The following article is excerpted from Spiritual Telepathy: Ancient Techniques to Access the Wisdom of Your Soul by Colleen Mauro (Quest Books, March 2015).
The teaching on the higher potential of the human mind lies at the heart of all of our spiritual traditions. This ageless wisdom, called the sanatana dharma, or the “eternal teaching” by the Hindus, can also be found in Christianity, Buddhism, Judaism and Islam.
Once taught in the ancient mystery schools of Egypt, Greece, Babylon and India, this wisdom was first put into book form by the Hindu sage Patanjali in his book, The Yoga Sutras. In this classic book, Patanjali explained that the mind has two levels—the lower or rational mind and the higher or intuitive mind. The soul, our gateway to the higher worlds, is the link between our higher and lower minds. When we train the lower mind to make contact with the soul, the soul transmits information from the higher mind to our brains. We then have direct access to the subtle worlds where information on all subjects can be found.
The Yoga Sutras contains four sections, or “books,” on the higher functions of the mind. In the first section, Patanjali provides instructions for quieting the mind and emotions. In the second, he includes practices for contacting the soul. The third section focuses on mind control and the need to develop a one-pointed focus of attention, and the fourth covers the stage of universal consciousness.
A more recent teaching on the mind can be found in the work of Sri Aurobindo, a twentieth-century Hindu master. Aurobindo also teaches that the next evolution in nature is our transition from human intelligence to superconscious awareness. In The Life Divine and other books, he presents his teaching on the mind.
His model includes four levels of mind. The first step beyond the rational mind is the higher, or abstract, mind. The second is the illumined mind, which he calls “the mind of light” or “vision.” The third is the intuitive mind, and the fourth is the divine or “supermind”—the level of cosmic consciousness where “the ego-sense is subordinated, lost in the largeness of being… a wide cosmic perception and the feeling of a boundless universal self replaces it.”
The teachings on the mind are also central to the practice of Buddhism. Students are told, “When you realize your own mind you will become a Buddha; you should not seek Buddhahood elsewhere.” Their scriptures make a distinction between two types of mind: the rational, or conceptual, mind and the nonconceptual, or wisdom, mind, also referred to as “buddha nature.”
Their scriptures also make a distinction between three levels of mental awareness—the gross mind, the subtle mind, and the very subtle mind. The gross, or conceptual, mind is our day-to-day waking mind. We access alaya, the subtle mind, when we sleep and dream. The very subtle mind, called rigpa, is the root, or universal, mind. Also called the “mind of clear light,” this nonconceptual mind is accessed through deep meditation. Tapping into this level of mind gives us the pristine awareness of the Tibetan lamas, who are said to receive direct teachings from the Buddha by a process they call “pure vision.”
In the Bible we’re told, “Let the mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus” (Phil. 2:5). This teaching is also mentioned numerous times in the gnostic Gospels.
For example, in the Gospel of Mary, a gnostic text found in Egypt in 1896, Mary describes to the other disciples the secret teaching on the mind she received from Jesus after the resurrection:
I saw the Lord in a vision and I said to him, ‘Lord, I saw you today in a vision.’
He answered me, ‘Blessed are you for not wavering at seeing me. For where the mind is, there is the treasure.’
I said to him, ‘So now, Lord, does a person who sees a vision see it [with] the soul [or] with the spirit?’
The Saviour answered, ‘A person does not see with the soul or with the spirit. Rather the mind, which exists between these two, sees the vision.”
Teachings on the mind can also be found in the Sufi and kabbalistic traditions. Kabbalah, a Hebrew word meaning “to receive,” is the esoteric branch of Judaism. In the kabbalah, the intuitive mind is called chokhmah, a level of consciousness defined as “pure, nonverbal, undifferentiated thought.” The early kabbalists left meditation manuals that described the mantras, breathing exercises and body movements they used to access this level of mind.
David Cooper writes in Ecstatic Kabbalah that Moses Cordovero, a sixth-century kabbalist, wrote of ancient Jewish mystics who had “special methods of concentration… that strengthened their subtle minds in such a way as to apprehend the sublime, heavenly realms.” Cooper mentions another early sage who wrote of meditation practices that would allow one to have visions of God and the ability to “look into his [own] mind like one who reads a book in which are written great wonders.”
Sufism—from the words suf, meaning “wool,” for the robes worn by the early mystics; and safa, meaning “purity”—is the esoteric branch of Islam. The ultimate goal of this spiritual tradition is also the perfection, or “completion,” of the human mind. The Sufis make contact with the subtle world by tapping into a level of mind they call ‘aql mujarrad, or “pure intellect.” According to Ibn ‘Arabi, a thirteenth-century Sufi mystic and philosopher, “When a man has transformed himself into pure intellect… he witnesses things that are the very source of what appears in natural form. And he comes to know by intuitive knowledge how and why the things of nature are just as they are.”
Each of these traditions have given us a road map to the higher worlds. When we tap the hidden power of the mind, we will, like Ali Baba in The Arabian Nights, open the door to a treasure trove of unimaginable riches.