Excerpted from: God Is For Everyone, by Paramhansa Yogananda as taught to and understood by his disciple Swami Kriyananda

The ego cannot easily conceptualize the vast consciousness that brought it into existence. Christian theologians describe God as “wholly other”: that is to say, completely different from His creation. Indeed, so He must be if one compares man’s littleness with God’s infinity; the theologians, certainly, are not “wholly” wrong! The Bhagavad Gita, India’s greatest scripture, however, describes God as being “in everything, but not touched by anything.” In this sense, and if everything came out of Him, how can those theologians be “wholly” right?

Light bulbs are powered by the same electric source, but they shine differently according to their watt-strength and coloring. Such is the ego. Every human being is conscious of being special, in the sense of separate from everything and everyone else — and the central actor in everything in which he is directly concerned. He sees God as not only separate from him, but as another reality altogether — in fact “wholly other,” as the theologians say. Those learned men voice, with that expression, a perfectly normal human perception — one that is rooted at the same time, however, in ego-consciousness, not in wisdom.

The difference between man’s ego and God is not one of kind, but only of direction. When his consciousness flows outward to the senses, he sees himself as distinctly separate and individual. When his attention is reversed, however, he discovers an inner and essential Self. This Self has no separative features to distinguish it, for it embraces the essence of existence itself, revealing that its once-separate identity was a delusion. At the same time, it achieves if anything an increase of self-identity: not separative and relative, but unitive. Self-awareness in both the limited and universal sense is our eternal reality. The ego only confines our sense of that “I.” In truth, one’s real “I” is everywhere! When energy and consciousness are directed inward to the indwelling soul, body-consciousness is lost. Awareness expands to infinity. In that self-expanded state, one in no way loses his self-awareness. Rather, he becomes aware that he, himself, is infinite. 

To know who we really are – in eternity, and not only for a few anguishing earth years – we must withdraw our consciousness from sensory identity, which has defined out ego-consciousness. Even while living in ego-consciousness, we must think of ourselves as the heirs of Infinity. The better we succeed in identifying ourselves with the soul rather than with this little body and personality, the more real for us will become the words of the master Jesus Christ, who declared, “I and my Father are one.”

Modern psychology, heavily influenced by Charles Darwin’s Theory of Evolution, points downward: to the subconscious and to our animal origins, claiming that there lies our basic reality. The spiritual teachings, on the other hand, point upward. They insist that the superconscious is our true source, and that the divine is our true reality. These very opposite opinions, based on opposing directions of consciousness, are no mere figures of speech. Consciousness, as it becomes increasingly refined, actually rises in the spine, becoming centered at last in the frontal lobe of the brain and at the top of the head. The more animalistic a person’s consciousness, the more fully his energy is centered in the lower part of his spine. “Earthy” people, often praised for their supposed realism, display by their very posture, their gestures, that their awareness is centered in their lower being as though radiating outward from their hips. Even when they converse, they make constant references to the lower functions of the body.

Stimulation of the lower centers of awareness, however, although to some extent pleasurable, conflicts with the desire all human beings have for happiness. This conflict increases their awareness of the dualistic opposites: pleasure and pain, happiness and suffering. By giving more energy to the downward movement, one subjects himself to the opposite emotional states. Intense pleasure alternates, inevitably, with intense pain.

When the energy is free to rise unobstructed toward the brain, without any downward-moving material desires and impulses to hinder it, one’s consciousness soars heaven-ward in bliss. Release comes from egoic limitations, for one’s consciousness expands one’s self-identity. This upward flow is crucially important to spiritual development. When awareness and energy are centered at the point between the eyebrows, and rise thence to the highest center at the top of the head, the consciousness of duality disappears, and the soul merges into the oneness of Spirit.

The unending swing of the pendulum, left and right with every rising and descending current in the superficial spine, is nullified by rest in the deep spine. The consciousness of duality must be resolved, next, by raising the energy from matter-attachment in its center at the base of the spine to the state of spiritual union at the top of the head: the Sahasrara, as this highest center is called in the yoga teachings.

These subtle insights cannot be gained from books, but only from people who have attained high levels of consciousness, themselves. Great mystics in every religion have demonstrated their knowledge of these truths. The science of yoga, too, is as universal as algebra. Jesus Christ certainly was familiar with yogic principles. We see that familiarity, for example, in his statement, “Lift up your eyes, and look on the fields; for they are white already to harvest.” (John 4:35) This advice referred to the method of concentration alluded to in the last chapter, of focusing one’s energy and concentration in the spiritual eye, between the eyebrows.

A commitment of feeling to this upward flow is essential. That is why I’ve emphasized bliss in this book. Bliss is not only the best definition of God: It also offers mankind the strongest possible motive for seeking Him. God is, in very fact, for everyone, for what everyone seeks, consciously or unconsciously, is simply bliss.

Bliss fulfills the deeper need for complete freedom from all suffering, and for freedom in absolute completion. Everyone wants eternal, and not merely transitory, bliss. God alone as Conscious Bliss can satisfy that perpetual craving. Everyone wants perfect bliss of a kind that will never grow tiresome, in time, as all other fulfillments do. The best possible definition of God, then, is Ever-Existing, Ever-Conscious, Ever-New Bliss.

Bliss cannot even be attained, really. The soul simply realizes that bliss is, eternally, its own nature. For bliss simply is. It is what remains after everything else disappears. Bliss is the eternal, forever unchanging reality which underlies the whole universe. All things, including all other aspects of God, are contained in Conscious Bliss. They merge into, and become, eternal, Conscious Bliss.

What the aspirant must do is make happiness, first, then joy, and finally bliss his constant reality. How can you do that? I would like to offer this suggestion:

Every time a bubble of happiness appears in your heart, make it your priority. Cling to your awareness of it! The cause of that happiness may be entirely commonplace — even the fulfillment of some perfectly trivial desire. Whatever its source, enjoy the happiness as a thing in itself. Forget whatever caused it, outwardly. Mentally expand that bubble every time you exhale. Watch the bubble grow larger. Dwell on the joy contained in it. Separate that joy from any limiting definition of it. For remember, true joy can never be confined. It has no boundaries. Its center is everywhere; its circumference, nowhere. Become joy itself. Be no longer contained within even the rainbow bubble of your happiness! You are Absolute Bliss itself!

By dwelling ever more deeply on the awareness of the essential joy of your own being, you will find the barriers of confining consciousness breaking down, and bliss itself streaming outward in all directions. Let bliss release you in infinity.

The goal of this book has been to inspire you to seek God as Conscious Bliss. The attainment of bliss will be your final proof of everything I have proclaimed:

God is, indeed, for everyone!