Manoj Pavitran

One of the chief difficulties in integral yoga is the gulf between the inner consciousness and the outer consciousness. Even if we move inward and discover the vaster and calmer ways of the inner consciousness, when we move into physical action the consciousness loses its connection with its inner poise and become quite shallow. The shallowness of the outer consciousness becomes increasingly vivid the more we experience the rich and calm density of the inner consciousness. However the inner consciousness remains as a poise that is accessible only in a condition of physical immobility. This problem of physical immobility as a condition to access the inner consciousness first of all has its roots in the habit of sleep; an immobile and unconscious condition in which we move into inner worlds withdrawing entirely from the body and the senses. We move inward from the outer consciousness to inner consciousness but with a complete break from the outer consciousness into the dream worlds and beyond. On one hand when we are in the inner worlds we have no connection with the outer world and on the other when we return to the outer, the surface consciousness, we lose the connection with the inner consciousness and only fragments of experience are recalled as dreams. Both are two different ranges of our being separated by a strange gulf that refuse to reveal its secrets.

As we learn to meditate or concentrate or attempt to move into a deeper state of consciousness the usual approach is to sit somewhere and close our eyes to become increasingly immobile in physical movements, breath as well as thought, if at all one succeeds in stilling the breath and thought. In such movements, when one succeeds, one can access the inner worlds more consciously but the problem of sleep persists as the body is habituated to withdraw from the senses and lose its connection with the outer worlds. While returning to the outer consciousness from an inner journey often it resembles waking up from sleep without much richness of memory of what happened during the inner plunge.

As we explore more of this inward and outward journey, at one point it become possible to keep our eyes open and enter into a deeper level of consciousness in which the outer reality become increasingly symbolic and the inner movements and outer movements merge into a seamless flow of events without any gulf in between them – a single unbroken field of awareness. In such movements we can begin to perceive that the outer material crust of reality is only a veil and behind it plays greater universal forces acting through multitude of forms. As we persist in this development we can even develop the capacity to speak while remaining in the inner consciousness and this already is a considerable development in bridging the gulf between the inner and outer consciousness. However the dynamic mobile condition of the body still resists the infiltration of the inner consciousness into our working hours. We are able to bring the inner consciousness only up to the subtle physical which we can become aware as a larger, denser body, enveloping the material physical body. But when we get into physical action this connection with the subtle physical body fades off and we are back into the material physical body having no connection with the inner consciousness.

The yoke that connects the material physical body with the subtle physical body seems to be the breath and it is probably with the help of breath we can successfully bridge the gulf between the two worlds; but not an artificial and mechanical manipulation of breath as in prānayāma but a natural expansion of breath in which the material body opens itself to the surrounding ocean of prāna. It acts as if the breath is flowing through the entire body, sweeping from top to bottom and even making the material body somewhat porous so that the ocean flows in and out freely.

This may happen spontaneously when the higher consciousness descends from above or by a voluntary opening and widening of consciousness. As the ocean of prāna sweeps through the material physical body the inner consciousness comes forward into the movements of the body quite easily. But the body is not used to such experience and it returns to its dull state of being which is what it considers as normal. Things get more difficult when you are interacting with people as you are mixing with quite many different ranges of consciousness mostly on the surface level. It is even more difficult when you sleep and slide into unconscious and wake up to find yourself in the dullness of the physical consciousness. One has to slowly build up the experience again and again during the waking hours but mostly only to lose it during sleep. This last barrier can be dissolved only when the sleep is transformed into a conscious journey into the inner worlds leaving the body at rest but retaining the connection. But that seems to be hell of a task.