Cosmic Motion Picture

by Paramhansa Yogananda

Excerpt from Autobiography of a Yogi, chapter ‘The Law of Miracles’

Paramhansa YoganandaAmong the trillion mysteries of the cosmos, the most phenomenal is light. Unlike sound-waves, whose transmission requires air or other material media, light-waves pass freely through the vacuum of interstellar space. Light remains the most subtle, the freest from material dependence, of any natural manifestation.

"The stream of knowledge," Sir James Jeans writes in The Mysterious Universe, "is heading towards a non-mechanical reality; the universe begins to look more like a great thought than like a great machine."

Light-velocity is a mathematical standard or constant not because there is an absolute value in 186,000 miles a second, but because no material body, whose mass increases with its velocity, can ever attain the velocity of light. Stated another way: only a material body whose mass is infinite could equal the velocity of light.

The masters who are able to materialize and dematerialize their bodies or any other object, and to move with the velocity of light, and to utilize the creative light-rays in bringing into instant visibility any physical manifestation, have fulfilled the necessary Einsteinian condition: their mass is infinite.

The consciousness of a perfected yogi is effortlessly identified, not with a narrow body, but with the universal structure. He who knows himself as the omnipresent Spirit is subject no longer to the rigidities of a body in time and space.

A yogi who through perfect meditation has merged his consciousness with the Creator perceives the cosmical essence as light; to him there is no difference between the light rays composing water and the light rays composing land. Free from matter-consciousness, free from the three dimensions of space and the fourth dimension of time, a master transfers his body of light with equal ease over the light rays of earth, water, fire, or air. Long concentration on the liberating spiritual eye has enabled the yogi to destroy all delusions concerning matter and its gravitational weight; thenceforth he sees the universe as an essentially undifferentiated mass of light.

Through a master's divine knowledge of light phenomena, he can instantly project into perceptible manifestation the ubiquitous light atoms. The actual form of the projection—whether it be a tree, a medicine, a human body—is in conformance with a yogi's powers of will and of visualization.

In 1915 I witnessed a vision. The vision descended on me as I sat one morning in my attic room. For months World War I had been raging in Europe; I reflected sadly on the vast toll of death.

As I closed my eyes in meditation, my consciousness was suddenly transferred to the body of a captain in command of a battleship. The thunder of guns split the air as shots were exchanged between shore batteries and the ship's cannons. A stray bullet ended its furious flight in my chest. I fell groaning to the ground. My whole body was paralyzed, yet I was aware of possessing it as one is conscious of a leg gone to sleep. With a final sigh, I was about to sink into unconsciousness when lo! I found myself seated in the lotus posture in my room. Hysterical tears poured forth as I joyfully stroked and pinched my regained possession—a body free from any bullet hole in the breast. I rocked to and fro, inhaling and exhaling to assure myself that I was alive.

"Lord," I prayed, "am I dead or alive?"

A dazzling play of light filled the whole horizon. A soft rumbling vibration formed itself into words:

"What has life or death to do with Light? In the image of My Light I have made you. The relativities of life and death belong to the cosmic dream. Behold your dreamless being! Awake, my child.”

Just as the motion-picture images appear to be real, but are only combinations of light and shade, so is the universal variety a delusive seeming. The planetary spheres, with their countless forms of life, are naught but figures in a cosmic motion picture, temporarily true to five sense perceptions as the scenes are cast on the screen of man's consciousness by the infinite creative beam. One's values are profoundly changed when he is finally convinced that creation is only a vast motion picture, and that not in it, but beyond it, lies his own reality.

As I finished writing this chapter, I sat on my bed in the lotus posture. I noticed that the ceiling was dotted with small mustard-colored lights, scintillating and quivering with a radiumlike luster. Myriads of pencilled rays, like sheets of rain, gathered into a transparent shaft and poured silently upon me. At once my physical body lost its grossness and became metamorphosed into astral texture. I felt a floating sensation as, barely touching the bed, the weightless body shifted slightly and alternately to left and right. I looked around the room; the furniture and walls were as usual, but the little mass of light had so multiplied that the ceiling was invisible. I was wonder-struck.

"This is the cosmic motion picture mechanism." A voice spoke as though from within the light. "Shedding its beam on the white screen of your bed sheets, it is producing the picture of your body. Behold, your form is nothing but light!"

I gazed at my arms and moved them back and forth, yet could not feel their weight. An ecstatic joy overwhelmed me. For a long time I experienced this motion picture of my body in the dimly lighted theater of my own bedroom. Despite the many visions I have had, none was ever more singular. My illusion of a solid body was completely dissipated, and my realization deepened that the essence of all objects is light. My body resumed its normal weight and sank on the bed; the swarm of dazzling ceiling lights flickered and vanished.


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