A Yogi and a Philosopher

A Yogi and a PhilosopherThe following is Akshay Kumar Bannrjea’s introduction to Philosophy of Gorakhnath.

Both have the same end in view–the Absolute Truth

A Yogi and a Philosopher have the same ultimate end in view. They are inspired by the same inherent urge of the innermost consciousness of man. Both of them are seekers of the Absolute Truth. Both of them refuse to remain content with the knowledge of the finite transitory relative truths of the world of normal human experience. They feel within themselves a deep yearning for the discovery of the infinite eternal Absolute Reality behind and beyond them. They devote themselves to the quest of the ultimate root of all existence, the ultimate Cause and Ground of this world-order, the ultimate solution of all the problems of human knowledge and experience. The human consciousness is ordinarily imprisoned in the closed domain of space, time and relativity. It is as it were condemned to live and move under spatial and temporal limitations, to think and know in terms of relativity, causality and reciprocity. It is given opportunities to develop and expand and enrich itself within the compound of this prison; but it is not permitted to go beyond the walls of this prison. It seems that human knowledge and experience must necessarily be finite and relative, and the world of space, time and relativity must be all in all to the human mind.

The Yogi as well as the Philosopher revolts against this bondage of the human mind. Both of them aspire to break through the walls of this prison. They want to transcend the limitations, under which the ordinary human consciousness is placed by nature. For the satisfaction of the innermost craving of their souls, they attempt to penetrate into the innermost meaning of this cosmic order. However bewilderingly complex the constitution of the world of our normal experience may appear to be, it cannot be a meaningless and purposeless process, going on by chance or accident. The wonderful order and harmony perceptible in all the departments of this complicated system of the Universe point to some dynamic center or Soul of this system, some obviously inscrutable Governing Principle or Power regulating its intricate operations, some Supreme Ideal which is being realized in and through this continuous phenomenal process. A Yogi and a Philosopher are both inspired by some such faith, and both of them devote their energy to the discovery of that center or Soul of the Universe, that Governing Principle or Power, that Supreme Ideal, which may furnish a rational explanation of this world-order and give a meaning to it.

They differ in their modes of approach

While the ultimate object of search is the same for a Yogi and a Philosopher, their modes of approach appear to be widely different. A Philosopher’s approach is intellectual, and a Yogi’s approach may be said to be spiritual. A Philosopher advances in the path of rational logic, a Yogi advances in the path of moral and psychical self-discipline. A Philosopher aims at a logically unassailable conception of the Absolute Truth, a Yogi aims at a direct spiritual experience of the Absolute Truth. A Philosopher’s interest in the pursuit of the Truth is chiefly theoretical, he being chiefly concerned with the satisfaction of the demand of his intellect; a Yogi’s interest is thoroughly practical, in as much as he is predominantly concerned with the satisfaction of the fundamental demand of his soul. A Philosopher does not cease to be a philosopher, even if his practical life is not in tune with his conception of the Truth, but a Yogi ceases to be a Yogi, if his entire life is not disciplined in strict accordance with his idea of the Truth. The knowledge which a Philosopher attains and can possibly attain by the most careful applications of the principles and rules of Logic is indirect or mediate knowledge (Paroksha Jnana); while the knowledge which a Yogi seeks and expects to attain through the purification and refinement and illumination of his entire consciousness is direct or immediate knowledge (Aparoksha Jnana). An earnest Philosopher makes serious attempts to purify and refine and enlighten his reason and to liberate it from all kinds of logical fallacies and imperfections, so that it may form the most valid and most comprehensive conception of the Absolute Truth. An earnest Yogi undergoes a systematic course of self-discipline for the purification of his body and senses and mind, for the suppression of his desires and passions and worldly tendencies, for the liberation of his thought from the bondage of all preconceived ideas and notions, for the concentration of his attention upon the unknown but yearned-for object of his search and for the elevation of his entire consciousness to higher spiritual planes, so that the self-luminous Absolute Truth may perfectly illumine this consciousness and directly reveal Itself to it. A Philosopher is an aspirant for understanding the Absolute Truth by making it an object of his refined logical conception, while a Yogi is an aspirant for realizing the Truth by elevating his consciousness to the highest spiritual plane, in which the subject-object-relativity also vanishes and the consciousness becomes practically one with the Absolute Truth.

A philosopher’s method

In his quest of the Absolute Truth, a Philosopher has to rely chiefly on speculation (Yukti). He has to form theories and hypotheses and to put them to logical tests. He has to keep one eye upon the facts of normal human experience, which are all finite and relative, and he has to be careful that the conjectural opinion he forms about the Absolute Reality may not be inconsistent with the established facts of this world of finitude and relativity and,may on the other hand offer the most adequate rational explanation for all these facts. His consciousness habitually dwells in the plane of the finite, the temporal and the relative, and his intellect and imagination, led by some inner urge, jump or fly from the finite to the infinite, from the temporal to the eternal, from the relative to the absolute. The Infinite Eternal Absolute, i.e., what he conceives to be the Ultimate Reality above and beyond the limitations of space, time and relativity, remains to his normal consciousness an unwarranted conjecture or undue assumption, until and unless it is logically demonstrated that the essential demand of the human intellect for a rational explanation of this world-order is not possible without the assumption of such an Absolute Reality and that the Reality as conceived by him is alone capable of supplying the most adequate rational explanation of the system of facts constituting this world. Thus a Philosopher has to take his stand on the phenomenal relative world of normal human experience, and the Absolute Truth he arrives at by the exercise of his imaginative insight and logical intellect is a theory, the validity of which is measured by its necessity and adequacy for the rational explanation of this world. The conclusion of philosophy, however well-reasoned, cannot rise above the status of a theory (Vada).

Another serious difficulty which arises in the path of the philosophical quest of the Absolute Truth is, that for the purpose of the intellectual comprehension or apprehension of the Absolute, a Philosopher has to think of It and define It in terms of the concepts of his understanding, of which the legitimate scope of application is the relative phenomenal objective world. The logical principles and methods which he has to rely upon for the establishment of the validity of his conception about the Absolute Reality are also primarily meant for the proof of the relative truth of our empirical and discursive understanding. When these principles and categories are applied to the Absolute Truth, the Absolute is unconsciously brought down within the realm of the relative.

Existent and non-existent, conscious and unconscious, active and inactive, changeless and changing, unity and plurality, substance and attribute, cause and effect, simple and complex, dynamic and static, personal and impersonal all such concepts are applied by our intellect in the field of our normal relative knowledge, and their generally accepted meanings have reference to the relative phenomena of this objective world. A Philosopher, while attempting to determine the nature of the Absolute Reality and to form an intellectual conception of it, cannot help making use of the same concepts. Confusion arises as a matter of course. He has not unoften to radically change the meanings of these fundamental concepts of our normal understanding. In spite of all his earnest efforts he cannot liberate his intellect from the bondage of the elementary concepts of his rational understanding, which are by their very nature concerned with the world of relativity. A Philosopher has sometimes to manufacture new terms and concepts, the exact significance of which becomes incomprehensible to the normal understanding of a common man. He thinks of ‘transcendent existence’ above and behind ‘phenomenal existence,’ ‘transcendent activity’ as distinguished from ‘phenomenal activity’, ‘transcendent consciousness’ above ‘phenomenal consciousness’, and so on. Sometimes he thinks of the Absolute Reality as neither existent nor non-existent or as above both existence and non-existence. Sometimes he thinks of It as neither conscious nor unconscious or as having an order of consciousness which is above consciousness and unconsciousness of our normal experience.

Sometimes Inexplicableness or Inscrutableness is used as a category of understanding. In this way, Philosophers find themselves compelled to introduce many conceptions which are inconceivable to the common logical intellect. When they try to expound and establish these metaphysical conceptions, they have necessarily to argue on the basis of generally accepted logical principles. They cannot defy the Principles of Identity, Contradiction and Excluded-Middle, which are fundamental principles of logical thought. They cannot disregard the Principles of Causation and Sufficient Ground, which rule over their intellect in its search for Truth in this world. But all these principles of our common empirical thought and understanding cannot help them to convincingly prove the validity of their supra-logical supra-intellectual metaphysical conceptions about the Absolute Truth. It seems that they try to prove by means of logic what is above the sphere of logic.

A war of theories

The history of the philosophical quest of the Absolute Truth in the human race shows that there have been thousands and thousands of theories or intellectual conceptions about the nature of the Ultimate Reality, and there has not been a single one which could satisfy the intellect of all. The philosophical literature has been developing from the earliest times, and it is still progressing. No philosophical view has been found to be logically unassailable. The history of philosophy has become a history of a continuous warfare on the intellectual plane among the greatest and wisest rational truth-seekers of the world. A sincere and earnest Philosopher, even to satisfy himself that his conception truly represents the character of the Absolute Reality, has not only to be convinced that his theory is free from all possible logical fallacies and is capable of offering an adequate rational explanation for the world-order, but has also to be convinced that no other rival theory is or can possibly be so free from defects and can furnish such a satisfactory explanation. He therefore feels impelled to put to test not only his own conception, but also the conceptions arrived at by other philosophers. This leads him to seek and find defects in the arguments and conclusions of all other truth-seekers who differ from him and thereby to demonstrate the exclusive validity of the conception which he himself adopts. As Philosophers differ from one another in their modes of approach and the conclusions they intellectually arrive at, every system of philosophy becomes an object of attack from all sides, from the exponents of all other systems of philosophy. This intellectual warfare amongst the Philosophers, age after age, has been tremendously enriching the philosophical literature. But no philosopher can have the inner assurance and satisfaction that he has found out the Truth, that he has been blessed with the true knowledge of the Absolute Reality. Every Philosopher is afraid, unless he becomes dogmatic and arrogant, that the idea which he cherishes about the Supreme Object of his life-long search may not be the correct one and that it may be proved to be false by other philosophers. In fact, it is the fate of every philosophical theory that it is supported with logical arguments by philosophers of one school and refuted with counter-arguments by philosophers of many other schools.

The Absolute Truth has been conceived by illustrious philosophers in amazingly various ways, such as, Pure Void (Shunya), or Non-Being or Non-Existence (Asat), Pure Being or Existence (Sat). Pure Transcendent Consciousness (Chit-matra), Pure Unconscious Matter (Achit Prakriti), Pure Primordial Energy or Power (Maha-Shakti)] Pure Consciousness with Power (Shaktimatchaitanya), Creative Will, Absolute Idea, Absolute Spirit, Supreme Personality (Parama Purusha) with infinite Power and Wisdom, Morally and Aesthetically Perfect Personality (possessing not only infinite power and wisdom and bliss, but also the most lovable and adorable excellences), Satya-Shiva-Sundara Purushottama–Premanandaghana Parameshwara, and so on and so forth. The world of phenomenal diversities is conceived by some as an illusory appearance, by others as self-manifestation of the Ultimate Reality, by others again as created by the Ultimate Reality, by others again as the Sole Reality having no noumenal Reality behind it, and so on. The finite spirits are conceived by some as uncreated and eternal and by others as created and destructible, by some as atomic in nature, and by others as all-pervading, by some as different from the Ultimate Reality and by some as essentially non-different from the Ultimate Reality, by some as essentially pure and free and incorruptible and by others as subject to degradation and development, by some as essentially different from and independent of the physical bodies and by others as evolved out of them, and so on. The Ultimate Ideal of human life is also variously conceived by various philosophers. There seems to be no end of differences among the views of philosophers, (Nasau munlr yasya mat am na bhinnam). Each view is splendidly supported by its exponents with strong and elaborate logical arguments, which carry conviction to certain classes of truth -seekers.

Every strongly supported view has given birth to a particular school of philosophy. But it seems that every strong logical argument has its weak points. Critics discover these weak points in the arguments of a philosophical school and lay special emphasis upon them to repudiate the whole system propounded by it. Thus every system of philosophy is ably supported by its advocates and most cruelly refuted by its opponents. If a particular view is found to be satisfactory to one class of truth-seekers, it is proved to be unacceptable by many classes of truth-seekers. Every apparently well-reasoned theory about the Ultimate Truth is thus reduced merely into a particular viewpoint from which the Truth is sought to be approached, and no theory can evidently reach It. The intellectual path adopted by a Philosopher fails to lead him to the realization of the Absolute Truth, for which he feels within himself a persistent demand.

The Path of Yoga

A good many philosophers, having realized the inherent weakness of the method of logical reasoning and intellectual theorizing as a means to the perfect satisfaction of the innermost demand of the soul for the attainment of the Absolute Truth, have turned towards the method of spiritual self-discipline. One great Western philosopher has said that “Learned ignorance is the end of philosophy and the beginning of religion.” Religion here does not of course mean blind submission to any particular dogma or creed or performance of certain prescribed rites and ceremonies; but it means systematic discipline of the body, the senses, the mind, the intellect and the heart, under expert guidance, for the purification and refinement of the entire being of a man and the elevation of the empirical consciousness to higher and higher spiritual planes, so as ultimately to make it fit for being perfectly illumined by the light of the Absolute Truth. This is the path of Yoga. The most illustrious philosopher of ancient Greece, who was proclaimed by the Oracle of Delphi as the wisest man of the age, gravely said that his wisdom perhaps lay in the fact that “I know that I know nothing.” This great Guru of many great philosophers frankly confessed that with all his philosophical reflections he could not reach the Ultimate Truth which his heart craved for.
The term Philosophy itself is very significant in this connection; it carries the sense of its own inherent limitation with it. It means love of wisdom, and not the perfect attainment of wisdom. It implies sincere and earnest pursuit of Truth, and not the direct realization of Truth. A Philosopher, so long as he relies solely upon logical reasoning and intellectual argumentation, may continually advance towards the Truth with all the earnestness of his heart, but will never reach it. In his very attempt to make the Absolute Truth an object of his logical conception and intellectual comprehension, the Absolute Truth eludes his grasp. He always searches and misses. His Eternal Beloved never unveils Himself to his logical intellect. He has to transcend his logical intellect in order to be united with the Transcendent Truth. His consciousness has to rise above the domain of Space, Time and Relativity in order to be in the closest embrace of the Infinite Eternal Absolute Truth. This is the path of True Religion. This is the path of Yoga.

After a good deal of deep thinking, the Upanishadic Rishi also came to the conclusion that Atma is not attainable by means of philosophical dissertation (pravachana) or intellectual acumen (medha) or extensive study (bahusruta); It is attainable only by him to whom It reveals itself (Yameva esha vrinute tena labhyah). A truth-seeker has however to make his consciousness fit for the self-revelation of Atma. It does not reveal itself to the consciousness of a person, howsoever intellectually gifted he may be, unless he is free from all vices and evil propensities, unless his mind is pure and steady and calm and tranquil, unless his entire consciousness is with intense longing directed towards the Divine Light. So long as the sense of Ego predominates in the consciousness of a person, so long as he thinks that by dint of his own intellectual power he will unveil the true nature of Atma, the veil will remain in the form of his egoistic vanity. For the attainment of fitness for the self-revelation of Atma, the consciousness must be freed from the sense of Ego as well as all egoistic desires and attachments and inclinations of the mind. It is upon moral and spiritual self-preparation of the truth-seeker that fitness for Truth-realization depends. This means the systematic practice of Yoga. This is the conclusion at which the Upanishadic Rishi arrived.

It is to be noted that by the term Atma the Rishi meant the True Self of all existences the True Self of every individual as well as of the Universe -i.e., the Absolute Truth. The Upanishadic Rishi uses the term Brahma also in the same sense. Though the term Atma primarily means the True Self of an individual and the term Brahma means the Supreme, the Greatest, the Infinite and Eternal, i.e., the True Self of the Universe, the essential identity of the True Self of the Individual and the True Self of the Universe was revealed to the illumined consciousness of the Rishi hence Atma and Brahma are often used synonymously in the Upanishads, meaning the Absolute Truth. The Seers of the Upanishads have sometimes described all the Vedas and Vedangas, and as a matter of fact all intellectual knowledge, as Avidya (Ignorance) or Apara vidya (Lower knowledge). Para vidya (True knowledge) is that by which the Absolute Truth is directly realized (Yaya tad aksharam adhigamyate). This Para-vidya is Yoga-vidya the spiritual approach to the Absolute Truth,

The Vedanta-Darshan, which is the most widely accepted philosophical system of India, and in fact almost all the principal philosophical systems of India, frankly confessed that the method of logical argumentation was incapable of independently leading a truth-seeker to the final Truth (Tarka-apratisthanat). They all practically admitted that there could be no such logical argument as could not be refuted by counter-arguments. They therefore had to accept the spiritual experiences of enlightened seers (Agama or Aptavachana or Shrutis) as much more reliable evidence with regard to the nature of the Ultimate Truth. Many great sages spoke of the Ultimate Truth as beyond the range of thought and speech (Avang-manasa-gocharam), and they warned the truth-seekers against the application of logical categories for the ascertainment of the character of transcendental realities (Acintyah khalu ye bhava na tan tarkena yojayet). They advised the earnest seekers of Truth to have faith in the spiritual experiences of enlightened saints and to practically follow their instructions for the personal realization of the Same.

Philosophers, while expounding their particular views about the Ultimate Truth, often cite as evidence the spiritual experiences of universally adored saints and make them the bases of their logical argumentation. But, in doing so, they have necessarily to rely upon the verbal expressions given by the saints of their inner spiritual experiences, which are according to their own confessions beyond the scope of verbal expressions and logical argumentations. Naturally, the advocates of different systems of philosophy put different interpretations to these verbal expressions and try to strengthen their own views with their help. The Vedantic System of Philosophy has been divided into a number of separate philosophical sub-systems, holding separate views with regard to the nature of the Ultimate Reality and strongly refuting each other’s conceptions and arguments, though they are all based upon the sayings of the Upanishads and the Bhagavad Gita, which all of them believe to be the verbal embodiments of the Truth of the supra-intellectual spiritual plane. Each of them tries to establish logically that its own interpretation of the sayings is the only correct one and that the interpretations given by other schools are wrong. Similarly, the Buddhist philosophers became divided into different schools, though they all claimed to expound rationally the spiritual experiences of Lord Buddha, as expressed in his words. This has been the fate of all earnest attempts at the philosophical interpretations of the spiritual experiences of enlightened saints. Logical argumentations almost invariably lead to differences of views.

The path of Yoga does not require any such intellectual speculation. It does not necessitate the framing of hypotheses and theories and their testing by logical argumentations. A truth-seeker in this path is not involved in academic controversies with the advocates of divergent philosophical views. He is not interested in the logical establishment of any particular theory or dogma, and hence he does not feel impelled to refute the rival theories or dogmas upheld by other schools of thinkers. His aim is not to acquire an objective knowledge of the Absolute Truth and to form a logically valid intellectual conception of the supra-logical supra-intellectual Reality. He aims at the direct spiritual experience of the Truth on a supra-logical supra-intellectual plane of consciousness. He advances in his path with an indomitable faith in the possibility of such experience. He does not create confusion in his mind by an attempt at an intellectual ascertainment of the nature of such experience, which is expected to be attained in the supra-intellectual plane, or of the possibility of any such transcendent experience.

It is as a matter of course impossible to demonstrate in any lower plane of existence and consciousness what is or is not possible in the higher and higher planes of existence and consciousness. What may be quite natural in a higher plane of existence and consciousness would appear unnatural or supernatural or logically untenable in a lower plane. A child cannot form any idea of the aesthetic and emotional experiences which are most natural to young men and women, though the objects stimulating such experiences may be present before the eyes of the child. A person, whose artistic faculty is not sufficiently developed, fails to appreciate and enjoy the beauty of a sweet song or a nice poem or a fine picture, though these may be the spontaneous expressions of the inner sentiments of a musician or a poet or a painter. Similarly, the nature of the direct inner experiences of an enlightened Yogi cannot be an object of intellectual conception to any person, whose consciousness has not been sufficiently refined and has not ascended to the higher spiritual plane through the systematic practice of Yoga. Even an enlightened Yogi himself fails to give an accurate linguistic expression to his deeper spiritual experiences. He can guide a Truth-seeker in the path of advancement towards his truthful and blissful experiences, but he cannot give him a correct idea of his own experience of Truth by means of language or prove to him the possibility of such Truth-realization by means of logical reasoning. The Yogi’s method of search for the Absolute Truth is based on the idea that though the Absolute Truth may not be an object of intellectual comprehension and logical reasoning, It unveils Itself to the human consciousness, when this consciousness is adequately purified and refined and concentrated and thus becomes perfectly free from the impediments in the way of the self-revelation of the Truth to it. A Yogi, therefore, instead of making futile attempts to form a perfect logical conception of the nature of the Absolute in the lower empirical planes of his consciousness, directs his attention and energy to the progressive purification, refinement and concentration of his empirical consciousness and its elevation to higher and higher spiritual planes, until the supreme transcendent plane is reached, in which the veil between the Ultimate Truth and the consciousness vanishes altogether and the consciousness is absolutely united with the Truth.

In the normal nature of a man, his empirical consciousness is related to and conditioned by his physical body, his senses and nervous system and brain, his mind and intellect and heart and his individual ego. All these together constitute the embodiment of his self-conscious soul. The soul appears to be imprisoned in this complex psycho-physical embodiment. A man’s perceptions and inferences, imaginations and reasonings, feelings and sentiments, desires and aspirations, thoughts and ideas, are all conditioned and determined by the characters and limitations of this embodiment. Hence they are all confined within the world of finitude and relativity. A man, however, feels within his innermost consciousness, a persistent urge for transcending all limitations and bondages of this psycho-physical organism and attaining and enjoying the Absolute Truth, the Absolute Beauty, the Absolute Goodness, the Absolute Bliss of which, under his normal conditions, he cannot even form any positive conception. It is this inner urge of his soul which does not allow him to get permanent satisfaction from any achievement, however glorious, in this world of finite transient relative phenomena, and always prompts him to seek for more and more. Tatah kim, tatah kim–what after this, what after this? It is this inherent spiritual urge of his innermost consciousness which assures him (though not in an argumentative way) of the possibility of the apparently natural limitations of his psycho-physical embodiment being transcended by him by means of some appropriate form of self-discipline, and of the Absolute Truth-Beauty-Goodness-Bliss, which his soul craves for, being directly realized.

With the ultimate object of the attainment of this supreme spiritual experience, a Yogi devotes himself to the practice of such courses of self-discipline as may free his consciousness from the limitations which the psycho-physical embodiment imposes upon it. He holds before himself as the practical object of his pursuit an ideal state of his own consciousness, perfectly free from all impurities and distractions and doubts and perplexities, perfectly free from all desires and attachments and passions and propensities, perfectly free from all argumentative thought and preconceived notions, perfectly free from the sense of individual ego and the sense of distinction between the subject and the object, the internal and the external, the self and the not-self. It is in such a perfectly pure and refined, calm and tranquil, desireless and thoughtless, egoless and subject-object-less, transcendent state of the consciousness that the Absolute Truth-Beauty-Goodness-Bliss is expected to unconditionally reveal Itself, not as an object of the consciousness, but as the true Soul or Essence of the consciousness. The consciousness is in that state perfectly illumined by this Soul, and no difference exists between the consciousness and the Absolute Soul of all existences and experiences. In that transcendent experience no time or space exists, no relativity or causality exists, no distinction between Truth and Beauty and Goodness and Bliss exists. It is one absolute integrated experience, which cannot be described in terms of the analytical and synthetical categories of our normal intellectual understanding. The experience carries its certitude within itself, and it does not require any extraneous proof. Logical reasoning can neither deny its possibility, nor furnish any proof of its validity. But a Yogi, who is blessed with this experience, is free from all doubts. His yearning for the Absolute is perfectly satisfied. An earnest aspirant for Truth-realization advances in the path of Yoga under the guidance of such a Truth-realizer with, faith and perseverance.

In the Yoga-Shastras, this transcendent state of the consciousness is called Samadhi. The whole course of self-discipline in the path of Yoga is directed towards the attainment of this Samadhi, in which alone the direct and perfect experience of the Absolute Reality is possible. Samadhi is a thoroughly practicable ideal. Every step of progress in the direction of the realization of this ideal can be practically tested and verified. Hence Yoga is regarded as the most practical path to the realization of the ultimate Ideal of human life. As Bhisma says in the Mahabharata–Direct experience is the basis of Yoga (Pratyaksha-hetavo yogah). Samadhi is not a static condition of the consciousness. There are higher and higher stages of Samadhi, and in each higher stage there is a deeper realization of Truth.

The nature of samadhi-experience

The experience which is attained in the highest state of Samadhi cannot be regarded either as purely subjective experience or as objective experience or as negation of experience. It is not of the nature of subjective experience like that in the dream-state of consciousness or in the state of reverie or imagination or illusion or hallucination, in which the experiencing subject projects itself as the objects of experience under the influence of some internal or external stimulation. Such experiences are not accepted as forms of valid knowledge. They occur only in the impure and restless states of the empirical consciousness. In them, there is no correspondence between the objects of experience and the actual realities. In the Samadhi state, the consciousness is pure and calm and tranquil, free from the influences of all external and internal stimuli. In it there is no room for imagination or error or self-projection. In it there is no functioning of the mind or the intellect. The sense of the ego as the experiencing subject disappears, and hence this also does not condition the experience and make it an affair of a particular egoistic mind. In the deepest Samadhi, what is experienced does not appear as an object of experience, as distinct from and related to the experiencing subject. The individual consciousness ascends in that state to the transcendent universal plane, and the Reality as experienced in this plane cannot be merely a subjective reality real to a particular individual and unreal to others. Every individual consciousness that rises to this plane should be blessed with the same transcendent experience. Hence the Reality as revealed in the highest state of Samadhi must be recognized as the Absolute Reality.

It is also clear that Samadhi-experience is not of the nature of objective experience like that of the normal waking-state of the consciousness, in which the experience is conditioned by the natural limitation of the psycho-physical embodiment, and in which the objects of experience are as a matter of course finite relative phenomenal realities. In the state of Samadhi, the consciousness, though not unrelated to the psycho -physical organism, transcends its limitations, rises above the plane of finite egohood and the relativity of subject and object and becomes perfectly pure and tranquil and refined and illumined. The Reality revealed in the experience of this transcendent consciousness does not appear as a phenomenal object, distinct from the experiencing subject, but as one with it.

It may be questioned whether there is any real experience at all in this Samadhi-state of the consciousness. From the standpoint of the plane of our normal objective and subjective experiences, the question is not irrelevant. How can ‘ there be any real experience in the state in which there is no distinction and mutual relation between the subject and the object, the experiencer and the experienced? Can it be called any real experience, if only pure consciousness exists and nothing is present before it as its object? No only that. It may also be questioned if consciousness can at all exist as consciousness, when there is neither any subjective experience nor any objective experience in it. How can consciousness exist without any functions or phenomena of consciousness? May not what is called Samadhi-state be really the suicide of the consciousness? Or, may it not be a state analogous to the state of deep sleep (sushupti) or swoon (moorchcha), in which there is no real experience, in which the consciousness is in a state of absolute ignorance, in which it is ignorant of the psycho-physical embodiment, ignorant of the objective world, and even ignorant of its own existence ? May not the Samadhi state be a state of absolute ignorance or an absolutely unconscious state?

Such doubts may naturally arise in the fickle minds and speculative intellects of those who had never got the beatific experience of the Samadhi state. The enlightened Yogi, whose consciousness has risen to the highest spiritual plane and had an actual taste of this state, is free from all such doubts. To him this state of Samadhi is not a vacant state, but a state of fulness, not a state of darkness, but a state of perfect illumination, which is never experienced by the mind in the normal conditions. In this state, the consciousness does not commit suicide, it is not reduced into a state of unconsciousness or absolute ignorance; but it elevates itself into a state of absolute knowledge (purnagnana or kevalagnana), in which the knower and the knowable become perfectly united with each other, in which no difference remains between the Reality and the Consciousness and nothing more remains to be known, in which the entire universe of the apparent plurality of existences unveils its essential spiritual unity to the consciousness as well as its identity with the consciousness itself. The all-unifying truth-revealing transcendent experience of the highest spiritual plane of the consciousness, though indescribable and even inconceivable in terms of the normal objective and subjective experiences, is to the Yogi the most real experience.

Normally, we live and move and have our being in a world of plurality a world of differences and inter-relations. Differences among the various kinds of realities appear to be fundamental, and at the same time mutual relations among them also appear as inherent in their very nature. Spirit and matter are, so far as our normal experience goes, essentially different from each other; neither can be proved to be the cause or the effect of the other. But the inter-relation between them is so rooted in their nature, that we cannot even form any definite conception of the one except in relation to the other. In the world of living beings, matter constitutes the embodiment of the spirit and the spirit is the soul of the material body. We conceive matter as unconscious and inanimate and inert and it cannot by itself be conscious and living and moving; it is the conscious spirit which, entering into every particle of matter, converts it into a living and moving and self-organizing conscious body, and it is this body which becomes the medium and instrument of all self-expressions of the spirit. What we experience as inorganic material things are also what they are as objects of experiences of the conscious spirit; apart from relation to the conscious subject, i.e. the spirit, they seem to have no characters they are as good as nothing. The spirit also appears to be contentless and characterless, except in relation to the material body and material objects. Thus, in our normal experience, spirit and matter are essentially distinct as well as essentially related.

Again, in this world of plurality of our normal experience, spirits appear to be innumerable and essentially distinct from one another; different spirits are embodied in and conditioned by different psycho-physical organisms, having different kinds of experiences and different kinds of hopes and aspirations. But inter-communications and interdependences among them are also quite obvious. Similarly, the elementary material things which constitute the objective material world appear to be essentially different from one another; but they are all inter-related.

It is the plurality of inter-related phenomenal realities which constitute the contents of our normal experience and knowledge. Our empirical consciousness cannot transcend this plurality. But, there is always a feeling in the depth of our consciousness that this knowledge is not perfect. It mysteriously feels within itself that there must be some underlying Unity, holding together the plurality, harmonizing and unifying all the phenomenal diversities, and that that Unity must be the real Truth of the plurality.

It is the inherent demand of the consciousness for the discovery of One Absolute Reality as the Ultimate Truth of the inter-related plurality of existences, that is at the root of all sciences and philosophy. Every science makes serious efforts through the methods of keen and careful observation and experiment as well as logical reasoning and theorizing to discover some principle of Unity behind the plurality of phenomena within the scope of its investigation. The ambition of every philosophical system is to discover some Unity as the Truth of all existences. Since their methods of approach are inherently incapable of giving any sure knowledge of this Unity, they invariably fail to reach their goal. Whatever theories they may form, they can never grasp the Unity of Spirit and Matter, the unity of the conscious subject and the Objective Universe, the Unity of the knower and the knowable. The knowledge which is attainable through the scientific and philosophical methods is phenomenal and objective knowledge; while the Unity that underlies and unifies all kinds of phenomena of the past, the present and the future and is the Infinite and Eternal Ground of all cannot be a phenomenal reality and cannot therefore be an object of scientific or philosophical knowledge. The Reality, which is the Supreme Ground of the relations among all conscious subjects and all objects of consciousness, cannot itself appear as a particular object of the empirical consciousness of a particular knowing subject. Thus the Ultimate Unity of all existences, for which there is an inherent demand of the consciousness, remains beyond the reach of all scientific and philosophical knowledge.

The Samadhi experience of an enlightened Yogi at the highest spiritual plane of the consciousness is the direct knowledge of this Unity of all existences. It is distinct from all scientific and philosophical knowledge. It is distinct from knowledge of sense-perception and inference and logical reasoning. In it the consciousness transcends the difference between Spirit and Matter, the difference between the Subject and the Object, between the Internal and the External, between the One and the Many. In it the consciousness becomes perfectly one with the Truth of all existences. The inherent demand of the consciousness for the Absolute Truth is in this experience perfectly satisfied. It is transcendent experience.

A Yogi who is blessed with this spiritual experience in the state of Samadhi has not merely the intellectual satisfaction of having discovered the Ultimate Truth, but also attains the perfect satisfaction of the fulfillment of life. He becomes free from all sorts of bondage and sorrow, from all kinds of weakness and infirmity, from all senses of imperfections and limitations. Having in the transcendent plane of his consciousness experienced the perfect character of his innermost Self and its identity with the Infinite Eternal Self of the Universe, he becomes free from all fears, all cares and anxieties, all attractions for and attachments to, as well as all disgusts against and repugnance to the ‘finite and transitory things of the world. What he feels is so described by the illustrious commentator of the Yoga Sutras: “What is worth knowing has been known, what is worth getting has been got, all the Kleshas (imperfections) which are fit to be destroyed have been destroyed, all the bondages of Karma (actions virtues and vices) have become infructuous.” (Jnatam jnatavyam, praptam prapaniyam, kshinah kshetavya kleshah, karma-bandhanani shithilani.)

The Yoga-Sutras enumerate five kinds of Kleshas i.e. fundamental imperfections and sources of sorrows and bondages, viz., Avidya (ignorance or false knowledge), Asmita (egohood I-am-ness) Raga (attachment), Dvesha (aversion) and Abhinivesha (lust of life and the consequent fear of death). It is these which determine all our worldly activities, virtuous as well as vicious; and it is these which place us under subjection to the Law of Karma and compel us to reap the pleasurable and painful fruits of our actions in repeated births and in various forms of living existence. All these Kleshas, to which our consciousness is subject in the normal planes, and by which all our actions as well as enjoyments and sufferings in the worldly life are determined, are destroyed, when the consciousness is illumined by the Transcendent Experience. An enlightened Yogi thus attains perfect freedom from all bondages of individual life. This is called Mukti or Moksha. In his enlightened experience, he virtually ceases to be a finite individual and the world also ceases to exist as a reality external to him. The lamp of his life as a finite changing mortal individual is extinguished. This is therefore spoken of as Nirvana. The individual then attains the character of the Absolute the one without a second. He is therefore said to attain Kaivalya.

Enlightening influence of samadhi-experience upon normal life

The individual psycho-physical life of a Yogi does not however end with the experience of Kaivalya or Nirvana or Moksha. The consciousness again comes down from the transcendent plane to the normal plane, from the state of Samadhi to the state of Vyutthana (the normal waking state), from the perfectly illumined state to the state of conditioned knowledge. The enlightened Yogi again becomes conscious of himself as an embodied being, conscious of the objective world of plurality as external to himself. His knowledge of the world as well as of himself is again conditioned by his senses, mind, intellect and ego. He again apparently becomes one of innumerable finite individuals of the world.

Though outwardly he appears to become the same individual as he had been before the attainment of the Transcendent Experience of the Samadhi, yet inwardly this is not the case. The Truth-experience which illumines his consciousness in the supramental supra-intellectual supra-egoistic transcendent state exercises a great enlightening influence upon his normal mind and intellect and ego. His entire outlook on himself, his fellow-beings and the world of inter-related diversities undergoes a radical transformation as the result of that experience. Before he Was blessed with that experience, the Spiritual Unity of all existences had been veiled from his empirical consciousness. He used to see the plurality as plurality, but he had not the eyes to see the Unity that shone in and through them. The Absolute One, that manifests Itself in the diverse forms of relative plurality, that sustains their existence, regulates their movements, links them with one another and constitutes them into a magnificent cosmic order, had been concealed from his view, though he had felt a deep craving within his consciousness for having a glimpse of that Absolute One. Now, that Absolute One has revealed Itself to his consciousness; the veil has been removed; the consciousness has been illumined. This illumination is transmitted to the intellect, the ego and the mind and even to the senses. They do not now experience merely what they used to experience before the illumination descended upon them, but also the Absolute One along with and as the real essence of the objects of their normal experience. The ego now feels the Absolute One as its True Self and feels itself as an individualized self-expression of the Absolute One. The intellect now no longer theorizes, but finds in the Absolute One the ultimate rational explanation of all the problems that may appear before it. All the thoughts, feelings and volitions of the illumined mind now revolve round the Absolute One as the center. All the diverse kinds of objects of sense-perception are experiences as diversified appearances or manifestations of the One.

In the transcendent experience of the Samadhi-state, the objective world of plurality and the experiencing ego are both completely merged in one Absolute Consciousness (or Super-consciousness), which is the Absolute Truth or Reality of both; while in the enlightened experience of the Yogi in the normal plane of his empirical consciousness the ego and the objective world of plurality are both present, both appear as pervaded by the One, as having their being in the One, as the two-fold manifestations of the One. The One being the Truth of both, the Yogi sees himself in all and all in himself. He looks upon all the diversities from the standpoint of Unity; he sees the Infinite in the finite, the Eternal in the temporal, the Changeless in all changes, and the spirit in all material things. He thinks and feels all as essentially non-different from himself, and hence he loves all and hates and fears none.

In the Samadhi-experience, a Yogi transcends time and space. The beginningless and endless flow of time is in this ultimate Truth-experience merged in one changeless Eternity. The boundless space is also merged in one differenceless Infinity. In the enlightened normal experience, the Yogi sees the timeless Eternity manifested in the flow of time, the extensionless Infinity pervading all parts of space. In the Samadhi-state, his senses, mind and intellect are all functionless; they do not condition and diversify the experiences of the consciousness. He then does not perceive any external objects; he does not feel any pleasure or pain, any hunger or thirst, any affection or compassion, any duty or obligation; he has no process of thinking, no conception or judgment or reasoning; at that stage, he has no behavior at all. His consciousness then shines in its unconditioned undifferentiated unveiled fulness, in which the Reality and the consciousness are one. When the Yogi comes down to the normal plane with the memory or illumination of his transcendent experience, his senses, mind and intellect perform their normal functions, but with some new enlightenment. His senses appear to perceive some supersensuous Reality behind the ordinary objects of perception; his mind, even in course of its normal operations, seems to dwell in some supramental plane, and an attitude of unconcern and disinterestedness towards all affairs of the world prevails in his mind under all circumstances. He remains under all conditions free from cares and anxieties, desires and attachments, confusions and perplexities. All his intellectual thinking also appears to have as its center the Truth of the super-intellectual experience.

An enlightened Yogi in his normal life lives and moves in the domain of the senses, the mind and the intellect, but has his inner being in the peaceful and blissful realm of the super-sensuous super-mental super-intellectual Reality. As the result of systematic discipline, his body, senses, mental functions and intellectual reflections are of course much more refined and tranquillized than those of ordinary men whose lives are almost wholly governed by worldly interests and worldly forces. Not only that. By means of appropriate Yogic practices, he often acquires such extraordinary powers and visions even with regard to the relative realities of the world as appear miraculous and superhuman to others. He acquires the powers of seeing and hearing things beyond the range of normal ocular and auditory perceptions and of seeing without eyes and hearing without ears. He acquires the powers of knowing the events of the past and the future just as those of the present. He acquires the powers of entering into the minds of others and reading their thoughts and feelings and often exercising control over them. He may acquire the power of making his gross material body lighter than air and rising high up in the air and moving to distant places by the aerial path. He can often make his body invisible to the people present before him and can make his way through thick walls. He can acquire the power of assuming many bodies at the same time, making himself visible to people of different places and performing different actions with the different bodies. He may acquire the power of exerting control over the forces of nature and of transforming one natural thing into another. He may acquire the power of creating new things by the mere exercise of his will and of changing the natural characters of things; and so on, and so forth. According to the Yoga-Shastras, an enlightened Yogi may develop in himself even the power of creating a new world. Truly enlightened Yogis seldom make any display of their Yogic powers, which appear miraculous or superhuman to ordinary people. But, some Yogi teachers give occasional expressions of their minor occult powers, perhaps in order to demonstrate to the self-diffident people of the world what great powers lie hidden and dormant in them and to inspire them with the faith that they also can become masters of the forces of nature, if they undergo a systematic course of self-discipline under expert guidance in the path of Yoga and thereby become masters of themselves,

Although in the plane of transcendent spiritual experience no difference exists between one Yogi and another, nevertheless when enlightened Yogis come down to the normal planes of practical life, their behaviors are often found to be different. These differences are generally due to the natural differences of their psycho-physical embodiments, their habits and modes of training in the pre-enlightenment period, as well as their environmental conditions. Different Yogis are found to have temperamental differences. Some Yogis are found to cut off all connections with the affairs of the external world and to pass their time in solitude in a constantly meditative mood and in continuous enjoyment of the bliss of Samadhi-experience. They seldom allow their consciousness to come down to the lower planes. Other enlightened Yogis are moved by love and compassion for the people of the world, whom they see suffering various kinds of sorrows on account of their ignorance of the Eternal Truth and their hankering for and attachment to the petty transitory things of this earth. They come in close contact with these people and adopt various means to give them True Light and emancipate them from sorrows and bondages. Inwardly, they also dwell in the plane of the Infinite and Eternal; but outwardly love and compassion make them active. It is these Yogis who become Gums or spiritual guides in the society. It is through them that spiritual light comes down to the people of the world and awakens in their consciousness the yearning for the Infinite Eternal Absolute Reality, which otherwise remains dormant in it.

The enlightened Yogis, who look upon all human beings and all the affairs of the world from the spiritual point of view and move among the the people on account of their deep-seated love and compassion for them, have in all ages been the true teachers of humanity and the true leaders of culture and civilization. It is from their lives and teachings that the people living and moving normally in the physical, vital, sensuous, mental and intellectual planes, get glimpses of the Supreme Truth underlying and pervading and transcending the world of ordinary experience and some ideas about the Highest Ideal of their lives. It is these saints who present before their fellow-beings the noblest ideals of their intellectual pursuits and social activities, the highest standards of values, the deepest meanings of life and its aspirations, the innermost significance of the wonderful order and harmony in all the departments of this most complicated cosmic process. They are the permanent sources of inspiration to men and women of all grades of the society.

The ideas of Universal Brotherhood, Universal Love and Sympathy, Equality of all men, Sacredness of the lives of all creatures, Inherent Right to Liberty and Justice of all people, Respect for Truth for Truth’s sake, Selfless and Disinterested Service to all fellow-beings, Unity of mankind and Unity of the world-order, all such lofty ideas, which have been pushing mankind to higher and higher types of civilization, have been obtained from enlightened Yogis, who have been instilling these ideas into the minds and hearts of the people from time immemorial. All the noblest and most dynamic ideas, which have been progressively refining the human civilization, have been based upon the spiritual experiences of enlightened Saints, who have been preaching them in all parts of this earth for hundreds of years. It is from them that the people learn that the cultivation of their social virtues and their sense of duty and obligation should not be confined within certain territorial boundaries or within certain racial or communal or national limits. We learn from them that our morality does not become truly human morality, until and unless it transcends the narrow domestic and communal and racial and national limits and recognizes the entire mankind as one grand and beautiful family, and that our religion does not become truly spiritual religion, until and unless it rises above all sectarian and communal exclusiveness and bigotry and dogmatism and fanaticism and inspires us to feel in our heart of hearts the unity of all men and all creatures. It is these saints who have taught the human society to value self-control as superior to self-gratification, self-sacrifice as superior to self-aggrandizement, self-conquest as superior to the conquest of other people, spiritual self-fulfillment as superior to materialistic advancement, all-embracing love as superior to all-vanquishing brute-force, renunciation of all earthly goods for the sake of the eternal good of the soul as superior to ambition for and attainment of even the greatest possible power and prosperity and pleasure in this physical world. The examples they set up through their own character and conduct and the precepts they preach by words of mouth elevate the sense of dignity of man to a higher spiritual level, awaken in man the consciousness of his inner spiritual possibilities and of the true seat of his glory as the crown of the creation, and practically lead him in the path of his perfect self-realization. These Yogis are the true makers of civilization.

When a Yogi, out of deep sympathy and compassion for the ignorant and distressed people of the world, feels prompted to assume the role of a public teacher and preacher, he is required to give expression to his inner experiences in such intellectual and emotional forms as may be easily intelligible and appealing to those people of the lower planes. Knowing fully well that the truth of the higher planes of spiritual experience cannot be adequately expressed in the language and concepts of the lower planes, he takes the help of various kinds of figures of speech, poetic imageries, suggestive parables, imperfect analogies, mystic formulas, inspiring exhortations, etc., in order to awaken the deeper consciousness of the people and to raise their thoughts: and imaginations forcefully to the higher planes. The instructions of an enlightened Yogi, coming out of his heart with the force of his inner experience, carry conviction to the hearts of the listeners and often bring about a radical change in their outlook and mode of thought. Sometimes a Yogi does not require any word of mouth or movement of limbs for the purpose of exercising his spiritual influence upon the minds and hearts of people; his presence is enough. His very presence as a living embodiment of Truth, Beauty, Goodness, Love and Bliss, exerts a mysterious influence upon the consciousness of those who come to learn from him, and even upon the cultural atmosphere of the society in which he lives.

But usually the enlightened Yogis, who compassionately undertake the work of bringing down spiritual light to the people of the Society suffering from ignorance and earthly desires and attachments, adopt the usual means of imparting true knowledge to them. Though inwardly dwelling in the supra-mental supra-intellectual spiritual plane, they practically adjust their modes of teaching and preaching to the mental and intellectual and even the social and physical needs of the people whom they want to serve. While in their teaching life, they primarily concern themselves with inspiring the people with spiritual ideas and ideals on the basis of their deeper experiences, they often attempt to bridge over the chasm between the practical experiences and intellectual conceptions of the ordinary people and their own spiritual realizations in the higher planes of consciousness, by means of suitable logical arguments and philosophical speculations which may appeal to the intellects and imaginations of those people. Thus the Yogis convert themselves into Philosophers to suit the purpose of their teaching.

Very few among the truly enlightened Yogi teachers built up any regular system of philosophy. They usually give suggestive hints with regard to the Ultimate Truth, which they have realized in the plane of transcendent consciousness and which they instruct the truth-seekers to realize themselves by means of proper self-discipline, and they teach them the path in which they should proceed. Systems of philosophy are generally built up by their disciples and admirers who dwell in the intellectual plane, on the basis of the inspiring formulas and aphorisms uttered by those adorable teachers. Even those enlightened Yogis who happen to present a system of philosophy to the intellectualist truth-seekers do not lay undue emphasis upon the concepts in terms of which they describe the Ultimate Truth and the logical arguments leading to these concepts. To them all such intellectual concepts are necessarily imperfect expressions of the Ultimate Truth realized in the supra-intellectual plane of the consciousness and no logical arguments can possibly lead to that Supreme Truth. Nevertheless they recognize the value of philosophy asa mode of search for the Truth and as a mode of discipline of the mind and the intellect. The mind and the intellect are greatly purified and refined and emancipated from irrational ideas and superstitious beliefs and earthbound dispositions through a regular course of philosophical discipline. The systematic study of philosophy under the guidance of enlightened teachers can very well raise a sincere and earnest Truth-seeker from the physical, vital, sensuous and mental planes to the plane of refined intellect and lead him very near to the realization of the Ultimate Truth. The enlightened Yogi-teachers therefore encourage their intellectualist disciples and truth-seekers to take to the systematic study of philosophy with an unbiassed mind as a very suitable method of self-discipline and self-enlightenment. They accordingly sometimes present before them a system of philosophy for the proper regulation of their reasoning faculty and their mode of approach to Truth. These Yogi-philosophers seldom entangle themselves in polemical controversies with the advocates of other systems of philosophy. To these enlightened teachers every well-reasoned system of philosophy is a particular mode of intellectual approach to the same supra-intellectual Truth and a particular form of effective discipline of the intellect. When the intellect is properly disciplined and refined, it becomes much easier to transcend the domain of the intellect.

http://helenmccrory.org/