Self-Awareness vs. Cosmic Consciousness


I abide as the Self...realizing that all I’ve ever been is the Self....i am becoming in awe at the simple miracle of life. but what is the nirbalkalpa samadhi different then realizing that Thou are That!? What I'm saying is what is the difference between abiding as the Self versus stopping the heart and leaving the body?

In Christs Light,


—MushinHakim, US


Dear NoMind,

We here are using language to describe states of consciousness which are unitive in nature: thus, beyond words. Words require a subject, verb and an object. But a state of oneness is beyond description. It simply IS.

Nonetheless, terms such as “abiding in Self” or “nirbikalpa samadhi” have certain accepted meanings but being mere words that describe unitive states such words are as much defined by those who use them as they are by any commonly accepted usage. Why is this? Simple: very few people have had such states of consciousness.

I say the above because whatever I can contribute towards your inquiry will necessarily stumble upon the meaning and usage of these terms whose true nature is BEYOND words! So, here we go:

1.) It seems that YOUR use of the term “abiding in the Self” is referring to a state of awareness that remains very “present” in the human body; still very cognizant of being the one who “sees,” “observes,” hears and acts even if mentally detached from the body, personality, objects around you and so forth. This might be called “witnessing,” mindful, or being the observer, with no or little sense of connection to what you see, feel, hear, etc. I have met others who feel this is a state of enlightenment: a kind of being mindful and present while only observing. Yes, it’s a good thing to do. Unless it is permanent and unshakeable, I would not call it enlightenment. And it certainly isn’t liberation, samadhi, or cosmic consciousness.

2) Other meanings of this phrase “abiding in the Self” (and as used by Patanjali in the Yoga Sutras or by Ramana Maharshi, to give just two examples) can refer to a state of consciousness which transcends the body’s spatial and temporal fixity even while in the body. A state of awareness whose only “object” is the Self is beyond the flux of maya. If permanent, such a person, even while sleeping, may be yet super-conscious. This might be called enlightment, though it is still not samadhi.

3) Paramhansa Yogananda uses the term “nirbikalapa samadhi” to mean a state of permanent consciousness that transcends the physical, energetic, and spiritual realms and is directly connected to God-consciousness (or cosmic consciousness, Infinity, etc.). However, in this state, the soul, now free from all past karma and identifications, can also simultaneously function in a human body. During human activities, the soul who has achieved nirbikalpa may find that cosmic consciousness, the awareness of Infinity, may recede and manifest principally as a state of “background” non-attachment, freedom, and intuitive connection to God, one’s Higher Self, etc etc but not be obvious to others or manifest in any specific, observable way.

Such a person, like Buddha, Jesus Christ, Krishna, Yogananda, conducts ordinary activities like the rest of us but with great power, wisdom, intuition, and freedom from personal compulsions, likes or dislikes. Only at certain times, notably during meditation, or also spontaneously, such a free soul might enter a transcendent state which can be observed by others and might appear to be trance-like. But mostly in day to day activities, only a discerning observer will know. Most people will simply experience such a one as a very magnetic, dynamic, or even very detached (depending on the role necessary at that moment) person. But only one who “knows” will get a glimpse of Infinity, so to speak.

To conclude, and drawing upon Yogananda’s use of the term nirbikalpa, one who has achieved this state can call upon it at will (or, put another way, enters into it upon the divine summons with which he is fully united). This state is beyond all creation; it is eternal; unlimited and infinite; no past, present or future. All the powers of creation are at his disposal, so to speak. There is no “he,” no ego, and thus the “disposal” is simply the promptings of Infinite Wisdom. Being fully realized, there is no difference to such a state to being in a body or without a body, though each state necessarily manifests according to the parameters, limitations, or conditions inherent in that state.

This is a complex subject and I hope these words will be at least somewhat helpful. Above all, develop love for God and love of God in all. Serve the work of Spirit in your fellows and bring harmony, joy, and wisdom to earth.

Joy to you,
Nayaswami Hriman