Excerpts from God Talks with Arjuna: The Bhagavad Gita
by Paramahansa Yogananda
At the time of death a yogi reaches the Supreme Effulgent Lord if, with love and by the power of yoga, he fully penetrates his life force between the eyebrows (the seat of the spiritual eye), and if he fixes his mind unwaveringly on the Being who, beyond all delusions of darkness, shines like the sun—the One whose form is unimaginable, subtler than the finest atom, the Supporter of all, the Great Ruler, eternal and omniscient.
—The Bhagavad Gita VIII:09-10
Pointed out in these verses are the three qualifications by which a great yogi passes from his physical body into the Divine Essence. First, love of God. Second, mastery of that kingly science, Kriya Yoga, by which he can usher his consciousness into the Infinite through the agency of the "single eye" in the forehead. Third, perfect control of the mind, made possible through constancy in yoga, that enables him to place his thought undeviatingly on the Lord at the time of death — an hour whose finality is always known in advance by a true yogi.
These stanzas, making two references to God as Light ("the Supreme Effulgent Lord" and "the Being who shines like the sun"), also mention a specific yoga technique. The point Krishna wished to make by such a juxtaposition is that a man who devotes himself to yoga beholds the Lord as Light.
In meditation a great yogi takes his ego, life force (prana), and consciousness beyond his physical body to a vast realm ablaze with soothing light. This radiancy as from a thousand suns dissolves into an ever new display of multicolored rays issuing from an endlessly en larging spherical fountain.
The single eye in the forehead of man possesses spherical vision. In meditation that vision gradually expands for the yogi into an ineffable sphere of constantly changing luminosity, blissful and omnipresent.
After experiencing this vibratory vision of Aum as the Cosmic Light, the emancipated yogi goes beyond all delusive relativities of vibrations. He then feels and realizes the Transcendental Lord — He who exists behind the transitory dreams of cosmic matter and its myriad components of cells, molecules, atoms, electrons and protons, "lifetrons" (prana or energy), and "thoughtrons" (the ultimate basis of matter).
In the transcendental state God spins out His dreams of ideational (causal), astral, and physical universes. The physical cosmos, with its many "island universes" floating in the eternal void, is encircled by a nimbus of radiant energy that melts away into the larger astral world. The astral cosmos is a grander manifestation of creation than the physical, and runs through and beyond the latter. In the astral cosmos many luminous galaxies of various densities, with their astral solar and stellar systems, are roving in a vaster sphere of eternity.
The largest or causal cosmos contains countless causal galactic systems with their suns and planets, roaming all through the physical and astral cosmoses and far beyond their boundaries to the outermost sphere of vibratory space. The causal universe is the womb of creation. In the causal universe, God's finest creative forces of consciousness, and highly evolved beings with their intuitive processes, objectify universes from subtle divine thought forces.
Through pure soul intuition, an accomplished yogi can behold the physical cosmos and its beings as the cosmic dream of God. Or he can project his consciousness into the astral world and perceive its panorama of indescribably beautiful island universes and beings made of ethereal blendings of various colored lights. Or he can lift his consciousness into the sublime causal sphere, with its galaxies upon galaxies of dazzling wisdom-objects and beings and their interactions — a glorious diadem in the eternally still, endless skies of Spirit.
The yogi who has attained complete control over his consciousness can behold the physical, astral, or causal worlds, or go beyond to the transcendent vibrationless region of God. He is able to perceive one portion of the Lord's consciousness as the transcendental eternal peace, and another portion as the ripple of cosmic dreams — the worlds of creation. It is the vibrationless, blessed consciousness of God that in the last analysis is the causative and omniscient Supporter of the dream cosmos and all its forces, subtle and gross. The manifestations of the Divine are in evidence in the cosmic dream, but He — the Ruler — remains hidden.
To attain the Creator, Krishna tells us in this passage, the yogi must completely penetrate his life force through the single or spiritual eye. This seat of omniscience in man is referred to in the Bible: [* Revelation 2:26,28] "And he that overcometh, and keepeth my works unto the end, to him will I give power over the nations.... And I will give him the morning star." Christ thus assured Saint John of the divine reward for those who are faithful to God "unto the end." The "morning star" or the "star of the East" is the spiritual single eye in the Christ or Kutastha center of the forehead (east), a microcosm of the creative vibratory light and consciousness of God. Through the spiritual eye the adept yogi attains mastery over the forces ("nations") in his physical, astral, and causal bodies, and gains entry into the realm of Spirit.
It is through the opening in the spiritual eye that the astral vehicle of man emerges from the physical body at death. Deprived of their astral counterparts, the sense organs and the myriad cells of the human form are left powerless. They then decay and return to their native state of "dust." The astral-body forces can be seen by the yogi as they pass up through the spinal tunnel and the brain (the seven "trap doors" of the plexuses) and enter an astral form.
The spiritual eye in the average man is not awakened during his lifetime. Therefore he is not aware at death of the passage of the astral body through the plexuses. An unconscious person who is carried from one place to another does not notice the stages of his journey. Similarly, the ordinary individual does not see his life energy being freed from the physical vehicle cii death and manifesting itself as an astral form.
At death man is overcome by fear at his strange experience — that of gradually finding himself unable to feel, or express his will, through a physical body. Then drowsiness overtakes him and for some time he remains in a state of peaceful slumber. Awakening from this sleep of death — much needed after the hard trials of life — he becomes aware of his encasement in an astral body, one whose tissues are made of light Amid the new beauties of the astral world, he forgets the whole of his past physical existence.
But a great yogi consciously observes through his spherical spiritual eye the various phenomena of death. Even a person whose soul is only partially awakened by good karma may at the advent of death have glimpses of the glory and joy of the mortal transition from the physical body to the astral heaven.