The Physical Aspects of Higher Consciousness
■ For many centuries, the attainment of a higher state of consciousness has been the goal of mystics of many religions in order to resolve the age-old riddle of man’s relationship to his creator. Yoga teachings have stressed the concept of kundalini-The Serpent Power-and have taught that it is a dormant energy that may be aroused by certain disciplines and result in transcendental awareness. What do terms like “transcendental” and “higher consciousness” mean and what should be the characteristics of one who has attained to a higher state of consciousness?
Attainment of a higher level of consciousness implies overstepping the boundaries of the human state. Anyone who claims to have gained transcendental awareness or approach to Divinity must, in some respects, have exceeded the normal limits of the human mind and experience.
It is necessary that such an enlightened person be pious and righteous, free from ego, desire, attachment, hate, envy, aggression, violence, lust, and other unholy traits, of course, but these things are not in themselves the criteria of higher consciousness. People are naturally constituted in different ways, some having inherently less lust, passion, avarice, aggression and more of the nobler attributes, while others have more of the animal characteristics. The normal range of human beings includes men with saintly character at one end of the scale and virtual devils, criminals, and murderers at the other. In none of these cases is the human limit exceeded.
There are some people who are so saintly in character that it appears impossible for a normal man to emulate them. At the same time there are evil-doers whose hideous deeds strike terror into the hearts of others. We encounter both of these extremes in everyday life. But a saintly person, with all his piety and holiness, may not show any remarkable intellectual superiority as compared to a normal intelligent individual, while at the other end of the scale some criminals show such extraordinary talent for crime that one is amazed at their wit and resourcefulness. Therefore, unless there are certain marked characteristics distinguishing an individual claiming a higher state of consciousness from the other average or even extraordinary individuals, we can only treat such a person as belonging to the normal category.
If the reality of spiritual experience and the possibility of a higher state of consciousness are to be convincingly demonstrated, there must be incontrovertible evidence to show that an enlightened man or woman can develop a mental stature that is entirely beyond the reach of normal individuals, however intelligent or talented they might be. If this evidence is not forthcoming, there has been no overstepping of the human traits.
“The knower of Brahman attains the highest,” says the Taittriya Upanishad (II. i.). “Brahman is truth, knowledge and infinity. He who knows that Brahman, as existing in the intellect, lodged in the supreme space in the head, enjoys, as identified with the all-knowing Brahman, all desirable things simultaneously.”
According to Shankaracharya, a highly developed personality is needed even in one who aspires to the Supreme State: “The truth of the Paramatman is extremely subtle and cannot be reached by the gross outgoing tendency of the mind.” In Vivekachudamani (361), he also says; “It is only accessible to noble souls with perfectly pure minds, by means of Samādhi [meditative trance] brought on by an extraordinary fineness of the mental state.”
■ There are some Yogis who can reduce their breathing to such an extent that it becomes almost imperceptible. Some can arrest the flow of blood or diminish the rhythm of the heart to such a degree that their bodies assume a corpselike condition, and in this state can be buried underground or interred in hermetically scaled boxes for many days without succumbing to death. On being exhumed they revive as if they had been asleep all the while. Isn’t this a feat entirely beyond the capacity of a normal individual to perform?
The superiority of the enlightened person does not lie in bizarre physical demonstrations, but in the development of a transhuman consciousness and rapport with the Cosmic Intelligence and invisible conscious forces not perceptible to normal people. The tendency to hibernate is present in bears, frogs, and other creatures and does not carry with it any enhancement of consciousness. The attempt to duplicate the performance of these lowly creatures can only be regarded as regressive rather than progressive, for enlightened consciousness cannot proceed from artificially distorted or arrested functions of the body, but rather from a harmonious working of the metabolic processes and bodily rhythms.
A classical example of suspended animation was provided by Haridass, a Hatha-Yogi, in the time of Maharaja Ranjit Singh in 1873. Under the orders of the Maharaja, the Yogi entered into a trance and in that condition was shut in a wooden box four feet by three. The Maharaja sealed the lock, and the box was placed in a cellar also similarly locked and sealed. A strict watch was maintained over the building for a period of forty days. Every precaution was taken to eliminate fraud. At the end of the period, Sir Claude Wade, British Resident in the Maharaja’s court, and a medical doctor, together with the Maharaja and others, had the seals broken and the body lifted out of the box. Medical examination revealed that there was no pulse at the wrist or temples and no sounds from the heart, only a little warmth at the top of the head. The Yogi’s disciples massaged his body with clarified butter and hot water and put his tongue, which had been drawn backward in the position called Khechari Mudra, into the natural position.
After a while, Haridass returned to life. The account of this extraordinary feat was given by Sir Claude and a German physician who was with the Maharaja at the time. Haridass repeated his performance several times. And the feat has been duplicated by other Hatha-Yogis since then. A distinguishing feature in the performance of Haridass is that it was very well authenticated.
Another similar incident occurred in Hardwar, India, in the second decade of this century. The Yogi, when asked about his condition during the internment for a period lasting several weeks, said that he remembered nothing. This is a common state of mind of those who practice advanced pranayama or Yogic breathing techniques, with consequent arrest of the metabolic processes. The condition is called Jada-Samādhi. “Jada” means insentient.
Apart from his remarkable suspension of normal physical functions, Haridass showed no evidence of any spiritual qualities. It is even said that he lacked higher ethical development. Today there are still Yogis in India who can stop their breathing or heart action for considerable periods, or they can perform other extraordinary bodily feats for the sake of gain or simply to show off their talents. There is no doubt in the case of born mystics, mediums, and other sensitives, however, that a trancelike condition, often with diminished breathing and heart action, can supervene at the time of ecstasy or psychic manifestations; but this is far removed from the state of suspended animation of the Hatha-Yogi.
Experiments with the well-known drug marijuana have shown that when injected in a pure form in dogs it can induce a state of suspended animation up to eight days, after which the animal returns to normal functioning. Further experiments are in progress to utiise this hibernation property of the drug on battlefields, to put an injured soldier into a state of suspended animation until medical aid becomes available. In the light of this discovery it is easy to infer that, as the result of extreme forms of pranayama, the chemical reactions caused in some people can induce hibernation for varying periods of time. Hence those who place reliance on such external symptoms for corroboration of the transcendent states of consciousness induced by Yoga can easily see the falsity of their position.
The Hatha-Yoga ascetics who go to this extreme clearly display the same fanaticism that characterizes the Urdhavabahus who keep one or both arms raised until they become inflexibly withered, or the Akashamukhins, who keep their necks bent back, gazing at the sky until this attitude becomes habitual and the neck becomes fixed in this position. These are not means to salvation but remnants of austerities and penances of primitive society. Mutilations, biting of the scalp, severe beating, knocking out teeth, fasting, chopping off lumps of flesh, exposure to the bites of virulent ants, and other such self-inflicted tortures were a common feature of tribal life in North and South America, Africa, and Australia at the time of adolescence in boys and girls in the ritual ordeals of crude religious beliefs.
It is unfortunate that the main armory of research on Yoga and allied spiritual disciplines should have centered around breathing and pulse rates of the practitioners, in order to seek physiological corroboration of the extraordinary states of consciousness supposed to be associated with them. Is there any historical record to show that great spiritual prodigies of antiquity like Buddha, Jesus Christ, or the seers of the Upanishads, or the mystics of more recent times, had a malfunctioning metabolic system, or that it was with a diminished pulse and heart action that they performed their prodigious feats of conversion or produced their outstanding inspired scriptures and teachings? What error in thinking is driving earnest seekers and other honest investigators to devote their time and energy to an exploration based on the mistaken view that transcendental states of consciousness are invariably attended by diminished or altered metabolic processes?
There are certainly other physiological symptoms present in the enlightened by which the validity of spiritual experience can be empirically established and determined. The most prominent of these is Urdhava-retas, or the upward streaming of the reproductive energy in the awakened individual. This fact has been known in India for at least four thousand years and is symbolically represented in every temple and shrine in which lingam or lingam and yoni, as creative symbols, are housed for adoration. They are to remind the worshippers that the same life-energy that, as the fruit of parental conjugation, becomes the cause of our birth is also designed by nature to effect our release from the bonds of the flesh when it rises to the brahmarandra in the brain, uniting with the conscious principle and setting it free from the otherwise inescapable prison house of the phenomenal world. It is this life-energy, the source behind propagation and evolution both, which is called kundalini and from ancient times has been regarded as a goddess.
The upward flow of the reproductive energy is to be understood in its natural form as an altered activity of the cerebrospinal system and the organs of generation. The methods to effect this activity recommended in some books on Hatha-Yoga are revolting in the extreme. An example is the practice of Vajroli Mudra, in which a thin metal tube is inserted through the urethra and liquids of progressive density absorbed and discharged in the initial stages. The practice is designed to develop absolute control over the seminal fluid, its emission and reabsorption. The statements on sexual techniques in the ancient manuals on Hatha-Yoga, such as the Goraksha Samhita (61-71) and the Hathayoga Pradipika (III-82), referred to by Dr. Mircea Eliade in his book, Yoga, Immortality and Freedom, are, therefore, to be viewed with caution.
The arousal of kundalini is not designed by nature as a means for sexual gratification in this artificial way, but to create a new physiological activity in the body in which the upward flow of the energy occurs spontaneously and becomes a natural biological function of the organism. In fact, as is generally held, the sublimination of sexual energy usually occurs to an appreciable degree in the case of men of genius, great intellectuals, poets, painters, musicians, and the like.
■ If there is an evolutionary process at work in the human organism, why has it not been understood and detected a long time ago? Why is it so difficult to locate? What is the aim of this evolutionary impulse, and do those who succeed in awakening this power become all-wise?
The mechanism has not been understood in modern times because the physiological reactions of awakened kundalini, although observed by the ancients, have not yet been investigated or interpreted in the light of present-day knowledge of the human body. In view of the tremendous developments in our knowledge of the physical universe during recent years, it is of the utmost importance that those interested in human welfare should take a new look at all the spiritual doctrines, systems, and ideas of the past.
In my earlier books, I have tried to make it clear that the religious impulse is only an expression of the evolutionary urge in human beings, and that there is already present in the biological structure of man an inherent natural tendency to reach an expanded state of consciousness. In order to achieve this natural, predetermined target, every human body, from birth to death, is in a state of perennial internal activity, resulting from processes that ebb and flow, to adjust the whole system to a new form of awareness not possible with the existing psychosomatic structure of the organism. In spite of the current prodigious increase in knowledge of the human body, this activity of the evolutionary mechanism is still completely unknown.
There is no doubt that competent investigation, directed toward Yoga and other religious phenomena, will ultimately lead to an understanding of the mechanism, as also of the details of processes that are imperceptibly but ceaselessly at work in the human body to mold the cerebrospinal system to a higher state of perception in which consciousness becomes the predominant reality of the universe. These processes are not easily detectable by the methods at present employed by science, but they may become discernible in the near future.
We observe the process of growth in a child clearly with our own eyes. We see how a growing infant, moving its arms and kicking its legs in the cradle, learns of its own accord to turn from side to side, and from lying flat on its back, by a change of position, to crawl on the floor. Then it begins to toddle, and when proficient in this makes repeated attempts, at first abortive and later successful, to stand erect. After this achievement it tries to walk, often falling in the initial stages, but rising up again immediately, continues the exercise until it becomes habitual. In the same way, from the repetition of mere babbling sounds it learns to talk and finally develops into a fully formed human being.
We can study all these stages of development in the minutest detail, watch every movement of the muscles, the tongue and lips, witness the accelerated metabolism, the rapid pulse and rate of respiration, enhanced digestive and eliminatory processes, mark the increasing stature and the growing size of the body, but we are as yet unable to know what transpires in the child’s brain and nervous system to regulate and channeise this complex process of growth unerringly in a certain predetermined direction. Here we stand defeated before the still unfathomed mystery of life.
If this is our position with regard to a common biological process that occurs before our very eyes, how can we expect that we should at once reach to the very roots of the process of transformation generated by an awakened kundalini? Furthermore, cases of awakening are extremely rare and the whole phenomenon has, from the very beginning, been wrapped in such a cloak of mystery and superstition that before attempting to investigate the biological processes responsible, it is necessary to establish the actual existence of the mechanism and the possibility of transformation of consciousness. When this has been done, the real research will follow as a matter of course.
Even intelligent people can be naive in this matter. When they come to know of an individual who claims to have won to a transhuman state of consciousness, they often conclude that he has instantly become an all-knowing entity or a walking encyclopedia. They forget that it has taken the labor of millions and a time span of millennia for knowledge of the physical world to grow to its present capacity. How then can spiritual knowledge take such a prodigious leap that one who has gained the first rung of the ladder of spiritual illumination should be able to reveal all the hidden mysteries of the cosmos? The harvest of this false belief can be seen in the lavish and fantastic accounts of the superconscious world in the voluminous works of many of those credited with higher states of consciousness.
It is not in the performance of amazing physical feats or in the working of miracles or in encyclopedic knowledge that the value of expanded consciousness lies. There can be no more amazing feats than have already been achieved by mankind with the proper use of intellect. The crown of superconsciousness is designed by heaven to enable mortals ultimately to realise their own imperishable nature and to win access to the shoreless ocean of Cosmic Intelligence.
During the course of this tremendous evolutionary development, of which the birth of civilization marks only the completion of the first stage, the more highly evolved individuals in the various spheres of human knowledge and art, by an inherent tendency of gifted men to make their talents widely known, help to raise the less evolved to their own height. When this transition is complete the earth will be a paradise and mankind will enter upon a golden age that has no parallel in previous history.
Apart from references to the arousal of kundalini in ancient documents and modern writings on the subject, there has been no objective demonstration of the phenomenon in recent times. The instances cited by Dr. Vincent Rele in his The Mysterious Kundalini (Bombay, 1927), do not at all represent a case of transformed consciousness. The fact that someone can swallow poison and perform other startling feats is no guarantee that he has an awakened kundalini. Arrest of the flow of blood in the arm or leg or any other part of the body, diminution of the pulse or suspension of respiration can be achieved with long practice by determined individuals with a certain degree of command over their autonomic nervous system. Performances of this nature appear amazing because they are so difficult to duplicate, but the human organism has tremendous potentialities and possibilities, which are demonstrated every day in the hazardous feats of mountain climbers, athletes, circus performers, deep-sea divers, and the like. The linkage of diminished breathing and pulse rate, arrested flow of blood, coldness or cataleptic condition of the body, with the awakening of kundalini has been a cause of great misunderstanding and has led to erroneous notions about this power.
■ Can the psychosomatic mechanism of kundalini be demonstrated to the satisfaction of science?
As far as my experience goes, I believe that a scientific demonstration of this psychophysiological mechanism is possible with the methods already known to science. Had the arousal of this force no perceptible effects on the human body, the ancient masters would not have devoted their attention to the enumeration of various signs and symptoms that occur on the awakening. They would not have made repeated mention of the phenomenon of lights that attend the arousal or have meticulously described the nature of the sounds heard, likening them to thunder, humming of bees, roaring of waterfalls, or the pealing of bells; and the lights to the luster of the moon, the radiance of the sun, the dazzling flash of lightning, or the glow of fire. Nor would they have been able to furnish precise descriptions of the cakras(nerve clusters) and specify their particular locations on the cerebrospinal axis. In fact, the ancient authors have taken considerable pains to pinpoint the exact location of the kanda, the inverted triangle below the navel on which kundalini rests. Their descriptions leave no doubt that it is the region intimately connected with the reproductive organs and that it functions as the powerhouse for generating the life currents that lead to expanded states of consciousness.
Even a cursory glance at the descriptions contained in ancient texts make it clear that the authors have spared no effort to explain the physiological implications of their researches. The cakras, generally accepted to be seven in number, are all situated at vital spots in the body, commanding the organs of reproduction, elimination, digestion, blood circulation, respiration, ideation, and the modalities of consciousness. Kundalini, it is said, pierces all these cakras before entering the sahasrara, or the seventh center in the brain. These statements confirm to the student of physiology that after arousal, the energy released by kundalini circulates in all the vital organs, including the brain. The descriptions of the hypothetical lotuses and shaktis or godesses are easy to understand in the light of the religious beliefs and elementary knowledge of human physiology at the time. But we can be sure about the basic fact that these descriptions are intended to signify the involvement of all the important organs of the body in the process of transformation set in motion by this divine energy.
The meticulous descriptions of the nadis and the stress on their number provides further evidence that the ancient masters referred to the carriers of impulses and sensations in the body – in other words, to the nerves. The statement that there are thousands of nadis, fine like a spider’s thread or the hairy fiber of a lotus stalk, is a clear indication that they are the nerves made of flesh and not any imaginary astral conduits. Again, the localization of the channels-called ida, pingala, and sushumna-on either side or through the center of the spinal cord, from its base to the point of termination, can only signify that the cerebrospinal axis is ultimately connected with the process of awakening regenerative impulses and that they cause an alteration in the state of consciousness. There is no reason for putting a different interpretation on the unambiguous statements of the ancient writers by carrying the whole phenomenon of kundalini into unverifiable metaphysical realms. It should be treated as a psychophysiological operation of the body, understandable in the context of known physiological laws and verifiable by science.
The main difficulty in presenting the phenomenon of kundalini to the general public, as a legitimate function of the human organism to enhance the capacity of the brain, lies in the fact that both the traditional concepts and the modern versions of the ancient writings treat it as a divine dispensation, unconnected with the biological structure of the body. There is a tendency among some modern writers to dwell more on the miraculous and the supernatural aspects of the phenomenon than on its physiological background. The habit of ancient authors to ascribe supernatural causes to every occurrence not easily explainable by the intellect should not cloud the judgment of the writers who try to interpret their works today. If the present practice of uncritical acceptance of such attitudes continues, the true doctrine of kundalini willnever see the light of reason. On the contrary, it will become more complex and obscure as fresh groups of commentators try to penetrate deeper into the cryptic meanings and intricacies of the terms used by the ancient masters.
In the old books, there is generally an undue emphasis on mantras (ritualistic incantations), siddhis (psychic powers) and all the highly embellished metaphysical jargon, both relevant and irrelevant. From a study of these works one might infer that the authors believed in the possibility of a miraculous change in human consciousness without in the least affecting the body or the brain. Such a conclusion is unrealistic. We are all aware of the hard and fast limits imposed by the brain on the state of individual consciousness. A whole range of imperfect expressions of intelligence confronts us in the case of Mongoloids, cretins, imbeciles, idiots, and other categories of imperfectly developed individuals. Has it ever been possible, or can anyone now make it possible, to raise the consciousness of one of these unfortunates even to the level of ordinary people? If not, how can we even think of raising the consciousness of an average person to divine proportions without first regenerating the brain?
If the awakening of kundalini merely represents the operation of a divine cosmic energy, acting through invisible astral channels to bestow the boon of Cosmic Consciousness on a devotee, then one deficient in intelligence can be as good a recipient of grace as an exceptional man. Even the ancient writers realised the impossibility of such a transformation. This is the reason why they insisted on certain mental and physical attributes.
The distinguishing characteristics of promising aspirants are meticulously described not only in books on Raja-Yoga but also in the Tantras and in treatises on Hatha-Yoga. “A deliberative mind is the Mantra,” says Shivasutra (2. 1). According to Mundaka Upanishad (III i. 8), “It [the Self] is not comprehended through eye, nor through speech, nor through the other senses, nor is it attained through austerity or Karma [actions]. Only when one becomes purified in mind through the blessings of a discerning intellect can he then see that indivisible Self through meditation.”
Discussing the nature of the intellect indispensable for enlightenment, the Bhagavad-Gita says (18. 30), “That which knoweth energy and abstinence, what ought to be done and what ought not to be done, fear and fearlessness, bondage and liberation, that Buddhi (intellect) is pure, O Partha.” A discriminating and pure intellect is necessary in those born for a divine state, according to the Gita and other scriptures of India. “Aloof from misery, contented, without conflict, free from jealousy, given to the knowledge of doctrine, peaceful,” says the Kularnava Tantra LX-84, 85), “without insolence, anger, show, desire and ego, truthful in speech, not fickle.”
Again (XI-98): “The mainspring of Kula-dharma lies not in elaborate rituals, like Abhiseka, not in Mantra, not in poring over learned treatises, but in a truthful ordering of life.” All Indian scriptures, all the authoritative treatises dealing with Yoga, invariably prescribe noble attributes of mind, surrender to Divine Will, truthfulness, compassion, selflessness, and other virtues as the prerequisites for the attainment of higher states of consciousness. The body and the mind have to be purified by reasonable austerity and noble ways of thought and action.
“All the gods dwell in the body,” says the Gupta-Diksha Tantra, meaning thereby that the divine states ascribed to gods reside in the body and may be experienced as the result of certain disciplines employed to make the body a suitable vehicle for the purpose. It is obvious that the fundamental issue to be resolved for a student of Yoga is the relationship between the body and transcendental consciousness. To suppose that higher states of consciousness can be attained by certain disciplines, mantras, meditational techniques, and other psychosomatic exercises, without affecting the body in any way, is to put trust in something that is totally repugnant to our reason.
Considered in this light, any approach to Yoga and transcendental states of consciousness that does not take into account the biological aspects of the transformation and confines its attention solely to the miraculous or supernatural elements in the ancient doctrines can only be classified as puerile. One who takes such an approach is an obscurantist, indulging in unrealistic fantasies. The wide gulf between some of the modern writings on Tantras and Yoga and the objective realities of this science has done incalculable harm, not only to the prestige of this lofty doctrine, but also to the seekers, whose hunger for transcendental experience compels them to devour whatever written material comes their way.
■ Can you explain what is your idea about Cosmic Consciousness, Superconsciousness, Transcendental Consciousness, and other such terms used to denote higher states of awareness?
Whenever I refer to any one of these terms, I mean that state of awareness in which consciousness can turn back upon itself and contemplate the Cosmic Reality, apprehended by introspection just as the external world is cognized with the senses and the mind. One of the most distinctive characteristics of this state is that when the individual possessing it turns his attention upon his being, it spreads out and extends in all directions like a drop of oil on a placid sheet of water. There is no limit to this spreading out, and the deeper the contemplation the more extended becomes the area of conscious perception.
When a normal person turns his mind upon himself he finds only the limited periphery of his ego-bound and sense-conditioned awareness. The awakened man perceives his ego and sense impressions reflected in a vast world of consciousness surrounding him on every side. To put it briefly, Cosmic Consciousness signifies an extended state of awareness in which a new area of perception opens within, and consciousness becomes perceptive of itself.
In this connection it is important to bear in mind that in spite of the fact that the quest of the supernatural was pursued even more ardently in earlier times, the law underlying the phenomenon has never been understood. For the ancients, mystical experience or the awakening of kundalini represented an entry into divine territory. In their geocentric universe, man appeared as the cream of creation in full development of his capabilities, next in order of precedence to the Creator. Man’s concept of a rise in his mental stature could only mean a transition toward a divine order, beyond the pale of human existence, that could release him from the bonds of earth and bring him in close intimacy with the Lord. Today our knowledge of the universe and the realities of life has expanded to such a degree as to show the basic factors underlying such concepts. This idea of gaining access to a higher order of life, free from the fetters of flesh, finds expression in the folklore and myths of almost all the people of the earth. This is also the basis of shamanistic practices and all primitive religious cults. It is therefore easy to understand why seekers of the occult and supernatural undertook arduous disciplines in order to reach a state of blissful incorporeal existence or to win communion with the Lord and Master of Creation.
The fact that miraculous powers have so often been associated with success in Yoga or other forms of religious discipline from remotest times is clear evidence that for the ancients, and even for many people today, these disciplines were and are considered as means of attaining a state of independence, an autonomy free from the ties of the body and mind. They believe that kundalini and other forms of Yoga provide an easy way to gain psychic gifts, miraculous powers, or a higher state of consciousness. The connection with body and mind is seldom given serious thought. There is hardly any understanding that for transpersonal manifestations of consciousness the active participation of the brain and the body is essential.
■ From what you say, Cosmic Consciousness in an individual can be verified by studying certain attributes present in the person claiming to have attained to this state. Can there be an empirical confirmation of these attributes?
Investigation has shown that there occurs a variation in the electrical activity of the brain during sleep and wakefulness. With further development in the methods of science, it may even be possible to distinguish delusive, hallucinatory, and hysterical states by observing variations in the activity of the brain. Perhaps the time is also drawing near when differences in the quality of intelligence and the states of consciousness may also become perceptible. Intensely emotional states in love, hate, anger, happiness, sorrow, and the like are reflected in the body and can even lead to trauma and diseases on the one hand or to buoyancy and health on the other. Extreme suffering and sudden shocks have been known to cause pronounced physiological reactions such as overnight graying of the hair or even sudden death.
Such facts about the body-mind relationship are common knowledge, but they have been overlooked in dealing with mental states associated with Yoga and other spiritual disciplines. Even in the case of those who have not reached a state of mystical union, but in whom the practice of Yoga has been instrumental in bestowing peace of mind, stamina to face the problems of life, a happier inner state or visionary experiences, there must have occurred, however subtle it might be, a physiological alteration in the brain and nervous system to imprint such a change on the personality. If no physiological change has occurred, there is no prospect that the altered experience can continue for any length of time. The expression of mind is so completely dependent on the condition of the brain that it is impossible that any radical change in the former should not affect the latter in some degree. Uncertainty about this vital issue is mainly due to the fact that certain details of the working of the brain and nervous system, as well as the actual nature of mind, are still unfathomed mysteries.
It is, however, logically consistent to hold that every genuine form of transcendental experience engendered by any kind of discipline must be reflected in the human organism and be attended by subtle or even tangible changes in the brain and nervous system. If this is conceded, the next step is to study where the alteration occurs and how it can be detected.
This is an issue of paramount importance for millions who strive for expanded consciousness. Validation would not only place mystical experience on an objective basis but also provide a method for verification and the confirmation of the genuineness of the phenomenon.
From my point of view, therefore, not merely is Cosmic Consciousness a subjective experience, but also it must be attended by corresponding physiological symptoms. On the subjective side, the only way to verify its existence is to measure the mental stature of one who claims it. He must bloom into a spiritual genius, blessed with vaikhuri, the spontaneous flow of higher wisdom, or jnana. On the objective side, he must be an Urdhavaretas, one in whom the psychic energy has assumed a radiant form, enveloping his inner being in a never-fading mantle of light. This is represented in the ancient likenesses of saints and prophets by a lustrous halo around the head or the body, signifying inner illumination. It is only when the brain is fed by this radiant psychic energy, changing from white to gold or to the silvery brightness of the starlit sky, that the otherwise impenetrable realm of consciousness becomes perceptible to the inner vision.
A superconscious Yogi cannot continue to have the nervous system, the brain or the psychic fuel that nourishes them, of a normal person. His whole being must be transformed, psychologically and physically, leading to the emergence of a new personality. The subjective and objective verification of Cosmic Consciousness can leave no chance for anyone who is not blessed with this Divine estate to pose as an enlightened being. Because of the prevailing misconceptions, however, it is unfortunately only too common for charlatans desiring fame and power to attract followers who have permitted themselves to believe that transcendental consciousness can be achieved almost overnight by simple techniques rather than by progressive evolution.
In their studies of higher consciousness, the ancient teachers were largely disinterested in the role played by the body, even though the overwhelming effect of some of the physiological changes occurring in the course of Yogic practice left them no alternative but to include them in their writings. They incorporated and correlated them with their own preconceptions about the Divine nature of the occurrences and depicted them in such exaggerated and fantastic colors that, instead of lending corroboration to their statements, they now detract from their value. Even in recent years many individuals credited with expanded consciousness have paid little attention to this important aspect of the occult.
Studied in this light, the ancient Hatha-Yoga manuals will be found to be veritable mines of information about the physiological aspect of the various disciplines. Whether Buddhist or Indian, the Tantric texts also provide valuable hints. The volume of Tantric literature is enormous, and only a fraction of it has been translated into the languages of the West. A good deal of misunderstanding still prevails about this ancient system of metaphysics, and instead of being treated as a bandy source for the investigation of mystical experience, these books are often considered to be a storehouse of easy and secret methods of approach to the supernatural. Some treat them even as possible sources of information about methods for the enhancement of sexual potency, prolongation of enjoyment, rejuvenation, and similar ardently desired objectives.
The fact is that out of millions of earnest seekers after Yoga few understand the real nature of the physiological and psychological metamorphosis that has to be effected. The others have their illusions shattered sooner or later after years of hard endeavor. What I claim does not always evoke enthusiasm from those interested in the study of this subject, either for intellectual satisfaction or for self-discovery, because there is still no general recognition of the possibility that the human brain can rise to higher states of consciousness by certain biological readjustments in which the cerebrospinal system plays a decisive part.
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