Purusha–Prakriti, Brahman–Maya, Ishwara–Shakti
Now let us come to the higher. We distinguished between inner and inmost as distinguished from the surface consciousness as inner consciousness and inmost consciousness. Now let us come to the higher consciousness. The higher consciousness, as I said, is above the mind. Above the mind is the Spirit; now the word Spirit indicates three basic experiences of which at one time we have spoken the experience of Brahman, Purusha and Ishwara. All these three words can be subsumed under the word Spirit; whenever the word Spirit is used, basically we mean any one of these three or all the three together.
The minimum experience of the Spirit is that of Purusha. This experience is characterised by the sense of witnessing. When we are able to withdraw from the rush of activity even when the activity is proceeding in us and we are able to watch it, not carried away in the movement, then that watching consciousness, that which watches is Purusha consciousness, is the witness–self and each one of us has this experience of witnessing and this witnessing can be at many levels. At the level at which we are talking, beyond the mind, the witnessing is of the totality of the mind, life, body and everything, i.e. the complete conglomeration of activities put together is on one side and the Purusha consciousness is on the other. When you can witness the totality of your being, totality of your activities, that is the central experience of Purusha. But at lower levels also when you can witness only your body, then that which witnesses body is called the Physical Purusha. When you can watch your vital energies –– desires, ambitions, attractions^ that it is called the Vital Purusha. When you can watch the mental being –– ideas, perceptions, thoughts –– then it is called the Mental Purusha. When you can watch your own sweetness, it is the Psychic Purusha. When you can watch all this together, it is the central experience of Purusha. So you have Annamaya Purusha: the physical Purusha, the Pranamaya Purusha: the vital Purusha, the Manomaya Purusha: the mental Purusha, Chaitya Purusha: Psychic Purusha; and Purusba, that which is the witness of all this. It is only when you have risen very high in your witnessing consciousness, when you can see that your body is not yours, your life–movement is not yours, your mind is not yours, then this Purusha is recognised as an impersonal perceiver not identified with anyone of them and therefore quite free from all this. That is why Purusha consciousness is supposed to be a consciousness of freedom. It is also called the state of moksha, when you can really be in that state that anything that happens in the body, life and mind fails to make any effect upon your being and you find yourself independent of all the rest. That is the minimum of what we call the spiritual experience.
At a higher level you have the Brahman experience. It is also called the Atman experience. The words Brahman and Atman are interchangeable, although many people make a distinction between Atman and Brahman to indicate that Atman is individual and Brahman is universal, or above universal, but this is a confusion. The individual is called the Jivatman, not Atman. When only the word Atman or Brahman is used, the characteristic of this experience is that not only you are above all the movement –– which is the case in the Purusha consciousness –– but you also find that all movement proceeds from you. In the Purusha experience you find yourself separated from the movement. This experience of separation continues in Brahman experience but there is an added realisation that whatever is moving out, whatever is the activity, all that, moves from the Brahman. This movement is a movement of Brahman. In the case of Purusha experience, the movement is separated from Purusha and the link between the two is not known, that is the deficiency of that experience. In the Brahman experience you realise that all movement proceeds from the Brahman or from the Atman. In English the word Brahman or Atman is translated as the Self. Not Individual Self but as the Self, meaning thereby that it is the Self of everything, Self of all. It is the Self of all because all proceeds from the Self. Therefore it is called Atman. This Self is realised to be only one, there are no two selves or three selves in the world or anywhere, there is only one Self, one without the second, ekamevadvitiyam, one without the second. In the Purusha experience you find yourself separated from Prakriti, from movement and you do not find yourself spread out in Prakriti. In Brahman experience you find everywhere the same Self. Self in all, all in Self, and beyond all. Self in all, all in Self and Self above all. These are the three formulae of this experience. That is Brahman experience.
At a still higher level you have the experience of Ishwara in which you find that all activities not only proceed from you, from the Brahman but they can be controlled, they can be regulated, they can be mastered, they can be manipulated, they can be perfected, so that the substance which was earlier experienced as Purusha, which was later experienced as the Brahman is now experienced as the controller, as the creator and you find everything completely under the control of that substance.
These three experiences are basically the experiences of the Spirit, therefore they are called spiritual experiences as distinguished from the psychic experience of which I spoke earlier. These experiences are all obtained when you go above the mind. Along with these three experiences you have corresponding three experiences. Corresponding to Purusha experience you have the experience of Prakriti, that is to say you experience Prakriti as different from Purusha. This experience of the distinction between Purusha and Prakriti is a part of the Purusha experience. Corresponding to the experience of Atman or Brahman from where all movement proceeds, is the experience of maya. The movement that proceeds from Brahman or Atman is called in technical terms Maya. So the experience of Brahman and Maya, the experience of Atman and Maya is the second level of spiritual experience. At the third level of experience where all that moves out is experienced to be under the control, under the mastery of the substance which you call the experience of Ishwara, is conjoined with the experience of Shakti; Ishwara and Shakti.