The ancient spiritual scientists used the instrument of their minds to perceive what the modern scientists try to prove through outer, more gross instruments. The modern scientists only go to a certain limit because they don’t—or at least haven’t—yet started to believe or talk about the Absolute, the Essential Reality. So they always try to explain everything in terms of something that could be seen—either by the physical eye, or by some instruments. That’s why, they are trying to see everything through microscopes and various atomic scopes, and they have to see to believe. First they talked about atoms and their particles and then they tried to penetrate into the atom and they found more particles. Ultimately, they started saying that the atom itself is a galaxy that has so many particles in it. So, they started naming those: electron, proton, neutron, and on and on and on. And in a way, they say that all seem to emit light, or, they are nothing but light waves.

But the spiritual scientists, were able to perceive the Essential Reality—not through any scientific instruments, but through their own instrument which is the mind, their sharp intelligence. And through the instrument of the mind they have given us the basic essence, which we call the Absolute. It is unperceivable, even by delicate scientific instruments, because all those things are much more gross compared to the basic essence. Even those instruments are the expressions of the basic essence. As such, they are, in a way, limited and they find it hard to perceive the unlimited, so they said it’s not even perceivable by the mind; it’s beyond the mind and speech. But still, we come to understand only through the mind, so for the mind to understand what cannot be understood, it has to limit the unlimited, and the very subtlest expression that can be perceived is sound.

The Hindu Vedas call it nada. The Bible calls it “the Word.” But even the sound cannot be seen. But you can see the sound as light. So the very sound itself has given room for the illumination, for the light. They called it bindu, nada bindu. Just a speck of light. It is only the light that can be seen. Above the light, or in the level above the light, it cannot be seen, but it can be heard. Yet, even what we hear through this physical ear is not the beginning of the sound. Even the sound itself is much, much subtler than what we hear. What we hear is the audible sound. There are inaudible sounds. Even your thinking has created a sound. Every thought is a sound. And when you think loudly, you are speaking it. There are different levels of sound. Only when it comes out of the throat, do you hear it, do you call it sound—but it has already started within you. And the way to understand and realize this is to use the help of some outside symbol. That is the very reason, why we have all the various temples, symbols, images, and so on. Even the services—the waving all the lights, waving the incense, ringing the bells—include all the outside symbols, which would ultimately help us see and feel and hear the same within. The entire process should happen within.

If we learn to meditate properly, and we learn to clean the mind and focus the mind inward, we would get all these things. We would get the sounds of the various drums, bells, bugles, and things like that. We would hear the sound of the waves, the sound of the wind. All the sound that you hear outside, can be heard within. And all the light that you see outside, can be seen within. So the external things are only to help us to at least imagine what we should be seeing inside. It’s a sort of crude image given by the people that have seen the inside, who have heard that inside. Even our chanting of Om, Amen, Ameen are all crude compared to what the spiritual scientists really heard within. Because it’s impossible to say with words what you hear within, you have to limit it with your language.

That is why nobody has ever said anything about God clearly, because you cannot talk about God. The minute you begin to talk, you are simply twisting it. It’s no longer the original, the pure. But still we have to have some guidance. When you see pictures of a mountain, you are able to see the landscape. How could you see it without someone going there? The people who have seen it, captured it in their cameras, brought it and projected it, so you have an idea of what it could be. You still have not seen it, really. So all these things are simple projections on the screen of what they caught in their experience. All these images, all these symbols are not simply intellectually created. They saw it within and they tried to tell you what it is. So in that sense, they say, Oh it’s like a brilliant sunlight, it’s like the moon, it’s like a sort of flash; lightening, or it’s like a candle. In different ways they expressed it. And there again, you cannot all go and sit outside and look at the sun always. You cannot have lightening always.

So for our sake, we still limit things to our capacity to understand. Candlelight is also a light. But it is the representation of that inner Light. And through this light we can realize the inner Light. Through the sound we can hear the sound within, so that’s why we chant. We make our own sound so that we can hear the sound outside, created by us, and then we learn to hear the inner sound, created by the cosmic intelligence. People who really get into deep practice and are sincere, and if they are regular in their practices, should be able to see the glimpse of these lights. They should be able to get the smell of all incense. They should be able to hear all the sounds. Until then, you are not really going within. You are not really growing in the spiritual field. You have to have some of these experiences.

But, how could we get the experience? Should we sit and meditate always? No. Sitting in meditation alone is not going to make your mind clean and calm. You have to really rub and scrub the mind to clean it. And it is for that sake, you apply the mind into activities. And during the actions, you will see how dirty the mind is, how restless it is. Sitting in the temple and closing your eyes, you are all angels. Everybody will look like a saint. But, in your daily life, in your activities, you will be able to understand the quality of your own mind well. And that is the reason why we say to apply the practices, apply the meditation. It makes you understand the quality of the mind and the contents of the mind. And then we have to clean the mind through our actions. Then the actions themselves becomes a meditation. Then the mind calms down. It’s only a clean mind that can get calm.

A clean and calm mind will be able to perceive all these symbols within—all this light within, all the scent within, all the sound within. Seeing the light within is probably a good sign of our cleaning the mind and making the mind one-pointed. Very often we might see colored lights, sort of smoky colors, like in fireworks. They go up and you get bursts of the colors. You will see that within. You can have all the entire fireworks within. Yes. We don’t need to be running around to see the fireworks. And that is the very reason why almost every faith, gives so much prominence to the Light and sound. The Jewish people have the call of the horn, the shofar. In the same way the Hindus will have a conch. It’s not the instrument that is important, but it is the sound. They simply have to blow a sound and then have some light. Sound and light.

Through Integral Yoga, the body and mind both should be made clean. After all, mind is another aspect of the body. They are not two different things. They are one and the same in different levels. Mind is a subtle body and the physical body is a gross body. It’s like your shirt and your coat. It’s not enough to simply say, Oh my coat is clean but the shirt is dirty or vice-versa. Both should be clean.

So, if we want to ask ourselves, Am I growing in the spiritual practices?, look for the signs of your growth. You will feel light. You will see the Light. You will get light, physically and mentally.

By Sri Swami Satchidananda