By Swamy Chidananda

The essence of spiritual unfoldment is the transformation of your consciousness. The spiritual unfoldment is a matter of transformation of one’s consciousness and this could be interpreted and expressed in the light of different yogas. What is this consciousness in normal human being? We feel, “I am Mr. So and so. I am the son of such and such parents. I belong to certain place in America, Germany, France, India and these people belong to me and I belong to them. This is mine and I am connected with this person, connected with this house, connected with this field, with this motor-car, with this bungalow, with such and such an office, etc.”

So the consciousness is filled with numerous factors which are connected with this universe outside and all these various relationships arise out of the basic connection he feels in his consci¬ousness that he is so and so. And the immediate connections that arise are: “These are my parents, these are my brothers and sisters, relatives and so and so.” Then all other connections start. So however much we may philosophize, however much we may read books, however much these higher spiritual things are discussed in the scriptures, yet our consciousness is a consciousness that has to do with our physical or similar other external physical forms and names.

So it is earth-consciousness, body consciousness, the world-awareness. When such world-awareness completely dominates your consciousness, how can God-awareness come into this field? There is no scope, and if you close your eyes for some time and try to bring it, it may come but it will immediately disappear as it is a foreign element. A great saint, used to say: "If you drop a stone in a pond whose water is covered by moss, it will give way for a moment and then quickly cover once again. You can hardly see the water, before it is again covered by moss. Just as this moss covers the entire surface of the pond-water and makes it invisible and however much you may drive them aside they once again come together, even so the normal conscious¬ness of the human being is totally covered over with world-consciousness, physical consciousness.

It is the normal state of all human beings, even of a Sadhaka. But in a Sadhaka who continuously follows the process of removing this world-consci¬ousness, just as clearing the water- sur¬face covered with moss, there is always a little higher consciousness coming into his field. However, if he- stops his efforts for a few minutes, the world -consciousness creeps in again. So, the whole of the spiritual process is a cons¬tant and unremitting effort, persistent and tenacious effort, continuous and unbroken effort to gradually cease this world consciousness and to completely remove and replace it by that spiritual consciousness. Then you are not aware of this world, of this body and of yourself an as earthly being, but you are aware of only that which Is the source of all these, the ultimate Reality, the very essence of existence-God. God-awareness will come in, God ¬consciousness will come in, and this transformation of consciousness is being brought about through a gradual process of absolute purification of the entire inner instrument, because consci¬ousness makes itself manifest through the mind. Of consciousness as such we have no idea, for we have not touched that depth of our being which is con¬sciousness itself. To us it is only a concept or an idea. So we know of that Awareness as mental awareness and that is our definition of awareness. But this feeling, this think¬ing awareness is something which is a total emanation or expression through the mind. Unless we work through the mind there is no method of approa¬ching that consciousness which is supramental, which is beyond our mind, transcending the mind.

The spiritual process is a process of divesting the mind of all earthly asso¬ciations, all gross associations, every¬thing that is of the world, everything that is of Rajas and Tamas. How can you do it? These things are not tangible, are not visible. So you cannot catch hold of them one by one and put them out. You cannot do this process, because they are internal, they are also abstract. This is the problem of the Sadhaka.

They are all thoughts, emotions and various modes of the Antahkarana, impressions, memory vasanas and incli¬nations gradually built up due to past experience. So, we find that there is no method of physically going to them and throwing them out. We cannot take a broom and clean the mind. Then how to do it? The only process is to create new counter impulses and counter-thoughts within the mind which will gradually gain strength, become firm and ultimately grow and expand, and bring about a total reversal of the very nature of your mind, its normal condition, its ways of behaviour and activity.

To achieve this, numerous processes have been prescribed which constitute Sadhana or Spiritual practice. So the first consideration is the transformation of the consciousness. You must be conscious of yourself and not a part of this world or a part of your body. You are bound up in body-conscious¬ness and your relation with the outside object is created through this body¬ consciousness. So this body-consciousness has to go and the higher divine consciousness has to come. You must be aware of God and not of your¬self and not of the body. You must be aware of yourself as a ray of the radiant light that is God, as a drop in the great ocean, a part and parcel of that great ocean of Satchidananda, of Divinity. Feel that you are infinite, endless and limitless. Feel yourself as a part of it, thinking about that con¬sciousness always is the concern of the mind. Therefore, Sadhana is the process of purification, concentration, identification and absorption. You must purify the mind and arouse the first elements of that divine Conscious¬ness and then concentrate your mind upon that divine Consciousness alone and intensify that state and ultimately, be absorbed in that completely. Purify, concentrate and get absorbed. As you steadily advance in Sadhana, this experience comes to you by itself. Potentially you are the deathless Atman, you have no birth, no death, no sorrow, no bondage, you are ever pure and ever perfect. This seed is there already.

The scriptures have declared this. Your teacher had told it to you. He has told it to you in such a persuasive manner and forcible way that he has created a conviction also in you. So you know that you are not this body and that you are the ever-pure perfect and blissful Atman. That knowledge is there. It is in a potential form. It is not available for you as experience. You have not had that actual experi¬ence. You think that you are in a state of ignorance even when you know your real Svarupa, because you have not had the actual experience of the Atman or Brahman. So, if someone passes an adverse remark on you, you immedia¬tely run into temper and feel being insulted and you want to fight, you want to retaliate and you want to revenge. If some little loss happens to you, you break down and cry. If you fail in the examination, if you do not get promotion, if you do not get increment, for days and weeks together you are unhappy. So, everything affects you continuously and as the result of your being affected by so many things like this, you do not know that you are the Atman ever-free, ever-pure, ever-perfect and ever-full. But even though you have not experienced the Atman, yet merely knowing that you are Atman, the light of lights, will help you a lot. Now and then a little bit of this knowledge will vaguely shake you. You will think: “I should not have lost my temper; why I have lost my temper? I should not have lost it, because the Atman is not affected by anything.”

Feel that you belong to God. No sorrow can touch you. No bondage is there. No fear is there. You do not lack anything when God is all in all. Feel that you are a child of God and that you belong to God. God is your father, mother and everything. You are here to share all His Divine Glory. Experience is one thing and potential knowledge is another thing. The potential knowledge has to be translated into actual experience by a certain process. The process is moving towards that stage and not merely knowing that state to be the immediate, spotless, ever pure state of divinity which is all-pure, which has no desire. The whole of this process becomes a gradual moving towards the state of absolute fullness, absolute perfection of good qualities, perfection of virtues.

The spiritual ascent or the spiritual unfoldment is the process of moving towards that experience of the Divine nature, Daiva Sampatti. That means the whole of Sadhana constitutes right from the very beginning, a gradual progress into that nature and therefore the coming to our life of those elements that characterise the highest divine nature. This forms the essential bedrock or foundation of all spiritual quests. It is the foundation of Vedanta, Yoga, Bhakti and Karma Margas. It is the foundation of spiritual quest in Hinduism, in Islam, in Parsi religion, in Christianity, in Buddhism, in Jainism and in every religion. So the rock-bottom of all spiritual quest is a gradual spending of all that is undivine, gradual elimination of all thoughts which are not proper and are not spiri¬tual and a gradual acquisition of all divine qualities enabling the unfoldment of the Divinity within.

Do not sit idle. Know that you are Divine in your essential nature. You have not come here to weep and wail. Assert your Divine nature. Awake! Arise! You are a pilgrim on the path of truth. You are Divine. Find the way back to your spiritual abode of eternal Bliss. To be human is to be unhappy. To be Divine is to be ever happy. Let your highest ambition be to find God in your own heart. Let every effort of your body, speech and mind be to encompass this end.

Stop identifying yourself that you are so and so and son of so and so. No more such things. Identify with the pure Self or Absolute consciousness. You will become Immortal. You will attain Bliss eternal. May you attain Perfection in this very life. This is my prayer.

(By courtesy from the Souvenir, the 125th All India Divine Life Conference)