The mere fact he has broken through to samâdhi means that he was able to justify experience enough in his subconscious mind so that his subconscious mind could fall into line, into the habit pattern of pure concentration. When the conscious mind is in concentration upon one single thing, the subconscious mind is in concentration also, following the pattern of the conscious mind, on one particular thing. Then that expands consciousness automatically into the superconscious state of mind.
Each soul comes into Self Realization differently, because each has a different mind, a different subconscious mind and a different conscious mind.
The teachings of yoga are so basically simple and so basically concrete. And the most beautiful thing in the world, on contemplation, is the simplest thing in the world. The most beautiful design is the simplest design. So, simply since one has realized the Self and gone into nirvikalpa samâdhi once, then obviously the simplest thing to do is to do it again. This is the practice of samâdhi. He will become consciously more superconscious for longer periods of time each time he experiences nirvikalpa samâdhi.
If he goes into nirvikalpa samâdhi and becomes ramified in the psychic powers that come after samâdhi, after his first samâdhi, his second samâdhi, his third samâdhi, he will become more intense and will realize new possibilities within himself. If he remains on those planes of the phenomena of the occultism of the mind, then he gains new and fascinating powers of the mechanism of the mind, but he loses the power to bring others along the path into samâdhi.
His first step in practicing samâdhi would be to concentrate upon one physical object, that is if he cannot see his inner light. Only after he has gone into samâdhi many, many, many times, where his whole body becomes filled with light, will he then see his inner light all the time, twenty-four hours a day. The light, really, is the friction of the super conscious mind against the conscious and subconscious mind. In my way of looking at it, it is an electrical friction. The odic forces and the actinic forces merging causes light and sound. So, when he sees this brilliant light right in his head—more brilliant than he has ever seen, intensified brilliance—he tries to find the center of it. When he finds the center of it, again trying to open up that light like a camera lens, he will then come into a state of consciousness called Sat chid ânanda, a state of pure consciousness, a state of pure bliss, savikalpa samâdhi.
Dharma after Self Realization
What is life like after realization? One difference is the relationship to possessions. Everything is yours, even if you don’t own it. This is because you are secure in the Self as the only reality, the only permanence, and the security that depends on having possessions is gone. After Self Realization, we no longer have to go into ourself. Rather, we go out of ourself to see the world. We are always coming out rather than trying to go in. There is always a center, and we are the center, no matter where we are. No matter where we are, no matter how crude or rotten, the vibrations around us will not affect us. Curiosity is the final thing to leave the mind, which it does after Self Realization. The curiosity of things goes away—of siddhis, for example. We no longer want power, because we are power, nonpower, unusable. And Satchidânanda is now to us similar to what the intellect used to be. Samyama, contemplation, is effortless to you now, like the intellect used to be; whereas before, samyama was a very big job which took a lot of energy and concentration.
For ultimate freedom, everything has to go away, all human things, possessions, love, hate, family, friends, the desire for attention and community acceptance. The sannyâsin renounces the world, and then, if his giving up is uncompromisingly complete, the world renounces the sannyâsin. This means the world itself won’t accept him as it once did as a participant in its mundane transactions of a job, social life, home and family.
The renunciate’s path is to seek enlightenment through sâdhana, discipline, deep meditation and yogic practices. That is the goal, but only the first goal for the sannyâsin. To stay enlightened is even a greater challenge for him.
The advice is, having once attained a breakthrough of light within the head, wisdom tells us, remain wise and do not allow these experiences to strengthen the external ego. Become more humble. Become more self-effacing. Become more loving and understanding. Don’t play the fool by giving yourself reprieve from prânayâma, padmâsana, deep meditation, self-inquiry and exquisite personal behavior.
The wise know full well that the higher chakras, once stimulated, stimulate their lower counterparts as well, unless the sealing of the passage just below the mûlâdhâra has been accomplished. Diligence is needed, lest higher consciousness fall unknowingly on the slippery slide of ignorance into the realms of lower consciousness, of fear, anger, resentment, jealousy, loneliness, malice and distrust.
Traditionally, the character has to be built within the devotee as a first and foremost platform before even the hint of an initiation into inner teaching is given. This purifying preparation involves repentance, confession and reconcilation through traditional prâyaschitta, penance, to mitigate kukarmas. This crucial work often takes years to accomplish.
We are still living in a physical body. Therefore, one foot must always be kept firmly on the head of the snake of the instinctive-intellectual nature. The higher we go, the lower we can fall if precaution is not taken. Therefore, we must prepare devotees for a sudden or slow fall as well. They should land on the soft pillows of consistent daily sâdhana, worship of God, Gods and guru, and the basic religious practices of karma yoga and bhakti yoga. Without these as a platform, they may slide down in consciousness, below the mûlâdhâra, into the chakras of fear, anger, doubt and depression. Therefore, we reaffirm, having attained a small degree of enlightenment, or a fuller enlightenment, stay enlightened, because mukti, the transference from the physical body through the top of the head at the point of death, has not yet occurred. And only after that happens are we enlightened forever. This is the beginning of the ultimate merging with Siva in a physical body! Thereafter follows visvagrâsa, the final, final, final merger whence there is no return, where jîva has in reality become Siva, as a bowl of water poured into the ocean becomes the ocean. There is no difference and no return.
Excerpts from “Merging with Siva” by Sivaya Subramuniyaswami
The intellectual mind works through the mechanism of creating, preserving and destroying thought forms. The intellect is the manifestation of a series of well-constructed thought forms. Therefore, the better a person is educated, the more distinctly and clearly does the intellect function. There are people all over the world today who are guided simply by the habit patterns of the instinctive-intellectual mind.
The intellect is not the totality of man. The intellect is not the full mind, it is only one part, about one-tenth of the mind. The subconscious and the super conscious make up the other nine-tenths.
The intellect which when developed into a strong intellectual sheath is able to control the baser emotions through controlled memory, controlled reason and controlled willpower, the three faculties of our ability to govern forces of nature. Neither overrate nor underrate the intellect, for it fills several important functions in life, the great experience.
Opinionated knowledge is a faculty of memory. We study, we listen, we hear and we quote the opinions of others. Opinionated knowledge is stored up in the memory gridwork of the subconscious mind. This provides security, or a platform, for the intellect, making it strong, developing an ego. Therefore, intellect is our ego. The ego separates people from people, nations from nations and the soul from realization of the Self.
“Your real education is the innerversity.” Let’s examine the real meaning, function and purpose of education. Education is not worn. It does not stick to you. It is not your collection of someone else’s opinions. Through education, you stimulate your intellect. Education is that which you bring out from within yourself as a result of your personal interest in the fulfillment of your birth karmas, or prârabdha karmas. Education means exposure to new ideas and old opinions, giving you the tools to explore your own opinions freely, make decisions, research and review them and advance your understanding of God, soul and world. This is education. It is not static. It is as fluid as a river. Or it should be. You have the choice, the ability, to remold your intellect any way you want. The great truths of life are a part of your being. They are within you. They unfold to you slowly as you evolve your comprehension of them. Yet, they are always there within you, waiting to be realized. The only real, permanent education is your unfoldment into the building of the intuitive mind through the control of the intellect.
Since the intellect is made fundamentally of thoughts which are ever creating, preserving and destroying themselves, the control of thoughts builds the intuitive mind. Intuition, knowing, awareness and understanding—these are products not of the intellect, but of the intuitive mind. The dedicated student who has applied himself seriously leaves college not with a “know it all” feeling but with an awareness of the limits of the intellect, and profound respect for the vast amount of knowledge that he has yet to discover or unfold. Conceit is a sure sign of insecurity; humility denotes awareness.
Observe the intellect as it is manifested in the world around you. You can see its limits. You can also see when it becomes a tool for the intuitive mind. Observations give birth to understanding, and understanding comes from your superconscious mind. Thus, the intellect must be developed to a certain extent and then controlled through the control of thought.
The intellect is the external ego, but it is only the external ego when it is in control and has cut itself off sufficiently from superconsciousness by becoming opinionated. When the intellect represents the ego, we say a person is unable to change his mind, no matter how much you try to convince or talk with him. He is stubborn, unyielding, even unfriendly if he becomes agitated or disturbed in his effort to hold the intellect together. Should the intellectual nature become disturbed, the astral body then takes over and the instinctive mind or the instinctive qualities are prevalent at that time. This is quite apparent in undisciplined people, because the intellectual nature is undisciplined.
The Intuitive Nature
Within man, and functioning at a different rate of vibration than the intellect, is found the power or the motivating force of the mind, the chakras, or force centers. There are seven of these basic force centers, which are stimulated into action and unfoldment by the ida, pingala and sushumna currents. The ida and pingala are odic psychic currents (the Chinese yin and yang) interwoven around the spinal cord. Directly through the spinal cord runs the sushumna current, which is actinodic. The ida current is passive odic force; the pingala current is aggressive odic force. The sushumna is an actinodic current. These currents govern the chakras. These currents are like the reins which will guide a horse as we ride in one direction or another.
The intuitive nature is composed of a greater amount of actinic energy than odic. It is formed by the sushumna current that runs between the ida and pingala currents up through the spinal cord. However, it is the state of mind that a yoga student must learn to identify as his own, so to speak. Until this time he usually identifies with the intuitive mind of his guru. One does not entertain thoughts when in this state of full awareness. In this consciousness, one views and perceives through the anahata chakra of direct cognition.
Soul Body, The Real You
Within all seven aspects of man lies the body of the soul, the actinic causal body, anandamaya kosha, the real you. The soul body has a form, just as the astral body has a form, but it is more refined and is of a more permanent nature. It is this body which reincarnates, creating around itself new physical and astral bodies, life after life after life. This process matures and develops the body of the soul. Hence we have old souls and young souls, depending on the maturity and unfoldment of the soul body, or depending upon the number of lives or the intensity of maturing experience which the individual has passed through.
The body of the soul is pure light, made of quantums. It is indestructible. It cannot be hurt or damaged in any way. Its mind is superconsciousness, containing all intelligence, and is constantly aware, does not sleep and is expanding awareness as the soul body matures. The body of the soul lives in the eternity of the moment, simultaneously conscious of past and future as a one cycle. The true nature, everlasting secure personal identity, is realizing oneself as the soul body. This is truly finding our roots, our source, our indestructible, ever-maturing soul.
However, it should be mentioned that the first great attainment to be striven for by the aspirant is the experiencing of inner light, which is taught to family people and renunciates alike, implying that he has enough inner dominion and control over the intellect that the radiance within the head or body is actually seen. This implies also a working control of the manipura chakra and a conscious awareness of the working of the anahata chakra of cognition, allowing a burst of actinic energy to the vishuddha chakra of love.
It must be said that many frustrate themselves by seeking realizations beyond their abilities, while not accomplishing the realizations that are within their abilities. We must remember that savikalpa samadhi relates to the anahata and vishuddha chakras, sustained by a purified intellect and a dynamic will. Whereas, nirvikalpa samadhi is of the ajna and sahasrara chakras and those above and is sustained by complete renunciation of the world to the point where the world renounces the renunciate.
Control of the mind builds the intuitive nature. By directing the flow of thought, perceptively discriminating between actions, aware of attending reactions, the yoga student soon learns the use of his actinic power. In order to hold an expanded consciousness, this power must be brought into use, and when it flows through the intellect, it automatically changes the chemistry of the intellect while it begins to build the intuitive nature.
Excerpts from “Merging with Siva” by Sivaya Subramuniyaswami
Things that you cannot face in yourself you will hate when you see them in someone else. To counteract this, your universal love, the platform for Self Realization, must be awakened into the emotions of the instinctive mind and filter out into the conscious mind. So, as you are meditating and the various aspects of your subconscious come up, face them positively, reprogram them beautifully, and they will settle back into simply a memory pattern, resolved and incapable of disturbing you again.
If you see something in someone else you do not like and it is affecting you emotionally, sit down and face it within your own subconscious mind. The sore spot is located there. If you feel someone is doing something that you do not think he should be doing, and this really gets on your nerves, just know that under the right circumstances you may do the same thing, because the tendency to react to it is there in your subconscious. Get into yourself and reprogram that area of your subconscious with good, positive affirmations. Firm up your lifestyle, be more strict with yourself, use your willpower and think positively. Do not allow a weak link in a chain of habit patterns to bar your spiritual unfoldment even for a moment.
One of the biggest barriers on the spiritual path is to dislike our own subconscious as we become familiar with it. We must watch this pitfall very closely. The subconscious mind is not an enemy. It is just a well-used piece of equipment that we are renewing. We have to bless the subconscious mind and look at it as a vital tool to help us in our spiritual evolution.
The point I want to make is: do not fear the subconscious mind. Realize that it has not been programmed as it should be. Therefore, the program has to be changed. Realize that your superconsciousness is the master programmer. Get busy and reprogram your subconscious through the power of affirmation. You can do it through the powers of meditation.
Of course, there is a portion of the subconscious mind that remains more or less the same, handling the instinctive, involuntary processes of the physical body. But by following a sattvic diet, which is conducive to meditation, this area of the subconscious also begins to improve. As we improve food intake and elimination processes, we stop storing up poisons in our cells. As stored poisons are released within the body, they are eliminated regularly. This more physical area of the subconscious mind is also improved through proper breathing, proper posture, hatha yoga, getting plenty of sun, exercise, walking and all of the many wonderful things that benefit the physical body.
Add to your contemplative lifestyle a craft. Working with your hands in doing a craft as a hobby, taking physical substance and turning it into something different, new and beautiful—this kind of creativity is important in remolding the subconscious mind. It is also symbolic. You are actually remolding something on the physical plane and, by doing so, educating yourself in the process of changing the appearance of a physical structure, thus making it easier to change the more subtle mental and emotional structures within your own subconscious mind.
It is a principle on the path that until we are rather advanced we do not really know whether we have reprogrammed the subconscious mind or not, or if the reprogramming has been done correctly. However, we do know when we create something with our hands whether it is done correctly and carefully. We also know when it is finished, for we can see it on the physical plane. Taking a physical substance into our hands, using it carefully and systematically, and disciplining ourselves to finish that which we have begun is a powerful process. By doing this, we overcome habit patterns of carelessness and of not being able to pay attention to details. We also overcome the habit of becoming distracted. So, choose a hobby or a craft.
Seeing Oneself In Others
As soon as the subconscious mind has been positively reprogrammed, even just a little, the channels of intuition begin to open, and you feel peaceful. Disturbances within your mind subside. At this stage on the path you often wonder if you are making progress anymore. You hold a consciousness like being in an airplane going a thousand miles an hour while holding the feeling of not moving. When you feel as if nothing is happening to you inside anymore, you are living in an intuitive state, the eternity of the moment. Your intuition is now penetrating your external mind all of the time.
When your subconscious has been cleared of past reactionary patterns and reprogrammed thoroughly, you do not take exception to things that happen in the world. In understanding, you love everyone and embrace every event. You intuitively sense just what they are all going through, because you have in your memory banks knowledge of each happening acquired during all the lives you have ever lived.
Man has not always realized that a subconscious area of mind exists. For hundreds of years, humanity in the West believed that the conscious state was the only reality. Humanity has had religious inclinations also, and believed in superconsciousness, but felt that superconsciousness was totally outside and away from the individual self. That is why God is talked of as being way up in the heaven, and the angels high in the sky.
Why was God supposed to be outside the being of man, way up in the sky? It was because the subconscious area of mind was in-between. From this limited perspective, man saw himself as a little, insignificant nothing that has come from someplace, not knowing for sure when or how he got here in this conscious state. He knew he was a kind and hateful, generous and greedy, jealous, intellectual, instinctive being. He knew that. He knows it today. That is how one gets along through life. You have to fight for what you want. You have to argue. You have to be jealous, or else how are you going to get anyplace? You have to be quick-tempered to dominate others. You have to scare people, get your own way and elbow your way through life. That is the way to live when totally in the conscious mind.
Excerpts from “Merging with Siva” by Sivaya Subramuniyaswami
Everything that has once passed through your conscious mind in the form of experience is resident right now within your subconscious. The life, the biological evolution of your forefathers, is all registered in the molecular strands of your subconscious, capable of being recalled into memory. The life, the biological evolution of your forefathers, is all registered in the molecular strands of your subconscious, capable of being recalled into memory.
The subconscious mind, like the conscious mind, has a form of its own. It is given form, shape and momentum by the nature of your experiences in life and the way you react to them. Most people are not happy with the form of their subconscious mind. They are still reacting to early experiences, early environments. Some people go to great expense in trying to change the form of their subconscious through therapy or travel, but because there is no absolution in either, in time they generally manage to recreate their subconscious in the same old form. Childhood experiences do have a profound influence on one’s make-up in this life, but these influences are by no means binding. Any attitude, any personality conflict or block in the subconscious can be demagnetized and resolved.
How do we change the form of the subconscious? We purify it by resolving in understanding those experiences which have created it. How do we resolve those experiences through understanding? We bring them up into the light and face them without reaction. By resolving our reactive experiences in understanding, the subconscious becomes more and more transparent to our own view and, therefore, necessarily undergoes positive change. To be able to objectively observe one’s own experiences without reaction is one of the powers acquired through the performance of sâdhana.
The subconscious mind may appear to be a very complex state of mind, as anything is when we do not understand it. Through daily sâdhana you will learn how to clear the subconscious of its unnatural states of confusion and how to keep it clear, transparent.
Your mind being at rest and no longer disturbed, intuition can flow through it unhampered. Your best answers often come after you have removed the searchlight of your conscious mind’s focus for a time. This is the superconscious working through the subconscious, making it subsuperconscious. You have now unfolded the key to living an intuitive and productive life. People who live positive lives have clear goals well impressed in the subconscious mind. They often draw upon their subsuperconscious mind, though they may call it by another name—perception, insight, intuition, instinct or sixth sense.
The subconscious mind performs many, many functions for us. In fact, it would be impossible to do without it. But think of some of the uses of the subconscious—the skills which your memory bank acquires, such as typing, driving, playing musical instruments or speaking a language. As soon as any learning process becomes subconscious, the conscious mind is free to direct its attention to new areas of learning. Even all the processes of the physical body are governed by the subconscious mind.
The subconscious mind is a storehouse, a reflection of all previous conscious mind experiences. The power of our decisions creates our reactions of tomorrow. When tomorrow’s reactions happen, they program the subconscious. We have to be careful that our programming is just right, so that the channels to superconsciousness begin to open through the subconscious.
Facing Old Memories
When man finally turns inward, sits down and asks “Who am I? Where did I come from? Where am I going?” what is the first thing he discovers? The subconscious mind, of course. Do not be afraid of the subconscious. It is useless to be afraid of the past.
When you begin to meditate, you become keen and perceptive enough to begin to see within yourself. Occasionally, you will see into the subconscious area and begin emotionally to relive the past. This means that many of the predominantly strong memory and reactionary patterns of the past loom up before you, one after another, and you may begin to react to them all over again, emotionally and even physically. These are not real experiences. It is only a layer of the subconscious exposing itself to your inner vision, indicating that reprogramming is needed. Handle each layer dynamically. Welcome the thoughts and accompanying feelings in a hospitable way. Do not fear them or regret them, and certainly do not criticize yourself for having them. The reaction will subside, but the memory will linger as an education upon which you can formulate decisions for the future, thus avoiding the same problem.
On the path to enlightenment, you have to face everything that has gone into the subconscious, not only in this life, but what has been registered in past lives. Until you do, you will never attain Self Realization. Your final obstacle will be that last subconscious area that you were afraid to face, looming up before you in the form of worries, fears and repressions that you will wish to push away, hide from, so that neither you nor anyone else can see them.
To hear of the Self is a great blessing, indeed, but to desire to realize the Self means that in this and your past lives you have gone through all of the experiences that this Earth consciousness has to offer. You have died all of the deaths and had all of the emotional experiences. You have had the good of the world and the bad of the world, and the mixed good and bad of the world through all of your many lives before you come to the life where you say, “I want to realize the Self in this life.” Now you begin to tie up all the loose ends of past experiences that have not been fulfilled or resolved, because those loose ends are what bring you back to birth.
Excerpts from “Merging with Siva” by Sivaya Subramuniyaswami
Love is the sum of all the spiritual laws. We may say that love is the heart of the mind. Universal love has nothing to do with emotional infatuation, attachment or lust. It flows freely through the person whose mind is unclouded by resentment, malice, greed and anger.
Pure love is a state of Being. Whereas everyone is running around trying to get love, it is found in giving. When a person begins to lose the idea of his own personality through concern for others, he will attract a like response to himself. The outgoing force of the soul in action brings freedom to the lower states of mind. The instinctive person is ordinarily so preoccupied with his own self, so wrapped up in his own shell, that he cannot give a thought to the welfare of another. He cannot give anything of himself. He is still far from any realization of the Self within. The action and reaction of the self-centered state of mind creates tension and discord in mind and body. Often, when the diaphragm is tight, the muscles are tense, breathing is difficult and your whole disposition is on edge. A person attains relaxation and peace through a benevolent act in which he loses himself in another’s happiness. The cycles of tension and release, tension and release – which are constantly given birth to in the instinctive and intellectual state of mind – are only broken as the unfolding soul expresses itself in devotion, breaking up the crust of personal concern and hurt feelings.
To suddenly relieve a person of all tension would be like making a poor man rich overnight. The instinctive mind feels lost and insecure under the impact of any sudden change in evolution. As the soul, the superconscious mind, or the light of God, begins to shine through the rest of the mind, the mind will either become reactionary or cooperative. Some people have a terrible fight within themselves as the soul begins to shine forth, and yet their only lasting satisfaction in life is in the outpouring of their individual soul qualities.
When you can become fully aware of the states of consciousness through which you pass, there will be no one whom you cannot understand, no one with whom you could not communicate through the medium of love. Until you learn the operation of this law as the sum of all laws, you will continue to harbor contention, to prefer argument and to walk the path of difference. Through bhakti yoga, the yoga of devotion, the combative mind becomes erased, absorbed into the consciousness of the One Self, the Being permeating all beings. With the help of devotion, you can soar within. You cannot only pull away detachedly from unwholesome areas of the mind, but it is possible to keep yourself in an inward state of expanded consciousness.
The only real security comes from within. Gain security, and if your security comes from within you, you become unburdened. However, if one gains his security from the external mind, then of course he will not accept help if help is given. What is help anyway, but man sharing with man? Who is the helper and who is the one who is helped? You have often heard teachers say, “Every time I give instruction, I learn more than my students.” Is the teacher giving the opportunity to the students to learn, or are the students giving the opportunity to the teacher? Obviously, it is quite mutual. The external ego does not give us help. It only ramifies awareness into even more externalized areas of the mind. The mind of light, your super consciousness, is the only area of the mind where permanent bliss, security and steadfastness occur when awareness flows through it, even in the outer areas of your nature. The mind of light is the only thing that can uplift awareness, shuffling off the burdens of the external mind. It is the great teacher.
It takes great dedication, devotion and bhakti to disentangle awareness from that which it is aware of, to flow into and become aware of expanded areas of mind. The rewards are great. We are able to look over and through our expanded vision the totality of the exterior area of our mind and intuitively know the answer to the experiences that we are going through. And then we can focus, superconsciously, from our intuitive state of mind and look at the exterior world from a new perspective, from right within the very core of life itself. It does not take long. It does take one quality though – devotion. Devotion involves going deep enough to understand the great principle of the fulfillment of one’s duty. Who must be devoted to whom? Members of a family to their temple, a wife to her husband, a husband to his religion, children to their parents, the student to the teacher, the disciple to the guru. No matter what you are studying – mathematics, chemistry, philosophy, cybernetics, sociology, religion, a lifestyle – the professor should represent what you are going to be. That is why you are studying with him. Only through devotion will you be totally aware, open, free, inspired. Only through devotion will you become what you aspire to unfold within yourself.
Where do you get devotion? Not from the teacher. The teacher is only an awakener. He imparts knowledge to you, a vibration to you. He awakens you to the possibilities of the grandeur within yourself.
How do we unburden awareness from the external areas of the mind through devotion? Our attitude has to be correct. Only in that way can we manifest the qualities that we want to manifest.
Everyone has many different qualities and tendencies in his nature. Some are flowing freely. Others are suppressed. Others are repressed. Some are active and others temporarily inactive. Our tendencies formulate our attitudes. Our attitudes, once consistently held, stabilize our perspective in looking at life. The first step in unburdening awareness from the externalized odic-magnetic areas of the mind is to cause a bhakti, a love, a devotion, right within the nerve currents of your body.
Devotion and duty lay the foundation for the spiritual unfoldment that everyone is talking about in this age. We do not find the path in books. We find the path in how we handle our individual lives.
Bhakti yoga is the awakening of the love nature through the practice of devotion and giving. Giving begins new life. Giving is an essential for spiritual unfoldment, for until we give and give abundantly, we don’t really realize that we are not the giver; we are just a channel for giving. Abundance, materially and spiritually, comes to you when you cease to be attached to it, when you can take as much joy over a little pebble as you could over a precious ruby. The power of giving is a very great power, a great power that comes to you through yoga. You hear about yoga powers, the power of levitation, the power of suspended animation, but the truly great powers are the power of giving, the power of concentration, the power of the subconscious control over your mind, body and emotions, the power of universal love – practical powers that can be used today.
Why can’t you spiritually unfold until you learn to give and give and give and give until it hurts? Because that hurt is your block. Many people give, and they give generously, up to the point where they feel, “I have given a lot,” or “I have given too much,” or “I gave as much as I can give,” or “I will give more when I can,” or “I enjoy giving and I used to give a lot, but I can’t give so much right now.” These are the little blocks that come up within man’s nature and undermine man’s nature and bind him down to the depths of the negative areas of the subconscious mind. And then he can’t progress. Why can’t he progress? Because he can’t have devotion unless giving unfolds as his light.
The person who has a heart full of joy, even if he doesn’t have material possessions to speak of, always finds something to give; he gives what he has. He knows that he is not the giver at all, and when something comes his way, he gives of it freely. He is a vehicle for giving, and finally he is so full of abundance in consciousness that he knows he is not the giver, and he fulfills bhakti yoga in his life. If you give and give freely and spontaneously, you feel good about it, and if you do it again, you feel even better about it. But if you give and give selfishly, you feel bad about it, and if you continue to do so, you’ll feel worse. If you give and give spontaneously, you will awaken your inner nature, and spiritual power will flow through you, and you will merge with God within you. But if you give and give selfishly, by hanging on to your gift after you have given it, you close the door to spirituality. Giving is in many, many forms. Give freely, and your gift will come back to you, often doubled. That is the incomparable law of karma. Then this opens the door for another gift to be given. Your intuitive nature will tell you how you can give, when and where, and soon you will find yourself giving every minute of every day in the most spontaneous ways.
Excerpts from “Merging with Siva” by Sivaya Subramuniyaswami
“God is harmony; the devotee who attunes himself will never perform any action amiss. His activities will be correctly and naturally timed to accord with astrological law. After deep prayer and meditation he is in touch with his divine consciousness; there is no greater power than that inward protection.”
“Then, dear Master, why do you want me to wear an astrological bangle?” I ventured this question after a long silence, during which I had tried to assimilate Sri Yukteswar’s noble exposition.
“It is only when a traveler has reached his goal that he is justified in discarding his maps. During the journey, he takes advantage of any convenient short cut. The ancient rishis discovered many ways to curtail the period of man’s exile in delusion. There are certain mechanical features in the law of karma which can be skillfully adjusted by the fingers of wisdom.
“All human ills arise from some transgression of universal law. The scriptures point out that man must satisfy the laws of nature, while not discrediting the divine omnipotence. He should say: ‘Lord, I trust in Thee, and know Thou canst help me, but I too will do my best to undo any wrong I have done.’ By a number of means – by prayer, by will power, by yoga meditation, by consultation with saints, by use of astrological bangles – the adverse effects of past wrongs can be minimized or nullified.
“Just as a house can be fitted with a copper rod to absorb the shock of lightning, so the bodily temple can be benefited by various protective measures. Ages ago our yogis discovered that pure metals emit an astral light which is powerfully counteractive to negative pulls of the planets. Subtle electrical and magnetic radiations are constantly circulating in the universe; when a man’s body is being aided, he does not know it; when it is being disintegrated, he is still in ignorance. Can he do anything about it?
“This problem received attention from our rishis; they found helpful not only a combination of metals, but also of plants and – most effective of all-faultless jewels of not less than two carats. The preventive uses of astrology have seldom been seriously studied outside of India. One little-known fact is that the proper jewels, metals, or plant preparations are valueless unless the required weight is secured, and unless these remedial agents are worn next to the skin.”
“The deeper the self-realization of a man, the more he influences the whole universe by his subtle spiritual vibrations, and the less he himself is affected by the phenomenal flux.” These words of Master’s often returned inspiringly to my mind.
The starry inscription at one’s birth, I came to understand, is not that man is a puppet of his past. Its message is rather a prod to pride; the very heavens seek to arouse man’s determination to be free from every limitation. God created each man as a soul, dowered with individuality, hence essential to the universal structure, whether in the temporary role of pillar or parasite. His freedom is final and immediate, if he so wills; it depends not on outer but inner victories.
Excerpts from the book by Paramhansa Yogananda “Autobiography of a Yogi”
They who have awareness see all worlds. They who have awareness know no sorrows. When they who have awareness are truly realized, they indeed have seen the Infinite. Tirumantiram 1786
To the awakened mystic, there is only one mind. There is no “your mind” and “my mind,” just one mind, finished, complete in all stages of manifestation. Man’s individual awareness flows through the mind as the traveler treads the globe. Just as the free citizen moves from city to city and country to country, awareness moves through the multitude of forms in the mind. Before we meditate, we view the cycles of our life and erroneously conclude that the mind changes, that it evolves. Through meditation, however, we observe that we have not changed at all. Awareness becomes our real identity, and it is pure and changeless. It was the same at seven years of age as it is today. It is the same in happiness as it is in sadness. Pure awareness cannot change. It is simply aware. Therefore, you are right now the totality of yourself. You never were different, and you never will be. You are perfect at this very moment. Change is only a seeming concept created through false identification with the experiences we have in various areas of the one mind. Everything in the world and everything in the mind is as it should be, in a perfect state of evolution. There is no injustice in the world. There is not one wrong thing. All is in perfect order and rhythm in Siva’s cosmic dance.
The mind is vast in its combinations of time, space and form. It contains every vibration, from subtle to gross. Awareness is free to travel in the mind according to our knowledge, our discipline and our ability to detach from the objects of awareness and see ourselves as the experience of awareness itself. What we term states of mind are, therefore, areas of distinct vibration.
As we move through the mind, the mind stays the same, just as the world stays the same as the traveler moves from city to city. Paris does not vanish when he enters New Delhi. Fear does not disappear from the mind when we are blissfully fearless. Others still experience it. Our awareness has simply moved to a more refined area. Therefore, the goal is to make awareness totally free by not getting too magnetically attached to only a few of the many areas. If the traveler enjoys Paris and settles down there, he will never know the other cities of the world. We on the spiritual path must work hard at keeping ourselves detached from friends, places, habits. Only then can we keep awareness free enough to travel uninhibitedly through the sublime, inner areas of the mind. Work on that every day. Observe when awareness gets so involved that it identifies with an experience. Then consciously tell yourself, “I am not fear. I am awareness flowing in the area of fear, and I can move into other areas at will.” Work at that. Strive for that simple ability to detach awareness from that which it is aware of.
Observation is the first faculty to appear in the awakening of the super conscious regions. Observation, when perceptively performed, is cultivated by abstinence from excessive talk. Talk dissipates the energies of the aura and of the vital body of man.Any intuitive breakthrough will be quite reasonable, but it does not use the processes of reason. Reason takes time. Super consciousness acts in the now. All super conscious knowing comes in a flash, out of the nowhere. Intuition is more direct than reason, and far more accurate.
We are not always aware in the super conscious mind, because we are generally aware in the conscious mind, or aware of our own subconscious or that of another. But the more and more we detach awareness from subconscious binds and conscious-mind attachments, the more we become super conscious. When we feel as if we are living totally in the moment, as if there is no past and there never has been any past or future, we are becoming subconsciously certain we are an intense, vibrating entity of the eternal now.
When your awareness is in super consciousness, you see yourself as pure life force flowing through people, through trees, through everything. Occasionally, in deep meditation we see the head filled with an intense light, and we know that that is the natural state of man. This is super consciousness: when we can look at another person and know what he is thinking and how he is feeling and how his subconscious is programmed. You see super conscious beings while in the super conscious area of the mind. Occasionally you clairaudiently hear voices singing, music playing, just as Beethoven heard his wonderful symphonies that he recorded like a scribe. When you are in this beautiful, blissful state of pure consciousness, you are barely conscious that you are there, because to have a consciousness of being conscious, you have to be conscious of another thing.
And then, as awareness soars within, we begin to experience the realms of super consciousness, man’s natural state. Then we have our ultimate experience, awareness dissolving into itself, beyond super consciousness itself. After Self Realization, you are looking at the film, the movie of the actors and actresses, including yourself, previously seen as real, being more sub super consciously conscious of the light projected on the back of the film than of the pictures displayed, which were seen as real before this awakening.
An excerpt from “Merging with Siva” by Sivaya Subramuniyaswami
Even when Yogaswami was alive he had a considerable reputation in Sri Lanka and India as a truly enlightened sage. His devotees naturally tended to exaggerate his spiritual accomplishments. He had been hailed as the greatest seer the world had known since Shankara. There were skeptics who dismissed him as just another yogi with psychic powers. Even those who questioned whether he had been fundamentally transformed in the spiritual sense did nevertheless readily concede that he had extraordinary psychic powers.
Yogaswami was reputed to have been remarkably clairvoyant. He was known to disappear from one place in space and reappear at several places at the same time. Three of his devotees claimed to have met him at the same moment in time in places as far distant as Jaffna (Sri Lanka), Madras and London. One of his close friends recalled incidents that illustrated that anything wished by Yogaswami immediately materialised. For instance, this person had accompanied Yogaswami on a long walk in the country across many miles of rice fields. Yogaswami having experienced the pangs of hunger and fatigue, he had casually wished for a car to ride back to town. No sooner had he uttered this wish than there were several cars on the scene. The drivers of the cars were all requesting Yogaswami to step into their cars. The drivers were vying for the privilege of being of some assistance to the holy man. On this occasion Yogaswami had raised his hands and exclaimed how dangerous it was to wish! Spiritually liberated persons, I was told, were incapable of wishing in the psychological sense as their egos had dissolved but their wishes were confined to purely physical needs.
On another occasion, at the end of one of Yogaswami’s rare visits to Colombo, a large crowd of admirers had thronged a railway station in Colombo to see his departure. Some devotees were chanting hymns in Sanskrit and Tamil while a few others were offering him garlands of flowers. It was getting late and one of Yogaswami’s friends had alerted him to the importance of catching his train in time. “Don’t worry,” replied Yogaswami assuredly, “the train cannot leave without me.” That evening there had been engine trouble and the train failed to start at the right time. After leisurely greeting all his friends Yogaswami finally decided to enter his railway compartment and the train thereupon started to move.
Although I had heard of Yogaswami, there were several reasons why I had never felt a compelling urge to visit him up to the time of my interview. First, at that time I could not afford the train fare to Jaffna which is in the far North of Sri Lanka; second, it seemed to me then, as now, that one must discover God or Truth oneself and that no external agency could really help one in this matter; third, Yogaswami chased away most of his visitors. Many persons unfortunately regarded Yogaswami as a mere fortuneteller with the gift of making accurate forecasts. At one time Yogaswami had a stream of visitors every day from dawn to dusk. They came to him with various personal and other problems. Those who were privileged enough to be received by him usually regarded themselves doubly blessed. Some of those who were rebuked by Yogaswami regarded themselves spiritually chastised. If Yogaswami wished to avoid a visitor he was known either to disappear or to make himself invisible for long periods of time.
An interesting explanation of Yogaswami’s behavior is the following. The minds of human beings who are in bondage are in a state of animation — animated by karma in the Hindu-Buddhist sense. This karma is none other than the sum total of the innumerable psychological influences that have conditioned the mind and hence stand in the way of liberation. These psychological factors coalesce to create the delusion of the ‘I’ or the ego. Liberated persons, however, experience a state of pure consciousness owing to their transcending this shell of the self. It would be correct to describe the state of liberation as one of non-animation since a liberated mind would not be animated by karma. As a liberated mind is therefore comparable to inanimate matter, it could be animated or given momentum by a non-liberated mind that would necessarily be characterised by animation or karma. Besides, a liberated mind has the advantage of a mirror in which a non-liberated mind can see itself as it truly is.
Now, if Yogaswami seemed to lack an unchanging personality it was presumably because his ‘personality’ temporarily acquired the characteristics of his visitors. Not surprisingly, therefore, proud persons invariably found Yogaswami behaving arrogantly towards them. To those who were haunted by fears Yogaswami’s manner seemed timid. A South Indian sannyasi (recluse) had recited a stanza from the Bhagavad Gita to Yogaswami. Thereupon Yogaswami had repeated the stanza with alteration and clever puns upon certain words so that the sacred lines acquired an erotic significance. Yogaswami could not help doing that for he was merely reacting to the hidden sexual imagery in the unconscious mind of that recluse. Consequently, this ascetic like many other of Yogaswami’s visitors, was not only irritated but also embarrassed.
In a sense, Yogaswami was a Zen master who awakened people from their psychological slumber by shocking them without deliberately wishing to do so. The people of Jaffna held Yogaswami with a curious mixture of veneration, affection and fear. Some of his ardent admirers seemed more to fear than love him. To be received by Yogaswami it was necessary to approach him without any ulterior motive whatsoever. That motiveless state of pure being seemed the unattainable, the zenith of spirituality; indeed, if only one could attain that purified state of consciousness, would not one be oneself a Yogaswami? Now the lack of confidence in my ability to face Yogaswami without any recognisable motive was also an important reason why I had been curbing the desire to see him.
I had been walking a great distance along the seashore in Colombo. The fishermen were hurriedly pushing their boats on the sand before sunset at Dehiwala. Their cries and their baskets of fish disturbed the peacefulness of that quiet evening. So I walked away from them and chose an isolated spot on a rock facing the sea at Bambalapitiya. The skies were gradually getting lit with many colours owing to the setting sun. The evening was pleasantly cool and the soothing sea breeze had an exhilarating effect on one’s nerves. The ceaseless roar of the sea and the sight of the waves breaking against the rocks seemed an appropriate subject for contemplation.
Those tireless waves must have dashed against those rocks for millions of years but the rocks remained unyielding. Was not the spiritual quest of man throughout the ages also like that? Man endlessly searched and struggled to find Truth of God which seemingly remained unknown and mysterious. The sea is comparable to universal consciousness out of which waves or little egos spring. These waves dash against Truth and dissolve but only to become transformed again into other waves.
These were my thoughts when suddenly a very dark and elderly man approached me and almost demanded that I listen to him. I was rather taken aback. His manner was mildly aggressive but his attitude was on the whole kindly and sympathetic as I soon discovered.
“Young man,” he said, “why idle your time?” Our acquaintance quickly developed into a warm friendship. This person introduced himself as a retired government official who lived in Tellippallai (a village close to Jaffna) with his wife and family. Within minutes of knowing this person he was telling me about Yogaswami with great enthusiasm.
“It is disgraceful,” he observed, “that you haven’t bothered to visit our great sage who lives in this island.” This gentleman very kindly offered to pay my train fare to Jaffna and also invited me to live in his home as long as I wished.
We spent several eventful weeks together in Jaffna. He took me to all the famous Hindu temples in that part of the country including the Nallur temple. This person being a devout Hindu, he sincerely believed that it was necessary to purify me as a preparation for the forthcoming visit to Yogaswami. In the mornings before sunrise his wife would recite hymns from the Hindu scriptures. Frequently I had to dress in a white dhoti with sandalwood paste and holy ash applied liberally on my body as a necessary requirement before entering certain temples. I did not quite see the religious or spiritual significance of these rituals, but perhaps they added a certain colour to these otherwise drab and solemn occasions.
As the weeks passed by, much though I was enjoying the hospitality of my generous host, I was nevertheless beginning to feel rather impatient that we had not yet visited Yogaswami. I even wondered whether my friend was subtly trying to convert me to the Hindu way of life. In any case, such a course seemed pointless, as I was already rather sympathetic to Vedanta philosophy. Later I realised that my friend was sincere in his assurance that a preliminary period of preparation was absolutely essential before having an interview with Yogaswami.
Nearly a month passed and I was longing to return home to Colombo. As I was fast losing my earlier interest in Yogaswami, I finally decided to leave Jaffna without visiting him. When I broke the news of this decision to my friend he gleamed triumphantly.
“Ah, I think the right moment has come. Now that you are losing interest in him you are in a ready state to see him. We shall go tomorrow.”
After he had spoken I was convinced for the first time as to the real purpose underlying this long period of waiting and preparation. We decided to meet Yogaswami the following morning at sunrise, which was supposedly the best time for such a meeting.
It was a cool and peaceful morning except for the rattling noises owing to the gentle breeze that swayed the tall and graceful palmyrah trees. We walked silently through the narrow and dusty roads. The city was still asleep. Yogaswami lived in a tiny hut that had been specially constructed for him in the garden of a home in the city of Jaffna. The hut had a thatched roof and was on the whole characterised by the simplicity of a peasant dwelling. Yogaswami appeared exactly as I had imagined him to be like. He looked very old and frail. He was of medium height and his long grey hair fell over his shoulders. When we first saw Yogaswami he was sweeping the garden with a long broom. He slowly walked towards us and opened the gates.
“I am doing a coolie’s job,” he said. “Why have you come to see a coolie?” He chuckled with a mischievous twinkle in his eyes. I noticed that he spoke good English with an impeccable accent. As there is usually an esoteric meaning to all his statements, I interpreted his words to mean this: “I am a spiritual cleanser of human beings. Why, do you want to be cleansed?”
He gently beckoned us into his hut. Yogaswami sat cross-legged on a slightly elevated platform and we sat on the floor facing him. We had not yet spoken a single word.
That morning we hardly spoke for he did all the talking. Talking to him was unnecessary for one had only to think of something and he replied instantaneously. I did not have to formulate my questions into words for Yogaswami was aware of my thoughts all the time.
After we had comfortably sat on the floor, Yogaswami closed his eyes and remained motionless for nearly half an hour. He seemed to live in another dimension of his being during that time. One wondered whether the serenity of his facial expression was attributable to the joy of his inner meditation. Was he sleeping or resting? Was he trying to probe into our minds? My friend indicated with a nervous smile that we were really lucky to have been received by him. Yogaswami suddenly opened his eyes. Those luminous eyes brightened the darkness of the entire hut. His eyes were as mellow as they were luminous – the mellowness of compassion.
I was beginning to feel hungry and tired and thereupon Yogaswami asked, “What will you have for breakfast?” At that moment I would have accepted anything that was offered but I thought of idly (steamed rice cakes) and bananas which were popular items of food in Jaffna. In a flash there appeared a stranger in the hut who respectfully bowed and offered us these items of food from a tray that he was holding. A little later my friend wished for coffee but before he could express his request in words the same man reappeared on the scene and served us with coffee.
After breakfast Yogaswami asked us not to throw away the banana skins which were for the cow. He spoke loudly to the cow that was grazing in the garden. The cow clumsily walked fight into the hut. He fed her with the banana skins. She licked his hand gratefully and tried to sit on the floor. Yogaswami held out the last remaining banana skin to the cow and said, “Now leave us alone. Don’t disturb us, Valli. I’m having some visitors.” The cow nodded her head in obeisance and faithfully carried out his instructions.
After the cow had left us Yogaswami closed his eyes again and he seemed once more to be lost in a world of his own. I was indeed curious to know what exactly Yogaswami did on these occasions by closing his eyes. I wondered whether he was meditating. It was an apposite moment to broach the subject but before I could ask any questions he suddenly started speaking.
“Look at those trees. The trees are meditating. Meditation is silence. If you realise that you really know nothing then you would be truly meditating. Such truthfulness is the right soil for silence. Silence is meditation.”
Yogaswami bent forward eagerly. “You must be simple. You must be utterly naked in your consciousness. When you have reduced yourself to nothing – when your ‘self’ has disappeared – when you have become nothing then you are yourself God. The man who is nothing knows God for God is nothing. Nothing is everything. Because I am nothing, you see, because I am a beggar – I own everything. So nothing means everything. Understand?”
“Tell us about this state of nothingness,” requested my friend with eager anticipation.
“It means that you genuinely desire nothing. It means that you can honestly say that you know nothing. It also means that you are not interested in doing anything about this state of nothingness.”
What, I speculated, did he mean by ‘know nothing’ – the state of ‘pure being’ in contrast to ‘becoming’?
“You think you know but in fact you are ignorant. When you see that you know nothing about yourself then you are yourself God.”
Yogaswami frequently alluded to this state of silence. He spoke of it as though it was his very life. To one who has not experienced this state of samadhi any description of it will necessarily remain an abstraction. In his presence one caught a fleeting glimpse of that bliss. Whether Yogaswami’s consciousness expanded to include those in his immediate presence or whether this feeling of indescribable elation or peaceful bliss or samadhi was based on self-deception is a matter that cannot be easily decided. Almost everything that Yogaswami said seemed so amazingly simple that one could not help becoming temporarily oblivious to the practical implications of his statements. Then, for a moment, as though to assert the independence of my mind, I tried to scrutinize his sayings in my mind without asking any questions.
Is this state an act of divine grace? Is it possible to induce this state in oneself? Does one come by this state accidentally without any exertion of will? Would not any attempt to induce silence inevitably activate the ego? Yogaswami, who was evidently aware of these doubts and difficulties, came to my assistance with an unforgettable pithy remark: “There is silence when you realise that there is nothing to gain and nothing to lose.”
Our conversation that was taking an interesting turn was interrupted by a man who walked into the hut. This person was apparently an ardent devotee of Yogaswami. He lit a candle, placed a few jasmine flowers on the floor and finally prostrated himself on the cold cement floor before kissing Yogaswami’s feet.
“Bloody fool!” yelled Yogaswami, “this is not an altar! Are you worshipping me or are you worshipping yourself? Why worship another?” The poor man withdrew into a corner of the hut with reverence and trembling.
“Do you think,” went on Yogaswami, “that you can find God by worshipping another? You do such silly, stupid things – offering flowers and lighting candles! Do you think that you can find God by giving bribes?”
In situations of this kind Yogaswami’s strictures did not appear to originate from his pedagogic role of a guru or spiritual teacher as many of his disciples would probably have supposed, but were rather the casual and incidental remarks of someone who was deeply moved by human folly. Indeed, Yogaswami discouraged the recording of his sayings, which he likened to rubbish that did not deserve preservation. He apparently regarded that the veracity of a spontaneously uttered statement depended on the unique and unrepeatable circumstances that gave rise to it.
Yogaswami waved his hands with disapproval at that man who had just worshipped him. The then pressed his quivering hands against his heart in an eloquent gesture and exclaimed loudly “Look! It is here! God is here! It is here!”
For a few moments he closed his eyes again. These interludes were probably intended to allow the meaning of his pronouncements to sink gradually into the minds of his listeners. There was a strange, majestic and Buddha-like dignity whenever Yogaswami closed his eyes in meditation – the erect spine and the cross-legged posture together with the face that was apparently asleep but yet supremely awake.
“The time is short but the subject is vast,” he whispered with extreme gravity. This enigmatic statement may mean that the subject of understanding God or reality is vast whereas the time at one’s disposal is so limited that it should not be wasted in unessentials such as rituals and ceremonies.
There was a question that I had hesitated to ask but it was an important one for me at that time: how does one overcome depression? No sooner had I formulated this question in my mind than Yogaswami answered it instantaneously.
“Now, what is depression? You mean pessimism, don’t you? Pessimism and optimism are the same. They are two sides of the same coin. You are not better off when you are pessimistic than when you are optimistic and you are also no better off when you are optimistic than when you are pessimistic. Optimism and pessimism as reflected in joy and sorrow are different angles from which you view life. But life is neither one nor the other. If you look at life exactly as it is and not from any angle, free from this duality, then life is neither pessimistic nor optimistic.”
As he was discoursing there walked in an elderly American lady who quickly removed her sandals and joined our company on the floor. The familiar manner with which she smiled with everyone present and the affectionate way in which she greeted Yogaswami indicated that she was probably a frequent visitor to the hut.
“What have you been up to?” Yogaswami asked her rather playfully.
“I’ve been to the Hindu temple in the neighborhood. It was so peaceful there.”
“You mean that stone temple?” asked Yogaswami laughingly. “You went to worship the stone gods in the stone temple! There is only one temple and that is the temple of yourself. And to find God you have to know this temple of yourself. There is no other temple. No one can save you!”
“What about Christ and Buddha? Can they not help us?” interjected the American lady. From her demeanor it was clear that her question was not motivated by a desire to elicit information but was rather the reaction to her wounded religious susceptibilities arising from Yogaswami’s remarks.”
“The Buddha and Christ saved themselves through their own efforts. Afterwards the priests got hold of the rubbish and propagated it. The priests played the fool. Each man for himself – in this spiritual business. Don’t believe anyone who promises to help you. No one will help because no one can. Another may point the way but you have to do the walking.”
As Yogaswami continued to talk we listened to him with rapt attention, devouring every word and treasuring every moment spent in that dingy hut. Several persons were not standing at the narrow entrance to the hut, which was fast becoming crowded.
“Why do you all come to see me?” It was a question that was addressed to everyone present and not merely to the latest visitors. “I am just as much a fool as any of you. I am searching, groping in the dark, trying to understand. I really cannot help you. There is nothing that I can give you. There is nothing that you can take away from here. Nobody believes that I am a fool! But I am a fool.”
“But you are not,” snapped the American lady with impatience as though to expose his false modesty.
“Perhaps,” observed Yogaswami, “I’m a different sort of fool – a fool who willingly admits the fact of my foolishness.”
Yogaswami died a few years ago but what he imparted in his characteristically casual manner will always remain living truths and a source of inspiration to all who met him. The experience of conversing with a living master in a memorable interview was far more instructive than reading many books relating to the ageless spiritual and philosophical wisdom.
One of the lamentable features of Sri Lankan social life is the importance given to racial, religious and other institutions. People are seldom valued on their own merits. The label of a particular race or caste or religion is pasted on you from birth. These separate factors obstruct the communion between persons on society. Now in such a basically corrupt society Yogaswami stood alone. He was one of those rare individuals who brushed aside these wicked man-made divisions. Why were his admirers drawn from almost every group in that society? It was surely because of the universal recognition that his compassion was so pure that it encompassed everyone. In this sense Yogaswami was not a typical Sri Lankan although born in Sri Lanka he was not of Sri Lanka.
Unfortunately we do not have a foolproof yardstick with which to find out where another has really seen God. It is, of course, quite easy to deceive oneself into thinking that one has seen God or attained liberation. Nevertheless, contradictory though it may seem, one experiences a certain unmistakable feeling of certainty of the presence of God whether one is within the physical proximity of a genuine man of God such as Yogaswami. There is the experience of an indescribable presence although one may not have seen God oneself. I have had this experience in the presence of two really remarkable men: Yogaswami and J. Krishnamurti.
Now what is this special sense? This faculty does not depend for its existence on the degree of the emotional piety of the experiencer. It is not even related to the ability or inability to perform miracles by the sage in question. What then is this special sense of knowing? One notices in a truly enlightened being that dimension of non-duality. He does not feel a sense of otherness in relation to nature, the universe and other human beings. In the presence of a liberated being one experiences if one is sensitive, a certain consciousness that is all-pervading, all-embracing and non-exclusive. One also notices the absence of that struggle to become something that one is not. Because Yogaswami’s consciousness was so expansive he was able, if he really cared, to read the thoughts of others and communicate in a medium other than the spoken word. Then again one felt that he was not separate from all the objects and persons that surrounded him. The trees and the stones and all the material and non-material things in the universe were not separate from him: he was, in fact, a part of them all. The sensation that one felt in his presence is difficult to put into words. Suffice it to record that one’s consciousness in his presence was awakened to a heightened degree.
Apart from this obvious lack of a sense of ‘otherness’ that one immediately noticed when in his presence, several other matters are worth noting. He seemed remarkably relaxed all the time. There was no element of strain. Now and again he would admonish a devotee or laugh like a child when someone cracked a joke or lapse into long periods of silence. All these seemingly outward disturbances may be likened to the soft ripples on the waters of a lake that reverts to its original serenity soon afterwards. That serenity or peace or bliss may be likened to awareness or pure consciousness.
Yogaswami dissuaded persons from adoring him as a sacred object or an altar. What was more important for him was that we should sincerely look within ourselves. Indeed ‘look within’ were words that he frequently uttered. What does looking within involve? It involves the honest uncovering of those hidden conflicts in the unconscious that stand in the way of pure consciousness. It involves the silent and passive observation of all one’s fears, longings, hopes, aspirations, joys, frustrations and the like so that there are no hidden corners in the mind any more. Real meditation is none other than the silent discovery of oneself. One has to watch the various tricks that the mind likes to play. Through the perception of these tricks one begins to dissolve those prejudices and deceptions that obstruct clarity. With the cleansing of the mind and the heart there is pure consciousness. One is then qualified to receive something which according to the sages is indescribable but which may, nevertheless, be named as grace or God.
“Meditation is not thinking of anything; it is remaining cummā.” -Yogaswami
by Susunaga Weeraperuma 1970
copied from http://kataragama.org/sages/yogaswam.htm
Throughout the long history of human existence the man has been wondering about his true nature and questioning the purpose of his presence on Earth. In his search for answers he came up with an idea that happiness is the reason why he comes into being and God is his true nature. Equipped with these bold believes and motivated to acquire infinite happiness the man manifests his God’s nature through modifying the surrounding and landscapes by building roads, constructing skyscrapers, blasting rock mountains, diverting rivers, creating damns, removing and implanting body organs, creating millions of food recipes to consume, changing climate by polluting oceans and atmosphere, applying chemicals to kill millions of lives, formulating new laws and religions to rule the Earth, creating more and more comforts and pleasures and still feeling unsatisfied, building air and space ships to be closer to his God, searching and researching, pushing limits far and wide, further and further, through competition winning and defeating simultaneously, growing resentment and attachment which explode into fears and hatred that in their turn lead to wars and depressions, acquiring multiple educations, digesting tremendous amounts of information and rarely discovering that the only path to omnipresent God of infinite and absolute love, dwelling within each and everything is from within and not without.
There are five steps that awareness has to flow through, gaining strength each time, on the path to enlightenment. When we first start, awareness is flowing through many areas of the mind. Then finally it will have enough experiences flowing through the mind to turn in on itself. When this happens, certain faculties come into being. One of them is willpower. And we learn to hold attention. We learn to hold awareness at attention. Awareness: attention!
1st: What is attention? Attention is the first of the five steps on the path, that is, holding awareness steady, centralized in only one area of the mind, and the area that we choose it to be in, not the area that someone else has chosen it to be in.
When other people move awareness through one area or another, we call that distraction, or worldly distractions. The mission is to move awareness yourself. How do you learn to do that? By holding it at attention. How does attention work? Attention is awareness poised like a hummingbird over a flower. flower. It doesn’t move. The flower doesn’t move, and awareness becomes aware of the flower—poised. The entire nerve system of the physical body and the functions of breath have to be at a certain rhythm in order for awareness to remain poised like a hummingbird over a flower.
Give up the idea that thoughts come in and out of your mind like visitors come in and
out of your house. Hold to the idea that it is awareness that moves, rather than the thoughts that move. Awareness held at attention can then come into the next vibratory rate and concentrate.
2nd: Take a flower and place it in front of you. Breathe deeply as you sit before it. Simply look at it. Don’t stare at it and strain your eyes. But simply become aware of it. Each time awareness moves to some other area of the mind, with your willpower move awareness back and become aware of the flower again. Keep doing this until you are simply aware of the flower and not aware of your body or your breath. Then begin to concentrate on the flower. That is the second step.
This is what concentration is—remaining in the thought area of the particular item that you are aware of and flowing through the different color and sound vibrations of the thoughts. How does it work? The powers of concentration—it is only a name. Actually, what is happening is you are flowing awareness through the area of the mind which contains the elements which actually made that particular flower, and you are perceiving how all those elements came together.
3rd: After we are able to hold awareness hovering over that which we are concentrating upon, we come into great powers of observation. We are able to look into and almost through that which we are concentrating upon and observe its various parts and particles, its action and its reaction, because we are not distracted. Even observation in daily life, as a result of regular participation in the practice of concentration, comes naturally. We are able to see more, hear more, feel more. Our senses are more keen and alive. Observation is so necessary to cultivate, to bring awareness fully into the fullness of meditation. This leads us then into our very next step, meditation. Meditation and concentration are practically the same thing, though meditation is simply a more intense state of concentration.
You are scrutinizing the inner layers of the mind, of how a flower grows, how the seed is formed. You are observing it so keenly that you have forgotten that you are a physical body, that you are an emotional unit, that you are breathing. You are in the area of mind where that flower exists.
4th: We go deeper, deeper, deeper within, into the energy and the life within the cells of the flower, and we find that the energy and the life within the cells of the flower is the same as the energy within us, and we are in contemplation upon energy itself. We see the energy as light. In a state of contemplation, we might not even be conscious of light itself, for you are only conscious of light if you have a slight consciousness of darkness. Otherwise, it is just your natural state, and you are in a deep reverie. When you are in the mind of energy, in that rarefied consciousness, you are not conscious of the Earth or any planets. You are just conscious of the stratum of energy that runs through Earth, space and planets. It’s not even really energy.
5th: This, then, leads to samâdhi, the very deepest samâdhi, where we almost, in a sense, go within one atom of that energy and move into the primal source of all. There’s really nothing that you can say about it, because you cannot cast that concept of the Self, or that depth of samâdhi, you cannot cast it out in words. You cannot throw it out in a concept, because there are no areas of the mind in which the Self exists. You have to realize It to know It.
You have to be so simple to realize the Self, not simple-minded, but so unattached. Before you went in, you knew all sorts of things about it. You could quote a thousand different things about the Self; you knew so much. And when you come out, you don’t know anything about it at all. And everything is different. You look at the world from the inside out. You look at people from the inside out. You look at a person, and immediately you see how he came along through life. You see the whole sequence, all now. Then you really know, after that deep samâdhi, that the mind, in all phases of manifestation, was all finished long ago. It’s already complete. Before that, you try to believe in that concept. And it’s a vast concept to believe in, because at certain times, when awareness is flowing in the external areas of the mind, it certainly doesn’t look that way at all. Our perspective is limited.
After the deep samâdhi of Self Realization, our perspective couldn’t really be called vast; we simply see things the way they are. But for Self Realization, you have to really want it more than your life; for that deep samâdhi, that’s what it is: more than your life.
By Satguru Sivaya Subramuniyaswami in “Merging with Siva”