Showing posts with label atheist. Show all posts
Showing posts with label atheist. Show all posts

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Search for Meaning : Final Post (7 of 7) :Meditation & Freedom

Part 7 - Meditation & Freedom

As science reveals the vastness of the cosmos, meditation reveals the vastness of thought and consciousness; as science perennially seeks new sources of energy, so meditation reveals a fount of creative energy within us; as science seeks to discover new labor-saving, life-saving, health-restoring devices and cures, so meditation reveals the subtle energy of life force which brings health and vitality into everyday life. As science seeks solutions to life’s material problems, so meditation discovers the innate joy of consciousness which is itself the greatest problem solver of them all because it brings unconditional happiness: the pearl of great price which cannot be bought cheaply at Wal-Mart.

Consider, friends, that the cosmos is an inextricable mix of matter and mind; objective and subjective; esoteric and exoteric; seen and unseen. As it has been proven by science that the observer is not separable from the observed, so too is consciousness an integral part of matter.

So, my scientific, skeptical, agnostic, atheistic friends: whether God exists, whether consciousness underlies creation, or whether consciousness persists in the midst of death is not the issue. Your interest in and open mind toward the subject is the issue. God gives us the free will to seek Him or to reject Him. For countless incarnations we can seek fulfillment in outer circumstances and yet will always find disappointment. As this universe has existed for untold billions of years, so have we. As energy can be neither created nor destroyed, so too consciousness! There is no death, only the outer appearance of change. Consciousness and Self-awareness simply IS. Indeed, given the transitory, fleeting appearance and disappearances of atoms, molecules, mountains and stars, Consciousness is the only reality.

We have nothing to fear for in our pure consciousness for we are eternal: not as bodies or egos, but as unique manifestations of Infinite Consciousness. This, admittedly, is a dogma (a precept) but it is one that can be proved, intuitively, step by step, even if, owing to distractions and outer circumstances, it might take more than one lifetime. The proof of pudding is in the eating and the eating is good, for the sincere and focused inquiry produces a more reliable and increasingly stable happiness. The eating is in the discipline of meditation and the art of seeking happiness (aka God). It is a money-back guarantee that meditation, combined with right attitude, right understanding, and right action will bring the greatest happiness possible in this life, bar none!

No saint who has achieved union with the Creator has returned to say, “Ah, what a scam!” By contrast, no single human talent or achievement can so boast. Its votaries invariably and eventually turn away with a yawn and a shrug. Like Ian Fleming said of fame, “At first was fun, but now it’s just ashes, old man, just ashes.” Same for money, pleasure, beauty, fortune and on and on. There’s always a fly somewhere in the soup! Like prostitutes, they are loyal to no one.

After hard experience, we may eventually recognize that self-indulgence and selfishness produce unhappiness and suffering. Then we turn to human virtue and goodness. These are our first, halting steps in the evolution of our consciousness. Most people and most orthodox religions more or less stop here. To go further, one must go on alone. For virtue, while its own reward, cannot satisfy our potential for lasting happiness. Through sincere seeking and studying truth from the wise, we awaken the intuition to see that no matter how virtuous I may be and no matter how satisfying to me my virtuous conduct is, I see that suffering, disease, old age and death still exist. I never know how or when my virtue may slip from my grasp under trying circumstances. Virtue isn’t arbitrary or inconsequential: it is a necessary stepping stone and a foundation for further evolution.

Something more is sought, therefore, as our soul evolves. Better to be agnostic than to embrace yet another unprovable dogma: atheism. Better yet, however, to have the rigor and self-honesty of mind to be open to realities beyond your next meal and to realize that it’s a matter of mind. Who can look up at the stars and ask “What’s for dinner?” Those who do can be excused for dinner, of course, but the rest of us will ask questions of life even if we also, later, eat our dinner. If you are uninterested, I don’t judge you. You judge (or limit) your own potential for happiness. The universe has lots of time. God will wait.

So, wise up, get a real life, and expand your consciousness. As Jesus put it, “The kingdom of heaven is within you.” Discover the truth that shall make your mind free from “dire fears and colossal suffering” (Krishna, the Bhagavad Gita).

For those of you who have followed my ramblings and reflections, I applaud your valor and endurance. It is my prayer that a bit here and a bit there of these reflections will provide some inspiration to readers and, in the process, some tribute to the memory and living spirit of my teacher, Swami Kriyananda and to our guru, Paramhansa Yogananda—a beacon of hope for a better world than that offered to us by the scoffers and skeptics. 

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Kriya Yoga and World Evolution & Revolution!

Since the dawn of the scientific and industrial era on this planet, orthodox religion has been in retreat, defeated at every encounter, by reason and its applied powers of experimentation, proof, and practicality. No matter that our reason can also be ruthless and used for exploitation, violence, and destruction. The potential for reason to show the futility of negative or harmful behavior is touted as sufficient -- no other-worldly God, needed, thank you very much!

Humanity is in a race against time and the inadequacies of reason. The godless scientific attitudes of survival of the fittest, the clash of the classes, materialism, win-at-all-costs politics and power, ruthless competition, and the sacred cows of entitlement and self-interest are rushing us like lemmings to our mutual destruction over the cliff of “what’s in it for me?”

Sorry to have to tell you, atheists and scoffing humanists: reason alone is inadequate to the task of seeing the golden rule applied universally among nations and peoples. Put more bluntly: it ain’t gonna happen. What our reasoning minds have yet to admit or even see is that greed, violence, poverty, and abuse (inter alia evils) are powers or levels of consciousness that, while appearing in individual humans and their actions, are greater than any single individual. We are influenced by our family, our culture, and, more importantly (since individual actions often cannot be traced to these environmental or even genetic influences), by subtle influences which can only generally described as “radio stations” of varying types of consciousness enabling prenatal tendencies (from past lives). Why, e.g., might a child raised in a “good home,” turn to a criminal lifestyle? Why do substance addictions or pornography or human trafficking persist (or even grow) in the face of so-called “modern education?”

I will admit together with those who are also “spiritual but not religious” that orthodox religion deserves its fate of declining adherents. But like all institutions of influence it is struggling mightily to keep its place. I read of one church that serves beer as a focal point of interest to attract its congregation!

The body, mind and spirit-numbing and harmful effects of industrialization and now globalization (though not without their benefits) have prompted sensitive souls throughout the world to cry out for inspiration and true spiritual upliftment. As a young Catholic boy studying the life of Jesus and the saints, I recall bemoaning what seemed to be the absence of saints and sanctity in a world that has placed even rainbows in the catalog of ordinary things explained analytically.

Scriptures and saints of east and west have always attested to the role of God, through human  instruments, to intervene in human and planetary history. In the Bhagavad Gita, Krishna promises to appear “whenever virtue declines and vice predominates.” The Christian Bible, both Old and New Testaments, are nothing less than a story of the “Word made flesh and dwelt amongst us.”

In response to this call of aspiring hearts, there took place in a cave in the Himalayan foothills in 1861, a meeting between renowned but secretive yoga master -- the peerless and now famous “Babaji” -- and a humble accountant from Benares who was initiated into a powerful and central meditation technique to which was given the generic name, “Kriya Yoga.” Babaji told this married-with-children householder, Shyama Charan Lahiri, that this technique would spread throughout all lands and would aid in establishing world peace based upon direct perception of one’s indwelling divinity and kinship with God and God-in-all.

The spread of kriya yoga is now a historical fact. Its use grows exponentially throughout the world. First brought to America and the West by the renowned yogi, Paramhansa Yogananda, author of the popular “Autobiography of a Yogi,” kriya yoga is spreading through not only Yogananda and his disciples but through many branches of teachers related in various ways to Babaji and Lahiri Mahasaya. (Not all techniques labelled “kriya” are the same, however. Best to do one’s homework in this regard. The internet, travel and communication have their downside, too,of course.)

Kriya Yoga expresses the spiritual science which is the corollary to the material sciences. As the natural sciences reveal a vast outer universe, so the yoga science reveals the far vaster inner world of consciousness: the source of all created things. As materialistic scientific “progress” brings comforts and knowledge, so meditation brings inner peace and wisdom. As control of nature can yield material wealth, so control of the mind yields happiness free of outer circumstances. As our planet searches desperately for clean, cheap, and abundant energy sources, so Kriya Yoga puts the yogi in touch with cosmic energy: the source of life, creativity, health and divinity.

As Yogananda put it, it is time in the history of humanity for the best of East and West to be united in the common and divine purpose of uplifting humanity in material and spiritual realms. Harmony of earth and heaven and spirit and nature is needed for the survival and sustainability of humanity and all life on earth.

As 19th and 20th century material “progress” shouted down the “old time religions” with promises of unending prosperity, health, security and pleasure, and as science proclaimed the insignificance of human life in the face of the scientific facts and the inviolate rule of the law of survival as the mechanism of life itself, tens of millions suffered or perished in the struggles between socialism, communism, and capitalism. But as science purported to show our insignificance in the face of a vast cosmos and of epochs of geologic time, so meditation reveals the vastness of human consciousness which is “center everywhere, circumference nowhere.” (Autobiography of a Yogi) Our significance is not as an ego with a human body that is tiny and lasts only a brief time, but as a spark of Infinite consciousness out of which this vast universe has come.

Yogananda predicted many challenges for humanity before his death in 1952. Though he didn’t specifically use terms like global warming, he saw the materialistic and exploitative trends of modern society, big business, war-enriched industries, and global power. He foresaw an economic depression on scale far exceeding the 1930’s during which the dollar would become all but worthless. He saw many wars to come and the appearance of what he called international criminals (and we call terrorists). After much worldwide suffering, he said humanity would experience two hundred years of peace--so sick of warfare would we become.

The pace of consumption of natural resources on this planet is unsustainable. The lifestyles of countries whose relative wealth and comfort was leveraged by cheap and plentiful energy resources (both natural and human) at the expense of other nations is doomed. Wealth creation by fiat money without regard to any measure of value or useful productivity cannot last. Many governments, national and local, around the world are de facto bankrupt. So-called democracies are being strangled by their dependency on constituents who demand their entitlements in return for their vote without regard for the fiscal consequences, the greater good or their own civic and personal responsibilities. Increasingly it would appear that multi-national corporations, including makers of weapons of vast destruction, hold the reins of apparent power.

There is, however, a rising tsunami of shifting consciousness that is forming to fight these crushing global forces. We lovers of peace are not yet strong and haven’t learned the necessity of personal sacrifice as modelled to us by Gandhi and M.L. King, but our time is coming to enable the worldwide revolution that is needed and is coming. We are not interested in simply replacing ourselves in positions of power (political, economic, or religious). We are forming networks of sustainable communities (of all types) that emphasize the importance of individual creativity and initiative, and our essential unity as children of God. We are the hope for a better world. But we, too, must pass through the “valley of the shadow of death,” meaning personal commitment and self-sacrifice. Meditation, however, including kriya yoga, is at the heart of our revolution. This not another “ ism “ but a shift in consciousness based not on mere belief but actual, individual experience and Self-realization.  Yogananda predicted that in the centuries ahead the concept of “Self-realization” (the necessity of personal, direct, intuitive perception of divinity) would be accepted by religionists of every stripe. This is seen already in what is now accepted as a growing tide of “spiritual but not religious.”

There are practical ways to prepare for challenging circumstances but that is another subject altogether. The greatest protection, however, lies within you, and meditation is the key. Learn to meditate; check out kriya yoga; find others who share your ideals and practices; move out of cities if you can, especially with others; grow your own food; live simply; be prepared for difficult times; don’t depend on the government!

Meditation is for everyone, regardless of belief or religious affiliation. With meditation one readily comprehends his unity with all life and with Giver of life. No special distinctive creed or ritual is needed. Chapter 26 of Yogananda’s autobiography describes kriya well (read online for free at It is the science of how higher consciousness is developed, experienced, and nurtured in the holy temple of the human body and consciousness. It is the science of “finding happiness.” (A movie of this title has just been released: the story of Ananda and finding happiness within. (

Joy is our “gun!” Stand tall and smile wide! Rejoice, for “We are Won!”

Swami Hrimananda

Monday, November 26, 2012

Reflections: Atheism & Agnosticism

Last week's blog article was on the subject of meditation and atheism. In that article I suggested that even an atheist can practice meditation because meditation is an art and science and it presupposes no religious belief or affiliation. It is internal to one's own consciousness, using self-awareness as a tool for exploring consciousness wherein consciousness is gradually stripped of "objects" of mentation. (Indeed, Patanjali, the great exponent of meditation -- his book of aphorisms being the "Yoga Sutras" -- describes the process of meditation as the gradual dissolving of all mental image making and their concomitant reactions. Surely something anyone can attempt.)

It mildly surprises me to see the intensity with which some atheists proclaim not only their lack of belief in God (fair enough) but their insistence that "God doesn't exist." Richard Dawkins is one of the more visible scientists claiming to debunk religious belief. None of that is new. What amuses me is that these more vehement atheists sound as fundamentalist as the fundamentalists, each insisting on something that in all events cannot be proved through reason or the senses.

I might say that to me it seems "reasonable" that the vast wonders of the creation hint at the existence of a very powerful and intentional consciousness but I certainly can't prove it. No more, however, can our scientists say anything more than that they cannot "find" God in their explorations, calculations, or experiments. The most they can say is they "see" no evidence for God's existence. That doesn't, however, disprove God's existence. It's merely a shrug.

I've long preferred the more honest agnostics: those who say that they haven't "found" God so how can they possibly say that God exists, or not?

It is the simplest thing in the world to scientifically demonstrate that we humans see what we want to see, hear what we think we are supposed to be hearing and so on. Tests upon eyewitnesses show conclusively that not everyone "sees" the same facts.

A person sensitive to color can choose and decorate a room with exquisite success such that most others can only but admire but would be nonplussed to replicate. Visionaries in every key field of human activity see things that few others can see. We can easily demonstrate that expectations influence outcomes, even in the efficacy of allopathic drugs.Sensory sensitivity is even more highly developed in some animals than in humankind. The wave lengths of various radiations are unseen by human eyes or unfelt by the human body even as they pass through us conveying telephone conversations or television images. We see objects as  separate but cannot see their underlying unity on the level of electro-magnetic forces or quantum physics.

So, yes, there is much in what we know or at least accept as real that could hint at realities far beyond currently accepted knowledge.

Consider the process of creativity. No, I don't mean of Beethoven or Bach. Consider how ideas "enter your mind." Granted, let's say you have a problem to solve and it is important to you. You ponder it. At some point you relax and let it go. And, as studies have shown us, then, voila! The answer appears in your head! It's not unlike a computer command to the hard disk in search of a word or a file or a program. Sometimes it's a little slow but then, voila, the answer appears.

However, unlike the hard disk where the answer to your query already exists for having been put there, a creative idea isn't merely (or at least not necessarily) something cobbled together from pre-existing data or past experience. Many people will no doubt agree that in some cases a new idea seems to have appeared literally from nowhere because so completely unique to our past experience or current expectations. If important ideas in the arts and sciences can appear from "nowhere," well, what does that tell you? Where did those ideas come from? Some of them have changed the course of history.

Studies of creative people will frequently show that such people develop the habit of expecting solutions and meeting them halfway, so to speak. Like Google, "feeling lucky?" There is a sense with such creative people that answers "lurk" as it were in a realm just beyond our sight but which, with practice, we can learn to access. It seems as if such people have a relationship to this unseen world of solutions. Suffice to say the world of human experiences is filled with a wide range of spectacularly unexplained psychic phenomenon.

It's really a matter of taste, you see. Perhaps you are inclined, for reasons of your own, to dismiss the concept of God. It simply doesn't please you; you find it irritating and uninteresting; irrelevant, that is to say, to what is important to you in your life. Well, then, why didn't you just say so!

Others pray to God constantly and attest to God's intercession in their lives. Some people are romantic and sentimental; others, hard-headed and pragmatic. These differences in temperaments may incline one to reject God and another to seek Him, but the question of His existence supercedes them both. Just because people used to believe the world was flat didn't make it so.

This distinction between "what I like" and "what is" is all too often ignored even by otherwise intelligent people. Sadly, few people distinguish between their opinion and the truth. I think Democrats are better than Republicans so of course Democrats are better! (So much for logic!) The simple fact that my inclination and temperament are in the direction that supports the Democratic platform is, as I have said, a matter of taste. Others may believe in the importance of law and order, and preservation of long-standing values.

The proper inquiry of science is how things work. The proper inquiry of religionists is why, for what purpose? There may be areas of overlap of common ground but each has its own field of exploration. I fail to understand why they don't leave each alone and in peace!

Science can never prove, e.g., that the universe has always existed. They might not be able to conclusively find a starting point and presumably the end point hasn't been reached, but how far back do you search before you decide "it's turtles all the way!" (Meaning: there is no beginning!) That might be your conclusion but it is not thereby conclusive! How and who measures infinity? And, even if you did, what impact would it have on the existence of God, who, by all accounts, is also eternal, with no beginning and end? How do you know that we, like the movie The Matrix, aren't but a dream of the Creator? Can you prove that? Or, disprove it?

No saint, moreover, can define God so as to contain Him. No religion, no dogma, no rite or ritual can claim monopoly of His favor. How can that which is Infinite and which has made all things be remotely defined except in the most vague ways: omniscient, omnipresent, infinite, infinitessimal, personal or impersonal. That hasn't stopped 99.9% of religionists from doing exactly that: defining God in ways that please themselves and make their religion the "top dog." But in this they reveal their ignorance as much as those chest pounding scientists who declare that "God is dead."

I say, therefore, that we should simply agree to disagree. I believe in God because it seems "obvious" to me that this vast and complex universe (including my inner universe of thought and feeling) couldn't possibly be devoid of goodness, purpose, and consciousness. But, I can't prove it, and even less so, to you, if you, by contrast, are a hard-nosed self-defined scoffer! I say, well, let's talk about the weather instead.

There is another line of inquiry that is slowly developing on the planet and I call it the "happiness" proof. Gradually, studies are showing that people with faith in God tend to be happier. Now a scoffer's going to have a field day with this, but, for the sake of a good discussion, what if it were actually true? The scoffer will quote Karl Marx's quip about "religion being the opiate of the people" while the religionist will cry "Aha--proof!" But in this case who is the one being pragmatic? The religionist or the scoffer?

This line of inquiry is similar to the observation that the natural development of human consciousness from infancy to adulthood includes an ever expanding sphere of interest and sympathies. Oh, well, of course not with everyone, but in the archetypal sense that we progress from the self-involved infant, the tantrum throwing toddler, and the emotional child to the teen who interests in the world around him, to the young adult who marries, has children, takes on responsibilities (civic, community and familial). We see the fatherly patriarch or matriarch of a clan, a community, or a nation overseeing with benign and wise interest the affairs of his or her "children." In this (admittedly) fanciful world, we view this as well adjusted and as happy a life as we can envision. (Only a dedicated narcissist would maintain through life a commitment to selfish self-indulgence as the summum bonum of life. By the end of life, measure his cup of happiness and see for yourself.)

What if, for example, we could demonstrate that those who include the welfare of others with their own tend to be happier and even more successful? We have the all but universally accepted "Golden Rule" that is suggestive of the truth that our happiness is related to an expansion of self-interest to an enlightened self-interest.

Thus it might be supposed that by this rule of thumb (expanding self-interest) the greatest happiness is achieved when we embrace all life as our own, perhaps even to Infinity (if that were possible). How, then will the Darwin-driven scoffer factor in human happiness? Do not we admire those who give their lives to defend or protect others? To call human love the product of dancing hormones racing to be first to perpetuate themselves may be an acceptable mechanical model (if only because it is causally self-evident) but few human beings would leave it at that. Why is it the testimony of our own race is so airily dismissed by those pretending to be objective in the pursuit of truth?

Well, as I said in the beginning, I can't prove to you that God exists but I am not alone in saying I am happier to make God a part of my life, not just in thought but in deed.


Nayaswami Hriman

P.S. I have purposely left out the testimony of saints and sages of east and west and in every century for presumably to the logician their lives fall outside the scope of their admitted interest. In truth, however, it is only because such people of "science" decide a priori that saints must be discarded. That is as unobjective and as biased discarding of available facts as anything in religion is capable of. Sigh.

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Meditation for Atheists & Agnostics

It has been frequently observed that what many atheists and agnostics object to in religion, inter alia, is the image and concept of an anthropomorphic deity eager to inflict eternal punishment on a hapless humanity stupid enough to embrace the wrong religion, the wrong ritual or disobey the clerical brahmins. My teacher, Swami Kriyananda (founder of the worldwide spiritual work of Ananda and a direct disciple of the world teacher, Paramhansa Yogananda) was once asked in Australia (after a lecture) what, if anything, had he to say to an atheist? Kriyananda paused, reflected for a moment, and then responded with the suggestion that "Why don't you hold for yourself the goal of being the best you can be; to live up to your own highest potential?" Our Australian atheist said in his thick Aussie accent, "I think I can live with that, mate!" He then strode off into the night pleased and satisfied.

But what about meditation? Can a self-proclaimed atheist or agnostic practice meditation without violating their conscientious objections to religion and belief in a Supreme Deity? Well of course: I wouldn't be writing this if I didn't think so.

To such a one, what is the purpose, goal and benefit of meditation, and, how does one meditate with this point of view?

Stress reduction is too simplistic a goal for my purposes, but it is worthwhile enough for just about anyone. Meditation has been amply and scientifically proven to be useful in mitigating the effects of stress. But that would hardly be worth writing a blog article about.

I would offer that meditation is a courageous experiment to explore consciousness at its most primal level of self-awareness. There is a level of awareness that precedes the appearance of thoughts and emotions and which if entered into can bring to one greater intuition, calmness, and dynamic self-awareness. It is not necessary to label this state of consciousness in terms of metaphysics or spirituality. It is not difficult to obtain though it takes training and self-discipline to enter into on a consistent and prolonged basis.

When we stare off into the distance or pause from the intensity of our activities we often have a moment of pure reflective self-awareness where thoughts and reactions are temporarily suspended. The benefits of this state are not immediately apparent in part because we don't think about it and partly because we don't do it purposely and partly because we don't do it long enough nor intentionally to reap its potential rewards.

It is had been said that meditation (and yoga) require no belief system nor religious affiliation to practice and to gain benefits. Thus their popularity. At the same time, there is much discussion and debate in various circles about the underlying and inherently spiritual basis of these practices from India. Some say these practices are not inherently religious while others vehemently insist that all you have to do is consider their source and context in India and in the east generally. A similar back-and-forth exists in respect to Buddhism, too.

Part of what makes Buddhism so popular among educated westerners, especially professionals and therapists, is its (relative) absence of the outer trappings of religion. While I find that view debatable and as much a function of selective "seeing" as reality, it is undeniably true that the Buddha's reticence about God and all things immaterial allow for a wider range of appeal than its senior cousin, Hinduism and its esoteric offshoot, yoga (which is far more meditation than movement).

The deeper truth is that metaphysical realities (viewed as philosophy or as the nature of reality) are considered by their exponents to be the source and basis for material realities. According to this line of thinking, therefore, there exists no essential difference between the here and now and the hereafter or the "other." The most essential metaphysical teaching is that all creation is a manifestation of consciousness and that this consciousness is infinite and cosmic and, by definition, divine and benign, both impersonal and infinite as well as personal and infinitessimal.

The point here simply is that the important and essential impulse is to experience and contact this level of reality rather than only merely talk about or define it. If there is an underlying and universal "Truth" or "Consciousness," the only valid undertaking is to "know" "It." Furthermore, that which is true does not depend upon anyone's belief in it. Therefore, any experiment or activity that is likely to reveal its presence is something that anyone who is courageous or open enough ought to be willing to undertake.

The scriptures of India (Shankhya) aver that "God cannot be proved." This is not the same as saying "God does not exist." It is an admission of the obvious: the intellect cannot prove ultimate reality; only consciousness itself can intuit consciousness. No test tube, no experiment, no chemical will reveal God or consciousness on its own level (as opposed to the various manifestations of consciousness such as thought, feeling, emotion, brain activity, motion, and innumerable appearances of intelligence and perception).

On this basis, therefore, it is consciousness that intuits itself, and meditation, viewed as awareness focused in upon itself, is the preeminent "tool" of perception and consciousness. It may very well be that meditation is perhaps the best and most consistent activity that can bring to one an experience of an underlying strata of pre-thought consciousness.  Such an activity has little, if anything, to do with an a priori belief or assumption as to the nature of that pre-thought level or that such a level should be called "God." I won't deny, however, that many forms of meditation are taught with the assumption that one desires union with God or some other supreme Consciousness. Masters of the science of meditation have frequently (though not always) testified to the experience of a higher Being or levels of realities. But if such is the truth, it should be discoverable without regard to belief. But what is true should be true for all.

As a lifelong meditator myself, I know the difficulty and challenges to meditation. The restless, monkey mind categorically rejects mental quietude, unless it be of a lower or subconscious level, induced by sleep, drugs or daydreaming. Thus it is that it is fair to ask oneself, "Why would anyone undertake the arduous journey away from the senses and natural mental activity into the depths of pure consciousness? Traditionally only those who held a strong belief (or intuition?) regarding the superior merits of the results (including "seeking God") undertake the sustained effort. But philosophically speaking, no such expectation or belief is necessary to do it.

Because of the difficulties of achieving deep states of one pointed meditation, the great teachers of meditation resort to promises of health, energy, creativity and, more to the point today, union with the Supreme Being.

Nonetheless I hold true to my assertion that any atheist or agnostic who is courageous enough to explore the boundaries of self-awareness can find great benefit by whatever technique of meditation appeals to him or her. Let me say succinctly that the experience of resting in the state of pure self-awareness, devoid of self-created mental images and their attendant ego-affirming associations, can yield many practical benefits to those who offer themselves into this felicitous state of being. And, if, perchance, he or she were to encounter the Supreme Power, well, I trust they will presumably reassess their position happily! If not, nothing is lost and I know that much can be gained in self-understanding, creativity, and joy.

Perhaps in another article I can suggest some exercises for our friends in "AA", "Atheists and agnostics not so anonymous.


Nayaswami Hriman