accompanied by disjoining the course of inspiration and expiration.” (Yoga Sutra II:49) Breath, lungs, and heart slow down in sleep but do not completely stop. But by Kriya Yoga the breath is gradually quieted and the movements in the lungs and the body stilled. When motion leaves the entire body, owing to lack of agitation and to complete physical and mental stillness, venous blood ceases to accumulate. Venous blood is ordinarily pumped by the heart into the lungs for purification. Freed from this constant work of blood purification, the heart and lungs are quieted. Breath ceases to go in and out of the lungs by the mechanical action of the diaphragm....
The body of the Kriya Yogi is recharged with extra energy distilled from breath and reinforced by the tremendous dynamo of energy generated in the spine; the decay of bodily tissue decreases. This lessens and ultimately makes unnecessary the bloodcleansing function of the heart. When the pulsating life of the heart muscle becomes quiet, owing to non-pumping of venous blood, exhalation and inhalation are no longer needed. The lifeforce, which was dissipated in cellular, nervous, respiratory, and heart action, withdraws from the external senses and organs and unites with the current in the spine. The Kriya Yogi then learns how to commingle the upwardly flowing life current (prana) into the downwardly flowing current (apana) and commingle the downwardly flowing current (apana) into the upwardly flowing current (prana). He thus neutralizes the dual movement, and by will power withdraws both currents into one revealing sphere of spiritual light at the point between the eyebrows. This light of pure life energy scintillates from the cerebrospinal centers directly to all the bodily cells, magnetizing them, arresting decay and growth, and making them vitally self-sustained, independent of breath or any external source of life. So long as this light is flowing up and down as the two battling currents of prana and apana – the breaths of inhalation and exhalation – they lend their life and light to the sensory perceptions, and to the mortal processes of growth and decay. But when the yogi can neutralize the downward and upward pull of the spinal currents, and can withdraw all lifeforce from the senses and sensory motor nerves, and keep the lifeforce still at the point between the eyebrows, the cerebral light gives the yogi control or power over prana. Lifeforce withdrawn from the senses becomes concentrated into a steady inner light in which Spirit and Its Cosmic Light are revealed.... True kumbhaka, or the retention of the breath mentioned in enlightened yoga treatises, refers not to the forcible holding of the breath in the lungs (an unpleasant and harmful practice), but to the natural breathlessness brought about by scientific pranayama, which renders breathing unnecessary.... When by Kriya Yoga the mortal breath disappears from the lungs, the yogi consciously experiences, without dying, the death process by which energy is switched off from the senses (causing the disappearance of the body consciousness and simultaneous appearance of the soul consciousness). Unlike the ordinary man, the yogi realizes that his life is not conditioned by exhalation and inhalation, but that the steady lifeforce in the brain is continuously reinforced through the medulla from the omnipresent cosmic current. Even mortal man during the nightly state of sleep rises psychologically above the consciousness of breath; his lifeforce then partially becomes still and reveals a glimpse of the soul as the deep joy of sleep. The breathless yogi, however, realizes the state of conscious “death” as a far deeper and more blessed state than bestowed by the deepest blissful semi-superconscious sleep. When the breath ceases in the Kriya Yogi, he is suffused with an incomparable bliss. He realizes then that it is the storm of human breath that is responsible for the creation of the dream wave of the human body and its sensations; it is breath that causes body consciousness.
St. Paul said, “I protest by our rejoicing which I have in Jesus Christ our Lord, I die daily” (Corinthians 15:31). St. Paul was able by lifeforce control – through Kriya Yoga or a similar technique – to dissolve the consciousness of his dream body into the everlasting rejoicing of the Christ, or Cosmic Consciousness.
When with the cessation of breath and the quieting of the heart the lifeforce is switched off from the senses, the mind becomes detached and interiorized, able at last to perceive consciously the inner astral worlds and supernal spheres of divine consciousness. In the first stages of ecstasy by Kriya Yoga, the yogi perceives the soul blessedness. By higher ecstasies that come as a result of complete mastery of the breathless state, he realizes the physical body to be made of lifeforce that is surrounded by a halo of grosser electro-atomic cells. The yogi perceives the illusion of the body dream materialize into the reality of God. By experiencing the reality of the body as prana controlled by the thought of God, the yogi becomes one with Him. With that divine consciousness the yogi is able to create, preserve, or dematerialize the dream atoms of his body or of any other object in creation. Attaining this power, the yogi has the option of leaving his physical dream body on earth to gradually disintegrate into cosmic atoms; or he can keep his dream body on earth indefinitely like Babaji; or, like Elijah, he can dematerialize its dream atoms into the Divine Force. Elisha witnessed the body of Elijah become etheric, ascending in a chariot of fiery atoms and lifeforce commingled with the cosmic light of God. His luminous physical and astral dream bodies and his causal body and soul merged into Absolute Pure Consciousness.
A man sees himself in a dream; the power of his mind creates the consciousness of a real physical body. Similarly, by materializing His thought, God had made dream men walking about a dream creation in dream bodies of flesh. The body is nothing more that a materialized dream of God.... The reason that the Gita advises devotees to practice the pranayama life-control technique is to enable them to realize that the body is made not of flesh, but of lifeforce condensed from the thought of God. When by the proper pranayama technique of meditation the concentrated Kriya Yogi distills lifeforce from breath and reinforces the prana already present in the bodily cells and cerebrospinal centers, then even the novice yogi occasionally sees his spiritual eye of light. By deeper practice of Kriya Yoga or breathlessness, he perceives his astral body. Finally he is able to see his physical body as an electro-atomic structure, and emanation in grosser form of the fine rays of the astral body. By further advancement the yogi realizes the astral body with its texture of light to be an “idea” or materialized thought of God. When he has fully understood the ideational body, he is able to withdraw his consciousness from the three bodily prisons and unite himself as soul with the absolute freedom of Spirit.” (The Bhagavad Gita, pages 496-507, Yogananda) ******* “A muni – he who holds liberation as the sole objective of life and therefore frees himself from longings, fears, and wrath – controls his senses, mind, and intelligence
and removes their external contacts by (a technique of) making even, or neutralizing, the currents of prana and apana that manifest as inhalation and exhalation in the nostrils. He fixes his gaze at the middle of the two eyebrows (thus converting the dual current of the physical vision into the single current of the omniscient astral eye). Such a yogi wins complete emancipation.” – Bhagavad Gita V:27-28 A muni (literally, “united with the One”) is a yogi who can withdraw his consciousness at will from external sense objects and from mental attractions toward them. The epithet muni is here applied to an accomplished yogi who by the technique of Kriya Yoga has succeeded in dissolving his mind in the Infinite Bliss. A muni’s only goal is to ascend to the Absolute Spirit from which the soul has descended. By discrimination the muni watches the soul (identified with the human ego by sense slavery) undergoing innumerable physical and mental miseries. His goal is to convert the ego into the pure soul by scientifically disengaging the mind and intellect from the senses. By the special technique of Kriya Yoga, the ingoing breath of prana and the outgoing breath of apana are converted into cool and warm currents. In the beginning of the practice of Kriya Yoga, the devotee feels the cool prana current going up the spine and the warm apana current going down the spine, in accompaniment with the ingoing and outgoing breath. The advanced Kriya Yogi finds that the inhaling breath of prana and the exhaling breath of apana have been made “even” – neutralized or extinguished; he feels only the cool current of prana going up through the spine and the warm current of apana going down through the spine. These subtle specialized currents of prana and apana are born of the ubiquitous prana or intelligent lifeforce that creates and sustains the body.... _______ “In the beginning was the Word (cosmic vibration, the creative life energy or vibratory thoughts of God), and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.... All things were made by him (the Word); and without him was not any thing made.” (John 1:1,3) “And God said, Let there be light; and there was light.” (Genesis 1:3) That is, God’s thought vibrated into the light of cosmic life or cosmic prana; and cosmic prana was further materialized into electrons, protons, atoms, molecules, cells, and matter.... The cosmic thought of God thus first materialized as the cosmic prana or lifeforce of light, and finally as all matter of the macrocosm.... “In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth. And the earth was without form, and void (being of the finest expression of vibration, or God’s thought); and darkness (Maya, that divides the One into the many) was upon the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God moved (vibrated His active will) upon the face of the waters (creative elements). And God said, Let there be light.” Light is Cosmic Vibration’s first expression of creation (concurrent with the sound of Aum). It is the essence or building block of the threefold universe and man – ideational, the subtlest form of light as thought or ideas;
astral, the light of pranic energy; and material, the light of atoms, electrons, protons, that structure all matter.” (The Bhagavad Gita, pages 368-69, Yogananda) _______ “The liberated yogi is conscious of the Spirit not only as Cosmic Bliss but also as the Cosmic Light that is the true structure of all beings. Beholding everything as Cosmic Light, the yogi sees his Spirit-united omnipresent Self and all beings as emanations of that Light.” (The Bhagavad Gita, page 634, Yogananda) _______ When the Kriya Yogi learns to dissolve the ingoing and outgoing breath into a perception of the cool and warm currents going up and down the spine, he then feels his body as sustained by these inner currents of lifeforce and not by their by-product of breath. He also realizes that the currents are sustained by the Word, the divine vibratory cosmic light of prana, which enters the body through the medulla.... Jesus testified that man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God (Matthew 4:4). This memorable passage signifies that man’s body does not depend only on external sources of lifeforce – distillations from breath, oxygen, sunshine, solids, and liquids – but also on a direct inner source of cosmic life that enters the body through the medulla, flowing then to the subtle centers in the brain and spine. In man, the medulla is spoken of as “the mouth of God” because it is the chief opening for the divine influx of cosmic vibratory lifeforce, the “word” then flows “out of the mouth of God” (the medulla) to the reservoir of life energy in the brain and the distributing centers in the spine.... The yogi perceives the cool and warm currents in the spine to be constantly and magnetically pulling an extra voltage of current from the omnipresent cosmic lifeforce ever flowing through the medulla. He gradually finds that these two spinal currents become converted into one lifeforce, magnetically drawing reinforcements of prana from all the bodily cells and nerves. This strengthened life current flows upward to the point between the eyebrows and is seen as the tri-colored spiritual eye: a luminous sun, in the center of which is a blue sphere encircling a bright scintillating white star. Jesus referred to this “single” eye in the center of the forehead, and to the truth that the body is essentially formed of light, in the following words: “If therefore thine eye be single, thy whole body shall be full of light.” (Matthew 6:22) Through his spherical eye the Kriya Yoga sees his astral body as made of pranic astral cells. He perceives that the Cosmic Sunshine of Life reflects its rays through the astral spiritual eye into the astral brain and astral plexuses and astral nerve-channels (nadis) to sustain the astral cells. He sees also that his physical body is nothing but a coarser light of electrons, protons, and atoms emanating from his finer astral body. By further advancement the yogi perceives both his physical and astral bodies to be emanating from his causal or ideational body, which is composed of the coordinated thoughts of God....
By the special technique of Kriya Yoga, the devotee – through perfect calmness, a greater supply of energy distilled from oxygen in the Kriya breath, and an enhanced flow of cosmic energy coming into the body via the medulla – is less and less subject to the necessity of breathing. By deeper Kriya Yoga the bodily life, ordinarily dependent on reinforcement by lifeforce distilled from gross outer sources, begins to be sustained by the cosmic life only; then breathing (inhalation and exhalation) ceases.... As the meditation deepens, the downward-flowing apana current and the upwardflowing prana current become neutralized into one ascending current, seeking its source in the cerebrum (the highest center, that of omniscience). Breath is still; life is still; sensations and thoughts are dissolved. The divine light of life and consciousness perceived by the devotee in the cerebrospinal centers becomes one with the Cosmic Light and Absolute Pure Consciousness. Acquisition of the power of this realization enables the yogi to consciously detach his soul from identification with the body. He becomes free from the distressing bondage of desires (the body’s attachment and longing for sensory gratification), fears (the thought of possible nonfulfillment of desires), and anger (the emotional response to obstacles that thwart fulfillment of desires). These three impelling forces in man are the greatest enemies of soul bliss; they must be destroyed by that devotee who aspires to reach God.” (The Bhagavad Gita, pages 569-76, Yogananda) ******* “The yogi is deemed greater than body-disciplining ascetics, greater even than the followers of the path of wisdom or of the path of action. Be thou, O Arjuna, a yogi!” – Bhagavad Gita VI:46 “The Lord Himself here extols the royal path of yoga as the highest of all spiritual paths, and the scientific yogi as greater than a follower of any other path. The real Kriya Yoga way (lifeforce control) is not a bypath. It is the direct highway, the shortest route, to divine realization. It teaches man to ascend heavenward by leading the ego, mind, and lifeforce through the same spinal channel that was used when the soul originally descended into the body.... The man who performs good actions is the external karma yogi. He who practices yoga meditation is the esoteric karma yogi. But he who performs or practices Kriya Yoga, the highest technique of contacting God, is the raja yogi or the royal Kriya Yogi. He attains ascension and is among the highest yogis.” (The Bhagavad Gita, pages 652-57, Yogananda) ******* “Air is the breath of life through which God sustains vegetation, animals, and man. His purifying, cleansing, and purging power is manifested in all wind currents active throughout the universe, but is pre-eminent in the subtle vital air (the ”breeze” or gentle
wind) that is life-giving – prana. When by Kriya Yoga pranayama the accomplished yogi distills the life current out of the oxygen in the human breath and uses this pure prana to recharge his body, he unites his life with cosmic life. Breath mastery through pranayama, or lifeforce control, is not only the best means of drawing on cosmic energy to sustain life in the physical body, but also the highest method for attaining liberation. Life control produces control of the breath, the cord that ties the soul to the body; and breathlessness in the samadhi state produces God-realization.” (The Bhagavad Gita, page 798, Yogananda)
THE FIVE PROGRESSIVE LEVELS OF
PRELIMINARY MEDITATIVE ABSORPTION
“Patanjali classified the various stages of interiorized meditation in his Yoga Sutras. He refers to two basic categories of meditation – samprajnata and asamprajnata. When used to define the preliminary stages of realization rather than its advanced stages of fulfillment, then samprajnata and asamprajnata are relative terms used to distinguish initial superconscious experiences in meditation (samprajnata) from true samadhi or union with the object of meditation (asamprajnata). In this context samprajnata refers to those states of preliminary meditative absorption wherein the object is “know accurately and thoroughly” through intuition that is still somewhat mixed with, or interpreted by, Nature’s subtle instruments of perception – an interaction of the knower, the knowing, and the known. It is therefore called “conscious” absorption because those faculties of Nature that operate outwardly in ordinary consciousness – such as mind (manas), intellect (buddhi), feeling (chitta), and ego (ahamkara) – are active outwardly in their pure or subtle aspect... By contrast, asamprajnata then means those superconscious experiences that are perceived through pure intuition or realization – the direct perception of the soul by being one with the object of meditation – transcendent of any intervening instruments or principles of Nature. Intuition is “face-to-face” knowledge of reality without any intermediary. Patanjali says that asamprajnata is the result of the samskara (impression) left by samprajnata absorption. In other words, by repeated efforts at deeper and deeper samprajnata meditation, the end result is the transcendental state of asamprajnata samadhi. But it is a misnomer to refer to this latter state as “unconscious” samadhi, in keeping with the previous state being called “conscious.” Rather, as samprajnata means, “known accurately or thoroughly,” that idea does not arise in the opposite, asamprajnata, because in the unity of the knower and the known, the devotee becomes the object of his meditation. Far from unconsciousness, it is a state of supreme heightened awareness and enlightenment.... The four states of preliminary meditative absorption, which come after interiorization (pratyahara), are the result of deep concentration (dharana), or superconscious perception as limited to the body. When these four stages of absorption have been resolved one by one into the next higher state, the yogi goes beyond them and attains asamprajnata samadhi. This comes in deep meditation (dhyana) in which concentration (dharana) is continuous, with no flicker or interruption; then the object of meditation is experienced as being not only in the body but also in omnipresence. Beyond these states,
in the advanced stages of realization, samprajnata and asamprajnata are understood to mean, respectively, savikalpa and nirvikalpa samadhi.... As applied to advance stages of realization, samprajnata refers to savikalpa (“with difference”) samadhi, or divine union in which there remains some distinction between the knower and the known, as in the realization “Thou and I are One.” In greater or lesser degrees, some modifications of Nature remain. But in asamprajnata samadhi all differentiations of Nature are resolved into the One Spirit. The consciousness of “Thou and I are one” becomes “I am He” (who is present in this little form of “I” and in all forms). This is not the egotist’s proclamation, “I am God!” – the brass crown of megalomania – but rather the full realization of the absolute truth: God is the only Reality. Thus asamprajnata, in its absolute sense, is nirvikalpa (“without difference”) samadhi, the highest yoga or union manifested by fully liberated masters or those on the threshold of soul freedom.” (The Bhagavad Gita, page 117-19, Yogananda) ******* Samprajnata and asamprajnata can be defined as deep penetrative insight (either, with or without an object, respectively) into the true nature of reality: the world of appearances without, and the Self as Spirit within. They are basically synonymous with the terms viveka, “discriminating discernment,” and samadhi, or the state of divine ecstasy. Samadhi can also be rendered as a profound meditative state of spiritual absorption. ******* “Ecstatic spiritual absorption (samadhi) is that meditation in which the whole object shines forth, as if devoid of its own form.” – Yoga Sutra III:3 “In divine ecstasy (samadhi), the distinction between the subject, object and their relationship disappears. There is no feeling or awareness of being apart from anything. Effort or practice is involved only up until meditation. The doer disappears in samadhi. One simply abides in this exalted state.” (Kriya Yoga Sutras, page 128, Govindan) Yoganandaji translates savikalpa and nirvikalpa, quite literally as “with” (Skt. sa-) and “without” (Skt. nir-) “differences” in regards to samadhi. Govindan uses the terms, “distinguished” and “non-distinguished,” the latter makes the highest state of divine ecstasy sound quite common, when, in fact, it is most extraordinary indeed! I like using my own terms for these: “dualistic” samadhi for savikalpa where the polarity of subject and object still remains no matter how subtle it may become; and “nondual” samadhi for nirvikalpa where the subject and object merge as one, into a state of being, one pure awareness. *******
“These very levels of savikalpa samadhi possess seeds.” – Yoga Sutra II:46
“The four types of savikalpa samadhi are all threatened by the existence of seed-like latent cognitive afflictions. They lie in the subconscious mind awaiting the right circumstances to sprout. Until they have been burnt by the fire of sadhana and in the highest form of samadhi, there is always the risk that the yogi’s consciousness will again assume the forms arising from the subconscious and that Self-awareness will be replaced by ego-identification.” (Kriya Yoga Sutras, page 56, Govindan) ******* Samprajnata and asamprajnata are relative terms. They can be loosely translated as simply, “lower” and “higher.” I have chosen to use them in this context as it really simplifies matters. So now we have four “categories” of samadhi: 1) “Lowest” – the five preliminary meditative absorptions; 2) “Lower” – the four levels of savikalpa samadhi; 3) “Higher” – the transcendence phase of nirvikalpa samadhi; and ultimately, 4) “Highest” – the integration phase and completion stage of nirvikalpa samadhi. We now also have two “types” of samadhi: 1) “Dualistic”– the five preliminary meditative absorptions, and the four levels of savikalpa samadhi; and 2) “Nondual” – the transcendence and integration phases, and the completion stage of nirvikalpa samadhi. ******* Both categories of samprajnata “dualistic” samadhi share the same characteristics of “observation” (vitarka), “reflection” (vichara), “rejoicing” (ananda), and “awareness of the Self” (asmita). “In Yoga Sutra II:17, Pantanjali begins a section, which discusses the various types of samadhi. These occur when we cease to identify with the five fluctuations in consciousness. In samadhi one realizes pure subjective awareness; the object and subject
become unified. “Observation, reflection, rejoicing, and awareness of the Self” are the four accompaniments of this type of samadhi – samprajnata (“dualistic”), which is object-oriented. These are the inspired products of this fusion between subject and object. Unlike asamprajnata (“nondual”) samadhi described in the next verse, here there are either physical, or subtle mental or emotional, objects as supports or departure points.” (Kriya Yoga Sutras, page 20, Govindan) Yoganandaji has named the four basic levels of samprajnata (“dualistic”) samadhi after these four accompaniments. Here he deviates from the names Patanjali actually uses for these levels. This is a brilliant inspiration on Yoganandaji’s part. In addition, he integrates sacred knowledge from the Bhagavad Gita to give us a crystal clear description of the actual spiritual transformations that we are striving to effect. Each level corresponds to a chakra in the spine and to one of the four key terms found in SankhyaYoga philosophy – manas, buddhi, chitta, and ahamkara (or asmita). ******* Each of the levels below represents one of the five stages, respectively, of “preliminary meditative absorption.” The first four (described by Patanjali in Yoga Sutras I:17) are the initial foundation practices that serve as solid stepping-stones for the quantum leaps in realization called savikalpa samadhi and nirvikalpa samadhi that are yet to follow. The first four stages are called 1) savitarka – “doubtful” or “doubt-ridden;” 2) savichara – “discriminative;” 3) sananda – “bliss-permeated;” and 4) sasmita – “with a pure sense of self.” Patanjali classifies each of these as samprajnata (“lower”) samadhi (union, or oneness, with God). At best they are only partial, and are much more accurately defined as being states of meditative absorption, “dhyana samadhi.” This will also clearly set them apart from the deeper, and more advanced, states of superconsciousness that are true experiences of samadhi. Once again let us return to “The Evolutionary Stages of Consciousness,” having already covered Levels #1-9 (“body-mind”). During the first four progressive stages of meditative absorption, the modifications in consciousness that oppose going deep within are first encountered, and then purified to a more subtle form. The four stages of samprajnata “dualistic” dhyana samadhi, and their specific obstacles to be overcome, are as follows: ******* LEVEL #10: “SAVITARKA” DHYANA SAMADHI – This is the first level of preliminary meditative absorption “with doubt” at the muladhara, coccygeal, chakra. Patanjali also calls this level, savitarka, and describes it as the “observation” of material objects. I would interpret this as meaning that one is mindful, or aware, of the resistance, or deep-rooted habit of looking outwards to the objective world through the physical senses, that occurs as one is attempting to meditate by going within. This is what Yoganandaji translates (as many Sanskrit words have multiple connotations) as the
“doubtful” level of practice, where disbelief, or doubt, is overcome by true faith. The latter can only come into being through direct perception of reality. Only when you actually experience Spirit in deep meditation, do you really know, and then “true faith” spontaneously arises. Mind (manas) – as sense impressions and the attachment to material pleasures – is “doubt-ridden” and resists one’s intention of turning inward, away from the physical senses, to meditative with one-pointed concentration on Spirit. Mastery at this level is the transcendence of identification with the body as sensory consciousness (manas). This is the initial stage of cultivating the pure awareness of the Self, or witness. ******* LEVEL #11: “SAVICHARA” DHYANA SAMADHI – This is the second level of preliminary meditative absorption “with discrimination” at the swadhisthana, sacral, chakra. Patanjali calls this level, nirvitarka (“without observation” of physical objects), and describes it as “reflection” on subtle, or non-material, objects. Here one utilizes concepts, or mental forms, in order to contemplate on truth, to discern between the relative, or “unreal,” and the Absolute, as departure points to genuine spiritual insight and intuitive wisdom. This is what Yoganandaji calls the “discriminative” level of practice. Intellect (buddhi) – as a restless stream of discursive thoughts – is increasingly transformed into calm introspection and “discriminative discernment” (viveka). Mastery at this level is the transcendence of identification with the conceptualization of the mind. “I have lost the habit of thinking,” says Sri Aurobindo! The state of witnessing deepens, and continues to do so throughout all of the other levels of spiritual consciousness. ******* LEVEL #12: “SANANDA” DHYANA SAMADHI – This is the third level of preliminary meditative absorption “with bliss” at the manipura, lumbar, chakra. Patanjali calls this level, savichara (“with reflection” on a subtle, non-physical, object), and describes it as “rejoicing” in the feeling that arises with a state of deep concentration on Spirit. Yoganandaji calls this the “bliss-permeated” level of practice. Feeling (chitta) – in the guise of disturbing emotions – slowly dissolves in the “joyful” nature of ever-deepening meditative absorption. Mastery at this level is the transcendence of identification with all disruptive emotional reactions. “The intuitive feeling of the heart” is revealed as the divine quality of ananda, pure ecstatic bliss. ******* LEVEL #13: “SASMITA” DHYANA SAMADHI – This is the fourth level of preliminary meditative absorption “with a pure sense of being” at the anahata, dorsal, chakra.
Pantanjali calls this level, nirvichara (“without reflection” on a subtle object), and describes it as “awareness of the Self.” The three previous levels utilized either physical objects of the senses, subtle mental forms, or feelings of bliss, respectively, as supports and then departure points. However, at this level there is no “object,” only the “subject,” which is the Self, pure awareness, the witness. It’s a state of “non-doing,” just resting in consciousness. The object of meditation has become the subject, which is the indwelling Spirit. This is what Yoganandaji calls “a pure sense of being.” One’s “sense of identity” (asmita) – bound to the ego (ahamkara) and its dark realm of ignorance where blind attachment to the body and mind creates endless suffering – is gradually transcended and integrated on the level of Soul Awareness. “In that sasmita samadhi state of absorption without reflection (sense impressions, thoughts, and feelings), awareness is truth-bearing. This special truth has a distinct purpose apart from knowledge, inference, or scriptural study.” – Yoga Sutras I:4849 “In ordinary physical consciousness, knowledge (prajna) is acquired through the senses, or by reasoning. But in samadhi it comes by direct cognition or insight and is “truth-bearing,” meaning without error. One knows by intuitive perception the truth of things directly by becoming one with them.... When we acquire this “truth-bearing” insight we transcend the mind and can therefore realize the Supreme Being and the Self. No orally transmitted teachings or logical inference can reveal the truth of God and soul, because the mind cannot grasp anything more subtle that itself. Self-realization occurs when the mind becomes silent. As it says in one of the Psalms: “Be still and know that I am God.” (Kriya Yoga Sutras, page 58-59, Govindan) ******* These four progressive levels above can be referred to collectively as “the generation stage” of preliminary meditative absorption. When they have been mastered, a higher state of superconscious experience unfolds. This fifth, and final, stage is perhaps best described as being of the initial, lowest, and most limited, form of samadhi that acts as a bridge to its deeper and fuller expression in savikalpa samadhi. There are some significant differences between them that we will examine later on. In order to avoid any unnecessary confusion, this introductory state of samadhi will simply be termed asamprajnata “higher” dhyana samadhi “meditative absorption.” LEVEL #14: “ASAMPRAJNATA” DHYANA SAMADHI – This is the completion, or “higher,” stage of preliminary meditative absorption at the visuddha, cervical, chakra, with its corresponding element of “ether” or “space.” It is the experience of omnipresence within the sanctuary of one’s soul as an individualized reflection of Spirit. ******* As long as the lifeforce, or prana, still descends through the main central channel, sushumna, and flows outward through the two side channels, the pingala (“sun”) and ida
(“moon”) nadis, it will support body consciousness and dualistic perceptions. Through the magnetic effects generated by interiorization (pratyahara), concentration (dharana), and meditative absorption (dhyana), the yogi begins to reverse the direction that the currents of lifeforce usually flow (during the ordinary states of wakefulness, dreaming, and deep sleep) and to withdraw some of the prana from the pingala and ida nadis into the sushumna at the base of the spine. The lifeforce then begins to ascend through this luminous astral channel and its radiant cerebrospinal centers. The late generation stage of this long and gradual process, ending ultimately in supreme enlightenment, is very poetically depicted in one of the Vajrayana (“Diamond Way”) Buddhist yoga texts: “Shortly before the dawning of the Clear Light, there is an eclipse of both the sun and moon.” As more and more prana moves upwards over time, as one progresses in his sadhana, its activating quality starts to awaken the higher states of awareness and the inherent powers associated with each of the chakras.
THE BHAGAVAD GITA AND ITS SYMBOLISM
“The Bhagavad Gita is the most beloved scripture of India, a scripture of scriptures. It is the Hindu’s Holy Testament, or Bible, the one book that all masters depend upon as a supreme source of scriptural authority. Bhagavad Gita means “Song of the Spirit,” the divine communion of truth-realization between man and his Creator, the teachings of Spirit through the soul, that should be sung unceasingly. The pantheistic doctrine of the Gita is that God is everything. Its verses celebrate the discovery of the Absolute, Spirit beyond creation, as being also the hidden Essence of all manifestation.... So comprehensive as a spiritual guide is the Gita that it is declared to be the essence of the ponderous four Vedas, 108 Upanishads, and the six systems of Hindu philosophy. Only by intuitive study and understanding, or else by contacting Absolute Pure Consciousness, can one fully comprehend the Bhagavad Gita. Indeed, the underlying essential truths of all great world scriptures can be found in the infinite wisdom of the Gita’s mere 700 verses.... India has preserved in her literature a highly evolved civilization dating back to a glorious Golden Age (the peak of which was around 11,500 B.C.). From the undated antiquity in which the Vedas first emerged, through a grand unfoldment of subsequent exalted verse and prose, the Hindus have left their civilization not in stone monoliths or crumbling edifices, but in architecture of ornamental writing scripted in the euphonious language of Sanskrit. The very composition of the Bhagavad Gita – its rhetoric, alliteration, diction, style, and harmony – shows that India had arrived at a lofty height of spirituality. The testament of the Hindu scriptures is that India’s civilization goes back far earlier than contemporary Western historians acknowledge. Swami Sri Yukteswar, in The Holy Science, calculates that the Golden Age, in which India’s spiritual and material civilization reached its pinnacle, ended about 6,700 B.C. – having flowered for several thousands of years before that. India’s scriptural literature lists many generations of kings and sages who lived prior to the events that are the main subject of the Mahabharata. In 100,000 couplets this hoary epic – perhaps the longest poem in world literature – recounts the history of King Bharata, the Pandavas and Kauravas, cousins whose dispute over a kingdom was the cause of the cataclysmic war of Kurukshetra. The Bhagavad Gita, a sacred dialogue on yoga between Bhagavan Krishna – who was at once an earthly king and a divine incarnation – and his chief disciple, the Pandava prince Arjuna, purportedly takes place on the eve of this fearsome battle. The authorship of the Mahabharata, including the Gita portion, is traditionally assigned to the illuminated sage, Vyasa, whose date is not definitely known. It is said that
the Vedic rishis manifested their immortality by appearing before mankind in different ages to play some role for man’s spiritual upliftment. Thus they appeared and reappeared at various times throughout the extensive period of time encompassed by the revelation of the scriptures of India.... So long as divine beings are in a state of absolute oneness with Spirit, as was Sage Vyasa, they cannot record in writing their enlightened spiritual perceptions. Such Selfrealized souls have to come down from the state of Spirit-oneness, which is unalloyed by duality, to the state of human consciousness, which is governed by the law of relativity, in order to bring truth to mankind.... The Bhagavad Gita is generally conceded to predate the Christian era. The testimony of the Mahabharata itself is that the Kurukshetra war took place toward the end of the Dwapara Yuga, when the world was on the verge of descending into the Dark Age or Kali Yuga. Traditionally, many Hindus have fixed the beginning of the last descending Kali Yuga at 3,102 B.C., thus placing the Kurukshetra war described in the Mahabharata a few decades prior to this. (FOOTNOTE: “Paramhansa Yogananda’s guru, Swami Sri Yukteswar, who was a great authority on Vedic astrology as well as being a God-realized master, pointed out an error in the commonly accepted calculation of the dates for the Yugas.... Sri Yukteswar said that circa 3,100 B.C. was actually the beginning of the descending Dwapara Yuga, not Kali Yuga: the latter, he stated, began in approximately 700 B.C. Since there is a 200year transition period between the end of Dwapara Yuga proper and Kali Yuga, the departure of King Yudhisthira and the other Pandavas to the Himalayas, described in the Mahabharata, as occurring at the end of Dwapara Yuga and thirty-six years after the Kurukshetra war, may have been around 900 B.C. according to Sri Yukteswar’s calculations – or earlier if one takes the Mahabharata’s account to mean merely that the Pandavas departed sometime near the end of the Dwapara Yuga, not literally in the very last year of the age.”) Scholars of East and West have advanced various dates for the Mahabharata events – some based their estimates on archaeological evidence and others on references in the poem to specific astronomical phenomena such as eclipses, solstices, positions of the stars, and planetary conjunctions. By these means, the dates proposed for the Kurukshetra war range from as early as 6,000 B.C. to as recently as 500 B.C. – hardly a definite consensus! ....In a language of simile, metaphors, and allegory, the Bhagavad Gita was very cleverly written by Sage Vyasa by interweaving historical facts with psychological and spiritual truths, presenting a word-painting of the tumultuous inner battles that must be waged by both the material and the spiritual man.... Historically, on the brink of such a horrendous war as that related in the Mahabharata, it is most unlikely that, as the Gita depicts, Krishna and Arjuna would draw their chariot into the open field between the two opposing armies at Kurukshetra and there engage in an extensive discourse on yoga. While many of the chief events and persons in the compendious Mahabharata indeed
have their basis in historical fact, their poetic presentation in the epic has been arranged conveniently and meaningfully (and wonderfully condensed in the Bhagavad Gita portion) for the primary purpose of setting forth the essence of India’s Sanatana Dharma, Eternal Religion.... All events and all wisdom are permanently recorded in the super-ether of omniscience, the akashic (etheric) records. An advanced sage in any clime or age can directly contact them. Thus the whole span of history for the King Bharata dynasty could be perceived fully by Vyasa when later he conceived the Mahabharata and decided to write the epic as spiritual metaphor based on historical facts and persons. That the instruction and revelations of the Bhagavad Gita are ascribed to Bhagavan Krishna, though probably not delivered by him as one discourse in the midst of a battlefield, is quite in keeping with the incarnate earth-mission of Krishna as Yogeshvara, “Lord of Yoga.” In chapter IV, Krishna proclaims his role in the dissemination of the eternal science of yoga. Vyasa’s attunement to Krishna qualified him to compile from his own inner realization the holy revelations of Sri Krishna as a divine discourse, and to present it symbolically as a dialogue between God and an ideal devotee who enters the deep ecstatic state of inner communion.... Vyasa, being a liberated soul, knew how the consummate devotee, Arjuna, found liberation through Krishna; how, by following the yoga science imparted to him by his sublime guru, Arjuna was liberated by God. As such, Vyasa could write this as a dialogue transpiring between the soul and Spirit in the form of the Bhagavad Gita.... It will become evident to the reader after thoughtful perusal of the key to a few stanzas in the first chapter that the historical background of a battle and the contestants therein have been used for the purpose of illustrating the spiritual and psychological battle going on between the attributes of the pure discriminative intellect in attunement with the soul and the blind sense-infatuated mind under the delusive influence of the ego. In support of this analogy, there is shown an exact correspondence between the material and spiritual attributes of man as described by Patanjali in his Yoga Sutras and the warring contestants cited in the Gita: the clan of Pandu, representing Pure Intelligence, and that of the blind King Dhritarashtra, representing the blind mind with its offspring of wicked sense tendencies.... The key figure of the Bhagavad Gita is, of course, Bhagavan Krishna. The historical Krishna is enshrouded in the mystery of scriptural metaphor and mythology.... “Christ” and “Krishna” are titles having the same spiritual connotation.... Krishna means Universal Omniscient Spirit. In this we find a parallel to the Christ, or Cosmic Consciousness, as the Intelligence of God omnipresent in creation.... The Universal Christ Consciousness or Kutastha Chaitanya, Universal Krishna Consciousness, is “the only begotten son” or sole undistorted reflection of God permeating every atom and point of space in the manifested cosmos....
A Siddha is a perfected being who has attained complete liberation in Spirit; he becomes a Paramukta, “supremely free,” and can return to earth as an Avatar – as did Krishna, Jesus the Christ, and many other saviors of mankind throughout the ages. As often as virtue declines, a God-illumined soul comes on earth to draw virtue again to the fore. An Avatar, or divine incarnation, has two purposes on earth; quantitative and qualitative. Quantitatively, he uplifts the general populace with his noble teachings of good against evil. But the main purpose of an Avatar is qualitative – to create other Godrealized souls, helping as many as possible to attain liberation.... We hear of saintly ascetics or prophets in the forest or secluded haunts, but Sri Krishna was one of the greatest exemplars of divinity, because he lived and manifested himself as a Christ and at the same time performed the duties of a noble king. His life demonstrates the ideal not of renunciation of action – which is a conflicting doctrine for man circumscribed by a world whose life breath is activity – but rather the renunciation of earth-binding desires for the fruits of action.... To avoid the pitfalls of the two extremes, renunciation of the world, and drowning in material life, man should so train his mind by constant meditation that he can perform the necessary dutiful actions of his daily life and still maintain the consciousness of God within. That is the example set by Krishna’s life.... The path advocated by Sri Krishna in the Bhagavad Gita is for both the busy man of the world and the highest spiritual aspirant. To follow this golden path would be their salvation. The Bhagavad Gita is a revelation of universal Self-realization, introducing man to his true Self, the soul – showing him how he has evolved from Spirit, how he may fulfill on earth his righteous duties, and how he may return to God.” (The Bhagavad Gita, pages xvii-xxxi, Yogananda) ******* “The battle of life between the contending armies of good and bad tendencies – self-control versus sense indulgence, discriminative intelligence opposed by mental sense inclinations, spiritual resolve in meditation contested by mental resistance and physical restlessness, and divine soul-consciousness against the ignorance and magnetic attraction of the lower ego-nature – take place on the battlefield of Kurukshetra (kuru, from the Sanskrit root kri, “work, material action,” and kshetra, “field”). This “field of action” is the human body with its physical, mental, and soul faculties, the field on which all activities of one’s life take place.” (The Bhagavad Gita, page 4, Yogananda) “The Pandavas’ chief advisor and support during the battle of Kurukshetra is God Himself who, in the form of Lord Krishna, represents variously the Spirit, the soul, or intuition as manifested in the states of soul awareness, cosmic consciousness, and absolute pure consciousness, in the medulla, spiritual eye, and thousand-petaled lotus, respectively; or as the guru instructing his disciple, the devotee Arjuna. Within the devotee, Krishna is thus the guiding Divine Intelligence speaking to the lower self that has gone astray in the entanglements of sensory consciousness. This Higher Intelligence is the master and teacher, and the lower mental intellect is the disciple; the Higher Intelligence advises the lower vitiated self on how to uplift itself in accord with the
eternal verities, and in fulfillment of its inherent God-given duties.” (The Bhagavad Gita, page 68, Yogananda) “Arjuna symbolizes self-control and the vibratory fire element in the lumbar center, the manipura chakra. This center bestows fiery strength and resolve. It is the reinforcer of good habits and actions, purifies the body and mind, and makes deep meditation possible. We see further why this center allegorically represents Arjuna, the most skilled of all the Pandava army, when we consider its dual function. It is the pivotal or turning point of the devotee’s life from gross materialism to finer spiritual qualities. From the lumbar to the sacral and coccygeal centers life and consciousness flow downward and outward to materialistic, sense-bound body consciousness. But in meditation, when the devotee assists the life and consciousness to be attracted to the magnetic pull in the higher or dorsal center, the power of this fiery lumbar center disassociates itself from material concerns and upholds the spiritual work of the devotee through the powers in the higher centers. When the devotee’s consciousness has gone very deep in meditation, traversing the physical consciousness and the primary states of the astral soul-encasement, he finds in the inmost astral spine (the chitra) at the lumbar center or manipura chakra, the opening from the astral body to the finer soul-covering of the causal body. This is the common opening of the brahmanadi, or causal spine with its centers of divine consciousness, leading through the chitra, vajra, and sushumna. When the life and consciousness have been reversed inward during deep meditation, here is where the devotee merges in the stream of brahmanadi and enters the finer causal realm of the soul, the last encasement through which the yogi must pass before he can, by still deeper meditation, ultimately ascend through brahmanadi to Spirit. When Arjuna, the power of self-control in the lumbar center, rouses the fire of meditation and spiritual patience and determination, he draws the life and consciousness upward, that was flowing downward and outward through the lumbar, sacral, and coccygeal centers, and thereby gives the meditating yogi the necessary mental and bodily strength to pursue the course of deep meditation leading to Self-realization. Without this fire and self-control, no spiritual progress is possible. Thus, Arjuna, more literally, also represents the devotee of self-control, patience, and determination within whom the battle of Kurukshetra is taking place. He is the chief devotee and disciple of the Lord, Bhagavan Krishna, who in the Gita dialogue is being shown by Krishna the way to victory.” (The Bhagavad Gita, page 66-67, Yogananda) ******* “Pranava, the sound of the creative Aum vibration, is the mother of all sounds. The intelligent cosmic energy of Aum that issues forth from God, as the manifestation of God,
is the creator and substance of all matter. This holy vibration is the link between matter and Spirit. Meditation on Aum is the way to realize the true Spirit-essence of all creation. By inwardly following the Pranava to its source, the yogi’s consciousness is carried aloft to God.” (The Bhagavad Gita, page 116, Yogananda) Patanjali says in his Yoga Sutras that the highest samadhi can be attained by profound and devoted meditation on Isvara whose symbol is Aum. Patanjali uses the name of Isvara to signify the highest aspect of God, Shiva, the formless Supreme Being. However, in Advaita (Nondual) Vedanta and the Bhagavad Gita, Ishwara denotes the immanent aspect of God, the Lord of creation, preservation, and destruction; Brahman, the transcendental aspect of God, is the Source – Absolute Spirit beyond time, space, and causation. Sometimes Aum is also called Shabda-Brahman, the primordial manifestation of Spirit as cosmic creative vibration. “The Hindu scriptures contain a thousand names for God, each one conveying a different shade of philosophical meaning. Purushottama or “Supreme Spirit” is an appellation for Deity in His highest aspect – the Unmanifested Lord beyond creation. Ishwara is He by whose will all universes, in orderly cycles, are created, maintained, and dissolved.” (The Bhagavad Gita, pages 815-16, Yogananda) “Aum is the vibratory embodiment of Spirit, replete with Omniscience and Omnipotence.” (The Bhagavad Gita, page 1095, Yogananda) “God manifests in creation as the Cosmic Vibration, which expresses itself as Cosmic Sound and Cosmic Light. The Cosmic Sound or Aum is the synthesis of all the sounds of the highly vibrating lifeforces, electrons, protons, and atoms.” (The Bhagavad Gita, page 614, Yogananda) “Cosmic Light is the building block of all objects and beings in God’s dream cosmos.” (The Bhagavad Gita, page 679, Yogananda) “Aum is the divinely empowered creator of all things; it manifests itself as Cosmic Light and Cosmic Sound. As the ocean roar is a conglomerated sound of all waves and is manifested in each wave, so the Cosmic Sound and Cosmic Light are the aggregate of all animate and inanimate creation, and are manifested in each man as the light of life and may be heard by him as the astral sound of Aum.” (The Bhagavad Gita, page 1008, Yogananda) “In the beginning.... God said: Let there be light.” God vibrated His wish to create, and light became manifest; He brought forth the intelligent Holy Ghost Aum vibration, which became manifest as objective light and sound. These two properties of Aum, in various combinations, constitute all objective creation.” (The Bhagavad Gita, page 782, Yogananda) *******
In the Bhagavad Gita, our five heroes, the Pandava brothers, each symbolize one of the five chakras within the spine: “Sahadeva represents the earth element in the coccygeal center (muladhara chakra). The devotee concentrating on this center hears the Aum or cosmic vibration in a peculiar sound like the drone of a honey-mad bee. The devotee then wonders doubtfully whether this sound is a bodily vibration or an astral sound....” This is the abode of the first, or savitarka – “doubtful,” level of preliminary meditative absorption. “Nakula represents the water element manifested in the sacral center (swadhisthana chakra). The devotee concentrating on this center is lifted beyond the doubting state of mind to a surer, more discriminating state; he listens to a higher astral sound, which is similar to the beautiful tones of a flute. The doubting ceases, and his intellect begins to fathom the nature of this sound....” This is the abode of the second, or savichara – “discriminative,” level of preliminary meditative absorption. “Arjuna represents the fire element in the lumbar center (manipura chakra). The devotee concentrating on this center hears an astral sound that is like a harp or vina. Owing to the dissolution of the doubting mental state and of the discriminating intellectual state, he now attains the state in which the clear perception of the sound and its true nature produces a joy-permeated feeling of inner absorption....” This is the abode of the third, or sananda – “blissful,” level of preliminary meditative absorption. “Bhima represents the air or lifeforce (prana) element in the dorsal center (anahata chakra). The devotee concentrating on this center hears the Aum “symbol of God” as a deep, long-drawn-out astral bell. The mental, intellectual, and perceptive states having all been dissolved, the devotee arrives at an intuitive inner-bliss absorption that is mixed with ego, not as body consciousness but as a pure sense of individualized being....” This is the abode of the fourth, or sasmita – “with awareness of the Self,” level of preliminary meditative absorption. “Yudhisthana represents the ether element in the cervical center of the spine (visuddha chakra). The devotee concentrating on this center hears the eternity-controlling, infinityspreading cosmic sound of the all-pervasive etheric vibration of Aum whose sound is like thunder, or the roar of a distant mighty ocean. In this state, the four preceding phases of interiorization – mental (manas), intellectual (buddhi), perceptive (chitta), and egoistic (ahamkara) – have been dissolved, giving rise to a deeper state of pure intuitive perception of limitless bliss....” This is the abode of the final, and higher (asamprajnata) stage of preliminary meditative absorption (dhyana samadhi). “Although the devotee’s “I-ness” or sense of individual existence has been transcended, his consciousness identifies with the etheric vibrations of Aum in all space: expanding from the little body to infinity, his blissful consciousness embraces omnipresence.” (The Bhagavad Gita, pages 119-20, Yogananda) *******
At the spiritual eye Sri Krishna symbolizes the immanent aspect of Spirit. He is an incarnation of God, an Avatar, the descent of Divinity into flesh. He is also referred to as Hrishikesha, “Lord of the Senses,” in the Bhagavad Gita. (The subtle astral powers that animate the physical senses of smell, taste, sight, touch, and hearing manifest, respectively, in ascending order through the five chakras in the spine.) The conch that Krishna blows is called Panchajanya, “that which generates the five tattvas or elements (earth, water, fire, air, and ether). “The sound is a commingling of the various sounds of the five lower centers. This is the true or undifferentiated cosmic Aum vibration. This “symphony” of the five sounds of Pranava is heard in the united medullary and spiritual eye centers (ajna chakra). Here the devotee enjoys a greater savikalpa samadhi.” (The Bhagavad Gita, page 121, Yogananda) ******* The muladhara chakra at the coccyx, associated with the earth element and body consciousness, is the seat of creation for the physical body and its activities and sensory perceptions. This forms the negative pole of what I call “the egoic axis” that extends upward through the spine and medulla to the pons Varolii at the top of the brain stem, which lies below the junction of the cerebral hemispheres. The pons Varolii is the positive pole of the egoic axis where the sensory mind (manas) first turns outward towards the material world. This is the seat, evidently, of the autonomic nervous system as it contains ascending sensory, or afferent nerve, and descending motor, or efferent nerve, pathways that connect the brain to the rest of the body. The rudimentary form of “samadhi” (which I designed as being asamprajnata dhyana samadhi – the higher, or completion, stage of preliminary meditative absorption) unfolds at the cervical, or fifth, center that coincides quite nicely with the experience of omnipresence due to its corresponding element of ether, or space. Although the grosser limitations of the first four chakras below – including the negative pole of the egoic axis – have already been transcended, the fifth or “space” chakra is still very much within the spine and, thus, under the influence of the sensory mind (manas) from its positive pole above in the brain. In contrast, the ajna chakra, where the experience of savikalpa samadhi transpires, is a higher cerebral center. Its positive pole is the spiritual eye, the seat of intuitive wisdom, and its negative pole is the medulla. The latter is the only place of contact with the egoic axis and, consequently, the modifications in consciousness exerted by manas (the sensory mind) are more subtle and in a purer form. At the sahasrara, or crown, chakra all such influences are finally resolved. After further reflection on the wisdoms of the visuddha (cervical) and ajna (medullary / spiritual eye) chakras I would describe the former as being calm discriminative wisdom. I still contend that the so-called samadhi experienced at this center has more of the flavor of a profoundly deep meditative absorption instead. It would be permeated with an unshakeable peaceful quality, and firmly grounded in highly developed powers of discernment and discrimination. However, its perception of space would be limited to the ether in which the four primal elements of gross matter abide. The wisdom of the ajna
chakra, on the other hand, is purely intuitive. The experience of savikalpa samadhi, anchored in the same peace, would be saturated with a greater sense of bliss. Its perception of space would be of a higher order, as a transcendence of all five primal elements (which Yoganandaji calls “super-ether” and assigns to the spiritual eye – a deeper dimension of space that encompasses its true spiritual essence). _______ FOOTNOTE: “The Sanskrit word akasha, translated as both “ether” and “space,” refers specifically to the vibratory element that is the subtlest in the material world, “the screen on which the image of the body and all nature is projected.” “Ether-permeated space is the boundary line between heaven, or the astral world, and earth,” Paramhansaji said. “All the finer forces God has created are composed of light, or thought-forms, and are merely hidden behind a particular vibration that manifests as ether. Were this etheric vibration removed, you would see the astral cosmos behind this physical universe.... Space is another dimension: the “gates” of heaven. Through the spiritual eye, which exists within at the point between the eyebrows, you can enter these gates. Your consciousness must pass through the astral star in the spiritual eye to behold that higher realm, the astral world.” “Sensory consciousness perceives the world as existing in four physical dimensions. Yoga science describes ether-permeated space as the barrier between these and higher dimensions of existence. Beyond the subtlest physical vibration (akasha, ether),” Paramhansa Yogananda explained, “is the super-ether, a finer manifestation and therefore not classified as one of the physical vibratory elements (tattvas), of which there are only five – earth, water, fire, air, and ether. Some yoga treatises define the tattva as mind, or “non-matter,” as opposed to matter or gross vibration.” _______ Elsewhere in his writings, Yoganandaji also mentions another even higher element called “bliss-ether,” which he assigns to the sahasrara (crown) chakra. ******* “In the Mahabharata epic, which includes the Bhagavad Gita, it states that Bhishma, who represents the ego, cannot be slain “until the sun moves north in the heavens.” Literally, this is taken to refer to an astronomical calculation of the seasonal placement of the sun. But symbolically, it means that even though the ego is rendered powerless and benign by the samadhi meditation of the devotee, it will not fully die (the pure sense of “I-ness” or individuality remains) until the sun of divine consciousness in the spiritual eye during savikalpa samadhi moves to the north – upward to the place of the finer forces in the brain; that is, in the innermost divine region of the sahasrara (the highest spiritual center in the body), in union with Spirit in nirvikalpa samadhi.” (The Bhagavad Gita, page 110, Yogananda)
“The pure ego is nothing but the soul, the jivatman or incarnate individualized Self.... The fault-infested ego of the ordinary man is the mind-ego, the ego that has the potential of being perverted by intellectual waves, mental vibrations, and sense impressions. When the possibility of the ego being influenced by these has been removed, then and only then is man safe from the disturbances and sufferings inevitable in forgetfulness of the soul.” (The Bhagavad Gita, page 109, Yogananda) “Ego is when the soul, or seer, the image of God in man, forgets its true divine Self and becomes identified with the powers of perception and action in the instruments of the body and mind.... The degree of ignorance or enlightenment inherent in this identification depends on the nature of the respective instruments through which the “I-ness” or individuality is manifesting. When identified with the gross senses and their objects (the physical body and material world), the “I-ness” becomes the wisdom-destroying physical ego. When identified with the subtle instruments of perception and knowledge in the astral body, the “I-ness” becomes a clearer sense of being, the astral ego, whose true nature may be adversely affected by the delusive influence of the physical nature; or, conversely, be in tune with the instrumentality of the wisdom consciousness of the causal body and thus become the discriminative ego. When the “I-ness” expresses solely through pure intuitive wisdom, the instrument of the causal body, it becomes the pure discriminating ego (the divine ego), or its highest expression, the soul, the individualized reflection of Spirit. The soul, the purest individualized sense of being, knows its Spirit-identity of omniscience and omnipresence, and merely uses the instruments of the body and mind as a means of communication and interaction with objectified creation.” (The Bhagavad Gita, pages 83-84, Yogananda) ******* This would be an appropriate time to mention that I have combined elements from the descriptions used by Paramhansa Yogananda and Ken Wilber – the cogent author of integral works on psychology, consciousness, and spirituality – as well as added some modifications of my own, in order to create a model for the stages of spiritual consciousness. I have found it to be extremely invaluable to use the terminology that one can best resonate with and relate to. Words have such different connotations for everyone. This procedure really helps me to understand these sacred teachings on a much deeper level. “When the yogi’s union with God is experienced in these elevated states wherein the consciousness has been lifted to the centers in the medulla (the superconsciousness of the soul), the point between the eyebrows (Kutastha or Christ Consciousness), and the cerebrum (Cosmic Consciousness), he realizes the higher significance of samprajnata and asamprajnata as, respectively, savikalpa and nirvikalpa samadhi.” (The Bhagavad Gita, page 121, Yogananda)
The above quote of Yoganandaji is without any editing on my part. And in regards to Ken Wilber, all I need add is that he uses these terms – Psychic, Subtle, Causal and Nondual. In my model there are four “stages” of spiritual consciousness, that are sub-divided into twelve “levels,” and each stage has a “state” of spiritual realization – 1) METAPHYSICAL STAGE: Levels #10-14 – “The Five Preliminary Meditative Absorptions” (the “lowest” category of divine ecstasy); the state of Soul Awareness 2) ASTRAL STAGE: Levels #15-18 – “The Four Levels of Savikalpa Samadhi” (the “lower” category of divine ecstasy); the state of Cosmic Consciousness 3) CAUSAL STAGE: Level #19 – “The Transcendence Phase of Nirvikalpa Samadhi” (the “higher” category of divine ecstasy); the state of Absolute Pure Consciousness 4) NONDUAL STAGE: Levels #20-21 – “The Integration Phase and the Completion Stage of Nirvikalpa Samadhi” (the “highest” category of divine ecstasy); the state of Ultimate Nondual Awareness ******* METAPHYSICAL: This stage entails the realm of experience generated by the five preliminary meditative absorptions as already examined. Here “metaphysical” denotes the initial sphere of awareness that lies “beyond” (meta) one’s body, and mind with its ever-changing stream of thoughts and feelings. The lifeforce and consciousness are lifted up successively through the first five cerebrospinal centers to eventually reach the medulla, the negative pole of the ajna chakra at the base of the brain. These preliminary experiences are of “the superconsciousness of the soul” as an individualized reflection of Spirit. Soul Awareness is the realization that the pure, discriminative, or divine, ego is one with the soul. The first four levels of preliminary meditative absorption transpire within the boundaries of one’s physical body, while the fifth level is the experience of omnipresence within the soul. ASTRAL: This is the realm of the omnipresent immanent aspect of Spirit as experienced in savikalpa samadhi that is associated with the positive pole of the ajna chakra at the spiritual eye in the forehead, and the true “archetypes” of Cosmic Sound and Cosmic Light, from which all other forms evolve. Emphasis is on the astral body. Yoganandaji uses the terms Kutastha Chaitanya and Christ, or Krishna, Consciousness. In various places throughout his commentary on the Bhagavad Gita, he defines them as meaning “universal, omniscient, immanent, omnipresent in creation,” and so forth. I can fully appreciate why he chose to use “Christ Consciousness” as he was appealing to a Western audience but, personally, I find Cosmic Consciousness to be much more powerful and inspiring, as well as precise, here. To me “universal” and “cosmic” are synonymous. My dictionary has these entries: “cosmic – relating to the Universe” and “the Universe – all
existing space, energy and matter.” Therefore I will use Cosmic Consciousness to signify the realization that the soul, as the all-pervading Self, is one with Spirit as the universal Intelligence that is immanent throughout creation. This is an expanded state of awareness to include the entire universe of manifested forms. “Kutastha Chaitanya is the Intelligence – the reflection of Spirit – within every atom of creation and circumambient space.” (The Bhagavad Gita, page 178, Yogananda) CAUSAL: This is the realm of the transcendental aspect of Spirit that lies beyond all of creation, the Primal Cause, the Source as Pure Consciousness and Absolute Bliss. It is the transcendence phase of nirvikalpa samadhi. The lifeforce and awareness have now ascended to the sahasrara (crown) chakra. Absolute Pure Consciousness is the realization that the all-pervading Self is one with the Transcendental Spirit, Brahman, the Cosmic Source beyond all manifestation. This is Consciousness in its pristine undifferentiated state prior to the schism of duality – most specifically that of Spirit and Nature on the macrocosmic level, and its microcosmic reflection as subject and object. NONDUAL: This is the realm of both the transcendental and immanent aspects of Spirit as experienced simultaneously in nirvikalpa samadhi. The “transcendence” realization of the previous Causal Stage occurs during formal seated meditation where one is oblivious of the outer world. It is one’s ability to hold on to is the aftereffects of that meditation, which constitutes the “integration” phase of nirvikalpa samadhi. The “completion stage” of nirvikalpa samadhi is supreme enlightenment and liberation. Here the emphasis is on the causal, or ideational, body. As sadhana matures, one begins to fully cognize the dream nature of not only one’s own physical form, but also the entire cosmos at large. Ultimate Nondual Awareness is the full and complete realization that the Infinite and Eternal Sun of Absolute Pure Consciousness – being the transcendental aspect of Spirit – shines forth, projecting Its rays of immanence, as all of creation. ******* “The Great Way is not difficult for those who have no preferences.... Make the smallest distinction, however, and heaven and earth are set infinitely apart. If you wish to see the Truth then hold no opinion for or against. The struggle between what one likes and dislikes is the disease of the mind.... All dualities come from ignorant inherence... .If the mind makes no discriminations, the ten thousand things are of single essence. To understand this one-essence is to be released from all entanglements. When all things are seen equally, the timeless self-essence is reached.... For the unified Mind in accord with the Way all self-centered striving ceases. Doubts and resolutions vanish and life in true Faith becomes possible.... Emptiness here, emptiness there, but the infinite universe stands always before your eyes.... One thing, all things, move among and intermingle, without distinction. To live in this Faith is the road to nonduality, because the nondual is one with the trusting Mind.” – Verses On The Faith-Mind, by Sosan “How to be aware, that’s the only question – how to be so aware that you can see through all of your illusions to where opposites and dualities cease to be.... Then one
lives, simply lives. One breathes, simply breathes. No imagination, no thought, no mind – they are without value. You simply trust existence and this meeting with trust is the ultimate bliss, the ecstasy, samadhi.... Once enlightenment happens, everything is inside of you. All stars move within you, the worlds arise out of, and dissolve back into, you because you have become the whole.” (Hsin Hsin Ming: The Book of Nothing, page 2056 & 234, Osho) ******* In the words of Ken Wilber: “The amazing, secret, ultimate Truth slowly begins to dawn – the enlightened Mind, pure Spirit itself, is not hard to attain but impossible to avoid. The very witness is Spirit within, looking out at a world that it created. And then the strangest thing happens. Resting in the pure Self, abiding as the timeless witness, the witness itself cannot be found. Subject and object vanish into One Taste, the Nondual announces itself as a presence that has no within or without.” ******* “The nature of Mind is Emptiness and Luminosity inseparably conjoined.... Spontaneously merging with the original state, I am indifferent to good and bad. Without effort, I rest in ecstasy and joy. Where subject and object are realized as a single sphere, happiness and sorrow mingle as one.... Whatever circumstances may be encountered, I am free in the blissful realm of self-awakening Wisdom.” – Milarepa ******* There are religions of emptiness like that of the Buddha; and there are religions of fullness such as Hinduism and Christianity. The Buddhist teachings of emptiness, sunyata, or egolessness, are the way of anatma, “no-self,” letting go of the sense of being a separate entity. The way of fullness is to fill oneself with Spirit through the practice of devotion and surrender to God. The religions of egolessness and those of fulfillment are flip sides of the same coin, or opposite means to the same end. On the path to emptiness, the less ego, the more one is filled with spontaneously arising bliss and natural devotion and surrender to the state of superconsciousness. On the path to fullness, the more one is fulfilled by the bliss of Spirit through devotion and surrender to God, the less ego one is experiencing. ******* “All meditative perceptions and visions are secondary. Whatever appears must disappear. Therefore, it cannot be eternal realization. To eradicate ignorance by dissolving the ego is the only way to absolute knowledge. When the yogi returns the mind to its source and attains the state wherein everything is known to be one, he is then attuned to eternal realization.
Once the yogi is established in samadhi, his practice becomes natural and spontaneous. In that state he does not have to practice with effort. And without even meditating he enjoys its benefits. When the yogi transcends the awareness of meditation and is stable in this inner realization, which is similar to the void but full of bliss, he has reached the true state of samadhi. There is only one absolute Self that is the ultimate existence. The seen is nothing but the reflection of the Seer. This Supreme Self is the source of all.” – Lahiri Mahasaya, beloved disciple of Mahavatar Babaji, and the guru of Sri Yukteswar Giri ******* Consciousness evolves progressively through the spiritual qualities of soul peace, bliss, and unconditional divine love or, in Buddhist terminology, infinite compassion. Yoganandaji says that love is bliss channeled through the seat of feeling at the heart chakra. It is said in the Vajrayana (Tibetan) Buddhist tradition that once the lifeforce (“inner fire”) has totally ascended to “the wheel of bliss” at the crown chakra, it then drops back down into the heart where supreme enlightenment is attained. Throughout the growing realization of peace, bliss and love, the divine quality of intuitive, or transcendental, wisdom keeps on deepening and expanding. ******* For the practice of yoga meditation in general, and particularly Kriya Yoga, the spiritual eye is the primary and most important point of concentration. This uplifts one’s awareness to superconsciousness throughout the five preliminary meditative absorptions and the four levels of savikalpa samadhi. “Firmly holding the spine, neck, and head erect and motionless, let the yogi focus his eyes at the starting point of the nose (the spot between the two eyebrows): let him not gaze around in various directions.” – Bhagavad Gita VI:13 “The seat of man’s soul consciousness extends from the point between the eyebrows to the central top of the head, in the subtle spiritual centers of the Kutastha and thousandpetaled lotus.” (The Bhagavad Gita, page 672, Yogananda) Here Yoganandaji states that the location of the soul, or at least the perception thereof, lies within the brain. However, in numerous passages from the Hindu scriptures, the Self (soul) is described as being centered in the heart. “That being dwells deep within the heart. He is the lord of time, past and future. Having attained him, one fears no more. He, verily, is the immortal Self.” – Katha Upanishad II.iv.12 “The Self, who understands all, who knows all, and whose glory is manifest in the universe, lies within the shrine of the heart, the abode of Brahman.” – Mundaka Upanishad II.ii.7
“Brahman is supreme; he is self-luminous, he is beyond all thought. Subtler than the subtlest is he, farther than the farthest, nearer than the nearest. He resides in the heart of every being.” – Mundaka Upanishad III.i.7 The following passage describes the Self / heart connection during the death process. In the Kriya Yoga tradition, the yogi makes his final exit via the spiritual eye. I have received extensive training in Phowa, the Tibetan art of conscious dying, where the lifeforce is projected from the heart center out through the top of the head. Both are validated below – “The dying man gathers his senses about him and completely withdrawing their powers descends into his heart.... The point of his heart, where the nerves join, is lit by the light of the Self, and by that light he departs either through the eye, or through the gate of the skull, or through some other aperture of the body.” – Brihadaranyaka Upanishad IV.1-2
However, ultimately in terms of the highest states of actual realization, Yoganandaji give us this account of Ultimate Nondual Awareness in The Autobiography of a Yogi. “All objects within my panoramic gaze trembled and vibrated like flickering motion pictures until everything melted into a luminescent sea.... The unifying light alternated with materializations of form, the metamorphoses revealing the law of cause and effect in creation. An oceanic joy broke upon the calm endless shores of my soul. The Spirit of God, I realized, is inexhaustible Bliss; His body is countless tissues of light.... The entire cosmos glimmered within the infinitude of my being.... It was indescribably subtle; the planetary images were formed of a grosser light. The divine dispersion of rays poured from an Eternal Source, blazing into galaxies, transfigured with ineffable auras. Again and again I saw the creative beams condense into constellations, then resolve into sheets of transparent flame.... I cognized the center of the heavens as a point of intuitive perception in my heart. Irradiating splendor issued from my nucleus to every part of the universal structure.” *******
According to the great sage, Ramana Maharshi, final illumination takes place in the spiritual heart situated approximately two inches to the right of the anahata (heart) chakra. I have personally experienced this vortex, and it is extremely powerful. And my own guru, Yogacharya Mother Hamilton, spoke of “the transfer of the heart from the left to the right” so that she might have wisdom, when she was undergoing “the mystical crucifixion” at Anandashram in South India. This is the way of the cross (formed by standing upright with your arms stretched out to the sides) upon which the death of the human ego, or the son of man, takes place so that one may become the Divine in esoteric nondual Christianity.
To paraphrase Jesus the Christed One: “Be ye perfect as the Infinite and Eternal Spirit of God abiding in the highest heaven – beyond all the worlds!”
Or perhaps as Jesus the Buddha, in his transcendental form as Vajradhara, “Holder of the Thunderbolt” or “Diamond Wielder” – “All those who attain Supreme Enlightenment and Liberation, even as I have awakened from this Cosmic Dream – Come join me in Pure Nondual Awareness, the Ultimate and Highest Bliss of the Clear Light!”
On the spiritual path there are three quantum leaps in consciousness: 1) ASTRAL STAGE: The first is from the “lowest” to the “lower” of the four categories of divine ecstasy (samadhi), and from the “lower” to the “higher” of the two “dualistic” types of samadhi. This is a quantum leap from the five chakras in the spine to the spiritual eye. 2) CAUSAL STAGE: The second is from the “lower” to the “higher” category of divine ecstasy, and from the “higher” type of “dualistic” samadhi to the “lower” type of “nondual” samadhi. This is a quantum leap from the spiritual eye to the crown chakra. . 3) NONDUAL STAGE: The third is from the “higher” to the “highest” category of divine ecstasy (samadhi), and from the “lower” to the “higher” type of “nondual” samadhi. This is a quantum leap from the crown chakra to the spiritual heart. At this point one is at the “heart” of yoga practice. At first one abides intermittently in the Nondual Stage of consciousness, the integration phase of nirvikalpa samadhi, the highest state of divine ecstasy, and then finally in an unbroken stream of Ultimate Nondual Awareness. Supreme enlightenment arises when the purification of all past karma has transpired. “The intuitive feeling of the heart” has been liberated from all subconscious impressions (samskaras) and shines forth mirror-like as a perfect reflection of God as the Infinite and Eternal Spirit. Aham Brahmasmi – “I am Brahman.”
OM MANI PADME HUNG
“THE SHINING JEWEL OF DIVINE LOVE IN THE LOTUS OF EVERY HEART”
THE FOUR LEVELS OF SAVIKALPA SAMADHI
“In the state of savikalpa samadhi, the attention and the lifeforce are switched off from the senses and are consciously kept identified with the ever joyous Spirit. In this state the soul is released from the ego consciousness and becomes aware of Spirit beyond creation.... In savikalpa samadhi the mind is conscious only of the Spirit within; it is not conscious of creation without (the exterior world). The body is in a trance-like state, but the consciousness is perceptive of its blissful experience within.” (The Bhagavad Gita, page 101, Yogananda) “The advanced yogi may rejoice in the blissful achievement of samadhi many times, yet find that he cannot maintain this union permanently. He is drawn down again into ego and body consciousness by his karma – effects of past actions – and by remnants of desires and attachments. But through each triumphant contact with Spirit, the soul consciousness becomes strengthened and more firmly in control of the bodily kingdom.” (The Bhagavad Gita, pages 15-16, Yogananda) *******
THE FOUR PROGRESSIVE LEVELS OF SAVIKALPA SAMADHI
LEVEL #15: “SAVITARKA” SAVIKALPA SAMADHI – The first level of dualistic samadhi is based on genuine faith that arises spontaneously with the direct perception of the indwelling Spirit as the Divine Presence at the ajna (spiritual eye) chakra. “The savitarka experience of God is not doubtful in a negative sense, but a questioning with reverence and wonderment: ‘Is this really God? Is it true that He has come at last to me?’....” “As long as one has not seen there is disbelief: How can God exist? Impossible! How can there be faith without experience? And when the experience of God happens then one cannot believe that so much bliss is possible. So much light, so much nectar – it still seems impossible!” – Tertullian ******* LEVEL #16: “SAVICHARA” SAVIKALPA SAMADHI – The second level of dualistic samadhi is based on discrimination between the relative and the Absolute at the spiritual eye. “The savichara experience is a keen discernment of the nature of God in one of His many aspects or divine qualities....” “Discriminate between the Absolute and the unreal. Meditate on the Atman whose nature is bliss. This is the way to liberation.” - Adi Shankaracharya ******* LEVEL #17: “SANANDA” SAVIKALPA SAMADHI – The third level of dualistic samadhi is based on abidance in bliss at the spiritual eye. “The sananda experience is the indescribable ecstasy that accompanies communion with God in His eternal nature as ever-existing, ever-conscious, ever-new Bliss....” This is what I call – the simple joy of being. ******* LEVEL #18: “SASMITA” SAVIKALPA SAMADHI – The fourth level of dualistic samadhi is based on the ecstatic realization of one’s own true nature, or pure sense of being, as Cosmic Consciousness at the spiritual eye.
“In the state of sasmita, the devotee feels his expanded self in every atom of space as though all creation were his own body – it is a state of perfect calmness in which the devotee is like a mirror reflecting all things.” (The Bhagavad Gita, pages 121-22, Yogananda) “Events happen, but there is no doer of deeds to be found” – the Buddha. It’s a matter of “being” verses “doing,” a choice between a) identification with all the actions, or activities, “the fluctuations in consciousness,” performed by the body-mind, the ego, or doer; and b) the simple state of “being,” asmita in its ultimate sense of “I-am-ness” as pure Subjectivity, “non-doing,” resting in consciousness as the witness, “effortless awareness” that just observes. ******* “In the primary ecstasy, savikalpa samadhi, the body-identified ego meets its true Self, the soul, and becomes fixed in the Bliss of its nature. As the result of that onepointed concentration the yogi attains complete tranquility of feeling (chitta). His attention, intellect and emotions (operative in savitarka, savichara, and sananda savikalpa samadhi) have become entirely divorced from their sense-identified gross functions, and in their subtle nature are anchored in the Bliss of the soul (in the sasmita state of pure individualized being). When the external faculties of knowing are arrested, and the cognitive instruments turned within, the intelligence then draws its knowing power from the intuition of the soul. In this sense-transcendent state, the inner Bliss is thus known to the awakened intuitive wisdom. Discovering the soul, the yogi also begins to perceive within his being the Bliss of the Omnipresent Spirit. After the physical ego metamorphoses into its true Self, the soul, then the Bliss of the soul expands and merges into the greater Bliss of the Spirit. The advanced yogi experiences not only intermittent ecstasy but finds his cosmic contact existing permanently beneath his consciousness, to be enjoyed anytime he enters the savikalpa samadhi state. He becomes absorbed in the Cosmic Bliss not only in the meditative state of samadhi, but also when he is able to bring his divine perceptions with him when he returns to the conscious state of bodily activity. He is gradually able to hold on to these aftereffects of samadhi for longer and longer periods, during which he is undisturbed by Nature’s alternating conditions of duality.” (The Bhagavad Gita, pages 626-27, Yogananda) ******* The experience of the four progressive levels of savikalpa samadhi might be described as unfolding something like this. The yogi, seated in the full-lotus posture, his spine held erect and shoulders back, turns his gaze inwards and upwards to the spiritual eye in the forehead, and sinks quickly into a one-pointed state of deep meditative absorption. All sense of being in a physical body starts to fade away - growing lighter and lighter until
the yogi feels as if he is literally floating in space – and then suddenly disappears! His thoughts become fewer and fewer, transparent ephemeral bubbles superimposed upon his consciousness, which keeps on expanding, and without effort his attention is drawn deeper and deeper within. Then the mind simply stops! He is now abiding in a stream of pure awareness. His consciousness soars beyond time far above his crown and, then, finally drops into a shining jewel of clear light within the lotus of his heart. Any shadows of dualistic emotion have long since died away, and there is an awesome feeling of tremendous power manifest all around him. A flood of ineffable joy upwells from the very core of his being. He is transfigured, consumed by a blaze of sheer ecstasy riding on waves of high-pitched cosmic vibration, and radiates as luminous rays of bliss into limitless space, the sacred abode of the all-pervading Self! The yogi’s soul has been released in the infinite freedom of the immanent and omnipresent Spirit.
THE GENERATION STAGE OF NIRVIKALPA SAMADHI: ITS TRANSCENDENCE AND INTEGRATION PHASES
LEVEL #19: NIRVIKALPA SAMADHI: THE TRANSCENDENCE PHASE OF THE GENERATION STAGE is based on the ecstatic nondual realization of Absolute Pure Consciousness at the sahasrara (cerebral) chakra. The advanced yogi, seated in meditation, first enters savikalpa samadhi and, through the immanent Cosmic Consciousness, ascends to the sahasrara (crown) chakra where he experiences unity with the Source in the state of Absolute Pure Consciousness. The allpervading Self empties into the ultimate silence of the Void – beyond time, space, and all of creation – to merge as One with the Boundless Bliss and Consciousness of Brahman, the Transcendental Spirit of Almighty God! ********
“Attunement with God as Aum lifts the consciousness to the immanent Cosmic Consciousness. Through Cosmic Consciousness the advanced yogi ascends to Absolute Pure Consciousness in the highest cerebral center. “No man cometh unto the Father (Absolute Pure Consciousness), but by me (through the Son, Cosmic Consciousness, the sole reflection of Spirit in creation)” – John 14:6. These states of the “Holy Trinity” are symbolized in the Hindu scriptures as Aum, Tat, Sat – Holy Ghost vibration, Kutastha or Cosmic Consciousness, and God or Absolute Pure Consciousness. When the devotee attains Absolute Pure Consciousness in the highest cerebral center (the sahasrara) and can enter that state at will and remain in it as long as he wishes, he will in time be blessed to experience that ecstasy in the supreme or undifferentiated state – nirvikalpa samadhi.”
(The Bhagavad Gita, page 121, Yogananda) _______
As already discussed, my model for the stages of spiritual consciousness differs somewhat from that used by Yoganandaji. Therefore, his statement above needs to be reinterpreted. This is what I call the Causal Stage, which is classified as the “transcendence phase” of nirvikalpa samadhi. It is the pivotal point, or transition, between – a) the Astral Stage’s “world” as made up of subtle, yet still seemingly separate, objects of astral perception, and b) the infinite “universe” as perceived in the highest Nondual Stage realization of divine ecstasy, while engaged in everyday activities. ******* This verse below by the illustrious sage, Ramana Maharshi, succinctly describes all of the evolutionary stages of consciousness, as well as the three major quantum leaps: “The world is illusory; Brahman alone is real; Brahman is the world.” The first line above includes the ordinary states of deep sleep, dreams and waking (Levels #1-9); the five “dualistic” preliminary meditative absorptions (Levels #10-14); and the four “dualistic” levels of savikalpa samadhi (Levels #15-18). The second line describes the “nondual” transcendence phase of nirvikalpa samadhi (Level #19). That’s this level, at the Causal Stage. And, finally, the third line is the ultimate spiritual realization of the integration phase of nirvikalpa samadhi (Level #20), and its completion stage (Level #21) as supreme enlightenment and liberation. ********************* LEVEL #20: NIRVIKALPA SAMADHI: THE INTEGRATION PHASE OF THE GENERATION STAGE is based on the ecstatic realization of Ultimate Nondual Awareness within the spiritual heart. “Through the divine science of yoga, or union with God, the yogi unites himself with the transcendental Spirit, beyond the dreams of manifestation, while also remaining immanent and active, with Spirit, in the cosmic dream drama.” (The Bhagavad Gita, page 766, Yogananda) “In the most advanced state, nirvikalpa samadhi, the soul realizes itself and Spirit as one. The ego consciousness, the soul consciousness, and the ocean of Spirit are seen all existing together.... In nirvikalpa samadhi the soul is simultaneously conscious of Spirit within and creation without. The divine man in the nirvikalpa state
may even engage in performance of his material duties with no loss of inner Godunion.” (The Bhagavad Gita, page 101, Yogananda) “In the highest state of ecstasy the yogi can remain united to Spirit even while working with body and mind.” (The Bhagavad Gita, page 396, Yogananda) “The true state of meditation is oneness of the meditator with the object of meditation – God.... Greater than the initial experience of oneness with God is constant establishment in that state, which leads to freedom from all bondage to karmic fruits of action.” (The Bhagavad Gita, page 850, Yogananda) “The highly advanced yogi may experience brief periods of nirvikalpa consciousness (asamprajnata) even before becoming permanently established in that state.” (The Bhagavad Gita, page 627, Yogananda) “Continuous ecstasy (nirvikalpa samadhi) bestows detachment from the circumscriptive laws of the realm of material vibrations and leads to freedom from all past and present karma – ‘relinquishment of the fruits of action.’” (The Bhagavad Gita, pages 850-51, Yogananda) ******* “Like unto the lotus leaf that remains unsullied by water, the yogi who performs actions, forswearing attachment and surrendering his actions to the Infinite, remains unbound by entanglements in the senses.” – Bhagavad Gita V:10 “Though floating in muddy water, the lotus leaf remains impermeable, unsoiled by its environment. So also lives the emancipated yogi in the muddled sensory world of Maya.... There is a deeper meaning to this stanza that will be understood by advanced yogis. I will explain it as simply as possible. When perused with insight, the Gita discourse becomes a wonderful exposition of the science of yoga. When the yogi in ecstatic meditation withdraws his lifeforce from the body’s trillions of cells and from the nerves, he beholds the lifeforce currents like little streams trickling back from the shores of the flesh through innumerable small channels into the large channel of the spinal cord. All the currents of the body thus withdrawn into the spine then pass, successively, into and through the three luminous nadis (subtle tubes or channels of lifeforce) of the astral spine (the sushumna, the vajra, and the chitra) and become one current as it passes through the innermost channel, the brahmanadi, the “spine” of the causal body. The brahmanadi is so called because it is the primary channel through which Brahma – the Spirit as soul, life, and consciousness – descends into the body and through which the yogi attains ascension into Spirit. In descension, the Spirit or Brahma present in the soul of man came down through the brahmanadi and later entered the three astral tubes, passing finally through their
openings in the grosser channels of nerves and cells of the entire physical body. An advanced yogi who experiences the retirement, or ascension, into the brahmanadi of all the activities of the lifeforce and of the processes of consciousness is spoken of as one who has “surrendered his actions to the Infinite,” the Spirit or Absolute Pure Consciousness present in the brahmanadi. When the yogi retires his lifeforce and processes of consciousness through the brahmanadi, he sees, from the point of divine origin, wondrous astral phenomena. He is warned not to become attached and to bypass them so as to reach the Universal Essence. The advanced yogi takes his ego, lifeforce, and processes of consciousness up through the brahmanadi causal “spine” to its opening (Brahmarandhra, “gateway to Spirit”) at the top of his head, in order to enable his transformed ego (the soul), lifeforce, and mind to pass beyond bodily confinement and attachment and be united with the Omnipresent Blessedness. When the yogi is thus able to unite his soul with the Infinite, he is known as one who has ascended from the flesh. In the primary ecstasy, savikalpa samadhi, he perceives God without creation. He then learns by the highest ecstasy, nirvikalpa samadhi, to manifest his God-consciousness in the flesh and to perform all actions without being entangled by their good and evil effects. In this highest state the yogi perceives God, creation, and his bodily perceptions to be existing and working together in harmony. The yogi then performs all activities of body and mind without attachments, beholding them equally as waves of Absolute Pure Consciousness.” (The Bhagavad Gita, pages 540-42, Yogananda) ******* “That devotee is qualified to attain Brahman, the transcendental and absolute Spirit whose discriminative intelligence (buddhi) is wholly free from the adulteration of sense entanglements, cognizant only of the purity of soul bliss; who with resolute patience (dhriti) keeps his perception centered on the Self, remaining established in soul consciousness without ever being identified with the physical ego and its bodily instrumentalities; who abandons all luxuries of the five senses; and who, free from likes and dislikes, is satisfied by only the bare necessities for sustaining life. Such a yogi, possessing the divine dispassion (vairagya) of detachment from worldly objects and desires, observes the sattvic discipline of austerity in body, speech, and mind. In the conduct of his holy life, he not only remains in an outwardly quiet place conducive to meditation and spiritual calm, but also, perceiving in yoga meditation the soul, mind, and lifeforce in their innermost subtle spinal channel of escape from the body (brahmanadi), remains there, experiencing the real sense-tumult-free seclusion leading into the omnipresence of Spirit.
The soul, mind and lifeforce of the yogi in samadhi meditation have had to pass through three outer tunnels (sushumna, vajra, and chitra) to reach the innermost channel of brahmanadi – the final exit out of the bodily prison into the freedom of Brahman.” (The Bhagavad Gita, pages 1071-72, Yogananda)
THE PROCESS OF LIBERATION
“All karma, or effects of actions, completely melts away from the liberated being who, free from attachments, with his mind enveloped in wisdom, performs the true spiritual fire rite (yajna).” – Bhagavad Gita IV:23 “When the yogi’s mind is negatively free from attachments (sensory entanglements and distractions), it becomes positively concentrated on cosmic wisdom. At this stage he withdraws his mind and lifeforce from the physical sensory and motor nerves, and thence from the astral sensory powers, and gives them as oblations unto the seven fires of the spine (the seven principal vayus, life currents). Through this yajna of purification, the yogi ultimately attains the final state of union with Divinity, the omnipresent Cosmic Fire. When the lifeforce that is withdrawn from the senses is concentrated in the thousand-petaled lotus in the brain, that powerful effulgence burns out all samskaras (habits, impulses, and all other effects of past actions) lodged in the subconsciousness and superconsciousness of the brain, bestowing on the devotee freedom from all past karmic fetters. The yogi who withdraws his mind and desires from sense lures offers them as fuel in the fire of Absolute Pure Consciousness; the Sacred Flame consumes his mortal desires. When the yogi is able to commingle his lifeforce and consciousness with Eternal Life and Absolute Pure Consciousness, his status is no longer that of a mortal. His limited egoistic consciousness and body identification are gone; the dissolution of the ego permits the full view of soul consciousness. Knowing the soul as a perfect image of Spirit, and unentangled by ego, the yogi becomes free from all good and bad karma, which belong only to the realm of duality and relativity. That yogi finds liberation.” (The Bhagavad Gita, page 476, Yogananda) ******* “O Arjuna, the Lord is lodged in the hearts of all creatures, and by His cosmic delusion (maya) compels all beings to rotate as if attached to a spinning wheel.” – Bhagavad Gita XVIII:61 “God’s life and intelligence are omnipresent in all creation and determine, through Nature’s law, the orderly progression of events in the cosmic drama. That same Power, innate in all human beings, subjects each person to the influence of the law, and also enables him to transcend it.
Compelled by the law of maya, creation continuously moves up and down the path of linear evolution: ascending from the Material Age (Kali Yuga) through the Atomic Age
(Dwapara Yuga), Mental Age (Treta Yuga), and Spiritual Age (Satya Yuga) during the space of 12,000 years; and descending from the Spiritual Age to the Material Age during the following 12,000-year period. Bound to creation by maya, all beings are inexorably constrained by their individual karmic patterns to reincarnate again and again during these upward and downward cycles, as their spiritual evolution progresses under the influence of cosmic Nature. According to the scriptures, man requires a million years of normal, diseaseless, natural evolution to perfect his human brain and attain Ultimate Nondual Awareness. One may accelerate or delay his evolution by his right or wrong actions (karma). Until right actions prevail, he mechanically moves along with the cycles, as if fixed on the rotating wheel of a machine. But as he gradually develops spiritually, he awakens to his true nature and seeks escape. Only those who discover God within themselves, and who demand freedom – for having been created against their will – does God liberate, after they have worked out the karma caused by misuse of their divine free choice. Human beings under maya are thus fated to be subject to the compulsion of Nature and influenced by the prevailing dualities of good and evil during their experience of numerous lives and deaths, so long as they mechanically move up and down with creation on the cosmic machine of evolution. But as soon as they turn to God, using rightly the divine gift of free will – their key to escape from maya – and demand liberation, they are freed from birth and death. They suffer no longer from bondage to creation’s evolutionary cycles.” (The Bhagavad Gita, page 1081, Yogananda)
******* “Again I shall speak about that highest wisdom that transcends all knowledge. With this wisdom all sages at the end of life have attained the final Perfection. Embracing this wisdom, established in my Being, sages are not reborn even at the start of a new cycle of creation, nor are they troubled at the time of dissolution.” – Bhagavad Gita XIV:1-2 “The fire of Absolute Pure Consciousness consumes all binding, stored-up karma. Therefore, unlike ordinary persons, a Self-realized sage – a muni who has dissolved from his mind all restless agitations of delusion – does not have to reincarnate. He has destroyed desires and their outcome of good and evil actions performed with attachment. Perfected beings who have attained salvation are one with Spirit in the vibrationless realm beyond creation. Such emancipated ones are freed not only from an individual cycle of births and deaths, but are also no longer involved in the macrocosmic cycles of the phenomenal, vibratory worlds.” (The Bhagavad Gita, page 905, Yogananda) *******
A day of Brahma, the lifespan for an entire universe, is 314,159 billion years, according to the ancient Hindu rishis, or “seers.” This is followed by a night of Brahma, cosmic dissolution, of an equal duration. The big wheel just keeps on spinning! Scientists estimate the age of the Earth to be around two billion years old, which is a little bit less that half of the life-expectancy for our planetary system as proclaimed in the Indian scriptures. Astronomer Carl Sagan of Cornell University has written in his book Cosmos: “The Hindu religion is the only one of the world’s great faiths dedicated to the idea that the cosmos itself undergoes an immense, indeed an infinite, number of births and deaths. It is the only religion in which the time scales correspond to those of modern cosmology.” *******
“Man has three bodies from which he must free his consciousness before he can achieve emancipation. These soul confinements are the physical body of sixteen elements; the astral body of nineteen elements; and the causal body of thirty-five elemental ideas. The physical body is made of flesh and blood; the astral body is composed of lifeforce and mind; and the causal or ideational body is woven together of wisdom and ever-new bliss.
God originated, in the form of the causal body, thirty-five ideas as the matrix of human creation. These ideas are the basic thought forces required to create the astral and physical bodies. Nineteen of these ideas were manifested as the subtle astral body, which contains the five instruments of knowledge (the subtle counterparts of the physical senses of smell, taste, sight, touch, and hearing) and the five instruments of execution (the astral correspondence for the abilities to excrete, procreate, walk, exercise manual skill, and speak); the five differentiations of lifeforce (empowering the performance of the materializating, circulating, assimilating, metabolizing, and eliminating functions of the body); and sentience, ego, mind, and intelligence. The remaining sixteen ideas were converted into the gross physical body of sixteen fundamental elements. In other words, before God created the physical body consisting of material components, and the subtle astral body of lifeforce composition, He had to project them as ideas, the constituents of the causal body. The dense physical body is the result of solidified vibrations, the astral body of energy and mind vibrations, and the causal body of almost pristine vibrations of Absolute Pure Consciousness.
The physical body may be said to be dependent on food; the astral body is dependent on energy, will, and evolution of thought; the causal body is dependent on the ambrosia of wisdom and bliss. The soul is encased in these three bodies. At death the physical body is destroyed. The other two bodies, astral and causal, are still held together by desires and by unworked-out karma. The soul, wearing these two bodies, repeatedly reincarnates in new physical forms. When all desires are conquered by meditation, the three body-prisons are dissolved; the soul becomes Spirit.”
(The Bhagavad Gita, pages 213-14, Yogananda) *******
“Only that yogi who possesses the inner Bliss, who rests on the inner Foundation, who is one with the inner Light, becomes one with Spirit (after gaining freedom from karma connected with the physical, astral, and causal bodies). He attains complete liberation in Spirit (even while living in the body).” – Bhagavad Gita V:24 “To become free forever the devotee must destroy all karma connected with each of his three bodies. Ordinarily this is accomplished during the slow evolutionary process of countless incarnations (alternations of births and deaths between the physical and astral worlds, and then between the astral and causal realms). However, one who has attained significant spiritual progress in previous lives and who is adept in Kriya Yoga can hasten his evolution by the inner method and attain liberation while still incarnate in the physical form, as cited in this Gita verse. It is not enough to persist in fighting the sense impulses and thus strengthening the mind; to become one with Spirit the yogi must enter the deeper states of blissful samadhi, and keep his consciousness ever identified with the soul. Not only must he withdraw his attention from the sensory world, but by becoming immersed in the inner astral and wisdom, or causal, light emanating from the soul, he must betake himself through the interpenetrating physical, astral, and ideational bodies into the infinite ocean of Spirit. So long as a man has any material desires, he has to work out his karma in a physical body. When he is able to extricate himself, by nonattachment and the practice of Kriya Yoga, from all fleshly delusions and bondage, he then finds himself confined in the astral body and entangled in his astral karma. By deeper immersion in ecstasy, the devotee escapes from the astral body and becomes lodged in the causal or ideational body, vibrating with the original subtle seeds of all past karmic impulses. Jesus said that after the destruction of his body (“this temple”), he would rebuild it in three days (John 2:19). By this statement he was implying that he would rise above all past impulses (connected with the experiences of the physical, astral, and causal bodies) in three periods (days) of ecstatic upliftment or emergence. A yogi experiences attachment to different effects of past actions as he consciously ascends through his three bodies. Conquering all karma (physical, astral, and ideational) he is indeed free in Spirit.” (The Bhagavad Gita, pages 566-67, Yogananda) ******* “During the first state of liberation the soul of man emerges successively from his three microcosmic bodies – physical, astral, and causal. He experiences the triune physical, astral, and causal macrocosms as his own Self. During supreme liberation the soul and Spirit become one. In that state the soul finds itself as Spirit, transcending even the three macrocosmic embodiments.” (The Bhagavad Gita, page 875, Yogananda) *******
“When by the right method of yoga, divine union, the devotee’s all-seeing spiritual eye of wisdom is opened in samadhi meditation, the cumulative knowledge of truth becomes realization – intuitive perception or oneness with Reality. Through the eye of omniscience, the yogi beholds the comings and goings of beings and universes as the workings of the relativities of Nature’s illusory maya superimposed on the singular Absolute Pure Consciousness of Spirit. By dissolving successively in the light of the Sun of Absolute Pure Consciousness the evolutes of Nature (Prakriti) from matter to Spirit, the yogi is liberated from all trammels and misconceptions of Cosmic Delusion.” (The Bhagavad Gita, page 900, Yogananda) ******* “In the initial state of ecstasy the yogi is flooded with a superconscious joy. He begins to perceive lights and glimpses of the astral world. As his samadhi waxes deeper, his vision embraces the entire astral world that contains the astral counterparts to all the island universes roaming in space. The yogi then dissolves his vision of the astral cosmos into sheer thought forms; he rests in the ever-existing, ever-conscious, ever-new Bliss, feeling It as all pervading and infinite. The yogi later comes down to the astral sphere again and then back to body consciousness. He opens his eyes and looks steadfastly at the world before him; he sees himself surrounded by his spiritual eye of astral light. When at will he can vastly expand the sphere of his astral eye, he at once sees within it all the floating island universes. Many suns and moons are there! Vapors of nebulae, endless realms, tier upon tier, zone after zone, all revolving within him and finally resting in the center of that infinitely expanded astral eye. It is in this state that the yogi is able to perceive the physical and astral cosmos to be no more than differently vibrated thoughts of God. Unless and until the yogi with closed or open eyes can feel everywhere the bliss of Absolute Pure Consciousness and can behold at will the entire astral cosmos within his astral eye, and can see the astral island universes within him, he should not say that he has realized creation to be a dream.” (The Bhagavad Gita, pages 559-60, Yogananda) ******* “He who intuits, in their reality of orderly principles, My divine manifestations and vibratory actions, is not reborn after death; he obtains Me, O Arjuna!” – Bhagavad Gita IV:9 “Whenever Spirit descends into vibratory matter, taking rebirth therein by the action of maya, delusion, It passes through several stages, the effects of the orderly creative principles (tattvas) of Nature: Cosmic Consciousness, energy, gases, liquids, solids,
macrocosmic matter (the Universe), microcosmic matter (man, with soul, consciousness, lifeforce, and body). The soul thus descends with Spirit and becomes body-locked. The Spirit remains free even though reborn or manifested as matter; but man, as individualized Spirit or a soul, becomes identified with his little universe – body, senses, and possessions. By renunciation of outer and inner attachment, a yogi begins to ascend from the senses, sensory and motor mechanism, influences of his subconscious mind and of his karma of many lives, and begins to climb to the superconscious state. He ceases his wanderings in matter and realizes himself as a perfect image of Spirit, dwelling in the body but unattached to it. When the yogi has united his soul with Spirit by higher ecstasies, he sees how the Cosmic Light of Spirit has transformed Itself through the principles of Nature into various forms of matter on the canvas of ether, just as a clear beam of light proceeding from a booth in a motion picture house and passing through a film changes into pictures of mountain scenery, trees, lakes, oceans, human beings, and so on, thus producing the illusion of solids, liquids, gases, organic and inorganic matter, interacting on the screen. Krishna says that he who can actually perceive the true nature of the rebirth of Spirit as matter becomes liberated. An enlightened yogi realizes by intuitive experience how omnipresent Spirit is born in the body of cosmic matter and resides therein without entanglement. Such a yogi is liberated even though he wears a fleshly garment.” (The Bhagavad Gita, pages 450-51, Yogananda) ******* “Where no sun or moon or fire shines, that is My Supreme Abode. Having reached there, men are never reborn.” – Bhagavad Gita XV:6 “The taintless yogi becomes permanently established in God-union, whether he remains incarnate or leaves the gross realms to abide forever in the transcendental Spirit. While in the body, he attains samadhi union with Spirit by lifting his consciousness beyond the “fire” of bodily life energy, the “moon” or reflected creative light in the spinal centers, and the “sun” of the astral thousand-petaled lotus. Thence he enters the realm of Absolute Pure Consciousness that is Spirit’s “Supreme Abode,” in which even the slightest vibrating tremors of the suns and moons and fires of creation are absent.... When God withdraws His secret light at the time of the end of a cycle, all lamps of Nature lose their luminescence. Similarly, when the liberated yogi finally merges in Spirit to “go out no more,” the light of God issuing from the soul no longer illumines the three bodily lamps – those forms return to their Spirit-essence, vanished like mirages on a desert.
The unmanifested realm of the omnipresent Spirit is eternally free from all vibrations. Sun, moon, and fire – in their cosmic and microcosmic manifestations – all belong to Nature’s agitated seas of cosmic vibration. Just as eddies below a waterfall cannot disturb the reservoir of water at its source, so the eddies of vibration issuing out of Absolute Pure Consciousness cannot create commotion within It. Even the finest vibrations of light or movement are not present in the indescribably subtle limitless sphere of God’s vibrationless omnipresent Bliss.”
(The Bhagavad Gita, pages 936-37, Yogananda) ******* “My noble devotees, having obtained Me (Absolute Spirit), have reached supreme success; they incur no further rebirths in this abode of grief and transitoriness. Yogis not yet free from the world reincarnate again even from the high sphere of Brahma. But through union with Me (as the transcendental aspect of God) there is no rebirth, O Arjuna!” – Bhagavad Gita VIII:15-16 “Supremely successful yogis are the high-souled perfected beings who in ecstasy or the after-death state have achieved the ultimate union with the transcendental Spirit. Their souls escape the karmic bonds of all three bodies and no longer dream the dreams of desires and attachments of mortal existence. Rebirths in the temporal, sorrow-fraught realms are no longer imposed upon them. They are awake in the cosmic dream of God and in the dreamless blessedness of Spirit... Brahma the Creator is that aspect of Divinity, which is active in creation, the Lord of Time. Brahman or Para-Brahman signifies God as the Absolute, the Transcendental.... Krishna points out that merely reaching the abode of Brahman, Spirit, may not in itself assure complete liberation. Even though the yogi may attain in ecstatic meditation high states of God-union – merging the consciousness with Aum in the vibratory dominion of Brahma, experiencing His omniscience in omnipresent Cosmic Consciousness, and even reaching the highest Brahman sphere of Absolute Pure Consciousness – he cannot remain in those states but must revolve again to body consciousness if there persists within him any mortal desires or karmic bonds. If death occurs in this imperfect state, he will be reborn on earth or in some high astral realm with a new opportunity and the spiritual potential to free himself. In meditation, the yogi gradually ascends his consciousness and lifeforce upward through the spinal centers of divine awakening, experiencing expanded Self-realization at
each higher step. He who attains union with the triune manifestation of Brahma as the Cosmic Aum vibration or Holy Ghost in the medulla, as Cosmic Consciousness in the Kutastha center, and as Absolute Pure Consciousness in the thousand-petaled lotus in the cerebrum, will have to still return to limited mortal consciousness if he has not broken all karmic bonds, desires, and attachments and consciously ascended from all three bodily encasements – physical, astral, and causal. The more the yogi is able at will to gain the elevated states of consciousness, and the longer he is able to hold on to them in meditation and afterwards, the more he diminishes his binding karmic reflexes and dream delusions. When these are vanquished, the yogi dissolves the body-conscious ego into the soul and takes his soul and causal body out of the astral body; and, finally, his soul ascends from the causal body and merges into the transcendental Spirit, from which there is no compulsory return to the vale of distressing dualities.” (The Bhagavad Gita, pages 730-32, Yogananda) ******* “Those who have mastered their minds become engrossed in infinite wisdom; they have no further interest in any fruits of action. Freed thus from the chain of rebirth, they attain the state beyond sorrow.” – Bhagavad Gita II:51 “The purpose of God’s plan for man is not an endless series of rebirths. The divine scheme is to afford man countless opportunities to use his free choice and discrimination to distinguish between body and soul, to forsake the miserable life of the senses by reclaiming his true identity with Spirit. As soon as man discovers the true purpose of existence, he has made the first step toward salvation. He understands that he is not compelled to reincarnate again and again. By performing, in this one lifetime, all actions with the consciousness of God, he can win the final liberation.” (The Bhagavad Gita, page 293, Yogananda)
THE MATERIALIZATION OF KARMA-DESTROYING VISIONS
“The word jivanmukta (literally, “freed while living”) in a strict sense applies to a yogi who, by refraining from new desires, has destroyed the very root cause of reincarnation. A jivanmukta, however, may still possess subtle hidden seeds of past actions that have not been totally roasted by the fires of wisdom. Some jivanmuktas destroy these remnants of past material karma after death by certain work in the astral cosmos. Completing their lessons in the astral spheres, they remove any cause for having to return to this world. Other jivanmuktas are able, while still on earth, to materialize past karmic actions in visions and thus exhaust their reincarnation-making power. A concrete illustration of destroying past karmic tendencies by materialization may be given here. A yogi might free himself from greed in eating, yet still retain the samskaras (impressions of past desires) for indulging in his favorite foods; or he might have completely detached himself from worldly possessions, yet harbor seeds of a past unfulfilled longing for some particular material object or experience. He is thus not fully free; under tempting circumstances, those hidden seed-tendencies might again sprout into activity. By entering the superconscious state of conscious visions, or by interjecting superconscious dreams into the passive subconscious state of sleep, the yogi can materialize the substance of his past desires. With inner aloofness and complete detachment, he then renders powerless those desire-seeds by roasting them in the fires of awakened wisdom.” (The Bhagavad Gita, pages 568-69, Yogananda) ******* “After many incarnations, the sage attains Me, realizing - “The Lord is all-pervading!” A man so illuminated is hard to find.” – Bhagavad Gita VII:19 “A rare devotee is he who discerns only the Omnipresent Beam of Spirit that creates the many dreams of births and deaths, including his own. Such a man, concentrating on the Cosmic Beam alone, becomes liberated from the witnessing of the many dreams of births and deaths, forced upon mortals who are infested with lusts and pursued by karma. He can quicken his evolution by living many lives materialized in daily visions....
Lahiri Mahasaya, Sri Yukteswar, and their advanced disciples have testified from their own realization that people with past good karma can quicken their evolution by Kriya Yoga practice and find liberation in one lifetime – a liberation that ordinarily comes to a righteous person, without conscious effort, only in a million years of births and deaths, by natural evolution. A “righteous” person in this sense is one who lives in harmony with his soul and offends not the laws of Nature.... A wisdom expert, an accomplished Kriya Yogi, may banish the karma of his past unfinished actions by living many births and deaths enacted in daily visions during samadhi. A sage understands that a human incarnation is a motion picture of countless dreams. Such an illuminated devotee does not have to go through numerous mortal births and deaths; on the superconscious level he can condense the requisite karmic experiences of many lives into the dreams of the present. An advanced yogi living in the bleak Himalayas need not go to a city nor be reborn in a new body in order to work out some lingering desire. If he has a hankering for curries, as an example, he can create a “technicolored,” true-to-all-the-senses motion picture of tasty curries and enjoy them in this novel way, until by wisdom his karmic desires for food are dissipated forever.... On a grand scale, Mahavatar Babaji created a golden palace to fulfill a long-forgotten desire of Lahiri Mahasaya – an event I have recorded in Autobiography of a Yogi. The “miracle” was explained thus: “There is nothing inexplicable about this materialization. The whole cosmos is a projected thought of the Creator. The heavy clod of the earth, floating in space, is a dream of God’s. He made all things out of His mind, even as man in his dream consciousness reproduces and vivifies a creation and its creatures.... In tune with the infinite and all-accomplishing Will, Babaji is able to command the elemental atoms to combine and manifest themselves in any form. This golden palace, instantaneously brought into being, is real – in the same sense that the earth is real. Babaji created this beautiful mansion out of his mind and is holding its atoms together by the power of his will, even as God’s thoughts created the Earth and his Will maintains it.” The average person, in fact, cannot produce true visions – only hallucinatory imaginings, at best, so he is unable thereby to free himself from dualities through this method. But the liberated or nearly liberated yogi who can create visions at will may in this manner destroy all karmic effects of his actions and prevent new desire-seeds from taking root. Visions can include the detailed happenings of many years, yet since they are seen through the spiritual eye on the superconscious plane, not on the material plane of relativity, they occupy an incredibly short span of time. Many incarnations are thereby accelerated by condensation into one or a few lifetimes. The yogi thus rejects the slow-paced formula of “many incarnations” as a necessary prelude to his final entry into the kingdom of God. By Kriya Yoga he hastens his evolution multifold; and by employing visions he dismisses reincarnation-making lingering desires. Above all, by divine communion in samadhi meditation he realizes the Supreme Being as the All-in-All, the singular all-pervading Reality.”
(The Bhagavad Gita, pages 691-94, Yogananda) ******* “To dismiss in fact the body as a dream of God is possible only to men of divine realization – those who have learned the power of visualization and of materialization and dematerialization of thought forms. When the mind becomes powerful like the Creator’s, one can materialize and dematerialize his body or a universe, knowing them to be dream images of thought. One must therefore practice yoga, the science of divine union; for it is by realizing his oneness with God that the devotee frees himself from the cosmic dream, and knows that dream as made solely of God’s consciousness.” (The Bhagavad Gita, page 876, Yogananda)
SUPREME ENLIGHTENMENT AND LIBERATION
LEVEL #21: THE COMPLETION STAGE OF NIRVIKALPA SAMADHI: The attainment of supreme enlightenment arises simultaneously with the state of liberation; and wielding the siddhis, miraculous yogic powers, in perfect accordance with Divine Will. “The term yoga or divine union is applicable to various stages of realization, but its ultimate meaning is absolute union with Spirit; absolute union is the permanent establishment of the consciousness in nirvikalpa, or asamprajnata, samadhi. The true or ultimate nirvikalpa (“without difference”) state is when the yogi is permanently and irrevocably united to God in both the meditative, and the physically active, spheres of consciousness, as contrasted with intermittent experiences of this state. When the soul of the yogi is forever united in nirvikalpa samadhi to Spirit, it cannot again experience any physical or mental suffering. This state is spoken of in Sankhya philosophy as the “permanent extinguishment” or “uprooting” of all physical, mental, and spiritual causes of suffering.” (The Bhagavad Gita, pages 627-28, Yogananda) ******* In Vajrayana Buddhism, this is known as “indestructible” and “irreversible” supreme enlightenment, the ultimate state of mystical realization where the dualities of subject and object, immanence and transcendence, the relative and the Absolute are resolved on the level of the highest wisdom and bliss – Pure Nondual Awareness. ******* “Renunciants who are desireless and wrathless, mind-controlled, and Self-realized, are completely free both in this world and in the beyond.” – Bhagavad Gita V:26 “The spiritually ardent who have found their soul and its connection with Spirit achieve complete emancipation in this life, carrying with them the same realization into eternity... One who on earth has destroyed all desires and all karma – past as well as present – is truly “freed while living.” That jivanmukta is then known as a Siddha, “a perfected being.” Such souls are the “renunciants” referred to in this verse – those who
have abandoned forever all inner and outer causes of bondage.” (The Bhagavad Gita, pages 568-69, Yogananda) ******* In The Crest-Jewel of Discrimination Adi Shankaracharya gives the following description of nirvikalpa samadhi: “This is a continuous consciousness of the unity of Atman (the Self) and Brahman (Infinite and Eternal Spirit). There is no longer any identification of the Atman with its coverings. All sense of duality is obliterated. There is pure, unified consciousness. The man who is well established in this consciousness is said to be illuminated. A man is said to be free even in this life when he is established in illumination. His bliss is unending. He almost forgets the world of appearances. Even though his mind is dissolved in Brahman, he is fully awake, but free from the ignorance of waking life. He is fully conscious, but free from any cravings. Such a man is said to be free even in this life. For him, the sorrows of this world are over. Though he possesses a finite body, he remains united with the Infinite. His heart knows no anxiety. Such a man is said to be free even in this life.” ******* “Finding oneness with Spirit and Its eternal bliss, the yogi rises above all bondage to karma, which, with its ceaseless alternates of good and evil, operates as in inexorable law only in the phenomenal world.” (The Bhagavad Gita, page 518, Yogananda) “The yogi of Self-realization finds that he can possess a physical body and work through it without bondage to material desires and their karmic effects, just as God remains unattached and free from karma even while His intelligence silently acts throughout the cosmic vibratory body of creation, ruled by His delusory law of relativity. During the highest (wakeful) state of ecstasy, the liberated yogi feels: “The realm of my consciousness extends beyond the limits of my mortal frame to the boundaries of eternity – whence I, the Cosmic Sea, watch the little ego floating in me.” He simultaneously perceives the Spirit as a waveless ocean of Eternal Calm, and the Spirit manifesting Itself in the restless waves of creation that dance on Its infinite bosom.” (The Bhagavad Gita, page 438, Yogananda) “Realizing his own oneness with God, the yogi knows that he himself is a microcosm of immanence and transcendence.” (The Bhagavad Gita, page 750, Yogananda) “When the darkness of delusive ignorance has been driven away from the yogi’s consciousness by the light of Self-realization, then in that inner illumination the Supreme Self, the Eternal Being, stands revealed as the ultimate and sole Reality. The devotee feels his little Self, the soul, merge as one with the Supreme Self, Spirit.... When the deeply meditating yogi withdraws his consciousness from all eternals and concentrates within, he beholds the inner light of Spirit that is the creative substance of all
manifestations.... In the primary or savikalpa ecstasy the devotee perceives only the Cosmic Beam, without any panorama of creation.... It requires the higher state of nirvikalpa ecstasy to see both the Cosmic Light and the shadows of creation dancing together.” (The Bhagavad Gita, pages 553-54, Yogananda) “The yogi awakened in God can perceive all the earthly dream-objects in the so-called material world to be woven of the consciousness of God. It is in this state that the yogi realizes Unity everywhere; he perceives not only that God dwells in all beings, but also that all beings are His manifestations. The yogi dissolves all dual perceptions of matter and mind into the sole perception of Ultimate Nondual Awareness.” (The Bhagavad Gita, page 636, Yogananda) “To the man of Self-realization, Spirit is perceived as Reality and creation as the shadow of the Infinite. When the universe is called an illusion or unreal (“Brahman – the absolute existence, knowledge, and bliss – is real. The universe is an illusion. Brahman and Atman are one.” – Adi Shankaracharya), it does not mean that the universe is nonexistent, but that God is the only Reality and that the shadow of His manifestation in creation is not like Him, and is only relative. The shadow appears to be the object from which it is produced, yet it is not the same.” (The Bhagavad Gita, page 558, Yogananda) ******* “When a man beholds all separate beings as existent in the One that has expanded Itself into the many, he then merges with Brahman.” – Bhagavad Gita XIII:30 “No real difference is present among creatures: all are products of Prakriti (Nature) and all are sustained by the same Underlying Divinity. Their seeming diversity is rooted in the unity of One Mind. To realize this truth is emancipation, oneness with God.” (The Bhagavad Gita, page 898, Yogananda) ******* “He is full with contentment who absorbs all desires within, as the brimful ocean remains unmoved by waters entering into it – not he who lusts after desires. That person realizes peace who, relinquishing all desires, exists without craving and is unidentified with the mortal ego and it sense of “mineness.” O Arjuna, this is the “established in Brahman” state! Anyone entering this state is never again deluded.... If one becomes anchored therein, he attains the final, irrevocable, state of Spiritcommunion.” – Bhagavad Gita II:70-72 “The Spirit-reigning yogi, freed while living, is never again deluded, nor does he come down to a lesser state. He lives in the consciousness of God. His soul expands into the Spirit, yet he retains his individuality, immersed everlastingly in Sprit-communion.... That soul enters Brahmanirvana, expansion in Spirit through the extinguishment of ego and all desires that compel a soul to reincarnate. An omnipresent being cannot be caged
behind the bars of finite incarnations. He can of his own free will retain a physical or an astral body, but it cannot imprison his overarching spirit. Thus Krishna tells his disciple Arjuna: “He who forsakes desires for sense enjoyments, is unattached to sense objects, and is devoid of the consciousness of the limited ego, relinquishing its afflictions of “me” and “mine”, receives the lasting joy of God-peace – that permanent blessedness of Spirit-communion spoken of as Brahmasthita or “anchored-in-the-Infinite” state.” (The Bhagavad Gita, page 324, Yogananda) ******* “The Self is never born nor does it ever perish; nor having come into existence will it again cease to be. It is birthless, eternal, changeless, ever the same (unaffected by the usual processes associated with time). It is not slain when the body is killed.” – Bhagavad Gita II:20 “The wise man learns by meditation to differentiate between the indwelling immortal soul and its perishable bodily encasement. People, who believe that the Absolute Spirit (ever-existing, ever-conscious, ever-new Bliss) is immortal, must also accept the truth that its reflection, the soul, even though encased in a mortal body, is immortal, too. Bhagavan Krishna’s words in these lines particularly emphasize this truth. As God is immortal, every man’s soul, made in the image of God, must also be immortal. The difference between soul and Spirit is this: The Spirit is omnipresent Joy; the soul is the reflection of this Joy, confined within the body of each and every being. Souls are radiating rays of Spirit, individualized as formless, vibrationless expressions of Spirit. Hence, they are coexistent with Spirit and of the same essence, as the sun and its rays are one.... The Bhagavad Gita emphasizes the following qualities of the Self; It is unborn, though born in a body; it is eternal, though its bodily dwelling is impermanent; it is changeless, though it may experience change; it is ever the same, though in the long pathway of reincarnation which ultimately leads to God, the soul appears in countless forms; the soul is not slain when the body dies; and even when the soul returns to Spirit, it does not lose its identity, but will exist until everlastingness.” (The Bhagavad Gita, pages 212-15, Yogananda) ******* “When, at last, karma is overcome, the lower nature of desires and attachments is subdued, and the ego is slain – the yogi attains kaivalya, liberation: permanent union in God. The liberated yogi may then discard his three bodily encasements (physical, astral, and causal) and remain a free soul in the ever-existing, ever-conscious, ever-
new bliss of Omnipresent Spirit. Or if he chooses to descend again from his samadhi into the consciousness and activities of a body, he does so in the sublime state of nirvikalpa samadhi. In this highest state of externalized soul consciousness, he remains in his pure soul nature, untouched and unchanged, with no loss of Godperception, while he performs whatever exacting duties may be his portion in the fulfillment of God’s cosmic plan.” (The Bhagavad Gita, page 16, Yogananda) All karma – the effects of past actions – is transcended and integrated on the level of the Siddha. One becomes a true master, a pure reflection and instrument of Spirit, fully empowered to guide others on the path to supreme enlightenment and liberation. ******* “Whosoever shall impart to My devotees the ultimate secret knowledge with utmost devotion to Me, shall without doubt come unto Me. Not any among men perform more priceless service to Me than he. In the world there shall be none dearer to Me.” – Bhagavad Gita XVIII:68-69 “A yogi who has risen above delusion and attained Self-realization, and who having tasted divine bliss is eager to share it with true seekers, finds supreme joy in selflessly helping others to liberation. He fulfills that service which is most pleasing to God. To perceive God and – in pure devotion to Him alone – to share His love with others should be man’s highest goal on earth.” (The Bhagavad Gita, page 1094, Yogananda) We cannot free another until we, ourselves, are free. Only by becoming an absolutely pure instrument is one able to transmit supreme enlightenment and liberation to those who are receptive and finally ready. In the words of Milarepa: “Seek first your own enlightenment, for as long as there are stars in the sky, there will be sentient beings in need of liberation.” A Siddha, or True Spiritual Master, is a perfect reflection, and thus fully empowered to guide others on the sacred path. We, ourselves, in the meantime, should always cultivate an altruistic attitude, by selflessly serving and inspiring others in any humble way that we can. This also helps us to cut through the sense of being a separate self, our own egoism. As you can see there are twelve progressive levels of spiritual consciousness. Indeed it is a long road to freedom, a steep and hard ascent up the mountain of one’s own being. Milarepa advise us to, “Be humble and practice diligently; never hope to quickly gain enlightenment, but meditate until you die!” ******* “I shall now declare unto you, O Arjuna, the path, traversing which at the time of death, yogis attain freedom.... Fire, light, daytime, the bright half of the lunar month, the six months of the northern course of the sun – pursuing this path at the time of departure, the knowers of God are liberated in Spirit.” – Bhagavad Gita VIII:23-24
“These mysterious stanzas, woefully misinterpreted by nearly all commentators, in reality contain symbolic references to the science of yoga. They describe the opening of the spiritual eye, the awakening of the cerebrospinal centers, and the ascension of lifeforce and consciousness through them to Absolute Pure Consciousness and liberation in Spirit for the yogi who follows “the way of light”.... In these stanzas, it states that the yogi must follow the path of “fire.” Here “fire” means the life energy, the kundalini power. The devotee’s first scientific step toward emancipation is to gain control of his lifeforce. In ordinary men the course of prana is downward, “the way of darkness,” flowing from the brain to the sensory nerves and the countless cells of the body. This dispersion and diffusion of life energy reveal the material world to the human consciousness. In the successful yogi, on the other hand, the course of prana is upward, “the way of light.” By yoga he reverses the direction of the flow and is able to concentrate the whole of his lifeforce within the brain, in the “sun” of Absolute Pure Consciousness. In this way God is revealed. The “sun” of Absolute Pure Consciousness is the Supreme Source of life and intelligence in the body, with Its abode in the seventh or highest spiritual center, in the cerebrum, the thousand-petaled lotus – a sunburst as of a thousand suns. All life and faculties in the body evolve from this powerhouse of luminosity through its projected rays of the spiritual eye.
“Light” refers to the divine eye in the forehead.... The light of the spiritual eye is a projection of the “sun” of Absolute Pure Consciousness, Through the light of the spiritual eye, the yogi moves along the path to Spirit. “Daytime” is the manifestation of the spiritual eye during the samadhi state of meditation. This is the yogi’s “daytime” for he has awakened from the sleep of delusion. “The bright half of the lunar month” is that half of the advanced yogi’s consciousness that remains “awake” and attuned to Absolute Pure Consciousness even when the other half is “asleep,” or active in the material world of delusion. The moon, whose light is a reflection of the sun, has a bright fortnight (waxing period) and a dark fortnight (waning period) in its monthly cycle. The sun of Absolute Pure Consciousness shining on matter (the light of the astral world and body that upholds and enlivens the material world and body) is here referred to as reflected or lunar light. In man, a miniature universe, its bright side is when it is spiritualized and turned toward Absolute Pure Consciousness; and its dark side is when it is turned toward delusion. In the advanced yogi, the cerebrospinal centers, though performing their activities that externally enliven the body (necessitating their working through the instruments of Nature, or delusion, the outward-
flowing or “dark side”), remain nevertheless inwardly in a spiritualized or illuminated state. When the yogi withdraws from external activities and enters samadhi through the light of the spiritual eye, this the true “bright fortnight,” that period of the day when his whole being is inwardly ablaze, turned toward Spirit, basking in the “sun” of Absolute Pure Consciousness. The “six months” are the six spinal centers, the coccygeal to the spiritual eye. Thus, “the six months of the northern course of the sun” refers to the six periods of spiritual perceptions in these centers when consciousness and life (descended from the “sun” of Absolute Pure Consciousness into the body) are reversed to flow upward, “north,” to their Supreme Source in the cerebrum.
What transpires as the yogi moves along this “way of light” is a veritably intricate transition of his life and consciousness through the spiritual eye: First, life and consciousness move upward through the physical spine and brain, freeing the yogi from the physical body; then transition through the three astral spines of light (sushumna, vajra, and chitra), freeing the yogi from the astral body; and, lastly, ascension through the causal “spine” of consciousness (brahmanadi), whereby the soul is liberated in Spirit. At death, the soul of the successful yogi, following this path, rises majestically, unencumbered, from the revolving cycles of obligatory rebirths.” (The Bhagavad Gita, pages 741-43, Yogananda) *******
Paramhansa Yogananda’s mahasamadhi – a yogi’s final conscious exit from the body – was on March 7th, 1952. “Weeks after his death, his unchanged face shone with the divine luster of incorrigibility... ____________ Forest Lawn Memorial Park Glendale 5, California May 16, 1952
Self-Realization Fellowship 3880 San Rafael Avenue Los Angeles 65 California Gentlemen:
The absence of any visual sign of decay in the dead body of Paramhansa Yogananda offers the most extraordinary case in our experience.... The body was under daily observation at the Mortuary of the Forest Lawn Memorial Park from March 11, 1952, the day of the last public rites, until March 27, 1952, when the bronze casket was sealed by fire. During this time no indication of mold was visible on Paramhansa Yogananda’s skin, and no visible desiccation took place in the bodily tissues. This state of perfect preservation of a body is, as far as we know from mortuary annals, an unparalleled one.... At the time of receiving Paramhansa Yogananda’s body the Mortuary personnel at Forest Lawn expected to observe, through the glass lid of the casket, the usual progressive signs of bodily decay. Our astonishment increased as day followed day without bringing any visible change in the body under observation. Paramhansa Yogananda body was apparently in a phenomenal state of immutability....
The officers of Self-Realization Fellowship agreed, on March 27 th, 1952, that entombment of the casket should now take place.... The physical appearance of Paramhansa Yogananda on March 27th, just before the bronze cover of the casket was put into position, was the same as it had been on March 7 th. He looked on March 27th as fresh and as unravaged by decay as he had looked on the night of his death. There was no reason to say that his body had suffered any visible disintegration at all. For these reasons we state again that the case of Paramhansa Yogananda is unique in our experience.
Yours sincerely, FOREST LAWN MEMORIAL PARK ASSOCIATION Harry T. Rowe, Mortuary Director ____________
....Other devotees of God, Christian saints who manifested bodily immutability not by yoga but through extraordinary powers of single-hearted aspiration toward the Divine, were St. John of the Cross and St. Theresa of Avila. The body of St. John, who died in 1591, was exhumed in 1859 and found to be in a state of incorruptibility. The body of St. Theresa, which lies in a church at Alba in Spain, has for centuries remained intransmutable. The site has witnessed innumerable miracles.” (Paramhansa Yogananda in Memoriam, pages 105-123, Self-Realization Fellowship) The incorrigibility of Yoganandaji’s physical form after death was his last public testimony to the Truth that he had lived and shared. *******
WIELDING THE SIDDHIS, MIRACULOUS YOGIC POWERS, IN PERFECT ACCORDANCE WITH DIVINE WILL
These among others include clairvoyance, levitation, astral travel, materialization of physical objects, and ultimately even omniscience and omnipotence. The manifestation of a siddhic power is an expression of Divine Grace for a definite higher purpose, never for the sake of aggrandizing the ego. Until one has completely transcended the sense of being a separate self (ahamkara) by attaining supreme enlightenment and liberation, there is always the danger of not only becoming attached to, and distracted by, the siddhic powers but also misusing and abusing them as a means to fulfill some egoistic desire. Therefore Patanjali informs us: “There must not be any pride in the use of these powers, or any attachment to them, as this can be the cause of reverting to lower or clouded states of awareness.” – Yoga Sutra III:52 “Most souls who depart from clear levels of realization, do so because of carelessness. By not remaining centered and focused, they become complacent or distracted. Many people drift through sequences of circumstances without any sense of direction or purpose. Even well intended souls can become distracted from their spiritual goal because of pride and attachment. One may think, “Oh, it is wonderful that I can know these things, and do marvelous works!” A partially awakened soul may have a degree of higher understanding, yet be influenced by the cosmic forces. If tamas and rajas gunas predominate, the spiritually advanced soul may become a minor worker of wonders, a magician. If ego is pronounced and a drive for personal power is present, one may use the yogic powers for selfish or destructive purposes.” (Life Surrendered In God, page195, Davis) *******
“By renouncing these powers of omniscience and omnipotence, one removes the causes of bondage, transcends the relative planes and absolute freedom arises.” – Yoga Sutra III:51 “So long as we are conscious of experiencing omniscience and omnipotence, some sense of independent selfhood remains. By renouncing the awe and enjoyment of omniscience and omnipotence, “the seed of bondage” – egoism because of delusion – is removed. The devotee intent upon liberation of consciousness is advised to avoid attachments to any perception or experience; to observe and release them in order to experience higher states. When nothing remains except a permanent awareness of being, consciousness may again become involved with material manifestation without being deluded. With dissolving of the illusion of independent selfhood, the soul, having transcended all possibilities of blind involvement with nature, is ever free.” (Life Surrendered In God, pages 194-5, Davis) ******* “By communion with the objects of nature at their course and subtle levels and on their essence, correlations and purpose, mastery over the five elements is attained. Then come the manifestation of powers such as bodily perfection and invulnerability of its functions. Beauty, grace, strength and miraculous endurability constitute the perfection of the body.” – Yoga Sutras III:44-46 Along with the incorrigibility of the body after death, as in the case of Paramhansa Yogananda, another rare and most extraordinary yogic power is soruba samadhi, the state of physical immortality. Although the Yoga Sutras mention “the perfection of the body” and “miraculous endurability,” it is among the other Mahasiddhas of South India, who like Patanjali had actually attained soruba samadhi, that we find a wealth of knowledge regarding this siddhi, or power. As mentioned earlier, two of the “Eighteen Mahasiddhas” are reputed to have been the spiritual preceptors of Babaji. It is said that he became enlightened while practicing sadhana under the guidance of Boganathar. And then, through the instructions he later received from Agastya, Boganathar’s own guru, he attained soruba samadhi, the state of physical immortality, while in solitary meditation retreat at Satopanth above Badrinath in the Himalaya. The great Avatar Babaji has been given an exalted assignment, a mission whose magnitude demands the utmost in devotion and surrender. He is to remain indefinitely on the material plane to assist in the evolution of mankind. ******* “When our dharma, or essential nature, is in harmony with the fundamental laws of divine purposes we are said to be in harmony with God’s will. This is why there is such a strong emphasis upon the necessity of doing one’s duty in accord with universal laws. In this way we become harmonized with evolutionary purposes and experience the full
support of God in and as nature in our righteous endeavors. This is what it means to be fully surrendered in God.” (Life Surrendered In God, page 19, Davis) Absolute Self-mastery is the ability to wield the enlightened soul powers ( siddhis) all the way back down through even the world of dense matter in accordance with Divine Will. This is the result of complete surrender to God in all humility. “Few people in conditioned mortal consciousness know that the reality of fulfillment includes this earth realm.” – Babaji *******
ANCIENT VEDIC HYMN
I bow down to God, the Supreme Teacher, Truth, whose nature is bliss, who is the bestower of the highest happiness, who is beyond all qualities and infinite like the sky, one and eternal, pure and still, transcendent to all phenomena and change, and the silent witness of all our thoughts and feelings. I bow down to Truth, the Supreme Teacher, God.
OM NAMAH SHIVAYA JAI SATGURUDEVA MAHAVATAR BABAJI
THE EVOLUTIONARY STAGES OF CONSCIOUSNESS LEVEL #1: UNCONSCIOUSNESS – This stage represents: a) the state of deep sleep that, according to various texts on yoga, is actually the awareness of nothingness; and b) the passive inertia of gross matter. LEVEL #2: SUBCONSCIOUSNESS – This stage represents: a) the state of dreaming; b) the depository of memories; c) instinctive drives; and d) the active response to stimuli as found in plants, animals and man. LEVEL #3: PHYSICAL CONSCIOUSNESS – This stage represents the most basic state of ordinary wakefulness, perception of one’s body and the material world through the physical senses. It is the worldview as held by the consciousness of an animal, or a human baby. At this stage one’s ego, or sense of being a separate self, is based on a primary identification with the body and its sensory impressions, which, throughout the next six levels below, expands to also include the mind with all of its thoughts and feelings. LEVEL #4: MAGICAL – This stage represents the primitive belief that the forces of nature can be harnessed in order to control one’s environment through intention and specific rites. It is exemplified by shamanism, or the process of “wish fulfillment” in the development of a small child as described in modern psychology. LEVEL #5: MYTHOLOGICAL – This stage represents the dogmatic belief that a particular god or goddess of any given culture may be invoked to manipulate the world on one’s behalf through the power of ritualized worship and egocentric prayer. It is epitomized by religious fundamentalism, a form of cultural conditioning in which one simply accepts blindly, on an emotional level, what he has heard or read without any critical discernment, nor real effort to verify its actual validity. LEVEL #6-8: RATIONAL – These stages represent discrimination based on the mental powers of logic and reason. They are subdivided into a) the early phase; b) the middle, or developmental, phase; and c) the late, or mature, phase where one has become adept at playing the various roles his life has created. LEVEL #9: EXISTENTIAL – This stage represents the rite of passage to superconsciousness, or transcendental awareness. Here, a profound and intense dissatisfaction with the limitations of body and mind, and deep contemplation on the true meaning of one’s own existence, finally culminate in a yearning for the bliss of freedom in Spirit. ********
LEVEL #10: “SAVITARKA” DHYANA SAMADHI – This is the first level of preliminary meditative absorption “with doubt” at the muladhara, coccygeal, chakra. LEVEL #11: “SAVICHARA” DHYANA SAMADHI – This is the second level of preliminary meditative absorption “with discrimination” at the swadhisthana, sacral, chakra. LEVEL #12: “SANANDA” DHYANA SAMADHI – This is the third level of preliminary meditative absorption “with bliss” at the manipura, lumbar, chakra. LEVEL #13: “SASMITA” DHYANA SAMADHI – This is the fourth level of preliminary meditative absorption “with a pure sense of being” at the anahata, dorsal, chakra. LEVEL #14: “ASAMPRAJNATA” DHYANA SAMADHI – This is the completion, or “higher,” stage of preliminary meditative absorption at the visuddha, cervical, chakra, with its corresponding element of “ether” or “space.” It is the experience of omnipresence within the sanctuary of one’s soul as an individualized reflection of Spirit. LEVEL #15: “SAVITARKA” SAVIKALPA SAMADHI – The first level of dualistic samadhi is based on genuine faith that arises spontaneously with the direct perception of the indwelling Spirit as the Divine Presence at the ajna (spiritual eye) chakra. LEVEL #16: “SAVICHARA” SAVIKALPA SAMADHI – The second level of dualistic samadhi is based on discrimination between the relative and the Absolute at the LEVEL #17: “SANANDA” SAVIKALPA SAMADHI – The third level of dualistic samadhi is based on abidance in bliss at the spiritual eye. LEVEL #18: “SASMITA” SAVIKALPA SAMADHI – The fourth level of dualistic samadhi is based on the ecstatic realization of one’s own true nature, or pure sense of being, as Cosmic Consciousness at the spiritual eye. LEVEL #19: NIRVIKALPA SAMADHI: THE TRANSCENDENCE PHASE OF THE GENERATION STAGE is based on the ecstatic nondual realization of Absolute Pure Consciousness at the sahasrara (cerebral) chakra. LEVEL #20: NIRVIKALPA SAMADHI: THE INTEGRATION PHASE OF THE GENERATION STAGE is based on the ecstatic realization of Ultimate Nondual Awareness within the spiritual heart. LEVEL #21: THE COMPLETION STAGE OF NIRVIKALPA SAMADHI: The attainment of supreme enlightenment arises simultaneously with the state of liberation; and wielding the siddhis, miraculous yogic powers, in perfect accordance with Divine Will.
December 2, 2009 Hi, I created this document from the original 15 Word documents dated June 8, 2007. I changed only format spacing to get some page breaks and one line layout 'right' – and fixed six spelling errors. Wisdom was written by an American friend of mine, Rob Ivey ( Swami Avidiyananda ), while living in the Himalayas. He introduced me to our Guru in January of 1972. The following is the message he sent with his treatise: NAMASTE EVERYONE! It was absolutely delightful to receive your emails and to learn how the great adventure known as life is unfolding on the paths that each of you are treading... I am sending you my final polished version of the treatise as some of you might really appreciate having a copy, especially in the event you are inspired to pass it on to other devotees. I have, hopefully, corrected all of the remaining typing errors, upgraded the format, rearranged a few of the quotes in more relevant places, and made some further additions – most notably in regards to "the fluctuations arising in consciousness." At the beginning of the Yoga Sutras, Patanjali say that Yoga, or Self-realization, is the cessation of identification with these mental modifications. In other words, it is essential knowledge worthy of deep contemplation. I also found it really necessary to seriously edit the chapter on "The Holy Science" in order to get to its pure essence. ALL OF MY LOVE TO EACH AND EVERY ONE OF YOU, Yogi Rob
Rob, having attained full enlightenment, left his body in early 2009.
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