Book Review: Awaken to Superconsciousness
by Swami Kriyananda
Swami Kriyananda often spoke of the epiphany that inspired him to devote his life to seeking God. Walking alone at night in Charleston, South Carolina, at the age of 21, he grappled with the question, “If there is a God, what must He be?” The answer followed shortly. “Well, what’s making me ask this question? It’s because I’m conscious. Furthermore, if God does exist, He must be asking it through me. Therefore, God must be consciousness!”
Kriyananda’s reflections may seem like statements of simple logic. His reasoning process was at work, certainly, but it was his intuition, truly a memory divine, that had been awakened. For the first time, after seemingly long years of seeking truth, he experienced a conscious, mature awareness of his connection with the greater consciousness that pervades the universe, with superconsciousness.
The evening of Kriyananda’s epiphany took place in 1947. Within months, he discovered the spiritual path and became a disciple of Paramhansa Yogananda. Thus began a life of earnest meditation practice and dedication to sharing the spiritual teachings he received from his Guru.
Swami Kriyananda, through his level of spiritual advancement, soon regularly abided in deep states of meditation, and brought the fruits of divine contact into his daily life. His direct experiences of superconsciousness supply the foundation for Awaken to Superconsciousness, and are the source of guidance and inspiration that readers can draw upon to uplift themselves to the same heights.
Information combined with direct experience
Awaken to Superconsciousness is a comprehensive guide to meditation, spirituality and consciousness, the latter presented as the fundamental reality of existence. These are vast subjects to explore, yet Swami Kriyananda presents them in ways that are practical as well as profound. The book is written in three parts: “Divine Memory,” “The Process,” and “Superconscious Living.” It offers a progression to the reader, inviting him to awaken an inner understanding of the depths of his own consciousness, and then to put that understanding into practice, until it becomes a living part of his daily reality.
Throughout the book, Kriyananda weaves together information and direct experience. Each chapter ends with a meditation exercise that includes helpful elements of visualization. Drawn from Kriyananda’s direct experience and intuitive insights, these exercises enable readers to experience their own potential for expanding their awareness.
For example, here is the exercise from the chapter “Stilling the Waves,” in which he introduces the importance of developing one’s feeling nature:
Visualize your heart’s feelings as a boundless lake. Strive to see reflected in that lake the full moon in the sky above. Ripples in the lake’s surface, and deeper vortices churning below its surface, disturb that reflection. This agitation is due to disturbances in your heart’s feelings, past as well as present.
Calm that movement—not by suppressing it, but by seeking at the center of every ripple and vortex the undistorted reflection of the moon above.
You do not have to work to develop divine love. The calmer your lake of feeling, the more clearly and spontaneously will love and devotion appear, reflected, in the heart.
Love is the very essence of reality.
What is superconsciousness?
Kriyananda calls superconsciousness the “central reality,” an absolute state of awareness that exists beyond all creation. Yet, it is simultaneously all-pervading throughout creation. Paramhansa Yogananda compared it to an infinite ocean of awareness, composed of the countless waves of creation, which must include, of course, our seemingly finite selves.
Clearly, attaining this level of consciousness is a lofty and challenging proposition, but not beyond our reach. We can gradually expand our awareness through meditation and by leading a spiritual life, until we reach this final goal. We can make that goal increasingly accessible by deepening our understanding of our inner selves.
Who should read this book?
I would recommend Awaken to Superconsciousness to anyone open to the insights it presents, but Swami Kriyananda had a few particular audiences in mind when writing it: 1) the beginning meditator who wants a practical system based on experience, rather than scholarship; 2) more experienced meditators, to bring them to a new and deeper level in their practice of meditation; 3) those who are on a spiritual path but don’t realize the importance of direct spiritual experience; 4) people who, without necessarily realizing it, are seeking deeper meaning in life; and finally, 5) those who, while not ready to take up meditation, desire a deeper understanding of the phenomenon of consciousness.
The topics in Awaken to Superconsciousness include:
-The different levels of human consciousness
-The relationship between consciousness and energy.
-The anatomy of meditation, and understanding our center as our spine
-Our feeling nature and its higher octave of intuition
-The importance of listening during meditation
-The right use of prayer
-The different paths of yoga
-Reincarnation and the natural evolution of human consciousness
-The laws of karma
-Will power and concentration
-Chanting and affirmations
-How to receive intuitive guidance
Superconsciousness is attainable by all of us. Swami Kriyananda has shared with us his example of one who lived most of his adult life in this state of consciousness. Through a lifetime of meditation and spiritual practice, he learned how to touch the heart of creation, and was thus able to express the love, joy and wisdom, to name just a few qualities, that he experienced in their purest form.
Kriyananda’s reality can become our reality. What he gave to the world, we can also give. Here are a few of his suggestions on how to do so:
Be joyful in meditation. Be peaceful. Bless all the world with your love. And, even walking down a city street, send divine love and blessings to everyone you pass. You’ll be surprised how many strangers treat you as a friend.
Brahmachari Prashad is a disciple of Paramhansa Yogananda and lives in the monastery at Ananda Village. He serves as a web developer for Ananda’s websites and enjoys sharing Swami Kriyananda’s consciousness through his music.