Towards Higher Awareness

Swami Satyasangananda Saraswati

At some time in our lives, it is necessary to rise above the mundane experience that we have from birth until death. The culture in which we live, the times in which we live, the technological culture in which we live and that has completely paralyzed us holds a big power over our minds. In India, with the technological advancement and development that is taking place, people are swayed by it. In the West people are steeped in it, but in India, even though people are overtaken by the technological culture, they know and really do believe in their hearts, that along with this technological culture, man has to face a new set of problems. Even experts, psychologists and thinkers have accepted that with this technological culture, modern man will have to face new problems.

Lazy mind

With the technology that we have at our finger tips, life has become very easy. We have a lot of time. How do we spend it? We spend it with different types of amusements which titillate us, which make us very excited and agitated. That is how we spend our time, all our time. The free time that we have, because of technology, we spend in amusing ourselves, entertaining ourselves, finding new ways to excite ourselves.

That is how we spend our time, and problems keep piling up one by one: economic problems, family problems, social problems, emotional problems. So much so, that modern man is very restless, agitated and excited. He has so many different gadgets at his disposal for his amusement and comfort. He lives in luxury and comfort.

He may have all the luxuries and comforts, but does he have the appetite for them? Can he really enjoy them? You have the best house, the best bed, but you don’t get sleep at night. You have the best food, the best cuisine, but you can’t digest it. You have everything at your disposal, but do you really enjoy everything that you have? There was a time when the civilization in India was at its peak and people had all the luxuries and comforts, and they came to this one conclusion: that luxury and comfort make man lazy.

Luxury and comfort stagnate the mind. The mind becomes lazy, it loses the power of awareness. Struggle and difficulties awaken the mind, they awaken the power within you; they make you alert and aware. This is very simple logic. It is nothing great which I am telling you. If you have everything, naturally you are not going to be very alert and aware about things, but if you don’t have anything, every moment will be spent being alert for survival. But is survival the only thing in life? There is something else more than that, which is awareness.

Shiva and Shakti

In tantra, there is a word chitta.The translation in English is consciousness, awareness. It is this awareness which is functioning in us, through which we see, taste, hear, think, cognise, understand, respond, feel. This awareness, although it is giving us all these experiences, exists independent of the body and mind. It is pure; it is a pure substance, but when it associates with the body and the mind, it gives us all these experiences.

You can say that awareness is trapped in the body and the mind, just as butter is trapped in milk. The butter is there in the milk, but you can’t see it. In the wood, the fire is there. In the wood, fire exists. It is trapped in the wood, but you can’t see it. In the same way, awareness is in you, but you don’t know it.

Everything is happening due to awareness, even the function of understanding what I am saying, remembering it, analysing it, applying it to yourself. That is only happening due to awareness. Awareness is a modern term and I prefer to use it, but you can call it consciousness and in tantra it is called Shiva. Shiva is the principle of chitta, awareness, consciousness.

Shiva, that is awareness, operates through another principle, and that is called Shakti. It is Shakti that carries this awareness throughout your body, to your mind. It is Shakti that is expressing this awareness through your emotions, through your thoughts, through your feelings, in your body, in your organs. There are two principles, one is awareness and the other is energy: Shiva and Shakti. It is the interaction between these two which gives rise to the manifestation of experience.

Right now that experience is manifesting through the body and the senses. But you must know that even without this body and without the senses, you can still experience. Awareness and energy do not require the medium of body and senses for expression. When they express themselves through the medium of body and senses, it is a very limited experience.

I am sitting in front of you and with your eyes, your senses, you can see me, with your ears you can hear me. But when you transcend body and mind, even if I am not sitting in front of you, you can see me and you can hear me. That is the experience of awareness and energy without the body, and that is the aim of yoga and tantra.

—17 June 2011, Bulgaria