Samsaro and Nirvana
As described in spiritual teachings of Orient, all cosmic realities can be classified as samsaric and nirvanic. Samsaric phenomena are all those that exist in the cosmos, whereas nirvanic is only the milieu, the physical field or the visual emptiness, in which phenomena can appear. That means that whatever has a form or limitation belongs to samsaro; nirvanic is only the cosmic void that provides for the phenomena milieu, in which existence is possible because phenomena must have dimensions.
This concept of samsaro and nirvana is a physical [interpretation]. It involves factors natural, mechanical – in contrast to circumstances existing in the microcosm, mainly in the realm of biological phenomena; the latter blend more or less together, thus forming sort of compact units that are definitely living existences. They can be divided or categorized into qualities, of which many form bodies, and the other spirit, the sphere of psychical constituents.
The phenomena of the psychical sphere can also be categorized; however, not statistically or in a laboratory but so that the subject itself distinguishes them. It is necessary to identify consciousness, mind, reason, sentiment, instinct, and manifestations of atavisms exactly as specifically manifested energies. It is the only way to recognize that these psychical constituents are a variation of influence of this energy and thus also of its manifestations. Consciousness isn’t from this standpoint nothing other than mind; mind in turn not other than reason; reason is in a certain manifestation sentiment; sentiment equals instinct, and instinct is again a manifestation of atavisms.
The "biological phenomenon" human can be a being samsaric or nirvanic according to whether his/her mind and consciousness are filled with ideas of objects pertaining to the outer world or, conversely, with that emptiness, in which cosmic phenomena exist. Mental faculties or their further development in form of improving and expanding intellect, alone cannot make man nirvanic. Although from the psychological viewpoint, consciousness, reason, and mind are relatively very close to the nirvanic states and qualities, there are obstacles here to attaining nirvanic qualities as they can assume the role of the highest psychological qualities only in the secondary order. It is because they are used almost exclusively for orientation in the world of samsaric events and so they are modified into media [that are] potentially worldly. In order that the mental factors keep the character of nirvanic phenomena they must be freed from the role of mediators of relations for an individualized unity called human; to achieve this the [mental factors] need to be purified from remnants of perception [imprints the percepts leave in one’s mind] in the form of persisting sensory impressions, even though they can only be objects of memory. That is only possible provided the process of perceiving sensory phenomena [or impressions from them] is discontinued or cancelled by discipline of non-perceiving that has, of course, been perfected by psychical relation to the cosmic void. Only then will the inflow of samsaric perceptions into the consciousness be stopped. Ordinary people cannot observe this inflow as they are too much desensitized mentally or obscured by longing for those perceptions and by being satisfied if they last.
Consciousness, reason, and mind can become nirvanic only when they are protected from usual worldly percepts and consequences of those. Then there will be no more obstacles to development of the subjective feeling of mental freedom, which in the final result is nirvana.
Contents of consciousness, reason and mind are rooted as deep as in the sphere of feelings. Therefore the discipline providing the purification of consciousness, mind, and reason must affect primarily feelings. Generally regarded this discipline begins by cultivating and maintaining cheerful mood until [the moment when] cheerfulness becomes the permanent state mechanically influencing the consciousness of man. This cheerfulness does not allow arising of gloominess in [man’s] mind and consciousness. Man begins to be a true optimist; he does not have in mind fighting for things of sensual pleasure any more; instead, he is simply permanently happy.
The tendencies to fight disappear from the mind of such a person. This already is the essence of personal happiness and purity of consciousness, reason and mind as is required by the teaching on attaining the nirvanic state. As we can see, the causes of it are psychological not external. People are gloomy or lean towards the harmony of relaxed condition exactly according to the inclinations of their spirit, which does not need to be in harmony with their outer, material, or social conditions.
It seems that man cannot dictate his/her outer life story albeit it is claimed by fantasists that reckon themselves to be illumined rationalists. On the other hand, man can change his/her subjective life course by appropriate effort to alter the contents of his/her mind and consciousness; thus a pessimist can become an optimist; an optimist can assert himself/herself in the world easier exactly for his/her optimism. It does not apply to life story arising from social integration that is given by birth, upbringing, education and training to some profession. But man is not granted life course only in this area. Social integration is also of importance in his/her life; there are people popular and unpopular, which has its roots in their optimistic or sullen minds.
Spiritual teachings of Orient aim always at assertion societal rather than social. A man who has come out of poverty can hardly seek to excel in the social sphere, except as one who cares only for his/her own welfare that he/she pursues in an utterly ruthless or unscrupulous way. On the other hand, he/she is able, by discipline consisting in changing the contents of his/her mind and consciousness, to improve his/her subjective condition at exactly this level and in this way to become pleasant and so create for himself/herself "better opportunities" in the social sphere.
But this is an earthly aspect of this activity; it is not primary for Buddhists – they see their happiness much higher, where mind and consciousness are free from all traces of gloominess and materialistic ideas, which will lead especially to unfolding transcendental qualities in the mind and consciousness. By cultivating these man changes himself/herself from the very basis. His intellect develops, the contents of his/her mind and consciousness changes, his/her intellect gets sharper, and radiance in his/her heart intensifies, which lets him/her cast light into all problems and occurrences of life.
So, this is the question of individuals being samsaric or nirvanic. What is decisive here are inner values of beings; they are samsaric if their minds gravitate towards phenomena of the outer world or, nirvanic if their consciousness canalizes all psychic energies into their hearts that are always identical with the emptiness of the universe. The body follows the tendency of mind and consciousness. In samsaric creatures all energies of being have a centrifugal (i.e. outward-moving) tendency. This is why even the bodily existence as a process is directed outwards, towards the world of material phenomena, which causes that the whole samsaric being is gradually emanated into the outer world and thus becomes merely a formation conditioned by fiction, which is afflicted by permanent instability of all constituents forming his/her existence.
In nirvanic entities all energies of existence have a centripetal (i.e. inward-moving) tendency. Therefore the self of these beings finds in itself everything causing pleasure that it could search for somewhere outside. In this way they achieve contentment, which – as yogic scriptures have it – begins so that the nirvanic beings rejoice at their selves.
Now it is obvious that samsaric and nirvanic qualities can be found on the one hand in the cosmos, on the other hand in cosmic phenomena. In the cosmos the phenomena are samsaric whereas the cosmic void is nirvanic. In the phenomena, samsaric are phenomena’s bodies while nirvanic their psychical faculties that are shaped by their contents. These contents, however, strengthen samsaric existence if they are used as mediators of imaginary relations of a self-aware individual to the surrounding world. Nirvanic existence, in turn, is strengthened if the contents concentrate on themselves. But not in the form of self-confidence of people [that are] vain about the price of their selves but, on the contrary, if they orient themselves on these psychical dispositions as on gradually developing, but in character nirvanic, phenomena.
Psychic dispositions must also be discerned as constituents being in process because only in this manner they turn up to be identical with cosmic spheres that are always celestial spheres.
Hells as cosmic spheres are identical with the phenomena of the region of feelings, instincts and atavisms. Exactly these dispositions are energy factors that make consciousness, reason and mind slaves of animal heat manifested in lusts. Who is burdened with lusts is always unhappy; lusts permanently grow and so they cannot be quenched. Only by exploring the sentimental, instinctive, and atavistic levels Brahmanism identified existence of spheres of experiencing as heavens and hells. Happy feelings correspond always to heavens of various levels, whereas feelings that are not happy are equivalent to "purgatories". Instincts and atavisms match always with hells; instincts with so-called red hells, atavisms with black [hells]. In the former, suffering and generally tribulations prevail; the latter are reigned by predominantly ignorance as the cause of all evil.
Buddhism with its practice in observing the body found beside heavens and hells also spheres that from the standpoint of feelings are over-sensational [spheres]. Although reason and consciousness are spheres of actually exclusively celestial experiencing, yet this experiencing cannot be put among sentimental motions and excitements but maybe only among reactions to perceiving psychic radiance. This perception that nowhere stumbles on a shape that would be subjected to natural laws, especially to gravitation, provides awareness of freedom that grows in exact proportion to expanding space of ordinary awareness. At the highest degree the expansion of common awareness or self-awareness leads to identification of boundlessness as the absolute, in which no supports exist for existence and so where existence in our conception does not exist.
Through the state of maximally extended ordinary awareness or self-awareness the state of salvation is realized as it is defined in Buddhism, viz. nirvana as the state of a fully realized Buddhist before his/her physical death and as the state of consciousness after his/her death, which is denoted as parinirvana. In this state, in parinirvana, there is no reference point or a precondition for self-awareness in the form of the origin of a new samsaric process as a series of reincarnations. This series is always beginning anew when the longing for living or being is not exhausted and when that longing is then reflected in wanting to live and to be. It is something that everybody easily succumbs to if he/she is not thoroughly fascinated by the emptiness of the absolute but only by outer phenomena and states of unique existence.
However, in Buddhism the notion of nirvana and samsaro does not refer to the projected states of existence. All levels of existence, from the deepest infernal up to the highest celestial, are divided on the basis of states of consciousness, which man must necessarily get into if he/she strives to suppress the functions of mind, consciousness, feeling, incentives, and generally all mental movements. The objective effort to achieve peace of mind is always reflected in changes of the states of consciousness, the true nature of which cannot for a long time be recognized. After some time those states can be observed; discernment of them is only possible at the next stage of progress in this direction.
By discerning the states of consciousness and feelings one gets to knowing of the spheres of experiencing, i.e. celestial, infernal, astral, etc. [spheres]. This is, however, no longer knowledge of those spheres as states purely sentimental, experiential and clearly crystallizing states of consciousness but as states objectified in the appropriate cosmic spheres as in firmly shaped worlds. Man at the level of this knowledge finds himself/herself on the margin of uncertainty as to what exactly are the individual life and the outer life that manifest itself in the cosmic space. Personality in the traditional conception cannot be found here. Individual and outer lives blend together so much that the boundary line between them can no longer be surely detected. This is also experience with the existence of general relativity of reality.
An experienced yogi wants to touch with his consciousness his/her body as a physical formation and instead [he/she] will find himself/herself in indefinity where only by exerting mental effort he/she can distinguish peripheral factors of his/her being from the factors of the cosmic reality. This happens as far as on the border of always valid correlations between the constituents of the subject and the object which finally merge in one unit, whereas the subjects’ existence is enabled exclusively by adequate realizations of the idea "my" and "not-my".
This is a manifestation of reality by the strongest standards, indeed. That "self" and "the world" merge in one so that personal views have no meaning and man as an individual can no longer distinguish himself/herself from the all-existence. And his mental and feeling states emerge in his/her perception as a process of literally rolling, continuous creation, the character of which is here samsaric and there nirvanic, according to what the phenomena of that creation absorb as their perceptional phenomena, values and qualities. And the yogi himself becomes in this moment a pilgrim through spheres with their specific contents that are reflected in perception and experiencing of the dwellers of those spheres.
If someone becomes such a pilgrim, then his/her main psychic disposition is discrimination. His/her emotional component does not resonate in harmony with the states of the spheres through which he/she is just passing so that he/she is but perceiving them. With this he/she is bringing the discriminating component of the being to the cognition that feeling states as well as phenomena of his outer world are correlatives being manifested here as a process of personal experiencing and elsewhere as the world of outer, so-called objective, phenomena. And even states of consciousness will show they are other manifestation of existing objective spheres. Then it is easy to arrive at the knowledge of the buddhist " trilokyam", the three-world, the lowest aspect of which is actually the world of atavisms and instincts and at a higher degree the world of feelings. The higher aspect of feelings is impersonal and differentiated states of consciousness, the highest aspect of this three-world are states of so-called clear consciousness. These last-mentioned states can be differentiated only on the basis of remnants of ideas that the world left in him as objects cemented by impressions in the time of [his/her] ignorance.
Those remnants can be cleared only by further purging of consciousness with the help of desired [deliberate] percepts of the absolute. When the emptiness finally gains control over the whole field of the personal consciousness, nothing differentiated can survive in consciousness – this is the way towards realization of the emptiness of consciousness, which is at the opposite side of the fullness [of consciousness] in the form of perceptions of phenomena. Then the pilgrim sees the creation process as rolling quanta of physical aggregates, as phenomena containing either nirvanic or samsaric contents – the samsaric contents as the celestial, earthly or infernal worlds, or actually as worlds of demonic nature.
In that last, lowest region the pilgrim through the spheres of existence finds formations in the form of creatures that fully succumb to stimuli from tendencies of the creation process, through which they were created or, in other words, from the tendencies of the creation process. This process is affected by no mercifulness. We find cosmic phenomena being in the permanent pressure of gravitational influence that changes the structure of these phenomena from stellar nebulae to various solar systems. Their bodies, viz. suns and planets, are crushed by outer gravitation until they become cosmic dust again. This dust will assemble anew to create a basis for the formation of new solar systems. The same situation is in the formations of the lowest samsaric world, as the relations between them and their surroundings are crushed, until they finally disperse into biological substrata that are once again transformed into biological phenomena.
Psychic factors as mental dispositions and faculties in the mentioned phenomena are actually in no relations to the cosmic void nor do they communicate with it. They serve them only for self-defence, especially in the form of escapes from unfavourable conditions. This is why the vitality of these biological phenomena [formations] is so low, primitive, and does not allow them any pleasure as is always possible only in connection with mental relaxation.
At the second stage of this samsaric sphere there are formations that are propelled by more aggressive drives. These are naraka, hells, where there is no more such unconditional dullness and darkness predominating; intellect in the creatures or formations of this sphere gets manifested in higher aggressiveness of their instincts. That is why here the sense of touch is not applied so unconditionally as a mentally grasping ability, and consciousness manifests itself rather in the will to gain satisfaction of instinctive or even emotional passions. Thus these naraka are no more "black" but only "red" hells. The shine of intellect is in this sphere suppressed by the awareness of lusts. This might be psychologically assessed as an appropriate aspect of spiritual life; however, there is not enough space for the state of liberating awareness here.
Immediately above this samsaric region is the sphere of human beings: phenomena or creatures existing on the boundary of life unreservedly yielding to impulses of animal vitality, and life, the conditions of which are favourable for unfolding of consciousness, a quality that belongs to transcendental rather than vital spheres. Therefore the human beings can exhibit life that is unconditionally samsaric or, to a certain degree, also nirvanic. Their reason and consciousness can, by excluding the contents of percepts of "created" things, develop within themselves qualities of the "super-created", i.e. various aspects of differentiating emptiness. It is a precondition for arising experiences of happiness springing from mental freedom that is always included within reason and consciousness as qualities of the created.
However, there are also people who use consciousness and intellect purely for orientation in the sphere of things, i.e. phenomena of the external world. Due to this tendency they do not know the feeling of mental freedom but only questionable pleasures springing from satisfying individual and sensuous lusts. Because consciousness and reason (intellect) are sufficiently isolated from the material of their bodies and from instincts, they fall a victim to an assumption that they understand the questions of life, although they are interested in only gratifying their own passions. These people consider the "purification" of consciousness and reason, by means of volitionally eliminating percepts that inspire these beings to aggressiveness of instincts, for unreasonable and unnatural behaviour; they see it as life that has not hit its natural goal and purpose. They do not understand that this goal means only applying a principle of enjoying pleasures; it is actually no goal whatsoever but simply a result of life process that has not been directed by anything valuable that their wills would pinpoint for them. If they do understand it, then only as a philosophy that is hostile towards them. This is the reason why people cannot agree with each other on the "purpose of life and work".
Now, we should not waste too much time talking about people. The states of consciousness above the human level, which result from the process of purification [of consciousness], can be graded further, albeit they already take place in the over-conscious sphere of the common human life. Who has left the condition of an "experiencer" and has become an observer, will find in states of his/her consciousness, that are being divided, the awareness of exhilarating mental relaxation that is evidently tinged with joyful feelings. Therefore this state, or this phase of spiritual development, is identified as the paradisiacal state. In the cosmological conception [it is identified] as contents of life experiencing or life conditions inherent to angelic beings; in the oriental interpretation as life conditions of devic world (deva-world) [devic: derived from the Sanskrit word deva – (usu. lower) god, godhead, deity]. However, as the feeling (experiencing) in that state is really intense, explorers in the area of spiritual states consider this level as insufficient and unsatisfactory. Thus they strive for excluding emotional incentives that intrude into consciousness, which in the next phase of the spiritual development leads to identification of states of consciousness, which are more purified from feelings. But also these states are attained by stages; feeling states that electrify the body are ceasing and, instead, states of bliss are arising.
Blissful states differ from joyfulness the way that the former are internal flushes that are closer to ecstasy rather than to physical excitement, however subtle and practically non-bodily they might be. They are rather stirs of mind which incite to the flight to the endless space. During that flight all ties of consciousness with the outer world disappear so what remains or prevails is only a state of freedom filling consciousness and mind with bliss.
Here we reach the threshold of divine worlds, specifically the Brahmic ones. Brahma is a state that is permanently creative, which at the level of the human consciousness is manifested as happiness resulting from expanding vitality and optimism. In the spiritual-developing process the one going through the Brahmic sphere and Brahmic states perseveres in the extrovert radiation of vitality in the condition of uninterrupted optimism; any crisis burdening the man stops. At the same time the outer world does not touch him/her subjectively, except in the form of further stimuli to the creative optimism that at the human level can manifest itself only by cheerful "to want and to be".
But in the spiritual-developing process based on descending through the layers of the being to the centre [of those layers] the progress does not end by attaining the Brahmic states. These states mean only achieving the peak of development of consciousness that so far has been remaining conceptually on the boundary between definite or constrained perception and so-called limitless perception. Therefore it is sufficient to suppress perception of what tends to appear as phenomena or states of concrete phenomena and concepts, and consciousness will immediately come over to the spheres of phenomena indefinite, unbounded, supersensory, transcendental, into the over-brahmic world.
It is only in this world where cheerfulness vanishes, which, though gently yet identifiably makes the physical beingness of the one who has achieved that state vibrate, and what begins to emerge are states of consciousness which vary from each other in their range, extent, and quality, the extent of which is more or less good. In the same way as the one who has achieved those stages on the boundary of the phenomena differentiated and non-differentiated dwells in the state ofbrahma, then the one who transcends that state will perceive nothing but the non-differentiated, the limitless space in the outer interpretation; boundlessness of consciousness in the psychological interpretation; or infinite void at a lower stage during the further progress; or he/she finds himself/herself on the boundary of possible perception or non-perception at a higher stage of this advancement. And two realities constantly mingle here – namely experiencing all those states (i) as psychical states or (ii) as a reflection of outer realities affecting in this way consciousness of the one who advances to the highest possible state of the natural psychic development.
In no case can this progression be pictured as a "journey through the spheres". It is primarily evolution belonging to the area of possible development (expansion) of states of consciousness. Therefore this whole "journey" is actually a methodical purification of consciousness from the contents that the outer world delivers it because [consciousness] is oriented to this world.
Once man realizes this fact, he/she regards then the progressing purification of consciousness to be work carried out on his/her own person. And if he/she resists the temptation to take the emerging visions and states for mere stages on the path of this purification, he/she will never lapse into a false opinion to consider himself/herself a "small human" who is suddenly going through various spheres of the outer world. He/she considers himself/herself one who goes through transformations of the states and qualities of his/her consciousness. Then one day it will dawn upon him/her that those states and qualities are never only subjective processes. What’s more, they are also reflections of the outer spheres on which he/she takes no stand as an experiencer because he/she deliberately proceeds to the absolute purification of consciousness.
In this way he/she will exclude the outer world from the set of phenomena affecting his/her person and will stay with the successive purification of his/her own consciousness, from which he/she will eventually profit the Emptiness. The Emptiness which is absence of any contents of consciousness and thus an evident experience of the absolute release of oneself from the opposites that we call our own being on the one side and the outer world on the other.
That exactly is the freedom that is not granted but gained by the correct effort, by purifying consciousness, emptying oneself from all psychical factors that are still existing and still subsiding percepts. What is disappearing is belief or disbelief in realities of the visible and invisible world, accepting or non-accepting some truths, the conviction that there are or are not some worlds that are other than so-called ours. Any possibility of being influenced by percepts of whatever outer world is vanishing because behind everything that man knows there is personal experience that there are a subject and objects that are identical or different only on the basis of opinions that man accepted but not created by himself/herself, for he/she lives like an animal, viz., exclusively through reflexes of psychic aptitudes exactly distinguishing between "I" and "it".
There is, of course, a way to achieve this supreme personal experience that is preceded by cognition of all existing spheres of life – here as worlds of being, there as states of consciousness. It is not a path leading vertically up from the human state to cognition of realities and to achieving experiences, nor is it a way going forward, but [a way] inwards, through all layers of being, downwards to its centre. And man passes this way by his/her awareness. He/she begins from the outermost periphery, from the empirical realities, one component of which is his/her body as a phenomenon identifiable by senses.
From the standpoint of psychology, as is obvious from the hitherto presented description, one begins with observing one’s body. It is not an uneasy method. However, it requires a strict discipline that shall prevent flightiness of mind. But people are not disciplined; as I have found out in those I have guided on the mystical path – and they have been many because I have been carrying out this task for more that 45 years.
Although I have acted very carefully when introducing every individual to this path of knowledge of nature, themselves and the world, it has been an exception rather than a rule if I succeeded in bringing somebody to the real observation of his/her body. Although those people were trying to observe their bodies, yet within a short time they would abandon this activity to follow some other idea spontaneously emerging in them; they would elaborate this thought into theories and dreams that could never contribute to their advancement on the path to knowledge. However, there have been also other: the ones who have critically paid attention if what I was advising corresponded to what they have themselves approved as the right pursuit.
How could they, under those circumstances, have achieved knowledge and absolutely correct discrimination of either states of their consciousness or cosmic reflections of those states, namely divine and non-divine, infernal or over-divine, spheres?
Maybe it is because people feel offended by such a simple method, the goal of which is the absolute knowledge and liberation, namely that observation of one’s body and, besides, its distal parts (legs). Such people think they are worthy of a "nobler" path, a path consisting of speculations, out of which they will eventually get a core of genuine knowledge in that they will find something that no one other has found yet.
But the mystical path is not a path of quarrels and disputes for truths or untruths. Knowledge is exclusively a fruit of observing that is free of any speculations. Observing one’s body, the distal parts, legs, is to be an activity to which nothing else is affiliated. Only in this way this observing turns into discerning concentration, the intensity of which grows successively stronger until it eventually begins to go through all levels of existence into their real centre.
A novice on this path and in this practical teaching cannot take the observation of the body otherwise than observing the body’s surface that he/she perceives with his/her eyesight. Only increasing intensity of that observation, which will gradually become introvert concentration of all mental energies, will help overcome the barrier of the surface perceived by the eyes; this is the beginning of the psychic interiorization process. And it is here that everybody comes across mystical experiences that are absolutely valid because they happen always and without exception in everyone who traverses this way of knowledge.
The fact that some people follow the mystical path their way does not mean anything. "Their specific way of work" implies in this case that the man "shoots arrows of his/her focusing mind" into various layers of his/her being in a random and unmethodical way, whereby he/she causes diverse reactions and perceptions that usually change the order of cognition of himself/herself and the world. One person arrives in this way first at unfolding of intense feelings of apparently over-sensual sort, another comes to various findings that have their origin in speculations, and some other again unfolds visions, the value of which is truly questionable.
Observing the body, specifically the legs, is certainly an uninteresting activity. One cannot achieve anything through it, except for more and more perfect observing. At a certain degree that observation will penetrate into the area [layer] under the skin; here begins yoga oflaya. However, the immediate experience with this observation of the body can in non-experienced disciples arouse fear of mental stupefaction that might emerge from work of such kind. In fact nothing similar can happen. The observation can become more profound and more focused but if one cares about permanently noting sensual percepts of the outer world, then focusing on the body and monitoring the sensual perception of outer phenomena is sufficient to ensure further advancement in registering all that happens during this practice.
It is necessary that the progress towards knowledge has character of integral effort that is based exactly on combining the observation of the body with thoroughly watchful paying attention to sensual percepts of phenomena of the outer world. For that matter, it is only in this way that everybody can advance so that he/she will register, I should say, every single step on the path of his/her knowledge. Only if one loses control over wakefulness, he/she is leaving the path of knowledge and entering the path of experiencing, in this conception experiencing that is very intense and will absorb every possibility of control over one’s advancement.
The combination of observation of the body and the control over watchfulness resembles the advancement of the left and the right leg. It can never happen that man, under these circumstances, sinks into groping or wandering of mind somewhere in the area of questionable, though sometimes pleasant ideas. One must never forget that the path to knowledge is safe only provided that man who set out on this journey slides never, not for a moment, into experiencing instead of sticking to the method of observing.
Who will pierce by intensity of concentration, which has been brought about by observing the body, under the skin, so to say, he/she will arrive at auditory effects, through which nature or even the universe announce their creative activity. During this penetration one can hear sounds of the "cosmic wind" manifested as a whistle and gradually as a collapsing system of the Created, which is usually as deafening as dreadful.
Here the tendency of the penetration of the mind is usually not changing so more lower layers are beginning to be heard. This will bring about peace of mind as an opposite to or a consequence of previous mental movements. Concentration is thus becoming more profound and perfect.
Nevertheless, let us come back to the beginning of this practice.
It is very interesting to see that hardly someone is able to bring the observation of his/her body up to the mentioned result. More probably he/she will confuse this observing of the body with concentration of mind, by means of which the unfolding of ideas and speculations is over and over again kindled. And these ideas and speculations will prevent him/her from getting experience from advancing and deepening concentration induced by the body observation. Escape from observing the body then becomes for such people a custom that will no more allow them to bring their minds to composure. One speculates "all around" about nothing or apparent something. In reality it is wandering of mind, though of other sort than which we see in people thinking automatically and continuously about phenomena of the world of outer things.
Now, let us assume that someone will successfully overcome this tendency, which is actually a weakness, and then will continue the commenced path that starts by observing one’s body. He/she will, after penetration of the observing mind "into the sub-skin layer” of his/her being, come to the space we recognize as the creative cosmos. However, it is not the cosmos of material phenomena but that of creative forces at work, the primary of which are those forming the so-called astral world. It is so obvious that a bad analyst regards the last mentioned world as the world of initiation, albeit it is merely a sphere of realities not yet matured into matter. Regarded from the cosmic perspective it is firstly the world of stellar clouds and possibly nebulae, which only in the course of time develop into phenomena that are solidly material.
From the viewpoint of psychical realities and factors "the sub-skin layer" represents the astral world, the world of formations, the leading spiritual disposition of which is feeling. Feeling in turn is another manifestation of the sense of touch, then in the realm of creation a manifestation of substances that can be well classified as primordial matter, the initial condition of biological existence. Therefore, if one going this path of interiorization has already developed deeper vision, which must always evolve during a longer practice of body observing, he/she can, from the superficial standpoint, conclude quite reliably that he/she has just entered the astral world, the sphere of astral phenomena and beings.
Here, at this degree of self-observing practice his/her perception has pierced as deeply as to the roots of individual living realities that, of course, are not guided by higher mental abilities like e.g. reason and thought but merely by the selective ability of feeling, otherwise always just groping sentiment. That can surely arouse aversion particularly in those who gravitate to higher mental faculties and accept these [faculties] as demonstrably higher dispositions of an advanced human soul. Nevertheless, during the advancement of the observing force of man [who is] going his/her way to the centre of his/her own being, no layer being known by identifying its phenomena, contents, and values can be avoided. In the "sub-skin layer" one simply finds the sense of feeling, and it is only his/her task to go through that sphere without being attached to anything that exists there.
In this way the increasing body-observing power will penetrate as deeply as to the sphere of bodily organs, which corresponds to the domain of heroes. Here dwell devas and devatas. Devas as beings or entities with radiating bodies but their mental dispositions are not above-average in relation to the human ones. These beings are similar to the Olympian gods, on the whole just endowed with human features, imperfections, and inclinations. That is why here the pilgrim on his way to the centre of his/her being cannot yet learn anything to become wise.
Only then when the observation [that has been] changed into self-observing has become even more profound, the pilgrim finds himself beyond the boundaries of the mechanically creative cosmos, in the realm of the light buddhi or buddho. From the psychological point of view it is in the first phase the sphere of the mental faculties, which in the outer view appears like mere light, in the inner view like illumined reason, although so far keeping a tendency of creating or an urge to create. In the conception of the forces of being projected into the outer sphere of life, it is the sphere of brahmas.
During the penetration towards the centre of his/her being the pilgrim on the way of self-observation comes upon this world as on an area of experiences of pure ecstasies with a tendency to create and to be. These tendencies disappear as high as in the over-brahmic region, in the states of consciousness that has already been abstracted, which also creates the sheath of being of an individual. This is no longer a sheath with a tendency to create or to be but a sheath of the state of consciousness quite purified from all samsaric impurities. This consciousness behaves now like a self-sufficient world where there are no traces of interests in what exists or could exist externally from that state. Hatha yoga considers this state as a state of someone who rejoices at his/her Self. Tendencies to uniting and dividing of what can be determined as the Self and the world of outer realities is ceasing here and, instead, apathy towards all external is arising. This condition is in Buddhism classified as the state pertaining to the fourth [buddhist] immersion.
The journey through the sheaths of being from its periphery to the centre is a practicable advancement, during which the control and awareness are absolute. The only necessity is that the one who commits oneself to observing the body never gets seized by intruding ideas. If one, in addition to observing his/her body, maintains mental vividness manifesting itself as a thirst for knowledge and speculations, thoughts are growing in number more than usually.
It is necessary to achieve clear observation of the body which is free from anything else. Then control over perception of the outer world must be added and at the same time uncompromising suppression of impressions resulting from this world. It is sure that man will then switch over from normal perception of his/her body to identifying processes that take place both within him-/herself and in his/her psychic sphere. In this way man enters actually the faculty of science on inner life, on correlations of subjective and objective phenomena, on the architecture and stratification of the cosmos, on uniformity of phenomena we denote living or lifeless, on the central unit hidden within subjective being, which in its nature is as cosmic as subjective. And on top of this knowledge is achievement of absolute contentment that contains no traces of desire to gain and hold anything more. That is the only way to rest within oneself by means of absolute satisfaction.
Until now I have described the way into the centre of the observer’s being by means of observing his/her own body. I have recounted the way as someone who went through it. What is especially interesting on this path is that experiences gained [on this path] are repeatable. Only variances in the advancement can change the repeatability of the experiences and [the process of] knowledge. Yoga, the methods of which the disciple chooses by him-/herself, does not bring forth repeating the mentioned experiences. It only leads to non-repeatable practices, the value of which equals to zero if the practicing man affects with his/her concentrating mind one time a component of higher order and later of a lower grade. The result is that this sort of practice brings forth no knowledge. What is more, sometimes the outcome is mental extravagance, derangement, or even insanity. It is therefore necessary to embrace the prescribed discipline; the method thereof is observation of one’s body. Without any judgements of whether this body observation is an interesting or dull activity for man. It is a system not a pursuit of sensual pleasure. If one longs for sensual delights, he/she ca find them in pubs, cinemas, and spectator stands at sport grounds. On the other hand, the way of body observing is – compared to the mentioned delights – a work, which one might not become enthused by. He/she can feel restricted that he/she cannot give a loose to his/her inclinations.
This occupation, observing the body, brings appropriate results. It is even so that no one can get a right notion of those results in advance. The cosmos crumbles to him/her into separate things; some of them can make man happy and some other unhappy if he/she lets himself/herself get subjugated by them and takes them for objects of pleasure. And the end of it all? Resolving all personal suffering by liquidation of all desire to have or experience something. This really is enough. Since happiness is never contained in the idea or the fact of possessing something; on the contrary it is contained exactly in holding nothing, possessing nothing, be it a thing or one’s own self, the self of one who has reached the end of the journey of observing one’s own body and then one’s being.
The way of observing one’s own body and then one’s being is not my original discovery. At the outset I spoke about existence of "triloka", the triple world (the world subdivided into three realms), the scheme of which is available and generally known. In Czech literature on Buddhism it was e.g. published in the book by Dr. L. Prochazka "Buddhism as the world view, ethics and religion", Prague 1928, page 50; here I am presenting the chart as was printed in the original edition [here translated into English].
People of our continent will surely regard the scheme as a result of some speculations, the more so that except for spheres of humans and animals all others are invisible realms. But perception deepened by the discipline during body observation can detect that those realms of the invisible do form spheres of lives that are organized in a different way than the domain of the sensually visible and in general perceivable world. What contributes to this discovery is that before achieving so modified perception one’s psychical beingness does not appear like a complex of effective energies that are observable only in their terminal phase, i.e. when they bring one into relevant actions. They also appear like closed wholes of force tensions that the analyzing seeing sorts into inhabited spheres of a certain character or, simply into categorized phenomena.
As I mentioned previously, all realms given in this chart can be discovered by one who strictly adheres to the tenet to observe his/her body and its operations (movements), exactly by descending through the sheaths of being toward its centre. He/she will not reveal them all at once. The realms of life subdivided by that chart are also individual states of consciousness, the number of which is considerably larger than [the number of] the worlds mentioned there. In any case what will be discovered is that his/her own being is divided into vital spheres, mental spheres, and spheres of states of consciousness.
When observation of the body reaches such intensity that it begins to pierce into the sub-skin area, consciousness directed in this way to its exploring journey will come through creative or physical nature. The first phase will be heralded only by rumbling sound that is of course brought about by the creative activity, but – by that the whole empirical world of ours is gone through and over for the pilgrim to the centre of his being. Well, this world is nothing more than phenomena and noise that is caused by gravitation of those phenomena.
Afterwards man gets to the vital sphere. The nature of this sphere is determined by the driving forces of being, which surpass intellect. Therefore all activities within [the vital sphere] can be characterized as irresistible impulses which then themselves give rise to various situations: creatures of this sphere are mere victims of those [situations].
What can, for example, do animals against being treated by an intellectually strong creature, man, the way he/she individually decides how to behave towards them? Man’s docile animals are e.g. elephants and bulls, beasts that could take the life of their potential murderer by a single toss of their head – and yet they let themselves lead to the slaughterhouse almost without resistance. And as far as "naraka" – hells, are concerned, the pilgrim towards the centre of his/her own being will find out about them when his/her body-observation ability has improved and consequently his/her sensory percepts have become more profound.
I don’t want to say about the world of pretas and asuras that they can be identified quite exactly. However, when the pilgrim to the centre of his/her own being improves by body-observing his/her perception ability to the degree that the whole realm of the subconscious begins to disintegrate for him/her into the world of phenomena, he/she will realize that those spheres are areas of various suffering, miseries that cannot even be depicted colourfully enough. But all those phenomena have one thing in common: all are predominated by so-called irresistible drives. Therefore the misery in which the dwellers of those spheres live.
Then comes the sphere of humans. According to the chart this region is described as a happy realm, which can be explained by the degree of development their intellect reaches. Humans can make various decisions and based on their decisions they can withstand those irresistible impulses, sometimes more and some other time less successfully. We know from common experience that people cannot resist them every time. Thus in the human world two subclasses exist. One of these two groups into which people can be divided is by its nature woven into the sphere called "unhappy realms", whereas the other into a "happy sphere" called here "deva-loka".
Should I go on expounding this scheme, I do not see as sufficient the reasons that conform to the logic of reality, which even a common man can see in the world – unless, of course, he/she closes his/her eyes as an ignorant only to see such a world he/she wants to believe in because of his/her indolence. I am referring to my personal experience out of the path from the periphery to the centre of my own being.
As I entered upon this path to the centre of my own being and enriched the observation of my body with inner, psychic uplift to the level of cheerfulness and optimism, I was surprised how close to people gods abide, beings that can be described as gods precisely due to their bodies consisting of fire and light. But nothing indicated that they were creatures very differently organized than humans. It seemed that to perceive them one need only to adapt one’s eyesight by slightly suppressing mental flightiness that is so typical particularly of the "modern" man. Actually their behaviour gave an impression of being very similar to that of humans; they were noisy like Olympian gods. I did not regard it as very precise to divide them into the six groups. Well, some appeared to be closer to humans than others, and those of the higher class seemed to exist in a "more majestic” ambience than those I came across right the first time but, all of them had one in common – namely that they were very close to the people in their activity and influence.
Concerning the classification of them into the six categories, I don’t want to claim I am absolutely right as I myself could not divide them into those six grades. At that time I was hurrying to reach my goal so I was vigorously ridding of the vibrations the environment of those gods was producing in me. I simply longed for mental tranquillity that I had considered worth achieving since the beginning of my path. For that matter, I also understood that tranquillity should be the goal of the spiritual endeavour. In the sphere of gods of the mentioned rank I came to know that circumstances of my inner life changed. Instead of pessimism overcoming me I felt inner encouragement, the result of which would have been the arising of worldly optimism, the other end of a rope of fate that forces upon everybody his/her "karmic gifts”.
For the mentioned reason I was persistently getting rid of that stimulation until I reached mental immersion, by means of which I induced a shift of my self-awareness to the area of expanding personal consciousness, a fact which was related to the real mental relaxation in the state of bliss touching the body. The chart says that I achieved the sphere of Brahmas. Well, it was maybe so. I was freed of all traces of personal limitation, and only my will wanted to fly free towards the wish to create or see myself creating something. But it was a warning that prevented me from going that direction. I had still in my recent memory the previous personal hardship I underwent and I realized, as befits an attentive pilgrim, that by following that course of path I would have merely repeated what had happened before, namely extroverted orientation of my mind that so easily deafens the subtle traces of suffering pertaining to beings of the brahmic world. This suffering is simply given by the fact that the consciousness focuses on either shapes or definite things or individual life.
Well, by more profoundly observing all I was I left the world of Brahma, which was full of noble ideals and impulses, with unrestricted disposition to create and produce, however, with blindness that forgets about opposite of that all.
In this way my emersion, modified by observing and being aware of my body, became deeper and then changed into the second jhana with exact unfolding of qualities as described in the chart. For me, however, it was just a state of consciousness, not entering the world of gods of the class abhassara. By the way, I did not divide the world of Brahmas into three groups of Brahmas, either, although I could see quite apparent differences in manifestations of the creative power of bramic nature. Well, it did not occur to me that it would have been important to classify the states of the Brahmas in some way. I had no personal motive for that because I realized that purifying consciousness from residues of perceptions from the outer world was continuing and therefore it was possible to achieve even a higher degree of purity of consciousness, in which only I anticipated the solution to the problem of personal existence as personal suffering. So I did not try to discriminate the states of the second jhana, either. That "reasoning, rejoicing, happiness and concentration” were sufficient for me.
And what did not concern me, either, was the buddhist cosmology, by which the cosmos of beings comes into being so that when after the worlds have ended somewhere in pralaya a being from the sphere abhassara matures because the being’s karmic merits have been depleted and, as a consequence, it must go down to a lower level, it will actually descend to the sphere of brahmas where it will remain for a very, very long time until a wish arises in it not to be there alone. And the buddhist cosmology explains further: "At that very time also other creatures from the world abhassara reach the bottom of their karmic merits so they also must descend to the world of brahmas. And at this point things become more complicated. Mahabrahma remembers that he got the wish not to be alone there, but in a community of other beings. When other beings from the heaven abhassara appear in the brahmic sphere, Mahabrahma thinks that it was him who called them into life as he had exactly the idea that they be there. And in turn, those beings having descended from the heavenly world will think too that they came there because Brahma wished them to be there; as this Brahma was in the world of brahmas before them”.
Exactly in this way a delusion arises that there is a creator who calls other beings into life. Even Mahabrahma himself believes to be really that creator. Thereby a new process of creation begins, the circle of samsara, however, at this stage not yet as miserable and dismal as can be experienced by somebody who is at the beginning of seeking a way of return to his ur-origin. And creation generates an uninterrupted rumble of gravitational counteracting forces that lasts so long until also hells, the lowest spheres forming the natural powers, are filled.
In a man who is going back to his/her ur-origin by means of observing his/her body, which [gradually] passes to observing all processes of the being, there are, however, experiences of samsaric suffering remaining in background, which will at the stage of abhassara-gods, in the second jhana, warn him/her of succumbing to bliss that is not disturbed by any limitation by the idea "I” and "mine”. Hence he/she will be able to enter to or advance onto the third jhana. At this stage the personal circumstances are getting more favourable.
Although at the first stage of the third buddhist imersion (jhana) man is still groping as he/she does not yet understand in which way to introduce a system in the mystical effort, at the second stage of this jhana he/she will all of a sudden realize the reason why his/her course of the spiritual development and effort has not so far been clear and straight. He/she will find out what is the root of his/her relationship with the samsaric world and what is necessary to make this root disappear. By realizing this his/her spiritual effort will complete and his/her advancement will straighten up so he/she will be able to proceed towards the absolute liberation without any detours that are based on the fading emotional life. It means that through correct spiritual effort he/she will get rid of every inclination to emotionally enjoying oneself and, instead, his/her life will begin to be directed by wisely suppressing all emotions, which will make his/her intellect and reason improved and entirely clean.
Those are experiences from the path through regions of various states of consciousness that in the systematic effort turns into four buddhist, so-called lower, imersions, the last of which should and actually will eradicate life instinct, under which dominion man always belongs to samsara. That this fact is really true is not only my personal experience. The above mentioned Dr. M.K., despite the fact that he himself assessed the condition of his consciousness as the state of the third buddhist imersion, yet only later in a certain moment stated he "understood the whole question of spiritual development then” and he also got to know what had been correct in his previous spiritual work because it was exactly what lead him to redemption and, in turn, what was wrong because that was always getting him back to samsaric living.
However, in my opinion Dr. M.K. was much too long engaged in the samsaric world, and gave way to emotions that fascinated and swayed him. That is why he was not given the time needed for experiencing the states of the fourth buddhist immersion (jhana), although he knew the character of this immersion and realized that going through it was absolutely necessary.
Man can enter the fourth jhana only when he/she gets rid of the fear of the bottomless emptiness that opens up to man before his/her entering it. The habit to live in "fullness”, in permanent relations, in consciousness filled with samsaric contents, is exactly the cause of that fear. However, when the "way through empirical life experiences” gets dull, as man realizes that it is merely ever-lasting repeating the same things that what have been here from time immemorial, he/she will suddenly understand that the bottomless emptiness could complete the contents of the pilgrim’s life who is trying to get into the centre of his/her, and thus of course universal, being.
Then the state of the fourth buddhist immersion will be achieved. It means first of all absolutely freeing mind and the whole psychic beingness from the outer world. Consequently the concern of the whole mind will be directed only towards his/her own being, in this case conceptually quite indefinite one. Since man is then able to either eliminate himself/herself from his/her mind as a concrete concept or to retain himself/herself so. He/she will decide according to whether at the given moment he/she thinks it is better not to make of himself/herself a dam to streaming cosmic energies and forces or, conversely, to turn into that dam; such a decision can always be done by the momentary state of affair. The reason is that the mind is already freed from active creative forces, forces that permanently flow in the being. However, the man that has come to this degree will perceive and find out that he/she has not yet reached the limit where he/she clearly identifies that there is no more process beyond it, which would provide him/her with some useful experience that could bring his/her perfection to a higher degree.
What begins then is a process dissolving the being – here purely imaginary one, and there in turn delimited by progressing effect of pulsating and undulating vitality.
The mind of one who has achieved the fourth buddhist immersion is able to act well on soothing the vital nature that does not suffer any more from impulses to attachment or aversion; it only remains in the state of pulsation, which is actually the life of beings, the so-called life in itself. And it is exactly this life process, called [life process] in itself, that the achiever of the fourth buddhist immersion will suppress with his/her mind capable of composure and boundlessness, mind that is now able to conceptually embrace infinity.
Infinity or even boundlessness is the last sphere that will be aimed by one who has come through all layers of being as deep as to the centre of it. He/she knows clearly that the spheres of life are divided into the vital sphere, mental sphere, and the sphere of states of consciousness. He/she knows as well that he/she could not profit from all that, even if he/she mistakenly believed that it is meaningful to live in states he/she has identified as being always present in his/her being. Those are always significant only because he/she has amplified one of those layers by his/her behaviour. Hence he/she knows that there is no possibility for him/her to "enjoy living” as a traveller through the spheres of life only to delight in scenes like a tourist.
Regardless of whether the sphere one is going through from the periphery to the centre of his/her being is, from the viewpoint of karmic contents, low or high, the one who would like to be a mere tourist on the ways through worlds will always be swept down by the vortex of forces of the relevant sphere. Then he/she will no more be a tourist but an experiencer of the karma of the relevant sphere, actually in the role of a slave of that sphere. It doesn’t alter the fact that the strings of higher spheres are looser compared to the more tightly harnessing ropes of lower spheres. Strictly speaking, the delusion of infernal beings lies in the fact that they believe they cannot live motiveless states of mind and feeling. On the other hand, the delusion of beings from the brahmic sphere binds them by not a very distinct conviction that the power of Brahmas is also a bond, which can be discerned exactly in their inclination to the creative power they experience. An analyst who by means of body-observation penetrates the sheaths of being from its periphery to its centre will identify those bonds forged by delusion. Hence he/she can free himself/herself if he/she does not let within himself/herself flare up attachment to experiences of some of the spheres he/she is going through during the journey to the centre of his/her being. But he/she must not be a conceited tourist, either. The point here is that even the tourist’s curiosity represents a bond – of course for one who is only at the beginning of choosing from among bonds the one towards which he/she will flare up in attachment. This moment is the end to his/her hope of freedom, to his/her journey to the centre of his/her own being, to his/her advancement towards the identity of self-awareness and the absolute.
And the spheres corresponding to the states of consciousness that alter according to his/her advancement? Those are certainly as real as the states of his/her consciousness. And based on this saying, the question that there is no reality, the validity of which is absolute? The cosmic continuum is a cosmic, universally valid relativum. A certainty that the continuum is now and then real depends only on whether man poses barriers to the perpetual surfs of the creative energy or not. I can assure you that ones who have attained deeper sheaths of their being and therefore also spheres that are qualitatively higher in the sense of the formal classification of cosmic phenomena and qualities, those are able to erect barriers that are very strong. If they erect them, they will experience what is known as physical immortality of adepts of spiritual teachings. It doesn’t seem, however, that some of them could retain [this immortality]. Yet, there are individuals who have sublimated their beings so that they have "incarnated themselves” into spheres where time doesn’t pinch the existence so aggressively as on earth. When they become wise enough, they will stop the life process even at this level and this will be their liberation that is on earth, in Buddhism, known and described in the teaching on nirvana. Since not even at a high level of being and living, vanity is nothing else than vanity.
Everything is passing.
Now, one more remark to the arupa lokas as given in the diagram. These states are achievable by appropriate mental abstraction while the body is observed, which is becoming a way through the sheaths of being down to the centre of this being. When the mind under such circumstances penetrates to the states belonging to the rupa loka with its brahmas and gods of the over-brahmic sphere, then the perceived space is discontinuing to contain clearly shaped phenomena, whether they are brahmas or over-brahmic beings. Thus "infinite space” emerges for perceiving consciousness as a perceptible phenomenon.
In this sphere, equally like in further [spheres] above it no phenomena can be identified, only qualities can. These tinge consciousness of the pilgrim’s wandering in these spheres as subtle movements that could, however, unfold again into concretized awareness or even self-conception. Only experiences gained in lower spheres can prevent man from a relapse into states of more concrete self-awareness. Therefore, when the pilgrim to the centre of his/her being gives the boundless space a form simply by returning to himself/herself as to a being that proceeds to destroying everything that, even in the subtlest way, reminds [him/her] of own individuality, now being overcome, then what he/she will face is a problem of the state of consciousness that will render itself boundless simply so that it will not be allowed to be shaped in any way. In this way also the potential inclination to self-awareness will begin to disappear, and the pilgrim [through those spheres] will see as a process everything from the creation up to the simple idea of I (self). And that is the cause of realization of the second over-worldly immersion (jhana), in which nothing can prevent the pilgrim from successfully eliminating all differentiated realities, though just "a certain concept” or "a certain idea”, or perceiving something that would bear a mark of certainty and therefore of restriction.
This is a sign of realization of the third over-worldly buddhist immersion (arupa jhana) that is characterized as "the sphere of [conception of] nothingness”. In it emptiness is everywhere where awareness, even imaginarily concretized one, can reach. The so-called outer world disappears regardless of whether it is the world of physical or other realities, and man reaching this goal has but himself/herself in order to lead "it” out of the existence directed by karma. His/her state is maturing into the mental peak, which is reduced to perceiving or not-perceiving. Here begins existence of being, which has arisen so that it has been conditioned by delimiting the absolute into a phenomena called consciousness. Here the pilgrim to the centre of his/her being will not take the tendency to experiencing states of "phenomena proceeding to definiteness” as it was "at the beginning of the cosmic creation”, but he/she is closing his/her existence. He/she knows well that moving again towards definiteness means returning to involuntarily experiencing karma, although being indistinct at the highest levels of divine existences, however, for commencing persistence of this experiencing getting more and more distinct, until the being is again in the line of reincarnations taken in karma of creatures that are unable to overcome so-called irresistible temptations and instincts. And the pilgrim who will not allow any taking shape, neither in form of existing properties, will identify himself/herself with the Great Cosmic Emptiness that is potentially creative; not with akashic emptiness that is material processible in the creative process that begins with a tendency and later also with the will-to-be.
What will be then? – Nothing! – The pilgrim will know the outcome of every state from his/her own experience and based on his/her ability to understand tendencies…