Our Superconscious - A mystical level of mind

Once we have become subconsciously adjusted to a sense of an “I” rooted in being, rather than an “I” driven by the impulses of the five senses or lured on by the ramification of thought and the novelty of the conscious state of mind, we have successfully positioned awareness on the threshold of superconsciousness. superconscious tigerBefore we seriously focus deeply within, we experience superconsciousness in a general way—usually as something like a no-problem zone of inner space in which everything just seems to be okay. Because this nonspecific enjoyment of alrightness feels quite “natural” to us, we are left to assume that we are at least temporarily functioning in an “unnatural” state of mind when life does not seem to be “okay.”

If we accept “natural” to mean inherent and “unnatural” to mean acquired, we will be inclined to perceive our superconscious state of mind to be inherent, and therefore the same for all of us, while we understand our subconscious and conscious states of mind to be acquired, and therefore different for each of us (since each of us acquires differently according to our individual experience).

Obviously, just living in a physical body demands an externalization of awareness out of “inherent” superconsciousness into “acquired” conscious and subconscious states of mind.

When we roll out of bed in the morning to brush our teeth and shower, each one of us must necessarily leave our inherent superconsciousness to live by thousands of little personally acquired memories. Although certainly we might manage to do all of this with a subconscious sense of superconsciousness, which would be wonderful, our waking life is still primarily an acquired existence formed consciously and subconsciously.

From this we can see, while we are awake in the physical realm doing physical things, the superconscious is at best only available to us as a secondary influence filtering through our subconscious to feed the background of our daily life with bliss, confidence, calm, compassion, inspiration and the like.

Tapping into superconsciousness in this way is wonderful to be sure. But to thoroughly experience this richest part of us, we must fully withdraw from our conscious and subconscious states of mind, enter the spiritual realm, and be there completely. Under normal physical circumstances, this cannot be accomplished easily. During periods of time set aside for the practice of a yoga that includes deep meditation, however, it can be.

During such withdrawal, we strive to become immersed in those magnificent qualities of beingbliss, love, stillness, balance, peace, power, rapture, joy and awareness. Just holding the “I” centered in any of these qualities invites Samadhi, intensifies an internal correction of wrong perception and unresolved memory, and programs our subconscious to flood our external life with an unfettered superconscious support that can and will sustain us even during our most trying times.

If we can then come out of this withdrawal to remain two-thirds within during the waking hours of our life, our subconscious will assist rather than block a more continual superconscious influence upon our physical life. This two-thirds-within positioning of awareness is easily attainable. In fact, it is so attainable we can be there and not know it.

Take, for instance, an elderly lady, washing dishes, humming a song and looking out her kitchen window at two robins nibbling sesame seeds off a bird feeder. As that lady rests in the bliss of now, enjoying the warmth of soapy dish water, the touch of slippery plates, the tap-tap pecking of the birds, and the sweet delight of humming her song—all at once—is she not a perfect example of the conscious, subconscious and superconscious states of mind working together harmoniously as one?

Moving like this in life is not difficult and does not demand that we have a completely resolved subconscious. Even with a huge backlog of karmic “issues,” we can work with ourselves to live and move easily, receiving superconsciousness like a welcome guest when it comes, awaiting it patiently when it doesn’t.

Dealing with life in this manner, ever so lightly leaning upon and occasionally withdrawing completely into our internal nature, we invite our superconscious to more and more consistently come forward through our subconscious into our conscious states of mind until, finally, we are feeling at least a little bit of superconsciousness all the time.

When we have lost our sense of superconsciousness, we can get it back by simply becoming aware of that loss. Just that. With this simple adjustment of awareness—just recognizing and acknowledging we have temporarily lost our sense of inner bliss during a frenzy of mental or emotional distraction—we gift ourselves the only moment the now needs to help us gain back our option to feel and follow the rhythm and rhyme of our own intuitive mind back in and through inner realms to our superconscious home base.

The yogis secret Challenge: The subliminal level of mind

Our computer-like subconscious is a remarkable state of our mind. Long before we become aware of it, or even if we never become aware of it, that subconscious is there thanklessly handling all of the basic and crucial functions of our physical body like blood circulation, food digestion and muscle coordination. male female lions And while it is doing all this, it is also recording, categorizing and processing every single experience we have in our conscious state of mind, even as it creates from those experiences elaborate programs for the automatic implementation of skills like typing, driving and speaking a language. Thanks to this marvelously self-contained and self-reliant part of us just beneath the range of our conscious perception, we are free to focus our surface awareness upon exploring and learning through new experience.

As marvelous as this apparently free-standing and independent subconscious state of mind might seem to be, it can be inhibited by us. More than we know, we can inadvertently block our subconscious reception of superconsciousness.

When, due to an impure and/or a selfish lifestyle, our subconscious receives more negative input than it can process immediately, it becomes overloaded with wrong perception and unresolved memory. A backup into a backlog of this gloomy mind-matter is “negative karma.” Fortunately, there is no limit to the amount of negative karma the subconscious can hold. Unfortunately, however, as these negative karmas mount, they thicken their block of the very superconscious influence that would insure their resolution.

As we begin to realize we are more than a body and a mind with fears and desires, we start to sense we really don’t have to live life in the shadow of excess negative karma. We also begin to sense—and this sensing is a result of our superconsciousness getting through to us any way it can—we can help our subconscious better its collaboration with our superconscious to more efficiently handle our backlog of wrong perception and unresolved memory.

At this point we start living life on the high side of our conscious mind by trying to do good and be good so as not to burden our subconscious with more low-level problems than it can handle with a minimum expenditure of energy. Such intentionally positive living leaves impressions in the subconscious that don’t need to be “fixed” later. This smart creation of “positive karma” frees the subconscious to expeditiously work on its backlog of “negative karma.

In yoga, we “do good and be good” by tailoring our lives around the yamas (don't's), and niyamas, (do's) Maintaining these restraints and observances dissolves our blocks to the superconscious by adjusting our negative attitudes, demagnetizing our personality conflicts and allowing the flowering of spiritual qualities like humility, patience, forbearance and fortitude. All of this intentional adjustment opens a wide window for the light of superconsciousness to shine through our subconscious into our conscious mind.

To further assist our subconscious in working efficiently with superconsciousness, we can make special efforts to remain detached as we deal with past and present experience. Such detachment invites the assistance of intuition—our direct connection to superconsciousness.

When awareness is detached, it is not identified with thought and emotion. This detachment gives awareness unblocked access to intuition. When awareness is not detached, but instead allows itself to become magnetized into an identification with thought and emotion, it partially or completely loses its functional connection with intuition.

When we habitually and thus frequently allow awareness to become identified with thought and emotion, we live life personally. In this personal living, we have no choice but to see life through the eyes of an identity caught and stuck in a physical body that was born, is alive and will die. From this point of view, we are not looking at life intuitively because intuition is not personal; it is impersonal.

From experience, we know the non-reaction of detachment can only arise from an intuitive perception that we are Self. We also know we do not have to realize the Self to sense that the Self does exist and is our essential identity. Sensing we are the source of the body we live in is easy. It’s even logical. But if we cannot manage to let this sensing be, we will not be detached and we will react to life personally.

To perceive the experiences of life in detachment without reaction is to see those experiences impersonally. Seeing the experiences of life impersonally leans us toward a creation of positive karma, as well as an expeditious resolution of negative karma.

The Waking Level of MInd

If we position awareness in the physical body and the physical realm, and we spend all our waking hours in that conscious state of mind, naturally we are going to identify with that body, that realm and that state. Cool cat

When we practice a deeper yoga that focuses on breaking out of this three-faceted sense of false identity, we find ourselves stepping back and detaching into a watcher awareness, observing the physical body, the physical realm and the conscious state of mind.

At first, this watcher awareness is faint because it has arisen inadvertently as an unanticipated consequence of a general yoga practice. Yet, as we catch the idea this state of detached observation is worthy of intentional pursuit, we begin to cultivate watcher awareness as a yoga in itself.

Working to hold watcher awareness, we find we can study the power of our instinctive nature from a distance where we can feel its magnetism just beginning to pull us into all-encompassing experiences of seeing, hearing, feeling, smelling and tasting in the physical realm. We also find we can investigate just how this involvement with the physical realm through the instincts of the physical body can trigger emotions that urge us to seek solace in the intellect. Finally, we find we can examine the intellect to see how its development begins with a manipulation of remembered information rather than truly original thinking.

All of this and more we can learn about the conscious state of mind by simply being that watcher that can only see what it sees because it is separate enough from what it sees to see it clearly. From this we can also sense that, when we are the watcher, we are not in an externalized state of consciousness at all. We are outside externalization—or to put it more precisely, we are inside externalization, looking out at it.

If everyone suddenly pulled back into watcher awareness, the conscious state of mind would not be what it is at all, for it is what it is only because of the externalization of those consumed enough in an awareness of it to be caught by it. “Externalization” here refers to a state of mind in which nothing beyond a world perceivable through the five senses is acknowledged as having substantial existence.

Because the conscious state of mind is a product of awareness consumed in the physical realm, it is also a product of awareness preoccupied with physical things to want and have. Since blind ignorance is the common ground of awareness bound in this conscious state of mind, no one caught there knows that no thing can yield happiness. Thus, most everyone caught there seeks happiness by seeking things.

Additionally, since being caught in the conscious mind also means identifying with the physical body, those thus caught also seek happiness by thrilling, clothing and feeding the body—and by making a lot of money to do more of the same. Such stuck-in-the-body living is like treadmill-running after a satisfaction that is forever advancing ahead of us, just out of reach.

When we feel trapped in this most externalized state of consciousness, we experience a stark variety of fear that can only arise when we are so completely cut off from our own intuition we have lost even the faintest sense that we are actually an immortal entity impervious to harm. As might be expected, it is when we find ourselves so fully at the mercy of a fear like this that we are so understandably inclined to cobble together whatever externalized security we can derive from name, fame, fortune, and the like.

Though we could be in any of many places besides this outer condition of consciousness, we will not be anywhere but there so long as we remain unknowingly addicted to the lure of our own fascination with novelty. Drawn into the conscious mind by intrigue, curiosity and desire, and hounded there by fear, we seek a seeming safety in a fortress we build around a false sense of “I.” Although this hard-walled stronghold of wrong identity makes us insensitive and tough, we perpetuate it at all costs—even when it begins to cost more than the sense of security it was created to nurture and protect.

Thus it is that a primary objective of yoga is to withdraw from the conscious state of mind—when we are ready, of course, for how could such withdrawal occur otherwise? When we are finally ready and withdrawal does finally occur, the conscious state of mind becomes an object of study and a point of focus for internalizing rather than externalizing awareness.

Wisdom - Insight Applied in the Fulfillment of Need

Thought usually moves in one of three ways. It wanders aimlessly,circles repetitively or plods from point to point. Although these three ways of thinking vary greatly, they share one common factor. They are all processes. Intuition is not a process. It is a freestanding occurrence of direct perception.

white lion

Before we proceed too deeply into an investigation of thought and intuition as these faculties relate to yoga, it would be helpful to lay out the gist of the Eastern mystical perspective—composed of thought, inspired by intuition—that forms the backbone of most introspective yoga practices. In summary, that gist is this:

Truth is relative and absolute. A relative truth is only real in the world of manifestation—a world that exists relative to and because of its unmanifest source. The relative truth of the manifest world is revealed in experience. Because experience can only occur if there is an experiencer, the unmanifest Self must manifest as awareness to be that experiencer.

Because awareness can only be aware by becoming what it is aware of, it suffers a propensity for getting stuck in its experience. As awareness gets stuck in and thus wrongly identified with its experience, it loses track of its one, true and essential identity as Self.

In a loss of even a sense of its Self, awareness falls prey to fear and desire. Prodded on by fear and lured on by desire, this lost experiencer—now a pilgrim-on-the-run—has no choice but to take on many transient identities as it works its way back toward a conscious reunion with its one true identity after having experienced all the manifest world has to offer, one piece of that all at a time.

From a perspective like this, the manifest world looks like a precariously shifting existence that does not function according to truths that remain fixed. The statement, “you should wear warm clothes,” for instance, would be true during a cold winter but false during a hot summer. Or the statement, “you should do as your father does,” would be true if your father was a kind and wise man but false if he was a psychopathic killer.

Yet, we can also sense from this perspective that there is a one unchanging truth that stands behind the very existence of the ever-shifting world we live in as well as that world’s ever-changing truths. We sense this one unchanging truth as an ultimate essence that cannot be seen, heard, smelled, touched or tasted because it is timeless, spaceless, formless, causeless and thus obviously indefinable. This one-and-only, behind-the-scenes, off-the-grid ultimate truth is what some yogis refer to as the “absolute truth” or the “unchanging truth” to distinguish it from all those many changing truths that are relative and temporary.

For the most part, our most frequent access to this absolute truth occurs indirectly and incompletely as we strive to solve day-to-day problems in the manifest world of relative reality. In these down-to-earth efforts, we perceive gleanings of this truth absolute in bits and pieces, as it gets filtered through into news we can use. If we are good at this down-to-earth accessing of permanent truth in a practical context, we are said to have “common sense.” In this grounded state of clarity, the one and only, unchanging, absolute reality lines up with our personal, ever-shifting and relative needs to reveal pragmatic wisdom on the fly.

Breath: Life of Body, Leader of Mind

lionHave you ever noticed that your breathing slows and occasionally stops when you concentrate deeply, and your concentration diffuses out offocus when you breathe deeply? Awareness literally moves on breath. For awareness to be still, breath must decelerate and occasionally pause. For awareness to move, breath must become active.

Practices built on a recognition of this connection between breath and awareness are designed to help develop what is often referred to as “mind control,” but might more appropriately be called awareness control. The working principle here is that awareness, which is not physical, can be controlled through the skillful manipulation of breath, which is physical. This is a most practical teaching. It states that, if we find our awareness fixed in a place we do not want it to be, we can unfix it by simply breathing deeply. Conversely, if we like where our awareness is, we can keep it fixed there by calming the breath into stillness.

The first practitioners of yoga thought of breath as life. Hence, their term for breath control was pranayama, literally “the control of life force.” As those early yogis and yoginis worked with this life control, they learned that pranayama could boost physical health by enhancing the exchange of oxygen and carbon dioxide in the physical body. They also learned that pranayama could bring an element of transcendent control to both yoga and life.

There are many pranayamas. All pranayamas are significantly strengthened when they are performed rhythmically. A rhythmic pranayama is a breath control that is measured with a counting that is felt as a pulse. Rhythm brings hypnotic cadence to breath control and makes it enjoyably sustainable. It also awakens a powerful mysticism.

From a mystical perspective, rhythm is a trance-building pulsation of doing interspersed with being—each pulse is a do; the space between each pulse is a be—that can yield, in any action performed rhythmically, nearly limitless power. Such a marvelous potential is too often left sleeping in life, but not in yoga. In yoga, rhythm is extolled for all its worth.

Awareness - Consciousness Individualized

It has always been a basic tenet of ancient yogic thought that awareness and consciousness are not the same thing. From this yogic perspective, consciousness is a basic property of life—wherever there is life there is consciousness. Awareness, on the other hand, is conscious consciousness, a specific chunk of that general life consciousness made distinctive by its individualization out of an all-encompassing and all-pervasive energy that is collective by nature. Having become individualized out of a collective consciousness, awareness possesses the ability to have subjective experience. Thus, from an ancient perspective of yoga, each of us is both one with all as consciousness and highly individual among all as awareness fish

Remorse --- Yes, It Can Be a Good Thing

I was so very lucky. My spiritual teacher was immensely practical. He had a way of sifting high-flying mysticism down into news you can use. Take remorse for instance. He always used to say, "Remorse is a good thing." "But it feels so bad," we used to reply, to which he would respond, "Bad, good, good, bad. We're after something more. Remorse brings humility. And along with humility comes an overwhelming sense of that bliss we all share. What can feel bad about that?"

Personally, I have discovered many opportunities for feeling remorse. As a matter of fact, one of those opportunities just surfaced recently. I forgot an important event. Fortunately, I was able to rebound by creating the following card for my wife. Ah yes. I was so crafty. Most certainly, what could have been would have been far worse.

Birthday card

The Self - Our One Essential Identity

SunAlthough an unexplainable truth can only be known through experience, the very existence of that truth and the possibility of its experience can suffer obscurity if it is not announced in concept first. Therefore, paradoxically, an unexplainable truth must sometimes be “announced” in explanation before it can be experienced. Upon hearing the explanation of an unexplainable truth—even if that explanation is, “It’s unexplainable!”—those who have not experienced that truth will have to accept that explanation in faith, reject it in doubt, or reform it into a question left open for an answer yet to come.

However it is received, that truth stands announced—in concept. If that announced concept is either accepted or contemplated, it beckons. If it is rejected, it awaits. Sooner or later, a beginning development of that concept into experience will mark the start of a mystical expedition into the unexplainable.

A concept can never be absolutely true. And that’s all right because the value of a concept is not in its content but in its connection. A concept of a truth is connected to that truth by a thread of logic that will eventually work itself out to give itself up to an experience of that truth, which will be absolute. Take, for instance, the classic yoga teaching about “the Self.” One conceptual announcement of that teaching might go something like this:

We all share a one life force that comes from a one life source, which is also our one identity that we’ll call “Self” for now, though any name would do. This Self is beyond the grasp of consciousness, transcends time, form and space and defies description. Although it cannot be experienced because it precedes experience, it can be merged with from within being and acknowledged, after that merging, as Self Realized.

In this one relatively short paragraph, there is a lot of concept to accept, question or reject. Yet even if all of this concept is completely rejected, it does not go away. It takes its stand in memories we think we have forgotten but haven’t. There, it awaits its opportunity to offer us a beckoning into the depths of yoga.

If we have worked out doubt enough to wholeheartedly accept that a given concept of Self offers at least an idea of a certain experiential possibility, and we can therefore allow ourselves to forthrightly seek Self based on a plan derived from this concept, even the heavy demands of everyday life cannot weigh us down into thinking Self Realization is too much to hope for, because we can now hope for anything. We can now hope for anything because we have replaced a dark doubt with a bright faith that makes any reasonable aim seem obtainable.

From a grounded faith in reasonable possibility, we can see clearly that inner and outer experiences do not have to contradict each other, but can actually share mutual support, as they most certainly do in the lives of mystics who are the way they are because their outer listens to their inner and their inner listens to their outer while they reside in being in between.

Whether or not we choose to accept the concept we will all become mystics sooner or later, we must at least concede that, while we are not, things may not be as they seem.

Because physical life is by nature so overwhelmingly mesmerizing and all-consuming, most of us are easily drawn into what seems like a necessary identification with the body and its urgent needs. Our “I” seems to be the body. And our life seems to be only physical.

We think to ourselves: “If I can’t eat, I’ll die in a matter of weeks. If I can’t drink, I’ll die in a matter of days. If I can’t breathe, I’ll die in a matter of minutes.” Physical survival becomes our paramount concern. We assume, if the body dies, we die.

“Such is not the case, of course,” some of us might be taught to speculate. Certainly, when we hear, read or think we are more than a physical body, we might intuitively sense this to be true. But do we know this beyond the shadow of a doubt? Is that small spark of intuition enough to fortify us against a “gut fear” of physical death?

“I’m not afraid of dying,” some of us might stoically assert. But aren’t we? Is it not a fear of our own physical demise that lies at the root of most of what we do in physical life, including getting educated, finding a job, buying a house, caring for a family and saving for retirement? Would we not feel a primal fear of death if any of these “necessities of life” were threatened?

Something must happen within us to turn this earth-bound thinking and feeling around. Something must happen and something does happen. This is the promise the sages of old have boldly made—that every one of us will experience our way up and out of the identification with the physical body that stimulates a disproportionate fear of death.

For a few of us, this transcendence might get triggered through a revelatory event—such as a near-death experience or an otherworldly dream. An extraordinary incident like this can mold its changes within us abruptly. Suddenly we are filled and thrilled with a confident knowing that we are not the physical body, that we wear the physical body like a set of clothes and that we have worn many physical bodies through many lives.

More often, however, this transcendence surfaces gradually, smoothly and unobtrusively as a gentle shifting of focus. We simply find ourselves realizing our lives really aren’t so burdened and our problems really aren’t so many. In this realization we give ourselves permission to become intrigued with the possibility of enjoying an internalized life that is far more substantial and fulfilling then the externalized life we have been living. When we arrive at this threshold of a new life, however we get there, we are ripe for merging with the “I” of all.

Yet seeking something that cannot be experienced (because it precedes experience) can be intellectually frustrating. We are left to wonder just how to go about getting what we already have, or being what we already are. Even if we are told in no uncertain terms that dropping the urgency of searching is key and the most efficient thing we can do is be, we are not usually willing to trust such simplicity until we have exhausted all of our other options.

There are two common meditations prescribed by teachers to help us deflate our infatuation with “other options.” One centers upon the question: “Who am I?” The other focuses on the statement: “I am.” Both of these meditations short-circuit doing by focusing upon the “I” that does. In this flipping of awareness back upon itself we are encouraged to either be who we are (“I am.”) or question who we are (“Who am I?”). Through both of these approaches we are drawn within to delve back into the energies that precede thought and action until we can delve no more.

How to sense the Self

third eyeDuring the sequence of actions described below, you will be asked to practice a breath control called the cleansing breath. To perform this cleansing breath, sit up straight, inhale deeply through the nose and hold your breath for about four seconds. Then, as you exhale slowly, force air vigorously through tightly pursed lips in a series of short exhalations separated by brief pauses until all the air in your lungs has been completely expelled. This practice just described comprises one “round” of the cleansing breath, which may be repeated.

Like all yogic breath controls, the cleansing breath yields both physical and psychological benefits. Physically, it assists in a more complete elimination of toxin-laden carbon dioxide from the lungs. Psychologically, it affects an immediate cessation of thought and emotion as it invites—in its aftermath—a calm focus of awareness in gentle bliss.

To begin a sensing of Self, sit comfortably with a pad of paper in your lap and a pen in your hand. Think of yourself as an actor and your life as a play. As you perceive yourself in this way, identify the various roles you have taken on in the performance of your life. As these roles occur to you, write them down.

At first, this list will accrue quickly since certain obvious roles—like brother, daughter, mother or husband—will be easily identifiable. As the list gets longer, however, your searching will have to become more introspective. Follow this searching all the way through to its natural conclusion—past your work roles of boss and bossed, paper pusher and problem solver; and your weekend roles of lawn mower, window washer and leak fixer—into your deeper more psychologically imposed roles like victim, hero, looser, warrior, coward and the like.

When your list is as complete as you think you want to make it, perform at least three rounds of the cleansing breath. In the pleasant exposure to the bliss of being these practices reveal, allow yourself to become settled in contentment.

Once you are settled, imagine yourself living without playing any of the roles you have listed. Ask yourself, “Who is the ‘I’ that’s left when no roles are played?” And wait for an answer. After about ten minutes, replace that question with the statement, “I am,” and allow your intuition to guide you into an easy sense of the essence of all.

This article is an excerpt from Muni’s latest book:

Into the I of all —An Ultimate Yoga.

Shoot for the Stars

This is a poem that I wrote and an illustration that I created in the monastery when I was in a mystical mood.   It is written about the Rishis of India who often seemed "mad" to those who didn't understand their ecstatic states of mind.  My guru's lineage had many such "Mad Men."   In this poem, the word "die" means "samadhi" which is the ultimate meditative state. Shoot for the Stars - no words

Shoot for the stars that glow in the head.

The secret they hold has never been said.

Cherish the moment that mad makes right.

Die for the wonders of deep mystic sight.

Aum Nama Sivaya

A few years ago, my wife made this video for me.  It is a sweet and simple video that highlights several spiritual pieces of art that I created in the monastery along with a few that were made right after I left.  The background music is the song, Aum Nama Sivaya, which had just been released from my first album, Trance in Dance. It features Hindu and Shum chants with jazz rhythms, fusing the music from my  days as a jazz drummer with the ancient chants and bhajans from the monastery. The chants are written out on my website (be sure to scroll down the page) in case you want to sing along!  We are now amazed to see that it has over 10,000 views.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Jid6Hw3xJ7c