(Chapter 3 of The Real Nature of Mystical Experience)
Our difficulty in explaining the nature of mystical experiencestems mainly from the fact that we are not able to visualize a state of consciousnesssuperior to our own. We cannot even imagine the state of mind of a musical or amathematical genius. A child cannot imagine the mind of an adult. We can understand theposition better if we suppose that consciousness has an infinite series of gradations fromthe most strong to the most dilute. This we can illustrate by treating our consciousnessas the faint glimmer shed by a spark of fire and comparing it with the blinding glare onthe gigantic surface of the sun. The human eye cannot even bear the sight of thissplendor. It would be struck blind even when millions of miles away.
Our consciousness is an extremely dilute form of this splendor. Anotheranalogy would be to liken our mind to a droplet of water and to compare it to an Ocean ofLife. If this one small droplet of Divine Intelligence in man has been able to create thepresent amazing world of art, philosophy, science and the wonders of technology, what isimpossible for the Almighty Ocean itself? What is there to prevent us from conceptualizingthe truth that the whole universe, with its millions of galaxies and billions of suns andplanets, is the creation of an Infinite Intelligence so concentrated that but one highlydiluted atom suffices for all the mental activity of man?
We are not able to perceive this Almighty Intelligence or its Splendorbecause our sensory equipment is designed the other way. In fact, we are held prisoners byour brain. We are not able by any means to look into the mind of another person, as welook into a material object. Any mind other than our own is a completely unknown territoryto us. Each one of the four billion human minds, dwelling now on the earth, is anenchanted island invisible to the rest. There is no instrument that can see, measure,touch, smell or taste consciousness. Then how can we be conscious of UniversalConsciousness, even if all our life we live, sleep, think and act in it?
This explains why mystical ecstasy has such an overwhelming impact onthe mind. The visionary, for the first time, perceives the all-surpassing Splendor ofCosmic Intelligence. This is also the reason why intellect and science are both lost inthe labyrinth of matter, for they look at the universe, as it were, through a filteringglass. The veil before our eyes is the creation of our senses. They act only within aparticular range. Areas beyond that range are completely shut out from us. For instance,we cannot perceive the electromagnetic waves with any of our senses, but only throughinstruments and devices designed for the purpose. Even our instruments, at this stage,cannot predict an earthquake, though some forms of life can sense in advance the comingshocks.
A moth can smell its mate from even as far off as seven miles and ashark can scent blood two miles away. A bloodhound can detect the scent of an abscondingcriminal for scores of miles among thousands of other scents left by animals and humanbeings that walk over the same path. Bees find their way by polarized light imperceptibleto human beings, and whales locate their prey with sonar-echo thousands of feet below thesurface of the ocean. What worlds are hidden from us we cannot even imagine. For all weknow, our sensory equipment might be but one set peculiar to the earth out of millionsoperative on other planets and other planes of creation in the universe.
We are mystified by U.F.O._s and the psychic phenomena, because we arenot prepared to concede that there are other planes of creation and other beings whosebodies are formed of other materials invisible to us. Mystical experience, in an instant,shatters the illusion that our subjective and objective worlds are the only actualrealities. In the mystical state a new element dominates the whole scene. The world ofawareness and the world of matter fuse into one, a stupendous Consciousness now penetratesand encompasses all in a blaze of glory impossible to describe. As the Vision unfoldsitself, the whole universe seems to melt in the splendor of the One present everywhere.
In order to understand mystical ecstasy in its true proportion, it isnecessary to mark the difference between the animal and the human mind. The animal mind isextremely restricted and has absolutely no awareness of the world of knowledge, thought,imagination and feeling existing in man. It has absolutely no idea of science,mathematics, philosophy, poetry, literature, medicine, music, painting and sculpturewhich, all together, comprise a whole world entirely out of the reach of any other form oflife on the earth. How has man taken this prodigious leap over the brute? How has the newworld opened in him? Obviously by the addition of more brain matter and a difference inthe quality and configuration of the brain.
We are told that the reptilian and animal brains still survive in man.Be that as it may, it is clear that the undoubted superiority of the mind of man over thatof the animal is primarily due to the superiority of the human brain. Dolphins, too, havelarge brains and, as is well known, they are among the most intelligent creatures, belowman, on earth. Here we come to a crucial point in our discussion. So far as science isconcerned, the human brain is a sealed compartment and has no other potentiality presentin it over and above those manifested so far. This is an error and, as long as we continueto hold this view, the phenomena of mystical consciousness and extrasensory perceptionwill continue to be unsolvable riddles for mankind.
We have seen what a tremendous change the addition of some ounces ofbrain matter has made in the life of man as compared to that of animals. But the merequantitative or qualitative change in the brain does not explain the whole story.Dolphins, with an almost parallel brain weight, bear little comparison to man. Some smallspecies of monkeys have proportionately larger brains than human beings. The ant with itstiny brain has an organizing capacity and a social order which is amazing. Science isstill at sea as far as the phenomenon of life is concerned.
A Max Planck or an Einstein in the science of mind is needed to correctthe error of the mechanistic interpreters of life. It is not elements of matter, likecarbon, oxygen, calcium, hydrogen and others or the DNA and RNA molecules alone of whichlife forms are compounded, but there is another element in nature, imperceptible to oursenses, which is at the bottom of all phenomena of life. We can call it by the name oflife-energy. It is this force which is credited with magical or miraculous powers in allthe occult systems of the past and is known by various names, such as astral light, odicforce, psychic energy, orgone, super-solar force, chi, etc. In India it is known as prana,and has been universally held to be the lever behind mystical vision and paranormal giftsfor the last more than three thousand years.
Prana can well be the matrix from which even physical energy is born. Itmight be present in the atom and sub-nuclear particles without ever being detected by anymeans known to science. It is, no doubt, a galling position, but it is true. The pranicforce, in combination with atoms and molecules, fashions the bricks as also the complexstructures of life. For this reason, it has been held to be the architect of the organickingdom and the driving force behind evolution.
The Power of the Creator which brings the universe into existence isknown as Shakti in India. Shakti is mind and matter both. Gnosis or Knowledge comes fromthe Creator. This is the Divine Spark or Soul in us--the Inner Light that illumines themind and the intellect both. We sometimes become aware of this real "Knower" instates of deep contemplation or in the impartial Self which tells us that we are wrong,when, in the heat of anger or passion or in any other turbulent mental state or disturbedreason, we wrongly act or think. It is this Self or atman, as it is named in theUpanishads, which becomes more clear and perceptible in the mystical state.
Shakti, as the Power of the Creator, is incomprehensible to theintellect. We are already at the frontier, in the investigation of matter and mind both,where the unfathomable nature of the deeper layers of creation, with the tools availableto us in the form of our senses and the mind, is becoming increasingly apparent to theleading scientists and thinkers of our day. Shakti is unconditioned and limitless, capableof creating any kind of world or substance that one can conceive of or that isinconceivable. Prana, too, is a form of Shakti. It is the Energy behind the phenomena oflife. It is the Power behind faith-healing and miracles, as also behind time, space orcausality, also emptiness, timelessness and chaos.
What amazing worlds, what incredible forms of life and what unimaginableplanes of existence it has created or will create we can never know. The dream state is adistant sample to show its bewildering play. It is maya, the incomprehensible andunexplainable illusory power of the Creator, which our intellect can never entirelyunderstand. The theory of relativity, the progressive discovery of subnuclear particles,with amazing properties, and the new finds of black holes, pulsars, quasars, the expandinguniverse and antimatter all point to the conclusion that, with every advance in knowledgegained so far, the universe has not become simpler and easier to understand, but morecomplex and more difficult to grasp by the intellect. To what undreamed of conclusions theinvestigation done by science will lead, in the course of even one century, no one canpredict.
The Indian metaphysics is based on the experience of samadhi or mysticalvision. In this state the subtle worlds of mind and prana become perceptible to the Yogi.In the time to come, science will have to adopt the same methods to reach thesetranscendent planes. There is no other way for man to find other areas of creation, notperceptible to our senses. It is only then that the true proportion of creation can beunderstood by the human mind. At present we deal only with the fraction perceptible to us.The longing for spiritual experience exists even in the most intelligent minds, becausethere is always a subconscious sense of insufficiency in the physical knowledge gained andof emptiness in one_s knowledge of the self.
Prana is the bewildering source behind the amazing organizations andinstincts of living creatures. With the first breakthrough in the discovery of prana,which is imminent now, the incredible behavior of the intellect that has persisted inascribing the phenomenon of life and evolution to pure unpremeditated chance will at oncebecome apparent. There is a different spectrum of prana for each form of life, withmodifications for each individual of that form. We know very well that the organicstructures and their chemical compositions in every species of life vary from each other,and there are slight differences in the individuals of each species. This is true of pranaalso. Each distinct human personality reflects a distinct type of pranic spectrum. No twospectrums are alike in every respect, as there are no two personalities similar in everyway. The differences in our mental constitutions and character are all due to variationsin the spectrum of prana of each individual. In the pranic plane, human personalitiesexist as clear and distinct as their mortal frames in the physical world.
During the course of mystical ecstasy a new, more potent stream of pranaenters the brain, creating a revolution in consciousness. The flow of this new praniccurrent is caused by a slight but clearly marked activity in the brain. It looks as if ahitherto silent area has leapt to a sudden activity, demanding a more potent psychic fuelto sustain it. When the available store of this new pranic fuel is spent, the mystic againreverts to his normal consciousness returning, as it were, from a smiling, brightly litGarden of Paradise to the humdrum existence of a prosaic world. No words can express thegrandeur and sublimity of the experience nor the happiness and serenity felt during theinterval. In rare cases, the experience can become a perennial feature of human life. InIndia, it has been called the sahaja or jivan-mukta state.
The whole ocean of prana, sustaining the human race, is in a state offlux. It is this motion in the fundamental element of life which is behind the evolutionof the brain and the transformation of consciousness. The human world is advancing inknowledge as prana is moving in that direction. This movement, in turn, causes subtleevolutionary changes in the brain which we are not able to measure yet, but will do sowhen the mystery shrouding prana is solved. This will also solve the riddle of talent,genius and extrasensory perception for a well-marked change in prana is responsible forthese conditions, too. The evolutionary change occurring in the race now is irresistible.Mankind is being carried to an, at present, unknown destination by the very ocean of lifewhich feeds every individual mind night and day. This destination is a new dimension ofconsciousness which has not been previously defined so far. We call it by the name ofmystical experience, illumination or enlightenment without knowing precisely what thatmeans. All of us are sailing in the same mysterious ship without knowing for which port itis bound.
Written by: Gopi Krishna
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