Monday, April 12, 2010

Day 18: Know Thyself - A Deeper Look

Welcome to Day 18 of our 40 Days Meditation Retreat 2010. Yesterday we spoke about Knowing Ourselves. Today I want to continue with that subject and to go into a little more detail of the practices that are involved in knowing ourselves a little better. I will take my point of view from the Vedantic teachings.

Our Three Bodies

The Vedantic teachings speak about having three bodies. We need to think of what a ‘body’ means. Our soul or the essence of our Pure Being is embodied in several layers and each layer is called a body. In the Sanskrit this term is called Sharira, and Sharira means ‘that which withers away’. We have three different bodies according to this thinking and this you will be able to appreciate.
  • Physical Body – called Sthula Sharira. This is what gives us the waking consciousness experience. It is called Jagrat- the waking consciousness experience. The physical body gives us this experience. I have spoken before of the physical body as being the body that puts us in touch with this sensory world. By ‘senses’ I mean the physical senses.
  • Subtle Energy Body – Housed inside of this body is an energy body - a body of subtle energy. We say subtle energy because this body is gross energy - solid, physical and dense. Then we say “subtle” which means fine. So we have a body of subtle energy, and in this thinking there are two layers existing there. Astral Body or Sukshma Sharira. You will have an idea of the consciousness relating to the Sukshuma Sharira in the dream state when you think of what happens in dreams and the subtle energy of dreams. Those of you who have the consciousness of dreams will understand that in dreams you are consciousness; you can explore. Then you realize the subtle nature of dreams, how you can think anything and it comes alive in the dream. It is not like the Jagrat or waking state of consciousness. It is a little different.
  • Karana Sharira - There is another energy body called Karana Sharira and this is a sub-conscious layer. This has all the impressions that are stored in the Karana Sharira. Remember these are embodiments and the Karana Sharira is associated with deep sleep. Are you conscious there? You are not conscious as you are conscious in the dream state or in the waking state. Karana Sharira is associated with the subconscious state, and that is the deep sleep state.
Remember, these are described as Sharira – that which withers away. So the physical body is temporary in the way that we know. After a number of years it begins to deteriorate and after some time it disappears. The body of subtle energy inside, the Sukshma Sharira, Karana Sharira – the subconscious field, the body that contains all information, these are disposed of when we are ready to go to a Transcendental level. These are disposed of as we do not need them again.

Embodiments of our Being

Remember, in our Pure Being these are embodiments. These give us identities. They give us the:

  • Waker in Jagrat
  • Dreamer in the dream state Swapna
  • Deep sleeper in the deep sleep state which is called Sushupti.
  • In the Core is Transcendental or Undifferentiated State
These enclose our Being, our Essence – the Atma inside. So these are embodiments through which the Atma is able to act in the world. Inside of this Being there is the gross part of it, and then the subtle part of it, then the part of it that is in the Core. And in the Core when all the bodies disappear, there is the Transcendental state that I have been speaking about, the state where everything merges back into Undifferentiated State. Some call it the Void. The Transcendental state is within us, beyond everything. And then the bodies are there within us.

As within us, so in the collective

If we have a physical body, there is a Collective Physical Body of that Supreme Being. When it enters into creation it is called Ishwara. Then there is the Collective Subtle Body – the Collective Dreamer and the Collective Sleeper, the dream or Astral state that carries all the Souls, and the Collective Causal that carries all the Souls. Then beyond that is beyond form. So there is the Collective Causal, Collective Astral and Collective Physical, and beyond that is the Undifferentiated.

In the human experience we need to understand this. Then we need to go deeper inside to become aware of this, because understanding it physically is not all. You have to become aware of it. And that requires the ability to observe. We need to understand the Observer inside.

The Process of Observing


Beginning the practice of understanding and appreciating the bodies is learning how to observe. And that is where we get carried away. That is where the practice becomes difficult, because when you sit to observe like in your meditation you become easily distracted. You sit for a while thinking, “Let me observe and then, Oh I am hungry, I have to do this or that. This seat is uncomfortable. The weather is too hot. I don’t feel good today.” And that is what you are observing.

Creating Physical Awareness

When you are observing you need to think: What is the physical body about, this physical experience? I can feel the grossness of my body. How does it feel? How does my bone feel? How does it feel to be pulled down to the earth, to be stuck to the earth? How does the force of gravity feel? How does the weight of my body feel? How does the density feel? How do my lungs feel in breathing? What happens to my chest and what is happening outside as the lungs expand? What is holding my lungs from expanding out? When I breathe deeper, what is the experience? And when I breathe out completely what is the experience?

What is there inside my brain, what is there in this head? How does it feel? What is the experience of my eyes not being able to see the outside world? And what does hearing involve? What are all these sounds I am hearing? And what parts of me are pulling me into giving attention? And is there more inside of me? Is there more in this observing?

Witnessing Thoughts and Feeling

Where do thoughts arise from? Could I look at them as they arise? Can I not be disturbed by them? Could I let them go? How does silence feel? Oh, it is so difficult to be silent! But I want to be silent. And you could push these thoughts away. Is it possible?

I can feel. I am feeling sad; I am feeling disconnected. I am feeling lonely and depressed. Can I feel different? Can I feel happy? Where do thoughts and feelings arise in my Being. Where do they come from? Are there more in there? What is holding all of this? Does silence have a boundary? Can I be more sad or less sad? What are the possibilities? I want to know more in this space. I want to observe the space. I am going to sit and observe, and I am going to observe very carefully. I want to pick up every experience in this space.

Keen Discipline gives the Experience

A lot of things can happen in this process, and it requires a certain kind of discipline not to be distracted. It requires a certain keenness of observation to really penetrate the experience. We can do the same in dream. You go to bed and you say, “I want to be more conscious in my dream.” And you can begin to experience the dreamer; you can begin to explore deep sleeper as well. Just as you wake up from a deep sleep, in that moment you can reflect on the experience of the deep sleep. You will see that the experience is there because you knew that you had a deep sleep and you had a good rest. So there is an experience.

Then you think about these embodiments and what are they embodying? Is there a Pure Being or Essence there? And you will go deeper. So it requires that kind of discipline. Without such discipline you are not going to arrive anywhere. Of course, there is much more involved in the practice that I will speak about in the following days. But it requires this kind of discipline.

We will continue the subject.

Closing Remarks

Beyond the three states of consciousness is a fourth state. This fourth state is the experience of the rapturous Witness- that Witness who is in bliss of the other three states. So the witness of the dream state, and the witness of the deep sleep state and the witness of the waking state – that aware Witness is called the Transcendental Space or the Turiya Consciousness. It is transcendental to the other three, so this is called the Transcendental State of Consciousness or Turiya. And the inner Being or Essence is the Sat-Chit-Ananda Principle - being, consciousness and bliss. So the Satchidanda Principle is what is embodied , and the Atma is the Soul that is embodied, the Soul that is embodied with this Satchidananda Principle.

Therefore, the goal in the meditation is to come to that fourth state of the Witness that is rapturous, that is in joy, that is in bliss, knowing it is Satchidananda Being.

I tried to focus on the practice because practice is very important. We can get involved in all the theories but it makes no sense. This is the experience that I have, this fourth state of experience of the rapturous Witness. It does not matter what I do: If I am waking there is this Witness Being. If I am dreaming, I am also witnessing in my dreams. I can come out of dreams, I can change dreams, and also witness in the dreams. I go to the deep sleep state as the witness, and when I wake up the witness is there. I do not ever want to lose the witness. The witness goes to sleep in the deep sleep, it dreams in the dreaming state, and it is in the waking state. So it is in the fourth state of consciousness when it is like this- the Ever Present Witness.

Have a blessed day, everyone.

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Day 18: Know Thyself - A Deeper Look

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