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2020-1-17

Consciousness
Swami Sivananda's Conception

The mind is insentient (Jada), but it appears as consciousness (Chaitanya), by borrowing the light from the void (Adhishthana). Consciousnes (Atman), emerges as heat in the water which has been exposed to the sun. Because there is reflection of intelligence in the mind from the background, the source or womb for this mind, this insentient mind appears as intelligent. This is the real truth. This is the bold, genuine philosophy fo the Hindu sages of yore. [1]

What first impressed me about the contents in Hindu scriptures was its insights into psychology. For example, the Hindu sages taught their pupils according to their personalities or personas. The spiritual path or way was classified as yoga of jnana (mind), bhakti (heart), and karma (action). A student's path could depend on written words in scriptures, pictures of saints, chanting of mantras, and other mechanism of perception.

A person is multi-dimensional, and unique.

Swami Sivananda, like Ramana Maharshi or Swami Yogananda, was a classical Hindu in the Adviata Vedanta tradition. So I've always thought it important to understand what Swami Sivananda thought about the origin of consciousness. Adviata Vedanta unifies the conception of the physical and spiritual (mind) realm. For me, this makes it easier to understand my state of awareness and how I perceive the world within this framework.

So I've always wondered whether consciousness, according to Swami Sivananda, arises out of the material brain, or originates from a substratum existing outside of the brain. [2]

It's strange, that as I write this page, the specter of what happened last Jan 3, 2020 when the US assassinated General Soleimani still looms in my psyche. I want to let it all go. But this tragic event has raised all sorts of doubts in me. It has reminded me of how fragile my world is, and how much I depend on the goodness of the blessed people in my past.

I realize that if our country continues on its current path which led to Jan 3, 2020, then chaos will reign in our country. In Greek mythology, the daughter of the gods of chaos, Nemesis is the goddess of justice and fate. The Hindu goddess of time, Kali, performs the same tasks as Nemesis. Kali brings order back into our universe which originates out of the void; the void in modern physics being the place of highest entropy or disorder. In Egyptian mythology, Isis is the goddess identified with the void or the netherworld. Isis is the archetype of Kali. There is a kind of perfection in the physical universe which can be applied to the world of human action or karma. In a sense, what happened on Jan 3, 2020 is part of the perfection. [3]

It seems as if there's a kind of universe law which tells me that America will inevitably be isolated by the rest of the world forcing our country to change its violent behavior. Our country will collapse, not as a result of economic depression although this may be the start of it, but from a moral decline in spiritual or compassionate awareness.

Our awareness or consciousness arises out of our mechanical brain. But this awareness is formed by our experiences. Our profound consciousness is, in part, formed by our childhood experiences. Our childhood teachers forms the deepest part of our consciousness. According to modern science, this is the canonical script of neurobiology.



[1] This paragraph is paraphrase from "Conquest of the Mind", by Swami Sivananda, published by the Divine Life Society, First Edition 1962, Uttarakhand, Himalayas, India

[2] I tend to think of consciousness as emerging from the biological brain. But I think exploring the realm of Swami Sivananda's conception of consciousness can lead to a treasure of spiritually lighted knowledge. When I was young, I naively pursued the quest of finding the answer to the question of the existence of God. That's the quest that almost killed me. I'm always inspired by the Upanishads. The Katha Upanishad tells the story of Nachiketa, a young boy's quest for spiritual knowledge. This story tells me that I too will probably go no further than Nackiketa in a spiritual quest. This is a divine truth. Imagine, the Katha Upanishad was written 2500 years ago.

I feel I can get to that place where Swami Sivananda thought about consciousness. I really want to experience Swami Sivananda's vision of consciousness. I thinks this is possible for me, and people living today who see the world as a "Kantian" mechanist. I'm not saying that the Kantian mechanist is wrong. I'm pretty sure consciousness arises out of the biological brain. But there's a realm of the heart or spirit beyond the mechanical mind which I've accepted on faith.

[3] Some Hindu sages have said that there's only perfection in God's universe. But how can this "perfection" be applied to the human condition since there seems to be so much suffering. In the physical world, order emerges from disorder. So if you applied this principle to the human condition, then it may necessarily follow that the suffering that emerges from chaos must exist. It's necessarily a part of the perfection.

But not all suffering must exist because we can overcome suffering by the will or intent in our hearts. Human beings determine their destiny.