How did the physical world come into existence? And where were we before it came into existence?
—Adam, United States
According to Yogananda’s cosmology, everything emerges out of Pure Consciousness, which some people call Spirit, others God, others still Cosmic Consciousness. That Consciousness, still and eternal, began to vibrate, emanating a primal sound, like a first “big bang”. Yogis call it the sound of OM, the Bible says that “in the beginning was the Word”.
That still original Consciousness, by vibrating, became a little denser, and thoughts formed. This is called the “casual” universe, the universe of thoughts. “Causal”, because thoughts are the first manifested “cause” of everything else in creation. The matrix, so to speak. Everything is made of thought.
That thought-world vibrated a little more densely and another, more solid layer of creation appeared: the world of energy, also called the “astral” universe. It is nothing but thought becoming me a little more dense.
That energy world in turn became a little more dense, and matter appeared, our physical world was born: everything material is nothing but “condensed” energy, which in turn is condensed thought, which in turn is condensed Consciousness.
Imagine H2O which first appears as vapor, which then, becoming more dense, turns into water, which becomes more dense still, turning into frozen ice: solid.
So this is how according to Yogananda our physical world came into existence. Science by and by has confirmed his teaching: all matter, they have said since Einstein, is nothing but energy and can again be turned into energy. Behind energy there is thought, as Max Planck postulated: everything is made of thought. Science yet has to confirm that behind thought, there is a finer reality yet: eternal Consciousness. But that might actually never be measurable by any scientific tool or equation.
And where did we come from, where were we originally? We have come from the very same origin: we all come out of this vast “ocean” of Pure Consciousness, which yogis also call Satchidananda (existence-consciousness-bliss). We are like an individual wave of that Ocean, and the job of our life is to rediscover that the wave is one with that ocean. Separtation is what causes all our suffering. Union or re-union (in traditional language called “finding God”) is what will be the funeral of all our suffering.
That re-union is the purpose of life, according to Yogananda, who calls it Self-realization: the soul realizes (not intellectually, by belief, but by experience) that it is part of the eternal ocean of blissful Consciousness.
The main tool for this soul-realization is meditation: becoming still again.
A short question and a long answer. I hope that at least it was useful.
All the best, Jayadev