The Outer Space of the Mind: Exploring the Far Reaches of the Interior Universe
Articles By Swami Radha
Spiritual practice is like a science. You start with a hypothesis: "This is where I think I'm heading." In the same way, if you were going into outer space you would know your mission and would have what you need to survive. Space flights are just another manifestation of our desire to break through previously accepted limitations. We explore outer space to find our place in the universe. But what is the outer space of the mind? To discover this unknown territory, our senses must be trained for greater perception. And only courageous people who passionately want to know will venture into this vastness. For some, the outer space of the mind is too intriguing to ignore. How can the mind extend beyond its present limitations? Through concentration. The concentrated mind can extend much further than the undirected mind. When you try to direct your thoughts and other thoughts intrude, energy is divided: "Here is what I want to think, and here is what actually comes through." If you can stop the influx of "other" thoughts, energy can be directed.
When you chant a mantra, for example, the sounds are vibrations. But unless you maintain your focus, the vibrations will not take you where they could. If your focus is on the physical-trying to make your voice sound just right-thoughts of self-criticism can slip in and steal part of the energy. If having a great voice was all it takes, every opera singer would have attained higher consciousness. So there is something else involved-the right focus and the ability to prevent intruding thoughts from diverting attention away from the goal.
What can be described is only the processthe practices set out by those who have achieved their goal. When you become aware that others have attained extraordinary results, you may be inspired to try the same methods. Can you get the same results? When you want to duplicate an experiment, you need to observe all of the intricate single steps and take them. You can't skip some or change the order to suit yourself. Once you have attained results, you may discover a way to speed up the process. Speeding up is only possible when there is no more resistance. When resistance is dissipated that energy becomes available to you.
What this really means, in terms of spiritual practice, is to persist. Keep a close record and you will see many repeating patterns. In time you will learn to master your states of mind, just as you can wake up from a fearful dream. Each time you move one increment closer until finally you move past your intellect's defences. Then you will become aware that the intellect, although it has quite some power, does not have unlimited power. If it did, it wouldn't need to fight. So the next step is to decide to use the intellect for discrimination. Question the doubt itself: Why am I doubting?
When you go past resistance, doubt, pride and the emotional impact of egocentricity, you may reach a place in your own mind that was up until now a secret. You didn't know it existed. Many things in life exist, but they have yet to be discovered. You have to discover the existence of the "hidden place of the mind." And as you do, you will strip away the mystery and diminish fear and resistance, which eat up energy. You will become much more aware of how you use energy.
Imagine the exhilaration of going into outer space for the first time. Wouldn't you just watch and absorb? You would be overwhelmed and in awe because you had not known exactly what to expect. You had speculated, but you didn't know for sure. You had many assumptions, based on imagination. Now you might find that some of what you imagined or thought possible has proven true, while you have to totally discard other preconceptions.
The journey to the outer space of the mind is actually the very same: you have heard about higher states of consciousness and people who had attained them, so you drew conclusionswrongly or rightlyand created your own hypothesis. Now you find out.
The mind is like space with all the stars and planets: everything exists and is waiting to be discovered, but we can only go so far in our first explorations. Just as the first major voyages in space were to the moon, our first exploration is to the hidden place in our own mind. Just as the moon is able to reflect the light of the sun, we can discover in the mind the place that reflects and absorbs the Light of Divine Wisdom. We cannot take all the Light at once. We must take it in degrees. We may have a great flash, but it is a flash, and does not stay.
The more you overcome the resistance of the intellect, the more often you can travel to the place of Light. As you make repeated visits, you may discover new laws or circumstances that you need to become aware of, like physicists who discover the laws of the physical world or biologists who understand the laws of nature. You may not have given this cosmic law a name or defined it, but it's there. Then you will experience the repercussions of your discovery, which will reshape your entire perspective.
But you can't stop there, just as astronomers can't stop at exploring the moon but want to know about the sun and other stars, and beyond the known stars into previously unseen galaxies.
What are the possibilities within the outer space of the mind? You can always discover more, and a little more, and a little more. But it is like the study of space: you can never discover it all. However, the journey of discovery alone will expand your perspective and change your view of your capabilities.
About the author
Swami Radha (1911-1995) is considered one of this century's foremost women yoginis. She is the author of many books on Yoga and other forms of spiritual practice.