Vedic knowledge addresses the cosmos as a whole along with the depths of our own psyche, which it regards as one – the unity of macrocosm and microcosm. The individual human being is a model of or manifestation of the entire universe. The entire universe dwells within you and you are the universe, sharing a common essence in Consciousness. Bodies and minds are just our vehicles of action and expression.
Most of us are caught up in the outer world of the senses and seldom take time to look within. Our inner eye is closed and we have little contact with this vast inner world except mixed with the shadows of our sleep and imagination.
Yet we don’t usually look far into the world of the senses either. How many of us regularly contemplate the sky, for example, whether the deep blue of a clear sky, passing clouds or thunderheads, or even the myriad stars and Milky Way in the night sky? We mainly look at other people, our human environment, our property, and the media that is ever consuming us. The world of nature on Earth at an experiential level is largely unknown to us, a few sojourns in nature aside, and most of us could not survive but a few days in the wild. Clearly there is much more out there in the cosmos that we do not know.
The Lokas or Planes of Existence
The great Rishis and Yogis over thousands of years taught us a vision of the entire universe, structured like a series of planes or stratification of forces of matter, energy, life and mind, to higher realms of pure intelligence, bliss, consciousness and being.
Everywhere we look in nature we find different layers or strata in all domains – whether different strata of the soil, rocks, atmosphere or even beyond into the galaxy, including the tissues of the human body at personal level that form another type of stratification. The Earth exists at an outer or lower level of the prime strata of the cosmos that extend into all of space and beyond, including dimensions and levels of existence not yet suspected even by modern science. Such an interweaving of different levels of manifestation occurs throughout the universe as a whole.
We are all part of a vast network of cosmic forces that holds eternity in every second and infinity at every point in space.
The ancient Seers called these different planes of existence as Lokas. Loka means something that is seen or a field of vision overall. The English word “look” is related to it etymologically. The world or plane of existence that we normally experience at any given time is based upon our angle and depth of vision. It is not objective. As we look, so things appear. As is our inner seeing, so is the apparent reality revealed. We can change our vision and our world experience as simply as developing an artistic appreciation of nature through contemplation. Yet it can extend to holding the entire universe within our inner eye and an expression of our own deeper awareness. By changing how we view the world, we can also change the nature of the world we view and bring a creative consciousness into our experienced reality.
We human beings so far have remained at the surface of the cosmos and in a remote corner, in our little bubble of human civilization and human language that is progressively isolating us from the real universe that largely dwells within us. Most people accept their transient physical body as their true identity. Very few are awake at an inner level of unity consciousness through which we can travel through all the planes of existence by our mere awareness and seeing power.
Opening the Inner Eye of Consciousness
To once more become a traveler between worlds and dimensions, we must open up the inner Eye of Consciousness, so that we move through all that we see or envision. Space is consciousness that holds both the seer and the seen. Space holds an inner power of illumination that is part of the space of our own inner Being. That space pervades us on all sides within and without.
Meditation as practice should extend to the higher lokas both within and around us. We can learn to move our minds from the Earth to the Atmosphere to the Solar Space and to regions beyond the solar system, beyond physical light, energy or matter, to the boundless realm Being-Consciousness-Bliss. Mastering our inner vision allows us to experience the entire cosmos within us from the most subtle vibratory ideas to the most dense physical manifestations.
We can direct our meditative eye within and discover the universe within us — how all time, space and all creatures dwell in the dahara Akasha, the small space hidden at the core of our being in the spiritual heart (hridaya).
The fact is our point of awareness can expand outwardly into the cosmos or inwardly into our own psyche. It can become smaller than the smallest or larger than the largest, as the Upanishads. It involves all the seven worlds:
- Bhur Loka – the physical realm and Earth – Anna
- Bhuvar Loka – the atmospheric realm and energy – Prana
- Suvar Loka – the realm of solar light and mind – Manas
- Mahar Loka – the realm of cosmic light and knowledge – Vijnana
- Jana Loka – the seed of creation – Ananda
- Tapo Loka – the realm of primal light – Chit
- Satya Loka – the realm of pure truth – Sat
Yoga requires working with and experiencing all these seven Lokas, not just the physical realm. Behind all these Lokas is our own essence as the Seer, Atman or Purusha. If we hold to that central Self-awareness in the heart, we can experience all these realms simultaneously and yet not be overwhelmed by them as part of our own boundless Being.
Dr. David Frawley (Pandit Vamadeva Shastri)