Spiritual Experiences


by Swami Sivananda

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Paperback: 231 pages
ISBN: 81-7052-050-9
Book Dimensions: 8.5 x 5.5 x 0.5 inches
Shipping Weight: 280 grams

Table of Contents

About This Book (Back Cover)  
What Life Has Taught Me (6)

Chapter One

Nature of Consciousness 19
Four Kinds of Consciousness 21
Aspects of Consciousness 25
The Turiya State 27

Chapter Two

An Analytical Study of Cosmic Consciousness 31
Super Sublime State 32
Western Concept of Cosmic Consciousness 34
Celestial Vision 34
Supreme Awareness 36
Characteristics of Experience 36
Commonsense Approach 37
Appearances Are Questionable 38
Ramacharaka’s Views on Cosmic Consciousness 39
Bucke’s Views 44
A Definite Way to Contact God 45
Physiological Changes 46
The Everlasting Aims 47
Non-dual Consciousness 49

Chapter Three

Common Experiences in Meditation 55
Various Kinds of Vision in Meditation 60
Experience of Jerks 64
Lights in Meditation 64
Anahata Sounds 67
Feeling of Separation from Body and Other Experiences 68
Astral Journey 70
Materialisation 70
Mind Moves 70
Bhuta Ganas 71
Rising from the Seat 71
Divine Light 71
Some Doubts Clarified 72
Guidance on the Path 74
Discomfort During Meditation Explained 77

Chapter Four

What Is Samadhi? 79
Jada Samadhi and Chaitanya Samadhi 81
Light on the Path of Samadhi 82
The State of Blissful Divine Experience 90
Bhakti Yoga Samadhi 93
Raja Yoga Samadhi 95
How the Yogi Comes Down from Samadhi 101
Jnana Yoga Samadhi 102
Six Kinds of Jnana Yoga Samadhis 107
Samadhi According to the Upanishads 109
Samadhi in Six Months 112
Samadhi in Six Months as Enjoined in the Mahabharata 114
Some Experiences in Samadhi 114
Obstacles to Samadhi 117
Pseudo Samadhi 119
Prasnottari on Samadhi 122

Chapter Five

Experiences of a Yogi 127
Four Classes of Yogins 127
Somapana (Amrita Srava) 128
Yogi Drinks Nectar 130
Experiences of a Bhakta 130
Inner Voice 131
State of Spiritual Illumination 132

Chapter Six

Prayer to Mother Kundalini 135
The Gradational Ascent of the Mind 136

Chapter Seven

Siddhis or Occult Powers 139
Eight Major Psychic Powers 139
Other Psychic Powers 141
Levitation or Vayu Siddhi 142
Kaya Sampat 145
Comments on Some Occult Phenomena 145
Samyama Leads to Occult Powers 148

Chapter Eight

Song of Spiritual Progress 152
Main Characteristics of Progress in Sadhana 152
Other Important Characteristics 154
Signs of Progress in the Path of Meditation 155
An Anecdote on Spiritual Experience 158

Chapter Nine

Phases of Experience in Jnana Yoga 162
Four Types of Jnanins 163

Seven Stages of Jnana

Double-consciousness of a Jivanmukta 167
Samadhi Jnani and Vyavahara Jnani 168
The Sage’s Experience 170
Marks of a Realised Sage–An Anecdote 174

Chapter Ten

A Detailed Analysis of the state of Moksha 176
Four Kinds of Mukti 189
Difference Between Jivanmukti and Videhamukti 189

Chapter Eleven

Mystic Experiences of Nayanars and Siddhas 190
Saint Tirumular 198
Saint Tirunavukkarasar 201
Saint Manickavachagar 205

Chapter Twelve

Experiences of Some Christian Mystics 209
Experiences of Jesus Christ 219
Christ-Consciousness 219
Experiences of Muslim Mystics 221


Why God Created Man 222
Seeds and Fruits of Yoga 223
Path of Karma Yoga 223

Path of Bhakti Yoga

Path of Hatha Yoga 224
Path of Raja Yoga 224
Path of Jnana Yoga 224

Philosophical Truths

A Renowned Army Officer’s Experiences 225
Spiritual Experiences 227
Song of Sadhana 227

About This Book

Spiritual Experiences is a publication that tries to portray the aspirant’s perception of the working of his psyche as well as of the forces of the astral world. Self-realisation is the consummation of all experiences and transcends the realm of the mind, and is, therefore, indescribable. Yet, adumbrations have been attempted herein, through the medium of words, to describe the super-sublime state of cosmic consciousness, and of the other preceding phases of occult perception.

The book has been divided into twelve chapters. The first and second relate to the nature and states of consciousness, and cosmic consciousness, respectively. The third chapter deals with the various experiences that the aspirant has to pass through in the path of Meditation, and in the fourth are continued the different phases of experience found in Samadhi in its various forms and attained through the various paths of Sadhana. Chapters five, six and seven discuss the numerous psychic powers attained by the Yogi, while in chapter eight are given the characteristics of spiritual progress. Chapters nine and ten deal with the experiences of the Jnana Yogi and the state of liberation, respectively. In the last two chapters are given the experiences of some of the South Indian and Christian mystics.

We hope that the book will be found useful to all those who tread the spiritual path.

What Life Has Taught Me

It was, I should say, by a flash that I came to the conclusion early in my life that human life is not complete with its observable activities and that there is something above human perception controlling and directing all that is visible. I may boldly say that I began to perceive the realities behind what we call life on earth. The unrest and feverish anxiety that characterise man’s ordinary existence here bespeak a higher goal that he has to reach one day or the other.

When man gets entangled in selfishness, greed, lust and hatred, he naturally forgets what is beneath his own skin. Materialism and scepticism reign supreme. He gets irritated by small things and begins to fight. In short, man is miserable. The doctor’s profession gave me ample evidence of the sufferings of this world. I found concrete proofs of the great saying: “Sarvam duhkham vivekinah.” I was blessed with a new vision and perspective. I was deeply convinced that there must be a place–a sweet home of pristine glory and purity and divine splendour–where absolute security, perfect peace and happiness can be enjoyed eternally. In conformity with the dictum of the Sruti, I renounced the world, and felt that I belonged to the whole world.

A course of severe self-discipline and penance endowed me with enough strength to move unscathed amidst the vicissitudes of the world-phenomena. And I began to feel the great good it would be to humanity if I could share this new vision with one and all. I called my instrument of work The Divine Life Society.

Side by side, the stirring events since the advent of the twentieth century had their effect upon all keen-minded people. The horrors of past and possible wars and the consequent suffering touched the minds of people. It was not difficult to see that the pains of mankind were mostly brought on by its own deeds. To awaken man to his errors and follies and to make him mend his ways, so that he may utilise his life for attaining worthier ends, was felt to be the urgent need of the time. As if in answer to this need, I saw the birth of the Divine Life Mission, with its task of rescuing man from the forces of the lower nature and raising him to the consciousness of his true relation to the cosmos. This is the work of rousing the religious consciousness, an awareness of the essential Divinity of man.

Not by mere argument or discussion can religion be taught or understood. Not by precepts or canons of teaching alone can you make one religious. It requires a peculiar atonement with one’s vast environment, an ability to feel the deepest as well as the vastest, a genuine sympathy with creation. Religion is living, not speaking or showing. I hold that whatever be one’s religion, whoever be the prophet adored, whichever be the language or the country, whatever be one’s age or sex, one can be religious provided the true implication of that hallowed term TAPAS, which essentially means any form of self-control, is made capable of being practised in daily life to the extent possible for one in the environment and under the circumstances in which one is placed.

I hold that real religion is the religion of the heart. The heart must he purified first. Truth, love and purity are the basis of real religion. Control over the baser nature, conquest of the mind, cultivation of virtues, service of humanity, goodwill, fellowship and amity constitute the fundamentals of true religion. These ideals are included in the principles of The Divine Life Society. And I try to teach them mostly by example which I consider to be weightier than all precepts.

The modern thinker has neither the requisite time nor the patience to perform rigorous Tapas and austere religious practices; and many of these are even being relegated to the level of superstition. In order to give the present generation the benefit of real Tapas in the true religious sense, to reveal to them its real significance and to convince them of its meaning and efficacy, I held up my torch of Divine Life, which is a system of religious life suited to one and all, which can be practised by the recluse and the office-goer alike, which can become intelligible to the scholar and the rustic in its different stages and phases. This is a religion which is not other than what is essential to give meaning to the daily duties of the human being. The beauty in ‘Divine Life’ is its simplicity and applicability to the everyday affairs of the ordinary man. It is immaterial whether one goes to the church or the mosque or the Mandir for offering his prayers, for all prayers are heard by the One.

The average seeker after Truth is often deceived by the caprices of his mind. A person who takes to the spiritual path is bewildered before he reaches the end of his journey, and is naturally tempted to relax his efforts halfway. Many are the pitfalls, but those who plod on steadily are sure to reach the goal of life which is universality of being, knowledge and joy. I have laid great emphasis in all my writings upon the discipline of the turbulent senses, conquest of the mind, purification of the heart, and attainment of inner peace and strength, suited to the different stages in evolution.

I have learnt that it is the foremost duty of man to learn to give, give in charity, give in plenty, give with love, give without any expectation of consequence, because one does not lose anything by giving–on the other hand the giver is given back a thousandfold. Charity is not merely an act of offering certain material goods, for charity is incomplete without charity of disposition, charity of feeling, charity of understanding, knowledge and attitude to others. Charity is self-sacrifice in different levels of one’s being. Charity in the highest sense I understand to be equivalent to Jnana-Yajna.

Similarly I consider that goodness of being and doing constitutes the rock-bottom of one’s life. By goodness I mean the capacity to feel with others and live and feel as others do, and be in a position to act so that no one is hurt by the act. Goodness is the face of Godliness. I think that to be good in reality, in the innermost recesses of one’s heart, is not easy, though it may appear to be simple as a teaching. It is one of the hardest of things on earth, if only one would be honest to oneself.

There is no physical world for me. What I see I see as the glorious manifestation of the Almighty. I rejoice when I behold the Purusha with thousands of heads and thousands of eyes and feet, that Sahasrasirsha Purusha! When I serve persons I see not the persons but Him of whom they are the limbs. I learn to be humble before the Mighty Being whose breath we breathe and whose joy we enjoy. I do not think there is anything more to teach or to learn. Here is the cream of religion, the quintessence of philosophy, that which anyone really needs.

The philosophy I hold is neither a dreamy, subjective, world-negating doctrine of illusion, nor a crude world-affirming theory of sense-ridden humanism. It is the fact of the divinity of the universe, the immortality of the soul of man, the unity of creation with the Absolute, that I feel as the only doctrine worth considering. As the one Brahman appears as the diverse universe in all the planes of its manifestation, the aspirant has to pay his homage to the lower manifestations before he steps into the higher. Sound health, clear understanding, deep knowledge, a powerful will and moral integrity are all necessary parts of the process of the realisation of the Ideal of humanity as a whole. To adjust, adapt and accommodate, to see good in everything and bring to effective use all the principles of Nature in the process of evolution towards Self-realisation along the path of an integrated adjustment of the human powers and faculties are some of the main factors that go to build up a true philosophy of life. For me philosophy is not merely a love of wisdom but actual possession of it. In all my writings I have prescribed methods for overcoming and mastering the physical, vital, mental and the intellectual layers of consciousness in order to be able to proceed with the Sadhana for self-perfection. The self-perfected ones are the sarvabhuta-hite ratah.

To behold the Atman in every being or form, to feel Brahman everywhere, at all times, and in all conditions of life, to see, hear, taste and feel everything as the Atman is my creed. To live in Brahman, to melt in Brahman and to dissolve in Brahman is my creed. By dwelling in such union, to utilise the hands, mind, senses and the body for the service of humanity, for singing the Names of the Lord, for elevating the devotees, for giving instructions to sincere aspirants and disseminating knowledge throughout the world, is my creed, if you call it one. To be a cosmic friend and cosmic benefactor, a friend of the poor, the forlorn, the helpless and the fallen is my creed. It is my sacred creed to serve sick persons, to nurse them with care, sympathy and love, to cheer the depressed, to infuse power and joy in all, to feel oneness with each and everyone, and to treat all with equal vision. In my highest creed there are neither peasants nor kings, neither beggars nor emperors, neither males nor females, neither teachers nor students. I love to live, move and have my being in this realm indescribable.

The first step is often the most difficult one. But once it is taken the rest becomes easy. There is a need for more of courage and patience on the part of people. They usually shirk, hesitate and are frightened. All this is due to ignorance of one’s true duty. A certain amount of education and culture is necessary to have a sufficiently clear grasp of one’s position in this world. Our educational system needs an overhauling, for it is now floating on the surface without touching the depths of man. To achieve this, cooperation should come not only from society but also from the Government. Success is difficult without mutual help. The head and heart should go hand in hand, and the ideal and the real should have a close relation. To work with this knowledge is Karma-Yoga. The Lord has declared this truth in the Bhagavad Gita. I pray that this supreme ideal be actualised in the daily life of every individual, and there be a veritable heaven on earth. This is not merely a wish,–this is a possibility and a fact that cannot be gainsaid. This is to be realised if life is to mean what it ought really to mean.




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