Showing posts with label Awaken to Superconsciousness. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Awaken to Superconsciousness. Show all posts

Wednesday, August 3, 2022

Facing East: When Meditation Isn't Enough

 I, and many people I know in my circle of Ananda friends and members, have been meditating daily for upwards fifty years. Many others for several decades. Is it enough? Are our lives being transformed? Elevated? Ennobled? Fortunately the "answer" to this is not an "either-or" but a "both-and." Yes, our lives ARE transformed but maybe not as fast or deep as we had hoped when we first began. 

What does it take to change? Paramhansa Yogananda said "The soul LOVES to meditate; the ego HATES to meditate." But is it enough to meditate? And, besides, isn't it the EGO that is meditating? Yogananda told the story of a man who was being troubled by a demon. Seeking help, he was given a powder to say a mantra over and throw into the face of the demon. But when he attempted to do this, the demon just laughed claiming that before the mantra could be recited he, the demon, leapt into the powder. Yogananda said that demon is the ego. 

The ego gets plenty of brickbats in the world of meditation and spirituality. But, paradox though it be, it's what we start with. Were I a happy puppy or a satisfied clam I wouldn't seek Self-realization, would I? Nor, I suppose, therefore, would I have a need for it. 

How many hundreds of meditation apps and meditation teachers offer self-help forms of meditation: self-help for health, relaxation, insomnia, concentration, and creativity? There are many benefits to the daily practice of meditation. 

But can meditation transform us spiritually, too? Up to a certain point, yes, but self-effort, techniques, concentration are not enough. True: it is the, ego harnessing intelligence and will that, having received the inspiration to seek something greater than itself, begins the daily practice. But the ego, like Moses who was not allowed to enter the Promised Land, is marching to its own doom; it must be radically transformed and expanded beyond the body and personality and so, like Moses, must "die" before reaching the goal.

Before I say "You will need a guru" with the result that you will stop reading, let me go another direction (first). In the bad old days of the 1960's and '70's when altered states of consciousness were sought with liberal sprinklings of chemical additives, there was a greater interest in achieving ego-transcendent states of consciousness. As the fads ebbed away into "let's get rich while we can," meditation was turned over to the scientists for research purposes. This is not a bad thing, mind you, but applying a materialistic bias to meditation has also dumbed it down towards a stoic "chop wood and carry water" goal. (I'm all for managing stress but my response to this is to ask "Do you remember Frank Sinatra singing "Is that all there is?"")

Swami Kriyananda's book, "Awaken to Superconsciousness," has for its theme that meditation offers us the opportunity to nurture our connection with what Yogananda dubbed the "Superconscious mind." This is a step up from exploring the influences of the subconscious mind upon our thoughts, emotions and opinions. Observing our thoughts in their native stream of consciousness may be helpful for being more aware of these subconscious influences; and, alternatively, substituting beautiful or relaxing imagery or music may be helpful for relaxation; but no matter how much more we live a conscious, intentional life, we are still in the conscious mind. We are still stuck with the basic "I." A better "I" for sure but is it enough? I doubt it. For one thing, uncertainty, loss of every kind, illness, old age and death stalk us 24/7. How secure and how happy can we remain in this world of ceaseless change? The watchful ego is the protector and defender of the realm. Smugness, over-confidence, and prideful self-indulgence will surely be the ego's undoing. Can we ever rest secure in the ego?

The basic thrust of meditation from the standpoint of its own tradition and history is the intention to awaken our awareness to more subtle realities; more refined states of mind; less ego oriented behavior; and, to higher states of consciousness, including the ultimate or absolute state of Being. The Superconscious mind offers us the potential to align our consciousness with the greater mind of all-knowing intuition: the source of true confidence. While this realm is available and accessed unknowingly to all people, it is not under the command or control of the ego. Its influence is tailored made to our unique needs. Mozart "received" symphonies; Albert Einstein, E=mc2. I, the inspiration to write this article!

The Superconscious mind is, relative to our ego, "Other." You may, if you wish, call it "God," the "Soul," the "Atman" etc. etc. So far as its influence goes, however, the ego remains the arbiter, the decider of whether to accept or reject the promptings of Superconsciousness. We see this often in the quiet promptings of our conscience: one of the voices of Superconsciousness. 

Sometimes the Superconscious has to communicate to us through dreams because all too often the conscious mind is so restless and preoccupied that we are not paying attention to the subtle voice of the Superconscious mind. To make matters worse, it takes experience to distinguish subconscious promptings from Superconscious ones. This is where the practice of meditation offers valuable support.

Not surprisingly, therefore, meditation is the most effective practice to open up the channel to Superconsciousness: hence the name and theme of Swami Kriyananda's book. The part of meditation that does this best is inner silence. In turn, inner silence is most readily achieved if we have a time-tested method(s) to rest the mind, relax the body, and calm the emotions. Thus various meditation techniques are helpful before attempting to enter into inner silence. The longer and deeper one can be still in body and mind, the more we are opening and clearing the channel through which the Superconscious can influence us. 

But the ego fights this process and typically claims as its own the ideas and inspirations that it receives. This, then, is where the need for the Superconscious to take human form comes into play. The Superconscious in human form is needed to get our attention and to make real and personal the guidance the ego needs to gradually let go of control. It is far too easy for the ego to stay in control when the guidance is only internal.

But how many people have a personal and enlightened guru-guide? Very few. A popular spiritual teacher is not necessarily enlightened and, how much guidance are you likely to receive from a person with thousands or millions of followers?

The tradition of disciple-guru relationship and the tradition of the inner path of meditation is strongly focused on renunciation and self-discipline. Transport these traditions into a "spiritual-but-not-religious" extroverted culture that is strongly self-directed and ever-affirming personal liberties and you can end up with a great many meditators stumbling around in the labyrinth of the mind.

Therapy, coaching and counseling are among the fastest growing professions in America today. The Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates a 20% growth between 2014 and 2024. Isolation and anxiety produced by the Covid pandemic have, I imagine, accelerated this trend. So while the traditions of the inner path invite the practitioner to "go within," the need for 21st century meditators would seem to suggest the need for a "guide from the side" since a "sage from the stage" is difficult to find. 

Meditation has been lifted out of the culture of the East and dropped into a very different culture in the West. As a resident of one of the Ananda communities worldwide, and as a decades long teacher of meditation (and meditation teachers), I see that meditation by itself is simply not enough for most people to affect the kind of transformation that meditation has to offer. 

For starters, our culture has converted both meditation and hatha yoga (postures) into something more ego and body affirming than was classically their purpose. Even if there could be found a truly enlightened guru, only a few in this "me-first" culture would give themselves wholly to be transformed. Put another way, few meditators are ready for a true guru.

So, how then, can meditation help us achieve more than relaxation, concentration, vitality and creativity? How can meditation help us experience Superconscious states of the higher (soul) mind? 

First: we actually have to sincerely want that level of transformation. I've had meditation students react fearfully when hearing about cosmic consciousness or even higher states of awareness. Second: we may need help to gain greater self-awareness of our subconscious influences. Third: we may need help to re-direct old thought-patterns into new and self-expansive ones; Fourth: we need the tools of transformation in the form of advanced meditation techniques like Yogananda's Kriya Yoga; Fifth: we may need to be open to the spiritual and meditative guidance of those we feel can guide us even if they are not enlightened gurus.

I believe that the increase in the use of therapists, counselors and coaches represent a small but growing trend toward seeking greater self-awareness in this otherwise extroverted and materialistic culture. Yogis are generally not versed in the tools of this decidedly Western profession. The spiritual teachings are wonderful but making them real in one's own daily life takes hard, introspective work for which we in this culture are ill prepared. Quiet mind and still body don't come easily to our over-stimulated, frenzied lifestyles.

And I'm not limiting the help that I see we need to learning more meditation techniques or going to more retreats and workshops. These are important and have a place, of course, but I'm referring to something more personal. Ironically, the ego has to undergo healing and achieve some degree of wholeness before it can begin to surrender to a higher power. I know stories come to us of great devotees whose total surrender to the guru freed them in one lifetime but let's face it, most of us carry far too much karmic baggage. We need friends and wise guides to help us. Perhaps in a future lifetime the depth of our sincerity and magnetism will attract a guru whose very touch can liberate our souls.

I know that devotion to God and guru is "an inside job" and is not dependent on proximity to any human form but that level of devotion is rare. The effort to develop devotion remains a very powerful spiritual practice and should be included in our toolkit of transformation. My observation of the life of meditators and devotees suggests to me that much more is needed at this time and in this culture. 

In this regard, I think of the story of the Princess Draupadi: a devotee of Krishna. Krishna suggested that she practice meditation. Her response was simply, "But Lord, how can I practice meditation when my mind is wholly upon you?" Krishna just smiled and turned away. Devotion to the Supreme Lord is the quickest way to soul freedom. But alas, few are the devotees with the courage and conviction of this truth.

Among the fast growing number of professional therapists, coaches and counselors are few who walk with us on the inner path. One must choose a guide carefully and intelligently, therefore. Suggestions for such a search are beyond the scope of this article but my purpose is to point out the need among meditators for help in shedding the subconscious and activating the conscious mind. As a teacher of meditation teachers, I think it would help if potential teachers and spiritual counselors incorporated some of the tools of the emerging coaching field. I believe such tools can accelerate a person's access to the transcendent realm of the Superconscious mind when added to the other, traditional techniques and attitudes of raja yoga.

My daugher, Gita Matlock (, is a coach and on her recent visit to us recommended to me books by the author Nancy Kline ( for how to help others. I found the steps and principles outlined there to be completely congruent with the essence of Self-realization principles, but only using different terms and applications. The technique of asking questions is highlighted and has a long and ancient history. So too has the assumption of the essential goodness of people and our own power to find answers from within. Marvelous reading and I recommend it for Self-realization teachers and counselors.

Ours is a new age (Dwapara Yuga) and a new culture. Truth may be one and eternal but its manifestations are infinitely varied. If we are to help one another, let us tune into the song of Dwapara: individuality; respect; listening; and empowering.

Blessings and joy to you!

Swami Hrimananda

Saturday, June 11, 2016

Beam Me Up! How We Rise Spiritually!

I am Underwater:

A fish doesn't necessarily know that it is in water. The medium of water becomes the "given" and is assumed. "If there was a sound, continuous since birth and omnipresent until death, what would you call it?" "Silence." If there is a YOU, consistent since birth, identified with the same, if slowly changing body, a family, an environment, culture and customs, what do you call it? ME. 

You are Other:

If I am ME, then you must be YOU, and you are NOT ME! When, therefore, we contemplate God, we contemplate that which is not ME. As I cannot BE YOU, then I cannot BE God. Or so says logic.

Out of the Labyrinth:

If we encounter the Vedantic and metaphysical teaching that we are children of God and that our destiny is to reclaim our divinity and soul freedom by becoming ONE with God just as a wave is in separable from the great ocean, how then do we find our way out of the labyrinth of ME vs YOU?

My Help Cometh from the Lord:

There has been no time in known history where nations, tribes and peoples were not guided by spiritual teachers, prophets, or guides. In all walks of human life, there are leaders among whom there are, however rarely, great and inspired geniuses. In any successful group dynamic and enterprise, leadership emerges and proves essential. "Help" as if "from above" enters the picture at every crucial juncture of human history. As our intellect and intuition are centered in the heart and the brain (and not the stomach), and as ideas appear as ideas in our mind or heart, so too is all life guided silently and invisibly from a higher realm which we cannot see. 

While you may justly claim that "I had an idea," you cannot say from "Whence cometh" the idea. We do not know where our inspiration and good ideas come from. We only know they simply appear, full blown (sometimes) whether in dreams or in our waking hours. It is true that we usually attract ideas by putting out the effort to think things through, to put our mind to the task of solving problems, and otherwise by intense mental or physical effort in a given direction, but the solution itself, we cannot otherwise account for its timing or substance. At the same time, only Einstein received E=mc2. I didn't. No poet did. Neither did a composer or a housewife. We get inspirations (usually) that are personal and pertinent to my life. [Habitual dreamers, those who live in make believe worlds of their own imaginings, may receive all sorts of ideas but they never bear fruit.]

From Whence Cometh the Lord?

Just as you cannot account for the appearance of an idea in your mind, neither can you account for your own existence. You, too, simply appeared: to yourself as an infant, toddler, child and an adult. If however, "you" are a soul and not a body, then we are like prodigal children caught in a foreign land, seeking our way home. We need a spiritual "Einstein," an alchemist, to show us how to convert flesh into spirit. We need a guide. Only one with the proven power to go between the two worlds of Spirit and Matter can teach you how to do it. Do you need to eat? To breathe? Can you stop your heart and breath at will and leave your physical form behind, and then return at will? Why then imagine you do not need an enlightened teacher to show you the way?

Letting Go

We cannot fall asleep consciously for the simple fact that the subconscious state is not the conscious state. To enter the state of sleep we must "let go" of the conscious mind and "fall into" sleep. Sleep is a lower state of awareness. In sleep we are either unaware or our dreams are an incoherent jumble (most of the time). 

Superconsciousness lies at the opposite end of the consciousness spectrum. Unlike sleep, we are, in superconsciousness, vibrantly alive and awake. But like sleep, superconsciousness is not under the control of the conscious mind. And, therefore, like sleep, it also entails a kind of letting go. Swami Kriyananda, in his landmark book on consciousness, "Awaken to Superconsciousness," describes this process as "upward relaxation [back] into superconsciousness." The conscious and subconscious states are but derivatives of the superconscious mind.

The experience of superconsciousness is not the product of an intellectual assent or mere affirmation of will. It is a state of being which is very subtle relative to the vibration or frequency of ordinary thoughts and emotions. Superconsciousness lies as a horizon line between the lower state of sleep and the conscious state of wakefulness. To use another image: think of superconsciousness as the top point of a pyramid: the two lower and opposite corners are the states of the conscious and subconscious mind. To ascend to superconsciousness we must strip away the heavy baggage of passing thoughts, heaving emotions and body awareness that the very light balloon of pure awareness might rise.

The Movie

Our conscious mind and subconscious mind are more like the appearance of reality on a movie screen: the hero and the villain, as it were; day and night. Both emerge from the singular beam of superconsciousness from the projection booth of Spirit. The images are caused by the darkening imprinted dots on the film. These are our restless, body-bound thoughts and emotions. The beam of light is otherwise unaffected by the film crossing over it. The images on the screen continue until the film is over or the operator removes the film to reveal just the pure beam of light on the screen.

The Transmission

To switch metaphors, but like a transmission of radio signals, superconsciousness requires a sender and a receiver. The sender has to have a sending "unit," which is to say, must be already in superconsciousness, while you, the receiver, have to be turning your dial to the frequency of the sender. Bit by bit you refine, clarify, and purify the frequency of your receiver, thus showing your readiness and attunement to the sender's wavelength and frequency. This is the guru-disciple relationship. As St. John in Chapter One of his gospel writes of Jesus Christ: "To as many as received him, to them gave he the power to become the sons of God." 

In meditation we learn to focus calmly but deeply and intently, at the point of singularity (this horizon line) in the forehead. There, awaiting the transmission "signal" given to us by the guru's invisible presence, our breath can be snatched away (temporarily, at first) as we enter into this sacred land of the soul. [It is not necessary that the guru be in a human body at that time or physically present for us to receive his transmission, for we are speaking of higher states of consciousness which are independent, indeed the very source of, material and physical realities.] 


Superconsciousness is not born of ego. It is a state unto itself: universal and omnipresent, stripped of the characteristics of ego (memory, desires, senses, personality, and bodily identification). The ego therefore does not possess the right frequency to tap into superconsciousness alone. The ego frequency is, as stated earlier, derived FROM superconsciousness and is a lower vibration, rate of frequency and so on. 

No mere book or course or ordinary (if brilliant, witty, and even wise) teacher can take us to this "land beyond our dreams" (as Paramhansa Yogananda called it). A true teacher is one who already is awake and living in superconsciousness and who can transmit it at (the command of divine) will.

"Beam me up, Scotty!"

Joy to you!

Swami Hrimananda

Saturday, June 6, 2015

Evolution Ends in Endlessness!

My daughter, Gita Matlock, wrote a blog article yesterday that coincides with my thoughts in preparation for my Sunday Service talk tomorrow (June 7, 2015) on the subject, "How Devotees Fall." Gita's article is entitled, "Anguishing Monotony."

Her article might, at first, sound like a "downer" but it's not. She's not capable of doing "downers." (Her dad, she says, does the downer subjects.) Rather, while she states her admiration for human striving and overcoming challenges, she wonders "Is there an end to it?" What would the struggle mean if we were not aware of it being a struggle or if we didn't seek an end to it?

Self-awareness, you see, is inextricably linked with our human experience of striving and seeking. Good, bad, indifferent qualities are, at first, seemingly inseparable from the objects (obstacles and goals) with which they are identified. But, Gita writes, behind all human qualities, even the most admirable ones, is the hidden source of all qualities: Self-awareness and Consciousness. For without self-awareness, the experiences have no meaning or significance. Indeed, from a practical matter (ours, that is!), perhaps no existence at all!

Is it possible, however, to separate awareness from the objects illuminated by it? The yogis say YES! The science of yoga shows us how, by meditation, using mind and breath control, to strip away the objects reflected in the mind of the Seer. Gazing backwards into the mirror of Self-awareness, the "Eye" confronts an "I," which, like a mirror reflecting back onto itself, reveals an infinite Self-awareness.

Thus Self-awareness, stripped of all objects, is unqualified Being, and, being without name, form, definition or condition of any kind, is complete unto itself. It simply IS! It is not, however, by that fact devoid of feeling.

If you sit very still and your thoughts subside into deep silence, there wells up out of the apparent Void a rising tide of silent joy. Discover for your Self, that Self-awareness cannot be permanently stripped of feeling. When Awareness is without focus upon any external object, subtle or gross, then its Consort, Feeling, also becomes pure and without condition. Pure feeling is No-Thing less than Bliss itself.

Thus all the struggle, striving, and strain has for its aim ..... to return to our Source in Bliss!

Is Bliss some weird No-thing in No-place that is separate from time and space? Or, does Bliss permeate creation while it remains untouched by it? As the sea can exist without waves but waves cannot exist without the sea, Bliss is omnipresent, omniscient, and infinite.

When Paramhansa Yogananda, 20th century avatara and yoga master, and author of the spiritual classic and modern scripture, "Autobiography of a Yogi," was asked "What is the end of soul evolution," he replied, "Endlessness."

Though we naturally seek rest from strain and struggle, rest is but the opposite, not the resolution of effort. Ease and effortlessness lies in the center point between the two. But so also does Bliss; so also does Infinity. As an object approaching the speed of light must, by mathematical definition, become infinite in mass, so too pure Consciousness expands toward Infinity as it sheds the limiting, reflecting and reactive light of forms, emotions, memories, and attachments.

Rest, then, in the Self, even if from this Self we expand into the Great Self of God. As Swami Kriyananda, founder of the Ananda worldwide movement of intentional communities and the best known direct disciple of Paramhansa Yogananda put it in his landmark text on meditation, "Awaken to Superconsciousness:"

"The more you seek rest as the consequence of doing, rather than in the process of doing, the more restless you will become. Peace isn’t waiting for you over the next hill. Nor is it something you construct, like a building. It must be a part of the creative process itself.

Learn to be restful, even in the midst of activity, and you will be able to relax better when you sit to meditate. As Paramhansa Yogananda put it, “Be calmly active, and actively calm.”

Joy to you!

Nayaswami Hriman