Essays in Life and Eternity
by Swami Krishnananda


PART III: THE DEVELOPMENT OF RELIGIOUS CONSCIOUSNESS

Chapter 35: The Recession of Effects to Causes

A method of meditation prescribed in the Yoga-Vasishtha is in terms of the resolving of effects into their causes. The mind restrained, the senses subdued, settled in one's emotions, and away from the distractions of life, having had enough of the satisfaction obtainable through the senses, mind and intellect, one should seat oneself in a comfortable posture and chant the Mantra of universal vibration, OM, or Pranava. The recitation of OM in proper intonation should continue so long as the mind attains to inner peace. A few rounds of deep inhalation and exhalation of the breath for some time will assist in the settling of the mind in itself. An attempt should be made to withdraw the senses from their respective objects arid place them in communion with their divinities – the ears as the hearing organ in the vast reverberation of Space, the sense of touch in the all-pervading Air, the eyes as the senses of vision in the divinity of the Sun, the sense of taste in the deity Varuna, the sense of smell in the principle of the Earth, the organ of speech in Agni, the grasping power of the hands in Indra, the locomotion of the feet in Vishnu, the action of the genitals in Prajapati, and the function of the anus in Yama; the mind in the Moon, the subconscious and memory in Vishnu, the ego in Rudra, and the intellect in Brahma. One should deeply feel that the physical body constituted of earth, water, fire, air and ether, is dissolved in the original elements. Thus, the total individuality of the person should be set in tune with the Virat, the animating Intelligence of the Cosmos. The Virat-consciousness should then be dissolved in the universal subtle body, namely, Hiranyagarbha, or Sutratman. Hiranyagarbha, then, should be dissolved in Ishvara, the Universal Causal Principle, in which the entire creation remains in an unmanifested state, which again, should be dissolved in Brahman, the Pure Absolute.

It should be borne in mind that the attachment of the seer for the seen is the real bondage. The distinction drawn between 'I' and 'you' in common parlance is a false proposition. Wisdom consists in the abolition of the very consciousness of the externality of things. The mind gets fattened with its egoism by the acquisition of desirable objects, by affection and attachment. When the mind is freed from contact in any form of externality, it merges into the General Consciousness (Satta-Samanya). All this world of objects, inanimate as well as animate, is a manifestation of the One Universal Self.

The mind is controlled either by the restraint of its functions, or by the perception of the One Reality everywhere. The first method is called Yoga and the second is known as Jnana. The regulation of the breath, the restraint of the functions of the mind, and the constant dwelling on the consciousness of the Universal Brahman, are the ways to the attainment of spiritual perfection. Constantly brooding over Brahman, speaking always about Brahman, awakening one another mutually on the nature of Brahman, and entirely depending on Brahman alone for one's very existence, is the highest method of meditation known as Brahman-Abhyasa.

The Katha Upanishad suggests a similar method. The consciousness of objects operating through the sense-organs should be united with the Cosmic Reason, the Omniscient to settle in the mind which is the source and impulsion behind the operation of the senses. The mind should be withdrawn into the intellect or reason. The reason should be united with the Cosmic Reason, the Omniscient Mahat. The Universal Reason should be merged in the Unmanifest Potential of creation, called Avyakta. This last condition should be identified with the Absolute Brahman. The Manusmriti also suggests the method of the merging of effects in their causes – Earth in Water, Water in Fire, Fire in Air, Air in Space, and Space in the Universal Being. The Samkhya, the Yoga and the Vedanta do all have a system of tracing back all the effects in creation to their causes, in the manner indicated above, until the great Cause of all causes, the Causeless Cause, is reached and consciousness is fixed on it in a state of identity. The Mandukya Upanishad is a standard statement on the method of realising the unity of the waking consciousness with the Virat-consciousness, the dream-consciousness with the Hiranyagarbha-consciousness, the causal state of sleep with the universal creative potential, Ishvara, and the fundamental Atman-consciousness with Brahman, the Absolute. The meditations of consciousness gradually get inwardised, from the physical to the vital, from the vital to the mental, from the mental to the intellectual, from the intellectual to the causal, and from the causal to the universal, as described in the Taittiriya-Upanishad, in the manner carried on by the Sage Bhrigu under the instruction of his father Varuna. So also is the way of the cosmology of the Aitareya Upanishad. The gradual ascent of consciousness through various stages until the attainment of Bhuma, the Plenum of Being, as taught by Sage Sanatkumara to Narada, recorded in the Chhandogya Upanishad is also a way of the dissolution of the lower in the higher, the effect in the cause. The Anu-Gita of the Mahabharata goes into details as to the dissolution of the effects in their cosmological causes. The Second Book of the Srimad Bhagavata delineates the systematic ascent of the aspiring consciousness from the lowest physical level up to the highest state of the ultimate cause, Vishnu, or Virat. These suggestions in meditation are some of the most easy-to-understand techniques, since the method followed is from the known to the unknown in an evolutionary procedure of identity with the Ultimate Godhead.