The Inmost Self.

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When you are fast asleep, there is no thought of I or of this or that, no awareness of what is without and what within, time is not there, the mind is not, there is just being and peace. Coming out of sleep in the morning there is both the awareness of the waking state and the stillness of sleep. At some point you become conscious perhaps of the sounds of birds chirping and looking within you recognize yourself. You remain in bed, blissfully abiding in yourself. But soon enough the person and with it the schedule for the day and the rest (worries, desires, etc.) are back and you open your eyes.

That which we experience as the person is consciousness plus mind. Hidden behind mind, seen only when the mind is stilled, our inmost self is consciousness. No, not even that. The innermost is just being; awareness that is oblivious even of itself that then becomes differentiated consciousness; that is the ground in which the duality of consciousness as subject and mind as object (and hence experience) emerge. Suffer the loss of a limb and the sense of being stays unchanged. An injury to the head may well change the contents of consciousness and how the world is perceived; even so consciousness itself remains unaffected. The inmost self is always there, you cannot get away from it; that being first everything else follows; it is something so real and solid and yet so basic and subtle, the mind is unmindful of its own substratum.

The inmost self is independent, detached, without action it watches our actions from within. It is that which sees, hears and seems to think. The eyes, ears and mind are but its instruments. The inmost self has neither nationality nor race nor sex, is untainted and untouched by sin, is beyond all knowledge and beliefs, beyond all suffering and sorrow; all of which belong to mind. Ever present within, the inmost self of all, is unchanged by injury or old-age – it cannot be cut or burned, does not wither or decay. You are that, say the Upanishads; know that you are that.

You Must Be Born Again!

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Enlightenment talked about in religious texts is nothing but the realization that you are not the body but ever-existent consciousness. Then again this is not the result of any intellectual deliberation but rather the certainty that comes from experiencing yourself as such. We experience ourselves as the body. On the other hand the enlightened person experiences himself as consciousness external to all creation.

Going into samadhi itself is not unlike the death-process. You might even say that it is a simulation of it. The senses become increasingly diminished as the mind is withdrawn from them, the heartbeat slows, breathing slows down, the hands and feet grow cold, the body becomes stiff and seems as if dead, the flow of thought is cut off; even as life-force is withdrawn from every part of the body.

“Well then,” I said to myself, “this body is dead. It will be carried stiff to the burning ground and there burnt and reduced to ashes. But with the death of this body am I dead? Is the body I? It is silent and inert but I feel the full force of my personality and even the voice of the “I” within me, apart from it. So I am Spirit transcending the body. The body dies but the Spirit that transcends it cannot be touched by death. That means I am deathless Spirit.” All this was not dull thought; it flashed through me vividly as living truth, which I perceived directly, almost without thought-process. “I” was something very real, the only real thing about my present state, and all the conscious activity connected with my body was centered on that “I”. From that moment onwards the “I” or Self focused attention on itself by a powerful fascination. Fear of death had vanished once and for all. Absorption in the Self continued unbroken from that time on. Other thoughts might come and go like the various notes of music, but the “I” continued like the fundamental Sruti note that underlies and blends with all the other notes. Whether the body was engaged in talking, reading or anything else, I was still centered on “I”. Previous to that crisis I had no clear perception of my Self and was not consciously attracted to it. I felt no perceptible or direct interest in it, much less any inclination to dwell permanently in it.  – Sri Ramana Maharshi

In what is termed mahasamadhi, there is no returning from the samadhi experience and the enlightened being finally leaves the body voluntarily and consciously.

The Waking Dream.

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Dreams are experienced as real. It is only when you wake up that you recognize that you have been dreaming. Likewise, the Yoga Vasistha says, when you awaken to your true self or the really real in Samadhi the world and the whole lot is seen as temporary and insubstantial. In fact quite literally, similar to the dream world, the waking world is declared to be a product of mind; the only difference being that the waking world (or waking dream) is lengthy and for this reason seems permanent.

Consciousness is that in which space is woven. All that we experience as reality is but mind-stuff. Energy and matter that fill up space-time are ultimately thought-trons. You who regard yourself as an irrelevant individual of little ability are the creator of the universe? Seems unbelievable and absurd except Maya is that which makes the impossible possible. The illusion of Maya has two sides, by the first it conceals our true nature from us and by the second it makes us to believe that we are this person and this body and that the world is external to us.

One needn’t believe any of this and yet books on the subject make for fascinating reading. Written several thousand years ago, the Yoga Vasistha consists of numerous stories that describe the power of Maya and of mind. These stories are incredibly, by a long way far more remarkable than any present-day work of science fiction and are inspiration to movies such as Matrix and Inception. Alternate realities, dreams within dreams, relative time references, travel to other realms, higher dimensions, plenteousness of universes … it is all there.

In his book ‘Kundalini’, Gopi Krishna describes his experience of cosmic consciousness. Like experiences have been recorded by many great sages, in every age. Consciousness surfaces as the only reality. You no longer see yourself as the body or mind but as consciousness. Nor is it a consciousness limited by a body, but infinitely larger and containing the whole cosmos. Time, space, your body, the world, all is seen within your own being which supports them. They now appear as insubstantial and as mere projections.

The marvelous aspect of the condition, lay in the sudden realization that although linked to the body and surroundings I had expanded in an indescribable manner into a titanic personality, conscious from within of an immediate and direct contact with an intensely conscious universe, a wonderful inexpressible immanence all around me. My body, the chair I was sitting on, the table in front of me, the room enclosed by walls, the lawn outside and the space beyond including the earth and sky appeared to be most amazingly mere phantoms in this real, interpenetrating and all-pervasive ocean of existence which, to explain the most incredible part of it as best I can, seemed to be simultaneously unbounded, stretching out immeasurably in all directions, and yet no bigger than an infinitely small point.  From this marvelous point the entire existence, of which my body and its surroundings were a part, poured out like radiation, as if a reflection as vast as my conception of the cosmos were thrown out upon infinity by a projector no bigger than a pinpoint, the entire intensely active and gigantic world picture dependent on the beams issuing from it. The shoreless ocean of consciousness in which I was now immersed appeared infinitely large and infinitely small at the same time, large when considered in relation to the world picture floating in it and small when considered in itself, measureless, without form or size, nothing and yet everything. It was an amazing and staggering experience for which I can cite no parallel and no simile, an experience beyond all and everything belonging to this world, conceivable by the mind or perceptible to the senses. I was intensely aware internally of a marvelous being so concentratedly and massively conscious as to out-luster and out-stature infinitely the cosmic image present before me, not only in point of extent and brightness but in point of reality and substance as well. The phenomenal world, ceaselessly in motion characterized by creation, incessant change, and dissolution, receded into the background and assumed the appearance of an extremely thin, rapidly melting layer of foam upon a substantial rolling ocean of life, a veil of exceedingly fine vapor before an infinitely large conscious sun, constituting a complete reversal of the relationship between the world and the limited human consciousness. It showed the previously all-dominating cosmos reduced to the state of a transitory appearance and the formerly care-ridden point of awareness, circumscribed by the body, grown to the spacious dimensions of a mighty universe and the exalted stature of a majestic immanence before which the material cosmos shrank to the subordinate position of an evanescent and illusive appendage.

Among Secrets I Am Silence.

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In the Bhagavad Gita 10:38, Sri Krishna says “among secrets I am silence”. The Bhagavad Gita reads as a handbook to achieving silence. Whether it is selfless service, duty without care to the results, love, surrender, discernment, mindfulness or meditation – all are means to bringing about a silent mind.

Some 8000 years ago, the sages of ancient India turned their attention to their own minds. The science of yoga is the outcome of their enduring investigations. They studied the workings of the mind and devised methods to make the mind ever more silent so as to explore deeper regions of the mind that you are normally not aware of. The sages were able to remarkably achieve a state where thought itself had ceased and little remained but an awareness of “I-am”. Beyond that silence, in the climax of their meditation, the inner world of spirit began to reveal itself and even the sense of I-am dissolved into a sea of limitless bliss free of duality.

Sages have been known to dwell in the trance-like state of samadhi for several days or weeks, during which time their body shows little sign of life. When he (or she) returns, he can but say that he was in bliss. He feels rejuvenated. From within comes the conviction – “That is the Self of all. That became the mind in all minds, the body in all bodies. And yet That is other than the mind or the body. I am That”. He yearns for more – to always be as That. He is no longer content with any condition which involves a loss of self-knowledge or a foregoing of this bliss. Eventually the experience of samadhi takes possession of his whole consciousness. At that time there is no longer the need to go into (and return from) samadhi. He is forever established in this natural state.

I, the pure, stainless and infinite consciousness beyond maya, look upon this body in action like the body of another. The mind, the intellect, the senses, etc. are all the play of consciousness. They are unreal and seam to exist only due to lack of insight. Unmoved by adversity, a friend of all the world in prosperity, without ideas of existence and non-existence, I live free from misery. Inactive am I, desireless, clear as the sky, free from hankering, tranquil, formless, everlasting and unmoving. I have now clearly understood that the five elements, the three worlds and I myself are pure consciousness. I am above everything; I am present everywhere; I am like space; I am that which really exists; I am unable to say anything beyond this. Let imaginary waves of the universe rise or fall in me who am the ocean of infinite consciousness; there is no increase or decrease in me. How wonderful that in me, the infinite ocean of consciousness, waves of jivas (individual souls) rise, sport for a while and disappear according to their nature. The world which has come into existence on account of my ignorance has dissolved likewise in me. I now directly experience the world as supreme bliss of consciousness. I prostate to myself who am within all being, the ever free self abiding as inner consciousness.    – Yoga Vasistha

Perhaps this is what Jesus refers to when he says in Luke 17:20-21 “The Kingdom of God cometh not with outward show. Neither shall they say, ‘Lo, it is here!’ or ‘Lo, it is there!’ For behold, the Kingdom of God is within you.” and then in John 10:30 “I and My Father are one.”