Divine redemption means withdrawing from identification with delusion, and becoming inwardly absorbed in the light of truth.
The inner light has power to effect this transformation but it requires much preliminary work: a work not outward, in the form of service or teaching or converting others as people commonly believe, but inward. It is a process of inner purification. Outward service is beneficial also to those who serve God in others, for it purifies their hearts of selfish desires.
The inner light, when it comes, heralds a higher state of consciousness. The higher this state, the more complete the inner change. In time, that light blazes “as of a million suns,” as it is described the Indian scriptures.
Clarity of mind
The effects of that light can easily be inferred, however, from the way it acts through the human brain. Accompanying it, ever-increasingly as the inner light develops, is a corresponding clarity of mind.
Take the example of someone who tries late at night to solve a problem, even a trivial one, like some clue in a crossword puzzle. If his brain is tired, the problem may seem to him insoluble. The following morning, however, when his brain is refreshed, the solution comes effortlessly.
This phenomenon is relatively common. It is often explained as the result of subconscious activity during sleep. In fact, however, the solution is almost always produced by a renewal of energy: an increase of inner light which, when focused on the problem, simply attracts the right answers.
The denser a person’s consciousness, the less able the spiritual light is to penetrate that mental fog. Thus, if the person is deeply identified with matter, he finds it difficult to think clearly or even, sometimes, to think at all. A clear mind is a sign, outwardly, that the inner light also is clear. A dull mind, on the other hand, is a “clear” sign that the inner light is dull and unfocused.
What obscures the inner light?
The English language contains two meanings for light. The first is the one we’ve been using: the opposite of darkness. The second meaning pertains to lightness of weight. The more light in a person’s consciousness, the more light-weighted he also feels—not in pounds or kilos, but in awareness. Influences that increase this sense of lightness increase also the mind’s receptivity to the visible light.
Dense, heavy foods, however, cloud the mind and make its consciousness heavy. Too much sleep darkens the mind and results in sluggish thinking processes. Alcoholic beverages and consciousness-changing drugs darken the mind. Too much sensory stimulation and sensual indulgence also darken the mind. All activity, in fact, that absorbs one in materiality, and that lessens one’s spiritual awareness, obscures the mind, reducing its clarity.
The spiritual reason for moral living, then, is that it lightens the consciousness, loosens the shackles of ego- and matter-consciousness, and attunes one more sensitively to the redeeming inner light.
Mental clarity is affected also by clouds of doubt and restlessness, and by clouds of emotion such as fear, anger, and hatred. All these are the foes of calm feeling and intuition. Anything that prevents one from seeing life with dispassion, and therefore objectively, obscures the inner light.
Learning to absorb the light
A science-fiction story appeared years ago about a planet that received its illumination from several suns. Together, the suns kept it constantly bathed in daylight. Once in every thousand years, however, these suns became so disposed that the stars beyond them could be briefly seen by the inhabitants. Many people, overwhelmed by such a sudden and extraordinary event, went mad.
Their reaction was not, perhaps, wholly believable, but spiritually speaking, the point of the story is both clear and valid. The mental jolt from gross daylight to a glimpse of infinity was, to the inhabitants, terrifying. How much greater would the shock have been had they found the daylight reduced to relative dimness before the intensity of the inner light, and to feel their egos dissolving in infinite bliss!
Human consciousness, conditioned as it is by ordinary, worldly experience, is unable to absorb itself in this light, or to accept what Yogananda called “the liberating shock of omnipresence.” It is not that this light hurts the eyes; indeed, they find it soothing. But it would be too great a shock to someone who was not ready to receive it. Moreover, it isn’t that omnipresence, the state that follows, is devastating. The ego, however, must be conditioned by long and deep meditation to surrender into a greater self-awareness.
Absorption in the light comes not by passivity. Nor can it be forcefully commandeered. It comes at last, however, by steadfast, deep devotion. Most important of all is an attitude of loving receptivity toward the Christ consciousness, through that one whom God has ordained as your true, or sat, guru.
Excerpted from Swami Kriyananda’s forthcoming book, The Promise of Immortality.
The Inner Light
That mystical light appears, at first, as a darker island in the general darkness behind closed eyelids. That island is a deep violet in color, and is surrounded by a thin ring of pale luminescence. In place of the physical light of this world, which comes from the sun, there- gradually appears, and with growing intensity, the light of the spiritual eye; and what is known also in mystical tradition as “the star of east.” This is not the Christ consciousness, but it heralds the coming of that supernal event.