About Swami Abhayananda
I was born Stanley Ross Trout on August 14, 1938, in Indianapolis, Indiana. In 1966, at the age of twenty-eight, I was graced by God, and experienced the unitive vision. A few years later, I met a holy man called Swami Muktananda, and I journeyed to India to live with him and to learn from him. After some time, he invited me to join the spiritual Order of sannyasa, and gave me the name "Swami Abhayananda", which means 'the bliss of fearlessness.' I have kept that spiritual name ever since, though I eventually parted with Swami Muktananda and his organization.
I do not belong to any church or to any religion, but I do belong to that select group of people who have experienced God directly, and I stand as an unyielding bulwark against the current cultural trend toward an atheistic worldview. God is very certainly real. God is, in fact, the only reality. Since He first revealed Himself in me, my focus has been on God and His revelation, and my writings are simply a means of sharing that revelation. I am not hindered by organizational ties or religious affiliation, as my vision and my philosophy is based on my own personal mystical experience, and is not restricted to any of the mystical traditions of either the East or the West. Today, I live a simple, solitary life, devoted to meditation on God and the sharing of His revelation.
November 18, 2021 will be the fifty-fifth anniversary of God's revelation to me. I am not the first to be so graced and I will not be the last. What He revealed to me I have passed on to you. Whether you accept this revelation and make this knowledge your own is totally up to you. Nevertheless, it is my earnest hope that this revelation will inspire you to seek to know Him in yourself and for yourself. I can tell you that He helps and guides those who trust in His presence, and He rewards those who make the effort to reach Him. May He bless you every one.
Los Gatos, California, 1965
Los Gatos, California, 1965
Ganeshpuri, India, 1972
Oakland, California, 1977
Oakland, California, 1977
New York, New York, 1978
ABOUT MY EXPERIENCE OF GOD
I was twenty-eight when I first pledged my life to God, saying:
Thou art Love, and I shall follow all Thy ways.
I shall have no care, for Love cares only to love.
I shall have no fear, for Love is fearless;
Nor shall I frighten any,
For Love comes sweetly and meek.
I shall keep no violence within me,
Neither in thought nor in deed,
For Love comes peacefully.
I shall bear no shield or sword,
For the defense of Love is love.
I shall seek Thee in the eyes of men,
For love seeks Thee always.
I shall keep silence before Thine enemies,
And lift to them Thy countenance,
For all are powerless before Thee.
I shall keep Thee in my heart with precious care,
Lest Thy light be extinguished by the winds;
For without Thy light, I am in darkness.
I shall go free in the world with Thee--
Free of all bondage to anything but Thee;
For Thou art my God, the sole Father of my being,
The sweeet brath of Love that lives in my heart;
And I shall follow Thee, and live with Thee,
And lean on Thee till the end of my days.
In that same year, while I was living in an isolated little cabin in California's Santa Cruz mountains, I prayed to God: "Let me be one with Thee--not that I might glory in Thy love, but that I might speak out in Thy praise and to Thy glory for the benefit of all Thy children." And in that very moment I experienced union with God. And at the same time that this unitive experience was occurring, I was able to set down on paper what I was experiencing. As I became uplifted to union with God, my voice became His voice, I and Thou became indistinguishable. Here is the unedited text of what was written at that time:
O my God, even this body is Thine own!
Though I call to Thee and seek Thee amidst chaos,
Even I who seemed an unclean pitcher amidst Thy waters--
Even I am Thine own.
Does a wave cease to be of the ocean?
Do the mountains and the gulfs cease to be of the earth?
Or does a pebble cease to be stone?
How can I escape Thee?
Thou art even That which thinks of escape!
Even now, I speak the word, “Thou,” and create duality,
I love and create hatred.
I am in peace and am fashioning chaos,
Standing on the peak, I necessitate the depths.
But now, weeping and laughing are gone,
Night is become day.
Music and silence are heard as one,
My ears are all the universe.
All motion has ceased; everything continues.
Life and death no longer stand apart.
No I, no Thou; no now, or then.
Unless I move, there is no stillness.
Nothing to lament, nothing to vanquish,
Nothing to pride oneself on.
All is accomplished in an instant.
All may now be told without effort.
Where is there a question?
Where is the temple?
Which the Imperishable, which the abode?
I am the pulse of the turtle,
I am the clanging bells of joy.
I bring the dust of blindness,
I am the fire of song.
I am in the clouds and in the gritty soil.
In pools of clear water my image is found.
I am the dust on the feet of the wretched,
The toothless beggars of every land.
I have given sweets that decay to those that crave them,
I have given my wealth unto the poor and lonely.
My hands are open; nothing is concealed.
All things move together of one accord,
Assent is given throughout the universe to every falling grain.
The Sun stirs the waters of my heart,
And the vapor of my love flies to the four corners of the world.
The moon still me, and the cold darkness is my bed.
I have but breathed, and everything is rearranged
And set in order once again.
A million worlds begin and end in every breath,
And in this breathing, all things are sustained.
* * *
You may read more about the conditions and circumstances of this rare experience in my book, The Supreme Self, available for download at this website. The various books and articles that I have written since that night of revelation are my ongoing attempt to explain for you what I experienced on that amazing night. They are written in praise of God and to His glory in order to benefit you, His children.
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MY TWO I’s
(8-6-15, revised 9-9-21)
My present name is Swami Abhayananda, though I was given the name Stanley Ross Trout at birth. Both of these names refer to who I am as an individualized person temporarily existing in the grand illusion of time and space. But there is another ‘I’ that I claim as my permanent identity. That other I (what Vedantins call the Atman or Self) is the universal Consciousness that is the eternal foundation and support of all I’s. If I refer to my temporal phenomenal self, ‘I’ means one thing; if I refer to my eternal Self, ‘I’ means something else. So, as long as I exist in both the eternal and the temporal realm, it appears that there are two I’s. But that is only an appearance.
It is only those who have become consciously aware of the eternal I who are able to recognize this apparent double-identity, and to distinguish between the two I’s. Jesus, for example, on whom the religious organization of Christianity was founded, spoke frequently from the individualized temporal identity, identifying with the personal being who was born as a Jew, and lived in the community of Nazareth; but he had known his eternal ‘I’, and he occasionally spoke from that universal Consciousness identity as well, such as when he said, “I am the Light; I am above all that is manifest. Everything came forth from me, and everything returns to me. Split a piece of wood, and I am there. Lift a stone, and you will find me there.” 1
Many of those who do not recognize the existence of two I’s in themselves are confused by the words uttered by Jesus. ‘Well, which is he?’ they ask, ‘man or God?’ And, of course, the answer is ‘He is both!’ They are the two aspects of his dual identity, as he hinted in his statement, “I am in the Father and the Father is in me. 2 I and the Father are one.” 3 The same is true of you—except that you are as yet unaware of your greater identity. When you do become aware of that greater Self, you will declare, as Jesus did, “Before Abraham was, I am.” 4
The dual identity of Jesus as man and God was much discussed by the early Church Fathers, but they did not understand that Jesus was disclosing, not just his own personal reality, but the divine nature of all men. Though he was treated as a common preacher, Jesus was a mystic, privy to the mysteries of the divine reality, and he was revealing a metaphysical truth universally applicable to everyone.
When I reflect back on my own “mystical experience,” I am inclined to say that the words I put to paper during that experience did not originate with me, were not uttered by me, but by a Divine Self. But then, that brings up the question ‘how is it that there are two beings speaking through this one individual?’ The answer is that there are not two beings, but rather two perspectives: one being the perspective of this time-bound individual, and the other perspective—from the one who spoke through my pen on that fateful night—was the perspective of the all-inclusive One, the universal Consciousness that we refer to as ‘God.’ They are both I. It is just that I am experienced as both this individual consciousness and as the universal, omnipresent, Consciousness.
It was that universal, omnipresent, Consciousness that somehow overrode my individual consciousness on that November night in 1966 (by a miracle called ‘Grace’), and it was the words of that universal Consciousness that sounded in my brain and was put to paper. “I am in the clouds, and I am in the gritty soil. In pools of clear water, my image is seen.” And again, “All things move together of one accord; assent is given throughout the universe to every falling grain.” These are not my words; they are the words of the universal I.
At that moment, I was keenly aware that, even on the floor of the oceans, the current that moved the tumbling grains of sand was intimately connected to every other force and particle existing in the universe. As though by the functioning of one all-inclusive Mind, everything that occurred was connected to, and related to, everything else in the universe in an organic manner.
The only thing close to a rational explanation of this appears in the words of the twentieth century physicist, David Bohm:
“The world which we perceive cannot properly be analyzed into independently existent parts with fixed and determinate dynamical relationships between each of the parts. Rather, the ‘parts’ are seen to be in immediate connection, in which their dynamical relationships depend, in an irreducible way, on the state of the whole system (and indeed on that of broader systems in which they are contained, extending ultimately and in principle to the entire universe). Thus, one is led to a new notion of unbroken wholeness which denies the classical idea of analyzability of the world into separately and independently existent parts. We have reversed the usual classical notion that the independent ‘elementary parts’ of the world are the fundamental reality, and that the various systems are merely particular contingent forms and arrangements of these parts. Rather, we say that inseparable quantum inter-connectedness of the whole universe is the fundamental reality, and that relatively independently behaving parts are merely particular and contingent forms within this whole.” 5
It would appear that “the unbroken whole” has Its own conscious Identity and perspective, and that each of the “particular contingent forms” also has its own conscious identity and perspective. The particular contingent forms are contained within the whole, but both the particular form and the whole each has its own conscious awareness. They are two, but they are one. This is why the universal Consciousness experienced in the mystical vision seems to be ‘other’ than oneself, though It is in fact one’s own greater Identity, one's universal Self.
The above statement of David Bohm also explains how, from the perspective of the unbroken whole, all things move together of one accord, while from the perspective of each of the particular contingent forms, each one’s movement occurs individually in accordance with its own spontaneous and unaided will.
From the perspective of the unbroken whole, causality is replaced by the “inseparable quantum inter-connectedness of the whole universe.” But from the perspective of the particular contingent forms (you and I), we appear to be entirely free to choose our own actions as we will.
The fact is, there are never really two I’s; every soul is a manifestation of the one universal Consciousness and has no other permanent identity. That One is the only true ‘I’. But, from the time we are born into this world, we begin fashioning a false separate personal self that exists only in our minds. At birth, each of us is given a name to distinguish each of us as a unique being, with a distinct parentage. We each bear distinctive characteristics and distinctive histories, which in turn contributes to our distinctive personalities. In this way, a soul is established, giving us a strong sense of personal individuality and uniqueness. But the fact is that we are all manifestations of the one Self, the one Consciousness, from whom and in whom all beings exist, and to whom we all owe our being.
That one Being is everyone’s true Self, but in order to become aware of that universal Self, it is necessary to give some time to meditation in which you can quiet the mental urging and clamoring of your fabricated personal identity. It will help if you can focus your mind instead on a phrase or mantra that brings silence and peace to your conscious awareness. Let the breath too be calmed, and devoutly invoke the Lord of all being. When you become aware of His presence, approach Him reverently. If He is favorable to you, He will merge your awareness into His own; all remnants of your limited personal being will fade away, and you will know yourself as the one illimitable Self of all.
1. Thomas, Gospel of, 114; (trans. by Thomas O. Lambdin), from Robinson, James M., ed., The Nag Hammadi Library in English, E.J. Brill and Harper & Row, 1977, p. 135.
2. John, Gospel of, 17:25, from the New Testament of the King James Bible.
3. Ibid., 8:54.
4. Ibid., 8:58.
5. Bohm, David and Hiley, Basil, “On The Intuitive Understanding of Non-Locality as Implied By Quantum Theory”, London, Foundations of Physics journal, Vol. V, 1975; pp. 96, 102.
* * *
THE MYSICAL EXPERIENCE OF NONDUALITY
In the unitive Mystical Experience, a soul becomes united with its eternal Source, and during that experience the soul no longer sees from a soul’s perspective but from the perspective of the eternal One. In my own experience, at the height of that mystical union, from that eternal perspective, all had become perfectly clear:
“All may now be told without effort.
Where is there a question?
Where is the temple?
Which the Imperishable? Which the abode?”
In that divine clarity, there could not be discerned from that limitless perspective any distinction between the Imperishable Spirit and the so-called temple—the bodily abode—in which that Spirit was said to abide. One Being, indivisible, was seen to comprise all, both form and essence, both body and soul:
I am the pulse of the turtle.
I am the clanging bells of joy.
I bring the dust of blindness.
I am the fire of song.
I am in the clouds and in the gritty soil.
In pools of clear water my image is found.”
In that mystical clarity, there is no Cartesian dualism, no separation or distinction between body and soul; for everything is seen to be God, everything is seen to be His manifestation, everything is seen to be contained in the one eternal Being.
Which The Imperishable, Which The Abode?
When I was a young man, I was accustomed to thinking of the body and the soul as two wholly separate and different realities: I considered the soul to be the imperishable Spirit in the body, and the body to be the perishable “temple” or “abode” of the soul. But then, God granted me His vision, allowing me to see from His divine perspective. And when I searched within the divine Spirit for the division between the body and the soul, I could see no division, and I wondered about it: “Where is the temple?” I asked; “Which the Imperishable, which the abode?” But, in the One, there was no such distinction to be seen. Everything in the universe—including my own body—was seen to be made of God. There was no “temple”, no “abode of the Spirit”; there was only the one Spirit, comprising all. He alone is everywhere, existing in and as everything. What I had considered to be ‘my’ body, was made entirely of His creative Light, and so, that body was therefore really God’s body. “O my God”, I exclaimed; “even this body is Thine own!” 1
I think most of us tend to regard only our incorporeal souls as divine, as imperishable, for our bodies clearly are not imperishable. When someone dies, do we not witness the decay of their lifeless bodies? But consider— though our bodies perish, that of which our bodies are made is imperishable. In the final analysis, all bodies are made of God’s Light, and at the world’s end, when the earth along with the whole universe dissolves, everything (including the physical particles remaining from all interred or cremated bodies) will transform back into that divine Light from whence it came. Just as God, the transcendent Spirit, is imperishable, His Light of which all the universe is comprised is also imperishable.2 God and His creative Light are one and the same.
And so, though we tend to identify our individual selves with the bodies we inhabit, we must know for certain that our individual ‘I’ is but a temporary illusion. Bodies come, and bodies go; and with each incarnation, we as individual souls grow experientially, intellectually, and morally. Nevertheless, it is certain that eventually we must come to know the one true ‘I’, the one divine Spirit who is our eternal Self—containing all bodies and all souls. That One is our sole identity. So, put away all concerns and fears: realize that you are the one all-inclusive, all-pervasive Self of the universe. Know that you are eternally blissful and imperishable and be free.
1. For a complete account of the mystical experience referred to here, please see my book, The Supreme Self, available as a free download at my website: www.themysticsvision.com
2. The imperishability of the Divine Light is formulated in the first law of thermodynamics (otherwise known as the law of the conservation of energy) which states that the total energy of a closed or isolated system (such as the whole universe) is constant; energy can be transformed from one form to another but cannot be created or destroyed. In other words, it is eternal, imperishable.
The Metaphysics of Duality
If we think carefully and accurately, we must come to the conclusion that God constitutes everything that exists. That being understood, it must also be understood that He exists in two different modes or aspects: He is the ultimate reality, the divine Mind, the one conscious Spirit―formless, invisible, and eternal — who exists as the conscious Self within whom we exist and who is thereby within all of us; and He is also the Creator who periodically projects His own Light-Energy that becomes the material particles that form the substance of the phenomenal universe in which we live and of which our bodies are composed.
So, we have an apparent duality within the nondual Reality: it is a duality between Spirit and Matter, between the universal Consciousness (which manifests as our own individual consciousness) and the world-substance. This apparent duality of Spirit and Matter is reiterated in the perceived duality of body and soul; but we must remember that these dualities are apparent only. God is both soul and body, both the invisible Spirit and the 'material' universe. He exists in two different modes; He has two different aspects: He is the eternal Spirit, the absolute Ground that constitutes our conscious Self; and He is also the Light-Energy that He projected fourteen billion years ago that gives (apparent) form and 'material' substance to our current world.
So, while these two modes or aspects exist separately and independently, they are both God, they are both eternal. It is true that the material world with all its forms is both changing and transient: it has a beginning and an end; but the Light-Energy of which it is constituted is nonetheless eternal. For, while the multi-formed appearance that is the material universe is eventually dissolved back into the pure Light of God of which it was made, that Light-Energy itself, by virtue of its divine nature, lives eternally in God.
I would like to propose a simple remedy to the confusion that often arises when discussing the absolute Nonduality that underlies the apparent duality: The one Spirit, the Divine Consciousness or Supreme Self, is to be regarded as “God I”; and the Light-Energy that constitutes the material world is to be regarded as “God II”. I feel that, with the implementation of this terminology, confusion will not arise, and it will become clear that there is only God I and God II, and that it is to be recognized hereafter that God, in His dual aspects, constitutes everything that exists. 1
- I can’t help thinking that, had Renė Descartes truly understood that Mind and Body are both constituted of God, he would have found a solution to his Cartesian duality in the realization that the nondual One, while appearing to us to be a duality, is in Itself a single unified and integrated reality. This fact is not known through reason but is realized and subjectively confirmed in the God-given mystical vision, for, as a soul experiences itself in the mystical vision as the all-inclusive Divinity, it knows no distinction between its form and its essence, its body and its mind; all is in fact experienced as the one indivisible Self.
* * *
WHO WE ARE
If we rely solely on empirical observation, we must conclude that we live in a universe of material phenomena—stars, planets, nebulae, gas clouds, black holes, and all that is manifest to the human senses. But the mystic’s vision reveals that, at a subtler, more primal level, we are living in a universal Consciousness in which all the individual constituents are interconnected and possess the same universal identity. That Consciousness—which we refer to as “God”—is an integral noumenon (Mind) underlying the phenomenal universe and is the Creative Source and substance of all that we experience as the material universe and its contents, including the bodies we regard as our own as well as all the objects in our environment.
Science has shown that the phenomenal universe of time, space, and individual forms is a result of ‘the Great Radiance’ or ‘Big Bang,’ that released an immense amount of particulate matter in the form of high- frequency electromagnetic radiation some fourteen billion years ago. This resulting universe of form is the manifestation of that ‘Great Radiance’ projected by and within the one universal Consciousness. And because this universe exists within the universal Consciousness, it is thereby imbued with, permeated by, and fully participant in the all-pervading universal Consciousness.
That universal Consciousness, which is our sole primary reality, is also our primary identity . And since every one of the individual constituents of this universe are participants in the one universal Consciousness, each individual entity within the universe operates in accordance with the coordinated movement of the entire system. In other words, as is revealed in the mystic’s vision, “all things move together of one accord; assent is given throughout the universe to every falling grain.” So, while we may regard our separate individual selves to be independently free to act in accord with our individual wills, at a subtler level, it is apparent that we are all governed in our being, in our willing, and in our actions by the single omnipotent and all-embracing will of the one universal Consciousness.
That universal Consciousness is One; It is the eternal Source, who, by Its Creative Power, creates and contains “all things.” And all those things—including us—are moving together of one accord, interconnected in one intricately coordinated Whole. So, do you have free-will? Yes. Of course, you do! The more pertinent question is, ‘Who are you?’ There is only one here. That One is the sole identity of all; It is who you are. That One is both the Mover and the moved, both the Governor and the governed, both the Determiner and the determined.
But how do we understand the paradox that, while we are manifest as constituents of the Divine Consciousness that is God, each individual believes that it has the freedom to choose his or her own course of action, and feels responsible for his or her own actions, good or bad? The answer is that we have the sense that our individual will is free because, in fact, it is! Remember, we are not merely an individual soul manifested in the world of time and space; we are the one Consciousness who is determining everything, and that one Consciousness truly is free. In other words, while we may believe ourselves to be separate individual entities responsible for our individual actions, the fact is that our true, eternal, identity is God, the one divine Consciousness, who, alone is responsible for every action. 1 It is He who is doing everything.
Here is another way to understand this paradox: When we sleep, as dreamers, we (subconsciously) create our dream characters and their roles in our dreams, and yet, while dreaming, we identify with the dream-character in the dream, and, as that dream-character, we feel that we are free to choose our actions within the dream. The truth, however, is that we, the dreamer of the dream, create the dream-roles of those characters, so that the characters and their roles are wholly determined by us. Free-will only appears to exist in the dream world; in fact, all the dream-characters and their actions are entirely determined by us, the dreamer.
Likewise, in the phenomenal world, it is God—the one Divine Consciousness—the Creator of this universe, who is the real Identity of everyone, and who is determining every action and every outcome. It is He who projects this heated drama, with all its twists and unforeseeable turns, and it is He who will bring it to its fitting conclusion. The notion of an individual self apart from the one eternal Self, is merely an illusion. It is only because we are, in fact, the eternal Self, the one Consciousness who is determining everything, that we are aware of our illimitable freedom.
The ‘ego’, or ‘I’ awareness, is not an exterior thing that afflicts us; it is simply an illusory perspective (with which all beings are endowed by their creator) in which one believes oneself to be a singular and independent being among a multitude of beings and objects—as opposed to the perspective in which one identifies with the indivisible Self underlying all of existence. From that illusory perspective, we convince ourselves that we are self-determined individuals; but it is ‘mystical experience,’ or ‘the grace of God,’ that provides a glimpse into the egoless state, where there is only the one conscious continuum, where there is only the One Being, who is seen to be our sole everlasting identity!
“Ego” simply means “I,” and “I” can signify a distinct individual soul associated with a particular body or it can signify the universal Divine Spirit. One of these I’s is the eternal Reality, and the other is merely a transient appearance imaged forth by the Divine Mind. Which of these “I’s” are you?
We need to acknowledge that, while we exist within the manifested universe of space and time, we possess a distinctly unique body and soul/mind, but our underlying identity is the absolute Self, or Consciousness, from which the body and soul are produced and in which they are contained. So, who are we? What are we going to identify with? If we identify with the body, we are identifying with an entity that is transient. If we identify with the individualized soul, we are still identifying with a transient entity, though the soul’s duration is somewhat greater than that of the body. But if we identify with the Self, we identify with the eternal truth; we acknowledge that we are the one immortal, imperishable and invincible Reality.
Listen to these words of the great Indian sage, Sri Shankaracharya:
“The fool thinks, ‘I am the body;’ the intelligent man thinks, ‘I am an individual soul united with the body.’ But the wise man, in the greatness of his knowledge and spiritual discrimination, sees the Self as the only reality, and thinks, ‘I am Brahman.’” 2
Jesus of Nazareth had also realized this truth:
“If you knew who I am,” he said, “you would also know the Father. Knowing me, you know Him; seeing me, you see Him. Do you not understand that I am in the Father, and the Father is in me? It is the Father who dwells in me doing His own work. Understand me when I say that I am in the Father, and the Father is in me.” 3 “I and my Father are one,”4 he said.
At another time, identifying with the transcendent Consciousness, the eternal Self, Jesus said:
“I am the Light; I am above all that is manifest. Everything came forth from me, and everything returns to me. Split a piece of wood, and I am there. Lift a stone, and you will find me there.’” 5
And here are the words of the great Sufi mystic, Ibn Arabi:
“When the mystery of the oneness of the soul and the Divine is revealed to you, you will understand that you are no other than God. … For when you know yourself, your sense of a limited identity vanishes, and you know that you and God are one and the same.” 6
The one Existence-Consciousness-Bliss is the only One. There is no second. All the illumined seers have realized this same truth, and they wish you to also know and realize this truth in yourself.
1. The all-embracing will of the universal Consciousness governs the life of every soul throughout its many incarnations as it accrues the results of its evolving karma. Eventually, each soul becomes purified and awakened by that Divine will to the knowledge of its eternal identity and knows itself as the One. For more, see my article, “The Astrologer’s Vision,” at my website, “The Mystic’s Vision” (www.themysticsvision.com).
2. Shankara, Vivekachudamani, III:10; Prabhavananda & Isherwood, The Crest-Jewel of Discrimination, Vedanta Press, 1978, p. 58.
3. The Gospel of John,13:40.
4. The Gospel of John, 10:30.
5. James Robinson, The Gospel of Thomas, 1977; 77, p. 135.
6. Landau, Rom, The Philosophy of Ibn Arabi, London, George Allen & Unwin, 1959; pp. 83-84.
* * *
from the Conclusion to
HISTORY OF MYSTICISM
It should be abundantly evident that throughout the ages men and women have come face to face with God, the absolute Source and Ground of all existence; and that it is this very experience which constitutes the one common thread that binds together in unity all the great religious and philosophical traditions which have existed since time began, and all that shall exist in the future. Each of the great mystics spoke in his own language, his own restricted terminology, and the consequence is that today many consider each of these efforts to reveal the nature of reality as disparate and unrelated “philosophies” or “religions.” But the experience of the one Reality is the same for all, of course; and in all the declarations of the many prophets, saints, and messiahs, we can hear the attempt to convey a common knowledge based on that common vision.
[That common vision of the mystics reveals] … the unity and ever-presence of God, the supreme Self. With such a refined vision, we learn to see that not only are we the Self, but everything around us is also the Self. The subject is the Self; the object is the Self. Truly, no matter who or what I see or speak to, it is really only my own Self. If we could really grasp the truth of this, what a revolution would occur in our thinking and behavior!
Just as waves on the ocean are only water, just as golden ornaments are only gold, so all the various forms in the universe are only forms of our own Self. Becoming aware of this, we would begin to revel in that joy which had been missing in our lives before. We would begin to drink the nectar of the unending love for which we had been thirsting before. And we would begin to take delight in just being and living and acting in the world in a way we had been unable to before.
The knowledge once gained from an experience of “enlightenment” is a means of escape from any real ensnarement in anxiety or fear from that time on. It is a supramental knowing which asserts itself whenever needed, and provides a surety, which can never be shaken. The perceptual division of subject from object does not cease; the world goes on, even for the enlightened. It is just that he knows in his heart, with an indomitable certainty, that he and the universe are one.
Just as a chess-player retains the awareness that the warfare between his opponent and himself is merely a temporary game of role-playing, and that at the end of the game both the red and the black pieces will be thrown into the same box; in the same way, one who has clearly experienced the undivided Reality retains the knowledge of the ultimate unity and sees the play of subjects and objects as the ongoing pretense, or play, of the one divine Self. Listen to what [the thirteenth century Indian saint,] Jnaneshvar, has to say on this theme:
"There is nothing else here but the Self. Whether appearing as the seen or perceiving as the seer, nothing else exists besides the Self. Just as water plays with itself by assuming the forms of waves, the Self, the ultimate Reality, plays happily with Himself. Though there are multitudes of visible objects, and wave upon wave of mental images, still they are not different from their witness. You may break a lump of raw sugar into a million pieces, still there is nothing but sugar. Likewise, the unity of the Self is not lost, even though He fills the whole universe. He is seeing only His own Self—like one who discovers various countries in his imagination and goes wandering through them all with great enjoyment."1
But how are we to attain this unitive state of awareness? Until we are lifted into the “experience of unity” by the grace of God, duality must continue to exist for us. When that unitive experience is about to happen to a person, that person’s mind becomes irresistibly withdrawn from worldly concerns, and becomes centered instead upon one all-consuming love, a singular sort of love, for the very source of love within. And in the process of consummating this love, solitude is procured, giving the mind the opportunity to become detached from the pull of distracting thoughts and sense-impressions; and the mind is then focused with great intensity upon its aim. Consciousness, like an unflickering flame in a windless room, becomes pure and clear. And then suddenly it knows who it has always been.
It is God’s grace, which manifests in us as that divine love that draws us so compellingly toward the experience of unity. This love is not the ordinary kind of love between a subject and an object, however; for in this case the subject and the object, and the love itself are one. Nor is this love the result of a conclusion based on a rational premise; it is an inner experience. It is something quite real— breathtakingly and intoxicatingly real. It stirs from within, and centers on itself within. It is not a rationally thought-out construction based on philosophical principles, but a sweetness that is itself the object of devotion. It is this Love that bhaktas love. It has no location but the human heart, yet its source is the universal Being. It is His gracious gift, and only those who have experienced it know what it is.
It is of this love that Sri Ramakrishna sang:
"How are you trying, O my mind, to know the nature of God?
You are groping like a madman locked in a dark room.
He is grasped through ecstatic love; How can you fathom Him without it? When that love awakes, the Lord, like a magnet, draws to Him the soul." 2
Such longing for God always precedes the experience of enlightenment, because it is the natural expression, the unfailing indicator, of a shift in consciousness toward the transcendent Unity. All of the outer events as well as the inner ones will conspire to bring one’s life to that point where enlightenment is experienced. When it is time for it to come, it will produce itself, and it will announce its coming by a great wave of love that steers the heart irresistibly to the source of that love, and eventually reveals itself unaided from within.
Consider the great Shankara’s final message to the disciple in his
"Gurus and scriptures can stimulate spiritual awareness, but one crosses the ocean of ignorance only by direct illumination, through the grace of God." 3
No one has ever realized God except those to whom He has revealed Himself. On this point all Self-realized beings are unanimously agreed. As one commentator says in the Malini Vijaya Vartika: “The learned men of all times always hold that the descent of grace does not have any cause or condition but depends entirely on the free will of the Lord.” If it were dependent upon conditions, it would not be absolute and independent grace. According to yet another Tantric scripture, the Tantraloka, “Divine grace leads the individual to the path of spiritual realization. It is the only cause of Self-realization and is independent of human effort.”
The experience of Self-realization occurs when the mind is concentrated to a fine laser-point and focused in contemplation of God; but this happens only by the power of the universal Self, of God Himself. This is not a denial of the efficacy of self-effort, but merely an assertion that every effort or desire to remember Him, every intensification of concentration on Him, is instigated by Himself, for He is our own inner Self, the inner Controller. It is He who inspires, enacts, and consummates all our efforts.
Among the Christian mystics, we find complete agreement on this issue. Saint Bernard of Clairvaux, for example, says: “You would not seek Him at all, O soul, nor love Him at all, if you had not been first sought and first loved.” Meister Eckhart also acknowledges this truth, saying: “It is He that prays in us and not we ourselves.” And the Blessed Jan Ruysbroeck concurs:
"Contemplation places us in a purity and radiance which is far above our understanding, ...and no one, can attain to it by knowledge, by subtlety, or by any exercise whatsoever; but he whom God chooses to unite to Himself, he and no other can contemplate God." 4
We find the same agreement among the Sufi mystics, the Hindus and the Buddhists. It is always so—always. And though the attempt is often made by charlatans to translate the description of the mental state of the mystic at the time of his experience of unity into a sort of “method” or “scientific technique” for the attainment of God, no one has ever claimed that such a technique has actually produced the advertised result. For, by themselves, the practices of shallow breathing, fixed stares, and cessation of thought, will never produce the experience of unity. This experience comes only by the will of God. Nanak, the great Guru of the Sikh tradition, stated the matter plainly when he said, “Liberation from bondage depends upon Thy will; there is no one to gainsay it. Should a fool wish to, suffering will teach him wisdom.” 5
When He draws the mind to Himself, the mind becomes still automatically. It is not necessary to attempt to still the mind by austere practices or artificial methods. The body becomes still, and the mind becomes still, when the heart is yearning sincerely for Him alone. Everything happens very naturally by His grace: One begins to begrudge the mind any thought save the thought directed to God; and, with the aim of centering the mind continually on Him, one begins to sing His name in the inner recesses of the mind. It doesn’t matter what name is used; Christians call Him “Father”; Muslims call Him “Allah,” or “Karim”; Jews call Him “Adonai”; and Hindus call Him “Hari” or “Ram.” Love responds to whatever name is called with love. To one who loves, His name is nectar; it is like a cold drink of water to a thirsty man. It is no discipline, nor is it an austerity. It is the refreshment of life. It is the sweetness of peace, and the delight of delights.
Since there is really nothing else but that infinite Being wherever one may look, that awareness dawns, as one begins to sing the name of God within the heart; and the bliss of recognizing one’s own Self both without and within begins to well up. The more one sings His name, the more one revels in that bliss, and the more clearly one perceives His continual presence. Inherent in that perception is all mercy, all right judgment, all tenderness, all loving-kindness. It is the natural devotion by which a man’s heart is transformed, and by which he becomes fit for the vision of God.
Therefore, say the mystics, we must forge our link with God, and He will lead us to Himself. He will draw us to love Him, for He Himself is that Love that awakens in us as love for God. He will draw us to seek Him in prayer and in silent longing, for He is our own heart. Follow, and you will reach Him. Draw near to Him in the silence of the night and He will reveal Himself to you as your very deepest Self, your eternal Identity. Keep on loving Him, keep on trusting in Him to guide you, and keep on praying to Him. When He puts into your heart the desire to know Him, He will lift aside the veil and reveal that, all along, it was Him who prayed, who sought, who sorrowed, as you; and that, all along, it was you who forever lives beyond all sorrow, as God—forever blissful, forever free.
- Jnaneshvar, Amritanubhav; VII; Swami Abhayananda, Atma Books, 1989.
- Nikhilananda, Swami, The Gospel of Sri Ramakrishna,Ramakrishna-Vivekananda Center,1941; p. 607.
- Shankara, Vivekachudamani, The Crest-Jewel of Discrimination Swami Prabhavananda & Christopher Isherwood, Hollywood, Calif., Vedanta Press,1947, p. 131.
5. Singh, Trilochan, et al (eds.), Selections FromThe Sacred Writings of The Sikhs, London, Geo. Allen & Unwin,1960,
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If you have read even a small portion of the writings featured on this website, you are well aware that it represents a viewpoint that is not only revolutionary but highly unpopular—unpopular in the sense that it goes against the view of the majority. In the books and articles featured here, the occurrence of my own revelatory experience of the Divine reality is described, and forms the basis for the assumption that any other devout human being is also capable of experiencing such a transcendent revelation—that, in fact, those who have experienced such a revelation in the past were also ordinary beings and not divinely begotten children or incarnations of the supreme deity—at least no more so than anyone else.
This understanding flies in the face of the customary religious suppositions of a large number of people, I know; but old customs must eventually give way to proven experiential knowledge. The acceptance of mystical experience, and the recognition of its misinterpretation through the ages will certainly not come overnight; but eventually human evolution requires the expansion of human understanding through the acceptance of accumulated experiential evidence.
There is no shortage of evidence to show that many people throughout the world and throughout history have experienced the interior revelation of their own divine being; and if you are unaware of this evidence, please see my History of Mysticism, a factual account of that evidence (available as a free download from my website). Though, from the perspective of history, so many have testified to the occurrence of that revelation in their lives, it is, for us, a sad fact that so relatively few seem privileged to experience that revelation each day, month, and year during the limited time of our lives. In that regard, it is an experience that seems to be both common and yet rare--common in the long term, but rare in the short term.
It must nevertheless be accepted as indisputably true that we are, each one, the manifestation of God’s bounty, and are capable, each one, of knowing Him as our immortal Self through prayerful contemplation and a focused and mindful intent. His will is paramount; but if, by acting in accord with His will, you can affect, or in any way influence the course of His will, you must do so. Beg for His favor, implore His merciful gift of light, give your heart unreservedly to Him, surrender your life in His service; see all creation as His manifestation, and know your oneness with Him.
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WHAT IS A SWAMI?
It’s a question that comes up from time to time, and I’ve learned that I cannot really say what being a Swami means for all Swamis, but I can at least try to say what it means to me. I was living in a secluded cabin in the Santa Cruz mountains when it first dawned on me that I wanted to be a Swami. I had gone to live in that cabin in my spiritual quest for enlightenment, and I had been reading many books on Indian philosophy as well as books on Western religious philosophy. I was impressed by what Sri Ramakrishna’s disciple, Swami Vivekananda, said about sannyasa, and also by these words of Sarvepali Radhakrishnan:
“A sannyasin [monk, or swami] renounces all possessions, distinctions of caste, and practices of religion. As he has perfected himself, he is able to give his soul the largest scope, throw all his powers into the free movement of the world and compel its transfiguration. He does not merely formulate the conception of high living but lives it, adhering to the famous rule, ‘The world is my country; to do good my religion’. Regarding all with an equal eye he must be friendly to all living beings. And being devoted, he must not injure any living creature, human or animal, either in act, word, or thought, and renounce all attachments. A freedom and fearlessness of spirit, an immensity of courage, which no defeat or obstacle can touch, a faith in the power that works in the universe, a love that lavishes itself without demand of return and makes life a free servitude to the universal spirit, are the signs of the perfected man.” 1
Well, who wouldn’t want to be such a person? It was during this same period of time that I was given to experience a profound illumination from God, revealing the spiritual depth of my true being; and shortly thereafter, I made myself and God a promise: that I would first give myself a twelve-year period of spiritual study and growth, then I would become a Swami. That was in 1966, and in 1978 I was able to fulfill that promise. After a paradisical five years in my cabin in the woods, I traveled to Ganeshpuri, India and became a disciple of the famous Kundalini master, Swami Muktananda.
Muktananda (affectionately known by his disciples as “Baba”) is known by many today as a man who made a tragic mistake in his later years, just prior to his death in 1982, by inappropriately sharing his physical affections with a number of his young female disciples. Many of us will also make great mistakes in our lives, especially as we age; and it is a terrible shame that Muktananda’s great legacy of loving wisdom should be so tarnished by the memory of a few misdeeds in the latter period of his life. I was one of those who left his organization in protest and who spoke out condemning those misdeeds, and they needed to be condemned. But, because of those unfortunate events, few of the public today know of the greatness that was Swami Muktananda. His was a spiritual presence that touched the lives of hundreds, even thousands, of souls and lifted them to an experience of God in their lives through the generous gift of his own heart’s immense compassion and love. Those who sat in his presence know, as no others can, that despite his human imperfections, he was indeed a great saint, possessing immense compassion and awesome power.
In 1978, I was working in Muktananda’s Oakland ashram, when I wrote to Baba in India informing him that the 12 years of my apprenticeship had expired and that it was time for me to become a Swami. He then invited me to Ganeshpuri to take part in the sannyasin initiations that were to take place in May at the time of his birthday. There were about a dozen of us, both Indians and Westerners to be initiated, and an appointed Mahamandeleshvar (ceremonial official) named Swami Brahmananda Sarasvati of the Shringeri Math was on hand to direct the proceedings. After performing the Vedic rituals of offering rice balls to our ancestors, and after having the last remaining ‘brahmin’s tuft of hair’ shorn from our heads, signifying the transcendence of all castes, we performed the culminating ceremony of discarding our old clothes while standing waist deep in a cold raging river at midnight, and the receiving of the Swami’s ochre robes. After that, we were Swamis, monks of the prestigious Sarasvati Order.
But, of course, it is not the ritual ceremony that makes a Swami; it is the heart’s desire, the commitment to a spiritually dedicated life, and the favor of God and one’s Guru. I was to know the awesome power of Muktananda’s grace to his Swamis, a grace that enlivened the world and my soul with a brightness that revealed God’s sparkling beauty within and without. Through no merit of my own, I experienced a divine blue light that would indicate to me advanced godly souls by dancing over their heads; I would experience Muktananda’s grace being emitted from my own body to sincere devotees; I was even able to experience the transference of spiritual energy to others when someone inadvertently brushed my clothes. It was all his amazing and gracious power, transmitted from him through me, even though he was not present. His loving regard of me, even from far away, was a tangible energy that drew me in awed devotion to know him as the very image of God and distributor of God’s grace on this earth.
In Muktananda’s organization, SYDA Yoga, Swamis were honored, not so much for their holiness, but for their position in the hierarchy of the Guru’s favor. Muktananda, in the tradition of the rajas of India, ruled as king over an orange silk-robed aristocracy or nobility, who always sat in the front nearest the king when he gave audience. Further back were the members of the functional bureaucracy, and behind them the peasants, the visiting mob. The Swamis shared in the teaching role, giving authorized courses and operating the regional Meditation Centers and Ashrams. In the absence of the Guru, they were the connection with the Guru and his teachings. In a way very similar to the monks and priests of the Catholic Church, the Swamis of SYDA Yoga made up an organizational hierarchy of representatives of the Siddha line.
But just as in the Catholic Church there were, and still are to some degree, lone contemplative hermits and anchorites who live among the people, in India there are many sannyasins who wander freely and independently, living the worshipful and contemplative life or teaching and lecturing and living by the charity of the citizenry. One can easily see, however, that such a class of religious itinerant beggars would not be feasible in Western countries. What, then, is a Western Swami to do? How is he (or she) to carry on his or her chosen vocation?
We must understand at the outset that a Swami transcends not only all Hindu caste designations, but all sectarian religious designations as well. A Swami is not (necessarily) a Hindu. The ideal Swami is learned in all religious traditions, and he is familiar as well with current science and literature. He is an enlightened and learned soul, and he is solely dedicated to God and the well-being of all God’s children. After I had left Muktananda’s organization, I was faced with the question of how to continue my “mission” as a Swami. My immediate instinct was to share my acquired experience and understanding in the form of writing, and I went on to produce a number of books, all concerned with the “mystical experience” and the Self-knowledge obtained thereby.
There was also, of course, the necessity of meeting the expenses of living in this world; and this I managed to do by obtaining a license as a CNA (Certified Nursing Assistant) and working primarily as a Home Health Aide for elderly and infirm patients in their homes. For the twenty-five years since I left Siddha Yoga, I have written my books, seen to their publication, and daily served the many patients I was assigned to: victims of stroke, cancer, diabetes, kidney disease, heart disease, and senile dementia with hands-on care. I no longer parade about in orange silk robes; rather, I live a simple solitary life as a servant; I promote my books, presenting them and offering them as free downloadable ebooks at my online website: www.themysticsvision.com; and I spend a good deal of time in reflection and inward communion with God. According to our brother, Socrates:
"This is that life above all others which man should live, … holding converse with the true Beauty, simple and divine. In that communion only beholding Beauty with the eye of the mind, he will be enabled to bring forth, not images of beauty, but Reality [Itself]; …and bringing forth and nourishing true virtue, to become the friend of God and be immortal if mortal man may. Would that be an ignoble life?"
― Plato, Symposium
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You will have noticed that I do not ordinarily speak of temporal conditions in the world; I do not propose solutions for the worldly ills that are so apparent to all of us. For example, I do not address the current and long existent culture of racial discrimination that seems to pervade this world. But, today, I'm going to make an exception to that rule:
In America, at the present time, there is an increased awareness of this ongoing racial conflict, and no one seems to know what to do to alleviate it. I think we might begin to solve the problem if we can recognize that the blame for the world’s ills does not fall on any one race or another, but on humans, on people. It is not Blacks or Whites, or Jews or Germans, who are ignorant and cruel; it is not the Arabs or the Chinese, the Americans or the Russians who are to blame; every human being is capable of ignorance and cruelty, every human being is capable of the most abject inhumanity. In other words, it is you and me, my friends, who are the source of all the evil in the world.
Wise up! Examine who you are and modify your behavior accordingly. Though you are searching for a race of people or an ethnicity to blame for all the trouble in the world, it is your ignorance, your intolerance, your stupidity, that needs to be addressed. Whenever the thought of enmity arises toward a race of people or nationality, or toward a particular culture, remember this: We are one people in God, He is not only our Creator and Ground; He is our ultimate Self, our witness and judge, and each one of us is responsible for what is in our own mind and in our own heart, and eventually we will have to account for it.
These worldly troubles will be remedied if only we, the people, become transformed in heart and mind to focus on God’s loving presence in our own hearts. Surely, then, He will bless us and many others with the interior revelation of His ever-presence, and will free us forevermore from all hatred, worry, distress, and sorrow. Reach out to Him with all the power of your mind and heart and soul, and He will surely grant your heart’s desire.
Also, please explore the many books and articles available to you here on my website. They were written solely for your benefit.
And please take every precaution to remain safe from the current Corona Virus pandemic. I pray that God will inspire and protect you and keep you well.
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Here's a song to make every day Thanksgiving Day:
SONG OF THANKSGIVING
(from my article, “Praising God”)
Hari, my love, I wish to sing to Thee a song of Thanksgiving,
Yet, O how I dread the futile search for meaningful words to offer Thee!
My heart is full of thanks and praise for each breath that is granted me,
But to speak reveals the lie of pretended two-ness that I must tell.
For Thou art my breath, my voice, the Real; and I am but the image.
I live by Thy uncommon Life, imaged in Thy dream of me;
And yet my gratitude to Thee upwells, as an image in a mirror
Might admire its own source, its real and original Face,
Or as a dream character might call out praise to its dreaming Self.
Though we are one, not two, I’ll speak as though we’re separate and apart;
For how else might I truly speak to Thee?
O Hari, Thou art alone, undiminished by the clatter and glitter
Of a billion billion images, mere reflections in a house of mirrors.
For Thou art alike the house, the mirrors, and the flitting images as well.
This speaking too is like the barking of a dog in an empty field;
For, though it may be heard, the silence of the cosmos remains unbroken.
Yet I--this imagined form--am present—at least in appearance.
And because I’m here, please let me speak to Thee in loving thanks.
O Hari look how wonderful is this story Thou dost tell!
Look how beautiful is this body and the life ensouled.
Though all too quickly it will turn to dust, this form is Thine
And holds Thy greatness and Thy holy light and breath of life.
Thou, this brightly glowing wakeful knowing,
Thou, this deep and endlessly creative song of light and love,
Dost bubble up from Thy unfathomable depths
Within the soul of me to greet each day with joyful thanks.
O Hari, from Thy eternal Goodness and unknowable Repose,
Thou hast issued forth this universe of man and beast
With purpose known only to Thy own delight;
And Thou hast given Thy own thoughts to guide us from within
To bring us happily through adventures great and small,
And eventually to our end in Thy boundlessly blissful Self.
O Hari, it is a most wonderful and admirable drama
Thou hast produced, full of harrowing dilemmas,
Frightful predicaments, and uproarious denouements!
Yet, in the end, we all awake to know one eternal Self,
The Dreamer of this dream, our ever-undisturbed Reality.
Always unperturbed, Thou art forever untouched by time,
As the patient sky is ever untouched by the passing clouds.
We are where we have always been in truth, never separated
From our constantly unfolding, ever undivided Self,
Where all the fervent lives o’erpassed, like dreams,
Once left behind in waking, hastily retreat from view,
Revealed as the flimsiest of transient illusions.
In waking, we are one in Thee, O Hari!
And in Thee, as Thee, we have always been.
Never imprisoned as we thought in separate forms,
Once reawakened from our dreams, we know our
Ever undivided and eternal Identity as Thee.
In blissful folds of snow-white radiant Eternity
We rest as Thee in peaceful oneness and joy.
But while I live in pretended separation from Thyself,
Let me now offer my song of grateful thanks to Thee,
Who art the Life that lives me, my secret pride and joy;
For it is Thou who hast made Thyself as me.
Dear Father, all that Thou hast made is good,
And all Thy beauteous forms sing praise and thanks to Thee.
Then, let me uplift my voice in song as well
To glorify in praise my gracious Lord:
O Hari, all praise be to Thee in Thy heavenly glory!
All praise be to Thee in Thy universal pageantry of form!
My head is bowed in loving thanks and worship,
Knowing Thou art all and more than all.
Thy grace to me is beyond what my voice can tell.
I can but offer thanks, with hands held high, to Thee,
My ever kind and gracious Lord.
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