The following is ancopy and pasteof things I wrote over the last year.
The central process of Yoga.
There are many different paths that take us to God. Everyone follows a different path to reach God. However, in spite of differences that are perceived, it is my firm opinion that all paths – although to a superficial observer seem different – in reality they have more common concepts than meets the idea.
The person who follows the path of Wisdom or Gyan makes the claim that liberation is only possible with knowledge or gyan. According to the path of wisdom, the soul is encased in 3 bodies – Sthula or gross physical body, Sukshma or subtle body and Karan Deha. One may read volumes after volumes of this knowledge but it does not help one bit unless one has the perception. The true Gyani is one who has an accurate perception of this. Without this perception, the knowledge is a mere theory and does not lead to liberation.
The person who follows the path of Bhakti places emphasis on the love for God. The biggest mistake they make is in their own concept of love. Love is unconditional. Swami Vivekananda has described the concept of love in great detail. Most people who follow this path have a very selfish motive in their Bhakti. The lord only wants the true love. Love that is for loves sake. There should be absolutely no personal motive at all. Moreover, in most cases, the love is usually is at an emotional level, at the level of their mind. The mind is ever wavering and cannot be the true source of love (at least initially). However, the true desire and love for God is inherently present in the soul. Unfortunately, this love is covered up by the intellect, passions of the mind and ego.
It should be quite clear by now that the central process in any of the above is to identify or realize ones identity. Most people when asked who they are, they identify themselves with their body and emotions or intellect or a combination thereof. They are wholly ignorant of the soul or the inner consciousness which is present.
The entire human consciousness is far more complex than meets the eye. According to Sri Aurobindo there are many facets to the human consciousness. There is an outer consciousness and an inner consciousness. Most people are unaware of the inner consciousness. What we generally call as consciousness is the outer or surface consciousness. This outer consciousness can generally moves from the outer gross physical body or intellect or emotional / desire + ego level. As one makes the transition from the outer to the inner consciousness, we slowly realize that just like there is the outer physical, outer intellect and outer emotional consciousness, there is also an inner physical consciousness, inner intellect and inner emotional consciousness. The inner emotional consciousness corresponds to the chitta described by patanjali. Collectively, the inner physical consciousness, inner intellect and innter emotional aspects are called the subliminal body. This subliminal body is NOT the sukshma or subtle or astral body. The subliminal body is still part of the outer consciousness.
One of the methods to make progress and to realize the differences in the human consciousness, Kapila muni and the sankhya philosophy have given us the method of being a witness to the thoughts and emotions. This method has also been described by Swami Shivohum tirthji. By merely being a witness and not participating, eventually we become aware of the inner intellect and inner emotional aspect. When we succeed in doing this, we are still at the outer consciousness but observing our intellect and emotions from the inner intellect and inner emotional level. Since it is still at the outer consciousness, the mind can tire while observing and it takes effort to be a witness.
Generally speaking this witness attitude starts at either the intellect or emotional level. A few rare souls have this spontaneously at the physical level and they naturally see the outer world from the inner physical consciousness. Edgar Casey in the 1930s was a psychic. He was generally established in the inner physical consciousness. This gave him the ability to see auras around people and go into a trance. However, this trance is not the trance of Samadhi.
This progress, of being able to take the witness attitude is still a prelude to the deeper witness attitude at a much deeper level. As the surrender to Shakti grows deeper and stronger and rejection of more and more desires becomes habitual and the desire for God becomes stronger, one begins to live at a much deeper level. Once this happens, the whole picture changes. One is no longer observing from outside but one is observing the outside from within. The intellect and emotions seem as if they are not yours but belong to someone else. When desires arise, it seems like an attack from the outside. Thoughts also seem like they belong to someone else. It is at this stage when yama and niyama actually become a possibility and not a dream. This is the stage which is described in the bible as born again and this is the stage which is called Dvija (dvi means second and ja meaning birth). Without this stage, no one can make any progress in yoga or meet god. It is only after this stage begins that one can be called a yogi
During meditation, this stage starts by a pleasant sensation of numbness in the entire body. When this happens, the outer consciousness is retiring into the inner consciousness. It is also associated with immobility and heaviness. Moreover, one becomes aware of a sudden silence and although the mind maybe active, the soul very silently observes it but does not care. It makes no attempt to intervene. Often times before this silence is reached, the mechanical mind (eg songs or bhajans) suddenly crop up as may certain desires. The only way to overcome this is by a very strong desire for God. This strong desire is the will of the Jiva or purusha. Later this silence becomes calm and then into peace.
Up to this point one is still under the realms of Maya. This point by itself is the junction between Maya and the Divine.
This inner core person is the first step in progress. However, this cannot be achieved unless there is significant purification of the mind, the intellect, the ego and several desires have been relinquished. After this initial unveiling there is still a great chance of falling down because one is not anchored in the divine. That anchoring, is known as Nirvikalpa Samadhi by Paramhansa Yogananda and Sahaja Samadhi by others.
The separation of the inner core from the the outer consciousness can occur initially in one of three places – the gross physical body, the sukshma sharir or subtle body or the karana body.
The inner core is in direct contact with the divine. However, this is entirely unknown to the external mind, emotions or ego and the inner self is unable to exert its influence. If there is Shaktipata, then the inner core is able to directly influence the external mind, emotions and ego and help in the cleaning process. This is the method which was used by Swami Muktananda and By Yogandra Vigyani of Mahayoga. It usually started in the physical body. They often times gave a Mantra Diksha (which involves giving a Jagrat Mantra) and this allowed the inner core to exert an influence on the external. This process is called Siddha Yoga or Maha Yoga.
The method employed by Paramhansa Yogananda, Sri Aurobindo and my gurudev was a dual process requiring an effort on part of the Sadhaka and also a partial awakening of the inner core. This awakening was started in the sukshma sharir or subtle body. Every time, Gurudev pressed the Nadi of the Sadhaka, the sadhaka would go into a trance. With every trance, there was significant strengthening of the inner core. A strong inner core is then able to exert an influence on the external mind, emotions or ego.
No matter how the Shakti is awakened, it is of paramount importance that the Sadhaka make the effort of relinquishing the desire and patterns of the sanskara. The sadhaka CANNOT purify the mind or emotions. The only thing he has is a choice. He can choose to live with the desires and sansakra or choose the help of the divine to purify and release him of the desires.
This process is very difficult. In the normal day to day life, the sadhaka is aware of his desires and he continues to live with it. When he tries to walk on the spiritual path, he gets the notion of relinquishing desires. It is at this time, he begins to understand that he is very attached to his desires and wholly unwilling to give up desires. This is the only step for which a Sadhaka has a choice. He has to make the conscious willing choice of wanting to give up the desires.
The unveiling of the inner core, as stated earlier, requires that one becomes more conscious of ones inner self and less and less conscious of the external. When ones consciousness changes from the external and is more in the internal or inner core, then it is called Dhyana or concentration. At that time, the whole world appears differently. Normally, what people call as meditation is merely something in which the external mind is trying to focus on something. Since, the mind (99% of the time) can only focus on the external, it is merely a game in which the external mind is concentrating on something external.
So, how does one change from the external consciousness to the internal consciousness. The help of a Guru is a must. There are 4 steps that are essential in the process.
First, is concentration at some point on the body. It can be either on the apex of the head or the Agna chakra or the Anahata chakra.
Secondly, this has to be accompanied by total surrender. Nothing should matter except God at that time and one should allow Shakti to do as she sees fit.
Third, one must relinquish all attachment to desire and merely observe without interacting or engaging with any thought or desire or feeling of eg.
At this point, a hidden desire may emerge or the mind may start some sort of song, bhajan or kirtana. It is the mechanical mind, the last resort the mind has.
Fourthly, the only way to overcome this mechanical mind or the desire pattern is to strongly and positively want God. It is at this step, that one can actually demand God help because the soul is nothing but the child of the divine. This demand is independent of the activities of the mind, desire or even ego. It is not associated with any thought that one is better than the next individual but just that I am thy child and I want to be with you.
Abhayasa is the practice and implementation of these steps. Pranayama is helpful in making the mind more stable. Kevala Kumbhaka or Kevali pranayama is the best but very difficult to achieve. Bhastrika pranayam is helpful in achieving this. Again, true pranayama DOES NOT involve holding the breath although the breath is automatically held in the process. In kumbhaka, the movement of the prana is very slow or stops automatically. This slow movement of the prana can occur independent of the breath and that is what should be achieved. The slower the movement shushumna is spontaneously opened and the prana can then begin to ascend.
When one starts making progress, the sadhaka begins understand the complexity of the different facets covering the soul. As stated previously, we have the intellect or buddhi, the emotions or vital covering, the physical body and the ego. They are each separate entities and they are called different tattvas. They have their independent existence and each part has to surrender completely and unconditionally to God. When the Sadhaka starts to have knowledge of the tattvas and the purification of the tattvas starts the Shakti is said to be awakened in the phase of Kalavati. (There are four stages – Kriyavati, Kalavati, Varnamayi and Vedhmayee).
In the Vedas, there is a detailed description of Panchikarana. It is a description of the different tattvas mixing up with the other tattvas and forming a total of 25 other tattvas. Eg, The earth element is divided into four parts which mingle with the other 4 tattvas and one part remains as such. This whole panchikarana table can be found in any of the traditional Vedas.
The result of such a panchikarana is evident in the different tattvas we described above. The buddhi or intellect does do the function of thinking but it has its own ego, emotions and physical aspect. Moreover, it has its own limited consciousness. The same thing occurs with the emotions or vital, the physical body and the ego. This why although the intellect may surrender and accept God, but the emotional aspect fights and refuses to surrender. Again, this emotional and intellectual discrepancy is what causes the greatest anguish. Many examples of this can be sited. Most Sadhakas understand the necessity of giving up attachment to the pleasures in life, the necessity of not being spiteful and to love everyone. However, when it comes to practice most of the fail This is because although there maybe some surrender at the intellectual level, the vital or emotional aspect fights the surrender, fights the relinquishment of desire tooth and nail. This is why, even for those who do not do abhyasa still have problems of their own – eg the alcoholic, the addict etc – may understand the necessity of giving up the vice but cannot give it up.
This transformation of the different elements or tattvas has to be achieved before one can make decisive progress and get the Siddhis and liberation. It is a long and slow process and takes several births. The process can be hastened if the Sadhaka can simply understand that all he or she has to do is silently observe Shakti doing what is necessary. No ego (that he or she is special or the vanity that his Shakti is awakened or the ego that he understands the process), No emotional reaction in the vital (no feelings of happiness, thrill or even satisfaction), No intellectual processing (of this is what is happening and this will happen next etc) – just observe without any reaction. Once, this is fully accomplished, Shakti can do what is necessary unhampered. This is what is described as calmly observing or some call it patience. Without this, no progress can ever be achieved.
Once this is achieved, the Sadhaka can experience Shakti working in many ways. It can work and deliver joy or the force can start working to hasten the cleaning process or give knowledge or by giving peace. However, in the early stages, the Sadhaka may have glimpses of joy or knowledge or peace but it gets so mixed up with the ego principle and the vital – emotional aspect and intellect that the true effect is not recognized. His own ego is ever so ready to get mixed with it that the result is lost and the effects are only felt intermittently. When Shakti works and delivers its force, the Sadhaka often feels he is strong enough to do miracles, crush a stone or overthrow anything or anyone. This is just a manifestation of the vital or emotional aspect displaying its own ego and wanting to use the force for its own selfish reasons.
The complete awakening of the Shakti is means all that the inner core or inner consciousness is completely liberated from all 4 aspects of the external consciousness. These four things are the intellect, the vital or emotional aspects, the physical consciousness and the ego principle. Once liberated from the external consciousness, the Sadhaka walks around with the sense of freedom. Once a Sadhaka is in this state, meditation becomes effortless. He begins to have glimpses of the various forces that interact in this play. The 2 forces are the divine forces and the forces of prakriti. The Sadhaka begins to realize that his perception is no longer restricted to the 5 senses. He can feel or perceive things in a different way, through the inner consciousness. This perception is far more accurate and reliable than the gross methods which rely on the senses, intellect and emotions. True yoga begins from the complete awakening of Shakti i.e. from this stage. Liberation is still far away but the true process has begun. His decision making tree is very simple. No thoughts, no emotions, just look within and follow the unerring guidance of Shakti. Mistakes occur from not being firmly anchored within. A person is said to be awake when he reaches this stage. He is calm and the correct terminology in Gujarati is Swastha – meaning established in oneself. He is called Dwija – meaning dwi – second ja meaning birth. The Christians call this born again