Call it a big fat joke, it won’t matter.
I have recently read a book by Paramhansa Yogananda called “Autobiography of a Yogi”.
He is a spiritual teacher from India who was truly famous at a time in America because of the message he brought over to connect both the East and West in the understanding of spirituality.
So in this book, Paramhansa Yogananda, hereto will be referred as Yogananda, writes about his life as a Yogi.
A Yogi is somewhat like an Indian monk, except that the requirements needed to fulfill the role isn’t complete renunciation but an acceptance for a way of life that is of highest good to one’s true nature.
Interestingly, some of the experiences Yogananda shared in his book also includes intriguing or miraculous feats of the Yogis. For example, there are stories in the book which tells of how some of their actions supersede the laws of conventional science, i.e.
- A master knowing what happened to someone and giving an answer or solution to him/her even before the person brings up his/her question
- The manifestation of an actual physical body by the master to deliver a message miles away to a person – while the original body is seen to be sitting still by another witness at another location
- The healing of many seemingly impossible-to-cure physical ailments and much, much more.
Basically, the average person would just simply find many events in this book to be a disconnect from our ‘real world’ – the world that provides our lives with Guccis, Pradas and Louis Vuittons.
Yet, with every page I turn, the book didn’t repel my interest – yes, even though I’m an absolute stickler for truth.
Something in my gut tells me that what he’d expressed is genuine, and the many reasonable facts & supporting statements accompanying his message helps too.
Since this post was intended to be epic, I’m going to skip on the details for most of what I’ve read and talk about a scene in the book which I’d like to share with you the most instead.
In “Autobiography of a Yogi”, Yogananda’s recently passed-away master Sri Yukteswar eventually manifested himself before his student to share with the latter some teachings about life beyond death.
In their ecstatic conversation, Sri Yukteswar talked about three different worlds:
- The physical cosmos
- The astral cosmos
- And the causal cosmos
You can accept or reject what follows – although I’m compelled to follow the first choice in this circumstance.
Sri Yukteswar describes our current world, the world that is filled with Guccis Pradas and LVs as the physical cosmos. In this world, our physical bodies greatly depend on food, drink and oxygen to survive. Our senses sight, hearing, tasting, smelling and feeling serves their own individual purpose and is hard-connected to our bodies to maintain sustenance of our lives. In this world, the mental & emotional world thrives, guided by the impulse of an egoic self. We believe we are truly separate people, since our awareness seems to be bound to a particular individual since birth.
The second world is called the astral cosmos. According to Sri Yukteswar in this particular encounter with Yogananda, you could associate almost any out-of-conventional-science phenomenas and religious origins of our current life to this world, i.e. telepathic or psychic realizations, the mysteries of Karma & reincarnations, supernatural feats & etc. Ever heard of a parallel universe? The astral world is like a ‘higher dimension’ – although I don’t really like to use that word – to the physical cosmos. Whether you’d like to understand this through the lens of science or spiritual understanding is your choice. While our universe is considered immense, it exists only as a part of this existence. In the astral cosmos, lives are reborn in subtler ways. Beings are described to still have the same sense features such as eyes, nose, tongue, ears, and skin. However, physical limitations as we have now aren’t imposed on its beings. As mentioned in the book, souls are able to manifest themselves foods, waters, plants and even different appearances through subtle thought. They still maintain a physical existence, but in the astral cosmos, the world is just very subtle. Good and evil beings are limited to different astral planes. If you were to ask me to identify a name for this place, I’d liken it to my understanding of heaven in the bible, and a reincarnation source for our physical cosmos according to the Buddhist or Hindhu religions. Sri Yukteswar briefly described that here in this astral plane is also where beings work out their remaining karmas, some accomplishing that through the cosmos, while some having to clear themselves through the hardships of our physical world. My understanding of the astral plane according to New Age descriptions is that it’s a higher-dimension. Like how our world functions with certain laws i.e. gravity, reincarnation probably also works in the same way.
The causal cosmos is even subtler. This plane may be slightly harder to grasp if one has never ventured into the subject of science and spirituality deeply enough. Sometimes, YouTube helps. There are descriptions from quantum scientists about parallel universes and dimensions which touches upon this plane of existence. Sri Yukteswar describes the causal cosmos as one where a being has an existence that encompasses space & time, and where perception plays the greatest role. Every thing that has to do with the this plane is connected to the subtlety of perception. At a single thought planets are created, organisms are brought into beings, and distances are leapt. A being has almost no physical existence, and carries a similar nature to the universe. Of course, information like this can be a little hard to digest by some. Well, let time do its work. There are enough academic or scientific explanations out there that can help anyone visualize this existence. If that doesn’t work, perhaps you can try the spiritual way and meditate – do it deeply enough and you may grasp a feeling of this. After all, our bodies’ atoms appear out of this same field.
There are a lot more interlinking in Sri Yukteswar’s descriptions of these worlds with life.
One of the biggest expressions I appreciate from him is that as vivid and solid as it seems, life is God’s dream.
It talks about something like the physical cosmos actually appearing out of the astral & causal cosmos’ dream, and the astral/causal cosmos out of God’s dreams.
From what I understand, God in this sense represents an everlasting Nothingness that in our physical world, can be understood as an all-time exhilarating existence.
It could be described as the One Consciousness.
And the punch is, we are already That.
Except that our existence is God, dreaming.
Yet we are It.
So this is my epic post, about life.
At the end of the story, if you were to ask me if I think this is all absolutely true, I’ll most probably give you an out of the world answer.
Although my egoic self latches me closely to the individual I am in the physical body which I’m using to type these words now – making me feel as though this personable identity is ALL I am – a little deeper introspection into the whole spectrum of life and myself is all that’s actually needed to convince me of existences beyond the understanding of our limited conventional wisdom.
So, which makes the big fat joke?
The absoluteness of the physical life we’re living in, or the existences of cosmoses beyond this world?
You tell me : )