An Introduction
to Yoga

by Annie Besant

The Meaning of the Universe

  • The Unfolding of Consciousness
  • The Oneness of the Self
  • The Quickening of the Process of Self-Unfoldment
  • Yoga is a Science
  • Man a Duality
  • States of Mind
  • Samadhi

The Literature of Yoga

  • Some Definitions
  • God Without and God  Within
  • Changes of Consciousness and Vibrations of Matter
  • Stages of Mind
  • Inward and Outward-turned Consciousness
  • The Cloud

Relation to Indian Philosophies

  • Mind
  • The Mental Body

Mind and Self

  • Methods of Yoga
  • To the Self by the Self
  • To the Self through the Not-Self

  • Yoga and Morality
  • Composition of States of the Mind

Pleasure and Pain

  • Inhibition of States of Mind
  • Meditation with and without Seed
  • The Use of Mantras


  • Obstacles to Yoga
  • Capacities for Yoga
  • Forthgoing and Returning
  • Purification of Bodies
  • Dwellers on the Threshold
  • Preparation for Yoga
  • The End
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We have thought it well to make a slight change in the arrangement of
these lessons--that is, in the order in which they should appear. We had
contemplated making this Seventh Lesson a series of Mental Drills,
intended to develop certain of the mental faculties, but we have decided
to postpone the same until a later lesson, believing that by so doing a
more logical sequence or order of arrangement will be preserved. In this
lesson we will tell you of the unfoldment of consciousness in Man, and in
the next lesson, and probably in the one following it, we shall present
to you a clear statement regarding the states of mind, below and over
consciousness--a most wonderful region, we assure you, and one that has
been greatly misunderstood and misinterpreted. This will lead up to the
subject of the cultivation of the various faculties--both conscious and
outside of consciousness, and the series will be concluded by three
lessons going right to the heart of this part of the subject, and giving
certain rules and instruction calculated to develop Man's wonderful
"thought-machine" that will be of the greatest interest and importance
to all of our students. When the lessons are concluded you will see that
the present arrangement is most logical and proper.

In this lesson we take up the subject of "The Unfoldment of
Consciousness"--a most interesting subject. Many of us have been in the
habit of identifying "consciousness" with mind, but as we proceed with
this series of lessons we will see that that which is called
"consciousness" is but a small portion of the mind of the individual, and
even that small part is constantly changing its states, and unfolding new
states undreamed of.

"Consciousness" is a word we use very often in considering the science of
the Mind. Let us see what it means. Webster defines it as one's
"knowledge of sensations and mental operations, or of what passes in
one's own mind." Halleck defines it as "that undefinable characteristic
of mental states which causes one to be aware of them." But, as Halleck
states, "Consciousness is incapable of definition. To define anything we
are obliged to describe it in terms of something else. And there is
nothing else in the world like consciousness, hence we can define it only
in terms of itself, and that is very much like trying to lift one's self
by one's own boot straps. Consciousness is one of the greatest mysteries
that confronts us."

Before we can understand what Consciousness really is, we must know just
what "Mind" really is--and that knowledge is lacking, notwithstanding the
many injenious theories evolved in order to explain the mystery. The
metaphysicians do not throw much light on the subject, and as for
materialistic science, listen to what Huxley says: "How it comes about
that anything so remarkable as a state of consciousness comes about by
the result of irritating nervous tissue, is just as unaccountable as the
appearance of the genie when Aladdin rubbed his lamp."

To many persons the words "consciousness" and "mental process," or
"thought" are regarded as synonymous. And, in fact, psychologists so held
until quite recently. But now it is generally accepted as a fact that
mental processes are not limited to the field of consciousness, and it is
now generally taught that the field of sub-consciousness (that is,
"under" conscious) mentation, is of a much greater extent than that of
conscious mentation.

Not only is it true that the mind can hold in consciousness but one fact
at any one instant, and that, consequently, only a very small fraction of
our knowledge can be in consciousness at any one moment, but it is also
true that the consciousness plays but a very small part in the totality
of mental processes, or mentation. The mind is not conscious of the
greater portion of its own activities--Maudsley says that only ten per
cent comes into the field of consciousness. Taine has stated it in these
words: "Of the world which makes up our being, we only perceive the
highest points--the lighted up peaks of a continent whose lower levels
remain in the shade."

But it is not our intention to speak of this great subconscious region of
the mind at this point, for we shall have much to do with it later on. It
is mentioned here in order to show that the enlargement or development of
consciousness is not so much a matter of "growth" as it is an
"unfoldment"--not a new creation or enlargement from outside, but rather
an unfoldment outward from within.

From the very beginning of Life--among the Particles of Inorganic
Substance, may be found traces of something like Sensation, and response
thereto. Writers have not cared to give to this phenomenon the name of
"sensation," or "sensibility," as the terms savored too much of "senses,"
and "sense-organs." But Modern Science has not hesitated to bestow the
names so long withheld. The most advanced scientific writers do not
hesitate to state that in reaction, chemical response, etc., may be seen
indications of rudimentary sensation. Haeckel says: "I cannot imagine
the simplest chemical and physical process without attributing the
movement of the material particles to unconscious sensation. The idea of
Chemical Affinity consists in the fact that the various chemical elements
perceive the qualitative differences in other elements and experience
'pleasure' or 'revulsion' at contacts with them, and execute their
specific movements on this ground." He also speaks of the sensitiveness
of "plasm," or the substance of "living bodies," as being "only a
superior degree of the general irritability of substance."

Chemical reaction, between atoms, is spoken of by chemists as a
"sensitive" reaction. Sensitiveness is found even in the Particles of
Inorganic Substance, and may be regarded as the first glimmerings of
thought. Science recognizes this when it speaks of the unconscious
sensation of the Particles as athesis or "feeling," and the unconscious
Will that responds thereto, as tropesis, or "inclination." Haeckel says
of this that "Sensation perceives the different qualities of the stimuli,
and feeling the quantity," and also, "We may ascribe the feeling of
pleasure and pain (in the contact with qualitatively differing atoms) to
all atoms, and so explain the elective affinity in chemistry (attraction
of loving atoms, inclination; repulsion of hating atoms,

It is impossible to form a clear or intelligent idea of the phenomenon of
chemical affinity, etc., unless we attribute to the Atoms something akin
to Sensation. It is likewise impossible to understand the actions of the
Molecules, unless we think of them as possessing something akin to
Sensation. The Law of Attraction is based upon Mental States in
Substance. The response of Inorganic Substance to Electricity and
Magnetism is also another evidence of Sensation and the response thereto.

In the movements and operations of crystal-life we obtain evidences of
still a little higher forms of Sensation and response thereto. The action
of crystallization is very near akin to that of some low forms of plasmic
action. In fact, the "missing link" between plant life and the crystals
is claimed to have been found in some recent discoveries of Science, the
connection being found in certain crystals in the interior of plants
composed of carbon combinations, and resembling the inorganic crystals in
many ways.

Crystals grow along certain lines and forms up to a certain size. Then
they begin to form "baby-crystals" on their surfaces, which then take on
the growth--the processes being almost analogous to cell-life. Processes
akin to fermentation have been detected among chemicals. In many ways it
may be seen that the beginning of Mental Life must be looked for among
the Minerals and Particles--the latter, be it remembered, composing not
only inorganic, but also Organic Substance.

As we advance in the scale of life, we are met with constantly increasing
unfoldment of mentation, the simple giving place to the complex
manifestations. Passing by the simple vital processes of the monera, or
single-celled "things," we notice the higher forms of cell life, with
growing sensibility or sensation. Then we come to the cell-groups, in
which the individual cells manifest sensation of a kind, coupled with a
community-sensation. Food is distinguished, selected and captured, and
movements exercised in pursuit of the same. The living thing is beginning
to manifest more complex mental states. Then the stage of the lower
plants is reached, and we notice the varied phenomena of that region,
evidencing an increased sensitiveness, although there are practically no
signs of special organs of sense. Then we pass on to the higher plant
life, in which begin to manifest certain "sensitive-cells," or groups of
such cells, which are rudimentary sense organs. Then the forms of animal
life, and considered with rising degrees of sensations and growing sense
apparatus, or sense organs, gradually unfolding into something like
nervous systems.

Among the lower animal forms there are varying degrees of mentation with
accompanying nerve centers and sense-organs, but little or no signs of
consciousness, gradually ascending until we have dawning consciousness in
the reptile kingdom, etc., and fuller consciousness and a degree of
intelligent thought in the still higher forms, gradually increasing until
we reach the plane of the highest mammals, such as the horse, dog,
elephant, ape, etc., which animals have complex nervous systems, brains
and well developed consciousness. We need not further consider the forms
of mentation in the forms of life below the Conscious stage, for that
would carry us far from our subject.

Among the higher forms of animal life, after a "dawn period" or
semi-consciousness, we come to forms of life among the lower animals
possessing a well developed degree of mental action and Consciousness,
the latter being called by psychologists "Simple Consciousness," but
which term we consider too indefinite, and which we will term "Physical
Consciousness," which will give a fair idea of the thing itself. We use
the word "Physical" in the double sense of "External," and "Relating to
the material structure of a living being," both of which definitions are
found in the dictionaries. And that is just what Physical Consciousness
really is--an "awareness" in the mind, or a "consciousness" of the
"external" world as evidenced by the senses; and of the "body" of the
animal or person. The animal or person thinking on the plane of Physical
Consciousness (all the higher animals do, and many men seem unable to
rise much higher) identifies itself with the physical body, and is
conscious only of thoughts of that body and the outside world. It
"knows," but not being conscious of mental operations, or of the
existence of its mind, it does not "know that it knows." This form of
consciousness, while infinitely above the mentation of the nonconscious
plane of "sansation," is like a different world of thought from the
consciousness of the highly developed intellectual man of our age and

It is difficult for a man to form an idea of the Physical Consciousness
of the lower animals and savages, particularly as he finds it difficult
to understand his own consciousness except by the act of being conscious.
But observation and reason have given us a fair degree of understanding
of what this Physical Consciousness of the animal is like--or at least in
what respect it differs from our own consciousness. Let us take a
favorite illustration. A horse standing out in the cold sleet and rain
undoubtedly feels the discomfort, and possibly pain, for we know by
observation that animals feel both. But he is not able to analyze his
mental states and wonder when his master will come out to him--think how
cruel it is to keep him out of the warm stable--wonder whether he will be
taken out in the cold again tomorrow--feel envious of other horses who
are indoors--wonder why he is compelled to be out cold nights, etc.,
etc.,--in short, he does not think as would a reasoning man under such
circumstances. He is aware of the discomfort, just as would be the
man--and he would run home if he could just as would the man. But he is
not able to pity himself, nor to think about his personality as would
the man, nor does he wonder whether such a life is worth living, after
all. He "knows," but is not able to think of himself as knowing--he does
not "know that he knows," as we do. He experiences the physical pain and
discomfort, but is spared the mental discomfort and concern arising from
the physical, which man so often experiences.

The animal cannot shift its consciousness from the sensations of the
outer world to the inner states of being. It is not able to "know
itself." The difference may be clumsily illustrated by the example of a
man feeling, seeing or hearing something that gives him a pleasurable
sensation, or the reverse. He is conscious of the feeling or sensation,
and that it is pleasurable or otherwise. That is Physical Consciousness,
and the animal may share it with him. But it stops right there with the
animal. But the man may begin to wonder why the sensation is
pleasurable and to associate it with other things and persons; or
speculate why he dislikes it, what will follow, and so on--that is
Mental Consciousness, because he recognizes an inward self, and is
turning his attention inward. He may see another man and experience a
feeling or sensation of attraction or aversion--like or dislike. This is
Physical Consciousness, and an animal also may experience the sensation.
But the man goes further than the animal, and wonders just what there is
about the man he likes or detests, and may compare himself to the man and
wonder whether the latter feels as he does, and so on--this is Mental

In animals the mental gaze is freely directed outward, and never returns
upon itself. In man the mental gaze may be directed inward, or may return
inward after its outward journey. The animal "knows"--the man not only
"knows," but he "knows that he knows," and is able to investigate that
"knowing" and speculate about it. We call this higher consciousness
Mental Consciousness. The operation of Physical Consciousness we call
Instinct--the operation of Mental Consciousness we call Reason.

The Man who has Mental Consciousness not only "feels" or "senses" things,
but he has words or mental concepts of these feelings and sensations and
may think of himself as experiencing them, separating himself, the
sensation or feeling, and the thing felt or sensed. The man is able to
think: "I feel; I hear; I see; I smell; I taste; I desire; I do," etc.,
etc. The very words indicate Mental Consciousness recognizing mental
states and giving them names, and also recognizing something called "I"
that experiences the sensations. This latter fact has caused
psychologists to speak of this stage as "Self-consciousness," but we
reserve this idea of the "I" consciousness for a higher stage.

The animal experiences something that gives it the impressions or feeling
that we call "pain," "hurt," "pleasant," "sweet," "bitter," etc., all
being forms of sensation, but it is unable to think of them in words.
The pain seems to be a part of itself, although possibly associated with
some person or thing that caused it. The study of the unfoldment of
consciousness in a young baby will give one a far better idea of the
grades and distinctions than can be obtained from reading mere words.

Mental Consciousness is a growth. As Halleck says, "Many persons never
have more than a misty idea of such a mental attitude. They always take
themselves for granted, and never turn the gaze inward." It has been
doubted whether the savages have developed Self-consciousness, and even
many men of our own race seem to be but little above the animals in
intellect and consciousness. They do not seem able to "know themselves"
even slightly. To them the "I" seems to be a purely physical thing--a
body having desires and feeling but little more. They are able to feel an
act, but scarcely more. They are not able to set aside any physical
"not--I," being utterly unable to think of themselves as anything else
but a Body. The "I" and the Body are one with them, and they seem
incapable of distinguishing between them.

Then comes another stage in which mental-consciousness proper sets in.
The man begins to realize that he has "a mind." He is able to "know
himself" as a mental being, and to turn the gaze inward a little. This
period of development may be noticed in young children. For a time
they speak of themselves as a third person, until finally they begin to
say "I." Then a little later comes the ability to know their own mental
states as such--they know that they have a mind, and are able to
distinguish between it and the body. It is related that some children
experience a feeling of terror when they pass into this stage. They
exhibit signs of bashfulness and what is commonly termed
"self-consciousness" in that sense. Some tell us in after years that when
they became aware of themselves as an entity they were overcome with
alarm, as if by a sense of loneliness and apartness from the Universe.
Young people often feel this way for several years. There seems to be a
distinct feeling that the Universe is antagonistic to and set apart from

And, although this feeling of separateness and apartness grows less acute
as the man grows older, yet it is always present to a greater or less
degree until a still higher stage--the Ego-consciousness is reached, when
it disappears as we shall see. And this mental-conscious stage is a hard
one for many. They are entangled in a mass of mental states which the man
thinks is "himself," and the struggle between the real "I" and its
confining sheaths is painful. And it becomes still more painful as the
end is neared, for as man advances in mental-consciousness and knowledge
he feels more keenly and suffers accordingly. Man eats the fruit of the
Tree of Knowledge and begins to suffer, and is driven out of the Garden
of Eden of the child and primitive races, who live like the birds of the
air and concern themselves not about mental states and problems. But
there is deliverance ahead in the shape of a higher consciousness,
although but few realize it and still fewer have gained it. Perhaps this
lesson may point out the way for you.

With the birth of mental-consciousness comes the knowledge that there is
a mind in others. Man is able to speculate and reason about the mental
states of other men, because he recognizes these states within himself.
As man advances in the Mental Consciousness he begins to develop a
constantly increasing degree and grade of Intellect, and accordingly he
attaches the greatest importance to that part of his nature. Some men
worship Intellect as a God, ignoring its limitations which other thinkers
have pointed out. Such people are apt to reason that because the human
intellect (in its present state of development) reports that such a thing
must be, or cannot possibly be, that the matter is forever settled.
They ignore the fact that it is possible that Man's Intellect, in its
present state of unfoldment, may be able to take cognizance of only a
very small part of the Universal Fact, and that there may be regions upon
regions of Reality and Fact of which he cannot even dream, so far are
they removed from his experience. The unfoldment of a new sense would
open out a new world and might bring to light facts that would completely
revolutionize our entire world of conceptions by reason of the new
information it would give us.

But, nevertheless, from this Mental Consciousness has come the wonderful
work of Intellect, as shown in the achievements of Man up to this time,
and while we must recognize its limitations, we gladly join in singing
its praises. Reason is the tool with which Man is digging into the mine
of Facts, bringing to light new treasures every day. This stage of Mental
Consciousness is bringing to Man knowledge of himself--knowledge of the
Universe--that is well worth the price he pays for it. For Man does pay
a price for entrance into this stage--and he pays an increasing price as
he advances in its territory, for the higher he advances the more keenly
he feels and suffers, as well as enjoys. Capacity for pain is the price
Man pays for Attainment, up to a certain stage. His pain passes from the
Physical to the Mental consciousness, and he becomes aware of problems
that he never dreamt existed, and the lack of an intelligent answer
produces mental suffering. And the mental suffering that comes to him
from unsatisfied longings, disappointment, the pain of others whom he
loves, etc., is far worse than any physical suffering.

The animal lives its animal life and is contented, for it knows no
better. If it has enough to eat--a place to sleep--a mate--it is happy.
And some men are likewise. But others find themselves involved in a world
of mental discomfort. New wants arise, and the lack of satisfaction
brings pain. Civilization becomes more and more complex, and brings its
new pains as well as new pleasures. Man attaches himself to "things," and
each day creates for himself artificial wants, which he must labor to
meet. His Intellect may not lead him upward, but instead may merely
enable him to invent new and subtle means and ways of gratifying his
senses to a degree impossible to the animals. Some men make a religion of
the gratification of their sensuality--their appetites--and become beasts
magnified by the power of Intellect. Others become vain, conceited and
puffed up with a sense of the importance of their Personality (the false
"I"). Others become morbidly introspective, and spend their time
analyzing and dissecting their moods, motives, feelings, etc. Others
exhaust their capacity for pleasure and happiness, but looking outside
for it instead of within, and become blase, bored, ennuied and an
affliction to themselves We mention these things not in a spirit of
Pessimism but merely to show that even this great Mental Consciousness
has a reverse and ugly side as well as the bright face that has been
ascribed to it.

As man reaches the higher stages of this Mental Consciousness, and the
next higher stage begins to dawn upon him, he is apt to feel more keenly
than ever the insufficiency of Life as it appears to him. He is unable to
understand Himself--his origin, destiny, purpose and nature--and he
chafes against the bars of the cage of Intellect in which he is confined.
He asks himself the question, "Whence come I--Whither go I--What is the
object of my Existence?" He becomes dissatisfied with the answers the
world has to give him to these questions, and he cries aloud in
despair--and but the answer of his own voice comes back to him from the
impassable walls with which he is surrounded. He does not realize that
his answer must come from Within--but so it is.

Psychology stops when it reaches the limits of Mental Consciousness, or
as it calls it "Self-Consciousness," and denies that there is anything
beyond--any unexplored regions of the Mind. It laughs at the reports that
come from those who have penetrated farther within the recesses of their
being, and dismisses the reports as mere "dreams," "fantasies,"
"illusions," "ecstatic imaginings," "abnormal states," etc., etc.
But, nevertheless, there are schools of thought that teach of these
higher states, and there are men of all ages and races that have entered
them and have reported concerning them. And we feel justified in asking
you to take them into consideration.

There are two planes of Consciousness, of which we feel it proper to
speak, for we have obtained more or less information regarding them.
There are still higher planes, but they belong to higher phases of life
than are dealt with here.

The first of these planes or states of Consciousness, above the
"Self-Consciousness" of the psychologists (which we have called "Mental
Consciousness") may be called "Ego-consciousness," for it brings an
"awareness" of the Reality of the Ego. This "awareness" is far above the
Self-consciousness of the man who is able to distinguish "I" from "You,"
and to give it a name. And far above the consciousness that enables a
man, as he rises in the scale, to distinguish the "I" from faculty after
faculty of the mind, which he is able to recognize as "not--I," until he
finds left a mental something that he cannot set aside, which he calls
"I"--although this stage alone is very much higher than that of the
average of the race, and is a high degree of Attainment itself. It is
akin to this last stage, and yet still fuller and more complete. In
the dawning of Ego Consciousness the "I" recognizes itself still more
clearly and, more than this, is fully imbued with a sense and "awareness"
of its own Reality, unknown to it before. This awareness is not a mere
matter of reasoning--it is a "consciousness," just as is Physical
Consciousness and Mental Consciousness something different from an
"intellectual conviction." It is a Knowing, not a Thinking or Believing.
The "I" knows that it is Real--that it has its roots in the Supreme
Reality underlying all the Universe, and partakes of its Essence. It does
not know what this Reality is, but it knows that it is Real, and
something different from anything in the world of name, form, number,
time, space, cause and effect--something Transcendental and surpassing
all human experience. And knowing this, it knows that it cannot be
destroyed or hurt; cannot die, but is immortal; and that there is
Something which is the very essence of Good behind of, underneath and
even in itself. And in this certainty and consciousness is there Peace,
Understanding and Power. When it fully bursts upon one, Doubt, Fear,
Unrest and Dissatisfaction drop from him like wornout garments and he
finds himself clothed in the Faith that Knows; Fearlessness; Restfulness;
Satisfaction. Then he is able to say understandingly and with meaning "I

This Ego Consciousness is coming to many as a dawning knowledge--the
light is just rising from behind the hills. To others it has come
gradually and slowly, but fully, and they now live in the full light of
the consciousness. Others it has burst upon like a flash, or vision--like
a light falling from the clear sky, almost blinding them at first, but
leaving them changed men and women, possessed of that something that
cannot be understood by or described to those who have not experienced
it. This last stage is called "Illumination" in one of its forms.

The man of the Ego Consciousness may not understand the Riddle of the
Universe or be able to give an answer to the great Questions of Life--but
he has ceased to worry about them--they now disturb him not. He may use
his intellect upon them as before, but never with the feeling that in
their intellectual solution rests his happiness or peace of mind. He
knows that he stands on solid rock, and though the storms of the world of
matter and force may beat upon him, he will not be hurt. This and other
things he knows. He cannot prove these things to others, for they are not
demonstrable by argument--he himself did not get them in that way. And so
he says but little about it--but lives his life as if he knew them not,
so far as outward appearances go. But inwardly he is a changed man--his
life is different from that of his brothers, for while their souls are
wrapped in slumber or are tossing in troubled dreams, his Soul has
awakened and is gazing upon the world with bright and fearless eyes.
There are, of course, different stages or degrees of this Consciousness,
just as there are in the lower planes of consciousness. Some have it to a
slight degree, while others have it fully. Perhaps this lesson will tell
some of its readers just what is the thing that has "happened" to them
and which they hesitate to speak of to their closest friend or life
companion. To others it may open the way to a fuller realization. We
sincerely trust so, for one does not begin to Live until he knows the "I"
as Reality.

There is a stage still higher than this last mentioned but it has come to
but very few of the race. Reports of it come from all times, races,
countries. It has been called "Cosmic Consciousness," and is described as
an awareness of the Oneness of Life--that is, a consciousness that the
Universe is filled with One Life--an actual perception and "awareness"
that the Universe is full of Life, Motion and Mind, and that there is
no such thing as Blind Force, or Dead Matter, but that All is alive,
vibrating and intelligent. That is, of course, that the Real Universe,
which is the Essence or background of the Universe of Matter, Energy and
Mind, is as they describe. In fact, the description of those who have had
glimpses of this state would indicate that they see the Universe as All
Mind--that All is Mind at the last. This form of consciousness has been
experienced by men here and there--only a few--in moments of
"Illumination," the period lasting but a very short space of time, then
fading away, leaving but a memory. In the moment of the "Illumination"
there came to those experiencing it a sense of "intouch-ness" with
Universal Knowledge and Life, impossible to describe, accompanied by a
Joy beyond understanding.

Regarding this last, "Cosmic Consciousness," we would state that it means
more than an intellectual conviction, belief or realization of the facts
as stated, for an actual vision and consciousness of these things
came in the moment of Illumination. Some others report that they have a
deep abiding sense of the reality of the facts described by the report of
the Illumined, but have not experienced the "vision" or ecstasy referred
to. These last people seem to have with them always the same mental state
as that possessed by those who had the "vision" and passed out of it,
carrying with them the remembrance and feeling, but not the actual
consciousness attained at the moment. They agree upon the essential
particulars of the reports. Dr. Maurice Bucke, now passed out of this
plane of life, wrote a book entitled "Cosmic Consciousness," in which he
describes a number of these cases, including his own, Walt Whitman's and
others, and in which he holds that this stage of consciousness is before
the race and will gradually come to it in the future. He holds that the
manifestation of it which has come to some few of the race, as above
stated, is but the first beams of the sun which are flashing upon us and
which are but prophecies of the appearance of the great body of light

We shall not here consider at length the reports of certain great
religious personages of the past, who have left records that in moments
of great spiritual exaltation they became conscious of "being in the
presence of the Absolute," or perhaps within the radius of "the light of
Its countenance." We have great respect for these reports, and have every
reason for believing many of them authentic, notwithstanding the
conflicting reports that have been handed down to us by those
experiencing them. These reports are conflicting because of the fact that
the minds of those who had these glimpses of consciousness were not
prepared or trained to fully understand the nature of the phenomena. They
found themselves in the spiritual presence of Something of awful grandeur
and spiritual rank, and were completely dazed and bewildered at the
sight. They did not understand the nature of the Absolute, and when they
had sufficiently recovered they reported that they had been in the
"presence of God"--the word "God" meaning their particular conception
of Deity--that is, the one appearing as Deity in their own particular
religious creed or school. They saw nothing to cause them to identify
this Something with their particular conception of Deity, except that
they thought that "it must be God," and knowing no other God except
their own particular conception, they naturally identifying the Something
with "God" as they conceived Him to be. And their reports naturally
were along these lines.

Thus the reports of all religions are filled with accounts of the
so-called miraculous occurrences. The Catholic saint reports that he "saw
of light of God's countenance," and the non-Catholic reports likewise
regarding God as he knows him. The Mohammedan reports that he caught a
glimpse of the face of Allah, and the Buddhist tells us that he saw
Buddha under the tree. The Brahman has seen the face of Brahma, and the
various Hindu sects have men who give similar reports regarding their own
particular deities. The Persians have given similar reports, and even the
ancient Egyptians have left records of similar occurrences. These
conflicting reports have led to the belief, on the part of those who did
not understand the nature of the phenomena, that these things were "all
imagination" and fancy, if indeed not rank falsehood and imposture. But
the Yogis know better than this. They know that underneath all these
varying reports there is a common ground of truth, which will be apparent
to anyone investigating the matter. They know that all of these reports
(except a few based upon fraudulent imitation of the real phenomenon)
are based upon truth and are but the bewildered reports of the various
observers. They know that these people were temporarily lifted above the
ordinary plane of consciousness and were made aware of the existence of a
Being or Beings higher than mortal. It does not follow that they saw
"God" or the Absolute, for there are many Beings of high spiritual growth
and development that would appear to the ordinary mortal as a very God.
The Catholic doctrine of Angels and Arch-angels is corroborated by those
among the Yogis who have been "behind the Veil," and they give us reports
of the "Devas" and other advanced Beings. So the Yogi accepts these
reports of the various mystics, saints and inspired ones, and accounts
for them all by laws perfectly natural to the students of the Yogi
Philosophy, but which appear as supernatural to those who have not
studied along these lines.

But we cannot speak further of this phase of the subject in this lesson,
for a full discussion of it would lead us far away from the phase of the
general subject before us. But we wish to be understood as saying that
there are certain centers in the mental being of Man from which may come
light regarding the existence of the Absolute and higher order of Beings.
In fact, from these centers come to man that part of his mental
"feelings" that he calls "the religious instinct or intuition." Man does
not arrive at that underlying consciousness of "Something Beyond" by
means of his Intellect--it is the glimmer of light coming from the higher
centers of the Self. He notices these gleams of light, but not
understanding them, he proceeds to erect elaborate theological and
creedal structures to account for them, the work of the Intellect,
however, always lacking that "feeling" that the intuition itself
possesses. True religion, no matter under what name it may masquerade,
comes from the "heart" and is not comforted or satisfied with these
Intellectual explanations, and hence comes that unrest and craving for
satisfaction which comes to Man when the light begins to break through.

But we must postpone a further discussion of this part of the subject for
the present. We shall consider it again in a future lesson in connection
with other matters. As we have said, our next two lessons will take upon
the inquiry regarding the regions outside of the consciousness of the
ordinary man. You will find it a most fascinating and instructive inquiry
and one that will open up new fields of thought for many of you.


I Am a Being far greater and grander than I have as yet conceived. I am
unfolding gradually but surely into higher planes of consciousness. I am
moving Forward and Upward constantly. My goal is the Realization of the
True Self, and I welcome each stage of Unfoldment that leads me toward my
aim. I am a manifestation of REALITY. I AM.

Lessons in Gnani and Raja Yoga
The Yoga of Wisdom

by Yogi Ramacharaka
Lessons in Gnani and Raja Yoga
The Yoga of Wisdom

by Yogi Ramacharaka