In India, the Candidates for Initiation into the science of “Raja Yoga,” when they apply to the Yogi Masters for instruction, are given a series of lessons designed to enlighten them regarding the nature of the Real Self, and to instruct them in the secret knowledge whereby they may develop the consciousness and realization of the real “I” within them. They are shown how they may cast aside the erroneous or imperfect knowledge regarding their real identity.
Until the Candidate masters this instruction, or at least until the truth becomes fixed in his consciousness, further instruction is denied him, for it is held that until he has awakened to a conscious realization of his Actual Identity, he is not able to understand the source of his power, and, moreover, is not able to feel within him the power of the Will, which power underlies the entire teachings of “Raja Yoga.”
The Yogi Masters are hot satisfied if the Candidate forms merely a clear intellectual conception of this Actual Identity, but they insist that he must feel the truth of the same–must become aware of the Real Self–must enter into a consciousness in which the realization becomes a part of his everyday self–in which the realizing consciousness becomes the prevailing idea in his mind, around which his entire thoughts and actions revolve.
To some Candidates, this realization comes like a lightning flash the moment the attention is directed toward it, while in other cases the Candidates find it necessary to follow a rigorous course of training before they acquire the realization in consciousness.
The Yogi Masters teach that there are two degrees of this awakening consciousness of the Real Self. The first, which they call “the Consciousness of the ‘I’,” is the full consciousness of real existence that comes to the Candidate, and which causes him to know that he is a real entity having a life not depending upon the body–life that will go on in spite of the destruction of the body–real life, in fact. The second degree, which they call “the Consciousness of the ‘I AM’,” is the consciousness of one’s identity with the Universal Life, and his relationship to, and “in-touchness” with all life, expressed and unexpressed. These two degrees of consciousness come in time to all who seek “The Path.” To some it comes suddenly; to others it dawns gradually; to many it comes assisted by the exercises and practical work of “Raja Yoga.”
The first lesson of the Yogi Masters to the Candidates, leading up to the first degree, above mentioned, is as follows: That the Supreme Intelligence of the Universe–the Absolute–has manifested the being that we call Man–the highest manifestation on this planet. The Absolute has manifested an infinitude of forms of life in the Universe, including distant worlds, suns, planets, etc., many of these forms being unknown to us on this planet, and being impossible of conception by the mind of the ordinary man.
But these lessons have nothing to do with that part of the philosophy which deals with these myriad forms of life, for our time will be taken up with the unfoldment in the mind of man of his true nature and power. Before man attempts to solve the secrets of the Universe without, he should master the Universe within–the Kingdom of the Self. When he has accomplished this, then he may, and should, go forth to gain the outer knowledge as a Master demanding its secrets, rather than as a slave begging for the crumbs from the table of knowledge. The first knowledge for the Candidate is the knowledge of the Self.