Questions and Answers

With Swami Satyananda Paramahamsa

Q. What is a superconscious state?

The first point to remember is, that it is not a state of mind, it is not a psychic state, but it is spiritual. It is not physical a state of sense experience, it is not a psychic state. Sleep is the last psychic state. In sleep the mind does not function. Mind functions only up to sleep, that is unconscious and beyond that, mind does not function. Super Conscious is a state from which the word super should be removed and conscious should be spelled with a capital C. It is a conscious state and conscious state in a sense that you are not conscious of your body and nor are you conscious of your name, of your religion or nationality or any item of physical existence. But you are aware. So Super Consciousness is Consciousness with capital C, in which neither physical consciousness, no sensual consciousness, nor psychic, nor consciousness pertaining to your body, mind, religion and physical existence, but only there is consciousness, and that is Super Consciousness. Nothing after that. After super consciousness, after that particular state, when it is continued steady for very many years, the normal activities of mind become absolutely flat. The senses find themselves incapable of functioning. The mind also finds itself incapable of functioning. The bodily organs also find it very difficult to act. And as a result the body, the senses, the mind are annihilated, resulting in a state which is called: Videh-mukti. This is translated as disembodied state. It should mean, state of liberation, a state of freedom of consciousness from the bodily, mental attachment, in which the body, in which the soul lives is incapable to house it.

And then, a state of unconsciousness take place. One absolutely becomes physically inactive. And within 21 days, little earlier even some times, the person leaves the body. And after that, the soul is not born again, then there is no reincarnation. No, he is not born anymore because he has no desires and will to live, he has no wants, he hankers for nothing and all his karmas are exhausted. All his desires are fulfilled and he is not born again. He becomes one with Cosmic Consciousness.

Q. Does he keep his Individuality?

No, he submerges all. It is something like a river following, and flowing and flowing, ultimately meeting the ocean and becoming one with the ocean, a part of it, because after the river meets the ocean, it does not loose the water that it pours in. The water is there, but its identity, its individuality, is lost. We can't say that this portion is Ganga and this portion is Jamuna and this is Nile, no, we can't say that.

Q. Is not that almost like suicide?

That is what some of the philosophers have said about it. You see suicide is that particular psychic state in which the man has not achieved the desires of his life and because of dissatisfaction, he attempts consciously or subconsciously to leave the body, but is again reborn. After suicide he should be reborn, because he has not fulfilled his desires. But a Videh-Mukta has fulfilled everything.

Q. Has he (Videh-Mukta) the right to do that?

Yes the point is this, you see. Suppose you have got a piece of ice in your hand, and gradually it melts completely. When it melts completely, how can you have the existence of the ice block? And in the same manner, what is individuality? Individuality consists of human aspirations, ambitions and desires and when they are no more, how can the individuality exist? Because the basis of individuality is desires.

Q. But they are part of a natural process.

Well, it appears to be natural now, but once we transcend this particular psychic, mental state, where we stand now a little more, this particular mental state perhaps looks absolutely hopeless. It looks absolutely fake.

Q. Is Jivan-Mukti the slightly lower state than Videh-Mukti?

Yes Jivan-Mukti is the slightly lower state than Videh-Mukti. Videh-Mukti is disembodied liberation and Jivan-Mukti is liberation in life. So Jivan-Mukti maintains his individuality, because of one desire, that is the desire of compassion for all living beings. Jivan-Mukti is free from all self-desires. He doesn't want to achieve or accomplish or accumulate or hold anything, but whatever he does or thinks, behind that there is a motive: Compassion for all. And because of that Sankalpa, that desire, he maintains his individual status, and after his death he is again born.

Q. Can he then choose where and when and under circumstances he will be born?

Jivan-Mukti? Yes, It is only Jivan-Mukti who can select his rebirth, nobody else.

Q. Does the Jivan-Mukti, when he is reborn, have something like a conscious birth, knowing from childhood why he is here?

Yes he remembers everything of his past. Something like Buddha. At the time of his birth he remembered all his previous 24 births.

Q. And is the natural process to become first a Jivan-Mukti before Videh-Mukti?

Yes, one has to become Jivan-Mukti first and Videh-Mukti finally. There is no option. That is the natural way. This is the process of evolution. The process of evolution taken a curve. From Jivan-Mukti a process of involution begins. It is not evolution. Jivan-Mukti is the highest point of self-evolution and from Jivan-Mukti on a process of convolution sets in, not in the same order back, but in a different order. Instead of coming down through the same line in which he had proceeded, through the path of evolution, which exactly goes down, but then making a little circle. That is to say, the life is a circle, we consider the life to be a circle, starting from one point and evolution this way and gradually we become Jivan-Mukti, of Super Conscious state. Then from here a process of involution sets in up to Videh-Mukti, this is the period where the old individuality is lost and from here he becomes one, and a free process of evolution starts. He becomes one with the Cosmic, but from Cosmic Nature, the jivan are born again. But not ‘I’. It is something like Ganga meeting ocean and from ocean the monsoon rising up. That is not necessarily the Ganges water.

Q. Are the 10 orders of sannyasins symbolic of the 10 rays of reaction of which the Theosophists talk a lot?

Not exactly, but we can include even this interpretation that the organizing of 10 orders of sannyasins was according to their samskaras, that is inherent nature, but when we are taught about these 10 Sampradaya, or the 10 sects as you may call it, we say it is according to the inner attitude of the Sannyasi and also according to the height of evolution he has reached.

If the Sannyasi does not find himself capable of living in a cottage by himself because of his old age or maybe because of his past inhibitions, every Sannyasi is not self-realised, then he is asked to go to a monastery and he is given charge of a monastery, while he enjoys all securities and all friendships and thus he is able to maintain the state of evolution in himself. And supposing a man belonging to a particular monastery does not find monastic life useful for himself, he wishes to go to mountains, he does not like that atmosphere, the security. He has no respect for property, money, disciples, he wants to remain all alone, it does not matter if cobra comes and bites him, it does not matter whether he can get fruits and milk in time, it does not matter whether he can get medical treatment but he wants to go to a forest and according to that his order is to be decided.

This is how it has been written in the ancient scriptures. The order is to be given to a Sannyasi judging his inner capacities, desire and state of evolution. Guru gives the order. He knows what his disciple wants. Many Sannyasis do not like to be disciples and hate if anybody makes disciples. And according to the strict tradition of Sannyasa, a Sannyasi, practicing austerities anywhere, in any part of the country, if he goes down to the plains to serve humanity, opening monastic organizations or Yoga Ashram, preaching or making disciples or building hospitals is considered to have fallen from Yoga.

He is known as Yoga Bhart. They say 'this man did austerities, but some of his desires of his past life remain to be fulfilled, and to fulfil that, he has gone down, he has not attained.'

One Swami Tapowanan, a good Shrasht, he was eighty, I went there and I have asked him 'Swamiji, I want to remain at Uttarkashi (or near it) under your guidance. Will to you please arrange quarters for me?' 'No', he said, 'No Satyananda, become an editor, secretary, manager, preacher. Work out your Karma.' He did not allow me to remain there. This was a man who had knowledge, he knew the secret of Karma. But other Sannyasis, who are orthodox, narrow minded, the moment you go to them, they tell you 'All this is not necessary, leave those things and come here.' I tell them, what about my Karmas? I told one of the Mahatmas: 'If I came here, I will also bring a typewriter.'

Q. How does one know that ones Karmas are finished?

The moment ones Karmas are finished, Karmas leave him, automatically. Then even if he wants to do Karma in form of duties, the chances are practically nil. He does not get Karma, then a sort of famine takes place. So far as desires are concerned, he is unable to have any desires. He wants to think, he wants to desire, but he cannot. He starts it, but halfway through he stops, he cannot go further. His capacity of desiring is finished.

There are some persons in the world who have desires in their unconscious, but because of certain fears, certain suppressions, shocks they have received or are still in their unconscious, which they don't know consciously, on account of that, sometimes, people unconsciously do not desire. Although the Karma is there, the Karma and desires are in a suppressed state.

Q. What is the Bhakta's way of eliminating or not creating new Karmas?

The Karmas can get exhausted by offering them to God and before you act, you realise that the doer is someone else. You are only an instrument, the medium to carry. Another thing, taking everything in life, maybe the state of spiritual evolution or maybe a state of mental degeneration or moral degeneration, prosperity and poverty, calamity and happiness, he takes it as the will of God. He does not wish for good and he does not hate anything bad that comes. That is how a Bhakta is supposed to behave.

All do not do it and all cannot do it. In Bhakti philosophy, the emotional philosophy of an individual is divided into two grades, the lower and the higher. The lower grade of Bhakti is called Apara Bhakti, that is the primary Bhakti, or the lower Bhakti as you may call it. The higher state of emotional philosophy is Para Bhakti, or supreme Bhakti, or higher Bhakti or transcendental Bhakti. So, in Apara Bhakti, the worship of God, the visit to pilgrimage places, going to Mahatmas and Saints, reading the scriptures in which the glories of God are described, that is called Apara Bhakti, which every man is supposed to do so that he receives enough philosophy for his mind, inner inspiration. The mind becomes purified and one-pointed. Then we will be able to judge for ourselves, that all the manifestation in this life are the manifestation of Divine and I am only an actor.

This revelation comes to him after practicing Apara Bhakti for many years, provided he does all correctly. And when this realisation dawns, then Para Bhakti begins.

After that he takes his life not as his own, but as the manifestation of the Divine Will. Karma I do, is Divine will, sufferings I undergo is Divine will, pleasures I enjoy is Divine will. That becomes his realisation then. That is then called Para Bhakti. If Apara Bhakti is done unselfishly, it will culminate into Para Bhakti. But if this Apara Bhakti is selfish, like going to the temple or churches for a particular selfish motive, to pray for a son or a daughter or I pray for the best part in the litigation, or my son is suffering from illness and I pray for his quick recovery, all these are called selfish Bhakti. Gradually he must come to understand that it is not fair to pray to God all the time for wife, children, money, health, etc. This realisation finally will come to him and then he will start unselfish Bhakti, thinking that everything belongs to HIM.

By this process, Bhakti, ultimately while doing all the Karmas in the world, he does not accumulate the results, impressions or influences and becomes without Karma, without prarabdh. But it is said only of the highest Bhakti, not of those who worship in the temples.

Q. What does 'Self-realisation' mean?

The word used in all books means the highest, realisation of the Supreme Consciousness. The word 'self-realisation' does not involve realisation of the social life and so on.

Q. Swamiji, would you elaborate on the 4 Ashramas.

You see, this particular instruction, this particular provision of life, is meant for people of the world who are not spiritually evolved, who should go to a social life as a Brahmacharya or Celibate, a Grihastha or a householder, a hermit or Vanprasth, but there are some people who have in their former life undergone Brahmacharya, Grihastha and Vanprasth also. For these people this rule does not apply.

Such as Shankaracharya, at the age of 8 he took Sannyasa, at the age of 16 he finished writing commentaries on all the philosophical texts of Hinduism in Sanskrit. At the age of 16, he finished writing commentaries on the Upanishads, Gita, etc., and writing his own Adwaita philosophy. From 16-32, he went from North to South doing only one thing, taking all the Buddhists into the ford of Hinduism by argument, by discussion, by defeating them in arguments.

Q. You mean to say if these people, who have fulfilled all the Ashrams in their previous lives and are now striving for spiritual realisation in this life, do they remember all the proceeding Ashramas, do they have the memory?

No, a Sannyasi, who has finished all his Karmas in his previous life, who has fulfilled all his ties as a Brahmachari, as a Grihast or a Varnaprasth and now in this life he has become a Sannyasi through the process of evolution, no, he does not remember his past. It is only a person who has finished everything in his previous life, even Sannyasa in his previous life, when he is reborn, after attainment of Jivan-Mukti, and before Videh-Mukti, then he remembers all his proceeding lives.

For example, anyone has undergone the life of a householder and then life of the hermit, then supposing death comes. When you are reborn, you develop desires for Sannyasa from the very beginning, for renunciation, for higher Karma. But then you can't remember all your preceding lives.

This is one example. Another example: You have completed all the four orders of life, up to Sannyasa and as a Sannyasi you have achieved a very high state, of Jivan-Mukti, and after that you died. You are reborn, you have got to be reborn. When at that time, and for that person, there is the memory of his proceeding lives as clearly as I remember my past days. He remembers every thing. Except a Jivan-Mukti, nobody remembers his past lives in a sequence. Maybe few boys and girls at the age of 4-5, they do remember their past birth but they do not remember consciously, but subconsciously.

Sankara remembered about is past life. Ramana Maharishi also remembered about his past life. Buddha remembered about his past life. Vivekananda was also aware of his past life. Like that, all the people who have left their bodies after the attainment of Jivan-Mukti, in this life they remember.

But Sannyasi or any other person having gone through the life of a Brahmachari, a Grihasth and a hermit, he does not. Some children do remember and recollect their past birth and they speak out that they were born this way and that way, but they are not conscious of what they are speaking. They speak these things in a little different psychic state than ours. A little change in the psychic realm takes place, a little change in the psychic states of mind takes place and they undergo a process of involution in their psychic state and that process is very minute and parents don't notice it. At that time they just remember their past life and they speak out subconsciously without knowing consciously what they are really saying, they speak out. What I mean is subconscious recollections.

Q. Can one act subconsciously even if one is awake?

Yes, one can and one does act subconsciously, even if one is awake, even now, you, I, we are behaving, thinking, working consciously and sub-consciously also. For the sub-conscious action it is not at all necessary that you should be beyond the waking state.

Q. What is the difference between the remembering of past lives in case of young boys and girls and the remembering of past lives in case of a Jivan-Mukti?

There is difference, those children they speak out their former lives subconsciously, not at all aware of what they are speaking. While I, after having attained Jivan-Mukti in my previous life, now when I am reborn I remember my past birth consciously and I know that I am remembering. We do not forget them at all.

Q. Is that something like a vision and a dream?

Yes, these boys and girls, they remember their past lives as dreams and the great men remember their past lives as visions. While the boys and girls after a year or two forget, a Jivan-Mukti always remembers.

Knowledge is inside, the other objects only serve the purpose of external stimuli. We don't learn anything from outside. This is one school of philosophy. Knowledge is subjective, but its act of manifestation depends upon an objective event.

Q. Are there any external stimuli for the acceleration and manifestation of knowledge?

I think it is said by all the thinkers that by the practice of Yoga one gains all knowledge from within, without depending upon external environments and external stimulate. One is able to comprehend all dimensions of knowledge within himself. We can gain the knowledge of any part of the body and any part of the world, because the knowledge of the world, the information of the world, the microcosmic of this world, is within ourselves. In this body, or rather I should say, in this personality, there is a miniature universe, and at the same time any event that is taking place in any part of the world is simultaneously taking place within you also. And then if one is able to tune himself into that great depth of his own existence, he will be also to draw all knowledge from within himself and through himself, and so it is that knowledge is always from within, never from without. All people however do not get all knowledge in one birth, not because their knowledge within is not adequate, but because the container of the knowledge, or rather the medium by which we express knowledge, or the body in which we develop knowledge, is not adequate, is not competent enough for that higher knowledge, but still, everybody in every incarnation, we do develop some knowledge.

This is the ultimate truth. We receive thoughts from other people, so we think, but in fact, everything is known within. The entire process is subjective, appears to be objective but is subjective. So we do not have to understand others thoughts, what he is thinking is already in me. He is thinking at two different places: Within himself and within myself.

If an event is taking place, somewhere in Japan, it is at the same time taking place within me also. So events are taking place at two different places. Instead of tuning myself to the event there, I tune myself to the event within me. For that, a fundamental faculty is to be developed. And the basic faculty is, making oneself capable of withdrawing oneself instantaneously, within a moments notice. It is like switching off the light and the light is gone, it does not take place at two different places. Instead of tuning myself to the event there, I tune myself to the event within me.

If you are able to withdraw yourself at will, in any time instantaneously, you will be able to tune yourself with all happenings anywhere else. This is one thing, but then there are so many things happening in the world and if we are supposed to know all those things, within ourselves, then it will be a confusion in telepathy. It will be something like a cosmic telepathy. A radio, adjusted to a particular meter, was producing sounds of different meters, then you can't understand anything. Sometimes in certain cases you have seen that these things also happen.

So as far as this telepathy is concerned one has to become specially psychic and somebody also has to become the operator. Say you become the psychic medium and I become the operator, then I ask you what this man is thinking. Then you will be able to do it, otherwise it is not possible. You yourself, if you like to know what he is thinking, you will find it difficult. There should be a psychic medium.

Q. Are practices in telepathy and things like that obstacles on the path of evolution.

Yes, those people who want or are practicing telepathy and such other sciences, I should say, it is impossible for them to go ahead with their spiritual evolution. They have to transcend these psychic phenomena and only then can they enter into spiritual domain.