Ranging over the subject of consciousness studies and focusing on spiritual consciousness this unique collection brings together research papers, essays, narratives and perspectives, both Indian and global on the religion of saints or sant mat, particularly the Radhasoami Faith. The subjects under discussion range from the basic aspects of consciousness; consciousness in Sant Mat and other religions; means of attaining higher levels of spiritual consciousness; scientific perception studies to states of spiritual consciousness in sant Mat. Truly interdisciplinary in nature and international in spirit, this collection marks the revival and integration of interest in science and spirituality within the vast gamut of consciousness studies. Contributors are as varied as academicians scientists, spiritualists, philosophers, medical practitioners and religious heads. All those desirous of unraveling the mysteries of life ultimate pursuit will benefit immensely from reading the book. This book would also be of interest to students and researchers of theology, philosophy, science of spiritual, mysticism, religious studies and comparative study of religions.
P. Sriramamurti is honorary professor of Sanskrit and coordinator of postgraduate programmes in theology at the Dayabagh Educational institute (Deemed university). He is also advisor for theology at the DEI centre for consciousness studies. He is member Incharge forum and director yoga centre, Dayalbagh, Agra, India.
Prem Prashant IAS, is senior vice president, Radhasoami Satsang Sabha, Dayalbagh and Member, Divinity Forum, Dayalbagh, Agra, India. He was formerly chief secretary, Haryana government.
Anand Mohan is Registar, Dayalbagh Educational institute (Deemed University) and formerly professor of Geology Banaras Hindu University India His research interests include study of the evolution of life in the geological past.
The subject of consciousness is now drawing wide attention. Although consciousness is something embedded in all our experiences, and is considered basic to all our knowing, no one seems to be knowing what exactly it is. The contemporary multi-disciplinary interest in the study of consciousness goes beyond philosophers, psychologists and neuroscientists to include physicists, information technologists and several others. Human beings, as conscious subjects, function at two levels. On the one hand their awareness is directed outward towards objects and events, fellow beings, their appearances and actions. On the other hand the awareness is sometimes focused inward in one's own thoughts and feelings and beings. The two knowledge domains necessarily raise relevant ontological questions regarding the primacy of the subjective and objective items of knowledge. The human experience is however, a confluence of the two. The objective component of the experience is subject to logic and rationality and application of scientific methods. The application of logic of objectivity in the realm of inner awareness has led to reductive exercises, designed to translate inner experiences into outward phenomena. There at broadly two approaches: the eastern and western, to the study of consciousn s. The dominant trends that characterize eastern and western traditions, differ markedly in the emphasis they place on subjective and objective; on the presumed relations between the two and on appropriateness of methods to transform subjective items of experience into objective phenomena. In the western tradition, the emphasis has been primarily on the outward and the approach is rational and intellectual. Consequently the preferred method is scientific and the result is overwhelming concern with the physical reality. The central focus in the eastern tradition is on the inward. Reason is often seen as secondary to the inner experience. In the east, consciousness is regarded as an autonomous principle, grounded in spiritual foundations. In the west any such spiritual association is suspect. Objectivity of the phenomena is considered essential for it to be scientifically studied. Some behavioral psychologists have even declared that there can be no such thing as consciousness, while others have considered consciousness as an epiphenomena of matter. Some saw it as no more than neural events in the brain. Some consider consciousness as a process and the others as ability. Some looked at it as a state, while others regarded it as a function. Conscious experience in the human condition is clearly dependent on certain cortical processes which has led scientists to identify consciousness with brain functioning or as a study of brain. They, however, are not the same as the experience itself. A person may behave in many ways like a machine, yet one can function also as an autonomous being, exercising free will and self determination. Individuals have intentions, goals and objectives that may not be reduced to brain states. A person is believed to be different from a machine as some behaviours are not seen as being constrained by physical laws that control the brain functions, as exemplified by the evidence for para neural phenomena such as extra sensory perception and psycho-kinesis which seem to defy conventional physical laws and appear inexplicable in terms of known sensory-motor process. It may not be unreasonable to suppose that conscious experience, though dependent on neuron biological processes, may not be identical with or wholly determined by them. It is increasingly becoming apparent, that the theory which regards consciousness as an epiphenomena of matter or sees in it no more than neural events in the brain, is at best incomplete as it excludes from its consideration aspects of awareness that go beyond the categories of senses and understanding.
As mentioned, the emphasis in the east is on the psychological rather than only physical and preferred method is first person based introspection. In the west the focus is on the object of experience and preferred method is third person based observation and measurement. In the west, consciousness is generally equated with the.mind or conceived as an aspect of the mind. In the eastern tradition, specially the Indian, basic distinction is made between consciousness and mind. Existence of pure consciousness is believed to be non intentional, whereas mental phenomena are regarded as essentially intentional. The two approaches can however be genuinely complementary for' a fuller grasp of consciousness and its role in our being.
Sant Mat or the Religion of Saints is reflective of the best in the eastern tradition in this area. It is not rooted in any particular creed. It is a path which anybody can tread.
The teachings of Sant Mat are based on three essential beliefs:
(a) Belief in the existence of God or Supreme Being, the Original Source of energy which brought about the creation.
(b) Belief in the oneness of the essence of God and the spirit-entity in man, and
(c) Belief in the continuity of life after death.
To a follower of Sant Mat, God is not a matter of opinion. God exists as surely and certainly as his own spiritual self. He understands the oneness of the essence of an ocean and that of a drop of water. He has to move in the direction of his own spiritual self. He is convinced that the real self does not perish with the perishing of the physical body. It is immortal and will continue to exist and pursue the course God wards even after the death of the present physical body.
According to the teachings of Sant Mat, human body is an epitome of the whole creation and an apparatus through which communion can be established with the various spheres and spiritual centres of the universe. It is believed that there are located in this body a number of force centres, technically known as chakras, with which are associated spiritual powers of a very high order and if these spiritual powers of the microcosm be properly developed and brought into action, it becomes possible for a devotee to establish communion with the spheres and spiritual centres of the macrocosm. The spiritual practices prescribed in Sant Mat raise the spirituality of a devotee to the required high pitch, and render it possible for him to tap his potential spiritual powers and bring them into action. The spiritual practices prescribed are Sumiran, Dhyan and Bhajan known by various names among the Persian Sufi saints and other religions prescribing meditational practices to devotee, so as to engage his attention in silent repetition of the Holy name at high force centres and in Dhyan focus at that centre and when the spiritual power dormant in that centre begins to show signs of awakening, he becomes fit for initiation in the Bhajan practices: contemplation of the spiritual sound which is the manifest form of the all-powerful current of spirituality emanating from the Supreme Fountain-head of all spirituality. The devotee can then proceed from stage to stage enjoying the rapturous thrills of various transcendental experiences, till one day he finds his spirit fully awake, freed from all contamination of mind and matter. One can also describe these movements of spirit from one force centre to a higher one as attaining different levels of consciousness and when it reaches the final destination, it acquires Supreme Consciousness - Supreme Intelligence, Bliss and Energy which are the attributes of the Supreme Being.
To quote Param Guru Sahabji Maharaj, the fifth Revered Leader of Radhasoami Faith, "Truth which we all love can never be comprehended with the physical instruments of science nor can Ultimate Reality, which we so much adore, be realized with the mental efforts of philosophy. These can be achieved only when the special spiritual faculty in human body is fully developed, when we shall be able to perceive Truth and realize Ultimate Reality in th same manner as we perceive and realize the Sun with our physical eyes. When this takes place we will be astonished and amused to find that Truth the goal of Science, Ultimate Reality, the goal of philosophy and God the goal of religion are the three names of same Supreme Essence."
The Seminar had drawn participants fr.9rt: different fields who are interested in the study of the phenomenon of Consciousness. These included scientists, neuro-physiologists, psychoanalysts, persons interested in eastern spiritual philosophy and religion, practitioners of spiritual meditation drawn from different backgrounds and followers of Sant Mat (Religion of Saints). The seminar was graced by Heads of Centres of Radhasoami Faith. The result is a rich harvest of ideas, thoughts and concepts and of facts, analyses and conclusions drawn from scientific experimentation and religious philosophies.
I hope the readers and researchers interested in the study of Consciousness would find the compilation useful and interesting and trust it will further advance the knowledge and understanding of this fundamental phenomenon of existence.
The religion of saints sums up and extends the teaching of saints and fakirs of medieval and later times who have given the highest revelations culminating in Radhasoami faith. Param Purush Puran Dhani Huzur Soamiji Maharaj revealed the Radhasoami Name and secret of Radhasoami Dham in 1861 on the Basant Panchami Day. The year 2010-11 marked the 150th year of the foundation of the radhasoami faith. The Dayalbagh Educational institute founded in realization of the mandates of the Sant Satgurus of the Radhasoami faith hosted an international seminar on Religion of Saints (Sants) Radhasoami faith: Spiritual consciousness studies” (Spircon 2010 form Nevember 12-14, 2010.
The dayalbagh educational institute declared as a Deemed to be University in 1981 has implemented an innovative and comprehensive programme of education aiming to bring about physical intellectual emotional and ethical integration of an individual with a view to evolving a complete man who is capable of giving a fuller response so social and environmental challenges. As has been explained by most revered Prof. Prem Saran Satsangi Chairman advisory committee on education Dayalbagh Educational institutions education is imparted here at three levels. At the foundational level comprising the primary and middle school level learning is by means of the well known three "R’s” characteristic of science (duly blended with integration provided by systems approach) namely Reductionism representing the analytical power of science repeatability of experimentation which is the strength of science and refutation of hypothesis by means of which science has taken its spectacular strides in the modern world availing advancements in telecommunication technologies and quantum-nano-computing. The third and highest level of education however is the level of spiritual education I.e. by sages and saints. It is ultra-transcendental knowledge of the Nirmal Chetan Desh the pure spiritual religion revealed by the Param sant and the essence of Satsang and Sant Mat or Radhasoami faith.
According to most revered Prof. P.S. satsangi the order of the empirical world itself has an order an underlying order of second degree which rests on the intuitive consciousness that guides and prompts development of living systems with apparently purposive and telic behavior. This all human being have some king some of programmed life given to them by the supreme Being. All of us at some time or the other experience a king of conscious or sub-conscious precognition of it and as we get educated in schools, Colleges and universities and ultimately receive spiritual education in satsang that consciousness grows. We all have in this way a dynamically programmed life for the awakening and development of our consciousness. Science of consciousness in the process of its evolution. Modern scientists of consciousness is in the process of its consciousness that an ordinary man goes through.
Science and spirituality are getting reintegrated with their common interest in consciousness. The scholarly deliberation in two days at SPIRCON 2010 dedicated to the exploration of consciousness witnessed a grand convergence of scientists spirituals philosophers, and religious heads. There were a total of 16 plenary session 9 oral paper presentation session. Apart from these the inaugural session the panel discussion and the Valedictory session drew much attention from the charged audience and the media persons. The special sessions were from the charged audience and the media persons. The special sessions were transmitted to 231 centres across the world including 201 centres all over India and 30 in other countries including USA, Canada, Middle east Singapore, UK, Germany, Sri Lanka etc. which is one more way in which this seminar is unique. More than thirty thousand people witnessed the sessions in various part of the globe.
At the inaugural session Prof. P Sriramamurti elucidated the link between religion and consciousness. He said that in religious tradition supremacy of spirit is taken axiomatically. Higher levels of spiritual consciousness are south to guide our lives and it does not matter whether it is form the east or west Hindu or Semitic. The inaugural Address was given by revered Prof. Agam Prasad Mathur Sahab the present religious leader or Radhasoami sect, Peepal Mandi, Agra and Ex Vice – chancellor Agra university. Revered Prof. Mathur Sahab fondly recounted his old association with dayalbagh and stressed the need to renew these association. He recounted the basic tenets of Radhasaomi faith which for the first time described higher spiritual consciousness levels. He said that spiritual consciousness was explained by Param Guru Huzur Maharaj as to acquire knowledge of the secrets and the order of creation and the means of traversing the distance between his dwelling in the body (the pupil of the eye) and the abode of the supreme being the prime source of everything and to start on his journey with fervor and perseverance with the avowed object of one day reaching the presence of the most high and beloved supreme father. He enumerated several features that unite all the sects of Radhasoami faith and said that all the sects have brotherhood among all the satsangis irrespective of their sect. he spoke about love and devotion to the current Guru Being the cornerstone of salvation in Radhasoami faith and exhorted people to go back to Param Purush Dhani Huzur Soamiji Maharaj and Huzur Maharaj.
“Vision Talk” delivered by Most revered Prof. Prem Saran Satsangi (Chairman, Advisory Committee on education, dayalabagh Educational Institutions) Provided a feast for body mind and soul. The spiritual head of the Radhasoami faith, Dayalbagh, Most Revered Prof. Satsangi Sahab, Provided a famework for scientific investigation into consciousness. He said that if scientists came out of the shell of prejudice and take recourse to intuition, they can make greater headway. In fact there are no great contradictions or chasms between scientific thought and the corresponding spiritual conceptualization. There is convergence of views to a large extent he added. He further emphasized that cosmology in Radhasoami Faith is also all inclusive with regard to various religion prevalent in the world. He proposed O theory (Omani-quantum theory) as a complete theory that integrates all the currently knows scientific theories and subsumes them by drawing a parallel between the 11 dimensions of String theory and 11 Lakas that he listed with the highest Loka beign Radhasoami Dham corresponding to the elusive 11th dimension fo the string theory. He propounded the with white mountain strategy, also alluded to indirectly by the chief guest that will enable the adherents of Radhasoami faith to scale the highest peaks of spirituality which is a totally internal experience that does not interfere or cause trouble to anyone else.
Shri prem kumar president Radhasoami satsang Sabha and Dayabagh educational institute emphasized that the concepts and philosophy of religion of saints (Sant Mat) can give us a way for achieving peace in the strife torn world of today. He stressed that fatherhood of God and Brotherhood of Man should be our ideal to establish Universal peace.
Prof. P.N. Tandon of national brain research centre documented now recent years have witness a revial in interest in attempt to reconcile rational enquiry (Science) and spiritual conviction (religion) he presented several recent attempts by renowned scientists who have taken bold steps to bridge this interrelationship research in systems concepts and systems understanding has expanded the range and depth of how we understand our world. The spiritual dimension of system theory is being nurtured and developed at the DEI that is creating a spiritual model of man and the macrocosm. Prof. Jack Ellis of York University Toronto said the concepts my hold the greatest potential for achieving a blending of eastern understanding and western knowledge. The ultimate reality of systems theory is that there is only one system he said. Human being are well equipped to think reason experience emotion and most importantly to grow spiritually.
Swami Jitatmananda ji, Vice president Ramakrishna Vivekananda mission spoke about consciousness in modern science and Vedanta spiritual consciousness and this can be attained by regular spiritual practices he said: there is a growing hunger to find divinity within. A conscious revolution has come in science and people have already begun to look and outward for peace and contentment. While eastern masters regard consciousness for peace and contentment while eastern masters regard consciousness as an independent source making subjective awareness possible the best view consciousness as merely a quality of certain brain and mental states. However all spiritual tradition assert that shines on objects that make them subjectively realize. Mind is the medium and gateway between consciousness of spirit and the objective world. He expresses great happiness that the dayalbhag educational institute was an exception and had taken the bold step of trying to integrated religious and scientific studies. He said that the DEI had organized this seminar on spiritual consciousness and it was a step in the right direction. It would have be replicated all over India for the betterment of our people.
Prof Subhash Kak, Oklahoma state university USA provided an overview of Indian spirituality and its consideration of the problems of consciousness of quantum sin and meaning it compared ideas of Indian spirituality with that of quantum physics and showed that in both the universe is best viewed from the complementary perspectives of physical structure and observes Prof. A. K. Mukhopadhyay, all India institute of Medical science New Delhi said that science at present work within the boundary of the universes that in turn is determined by the boundary of the cerebral cortex. He stressed on unconditional surrender to the Guru as prerequisite to spiritual progress. he said that the flow of grace from the guru tot eh disciple is the highest from of psychotherapy and elucidated several interesting concepts combining deep medical and consciousness insight. Prof. Daniel Gold of Cornell university spoke about the approach of the Sant Mat or religion of saints to the study of consciousness. Gold said that central to Radhasoami philosophy is the belief that the soul is of the same essence as of God. Human being can realize their soul and god while still in the body through meditation which ultimately leads to awakening of spiritual consciousness. You can experience soul and God in your lifetime through meditation on the name light and sound of god. Since god is spirit one can know god by transcending body consciousness. Religion of the saints is very broad and live out a lot of external ritual and traditions. The Sant Mat is inclusive with strong reformist attitude he said. He added spiritual science of consciousness broadened the outlook of a toward life and the whole of creation Other distinguished speaker including Dr. Mark Graves, USA; Dr. Laxmidhar Behre, IIT Kanpur; Prof. peter H. Toe, Canada; Prof. John Grayzel USA; Prof. Sangeeta menon, NIAS Bangalore; and Prof. B. Les Lancaster, UK added delightful feast to the spiritual consciousness studies there was a brilliant video presentation on consciousness and neuroscience by Prof. David C. Lane and Prof. Andrea Lane. USA.
The absorbing Panel discussion included stalwarts like Prof. Daniel Gold USA. Prof. P Sriramamurti seminar chair Prof. Mark Juergensmeyer, USA, Shri Prem Prashant, Vice president Radhasoami satsang sabha, Dayalbagh, Prof. Subhash Kak, US; Swami Jitatmanada Ji Vice president Ramakrishna Vivekananda mission and Prof. Jack Ellis Canada Reverd Kunwar Pal Sahab, spiritual leader of Radhasoami satsang Dinode who graced the occasion also participated in the discussion and said that there must be emphasis on Karni Guru Bhakti and following the Guru. Panelists also said that spiritual consciousness can be raised by devotedly following the teachings of the saints accepting the guru as the lord and freeing oneself from worldly desires. Right and regular practice of surat-Sabda-Yoga can raised spiritual consciousness. Till the mind becomes enlightened its is necessary to sit at the feet of ones guru.
The panel unanimously resolved that the study of Spiritual Consciousness must be promoted in all the Universities especially in DEI, and Experiential Science must be recognized as an accepted Science, and efforts must be made to bring Scientific Study of Religion in order to bridge the gap between the two. Efforts must also be made to organize an International Seminar on Spiritual Consciousness abroad in the next two years especially in USA. The panel also emphasized that in the Sant Mat greatest importance is laid on complete surrender at the feet of the Living Guru, in accepting Him as the Lord and performing selfless devotion and service.
The Valedictory Address was delivered by Prof Mark Juergensmeyer, USA world renowned authority on Religious Studies in general and Radhasoami Faith in particular. His book entitled "Radhasoami Reality" is acknowledged as a classic on the subject. He is a scholar of repute with knowledge of several languages. He said that it was fascinating to see that the Faith that had started 150 years ago as a simple Sadhu camp had grown into a Global Religion. At the place where 90 years ago there were only sand dunes and pits, there exists a grand Colony where the Seminar is taking place. He said that this is an extraordinary development by any standards.
In a nutshell, the participants were in consensus that spiritual awakening alone could resolve individual and societal crises to establish a new world order brotherhood God and brotherhood of man'. The thought provoking International seminar thus opened new vistas in awakening our conscious efforts towards better worldliness.
The presentations and deliberations at the seminar are now being brought out in a book form containing almost all the contemporary knowledge of Sant Mat, particularly the Radhasoami Faith. The editors hope that the readers will find this book of immense interest, both as a narrative of the first ever International seminar on Radhasoami Faith and secondly as a reference book of the contemporary views of international scholars on various aspects of the modern, natural religion, the Radhasoami Faith.
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