Swami Abhedananda.

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the discriminating soul. In this state the
whole aim of Hfe will be changed. If the
entire world be shaken to its very founda-
tions, it will not affect the soul which has
reached this stage.

When this state has been acquired, the
neophyte reaches the fifth stage, which is that
of enlightenment. In the course of his on-
ward progress he passes through many inter-


mediate stages, where he experiences many
wonderful powers and encounters many strange
and sometimes alluring things. If he allow
his mind to be attracted by any of those powers,
then his spiritual progress will be stopped
there. Psychic powers, such as the power of
reading the thoughts of others, of knowing
what is going on at a distance, of foreteUing
the future, of curing diseases, etc. all the
powers which are latent in every human being
come to tempt the student and drag him down-
ward. If ordinary sense-pleasures are so
powerfully attractive, how much more so will
be the new and strange temptations to which
the attainment of higher mental powers ex-
poses him! A seeker for spiritual perfection,
however, must carefully conquer those temp-
tations, or his quest will be in vain. He
should remember the parable of the woodcutter
and the Sage and march onward, without pay-
ing attention to anything outside of the ideal
he has set before himself, which is the realiza-
tion of God-consciousness.


A poor woodcutter lived in a village in
India near the outskirts of a dense forest.
He earned his living and supported his family
by selling fire-wood which he collected in
the forest. He spent his days in cutting up
branches of trees, which, after drying, he
made into a bundle. At the close of the day
he carried the bundle to the market-place
and sold it for a few cents. His whole family
depended upon those few cents for their daily
living. In this manner the poor man strug-
gled for several years. One day, as he was
coming out of the forest bending under the
heavy weight of the big bundle of fire-wood
on his back, he met a kind-hearted Sage.
The Sage, seeing his miserable condition,
spoke to him, saying: "Good man, why do
you not go onward into the deep recesses of
the forest?" The poor woodcutter replied:
**Why, Sir, I get enough wood here; what
would be the use of my going farther into
the deep forest?" Again the Sage urged

him to go farther into the woods, and thus


advising him went away. After his depart-
ure, however, the words of the Sage returned
to the mind of the woodcutter and began to
produce a deep impression. The next day,
when he came to the spot where he had seen
the Sage, he remembered the words of the
holy man and decided to make an experiment,
so he went into the denser part of the forest.
As he pushed through the tangled undergrowth,
wondering what the Sage had meant by his
advice, he suddenly smelled the sweet odor
of sandalwood, and looking about found
himself close to a sandal-tree. He was ex-
tremely delighted. He mentally thanked the
Sage, and, collecting as much sandalwood as
he could carry, brought it to the market-place
and sold the bundle for a very high price.
That evening he had more money than he
could have earned in five years if he had fol-
lowed his regular work. Next day he went
again to the forest, but he remembered the
Sage's advice and said to himself: "The

Sage did not tell me anything about sandal-


wood; he only told me to move onward."
Thus thinking, the woodcutter left the place
where he had found the sandal-tree and went
deeper into the forest. At last he came upon
a copper mine. He collected as much copper
as he could carry, and seUing it in the market-
place he got plenty of money. Next day,
still following the Sage's advice, he did not
stop at the copper mine but moved onward.
He came upon a silver mine, and carried away
with him quantities of silver, which made him
quite rich. But he did not forget the Sage's
advice to move onward. He pushed on and
on into the forest, not allowing himself to be
diverted by the many remarkable discoveries
he made on his way. At last, after passing
a gold mine, he came to a mine of diamonds
and other precious stones. Feehng sure that
this must be what the Sage intended him to
reach, he did not seek farther, but took the
jewels and ultimately became the wealthiest
man in that part of the country. Similar is

the case of the man who aspires to spiritual


perfection. The advice of all the great Sages
to seekers after spiritual wealth is to ''move
onward," and not to stop after making a
little progress, or after possessing some of
the psychic powers. Being deluded by desire
for name and fame and by ambition of various
kinds, many people mistake psychic powers
for spiritual gifts and think that if they can
cure diseases by mental means, they have
attained to spiritual perfection. The num-
ber of these self-deluded supernatural power-
mongers is daily increasing in America under
various names. If you seek spiritual per-
fection and God-consciousness, beware of
the temptations that these psychic powers
offer to the unwar}^^. None of these powers is
the sign of true spirituality. Theretore the
seeker after spiritual perfection should care-
fully overcome these obstacles in the path of
his spiritual advancement.

Those who are attached to these powers
will not attain to God-consciousness while

that attachment lasts. They keep man on


the psychic plane and delude him in such a
way that he often ceases his effort to rise
higher. These powers are described by Hindu
sages (Yogis) as far greater and more subtle
temptations than the grosser ones of a lower
plane. We ought to avoid carefully the long-
ing for such powers. Let them come if they
will; but do not seek them. They are merely
the sign-posts that mark our progress; they
are not the highest objects to be attained nor
are they of any real value in themselves. It
is better to consider them simply as obstacles
to be surmoimted. They cannot produce
any injurious effect on one who does not
forget his real goal, but steadfastly pushes on,
determined to reach the highest ideal of life
God-consciousness, constantly keeping this aim
before his mind's eye.

After conquering the temptation of psychic
powers, the true seeker after God-conscious-
ness reaches the fifth stage of spiritual unfold-
ment. His spiritual eye gradually opens, he

begins to see glimpses of the higher truth, he


knows that the soul is separate from the body;
he understands what the subtle body is;
whether the soul reincarnates or not and
whether the soul existed before his birth;
all such questions are solved in this state
of enlightenment. He finds explanations of
everything, both physical and mental, and
discovers the true relation of the soul to God.
Having attained this enlightenment, the
soul rises to a still higher plane of spiritual
unfoldm.ent. It is the sixth stage, that of
perfect spiritual illumination. Then the goal
has been reached, and even in this life, that
soul has found eternal bliss in God-conscious-
ness. This is called by various by
different philosophers and sages of different
countries. In Sanskrit it is called Sam^dhi.
The Buddhists call it Nirvana, which m.eans
the cessation of misery, sorrow, selfishness and
all other imperfections, and the attainment
of blessedness. It is not a state of nothing-
ness, as some people believe, but the attain-
ment of perfection. The Christian Mystics


of the Middle Ages described it as ecstasy,
and modem Christians call it the state of
communion with God. The name may vary,
but the state itself appears to be the same in
every case. This state is the ideal of all re-
ligions of the world. Among Christians,
Mahomedans, Buddhists, Hindus, and others,
the seekers after Truth struggle hard to at-
tain this state of superconscious reahzation,
Jesus became the Christ after attaining it,
and Sakya Muni became the Buddha or the
Enlightened. R^makrishna, the great Sage
of the nineteenth century in India, reached
that stage and is now worshipped by thou-
sands of people as an Incarnation of God upon
earth. All the great sages and prophets de-
scribed this as the highest attainment. In
this stage, the river of the higher Self, the Real
man, flows with tremendous force into the
ocean of Divinity and nothing can resist the
course of that current. The soul in each in-
dividual is constantly trying to manifest its

Divinity or true nature; and its attempts are


perfectly fulfilled when the sixth stage is
reached. In this state of realization all prob-
lems of life and death are solved, all the doubts
of the mind cease forever, and all questions are
answered. In this state one sees the under-
lying unity of the whole panorama of phenom-
ena, and the individual soul then transcends
all phenomena and their laws. When such a
man wakes up from the superconscious state
and comes down to the plane of ordinary con-
sciousness, his whole nature is transformed,
he manifests Divinity in every action of his
life and sees the same Divinity in sun, moon,
stars, in his own Self and everywhere in the
universe. He puts on his eyes new glasses,
colored, as it were, with the tinge of the divine
Spirit, and wherever he looks, he sees through
them manifestation of divinity, and that every-
thing exists in God. Many philosophers
have attained to this state. Plotinus, the
Neo-Platonist who Hved two centuries after
Christ, reached it four times in his life. Some

people are afraid of losing their individuality.



But we can never lose our individuality.
Plotinus, after reaching this state, said to his
friend Flaccus that in it we realize the Infinite
"You ask how you can know the Infinite?
I answer not by reason. It is the office of
reason to distinguish and define. The Infi-
nite cannot be ranked among its objects.
You can only apprehend the Infinite by a
faculty superior to reason, by entering into a
state in which you are your finite self no longer,
in which the divine essence is communicated
to you. This is ecstasy. It is the liberation
of your mind from its finite anxieties. Like
only apprehends the like. When you thus
cease to be finite, you become one with the
Infinite. In the reduction of your soul to its
simplest self, its divine essence, you realize
this union, nay this identity." Porphyrius
attained to this superconscious state when he
was sixty-six years old. Dionysius, who lived
in the fifth centur}^, called it the state of the
mystic union, or when the soul is united with

God. The great Christian mystic, Meister


Eckhart, who lived in the fourteenth century,
described the nature of this state of God-con-
sciousness thus: "There must be perfect still-
ness in the soul before God can whisper His
word into it, before the light of God can shine
in the Soul and transform the Soul into God.
When passions are stilled and all worldly
desires silenced, then the word of God can
be heard in the Soul." The idea is that calm-
ness of mind and concentrated attention are
needed if we wish to hear the divine word.
How can we expect to hear that divine voice
within us if our minds are disturbed with
sorrows, desires, and anxieties? We will
have to make our minds free from these for
the time being. In that peaceful state comes
revelation, and revelation or inspiration m.eans
the disclosure of the higher Spirit within us.
When that revelation comes, then we under-
stand the nature of that "Unknown and Un-
knowable," as it is called by modem science.
Then it becomes known and knowable, not by

the finite mind, but by the all-knowing Spirit.



He who has not reached this state of God-
consciousness will stumble hundreds of times
before he can grasp its meaning. He will
perhaps say : " How is it possible for the created
to be one with the Creator? " Or, perhaps he
will say: "Can a man who is a sinner by
birth ever reach such a state?" Some will
say this is the state of nothingness. Horatio
Dresser, Mr. Savage, and some others regard
it as a state of unconsciousness. A learned
professor once told me that there is no such
thing as the superconscious state. These
people cannot be convinced by arguments or
w^ords, they need to experience this in their
own souls. All great Seers of Truth have
said that there is such a state. It is not trance,
nor catalepsy, nor is it a state of hypnotic sleep.
In that superconscious state the whole nature
is transformed. The man who has reached
it no longer lives as he did before; he is illu-
minated, and his face is radiant with divine
glory. His sight changes into spiritual sight.
He may have been a dualist before and may



have believed that God was outside of the
universe, but now he sees God everywhere.
Becoming dead to selfishness, he sees the
all-pervading divine will as working in the
universe, and he thinks no more of his will as
separate from the universal will. He has
reached spiritual perfection who, having sur-
rendered his own will to the universal divine
will, keeps quiet Uke a leaf that has fallen
from a tree. When the wind blows, the dead
leaf is moved and carried from place to place;
in like manner, when the truly spiritual man
has become dead to selfishness and remains
tranquil, the wind of the eternal will of God
moves his mind and body. The mind and
body of such a man become the instrument
and playground of the Almighty will. This
is the seventh and final stage of spiritual
unfoldment. It is called in Sanskrit Jivan
Mukti, salvation in this life. The soul has now
become a Christ, or a Buddha. Both these
words signify the highest spiritual state of God-
consciousness and not any particular person.


If it be claimed that such a state is impos-
sible to attain, how then can the claim be made
that Jesus the Christ was conscious of his
divine nature? He is the foundation upon
which the fabric of Christianity has been
built, and he showed evidences of supercon-
sciousness or God-consciousness. Some people
may despise this state and call such teaching
mysticism. If this be a mystical state, then
Jesus was a great mystic, because he was con-
scious of his divine nature, and his religion is
founded upon mysticism. If Jesus attained
to that God-consciousness, then every indi-
vidual may do so; he was not an exception, as
some people may think. In fact, each one of
us is bound to attain to that state. No one
will be lost. There are various paths through
which that God-consciousness can be gained.
If we make God- consciousness the highest
ideal of life, keep our minds open to truth,
and do not blindly follow any teachings but
use our common sense and reason, then sin-
cerity and earnestness guided by proper exer-


cise of reason and earnest search after truth
under the directions of a truly spiritual teacher,
will assuredly lead us through all these stages
to the state of God-consciousness and spiritual
perfection. If you wish to attain to that state
in this life and to live like a master on the
spiritual plane, and not as a slave of sense-
pleasures, you will have first to control the
animal nature by the higher nature. The
higher nature is already within you. Realize
it. Control your lower mind and passions
for the time being, then you will be able to
live on the spiritual plane as the master over
sense-pleasures. If you cannot Hve such a
life, seek the company of those who are
their own masters. Through association their
life will reflect upon yours. You may say:
"Where shall we find such characters?" If
it be difficult for you to find such a character,
then take an ideal life and follow that ideal and
try to become like it. If you have faith in
Jesus the Christ, keep that ideal before your

mind. Take his life as a model and try to


live up to it. Do not listen to anybody's ex-
planation of your ideal. Throw aside all
theology, dogma, superstition and the scheme
of salvation formulated by the priests, and
try to live as Jesus lived. All explanations
will come to you from within. If you can-
not do that and still believe in God and in
prayer, then worship God and pray to Him
for this God-consciousness. Your prayer will
be fulfilled. If you do not believe in God
or in prayer, and do not care to follow the life
of Jesus, your path will be entirely different
from that of the believer. Still, do not despair,
there are other ways. You do not have to
believe in God, or worship Christ. Seek the
Truth and try to realize the unchangeable
reality of the universe; to discriminate the
changeable from the unchangeable, the spir-
itual from the material. The power of dis-
crimination exists already in your soul. You
need not go begging for right knowledge.
Open your mental eye and see what is spirit,

what is matter; whether spirit is the result of


matter, and whether this life is the result of
chance or of law. If you cannot discriminate
in this way, strive to know who and what you
are and what is your relation to the universe.
If you think that this is not easy, then do
unselfish works, work for work's sake without
thinking of the results. Whenever you work
in your every-day Hfe, think that you are pay-
ing off your debts, as it were, and not working
to gain anything. Do your duty in the best
possible way, and do not worry about the re-
sults- If this seem.s to be difficult, then try
to love all living creatures as you love your-
self. If you think that you cannot do this
easily and successfully, then try to concentrate
your mind on your higher nature, or take one
sacred word or one holy idea and meditate
on that. There are hundreds of ways by
which one can attain to God- consciousness
and spiritual perfection. There are as many
ways to Truth as there are individuals who
seek it. This is the peculiarity of the teach-
ings of the Vedanta philosophy it does not


offer a single method only and then con-
demn all others. It says that each individual
must suit himself or herself according to the
powers, tendencies, and capacities )f the in-
dividual ego. That path which is good for
one individual may not be so for another.
We have to start from where we are now stand-
ing. Each one of us is at a certain stage or
rung of the ladder of evolution. Such being
the fact, each must take the path suited to
his nature and follow it sincerely, and must
not let his mind be muddled by the opinions
of other people. We must use our own rea-
soning powers and common sense, which is
the best sense we have. Then the Hght of
spiritual illumination will gradually dawn
upon the horizon of our souls and we shall be
able to see things as they are. On the con-
trary, if we are guided by the opinions of
others, we shall not gain much. There are
thousands of preachers, philosophers, min-
isters, and priests in the world; each one of
them is tiying to impress upon the minds of


his hearers that his path is the best and the
only right one. Now, who shall decide which
is right? We cannot decide upon the highest
until we attain to the highest, because our
decision always depends upon certain stand-
ards, which again are subject to change; that
which seems to be the highest to-day may not
seem so to-morrow. Only that man who
has attained to the highest standard of life
can say which is the highest and best in reality.
All the greatest sages and wise men of the
world, however, although they lived at differ-
ent times and in different countries, are unani-
mous in declaring that the state of God-
consciousness is the highest. Whenever they
describe it they are unanimous in their de-
scription. The statements of Christ, Buddha,
and Krishna, of Plotinus, Eckhart, R4ma-
krishna, etc., are without material differ-
ences. They all teach that there is one uni-
versal goal for all the seekers after truth, and
that that goal is the attainment of God- con-
sciousness. It is the highest ideal of all re-


ligions. It makes no difference whether we
belong to this sect or that denomination.
SpirituaHty can never be confined within any
sect, creed, or denomination, nor can it be
limited by any organized religion. It de-
pends entirely upon the evolution of the inner
nature of the apparent man. The religion
which does not teach it, which does not say
that God-consciousness is for every individual,
irrespective of caste, creed, or nationality,
is not worthy to be called a rehgion. Such
reHgions are artificial and consequently use-
less. Vedanta is not a dry systerr of specu-
lative philosophy, as some think, but its ideal
is to make each individual soul reach the
state of spiritual perfection; to bring each
soul face to face with eternal Truth. Accord-
ing to Vedanta, each soul will attain to the
state of God-consciousness, sooner or later,
by the process of spiritual evolution. "Even
if the greatest sinner, who has sinned for a
hundred incarnations, can realize his divine
nature for even one half second, he shall be


free from all sins, he shall be pure, perfect,

and godly in this life. Whosoever reaches

the state of Samadhi, or God-consciousness,

becomes one with God."

How to be a Yogi, (^'ft** Edition.)


I. Introductory. III. Science of Breathing.

11. What is Yoga? IV. Was Christ a Yogi?

12mo, i88 pages. Portrait of author, frontispiece.
Cloth, $1.25. Postage, 8 cents.

* For Christians interested in foreig^n missions this book is of
moment, as showing the method of reasoning which they must be
prepared to meet if they are to influence the educated Hindu. To
the OrientaHst, and the philosopher also, the book is not without
interest. . . . Swami Abhedananda preaches no mushroom creed
and no Eurasian hybrid ' theosophy.' He aims to give us a com-
pendious account of Yoga. Clearly and admirably he performs his
task. In form ihf. little book is excellent, and its English style is
good." New York Times Saturday Review o/Books^ Dec. 6, 1902.

* How to be a Yogi ' is a little volume that makes very interest-
ing reading. The book contains the directions that must be fol-
lowed in physical as well as in mental training by one who wishes
to have full and perfect control of all his powers." Record'
Herald^ Chicago, Feb. 28, 1903.

*' The Swfimi writes in a clear, direct manner. His chapter on
Breath will elicit more than ordinary attention, as there is much in
it that will prove helpful. The book makes a valuable addition to
Vedanta Philosophy." Mind^ June, 1903.

**The book is calculated to interest the student of Oriental
thought and familiarize the unread with one of the greatest philo-
sophical systems of the world." Buffalo Courier^ Nov. 23, 1902,

How to be a Yogi * practically sums up the whole science of
Vedanta Philosophy. The term Yogi is lucidly defined and a full
analysis is given of the science of breathing and its bearing on the
highest spiritual development. The methods and practices of Yoga
are interestingly set forth, and not the least important teaching of
the book is the assertion of how great a Yogi was Jesus of Naz-
areth." The Bookseller, Newsdealer and Stationer, }?Ln. 15, 1903.

" This book is well worth a careful reading. Condensed, yet
^ar and concise, it fills one with the desire to ere.uiate these Yogis
lu auainiog spiritual perfection." /iiiX)', Kansas City, Dec, 1900.

NOTE: Postage is subject to Parcel Post rates according to zones

All orders received by and money orders and checks made
payable to


Viesi Cornwall, Conn.

Great Saviors of the World

rvoi. I.)



Cloth, ;^i.oo net. Postage, 6 cents. Portrait
of each Savior.

I. Great Saviors of the World (Introductory.)
II. Krishna and His Teachings.

III. Zoroaster and His Teachings.

IV. Lao-Tze and His Teachings.

"These studies are scholarly and comprehensive reviews of
historic fact. They are also broad and open interpretations of moral
and spiritual forces. The author's attitude is reverent toward all.
His mind is free. His speech is peculiarly impressive. Surely, it
speaks well for the world that its people can look without bitterness

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Online LibrarySwami AbhedanandaVedânta philosophy; three lectures on spiritual unfoldment → online text (page 4 of 5)