At the very beginning of each one of his meditation sitting, for a very short instant, the aspirant may touch a most particular state of consciousness which gives him the impression of being simple emptiness only, but is, in reality, a state of immaculate consciousness of the highest subtlety and transparency. This state of consciousness which is so unusual and difficult to apprehend, only lasts for two or three seconds at first before being replaced by another state which, although not being his customary state of being, is, nevertheless, no more the same as what he experienced in himself initially.
Failing to understand and appreciate the real value of this state of consciousness— which is so alien to him that, at first sight, it gives him the impression of being a vacuum without importance—, the seeker cannot, due to ignorance and lack of practice, find the strength to stay in it. He loses it very quickly and despite his efforts to continue to meditate, he descends to another state of consciousness which is not what he experienced in the beginning.
The same phenomenon — but on an entirely different scale — arises in a human being when he leaves his body, a phenomenon of which the implications prove decisive for his future. In other words, as explained in the Bardo Thodol (the Tibetan Book of the Dead), immediately after leaving this world, the deceased is confronted with the Supreme Consciousness in Its original purity. But, failing to apprehend It, he descends to lower and lower levels in himself until he becomes lost in a mental world which manifests itself in the form of a most impressive panorama, spreading out in front of his mind in such a spectacular way that, because of ignorance and lack of discernment, he takes it for being a reality.
To be able to remain in this primordial state — which the Bardo Thodol calls either “Clear Light” or “Clear Consciousness” — represents a feat totally out of the ordinary, which can only be the result of long and persistent training, in the form of intense meditation practice as well as other concentration exercises carried out both at home and in outside active life.
It is precisely with the help of specific concentration exercises (such as those given in several of my books) which force the aspirant to remain intensely present during their execution that he can start to experience during his daily life moments of very particular self-awareness which come to him suddenly after varying lengths of time of inner absences. These moments of self-awareness are accompanied by the beginning of an inner awakening which he should try, with all his might, to prolong so that the day will eventually come when he will no longer lose it. At these moments, which will determine what his future will be, the seeker should realize that, in the same way he is faced throughout his life with choices to be made in order to be able to remain in this state of being and of consciousness which is not habitual to him, after death all incarnate beings will find themselves in a situation where decisive choices will be demanded of them.
As a reward for all the efforts that an aspirant has made to become detached from himself and remain as concentrated as is possible for him, both during meditation and during specific concentration exercises at different moments of the day, sudden returns of self-awareness will come to him, by Grace, at the most unexpected moments (when he was lost to himself, engulfed once more in his habitual state of hazy absence), in order to awaken him again and remind him of the imperative necessity there is for him to struggle to remain, both in length of time and depth, as present to himself as he can.
If, during his life, he does not grasp the importance of the struggle he must make — right throughout his life if necessary — to try to remain in this new state of being and of consciousness when it suddenly arises in him again at various moments during the day, how can he hope not to feel totally at a loss in the face of death when it stands before him at this supreme hour, to end irrevocably his days and drag him away into a world where conditions will be so different from those he has habitually known and which he will not be prepared to confront?
The beginning of awakening
In order to bring more light on a subject which is determining for the aspirant’s spiritual evolution, it is necessary to return to the importance of this inner battle which he must undertake whilst still alive. If, after all his meditation practice and certain concentration exercises that he has carried out during his active life, he has really come to recognize in himself a state of being and of consciousness totally different than that in which his existence has passed until then, he must realize, from the depths of himself, the value of this new feeling that he has, by Grace, been privileged to experience. From this day onward when an unhoped door has opened for him, he has to struggle with all his might (like a drowning person to whom one has thrown a rope to rescue him) so as to find again this new state of being and of consciousness, and try to maintain himself in it. It is vital for him to understand that to remain in this state, which is still very fragile, is Life, and that the loss of this state is Death.
He must appreciate that what has happened to him is the most important event in his life and look at this new state of being in himself with veneration and gratitude without limits. From this moment onward — when a priceless gift has been granted to him — he will find himself placed in situations where he will have to make continual choices between the superior aspect of his being which calls him from within and certain thoughts and desires unprofitable for what he seeks to accomplish in him, so as to succeed not only to stay in this state, but, even more so, to deepen it so as to arrive at understanding that it is truly the beginning of the awakening of which the Buddha spoke.
The seeker will see, through repeated experiences, how much this state of awakening in which he tries to maintain himself is fragile. Time and again, during his meditation practices or his spiritual exercises carried out during the whirl of external life, in spite of all his efforts to try to remain inwardly awake, he will not be able to avoid being taken by surprise at first and finding himself dragged down by his customary state of being and of consciousness, sleeping internally and daydreaming.
The importance of recognizing a particular void
The hidden desire to stop meditating
Evolution is recalling
Be not distracted
When the aspirant undertakes this work on himself, he will remark that hardly has he touched a higher state in him that his ordinary individuality and his habitual feeling of himself will immediately loom up again, like a tidal wave to engulf him. After patient and persistent efforts, if he can find enough strength to hold to that state which is not habitual to him for longer periods, he will realize yet more clearly how difficult it is to retain the quality of this new consciousness of himself in all its purity for more than a short instant, and in what manner, before he apprehended what has happened to him, this superior aspect of his nature will have begun to be adulterated again and mixed up with his customary state of being and of feeling himself.
The seeker will notice that because of the instability of his mind, which has not yet went through sufficient training, the least desire that arises in him, the least image or thought that crosses his mind or even a simple word that appears suddenly in him, is enough to carry him away and make him forget his resolution to remain present inwardly and connected to the luminous aspect of his double nature.
He will see that his fall comes from the fact that his interest, which is not yet strong enough, has changed direction, inevitably carrying with it his attention to what attracted it. He will have therefore to acknowledge that he still remains divided between his superior nature (which does not cease to call him inwardly) and the tangible world that continues to exercise too strong a pressure upon him. The suffering of being split between these two worlds will make him realize that, without rigorous practice to master his rebellious mind, he will remain without defences to all that may come to his mind.
This instability of his mind will prove to be an even greater source of suffering after his death. In this regard, one finds in the Bardo Thodol the following injunction addressed to the deceased: “Oh nobly born, thy present intellect in the Intermediate State having no firm object whereon to depend, being of little weight and continuously in motion, whatever thought occurs to thee now (..) will wield great power”. (p. 172) And, in another passage of this same book, he is reminded : “Whatever thou desirest will come to pass (before Thee)… Be not distracted. The boundary line between going upwards or going downwards is here now. If thou givest way to indecision for even a second, thou wilt have to suffer misery for a long, long time. This is the moment. Hold fast to one single purpose.” (p. 177)
How much these words, addressed to the deceased, must be considered by the seeker as a precious teaching sent to him by Grace so that, while he is still alive, he can prepare himself for this monumental hour which awaits him!
He must realize that it is only by a constant struggle (which may, depending on his level of being, last throughout his life) to remain connected with a completely different state of consciousness in him — a subtle ethereal consciousness with which he ought to be familiar already — that he can hope to remain firm and undistracted at this fateful instant when he is called to leave the sensory world.
Fully recognizing this transparency of being and of consciousness as the Source from where he has emerged, is for the aspirant to have found the secret key with which to open the door of the prison in which he is enclosed, so as to be able to free himself one day from the tyranny and slavery of his inferior nature and from duality. From then on, his purification and his deliverance from all the sufferings — which necessarily accompany this form of existence and his ordinary individuality — will have commenced.