The essential conditions of spiritual illumination.6 min read

As the jiva (the soul), dissatisfied with sense-perception as the instrument of realization of Truth or Self, on which depends blissfulness and conscious immortality, treads the path of knowledge, called Jnana Marga, it must cultivate ethical discipline.

The mind must be restrained from hope, fear, desire, aversion, harming others, and be devoted to concentration on the inner Truth.

This is the first and most essential condition of spiritual illumination.

The immediate cause of realization is discrimination of the Real from the unreal.

The Real is to be pursued with all concentration and the unreal is to be used to serve as an accessory to illumination. Self is real ; all else has only a phenomenal appearance and has no ability to give permanent satisfaction or freedom.

This is called jagat or sansara (the ever-changing world), and is opposed to Self or Atman which is Reality and Bliss.

The process of the yoga is to give a right value to the world, to cultivate discipline, to apply reflection to acquire discrimination (viveka), and to absorb the mental consciousness in the meditation of pure Self.

This is what in China is known as the Tao or the Higher Way.

The intellectual discipline which leads the mind-consciousness to Self-consciousness has two forms :

(i) A dialectical consciouness,

(2) The psychological ‘ opening’.

It is called the path of Sankhya, a pure intellectual insight based on logical discipline.

It has no mystic element attached to it. It requires pure love of Truth, followed in rational and logical thinking.

The result of this mode of thinking, called vichara, is intellectual satisfaction and the beginning of discrimination or viveka as a prime factor in the life of the disciple.

It may be emphasised that the company and instructions of a Teacher who is loved, revered and served, is an indispensable help.

In this path, as viveka is cultivated attendance on the sense-data becomes fruitless and the concrete modification of the mind is left behind.

Is the mind left in the void of the Madhyamic Buddhists to be dissipated into nothingness ?

No ; the mind finds its chief occupation in meditation on Self.

The mind takes the form of what it meditates on. It is subject to transformation.

By discipline, ego-negation, reflection and meditation, the mental consciousness is established in an intermediate transformation, taking on the form of Atman (Self).

In the terminology of the holy Acharyas this psychological transformation is called vritti.

This is the starting-point in the transcendence to the region of illumination. This is called the process of introversion or antaramukha.

No social or pleasure sacrifice is too great from now on. The mind rebels ; it often creates a desire to taste the pleasures of youth, power and fame.

You must turn your back on them. This is the last fight avidya puts up, and you are a true hero (vira) if you do not yield to it.

The mind (antahkarana) undergoes two contrary modifications, one in the form of the manifold (sansara), the other in the form of the vritti ‘ I am Atman’.

Before the vritti of ‘ I am Atman ’ is firmly rooted, the vritti of the manifold —belief in sansara as real and pursuit of the ego-consciousness—must be destroyed.

At any cost this last battle in the war against nescience, duality, must be won. Guru bhakti (devotion to the Teacher), says Shri Shankaracharya, is an unfailing help.

The consequence of the conquest of avidya is revealed in the form of the delight of ‘ self-opening’.

The real bliss of Atman takes possession of the mind, and it is engrossed in the deeper and deeper meditation on ‘ I am Atman’.

Now the jiva has entered the region of Brahmic consciousness.

He sees the carrion of sansara (the world) lying in a deep ditch and wonders how he, a spiritual being, fell in love with this old harlot painted to look young and alluring.

Consciousness in its absolute form (Chetanaghana) reveals itself in its integrity.

In this third state of the spiritual revelation, the Brahmakara vritti (the mode of the mind taking on the form of Self) is also destroyed.

To sum up, the first stage marks the birth of the spiritual vritti and its continuation depends on efforts to achieve higher discrimination and renunciation of all sense of delight and possession in sansara.

It is about this stage that the Shruti says : “ There the father is no father, the mother is no mother, the son is no son, the wife is no wife ”.

The second stage is the final disappearance of the vritti. Swami Nirbhyanandaji says :

“ Now that the flame itself is dying out, I need not extinguish it”

This is a matter of experience and not of logical explanation. Many Yogis who are not wholly devoted to the Guru take it as the final stage in illumination.

The third is the stage of perfect illumination, the direct conception of the identity of jiva and Brahman, the emergence of jivanmukti (God- realization in life).

Now is born the spiritual consciousness called in the Gita prasada (bliss) in which “ all sufferings are annihilated and from which there is no further fall ” ; in which the greatest pain and suffering assume the form of a garland of blossom, woven by Prakriti (Matter) to decorate Purusha (Spirit), its Lord.

The denial of multiplicity (samara) and the revelation of jivatman (the individual self) as Paramatman (the Cosmic Self) come simultaneously.

What is this supreme state? How can it be described ? The dewdrop which has slipped into the ocean will not emerge to speak of its experience of infinitude.

Swami Rama says : “ O Sceptic, thy ‘ why ‘ and ‘ how ’ will disappear in one sense of wonder when a jnani (knower of God) has explained it to you’”

The denial of the illusion of sansara is identical with Selfrealization.

There is neither bondage nor freedom in Atman.

Nothing besides it exists. Avidya imposes limitation, called avarana and vikshepa (obscurity of the nature of Self as Bliss-Truth, and the illusion of multiplicity).

When the spiritual consciousness has destroyed this cause of illusion and its effect as the relationship in time-space, Self emerges in its transcendence.

Brahman is the locus of the illusion of sansara ; when the illusion is negated, Brahman remains in its glory as Sat-Chit-Ananda (Existence- Consciousness-Bliss).

Self-realization is contingent on an adaptation and fitness of the mind.

Shri Dada said to a devotee when asked for a discipline : “ Ego-love, ego-display, ego-seeking, are the weapons of nescience. Destroy them”.

The mind is made fit to commit suicide by the threefold method of shravana (study), manana (reflection) and nididhyasana (meditation).

The value of nididhyasana (meditation) lies in the ‘ opening ’ of the Super-consciousness and in dissociation of the Witness-consciousness from the psychic revelation.

Nididhyasana is the yogic penetration into the deepest layers of the mental consciousness.

With what result ?

Is it all negative ?


Before the dawn of spiritual consciousness of Identity, the yoga enlarges and widens the range of mental vision with the spiritual wealth of the Bhagavad Gita.

It brings out the latent virtues of the buddhi (mind)—the instinct of selfless service, love boundless and universal, aesthetic delight and knowledge : they indicate that the jiva (soul) is assimilating God’s being and experience, prior to Identity-consciousness.