Reflections on Spiritual Experience

By George A. Boyd ©2018

Q: How do people have a spiritual experience?

A: They focus their attention on a spiritual essence. There are several layers of experience: the way you have an experience at any particular layer is to focus your attention there. These layers include:

  1. Sensory experience – This type of experience is the most common level of experience. It occurs when your attention is focused at the waking state of awareness. In this level of your experience, you are aware of the environment around your body.
  2. Astral or dream experience – You experience this when your attention is drawn into the astral body during the dream state, hypnosis, or after ingestion of psychoactive drugs.
  3. Attentional experience – You begin to experience this level when you collect your attention into a sphere and become present and conscious in the present time. This initial phase of attentional experience is called mindfulness. With further practice of meditation, attention begins to travel along the thread of consciousness and view the different levels of the mind.
  4. Attentional principle experience – When attention moves along the thread of consciousness to the presence of the intentional consciousness, which we call the attentional principle, it unites with this essence. Once this occurs, you become aware of the independent experience of the attentional principle, which can objectively witness the activity of the mind, and can also us intention to perform a variety of “conscious inner work.”
  5. Individual spirit experience – When the attention moves yet further along the thread of consciousness, it encounters the loving spiritual heart, which we call the spirit. This essence, when activated gains the ability to travel in the channels of light and sound that connect it with its Source. The capacity for spiritual experience enables you to witness the many dimensional Planes that are contained in those channels.
  6. Self experience – When attention focuses on the core of the personality, it discovers the Self. The Self is the director of all personal activity. It creates personal destiny through its choices. It sets up the experiences of human life.
  7. Soul experience – When attention follows the thread of consciousness upward through the Superconscious mind, it gains union with the Soul. As the Soul “wakes up” within, you experience Gnosis, knowing the Soul in its essence; and enlightenment, knowing all levels of the mind and consciousness from the Soul’s vantage point.

Those of you who wish to learn how to focus your attention on your attentional principle, your spirit, your Self, and your Soul can acquire key techniques in our intermediate courses, the in-person Mudrashram® Master Course in Meditation and the by-mail and online Accelerated Meditation Program.

Most people just keep their attention in type 1, the sensory experience of their environment, and type 2, dream and hypnotic states. They never break through into spiritual states of awareness.

With the new popularity of mindfulness, more people are breaking through into type 3, and at least come to the experience of the present time. This is at the entrance to the path to spiritual experience.

People who do coaching, or humanistic or transpersonal psychology learn to focus their mind on the Self at the nucleus of the personality—this is type 6. This is the aspect of your personality that can take charge of your life and your mind and create change through choice.

Types 3 (in its more advanced practice of traveling along the thread of consciousness), 4, 5, and 7 comprise the spiritual experiences that you have in meditation. So if you want to have spiritual experiences, you need to focus your attention on one of these essences.

Once you have mastered the rudiments of attentional travel, you can learn to focus on a wide variety of objects of meditation—nuclei of identity, spiritual guides, and spiritual Masters, and the Divine at different levels of the Continuum.

So to recap, you have a spiritual experience by placing your attention at one of these strata of the mind, and focus on the essence—the attentional principle, the spirit, the Self, or the Soul.

  • To have an experience of the environment, maintain your attention in the waking state of consciousness. This is the ground state of the attention at the bottom of the thread of consciousness.
  • To experience the subconscious mind, the world of dreams, you place your attention in your astral body.
  • To experience the layers of the mind, you move your attention along the thread of consciousness.
  • To experience what the attentional principle is sensing and intending, you put your attention on your attentional principle.
  • To experience what your spirit is sensing or feeling, you contemplate your spirit.
  • To experience what is going on in your life and what you are creating through your choices, you focus your attention on the Self.
  • To experience the fullness of your Soul’s existence, consciousness, and bliss, you merge your attention with the Soul in the Superconscious mind.

People only encounter a fraction of their potential spiritual experience because they don’t fully withdraw their energy and awareness into the object of meditation. So if you are focusing your attention on your attentional principle, but your energy is still locked in the physical body—you are having maybe one tenth of the experience you could be having.

It takes time for this energy to begin to awaken. If you are spending 20 minutes in meditation, this may not be sufficient time for this energy to fully awaken. For example, if you focus on the attentional principle as it’s traveling through the Superconscious mind, and your energy is not fully awakened, you might:

  • Feel something is moving
  • Hear a subtle change in frequency
  • Detect the essence at a new location
  • See some random flashes of light

But will you touch the attentional principle’s actual experience? No: it will be fuzzy and vague.

Focusing your attention on the object of meditation is the first step.

Allowing your awareness to open into this object of meditation is the second step.

Fully withdrawing your energy into union with the objet of meditation is step three.

Uniting your energy with the object of meditation is called samadhi. You actually become one with the essence. At his stage, you have the full experience.

If gaining this complete experience is important to you, you will need to fully withdraw your energy to become one with the essence upon which you are meditating. If you are serious abut this, you will need to free up your time to have the longer mediations you need to extract you energy and have these deeper experiences.

Without this full withdrawal, you may do the spiritual work of transformation or open the channels of light and sound, but your experience will be dream-like, distant, vague, and mysterious.

If you penetrate into the core of that experience, it will be crystal clear, immediate, palpable, and unmistakable. You will not guess at what your attentional principle is… your spirit is… your Self is… your Soul is… You will know without a shadow of a doubt.

We train our students who have completed the Mudrashram® Advanced Course in Meditation to enter the higher levels of Samadhi in our Samadhi Week Program. Any of you who have completed the Mudrashram® Advanced Course in Meditation and have facility of the three core techniques of Integral meditation are eligible to take this course.

Coming to the Doorway of Meditation

By George A. Boyd ©2016

Those who have never meditated before may find there is no apparent path for attention out of the brain—or may find themselves in an intermediate state. These pre-meditation states, and initial entrance to the state where one can meditate are briefly described below.

  1. Mind like concrete – You are only aware of your brain. There is no apparent path outside of this state of awareness.
  2. Mind like asphalt – you are aware of a background or surface behind the brain, which appears to be solid and darkened. There is no apparent path outside of this state of awareness.
  3. Mind like snail – You are aware intermittently of an inner point of light behind the two eyes, and a coiled, spiral or chamber-like structure that resembles that of a shell of a snail or nautilus. You do not see any apparent way to lift up into the light that appears there.
  4. Mind like styrofoam – You are aware that the light that you saw in the point between the eyebrows appears to be diffused and circulated in a cellular structure, but it has no apparent direction, and no path out of this matrix can be discerned.
  5. Mind like transparent tube – You become aware of the thread of consciousness for the first time. It is visible as a transparent tube filled with light, but when you try to enter it, you keep slipping out. Initially, you might find it difficult to stay in it, but with further practice, you can hold your attention in it steadily, and begin to travel in it.
  6. Mind like lotus flower – Your attention appears to collect in a ball of mind stuff. You experience being fully present. This is the state of mindfulness. The tube of light appears to connect with this lotus from the heart area below, and it appears to extend beyond the medulla center, tracking upward at about a 15-degree angle.
  7. Mind like flowing river – Your collected sphere of attention lifts up into this tube of light, and rests in a series of focal points in each successive form or vehicle of consciousness. This is the beginning of the state of meditation.

If you find yourself in states one to five, the pre-meditation states, there are several ways to transcend them and move to the place where you can begin to meditate. These methods include:

  1. Light Immersion – This occurs when a spiritual Master or advanced disciple sends the Light of Attunement to you, and you ride this current of Light and Fire into the state of mindfulness and meditation.
  2. The Hansa Breath – This is a meditation we teach that helps many meditators collect their attention into mindfulness and then, to begin following the thread of consciousness.
  3. Sustained chanting – Some people find that the resonance of their inner vehicles of consciousness through occurs during chanting lifts their awareness into these higher states of consciousness, and their attention is drawn upward through the vortex of energy that this method generates. Some people may have the same response to prayers that are repeated many times—for example, Catholics may repeat the “Our Father” or “Hail Mary” prayer, as their fingers move on a rosary, hundreds of times.
  4. Awakening of the Kundalini – People who experienced a spontaneous or induced awakening of their Kundalini Shakti may find that their attention is irresistibly drawn up into higher states of consciousness through this means. Similar experiences occur when people experience the Holy Spirit infilling the receptacle of the Christ Child nucleus of identity: this inner anointing may also lift the attention into union with this center.
  5. Sustained use of breathing techniques (Pranayama) – Some people find that rhythmic and deep breathing methods allow them to awaken their awareness into the state of the medulla lotus and arrive at the state where they can begin to meditate.
  6. Guided meditation, hypnosis, and movement meditation – Some people respond well to listening to a guided meditation or can readily go into a deeper state through meditation. For others, either specialized postures or movement [like those used in hatha yoga or martial arts] or deep relaxation exercises can ease them across this barrier into the medulla center.
  7. Transformational method – Use of a transformational mantra can actively dissolve this apparent veil that forms in the mind that keeps attention in the intermediate states, and allows attention to collect in its core essence as the sphere of mind stuff. Kriya Yoga, another transformational method, may have analogous effect. We teach you how to activate your transformational mantra in our intermediate courses.

The helix of the mind must release the impressions that have built up in the zone below where the lotus flower dwells in the medulla center, which is the seat of the ball of attention. The meditator can either open through this veil through methods one to six, or dissolve it entirely with a transformational method. We recommend beginning meditators learn these methods, so they can transcend these pre-meditation stages into the state of consciousness where meditation is possible.

Evaluating the Outcome of Spiritual Development

By George A. Boyd ©2017

Q: How can aspirants evaluate whether they are gaining the maximum benefit from transformation practices they are doing, or from the reception of Light Immersion?

A: The practical question that seekers can ask themselves is: “I’ve transformed my spiritual essence, but what am I now doing with it?”

Those that do no transformation and remain within the range of the delimited karmic parameters for their current life may develop knowledge, wisdom, virtue, and selected abilities intensively, but do not actualize the whole range of their Soul’s potentials.

Those that perform transformational meditation practices or receive the translating Divine Light through attunement progress far beyond the limits that a karmic-driven life can experience, but the development of their potentials of wisdom, love, and power is less intensive.

The key marker of transformation in aspirants or disciples who accelerate the spiritual evolution of a spiritual essence [e.g., nucleus of identity, spirit, or ensouling entity] is that they dissolve and transmute the karma behind that essence, and this allows that essence to move to successive nodal points along its track.

In spiritual traditions that utilize a transformational method to unfold a spiritual essence, we can measure the amount of karma they dissolve, transmute, and integrate along the delineated track upon which this essence unfolds by the relative progress of that essence towards its origin on that track.

If the transformational method affects the ensouling entity, we can view the unfolding of that ensouling entity along its track—which is called, the Way—and note its progress relative to its origin on that level of the Continuum. This is the Great Work of the First Pole of Being.

If the transformational method affects the spirit, we can view the opening of the Nadamic channels, and note the spirit’s progress in its Domain relative to its Source. We can also observe whether there is a guide actively working with the spirit and assisting it to return to the Divine Source that emanated it. This is the Great Work of the Second Pole of Being.

If the transformational method affects a nucleus of identity, we can note the movement of that nucleus of identity along its source, relative to the state of Mastery and Liberation for that essence. We can also look for whether the anointing of an Initiate [e.g., a spiritual Master] dwells in that center. This is the Great Work of the Third Pole of Being.

[In the Mudrashram® system of Integral meditation, we do not move nuclei of identity apart from the other vehicles of consciousness arrayed on the axis of being, but unfold these integration centers of the Superconscious mind in synchrony with the movement of each vehicle of consciousness aligned with the ensouling entity. However, many spiritual traditions do develop nuclei of identity independently—and they emphasize this type of transformation.]

In many spiritual traditions, the Initiates that supervise aspirants and disciples upon their Path simply train their chelas to unfold a spiritual essence on one pole of being. For example:

  • They may give a mantra that unfolds a nucleus of identity
  • They may use Kundalini to awaken a nucleus of identity or ensouling entity to bring about realization of this essence. Some traditions may use the Shakti component of the Kundalini energy to unfold this essence.
  • They may bestow attunements to unfold a nucleus of identity; or an ensouling entity, with or without its associated vehicles of consciousness.
  • They may awaken the spirit in one of the twelve Domains and lead it along the channels of the Nada in that segment of the Continuum.

In the Mudrashram® system of Integral meditation, we unfold these three poles in synchrony: the Soul, with its vehicles of consciousness and the nuclei of identity within those vehicles are transformed to the same nodal point, together with the spirit upon the segment of the Nada contiguous to the band of the Continuum in which the ensouling entity dwells. This development is keyed to the cutting edge of spirituality—other spiritual traditions often do not adopt this pattern of coordinated expansion of aspirants’ and disciples’ spiritual evolutionary potentials.

What are you doing with your spiritual development?

When spiritual unfoldment occurs in aspirants and disciples, there is a fundamental change in the capacity of those who experience this transformation. This new capacity embraces:

  • A new viewpoint or perspective on the universe
  • Deeper love and compassion
  • New abilities that arise at discrete stages of the Path
  • New insights, understanding, wisdom, and discernment
  • Greater purification of inner vehicles, enhanced character, and greater freedom from karmic impediments
  • The embodiment of greater life and awareness

As spiritual transformation of these aspirants and disciples is taking place, we need to ask, “What do they do with this expanded capacity that their transformation bestows?” There are several patterns we observe in these individuals:

Scenario one – They do nothing with it, but develop and retain these new aspects of the Soul’s love, wisdom, and power for the assumption of Mastery at a further stage on the Path. In this scenario, we say that the components of their new capacity are “sealed and readied for the Master’s use.”

Scenario two – They use their new knowledge and abilities, and their enhanced love and compassion to work on issues of their personality, so they can fulfill desires, work out issues and traumas that impact their functioning, have greater personal happiness, or enhance their serenity, well-being, wealth, and success. These ones typically have been held back from actualizing their personal potential; spiritual transformation enables them to remove those obstacles.

Scenario three – They embody saintly virtues and live a holy, loving life of selfless service to others.

Scenario four – They express their new insights and realizations creatively in the artistic fields of dance, music, poetry, fiction or non-fiction literature, painting, sculpture, drama, and other forms of creative expression.

Scenario five – They concretize their new understanding as mathematical models; engage in scientific exploration to expand upon their insights to gain new knowledge, and apply this knowledge to produce technological innovation.

Scenario six – They work to bring others to their spiritual Path, and they do a variety of services for the spiritual organization to which they belong. They may make financial gifts, volunteer their time and effort, and do projects that assist the supervising Initiates of the Path move their mission forward.

Scenario seven – They develop and utilize helping modalities to assist others. These helping abilities include healing, intuitive or psychic readings, psychotherapy, hypnosis, counseling, coaching, spiritual ministry, spiritual teaching, or initiation and Light Immersion.

We would ask you to examine:

  • In which of these ways are you expressing your spiritual development?
  • How has your expression of your Soul’s capacity changed since you began this program of transformation?
  • Has your spiritual unfolding led you to actively develop new skills and to acquire new knowledge, so you can enhance your capacity to serve in a helping modality?
  • How has your spiritual transformation affected your creative expression?
  • Has your inner metamorphosis affected your creative expressions? What has changed?
  • Has it improved your character and refined the way you relate to other people? How?
  • Has your development along this Path affected your altruistic motivation, your wish to help and serve others? Has it increased your desire to do selfless service out of love, to assuage the suffering of others?
  • In what ways has your spiritual advancement affected your personal life? Has your spiritual unfolding helped you overcome bad habits? Has it enabled you to recover from traumatic experiences, and enhanced your resilience to cope with the challenges and vicissitudes of life? Has it spurred you to overcome deficits in your education, or to master the developmental challenges that you missed in your upbringing? Has it helped you surmount the obstacles to your happiness and success?

Considering you are putting a lot of time and effort into unfolding along the Path you have chosen, we believe that it is important that you have something to show for your efforts. We ask you to reflect on how your inner transformation is expressing outwardly to touch you and the lives of others—how it is improving your life and the lives of others, and making a difference in the world.

While you might for a time, travel upon your Path as silently and invisibly as a submarine, we suggest that it is also valuable for you to surface periodically to bring into expression some of your spiritual essence’s new abilities, wisdom and knowledge, and love.

Overcoming Spiritual Blindness

George A. Boyd © 2017

Q: Some people cannot see within, even despite years of meditation? What causes this spiritual blindness?

A: There are a number of causes. Some have to do with incorrect meditation technique. Some have to do with encountering inner blocks or barriers—or the mind seems to defend against interiorization. Some have difficulty transcending the structures of belief that they have constructed, or moving beyond the content of the mind. Some never move far enough the thread of consciousness to activate the immortal essences—the attentional principle, the spirit, and the Soul—so the sight of these conscious principles of their nature never awakens.

There are several types of spiritual blindness that you may encounter:

  1. Your awareness awakens, but your attention remains fixed in the waking state of awareness. You remember the altered state of awareness, but you don’t go there as your attention.
  2. Your attention travels within, but then meets a barrier that it cannot surmount. This barrier blocks further inward progress, so the attention remains separated from the attentional principle, the spirit, and the Soul—and these spiritual essences do not awaken.
  3. Your attention does not lift from the waking state of awareness, because you cannot access the thread of consciousness through any pathway. [See the article, “The Journey Inward” — this describes twelve different tracks through which you can interiorize. This article is published in our book, A Mudrashram® Reader: Understanding Integral Meditation.] As a result of inability to enter the doorway to the thread of consciousness at the point between the eyebrows, you remain only conscious of your brain, and do not enter an altered state of awareness.
  4. Your attention remains at the waking state of awareness, because your awareness remains blocked below the seat of the attention at the medulla center, and does not rise into thread of consciousness.
  5. You engage in intellectual thinking or reflection, emotional expectation or reaction, and imagination or visualization—without moving your attention at all. You are immersed in the content arising from your vehicles of consciousness, but do not move your attention through it and transcend it. You must isolate and focus your attention to move beyond the content of these strata of the mind. You also experience this content immersion, when you are locked in the prison of belief. [See our web log article, “Breaking through the Bubble of Belief.”]
  6. Your attentional principle journeys into the higher vehicles of the Subconscious, Metaconscious, and Superconscious mind, but you are not aware of its experience, because your attention remains separated from it. Similarly, your spirit moves into the channels of the Nada, but its experience is also veiled from you, because you are not able to unite your attention with your spirit.
  7. Elements in your unconscious mind actively veil and block your deeper incursions beyond a certain level along the thread of consciousness, effectively pushing your attention back; this occurs whenever you try to penetrate beyond a certain point. [Unlike type two, which is a gate or barrier along the thread of consciousness—like the gateway to the Subconscious mind center—that your attention cannot get through; in type seven, there is an emergence from your unconscious that blocks your further interiorization, which sabotages your attempts to move your attention beyond where that unconscious mind material arises.] Karma drives this type. It appears to stem from two scenarios in your past lives:
  • You have a trauma associated with meditation in a past life. For example, you were killed when you were sitting for meditation.
  • You did evil deeds to those on the spiritual path. For example, you were cruel to monks, nuns, priests, or holy wanderers (sadhus).

Overcoming these Hindrances

These types of inner blindness can be overcome.

  • For types one, three, and five, you must work on collecting your attention and following the thread of consciousness with your attention. If you do this successfully, attentional seeing will begin to arise.
  • For type two, you need to practice alternative methods to surmount or get through the barrier upon the thread of consciousness. [We discuss these remedies in the Mudrashram® Correspondence Course.]
  • For type four, to get your awareness to rise into the seat of attention and up into the thread of consciousness, you need to work out the blockage. Some have found that body-mind modalities such as body work, breath work, Hatha Yoga, or martial arts helps them move through this blockage.
  • For type six, you must train your attention to unite with your attentional principle or spirit through moving through each focal point up to where these spiritual essences dwell.
  • For type seven, you may benefit from psychotherapy, hypnotherapy, or coaching to help you work out these issues that block you from moving beyond the level of your mind where this trauma is embedded. You can also work with them yourself using the invocational techniques and the methods of Jnana Yoga and Agni Yoga that we teach in our intermediate courses, the in-person Mudrashram® Master Course in Meditation and the by-mail and online Accelerated Meditation Program.

If you are suffering from a type of spiritual blindness, where you cannot see anything within in your meditations, we encourage you to:

  • Identify the type of spiritual blindness that you are experiencing
  • Practice the remedy that we suggest above
  • Try alternative methods to move your attention along the thread of consciousness [vide “The Journey Inward”]
  • Have a consultation with someone who specializes in helping you rehabilitate inner vision, if you cannot remedy this problem yourself

It is possible to rehabilitate your inner sight. We urge you to not give up until you find an answer, because inner vision is your birthright.