Exceptional excerpt from the famous work “Autobiography of a Yogi” by Swami Yogananda
One day, the glorious form of the grandiose avatar Krishna appeared to me, shrouded in blinding light, in my room in the Regent Hotel in Bombay.
The vision manifested itself before my astonished eyes, on the roof of the large building in front, as I gazed spontaneously through the wide-open window on the second floor. The fascinating shape gave me, with a smile, a friendly sign. I had just begun to wonder what this message could mean, when the image of Krishna disappeared after he made a gesture of blessing. Deeply relieved and filled with extraordinary pleasant emotion, I sensed that this vision would be for me the prelude to great spiritual events.
On June 19, 1936, exactly one week after Krishna’s great vision, I was just meditating in the same hotel room when suddenly an utterly astonishing glow awakened me from my profound state of sublime recollection; The whole room had turned into an enchanting dream world, where sunlight had suddenly transmuted into supernatural splendor. Drunk with ecstasy, I remarked then astonished that I could contemplate Sri Yukteswar again; Himself, flesh and blood, now materialized instantly, a few months after death, before me.
The Master spoke softly and a sublime smile illuminated his angelic face. For the first time in my life I did not kneel at his sacred feet, but frantically clasped them in his arms. The anguish of the last few months in which I had missed him so intensely meant nothing compared to the pure, endless happiness I was now experiencing.
“O my beloved Master, why hast thou forsaken me?”
The excess of joy made my words seem almost incoherent.
“Why did you let me go to Kumbha Mela?” With what bitterness I reproached myself then for leaving you!
“I didn’t want to dash your hope of meeting Babaji in the same place where he appeared to me. After all, I have only left you for a short interval; for—look at me—am I not now with you again?
“But is it really you, Lion of God?” Do you now wear the same fleshy shell that I buried in the dry sand of Puri?
“Yes, my son, it’s me myself. This is my body of flesh and blood. He seems ethereal in the eyes of my spirit, but to you he is perfectly material. We have reconstructed and materialized from cosmic atoms an entirely new body, which is identical to that – which was an ephemeral cosmic dream – that you buried in the illusory sand of Puri, in the bosom of this physical dream world. Indeed, you must know that I have been revived, but not on Earth, but on a sublime planet of the higher astral universe, whose inhabitants are highly spiritually evolved; In fact, they are much more commensurate with my level of inner evolution than terrestrial humanity. Up there, you and those who are spiritually evolved enough and whom you love, will probably come one day to find me again.
– Immortal guru, tell me everything, I beg you! I want to know what is the mystery of this return.
Master sketched a smile.
“But please, my child, loosen your arms’ grip a little.”
Indeed, it was then that I realized that I was squeezing my guru with Herculean force, happy to find the same familiar aroma emanating from his physical body. Even now, whenever I remember, I still feel in my palms the contact with his divine flesh and this sensation appears to me every time I evoke those unforgettable hours.
Just as prophets have the mission to help humanity evolve spiritually or atone for its physical karma, so God has entrusted me, in a higher world, with the mission of saving spiritual guide, Sri Yukteswar explains to me. This world is called Hiranyaloka (“Illuminated astral planet”). My essential task there is to help beings who are evolved enough to atone for their astral karma in order to free themselves forever from astral rebirths. The inhabitants of Hiranyaloka have a high degree of spiritual evolution, each of them attaining, during their last terrestrial reincarnation, thanks to yoga practice and deep meditation, the power to leave their own physical body in full consciousness at the moment of death. No one is otherwise worthy and therefore cannot enter Hiranyaloka at all unless he has exceeded, while still in the terrestrial sphere, the stage of savikalpa samadhi, and then attained that of nirvikalpa samadhi.
The inhabitants of Hiranyaloka have already passed through that astral realm where people generally stay for a longer or shorter time after death, depending on their karma; All of them have already broken many of the chains of their past actions in the astral world, for only beings who are sufficiently advanced can carry out this action of salvation. In order to completely purify their astral body of any karma-ic residue, these higher beings are reborn through cosmic laws, specific to this realm, with a new, more refined astral body, in the world of Hiranyaloka, the sun (true sublime focus) of the astral universe, in which I revived after leaving the physical body, to offer various spiritual advice to the beings there. Hiranyaloka also encompasses some highly evolved spirits who came from a far higher, even more subtle, causal realm.
Such a deeply spiritual fusion had been established between my Master and me that he then communicated almost everything to me through a kind of subtle mutual vision, both through words and through the telepathic transmission of thoughts.
– The ancient yogic writings show, Sri Yukteswar continues, that God clothed the immortal human spirit with three successive shells: the causal body, woven and made up only of ideas, the subtle astral body, the residence or, in other words, the vehicle of the mind (Manas) and affectivity, and, finally, the coarse physical body.
On Earth, man is endowed with a sensory apparatus, which corresponds to the astral being to consciousness and affectivity, in a body that consists of prana.
The causal being “lives” and moves in the grandiose, extremely subtle, beatific sphere of pure ideas. My current activities always put me in contact with evolved beings of the astral who are assiduously preparing to enter and remain forever in the causal universe.
– Dear teacher, please give me other significant details about the etheric life of the astral universe.
– There is an amazing infinity of astral planets that are populated with astral beings, which are more or less beautiful and endowed with various extraordinary qualities, explains the Master. In order to travel from one astral planet to another, their inhabitants spontaneously use their astral senses, instantly using various subtle astral energies, which are much faster and more powerful than electricity or invisible radiation that are used in the physical world by humans.
The astral universe, which is made up of refined subtle forms of differentiated light (akasha tattva), is surprisingly much more beautiful, loving, and vast than the material cosmos. The entire physical universe, although it seems infinite to humans, is – analogously speaking – suspended like a small solid basket at the gigantic “aircraft” of the astral universe. Countless indeed are the material galaxies that are found scattered in the myriad of stars and constellations, but infinitely more numerous are the galaxies and constellations of the astral universe, whose solar systems have astral planets that are incomparably more beautiful and astounding than yours; There, at dawn, their fascinating suns shine in thousands of indescribable auroras borealis, mirroring themselves in the loving and happy eyes of their inhabitants. Day and night there are much longer than on Earth.
The astral universe is generally far more beautiful, diaphanous, loving and pure, while being incomparably more harmonious and better organized than the physical world. There are neither strange desert areas nor uninhabitable planets. All terrestrial scourges: poisonous or evil grasses, microbes, insects or snakes are almost completely unknown in the astral world, as are differences in climate or season; An eternal paradisiacal summer reigns there, tempered by charming torrential rains, falling in millions of multicolored drops; There, in certain areas, snowfall of dazzling whiteness sometimes occurs. On these astral planets there are also opal lakes, bright seas, crystalline rainbow-colored rivers that beautify their paradisiacal landscapes. The inhabitants of the astral live indescribable states of happiness and, full of joy and harmony, love each other being always full of altruism and kindness.
The ordinary astral universe, but not the upper world of Hiranyaloka, is populated by tens of millions of human souls who more or less recently came from Earth, as well as hundreds of billions of other beings. Fish, animals, fairies, mermaids, salamanders, gnomes (dwarfs), demi-gods or other clearly differentiated higher spirits inhabit the various astral planets, being placed there exactly, according to their affinities in terms of the prevailing vibrational frequency and according to the characteristic aspects of their karma.
Whole realms with different vibratory frequencies are here in the astral universe, reserved for both good and bad beings; The former (good) can move almost instantaneously, freely, from one area to another, while the bad ones are strictly limited and remain confined to their planet or realm. Just as humans live on the surface of the globe, worms in the ground, fish in water, birds in the air, in a way that is analogously similar, the different species or categories of subtle astral beings, from the upper to the lower, are more or less limited in an appropriate way, according to their own inner vibrational domain, or, in other words, according to its own dominant transceiver frequency.
The fallen (involued) angels, who have been expelled from the higher areas of the astral universe, are most often in perpetual war with each other and use for this sui generis “bombs with evil energies”, subtle evil forces that they capture through certain mantras.
These selfish, sadistic and evil beings haunt fiercely only through the dark infernal regions of the lower astral, which is full of evil energies, and is therefore dark and oppressive.
There they eventually atone for their evil karma in a span of tens or hundreds of astral years, through many sufferings, terrible torments, terrible nightmares and indescribable fears.
In the vast higher astral universe above the black and creepy astral prison that is the true inferno, everything is nothing but beauty, love, harmony and splendor. The astral universe, being most naturally in complete harmony with divine perfection, every thing, being or aspect that exists there is created directly by divine will and imagination and indirectly and partially by the will and imagination of that astral being.
The astral being therefore possesses the ability to shape at will – through imagination and thought – any form or, in other words, it is allowed to perfect and embellish all that the Supreme Creator (God) has already created, for He has given His astral sons the sublime privilege of being able to modify at will the universe in which they live. If on Earth solid matter can be transformed by laborious and complex chemical and physical processes, here, in this higher universe, a simple act of will and imagination is enough to instantly alter into liquid, gas or energy the subtle matter that is characteristic of the astral world.
Humanity is facing wars taking place on land, on the seas, and in the air. The astral world, on the contrary, is the world of joy, harmony, love games, deep love and equality. The astral being can instantly modify, at will, through proper materialization or dematerialization, its astral body. Flowers, fish or animals can here temporarily transform into astral human beings or even take no matter what form that is almost identical to that of other astral creatures. All astral inhabitants communicate with each other with extraordinary ease, telepathically, without any apparatus. No well-defined law of nature, except the Law of Resonance with the energies of goodness, love and divine harmony, is imposed on them; Thus, here an astral tree can be instantly determined, by the same act of will that was previously described, to produce an orange or any other fruit, or a flower, or sometimes even objects.
There are, however, certain karma-ic restrictions in the astral world, which make not everything allowed, but in general there is, except for the supreme divine values, no rigid scale of values regarding the various beings and objects of the astral, everything here being permeated by the essential, creative divine light (akasha tattva).
None of the inhabitants of the astral is born of a woman, although astral beings of the opposite sex often unite amorously in complete freedom; Children, in the case of astral love couples, are directly and lightning materialized by the astral being who desires them, due to his cosmic will, and then they manifest in an astral form that is precisely defined. Souls who are recently deprived of physical bodies because they leave the terrestrial world or, in other words, the physical plane of other planets through the so-called “death”, are sometimes drawn into a “home” of an astral couple through a subtle harmony that occurs between the subtle vibrational frequencies that are characteristic of them or, in other words, thanks to the psychic, mental and spiritual affinities presented by the soul in question that has just left the earthly (physical) world.
An astral body is totally insensitive to cold, heat, or any other natural condition that exists on Earth. The characteristic anatomy of the astral body involves a kind of subtle astral brain, the “lotus with 1000 petals of light” (sahasrara) and the 6 subtle centers of emission and capture of subtle astral energies – chakras – that are placed along sushumna nadi, the subtle essential cerebrospinal axis.
The astral heart (which is represented by anahata chakra) takes its subtle cosmic affective energy and the light of divine love, which awakens and amplifies a state of ecstatic inner enlightenment, even from the subtle astral brain (sahasrara) and then sends it back and diffuses it to be transformed in countless ways, in the entire astral body in the form of “biotrons” or various forms of prana. The astral being therefore acts on his astral body through these subtle prana-ic (biotronic) energies or with the help of subtle energetic vibrations of mantras that allow almost instantaneous agreement or vibration in unison with certain astral energies, which each present a specific frequency of vibration.
The astral body of a being in the astral world It is modeled just like a copy that is made exactly after the physical form of the last incarnation in the physical worlds of solid matter. The astral being usually retains the outward bodily appearance that he had, in terms of beauty and physical harmony, at his peak, in his youth, in his last earthly birth. However, sometimes an astral being who is very detached prefers to continue maintaining the bodily appearance he had in his earthly old age, as you remark I do in this manifestation.
And my Master, who was himself the incarnation of eternal youth and love, smiled significantly at these words.
Clearly distinguishing from the physical world of the three spatial dimensions, which are perceived only through the five senses, the astral world becomes perceptible to us especially through the sixth sense: astral intuition. Only through this sense of astral intuition or, in other words, through the 6th sense, the astral being instantly receives or, in other words, receives all visual, auditory, olfactory, gustatory and tactile sensations. The astral being possesses or, in other words, is endowed with three eyes, the first two being half closed; the third, which is called by yogis the eye of Shiva or Ajna chakra, is now wide open, being the very eye that allows to perceive everything in the astral universe. This eye is located right in the middle of the forehead of the astral body. The astral being is also endowed with all the external organs of the senses: nose, tongue, eyes, skin, ears, but his astral intuition or the full awakening and activation of the sixth sense, which in him has its center in the middle of his forehead, allows him to receive and transmit lightning to different parts of his body various categories of sensations. Therefore, it can spontaneously “see” with the ear, nose or eyes, “hear” through the eyes or tongue, or communicate the sense of taste to the ears, skin, etc. (1).
The human physical body is exposed to all kinds of accidents; The etheric astral body of an astral being can also sometimes suffer some kind of injury, but nevertheless, it is immediately healed by an instantaneous act of will and the focus of the creative imagination, which immediately afterwards will make it look exactly the same as before.
– Gurudeva, are the inhabitants of the astral beautiful?
“For them, beauty is, above all, spiritual and not just formal,” replied Sri Yukteswar. This is why the astral being does not attach much importance to the exterior or, in other words, to the external form of his astral body. She can, therefore, clothe or metamorphose, at will, into all the outward forms or poses that she desires at any given moment. Just as in the physical world a person dresses however he wants, adorning himself as he wants to appear in a certain context – for example for a gala – so, in a similar way, the astral being sometimes assumes various astral corporeal forms, which can be extraordinarily beautiful.
On higher astral planets such as Hiranyaloka, enchanting and sublime divine ceremonies celebrate the spiritual liberation of a certain astral being who, thanks to the efforts made on the spiritual path, ultimately deserved to rise to the mysterious spheres of existence of the causal universe. On such occasions, the highest invisible divine spirits, such as Jesus Christ, myself, and saints who are resorbed, or who, in other words, are fully identified in eternity with God the Father, temporarily manifest themselves in the astral forms they choose to preside over such divine solemnities. In order to reward his beloved faithful son with His infinite grace and love, the Lord God Himself can then manifest Himself as He wills and He takes on all the desired forms. In such a situation, if the believer has predominantly followed the path of loving devotion or total selflessness, God then appears to him in the form of the Divine Mother. Jesus, for example, always adored, beyond expression, the Father aspect of the Divine.
God therefore provisionally adopts an infinity of divine forms or emanations that are always in perfect accordance with the affective hue or predominance of His beloved believers.
Friends, spouses or lovers from past physical (earthly) lives find themselves with great ease in the astral world. Full of happiness and delight, they exalt in an ever-renewed friendship that is full of happiness and love, thus finally attaining the certainty that intense, overwhelming and true love is indestructible, something they have so often had occasion to doubt during their tormenting earthly separations.
The perfect intuition of the astral being, which is intimately linked to the degree of awakening of the sixth sense, which has as its center of manifestation ajna chakra or “third eye”, pierces lightning, at will, the curtain that separates the astral world from the physical, earthly universe, in order to observe in this way unhindered absolutely all human activities, even the most intimate ones.
But the man who is not sufficiently spiritually evolved cannot see the astral universe unless his sixth sense, which is closely related to the degree of awakening of his ajna chakra or Shiva’s eye force center, is sufficiently energized by yoga practice. Thousands of human beings who are thus privileged have brief and astounding visions of various realms or enchanting spheres of existence of the astral.
Most of the advanced beings who populate Hiranyaloka remain awake all the time, immersed in divine ecstasy, during the days and nights that are much longer here, thus helping telepathically, mentally and spiritually to solve the very complicated problems of the physical cosmos and astral universe, as well as to liberate or deliver the “prodigal sons” – people who are brilliantly endowed or who are amazing in their spiritual potentialities – who are still connected to Earth. In sleep, the inhabitants of Hiranyaloka have ecstatic astral dreams. More often than not, however, their spirit is immersed in the ecstatic state of superconsciousness, nirvikalpa samadhi.
The inhabitants of the astral universe, in its entirety, are still, to varying degrees (depending on their specific level of evolution), prey to moral, psychic and mental suffering. Their errors of behavior or mistakes related to perceiving the truth sometimes cause these hypersensitive and highly evolved beings that exist in Hiranyaloka to struggle terribly. In such situations, they strive with all their might to tune themselves mentally and psychologically in order to be in the fullest harmony, both in act and thought, with the perfection of God’s spiritual laws.
All inhabitants of the astral world communicate with each other instantly through telepathy, empathy and spontaneous psychic clairvoyance; in this way the aberrations that are caused by excess imagination, stupid skepticism, limited rationalism are avoided, all errors of interpretation and all embarrassing confusions resulting from written or spoken language and which are so common on Earth are eliminated. Just as on the screen, in the cinema, the character of that film seems to play his role thanks to the light rays, without having to breathe at all, in a somewhat similar way, the astral being acts tirelessly, always being full of strength and love, without having to extract his energy from oxygen. To live in the physical world, man needs solid, liquid and gaseous elements and other forms of energy, while the astral being feeds instantaneously, essentially, appealing only to the subtle cosmic light.
– Guru, do the inhabitants of the astral still eat anything?
I watched the extraordinary revelations with my whole being exalted: my heart, intelligence, and mind, now in unison, were intensely focused in those one moment. The superconscious, sublime perceptions of truth are the only ones that are always stable and immutable, while the superficial, temporary and relative sensory experience degrades in the absence of an exceptional power of inner concentration. The words of my Master were then imprinted on my mind in an unforgettable way, so that, being immersed in the state of superconsciousness, I can, at no matter what moment, make the divine experience I had then reappear and be completely relived by me.
“Vegetables and fruits that are made up of the fine rays of light of astral substance abound on the astral soil,” replied Sri Yukteswar. The astral being eats, as soon as he wants, the most diverse vegetables and fruits he wants and he enjoys with delight a mysterious sublime nectar that is known by advanced yogis as soma. This nectar gushes in glorious cascades of fire and the astral being extracts it by itself, in a lightning way, from the astral waters of its ambient universe. Just as on Earth the invisible image of distant persons can be instantly extracted from the ether and made visible through television, and then disappear again for us in space, when we turn off the television, in a somewhat similar way, the inhabitant of an astral planet will instantly materialize there both the idea-form and the content of astral fruits or vegetables that were created by God and that always float in the ether (akasha tattva).
Through a somewhat identical process, the exuberant imagination of that being instantly creates fascinating gardens with multicolored flowers, which are then endowed with thousands of paradisiacal scents that are unsuspected by an earthling, to then suddenly make them melt and disappear immediately into their magical unreality. The evolved inhabitants of astral planets, such as Hiranyaloka, are almost freed from the need to eat anything, due to the fact that they directly assimilate the sublime astral energy. Souls who are entirely liberated, belonging to the causal spheres of existence, absorb nothing but manna – a mysterious supermental energy that is extraordinarily refined and also generates bliss – and so they permanently enjoy an infinitely superior blissful form of existence.
The astral being who is entirely freed from earthly chains or connections encounters, in the different spheres of existence of the astral universe in which he arrives and then remains, in full accordance with the predominance of his own vibrational frequencies or, in other words, according to the vibrational agreement that is created between his astral being and the specific frequency of vibration of a certain planet that is there (in the astral universe), A multitude of dear beings, with whom she was once in very close or even intimate contact, during her various terrestrial incarnations: fathers, mothers, brothers, sisters, wives, husbands, lovers, lovers or friends. Not knowing, especially at first, which of these beings to prefer, she will now offer the same intense and deep love to all, finally being completely free from selfishness, possessiveness and jealousy, transfiguring them all as wonderful children of God. The external astral aspect of very dear beings being there transformed, depending on the degree of development and perfection of their inner qualities that appeared after the period of their last incarnation, the wonderful beings of the astral will then put into action their full power of intuition to recognize the one or one they feel they love in this new way of existence, when they receive him in their new astral residence. Since, in reality, every atom of all creation is endowed with an imperishable individuality,(2) both lovers and lovers and friends are recognized – there, in the astral world – easily, no matter what their new astral appearance may be, just as on Earth the identity of a great actor becomes very clear to our intuition, regardless of his disguise or the makeup that is used by him.
The astral being lives on average much longer than you, earthlings; Converted to terrestrial time, its lifespan would be from 500 to 1000 years. But just as certain species of trees live in the physical world for more than 1000 years, and just as there are yogis on Earth who are several hundred years old, while, generally speaking, most people do not exceed the age of 60, so there in the astral universe, certain beings of the astral live, due to great accumulations of astral vital energy, much more than others. The passing visitors of the astral worlds, who have not yet completely freed themselves from physical incarnation, remain here in the astral for more or less time, in perfect accordance with the character of their physical (earthly) karma which, at some point, brings them, through a fatal attraction, back to Earth after the completion of those astral intervals they deserve.
The moment it has to lower its light body or, in other words, to reincarnate into an earthly (physical) body, this situation will cause this astral body, once descended to Earth, to lose almost all astral consciousness as well as all powers or characteristics arising from it, molding in a certain way to its new physical (terrestrial) body. In the case of reincarnation, the difference is that the astral being never falls prey to the awkward pangs of astral death in order to be born again in the earthly or physical world.
However, some of these astral beings feel a certain uneasiness at the thought that, at a certain stage of evolution, they must abandon their astral shell or body for the causal body, which is much more refined and subtle than the astral one.
The astral world is entirely free of accidental deaths, diseases and old age. These three scourges are specific only to the physical plane and to the Earth, for there man is generally known only in the hypostasis of a physical body, which owes its existence almost exclusively to air, food and sleep.
Physical death is signaled by stopping breathing and by decomposing or disaggregating the cells of the body, and astral death is manifested by the disintegration of the “biotrons” (prana) of which the “flesh” of the astral being is composed. After his physical death, man loses the notion, or in other words, the consciousness of his physical, carnal shell, and he becomes perfectly aware of a new subtle, astral body that is specific to the astral world. Therefore, physical death always causes the being to be born in the astral, and astral death causes the being to be born, or in other words, to reincarnate in the physical, terrestrial world. A being thus passes from the consciousness of an astral birth and death to the consciousness of physical birth and death. These alternating cycles – astral rebirths and earthly reincarnations – constitute the inevitable fate of all those who have not yet attained spiritual liberation. The extensive descriptions referring to the so-called “heavens” and “hells” that abound in yogi, magical or religious texts, sometimes awaken, for certain human beings, amazing and inexplicable intuitions or memories, which are deeply immersed in certain layers of their subconscious, about those long and wonderful states and experiences that once appeared to them in the astral world, in the paradisiacal realms of the Beatitudes, All this generating strange nostalgia, compared to the desolate and poor physical, earthly place of residence.
“Dearest teacher,” I said, “please explain to me in detail what is the difference between rebirths on earth and rebirths in the astral and causal worlds.
“The individual human spirit is essentially causal,” my guru replied. It serves as the fundamental matrix for the 35 force-ideas of the causal body. The subtle, astral body, in turn, is composed of only 19 subtle elements, and the coarse physical body is made up of 16 physical elements.
The 19 components of the astral body are divided into three main groups:
3) prana-ice (biotrons).
Its 19 components are respectively:
4) mental (consciousness of the senses);
The 5 tools of cognition, which are the subtle replicas of the physical senses:
7) I see,
5 specific activity tools that represent mental correspondences of the abilities to:
14) manual skill;
The 5 instruments of the vital force corresponding to different functions of the astral body:
18) metabolism and
This subtle compound or astral body, which is made up of 19 subtle elements,
It always survives the death of the physical body which, in turn, is composed of only 16 coarse elements, which are actually metals or metalloids.
God elaborates, within His own ultimate essence, certain force-ideas that He also externalizes into sui generis dreams. In this way, He manifests Himself on several levels, seven in number, diversifying in this way, almost endlessly, the macrocosmic, creative dream in all the inexhaustible richness of its forms and relative aspects.
From within the 35 essential categories of thought of the causal body, God extracts the 19 subtle complex elements of the astral body and the 16 coarse elements that make up the physical body. God first creates the first, the astral body, and then materializes the second, the physical body. According to the principle of relativity, whereby the primordial unity is separated into an infinity of forms that each retain the characteristics of the whole, the causal universe and the body of the same category of the causal being are each distinguished from the astral universe and the astral bodies of astral beings, the physical universe and the physical bodies of physical beings being equally distinguished, by the other forms of Creation, due to the clearly different vibrational frequencies of the aspects that compose them.
The carnal shell or physical body is another objective dream of the Creator (God). The dualities of health-disease, pleasure-pain, love-hate, gain-loss are especially characteristic of terrestrial existence. Humans are very limited in their physical world with three dimensions. When their will to live is destroyed by disease or other miscellaneous causes, sooner or later death occurs, and then the heavy carnal garment falls temporarily. However, the immortal Spirit (Atman) remains imprisoned in the astral body and in the causal body(1).
Physical desire, astral desire, and causal desire are the fundamental cohesive forces that hold back or still maintain the three bodies. The power of all unsatisfied or, in other words, insatiable desires is always the guarantee of man’s slavery.
Physical desire is rooted in selfishness and the gross and limited pleasures of the physical senses. It often exerts a far greater attraction to the common man than the desires resulting from astral affection and love, or the desires and aspirations of sublime, causal perceptions.
Astral desire leads us to all subtle and elevated forms of states or vibrations. The astral being always enjoys the ethereal and sublime mysterious music of the spheres, an endless overwhelming love, the fascinating diaphanous spectacle of astral creation, which is always unfolded in an amazing and sublime richness and freedom, in the infinite diversity of subtle luminous rays. Then she tastes, breathes, or touches the light ecstatically. The astral desire is also closely related to the faculty or ability of the astral being to create all objects, which manifest as wonderful forms of sublime and very variously colored light or as projections-condensations of all his dreams, aspirations and thoughts. In the astral world, one can always freely manifest the subtle ability to concretize or project into external forms of light all thoughts and desires.
Causal desire is satisfied especially by various modes of supramental perception or by states of deep, elevated contemplation.
The being who is almost entirely spiritually liberated and who then has as its outer shell only the causal body sees everything in an ineffable, grandiose way and identifies almost totally with the entire causal universe, which he considers to be the supreme mental objectification of the sister force-ideas of the Absolute Creator (God); The causal being can “materialize” in both the astral and physical worlds, no matter what, only through an instantaneous act of supreme determinative will and thought. That is why all physical sensations, even very pleasant, which are related to the coarse physical body, or even those that are related to the state of endless astral bliss, appear to them to be quite coarse and somewhat inferior to these causal beings, who are particularly spiritually evolved. The causal being instantly exhausts his desires, immediately manifesting or objectifying his phenomenon, object or aspect to which he then aspires, by a lightning act of will and determinative thought(2). The causal being, who has only the ultra-refined veil of the causal body as his garment, is easily able to manifest and even breathe life into physical or astral universes, following the divine example of the Absolute Creator (God). The structure of any manifested world being an illusory cosmic dream, the divine spirit whose body has only the fine causal veil as its body is endowed with an immense and amazing creative power, which always manifests itself according to the model of the absolute and infinitely almighty Spirit of God.
The Immortal Spirit (Atman), being invisible by nature, can only be evidenced by the presence of a physical, astral or causal body, which always proves to us that there are still physical desires, astral desires or unsatisfied causal desires.
As long as the Eternal Spirit (Atman) is still imprisoned in one, two, or three sheaths that are formed mostly by ignorance and unsatisfied desires, it cannot yet sink forever into the Absolute Ocean of the Supreme Spirit of God (Paramatman).
When ultimate divine illumination and perfect wisdom definitively purify the being from all desires, only then can the Supreme Spirit (Atman), still incarnated in the physical world, completely detach and disintegrate in turn the last two layers, the astral and the causal. Only then is the Eternal Human Spirit (Atman) finally free to integrate into the Divine Absolute (God).
I then asked my guru to describe the enigmatic causal world in even greater detail.
“The causal world is of extreme subtlety and complexity,” my Master explained. In order to truly realize and understand it, it is necessary to be endowed with an extraordinary power of mental concentration and interiorization, which allows us to visualize or, in other words, to simultaneously realize, closing our eyes, both the physical universe and the astral universe in their entire immensity – the luminous astral aircraft and its small solid or physical cabin – as existing only in thought, being then completely objectified. If through this form of supreme mental concentration one would finally succeed in converting, “sublimating” or, in other words, transforming only into pure ideas the two universes, the physical and the astral, with all their complexity that characterizes them, one could thus immediately reach the causal universe, which exists at the boundary between matter and spirit. Then we will be able to clearly realize all creation—solids, liquids, gases, electricity, plants, or microbes—as being just like specific forms of the consciousness of God the Father. This very special way of conceiving is somewhat similar to that in which a man can close his eyes and then tell himself that he exists, although his physical body is momentarily invisible to his physical eyes, being then present in his mind only as a very clear idea.
Everything that a human being can do only in the mind, the causal being then does instantly in reality. The strongest, the broadest, the most complex imaginative, the deepest, the richest human intelligence is always connected with the causal body, and it is precisely in this way that it allows us, among other things, to simultaneously embrace a very vast field of ideas, making it possible to pass at a speed far superior to that of light. Supermentally, from planet to planet, rolling us into mysterious, bottomless abysses, evolving like a comet among galaxies, to instantly lose us in their endless array of stars. The causal entity enjoys at all times an extremely great freedom and force, being always, almost effortlessly, able to immediately objectify all its thoughts or aspirations, without ever being able to object to them any material (physical) or astral obstacle, and without ever suffering the slightest karma-limitation. For the causal entity, absolutely everything is possible, but not everything will be allowed to it. In the case of the causal entity, looking at everything from the perspective of its consciousness, it can be stated that, in fact, the material universe objectifies itself differently and then it is no longer composed of “electrons” at all, as the astral universe is made up of “biotrons” or prana. Then the two worlds appear to her to be constituted in reality by tiny plots of God’s Thought, which are shaped and differentiated by maya, the law of relativity, which only ostensibly separates Creation from Creator (names of energies, phenomena, beings or things).
The souls of the causal world recognize themselves as individualized plots of God’s Eternal Spirit; Their thoughts, which are always lightning fast manifested as objects, are the only ones that surround them. The causal being instantly perceives, regardless of distance, any difference, however small, that exists between bodies, beings, energies or thoughts, only through pure and simple ideas.
Just as a man who, at a certain moment, closing his eyes, can clearly and continuously visualize a bright white light or a subtle luminous sphere of bluish color, in a similar way to the causal entity, only by its mere thought, which is manifested instantly, receives visual, auditory, gustatory, olfactory or tactile impressions that are always absolutely real; It immediately creates any energy, phenomenon or thing and then, in a flash, makes it disappear through the unlimited and extraordinary power of its almighty consciousness, which can manifest permanently on a macrocosmic level.
Birth and death are achieved only by thinking in the causal universe. Causal beings absorb into the causal universe only the mysterious ambrosia of knowledge, which is renewed in eternity. They quench their thirst for the Absolute in the river of beatific calm, traverse the still untraveled paths of perceptions of all kinds, explore endless mysterious potentialities, float in the infinite Ocean of divine bliss.
Through their impalpable bodies, of cosmic dimensions, flow the multiple whirlpools of worlds, the galactic bubbles of the Macrocosm, stars of wisdom, dreams of golden nebulae that then always expand against the azure background of the infinite Absolute or God, who permanently embraces everything.
Countless are the beings who, due to their causal karma, temporarily visit the causal universe for tens of millions of years. Being in an uninterrupted state of profound and perfect divine ecstasy, the spirit that is fully liberated then then detachs itself forever from its tiny causal shell, thus springing up into the endless immensity of God’s Ultimate Absolute Essence.
Just like countless ocean waves, then everything – ideas, power, love, will, joy, energy, peace, intuition, feminine, masculine, calm, self-control, knowledge, concentration – melts into the Eternal Absolute Essence of Everything, unifying into one mysterious endless Ocean, ineffable, unique, of unfathomable bliss and freedom.
The divine immortal spirit (Atman) then ceases to express its happiness as an individual wave and, merging completely with the eternal Absolute, is but One with the great unique Whole, manifesting itself in eternity in the endless macrocosmic Ocean, the one with torrents without number. This is the ultimate and supreme Spiritual Liberation that thus brings forth immortality in Eternity.
When the Immortal Spirit (Atman) has forever crushed the silk doughnut of the three bodies in order to permanently escape the principle of relativity, he becomes the Eternal Being who is truly divine, ineffable, immortal, always existing(1). Permanently united with God, the Eternal and Free Spirit can then be contemplated in His mysterious hypostasis as a butterfly of Omnipresence, with wings adorned by stars, moons and suns! The Eternal Spirit, which manifests itself in the Supreme Absolute Spirit of God, remains eternally in the great Glory, in a realm of clarity without light, darkness without shadow, thoughts without idea, always being drunk with infinite eternal ecstasy, immersed in the Mysterious Dream of the Supreme Absolute, Silent Witness of the divine game of Macrocosmic Creation manifesting in the physical universe, astral and causal.
– An eternal divine spirit in complete freedom! I exclaimed in astonishment.
When the Eternal Spirit (Atman) has finally pulled itself out of the net of the illusion of three bodies, Sri Yukteswar continues, it thus becomes one with the Absolute, without losing anything of its individuality.
Christ attained supreme and definitive liberation before He was even born as Jesus. In the three phases of His past, which are symbolized by the three days of His death and resurrection on earth, He thus attained the Absolute Perfection that enabled His ascension in Spirit.
As long as man has not yet attained ultimate or final spiritual liberation, he undergoes countless terrestrial, astral or causal incarnations in order to gradually strip himself successively of the triple sheath of his three bodies. Such a divine Spirit or, in other words, a liberated Grand Master can now freely choose between returning to Earth as a prophet or a great sage, to bring other people back to God or—just like me now—remaining in the bosom of the astral universe.
In this astral world, a savior also takes upon himself a certain fraction of the collective karma of its inhabitants, while helping them complete their cycle of incarnations within the astral universe to ascend to the causal spheres. Likewise, a spirit that is completely liberated can also enter the causal universe to help the causal beings there shorten their time of exile in the causal body, in order to reach ultimate spiritual liberation as quickly as possible.
– O Master resurrected from the dead! I would like to know more details about physical, astral and causal karma that causes souls to return again and again to the three worlds.
I could have listened to my Master then for an eternity. Especially because never, in the course of his earthly life, had he allowed me to learn from him, in such a short time, so many essential truths. Today, for the first time, he illuminates to me the controversial and mysterious realm of life beyond so-called physical death.
The physical karma of earthly, human desires must first be completely exhausted to allow the human being to remain forever in the astral universe. Two categories of beings inhabit this universe.
Those who still have physical karma must therefore sooner or later return or , in other words, reincarnate into a coarse physical body in order to pay off their karma debt. They are, after their human death, temporary visitors to the astral universe.
After astral death, beings who have not yet atoned for their earthly karma are not admitted into the higher causal world of ideas. Such beings alternately pass from the physical world to the astral world, being successively aware only of the 16 coarse elements of the physical body or only the 19 subtle elements of their astral body.
There are also some situations in which, having completely lost his physical body, the being who is too little or not at all astrally developed remains immersed even here, for most of the time, in the lethargic sleep of death, unable to enjoy at all the indescribable splendors and beatitudes of the astral world. Following this larval rest in the astral, such a man relapses almost completely unconsciously into the material physical plane and, over a very long period of time, progressively, as a result of his successive rebirths from one world to another, gradually becomes aware of his astral body and the realities of the astral realms.
The permanent inhabitants of the astral universe are only those who, being entirely freed from material, physical desires, no longer need to relapse or, in other words, to reincarnate in a coarse physical form. These privileged beings then have nothing left but their astral and causal karma. Upon their astral death, they then pass into the causal world, which is infinitely more subtle and refined. At the end of a certain period of time, which is clearly foreseen by divine cosmic laws, such an evolved being abandons the causal shell that is woven from vibrations of thought, to return again to Hiranyaloka or another higher astral planet, to atone there, in a new astral body, what remains of astral karma.
My son, I hope that now you have understood even better that I have been revived there by divine decree, Sri Yukteswar continues, as the savior of souls who come from causal spheres rather than souls who come from Earth. You must know that all these souls who come from Earth to the astral universe, if the slightest trace of material karma still subsists in them, do not reach the astral planets as evolved as Hiranyaloka very quickly.
Most of the inhabitants of Earth whom the paradisiacal, sublime visions that sometimes appear in them in states of deep meditation have not yet made them intuit the indescribable beatific experiences of astral life, hurry, immediately after astral death, to return to the tiny petty pleasures, which are limited and coarse, of this planet. It is also necessary to know that countless beings of the astral universe who, during their passage through the causal spheres, as a result of the normal disintegration of their astral shell (body), nevertheless remain unconscious of higher spiritual states of ecstasy, because they are altered by this less refined astral happiness. They aspire to return as quickly as possible to their astral paradise, refusing to remain forever in the causal world, which is woven from the elevated and beatific vibrations of thought and which only a thin veil separates from the Supreme Creator (God).
Only the being for whom there is no longer the temptation of astral pleasure, to whom she might be forced to return and from whom she has permanently detached, now frantically aspiring only to the sublime ecstasy of the causal world, can remain forever in the causal universe. After such a causal being has completely finished fruiting his causal karma or the germs of his past causal desires or aspirations, the spirit then definitively abandons the last veil of ignorance or the causal body and, emerging from the causal shell, merges forever with the Eternal Absolute or God.
Now I think you understood even better, added my Master with a fascinating smile.
“Yes, but this is thanks to your kindness; Nor do I know how I could express the full depth of my gratitude.
Never before had a spiritual song or story exalted me to such a degree. The secret yogic or traditional writings of the East contain some descriptions referring to the causal and astral worlds, as well as some referring to the three bodies of man, but how partial and poor these texts now appeared to me besides the vineyard and the amazing testimony of my Master resurrected from the dead! For me, I confess that there is no longer that “mysterious underworld from which no one returns.”
“The interpenetration of the three bodies reveals itself in many ways in the triple nature of man,” my great guru continues. On Earth, being awake, man is more or less aware of these three vehicles of his immortal, divine spirit (Atman). When he receives various olfactory, gustatory, visual, tactile or auditory impressions, it is the physical body that is most used and engaged. Mental visualization or any firm act of will originates and is closely related to the astral body; In turn, the causal body expresses itself especially through the states of pure and elevated thought that appear to us in the case of introspection and especially in deep divine meditation. In this context, it is quite normal to speak of three general-human categories: the “materialist”, the “volunteer” and the “refined intellectual”, all of which depend on the predominance, which already exists in the human being, of the physical, astral and causal bodies.
A man most often identifies with his physical body about 16 hours a day. It is only during dream sleep that he escapes into his astral body, creating spontaneously, effortlessly, objects, situations or beings in a certain way that is characteristic of the astral being. In deep dreamless sleep, the same man moves even unknowingly the center of consciousness, the mysterious sense of the ego, into the causal body; This kind of sleep alone is deeply comforting and, mysteriously, unifying. During dreams, the sleeper is to some extent in contact with his astral body; This kind of sleep, precisely because of this, is not always entirely restful.
I watched Sri Yukteswar with great love as he revealed to me the unfathomable enigmas of the underworlds.
“Angelic guru,” I said, “your present body is quite similar to the one I cried so much in the ashram at Puri.
– Of course, because, as you can see, my new physical body is a faithful material copy of the old. I materialize or dematerialize it at will, much more frequently than I did on Earth. Disintegrating it in the blink of an eye, I then fly at the speed of light from planet to planet, from astral to causal or even physical if need be.
My Divine Master smiled:
“As you can see, although you have traveled so often in these last days, I have had no difficulty in finding you in Bombay!
“O Master, your death has made me suffer so much!
“Am I dead?” Your very idea is absurd!
Sri Yukteswar’s eyes shone with love and fine humour.
You have only dreamed sometimes on this Earth and have only seen my physical dream body. Then you buried this physical image, which is a work of the dream. At present, my body of flesh, the one you are now contemplating and which you have clasped with your arms so tightly, has been revived on another planet, which is also a divine dream. One day, this more subtle body and even this planet – both ephemeral dreams – will also disappear because, as I told you, they are all fleeting. Any such illusory bubble must eventually burst on the occasion of spiritual awakening. Yogananda, son, learn to distinguish between dream and Ultimate Reality!
This Vedantic idea of resurrection filled me with wonder(1). Now I was ashamed that I had mourned the Master at Puri, seeing his inanimate physical body. I was definitively convinced that my guru had always remained awake in God, and that for him this life had been as ephemeral as his present resurrection: now I was sure that all this represented for him only something relative in the bosom of the divine Dream of Creation.
“Now, Yogananda, you know the truth about my life, death, and resurrection. Don’t cry at all from now on. Better spread the news of this resurrection – after a lifetime spent on this Earth, which is a divine dream – to another planet that is populated by beings who are adorned with the astral shell, also a divine dream. At your voice, hope will be reborn both in human hearts that are troubled by suffering, and in the souls of those who are asleep or skeptical, whom death terrifies them.
“Yes, teacher. With all enthusiasm I will share with the whole world the joy of this resurrection!
On Earth, my soul, which was too big, was far above the usual level of other people. Precisely because I always wanted you to surpass yourself, I admit that sometimes I scolded you more than I should have. However, behold, your love has triumphantly crossed the fire of these reproaches!
Then he added gently:
– Today I came back to tell you that I will never wear the mask of severity again; I will never reprimand you again.
How I now regretted my guru’s always fair criticism! His every reproach was a kind of protection to me, just like a guardian angel.
– Beloved teacher! Rebuke me over and over again, every time I make mistakes, millions of times.
– No, know that it will never happen again!
His divine voice was grave, though it concealed a secret joy.
You and I will smile together as long as our two forms are distinct from each other in the bosom of Maya’s divine dream (illusion). One day we will form but one being merging with the Beloved God; and then our smiles will be His, and our joy will be His joy in Eternity!
Sri Yukteswar then gave me other clarifications that I cannot reveal here. During the two hours he spent with me in the Bombay room, he wisely answered all my questions. Some world prophecies that were made in June 1936 have already been realized since then.
“Now I’m leaving you, my dear.”
At these words, I instantly felt that Master was dropping the grip of my arms.
– My child!
His voice echoes, awakening a sublime echo in the depths of my being.
“Always when, being deeply immersed in nirvikalpa samadhi, you call me, I will be beside you, in flesh and blood, just like today!
With this celestial promise, Sri Yukteswar disappeared. But his voice with divine accents still echoes in my ecstatic being.
– Tell everyone that who, by entering the state of nirvikalpa samadhi, will convince himself that this Earth is God’s dream, will be admitted to the paradise of Hiranyaloka, which itself is woven from dreams, and will find me there, being revived, in a body that is exactly similar to the terrestrial one. Yogananda, tell everyone!
The sadness of separation was gone. The suffering that had disturbed my inner peace was gone forever. A fountain of happiness, ever renewed, gushed from all the pores of my soul, drunk me with divine ecstasy. The purest subconscious thoughts and feelings resurfaced, pouring out their delicate nuances that had been awakened by Sri Yukteswar’s radiant visit.
In this account I obey the order of my Master, announcing the news of his resurrection, even though it may have to face the indifference of a materialistic generation. All the baseness, as well as all the misfortunes of man, do not constitute the background of his true divine nature. An energetic effort of will always suffice to embark him on the liberating path; For too long man has indulged in the pessimism imposed on him by evil advisers. They consider only the body that will “become dust again,” forgetting the Spirit, which is everlasting and invincible.
I also find it necessary to mention that I was not the only being who witnessed my guru’s resurrection. One of Sri Yukteswar’s disciples, an old woman whom he affectionately called Ma (mother), lived near the ashram at Puri. While she was alive, the Master had a habit of stopping at his gate to talk with her during his morning walk. On March 16, 1936, in the evening, Ma presented himself at the ashram asking to see his guru.
“Okay, but Master already died a week ago! Swami Sebananda, who had taken charge of the ashram, looked at her sadly.
And she sketched a smile:
– No doubt you simply want to keep the Master from troublesome visits?
– No, not at all!
Swami Sebananda also told him the details of the funeral ceremony.
“Come,” he said, “I will lead you to his grave right now.
He shook my head:
“There is no grave for him! This morning at about 10 o’clock he passed in front of my gate, in the course of his usual walk! I even spoke to him for a few minutes.
“Come see me at the ashram tonight,” he said at the end of our conversation.
“So here I am. Blessings pour out upon me! The immortal guru wanted me to know in which transcendental body he visited me in the morning.”