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by Swami Sivananda

The four kinds of Mukti and the Bhava Samadhi of Bhaktas, the lower Samadhis of a Raja Yogi (viz. , Savitaraka, Nirvitarka, Savichara, Nirvichara, Saananda, Sasmita, Ritambhara Prajna etc. , ) and the lower Savikalpa Samadhis (viz. , Sabdanuvid, Dhrisyanuvid) of a Vedantin all lead to the experience of cosmic consciousness. The ways of approach may be different but the fruit is the same. The experiences are common. Intuition, revelation, inspiration, ecstasy are synonymous terms.

Wordsworth in his poem "Tintern Abbey" describes Samadhi as follows:-

"............ That blessed mood, In which the burthen of the mystery, In which the heavy and the weary weight of all this unintelligible world, Is lightened:-that serene and blessed mood - In which the affections gently lead us on, Until, the breath of this corporeal frame - And even the motion of our human blood - Almost suspended, we are laid asleep - In body, and become a living soul: - While with an eye made quiet by the power - Of harmony, and the deep power of joy, We see into the life of things"

The state of the cosmic consciousness is grand and sublime. It induces awe, supreme joy and highest, unalloyed felicity, free from pain, sorrow and fear. This state of cosmic consciousness is below the absolute consciousness or Nirguna-Brahmic Consciousness wherein the seer, sight and the things seen, or the knower, knowable and knowledge, or the subject and object become one. In cosmic consciousness there is yet the seer and the seen. It is doubtlessly a very subtle experience. It is divine experience. It is revelation of the Karana Jagat wherein the types are realised. Brahmic Consciousness is the experience of Maha-Karana wherein there is neither time, space nor causation. It is unconditioned, ineffable state. Srutis describe it negatively. Neti, Neti-not this, not this. "Yato vacho nivartante aprapya manasa saha anandam brahmano vidvan nabibheti kadachana-The mind and speech return back from it baffled as they are not able to grasp and describe it; the wise who knows the Brahman which is bliss, is not afraid of anything at any time. "

Sri Sankara, Dattatreya, Vama Dev, Jada Bharata, Mansoor, Shams Tabriez, Madalasa, Yajnavalkya had the experience of supercosmic consciousness whereas Rama Das, Tulasi Das, Kabir, Hafiz, Tukaram, Mira, Gauranga, Madhva, Ramanuja, Lord Jesus, Lord Buddha had experience of cosmic consciousness. The pure Brahmic Consciousness is to be felt by the Sadhaka. It cannot be described in words. The language is imperfect. The cosmic consciousness is the experience of Brahma-Loka. It is the consciousness of Brahma or Hiranyagarbha. The Yogi acquires all Divine Aisvaryas. He who experiences cosmic consciousness attains many kinds of Siddhis, which are described in Bhagavata and Raja Yoga of Patanjali Maharshi.

Arjuna, Sanjaya, Yasoda had this experience of cosmic consciousness. Yasoda saw the whole Virat in the mouth of Bala-Krishna. Gita (XI) describes this state of consciousness through the mouth of Arjuna in these words: "Thy mighty form, with many mouths and eyes, long-armed, with thighs and feet innumerable, vast-bosomed, set with many fearful teeth, radiant, Thou touchest heaven, rainbow hued, with opened mouths and shining mouths and shining vast-orbed eyes on every side, all-swallowing, fiery-tongued, Thou lickest up mankind devouring all. Into Thy gaping mouths, they hurrying rush, tremendous-toothed and terrible to see. Some caught within the gaps between Thy teeth, are seen, their heads to powder crushed and ground. "

In the West also people have to recognise the truth about cosmic consciousness when one rises above body- consciousness. Some have also tasted and experienced this state. In France, Professor Bergson is preaching about intuition, which transcends reason but does not contradict it. Bucke describes cosmic consciousness as follows: "Cosmic consciousness is a third form, which is as far above self-consciousness as is that above simple consciousness. It is Supraconceptual. The cosmic consciousness as its name implies, is the life and order of the universe. Along with the consciousness of the cosmos there occurs an intellectual enlightenment, which alone would place the individual on a new plane of existence. To this is added a state of moral exaltation, an indescribable feeling of elation and joyousness and a quickening of the moral sense, which is fully as striking and more important, both to the race and the individual, than is the enhanced intellectual power. With these comes what may be called a sense of immortality, a consciousness of eternal life, not a conviction that he shall have it, but the consciousness that he has it already. " The eye celestial usually comes to a Yogi (Mystic) who has advanced much in Mysticism. But it is not possible for everyone to get this celestial eye, as each and everyone cannot be a Mystic. Sri Krishna therefore said to Arjuna, "In the Form in which you have seen Me, I cannot be seen even by means of Vedas, by austerities, by gifts or by sacrifices. " (Gita: II-53. )

He who gets the experience of supracosmic consciousness has the feeling of Apta-Kama (one who has obtained all that he desires). He feels: "There is nothing more to be known by me. "

The Jivahood has gone now. The little 'I' has melted. The differentiating mind that splits up has vanished. All barriers, all sense of duality, differences, separateness have disappeared. There is no idea of time and space. There is only eternity. The Jiva has realised his identity with Brahman. The ideas of caste, creed and colour have gone now. When he becomes a Brahma-Varishtha, when he enters the seventh-stage of Jnana or Turiyatita, even the slight body-consciousness which was in a state of Samskara or mental retentum disappears. He has to be fed by spectators. The world completely disappears for him. He experiences the state described by Ajati-Vadin or the utterance of Srutis "Na cha nana asti kinchana-there is no such thing as diversity. "

The world is a mental creation. It is mere impression only. There is no world during sleep. You may argue that the world exists for the waking man. Yes, quite true. If there is mind, there is world. What is mind then? It is a bundle of impressions, ideas, habits. The two currents, Raga-Dvesha, keep up the life of the mind. If these two currents are destroyed, there is death for the mind. It is called Manonasa. That Yogi who has achieved Manonasa cannot perceive the world. If you can consciously destroy the mind through Samadhi, this world disappears. Just as you see the rope only when the Bhranti (illusion) of snake has vanished, so also you see Brahman only when the Bhranti of world and body has disappeared by knowledge of the Self.

My scientists and students of science may not believe me. Do this practice now. Shut yourself up in a room for a week. Cut off all connections. Do not read newspapers. Observe perfect Mauna (silence) also. Then feel how far the impressions of the world remain in your mind. You will feel that the world is a dream. If you practise for a long time, you will realise the truth of my statement. The world is a solid reality for a man of passion and greed, for a sensualist who has gross mind. For a Yogi of cosmic consciousness, it dwindles into an airy nothing.

Cosmic consciousness is the fruit of Chaitanya Samadhi, where the Yogi feels perfect 'awareness', super-sensuous plane of knowledge and intuition. He feels his existence "Aham Asmi-I exist", whereas the Jada-Samadhi of a Hatha Yogi cannot bring in this superconscious state. It is something like deep sleep. There is no supersensuous divine knowledge in this state. The breathing stops completely. The Prana is fixed up somewhere in the Muladhara Chakra. Even if you cut his leg, he will not feel any pain. There will be no bleeding. But the Samskaras and Vasanas are not burnt here. Whereas in Brahmic Consciousness, the Vasanas and Samskaras are fried in toto. There is Alambana (support for the mind), there is Triputi (triad: knower, knowable, knowledge). There are subtle Samskaras in Savikalpa Samadhi or lower Samadhi. In Nirvikalpa Samadhi, there is neither Alambana nor Triputi nor Samskara. The Jada-Samadhi cannot give liberation. One can enter into Jada-Samadhi without any moral perfection, whereas cosmic consciousness can never be had without ethical perfection. Note this point very carefully.

Absolute fearlessness, desirelessness, thoughtlessness, I-lessness, mine-lessness, angerlessness, Brahmic aura in the face, freedom from Harsha (elation) and Soka (grief) are some of the signs that indicate that the man has reached the state of superconsciouness. He is also always in a state of perfect bliss. You can never see anger, depression, cheerlessness, sorrow in his face. You will find elevation, joy and peace in his presence.

Just as a drunken man is not conscious whether he has cloth on his body or not, when it is in a state of dropping down on the ground, so also the Yogi who is experiencing supracosmic consciousness is not conscious of his body. A Jivanmukta who is in the fourth Bhumika will have slight consciousness of his body in the form of a Samskara or mental retentum.

Just as a man doubts whether his old rotten shoe is clinging to his foot or not when he is sometimes absent-minded, so also the Jivanmukta doubts whether his body is hanging like an old rotten shoe or not. That Sannyasi or an Avadhoota who fully rests in Brahman and has no idea at all of the slightest difference between a male and female, is entitled to throw off his Kowpeen altogether. That Kowpeen also will drop by itself.

He who is naked should not live in an Ashram, a town, or a village. He should roam about unknown, not caring for good or bad and cast off his body as a slough on a dunghill or dilapidated house. So says Narada-Parivrajaka Upanishad. To live naked in an Ashram, but to have all sorts of comforts, to have disciples and to take interest in the development of the Ashram does not look nice. It does not appeal to some sections of people at least. That Sannyasin or Mahatma who wants or keeps something for his body in an Ashram can wear also a small cloth along with his Kowpeen. This will not go against his realisation or Jivanmukti. Physical nudity alone will not constitute real Tyaga. Some persons study the description of a Jnani in the seventh Bhumika in Vivekachudamani or Yoga Vasishtha and try to imitate this external state without having any internal development or attainment of that highest state of consciousness. This is a mistake. This is hypocrisy. Some Sannyasins falsely assume the state of Brahma Varishtha. They like to be fed by young ladies.

In Uttarkashi in the Himalayas a young man heard the Katha of Yoga Vasishtha from Swami Deva Giri wherein there was a description of a Jnani of seventh state of Jnana. This young man gave up at once food for 15 days, began to pass motions and urine in his room and imagined that he was in the seventh stage of Jnana. An intelligent neighbour applied a plant called Bitchu-Katta to his body which produced severe pain like scorpion-sting. He yelled out like anything and came back to his senses. He went to the Kshetra as usual for taking alms. Is this not hypocrisy? His internal mental state has not reached the highest zenith of Brahmic consciousness. It remained in a raw, crude, unpolished state, though he externally put on the state of Paramahamsa who dwells in the absolute consciousness.

You will find in Kumbha Mela at Haridwar batches of Naga Sadhus, young boys marching in procession in a nude state. Are these boys Jitendriya Yogins? Is this not hypocrisy? Hypocrisy takes various forms. One should fully understand the subtle ways and workings of the mind. Mind is Maya.

If you take camphor or Haritaki or Nux Vomica seed for some time, you will lose your power of erection in the generative organ. This does not mean that you are a Jitendriya Yogi. There are some expert old men who give a twist to the spermatic cord and thereby paralyse the nerve-erigens that cause erection of the organ. The mind remains in the same state. Passion is the same. Real Sannyasa is internal, mental nudity. The mind is absolutely free from Vasanas and Samskaras. This is the real Avadhoota state.

You cannot find the symptoms and signs of cosmic consciousness in these pseudo-Samadhists who have recently cropped up in these days and who have shut themselves up in underground rooms. If you take the seeds of Apamarga (Nayurivi in Tamil), you will be free from hunger and thirst. The use of the Apamarga seeds for destroying hunger and thirst is as follows: These seeds have seven subtle skins or outer husks. Dry them in the sun and rub them on the hands. Take 1/8th of a seer of this seed. Make Kheer of this seed with milk and sugar and drink. Take a purgative to start with. Live on milk for two days. Take an enema also. All old faecal matter should be evacuated. You will have pleasant sensations and feelings of joy. There will be neither hunger nor thirst. There are two varieties of Apamarga seeds. The red one is better.

There is another plant or grass that is obtainable on the way to Kailas. It grows on rocks. You will have to pluck this before sunrise. You can be free from hunger for six months. The pseudo-Samadhists use these seeds and roots. When they come out of the room they are the same persons with worldly Vasanas and Samskaras. They are talkative and Rajasic.

Yogi Ramacharaka writes about cosmic consciousness in his book Raja Yoga as follows: There is a stage still higher than this last mentioned, but it has come to but very few of the race. Reports of it come from all times, races, countries. It has been called 'Cosmic Consciousness' and is described as an awareness of the Oneness of Life-that is, a consciousness that the Universe is filled with one Life, an actual perception and 'awareness' that the Universe is full of life, motion and mind, and that there is no such thing as Blind Force or Dead Matter, but that all is alive, vibrating and intelligent. That is, of course, that the Real Universe, which is the Essence or Background of the Universe of Matter, Energy and Mind, is as they describe. In fact, the description of those who have had glimpses of this state would indicate that they see the Universe as All-Mind-that all is Mind at the last. This form of consciousness has been experienced by men here and there-only a few-in moments of 'Illumination,' the period lasting but a very short space of time, then fading away, leaving but a memory. In the moment of 'Illumination', there came to those experiencing it a sense of 'in-touchness' with Universal Knowledge and Life, impossible to describe, accompanied by a joy beyond understanding.

Regarding this last, 'Cosmic Consciousness' we would state that it means more than an intellectual conviction, belief or realisation of the facts as stated, for an actual vision and consciousness of these things came in the moment of illumination. Some others report that they have a deep abiding sense of reality of the facts described by the report of the Illumined, but have not experienced the 'vision' or ecstasy referred to. These last people seem to have with them always the same mental state as that possessed by those who had the 'vision' and passed out of it, carrying with them the remembrance and feeling, but not the actual consciousness attained at the moment. They agree upon the essential particulars of the reports. Dr. Maurice Bucke, now passed out of this plane of life, wrote a book entitled 'Cosmic Consciousness' in which he describes a number of these cases, including his own, Walt Whitman's and others, and in which he holds that this stage of consciousness is before the race and will gradually come to it in the future. He holds that the manifestation of it which has come to some few of the race, as above stated, is but the first beams of the sun which are flashing upon us and which are but prophesies of the appearance of the great body of light itself.

We shall not here consider at length the reports of certain great religious personages of the past, who have left records that in moments of great spiritual exaltation they became conscious of 'being in the presence of the Absolute' or perhaps within the radius of 'the light of Its countenance. ' We have great respect for these reports and have every reason for believing many of them authentic, not- withstanding the conflicting reports that have been handed down to us by those experiencing them. These reports are conflicting because of the fact that the minds of those who had these glimpses of consciousness were not prepared or trained to fully understand the nature of the phenomena. They found themselves in the spiritual presence of something of awful grandeur and spiritual rank and were completely dazed and bewildered at the sight. They did not understand the nature of the Absolute and when they had sufficiently recovered they reported that they had been in the 'presence of God, ' the word 'God' meaning their particular conception of Deity-that is, the one appearing as Deity in their own particular religious creed or school. They saw nothing to cause them to identify this something with their particular conception of Deity, except that they thought that 'it must be God' and knowing no other God except their own particular conception, they naturally identified the Something with 'God' as they conceived Him to be. And their reports naturally were along these lines.

Thus the reports of all religions are filled with accounts of the so-called miraculous occurrences. The Catholic saint reports that he 'saw the light of God's countenance, ' and the non-Catholic reports likewise regarding God as he knows Him. The Mohammedan reports that he caught a glimpse of the face of Allah and the Buddhist tells us that he saw Buddha under the Tree. The Brahmin has seen the face of Brahma, and the various Hindu sects have men who give similar reports regarding their own particular deities. The Persians have given similar reports and even the ancient Egyptians have left records of similar occurrences. These conflicting reports have led to the belief, on the part of those who did not understand the nature of the phenomenon, that these things were 'all imagination' and fancy, if indeed not rank falsehood and imposture. But the Yogis know better than this. They know that underneath all these varying reports there is a common ground of truth, which will be apparent to anyone investigating the matter. They know that all of these reports (except a few based upon fraudulent imitations of the real phenomenon) are based upon truth and are but the bewildered reports of the various observers. They know that these people were temporarily lifted above the ordinary plane of consciousness and were made aware of the existence of a Being or Beings higher than mortal. It does not follow that they saw 'God' or the Absolute, for there are many beings of high spiritual growth and development that would appear to the ordinary mortal as a very God. The Catholic doctrine of Angels and Archangels is corroborated by those among the Yogis who have been 'behind the veil' and they give us reports of the 'Devas' and other advanced Beings. So the Yogi accepts these reports of the various mystics, saints and inspired ones, and accounts for them all by laws perfectly natural to the students of the Yoga philosophy, but which appear as supernatural to those who have not studied along these lines.

But we cannot speak further of this phase of the subject in this lesson, for a full discussion of it would lead us far away from the phase of the general subject before us. But we wish to be understood as saying that there are certain centres in the mental being of man from which may come light regarding the existence of the Absolute and higher order of Beings. In fact, from these centres comes to man that part of his mental 'feelings' that he calls 'the religious instinct or intuition. ' Man does not arrive at that underlying consciousness of 'Something Beyond' by means of his Intellect-it is the glimmer of light coming from the higher centres of the Self. He notices these gleams of light, but not understanding them, he proceeds to erect elaborate theological and creedal structures to account for them, the work of the Intellect, however, always lacking that 'feeling' that the intuition itself possesses. True religion, no matter under what name it may masquerade, comes from the 'heart' and is not comforted or satisfied with these Intellectual explanations, and hence comes that unrest and craving for satisfaction which comes to man when the light begins to break through.

Miss Laurie Pratt of America writes about an experience in cosmic consciousness in 'The Hindu Mind' as follows: The Hindus have written much on cosmic consciousness but in the West this subject is much less known. However, those who have read Doctor Bucke's 'Cosmic Consciousness' and Edward Carpenter's 'Towards Democracy' know that these authors believe that cosmic consciousness is a natural faculty of man, and that a future race of men on this earth will be born with this faculty well developed and not merely latent as it is now. Bucke's theory is that just as man advanced from the state of simple consciousness, which he shared with the animal kingdom, into a state of Self-consciousness peculiar to man alone and marked by the development of language, so he must inevitably come into a higher state of consciousness, distinguished by a cosmic or universal understanding.

Bucke maintains that the increasing number of people who have attained some degree of cosmic consciousness in the past few centuries is proof that these persons constitute the vanguard or forerunners of the new race. Among those in the West whom Bucke believes to have had the cosmic sense more or less well developed (in recent centuries) are St. John of the Cross, Francis Bacon, Jacob Boehme, Blaise Pascal, Spinosa, Swedenborg, William Wordsworth, Alexander Pushkin, Honore de Balzac, Emerson, Tennyson, Thoreau, Walt Whitman and Edward Carpenter. He also mentions Ramakrishna as a Hindu example.

Besides these famous men, it is doubtlessly true that many hundreds of men and women in each century, unknown to fame, have been exalted to some degree of cosmic consciousness. There is no doubt in my mind that the message brought to America by Hindu teachers in recent years has been the means by which hundreds and perhaps thousands of Americans have achieved, through the meditation practices taught them, a glimpse of divine consciousness. Some few students have gone further, and attained very high illumination. Here we have an example of how the cosmic sense is being developed in larger and larger numbers paving the way for the great race of the future.

One Paragraph from Bucke's books is well worth quoting here: In contact with the flux of Cosmic Consciousness all religions known and named today will be melted down. The human soul will be revolutionised. Religion will absolutely dominate the race. It will not depend on tradition. It will be believed and disbelieved. It will not be a part of life, belonging to certain hours, times and occasions. It will not be in sacred books nor in the mouths of priests. It will not dwell in churches, meetings, forms and days. Its life will not be in prayers, hymns nor discourses. It will not depend on special revelations, on the words of gods who came down to teach, nor on any Bible or Bibles. It will have no mission to save men from their sins nor to secure them entrance to heaven. It will not teach a future immortality nor future glories, for immortality and all glory will exist in the here and now.

The evidence of immortality will live in every heart as sight in every eye. Doubts of God and of eternal life will be as impossible as is now doubt of existence; the evidence of each will be the same. Religion will govern every minute of every day of all life. Churches, priests, forms, creeds, prayers, all agents, all intermediaries between the individual man and God will be permanently replaced by direct unmistakable interaction. Sin will no longer exist nor will salvation be desired. Men will not worry about death or a future, about the kingdom of heaven, about what may come with and after the cessation of the life of the present body. Each soul will feel and know itself to be immortal, will feel and know that the entire universe with all its good and with all its beauty is for it and belongs to it forever. The world peopled by men possessing Cosmic Consciousness will be as far removed from the world of today as this is from the world as it was before the advent of self-consciousness. This new race is in the act of being born from us and in the near future it will occupy and possess the earth.

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