Yoga and modern psychology are fully aware of the deeper layers of the mind. Many of us have heard of the subconscious, and unconscious realms. Nevertheless, many people still hold the naive idea that the mind thinks only of conscious images at any given time. We fail to realize that the mind is like a vast computer which is continually receiving, sorting out, analyzing and rejecting millions of bits of data. In a computer we generally only see the printout or final result. The information within the mind which we don’t normally see is arbitrarily termed the unconscious and subconscious. The mind is often compared to an iceberg, the conscious mind being the one-tenth that lies above the water, and the unconscious and subconscious parts being the far larger nine-tenths that are submerged below the surface of the water. Even this is a gross understatement, for there is far more below the surface than we can even dream.
The mind, in its unconscious and subconscious realms, contains different facets of being. It contains our basic urges and instincts. It contains the intellectual and rational aspects of our being. It contains primitive memories with which we have had totally no connection in our life. It contains ideas, visions, dreams that are far more awe-inspiring than even the most vivid fiction novel. The mind contains the most incredible and almost impossible aspects that are completely inconceivable to most of us. The aim of yoga and meditation is to bring these normally unknown layers of the mind to conscious perception. The term expansion of consciousness is also used but often conveys the wrong idea because consciousness is the substratum or the essence behind existence; as such it is impossible to expand consciousness.
It is only by knowing the depths of the mind that we can really know ourselves as well as the world around us. As an analogy, consider the outer world as an infinite horizontal circle. This circle represents the realm of time-space and the centre represents eternity or timelessness. Most of us confine our attention only to the outside world, remaining on the circumference of the circle. We find it impossible to enter the circle and reach the centre. The only way to enter the circle and break away from our fetters is to explore the mind. In this way we begin to simultaneously realize truths in the external world. The more we become aware of the depths of the mind, the nearer we approach the centre of the circle. When we reach the centre it is called self-realization.
Each type of journey that we make requires a vehicle. If we walk in the park then our legs assume this role. If we travel to the local town then we go by bus, train or car. If we go to a country across the sea, we travel by ship or aeroplane. The journey into inner space also requires a vehicle – the vehicle is meditation.