By David Frawley
Modern physics is looking for a unitary field of consciousness to explain the coherence of the laws of nature. Such a universal consciousness is proposed behind and beyond all time, space and energy, as their origin and end.
Yogic spirituality has long taught how to discover this unitary field of consciousness within us as our true Self-awareness behind body and mind. Knowing that one transcends all sorrow and gains immortality as the Upanishads so eloquently state, taking us beyond the effects of karma and rebirth.
Vedic knowledge is based upon a recognition of the primacy of consciousness as the foundation of the individual and the universe, and teaches us how to access it from various angles. Relative to those working in different Vedic fields, the primary factor in all Ayurvedic healing, Yoga and mantra meditation is consciousness.
Consciousness is the ultimate healing power behind all other healing practices. Whatever we give our awareness to, we also direct our prana and our positive mental energy to, which naturally promotes healing. The very Vedic term for therapy or chikitsa means the “application of consciousness.” Care-giving is first of all applying our consciousness for the good of others. If our consciousness is spiritually developed, we will have the intelligence to provide right guidance and effective treatment.
Vedic counseling in all of its forms is based upon understanding and promoting consciousness in every possible manner. Vedic counseling is the art of sharing and teaching consciousness and the tools to develop it in our life and action. Consciousness is the ultimate power of counseling, guidance, and inspiration. The first step in Vedic counseling is to teach the client how to access a deeper consciousness at the level of their problems as the foundation for working with these.
Ayurveda introduces consciousness as a healing factor starting with a recommendation of a conscious life style, which implies a life of committed awareness based upon meditation. We need to be consciousness of what we eat and drink, how we relate to our environment, how we exercise, what we take in through our senses, our work, our expression and our associations. Consciousness is the ultimate inner doctor, through which we can gain control of our health and well-being in a lasting manner.
Consciousness is the basis of all Yoga practice, which is a science of the evolution of higher awareness. Yoga introduces consciousness into how we move, breath, sense, think and respond – into all the main factors of our lives.
All yogic practices work to increase consciousness and aid in its expansion. Asana is rooted in being conscious of our bodies and creating a posture or a seat that sustains our awareness and frees us from pain and tension.
Pranayama does not mean merely working with the breath but becoming conscious of the breath, which turns the breath into a power of transformation. Mindfulness of the breath is one of the primary forms of pranayama, through which both mind and prana can be calmed.
Pratyahara does not mean shutting down the senses but bringing consciousness into the senses by linking the outer senses with an inner awareness – for example, joining the outer eye with the inner eye or the outer ear with an inner power of listening. If we use our senses in a conscious, contemplative manner, rather than as tools of self-indulgence, they carry our awareness within. Then our senses link us to the spirit in nature and allow our consciousness to shine forth.
Dharana or concentration means developing the power of attention to give greater energy to our consciousness. Concentration increases the power of consciousness by consistently focusing its energy.
Dhyana or meditation is sustaining the power of consciousness behind all mental activities, by resting our awareness within. This means to reflect consciousness rather than get caught up in judgments or opinions about all that we perceive.
Samadhi is the state of unity consciousness, which holds the highest peace, contentment and bliss. This supreme state of consciousness is the ultimate goal of yoga, in which all sorrow comes to an end.
Mantra is the prime tool for developing consciousness, using the power of cosmic sound vibration, out of which consciousness creates and sustains both body and mind. Mantras are seed powers of consciousness, through which consciousness can renew itself, deepen and move to a higher level. The more consciousness we give to the mantra, the more energized the mantra becomes, and the more a force of integration and well-being.
Jyotish or Vedic astrology similarly is a science of consciousness, showing us how to understand our karmas in life and move behind them by the power of Self-knowledge. Consciousness is the best and first tool for dealing with our chart and its potentials. Vastu meanwhile shows us how to design are dwellings with greater awareness, so that more consciousness can naturally arise within them.
As someone who has worked in all these Vedic disciples for several decades, I have learned to emphasize consciousness first and foremost in all of these. Bringing consciousness into all the we do is much more important than any technique, and is the highest secret of both healing and spiritual growth.
We all are aware to some degree and in various ways, which is necessary for our practical functioning in life. Our level or type of attention and awareness fluctuates during the different phases of our lives, and according to shifting internal and external factors.
Yet we do not understand the true nature and extent of our consciousness or how it interfaces with, supports and transcends body and mind. We live at the surface of a deeper ocean of consciousness and may not be aware of its unbounded depths.
In modern medicine we identify brain, mind and consciousness. We regard mind as a function of the brain and consciousness as the basis of the mind. How brain chemistry can produce the miracle of consciousness is a great mystery, yet it is taken for granted.
In Vedic thought, brain, mind and consciousness are three related but different factors. Consciousness or chit is the light of awareness that is universal. Mind or manas/chitta is embodied consciousness. Brain is the physical vehicle of the mind or embodied consciousness.
Consciousness can function even without mind or brain. It is an all-pervasive universal principle like space. It is the space behind space and the light behind light.
Consciousness is something very real, palpable and powerful. It is the very presence of awareness in which we live, out of which body and mind function with a fraction of its power. Consciousness is always there in the background for us to discover and bring wonder into all that we do.
To access true consciousness requires that we turn our awareness within. The spiritual heart is the seat of consciousness, the core of our being. There dwells the immortal flame, the fire of consciousness or the supreme Agni. All Vedic practices serve to develop that inner Agni which holds all powers of purification, transformation and transcendence. We should cultivate that flame of awareness as our primary aspiration.