LAST week, we tried to understand the importance of wisdom layer and its impact on our consciousness. In this concluding piece, we will talk about bliss sheath and on how the fifth kosha triggers the expansion of a person’s consciousness.
It is the subtlest of the five sheaths. On our journey we come across various spiritual stages offering us various levels of experiences, exposing our consciousness to more and more. We express joy at the level of the other four sheaths depending upon the resonance arising from the anandamaya kosha.
Even this fifth kosha is not the end of the journey, although sat-chit-anand is considered to be such a high state. During the spiritual journey all these sheaths are transcended. And this transcendence is another way of describing the journey of human evolution, the expansion of consciousness.
All the koshas have their inherent limitations, however subtle they may be. They are all interwoven, in fact, and not like the wooden Russian matryoshka dolls, one inside the next in a strictly sequential fashion. During meditation, we often have thoughts.
Based on the kinds of thoughts we have, we can deduce the koshas where we are more or less restricted. So, regarding the alignment between the subtle bodies and koshas, we can say that: Ahankar, ego, is the subtle body of willpower and vitality, and is most closely associated with the pranamaya kosha,
Manas, the thinking mind, is most closely associate with the manomaya kosha, and Buddhi, intellect, is most closely associated with the vignanamaya kosha, the wisdom sheath.
During the spiritual journey all these sheaths are transcended. And this transcendence is another way of describing the journey of human evolution, the expansion of consciousness.
What about chit, consciousness? Remember that consciousness is the canvas upon which the other three subtle bodies play out their functions, so it is associated with all three koshas of the subtle bodies – pranayama, manomaya and vignanamaya. But consciousness is also there in every organ and every cell of the physical body, and at the other end of the spectrum it is also closest to the soul. So where is it?
Consciousness is everywhere. In a fully realised Yogi, consciousness is a 360-degree affair, flowing wherever it is needed in the moment. Consciousness spans all the koshas of the human being.
Even if we are not fully realised, and not aware of the full reach of our consciousness, that is only because we have not yet expanded it across the full spectrum of subconsciousness and superconsciousness. The koshas are another way to describe this spectrum of consciousness that we expand into as we go further and further on our journey.
Yoga is for this – a set of practices that refine our energy centers or chakras, refine the sheaths or koshas, and help us traverse through the various levels of consciousness. Each one of us displays a consciousness based on its play within the complex web of these five sheaths, which are purified through the practice of meditation and cleaning. This purifying process is greatly accelerated by pranahuti. When we are able to harmonise our consciousness across all the five sheaths, we will see joy in life flowering on its own.
— Kamlesh D Patel is the fourth spiritual Guide in the Sahaj Marg system of Raja Yoga meditation. He is a role model for students of spirituality who seek that perfect blend of eastern heart and western mind. He travels extensively and is at home with people from all backgrounds and walks of life, giving special attention to the youth of today