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The Golden Body

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In a book called Gurudeva’s Spiritual Visions, I found an interesting chapter, called, The Golden Body, which gives a short summary of how enlightenment comes about, that is, the appearance of the inner light. You can find the text below. Gurudeva refers to Sivaya Subramuniyaswami, the adopted name for Robert Hansen (1927–2001). He was an American, born in Oakland, California, who traveled to India and settled in Hawaii. He adopted Shaivism as philosophy and practice. He founded Kauai's Hindu Monastery, a temple-monastery complex on the Hawaii's Garden Island.

On this website you can find the text of one of his small booklets (long since out of print) about the Clear White Light. In this text he explains, based on his own experiences, the inner light that appears after deep meditation. When this happens one has to bring it back again and again until one bathes constantly in this light. The light will then change our worldly energies in accordance with its own divine energies. The light itself is actually one's inner self, one's true self, or higher self, or divine essence.


What is interesting in his experience and explanation of this meditation process is that there are some clear parallels to the Western alchemical Great Work.

The hermetic alchemists talked about meditation and prayer. When the alchemist turns within, he encounters the first phase of the Great Work, Blackness (Nigredo). When you close your eyes to meditate, what you see is darkness. The alchemists also equated it with Chaos. The meditator has to still this chaos of bodily energies, emotions and thoughts. Then a separation takes place. For the alchemists this was a separation of the pure from the impure. The pure is the newly found state of a clear mind. Then then the meditator comes back to its ordinary daily consciousness, but he brings back something from this quiet state of mind, which will slowly change his every day being, or personality. This return of consciousness to the physical body, the alchemists called fixation of the Spirit. This Spirit was also called Mercury. This process of daily meditations they called Distillation. This Distillation (of one's consciousness) brings down more and more of this refined energy.

After a while this Distillation makes the spirit, or consciousness, so pure that the Light appears. This is sometimes called the Light of Nature. This is the second phase of Albedo, or whiteness. One of the most common symbols used for this was the Moon. Sometimes they said that yellow (Citrinas) was the color that would first appear, then turning into white.

Subramuniyaswami, by his own experiences, calls the initial appearance of the light, inside one's head, a moon-like glow. It is a yellow-white light but not quite white itself. Only when continuing one's meditation, will the light get brighter and brighter and becomes clear white. It will eventually fill the entire body.

He says :"When eftya, the clear white light, becomes more of a friend to his external mind than merely an occasional vision or experience and can be basked in during the four contemplative tyaasem periods of the day, then the nourishment to the entire nervous system, as ambrosia, bursts forth from the crown chakra, kammakadeesareh kashumlinga."

This ambrosia can be equated with the alchemical elixirs (in hermetic alchemy). The alchemists talked about an Elixir that had healing properties. Some distinguished between the White Elixir made at the stage of Albedo, or whiteness, and the Red Elixir of the later stage of Rubedo, or Redness. The stage of Redness happens when the Light has become permanent.

Subramuniyaswami also speaks of making this white light permanent: "The highly trained Advaita Yoga adept, through techniques imparted to him from his guru, intensifies the clear white light to the brink of God-Realization, Emkael." This is realization of one's True Self, a superconscious state of mind.

In the text below, he calls the realized body the Golden Body, body made of golden light. Isn't the entire alchemical Great Work about making Gold? Alchemical Gold is not physical gold, but the attainment or realization of one's divine self.

There is, of course, much more to the meditative experiences, which the alchemists might have hinted at with their obscure symbols, only to be understood by those who actually had the experiences. Subramuniyaswami has given a much cleared understanding in his booklet of the Clear White Light, and in the text below.

The Golden Body

from Gurudeva’s Spiritual Visions by Sivaya Subramuniyaswami

The golden body, svarnasharira, is a body made of golden light. After many experiences of parasiva, it gradually descends from the seven chakras above the sahasrara into the ajna chakra, which then becomes the soul’s muladhara, then down into the vishuddha chakra, which then becomes its muladhara, and then down into the anahata, which then becomes its muladhara.

All seven chakras above the sahasrara slowly come down and down and down until the entire astral body is psychically seen, by mystics who have this sight, as a golden body. The astral body slowly, slowly, slowly dissolves into the golden body. That is what I have seen happen. That is what our parampara and our sampradaya know from experience. Experience is the only true knowing—a knowing that can be verified in books, through others who have the same knowing, but a knowing that no others know who have not had the same experience. To them it is only a concept, a nice one maybe, but just a concept or written off as an opinion. When the golden body fully enters the physical, having taken over the astral, the knowing that is known comes unbidden.

It is beyond reason but does not conflict with it. It is a living scripture but does not conflict with those written by seers of the past who have seen and their records have become scripture. So great is the Sanatana Dharma that it defies all who doubt it, all who disdain it, all who disregard it, all who degrade it, with personal realization of its truth.

This golden body, which begins to build into a golden body after the experience of nirvikalpa samadhi, is connected to the sahasrara chakra. In other words, the sahasrara chakra is the home base in the physical body for the golden body. There are twelve basic unfoldments to this chakra as the golden body grows. When the realized sannyasin travels in high states of contemplation, he moves freely in his golden body and can help and serve mankind. Over time, he gains a conscious control of the sahasrara chakra as a force center which propels him into inner space.

It is this golden body, as it refines and refines and refines itself within the Sivaloka after moksha, that finally merges with Siva like a cup of water being poured into the ocean. That same water can never be found and put back into the cup. This truly is svarnasharira vishvagrasa, the final, final, final merging with Siva.

Some Images:

Examples in alchemy Examples in religions

Luna in alchemical book

The Moon as symbol of the second phase of Albedo of Whiteness, also symbolized as a woman in a white dress.

[The figure of Luna “Le nozze di Constantio Sforza e Camilla d'Aragona, 1480, Italy]

Guru Nanak Dev Ji

Guru Nanak Dev Ji, from the Sikh religion

(aureole around head)

alchemist with aureole

The aureole in an alchemical engraving as a sign that the inner light broke through.
Jesus with aureole

Jesus with aureole, before his transfiguration.
the Red King

Detail from Splendor Solis, showing the Red King, symbol of Rubedo, inside a full body aureole.
Jesus at his transfiguration

Jesus at his transfiguration the mount Tabor, signifying the manifestation of the entire light body.
Auror Consurgens, Rubedo stage

The light filling the entire body.
[from Aurora Consurgens]

Babaji, an Indian enlightened person, depicted as having achieved complete manifestation of the divine light body.