The Cloud

This term–in full, Dharma-megha, cloud of righteousness, or of religion–is one which is very scantily explained by the commentators. In fact, the only explanation they give is that all the man’s past karma of good gathers over him, and pours down upon him a rain of blessing. Let us see if we cannot find something more than this meagre interpretation.

The term “cloud” is very often used in mystic literature of the West; the “Cloud on the Mount,” the “Cloud on the Sanctuary,” the “Cloud on the Mercy-Seat,” are expressions familiar to the student. And the experience which they indicate is familiar to all mystics in its lower phases, and to some in its fullness. In its lower phases, it is the experience just noted, where the withdrawal of the consciousness into a sheath not yet recognised as a sheath is followed by the beginning of the functioning of that sheath, the first indication of which is the dim sensing of an outer. You feel as though surrounded by a dense mist, conscious that you are not alone but unable to see. Be still; be patient; wait. Let your consciousness be in the attitude of suspense.

Presently the cloud will thin, and first in glimpses, then in its full beauty, the vision of a higher plane will dawn on your entranced sight. This entrance into a higher plane will repeat itself again and again, until your consciousness, centred on the buddhic plane and its splendouis having disappeared as your consciousness withdraws even from that exquisite sheath, you find yourself in the true cloud, the cloud on the sanctuary, the cloud that veils the Holiest, that hides the vision of the Self. Then comes what seems to be the draining away of the very life, the letting go of the last hold on the tangible, the hanging in a void, the horror of great darkness, loneliness unspeakable. Endure, endure. Everything must go. “Nothing out of the Eternal can help you.” God only shines out in the stillness; as says the Hebrew: “Be still, and know that I am God.” In that silence a Voice shall be heard, the voice of the Self, In that stillness a Life shall be felt, the life of the Self. In that void a Fullness shall be revealed, the fullness of the Self. In that darkness a Light shall be seen, the glory of the Self.

The cloud shall vanish, and the shining of the Self shall be made manifest. That which was a glimpse of a far-off majesty shall become a perpetual realisation and, knowing the Self and your unity with it, you shall enter into the Peace that belongs to the Self alone.