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Expansion of consciousness
This is the second in a series of articles by Kamlesh D Patel about the evolution of consciousness, and how spiritual practices are designed to help consciousness expand and evolve.
Which body evolves?
Understanding that we have these three bodies – physical, subtle and causal – we can then ask, which of these bodies is evolving?
The soul is immutable. It is pure, absolute and unchangeable, and so the causal body does not evolve.
The physical body cannot change much. Its structure is fixed, although some minor changes can occur in weight, posture and fitness etc., but we cannot grow extra arms, wings to fly or a tail in this lifetime.
THE SUBTLE BODY
It is the subtle body that can evolve, so that we can design our destiny. It changes according to how we purify and simplify it, so that the joy of the soul shines and radiates from within, and through this process we find the evolution of consciousness.
The subtle body is a vibrational field; the heart-mind field. Depending on how we manage this field, it can either be turbulent and complex, like a roaring ocean during a storm, or, at the other extreme, it can be like a still pond where even a feather landing on the surface creates ripples. This is where a spiritual practice has a vital role to play, as it gives us the techniques to regulate, purify and simplify this field, bringing clarity, stillness and peace.
In yogic philosophy the heart is known as the field of action for the mind. This is a vast topic. Let’s start to explore what this means.
There are four main functions of the subtle body within this vibrational field – consciousness (chit), thinking and feeling (manas), intellect (buddhi) and ego (ahankar). They work in an interactive way together to make up what we know as the mind. Unless and until we meditate properly, and unless and until we regulate our minds properly, our consciousness will not evolve. Of these four, consciousness is our focus here. The other three have their existence in consciousness. Consciousness is as good as a canvas to a painter, and within consciousness the play of the other three bodies is orchestrated daily.
How do we actively allow our consciousness to expand and evolve? It is not enough just to wish it so. We need to understand how a spiritual practice contributes towards this evolution by creating the conditions for stilling the mind progressively at deeper and deeper levels, and opening up the inner universe.
At a physical level, when I want to strengthen my body muscles I have to exercise my body. Similarly, for the mind to evolve so that consciousness can expand, I must use what belongs to that subtle plane of existence. First, it is important to understand that the evolution of consciousness has nothing to do with the acquisition of knowledge. Second, consciousness in itself will not expand or evolve without the help of buddhi, manas and ahankar to free it.
Intellect has to evolve to help expand consciousness and ego must evolve, contributing to the evolution of consciousness.
— 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.