Seeker: If we are, in a sense, “conscious beings,” how is it that a conscious being could become “unconscious”?
This is an age-old question. When we say “conscious being” or Consciousness we are talking about Light, Awakening, Enlightenment, the Ultimate. And when we say “unconsciousness” we are referring to darkness, ignorance, maya, illusion. Unconsciousness is that which is fleeting and changeful, whereas Consciousness is changeless. In other words, we are asking how God became man, how the Light became darkness, how from Wisdom we became ignorant, how from being one in Consciousness we became so many in unconsciousness.
The most noted answer, according to the Vedas, is that in that Ultimate Consciousness, He or She, wanted to become many. He wanted to create, to play; the word is leela, divine play. The question has been: when He was blissful and conscious, why did He want to play? What was lacking that he wanted to create? Actually, it was because He was in bliss that He wanted to play. You don’t play when you are miserable. It is only when you are joyful that you feel like going out and playing. In other words, internal Spirit wanted to externalize into objective creation.
As soon as we put this into words we are bound to feel its limitations. It is only when you are in direct communication with the Creator that you can see how this occurs. That is the perfect answer to your question. From our human intellectual understanding we say that the Supreme became many, not separately but all-pervading. For example: when you divert water into various channels, it is still water throughout. God is like the water: He became many yet all is God. That pervadedness remains. When Consciousness begins to be many, it remains the same but is manifested in quantity. And in that quantitative manifestation, each entity assumes a limit. We lose the consciousness of being One. As soon as the Oneness is lost, that limited entity loses the consciousness of Oneness, the Absolute Consciousness, and that is where we become unconscious. If this separateness or unconsciousness had not existed as phenomena, then the play would have ended right there. When you get back to Oneness, the drama, the variety ends.
Another example is when you are falling asleep. If you can consciously be aware at that time, you will perceive an unconsciousness overpowering you. An imperceptible, hazy veil puts you to sleep, yet inside you are still awake. This illusion has been called maya, synonymous with Divine Mother, the Matrix of creation. To personify it, She is the helpmate of the Creator, and without Her, He would not create. Therefore multiplicity happens and you are lost in unconsciousness, as you see it now: manifold and variety, colors, angles, perceptions, species, sights, sounds, and so on. So that is the answer to your question: When you first start desiring, you become unconscious.
When we die, before we take birth again, wouldn’t we realize that we don’t want to come back again?
While we die we carry our ego with us. The very fact that you are reborn is because of ego. When the physical body dies, who takes rebirth? There is an aspect in you and me that can exist without the physical body. That is a thinker, a dreamer, which is called the astral or subtle or ethereal body. That is what takes rebirth. Your subconscious mind can exist without your physical body and that subconscious mind has the ego in it. If you had no ego when you died, you would not take rebirth; there would not be any personality there to take birth. Until you give up ego, you will continue
to take rebirth.
It is like when you plant a seed and a tree grows. From the tree you gather seeds and plant them, and again they grow into trees. That is rebirth. But if you burn the seed to ashes, it will not grow. It is the same thing with the ego. As long as ego is there, it will be reborn; but once you become egoless, merged with the Source, then there is no need to be reborn.
When the mind is completely finished, the ego is finished; then you will not be reborn except by your own will if you choose to come back. Ego dies but Spirit or Consciousness, never dies. It is immortal. Yogis who go deep, deep into meditation, see into the subconscious. That is what continues to reincarnate. To us the future and past are hidden, but the yogis know through the subconscious phenomena. This knowledge is within everyone’s subconscious. That is why relaxation and meditation are stressed, to take you deep into your subconscious to know yourself.
© 2011 by Truth Consciousness. Excerpted from the Satsangs of Swami Amar Jyoti: The Wisdom of Vedanta (R-98) and Conscious Meditation (I-18). For further information on the audio Satsangs of Swami Amar Jyoti please see truthconsciousness.org.