BY SATGURU SIVAYA SUBRAMUNIYASWAMI
People speak of the “light of understanding.” Before the bright light of spiritual perception is experienced, the light of understanding must be laid as a foundation of philosophical training and appreciation–learning to understand life, for instance, through action rather than reaction. The purified, integrated mind, so perfected in its own understanding, lives in close communion with the soul radiance so that light becomes the constant experience of the mind. It is this to which the yoga student aspires. Living in the light, everything that formerly was hidden becomes revealed. Answers to questions that you had been pondering for many years become instantaneously unraveled in the light of the superconscious. But the mind has a way, in its instinctive, intellectual nature, of casting shadows over the natural radiance of the inner light.
Doubt is the by-product of the intellect’s inability to cope with light. When a person depends upon memory or reason for meaningful answers, the mind will break down in doubt. Only when the higher elucidation of the intuition is sought is doubt dispelled.
When the instinctive mind becomes lifted into the light, a person is strong enough to be kind when he could have become angry. He generates enough spiritual power to be generous when he might have reacted selfishly. Disciplined periods of meditation nurture a magnanimous and benevolent nature. Such a being is naturally in the light of the supreme consciousness. His great strength is humility, a shock absorber for the malicious experiences in life. Humility makes one immune to resentment and places everything in proportion and balance within the mind. A person lacking in humility does not give the appearance of being firmly rooted and poised within himself. At the other extreme, the arrogant person who lives in the shadows of the mind presents a pitiful picture of insecurity and incompleteness.
Seeking for God in the depths of one’s being through control of the mind, control of one’s thoughts, feelings and emotions, gives birth to the highest qualities of nature. This transformation begins to take place as the light of the soul becomes more and more apparent within the mind.
The spiritual path is a constant turning within, turning the light of the superconscious into the dark corners and recesses of the mind. “What is hidden shall be revealed,” and so it is on this path as man reveals his Self to himself. As you sit in meditation in a darkened room, practice directing your consciousness inward, to the center of your brain. If you are able to perceive light within your body, you are on the path to immortality. But should darkness prevail, work diligently each day to clear out resentment, jealousy, fear, worry and doubt from your nature. Then you can sit in a darkened room and be a being of light.
The next time you are in a state of worldliness–jealous, angry or feeling sorry for yourself–sit down and seek for the light. If you cannot find it, visualize a light bulb within your head or a flashlight at the top of your head shining down into it. Flash the light on and off mentally, and when the flashlight does not go off, even if you have mentally turned off the switch, then you know that you have the inner light. You will watch awareness move out of the darker area of the mind. It’s a wonderful feeling, and it’s a basic practice of the contemplative life of living two-thirds within oneself and one-third in the external world.
I’m often asked, “Do I see light or do I just think that I am seeing light?” I reply, “If you were in a darkened room, you would see light within you just as you’d see on the outside if lights were on in the room or you were in broad daylight. This is because you are seeing with your inner eye, your third eye, which you actually use all of the time. You use your third eye, for example, when you study your subconscious mind and see the memories of your past. The light around the memories is the inner light. If it wasn’t there, you could not see your memories. Take away the mental pictures, and the light alone is before you. You will learn to consciously use the inner eye to see with as you spiritually unfold. All of a sudden, one day you will realize that you are seeing light with your third eye at the same time you are seeing physical things with your two physical eyes.
The inner light is so beautiful. It is firm, like a plasma. It is sometimes fibrous and full of energy. And yet, it is quiet and full of colors. You begin to see color, and in that realm you can hear color at the same time that you see color. You can hear sound and see color all at the same time, and you have the faculty to turn hearing on and to turn hearing off, because you hear with an inner ear.
Another instinctive response to the ebb and flow of life force is disappointment, which intensified becomes discouragement, depression and despair. These three negative states are obstacles to all human endeavor, especially for the spiritual seeker, who must learn early to regulate, control and balance the emotional ups and downs so well that he never experiences discouragement, which is nothing more than an imbalance of force.
Life tests and retests our emotional maturity. Whether we meet those tests or fail is entirely up to us. On the Hindu spiritual path, the satguru gives the tests in order to mold and strengthen the seeker’s character. Great strength of character is required to attain spiritual goals, enormous courage and forbearance, and anyone who lacks that strength and stamina will cease striving long before full realization is attained.
Therefore, to bring out the natural strengths, the guru will offer challenges. He knows that we all fall short of our own expectations now and again, and that we react either positively by reaffirmation or negatively through discouragement. As the tests of life present themselves, the guru will observe the seeker’s response time and time again until his emotional body grows strong enough to combat negative reaction to what appears to be failure and later to absorb within itself all reaction to disappointment, the father of discouragement.
It is the day-to-day reactions to circumstance that indicate the attainment and not mere recorded knowledge about the path. When the aspirant is able to meet ordinary happenings and respond to them in the effortless wisdom born of detachment, that indicates that his striving is genuine. When he is able to encounter conditions that send ordinary people into states of disappointment or discouragement and when his emotional nature indicates mastery over these lesser states of consciousness, he is well on his way toward filling the gaps of a natural growth of the instinctive vehicles–body, emotions and intellect.
But to attain emotional stability, recognition of those vulnerable areas must be cultivated. It is quite natural to encounter circumstances that are potential sources of disappointment. The very recognition and admission are half of the necessary adjustments. As one set of conditions is resolved, another set of a more intense vibration arises naturally to be mastered. With disappointment reined in, the aspirant next faces tendencies of discouragement, then depression and finally despair, for they are all linked together in the instinctive nature of humankind.
Once he recognizes these states as belonging to all people and ceases to identify them as personal tendencies, he is then able to cognize its source and convert it. In this way the emotional nature matures under the loving guidance of the spiritual teacher.
What is emotional maturity? It certainly is not to be equated with physical age. I know people who are well past middle life and are not yet emotionally mature. Even if the physical body is totally mature, the intellect, as well as the emotional unit, can remain childish and unstable. The mind may have been educated to the nth degree, and yet such a scholar remains vulnerable to depression and discouragement. The very first step toward emotional mastery is recognition coupled with admission that in some areas we are not yet perfect. Only through open admission can we devote ourselves to the sadhana that will balance and lessen the forces, allowing us to strive within ourselves to secure ourselves within ourselves. An emotionally mature man or woman is totally secure within and prepared to tap the greater realms of spiritual being.