It is two great yogis of 20th century, viz. Swami Yogananda and Sri Aurobindo, who have explained super-consciousness most lucidly and also how it can be accessed through yoga.
The whole effort of Sri Aurobindo and after his demise by the Mother was focused on the descent of Super-mind (or super-consciousness) into the earth-consciousness. In his magnum opus ‘The Life Divine’ Sri Aurobindo has described spiritual mind at four levels, viz. Higher Mind, Illumined Mind, Intuition and Over- Mind, in that order. According to him, our first decisive step in spiritual journey is an ascent into a Higher Mind which brings a large clarity of spirit. Its basic substance is a Unitarian sense of being. “It is a luminous thought-mind, a mind of Spirit-born conceptual knowledge.”
Our next ascent is into Illumined Mind, which in Sri Aurobindo’s words is “a Mind no longer of higher thought, but of spiritual light.” This light, according to him, is not a material creation, but primarily a spiritual manifestation of the Divine Reality, illuminative and creative. “The illumined Mind does not work primarily by thought, but by vision; thought is here only a subordinate movement expressive of sight (ref. The Life Divine, page 944).
The next level of ascent is into Intuition which is “a power of consciousness nearer and more intimate to the original knowledge of identity; for it is always something that leaps out direct from a concealed identity. It is when the consciousness of the subject meets with the consciousness of the object; penetrates it and sees, feels or vibrates with the truth of what it contacts, that the intuition leaps out like a spark or lightening-flash from the shock of the meeting.” “Its rays are not separated but connected or massed together in a play of waves of what might almost be called in the Sanskrit poetic figure a sea or mass of ‘stable lightening’.” (ref. The Life Divine, pp.946-47).
The next ascent of mind is into the Over-mind which is “a power of cosmic consciousness, a principle of global knowledge which carries in it a delegated light from the Supramental Gnosis.” “When the Over-mind descends, the predominance of the centralising ego-sense is entirely subordinated, lost in largeness of being and finally abolished; a wide cosmic perception and feeling of a boundless universal self and movement replaces it.” This sense of cosmic delight, according to him, “is not confined to the person or the body but can be felt at all points in an unlimited consciousness of unity which pervades everywhere.” (ibid, pp 950-51)
The final ascent of mind is to get merged into the Supramental. It goes to the credit of Sri Aurobindo and the Mother who thought of and strived for the descent of the supramental into this earth-existence rather than their own ascent. As for the descent of the Supramental, he wrote to a disciple: “But in its nature the Descent (of the Supermind) is not something arbitrary nd miraculous but a rapid evolutionary process compressed into a few years. That cannot be done in the whole world at a time, but it is done like all such processes, first through selected Adharas and then on a wider scale. We have to do it through ourselves (himself and the Mother) first and through the circle of Sadhaks gathered around us in the terrestrial consciousness as typified there. If a few open, that is sufficient for the process to be possible.” (Overman – by Georges Van Vrekhem, pp 117-18).
In Autobiography of a Yogi, Swami Yogananda has explained the science of Kriya Yoga as follows. One of the fundamental principles of science that no material body whose mass increases with its velocity, can ever attain the velocity of light, viz. 1, 86,300 miles per second. Only a material body with infinite mass could equal, if not exceed the velocity of light. This principle, according to Yogananda (refer Autobiography of a Yogi – Chapter 30: The Law of Miracles) is the cornerstone of miracles. In his words: “Masters who are able to materialize and dematerialize their bodies and other objects, and to move with the velocity of light, and to use the creative light rays in bringing into instant visibility any physical manifestation, have fulfilled the lawful condition; their mass is infinite.” The law of gravitation obviously has no effect on such master who is able to transform his body into weight-less infinite mass with a sense of identity with the Supramental or Pure Consciousness – ‘I am He’ (Sohaham). Free from matter-consciousness of three space dimensions and the fourth dimension of time, the Yogi transfers his body of light with equal ease over or through the light rays of earth, water, fire and air. It is thus that a Yogi can walk on water or through fire, or fly.
“The law of miracles is operable by any man,” says Yogananda, “who has realized that the essence of creation is light….. The actual form of the projection (whatever it be: a tree, a medicine, a human body) is determined by the Yogi’s wish and by his power of will and of visualization” (ibid).
The Yoga, by practising which the Yogi is able to transform his gross body into subtle body of light, or can separate his subtle body from his gross body, is known as the Kriya Yoga. Sri Krishna spoke of this Yoga to Arjuna, several millenniums ago (refer Chapter IV, verse 29, and Chapter V, verses 27-28 of Bhagavad Gita). Patanjali in his Yoga Sutras mentioned Kriya Yoga twice. It is said that one thousand Kriyas practiced in 8.5 hours gives the Yogi in one day the equivalent of one thousand years of natural evolution, and 3,65,000 years of evolution in one year. “The body of the average man is like a fifty-watt lamp,” writes Yogananda (ibid), “which cannot accommodate the billion watts of power roused by an excessive practice of Kriya.” Through regular practice and gradual increase, by reversing the flow of life energy from the outward world to the inner cosmos, the Yogi’s body and brain cells get re-vitalized by a spiritual elixir. He finally becomes master of his body and mind, fit to express the infinite potentials of cosmic energy, and achieves victory over the last enemy – Death (implying that the soul continues in body as long as the Yogi wills).
The following two anecdotes from Swami Yogananda’s Autobiography of a Yogi are recounted to explain the phenomenon of super-consciousness. The first anecdote is taken from chapter 14 titled ‘An Experience in Cosmic Consciousness’ and the second one from chapter 39 titled ‘Therese Neumann, the Catholic Stigmatist’. In the first incident, in his early days of celibacy prior to monkhood when in his Master Sri Yukteswar’s abode young Mukunda (Swami Yogananda’s earlier name) was trying in futility to meditate, his Master understood his restive mind and just struck gently on his chest above the heart. What he experienced thereafter has been recounted in following words: “My body became immovably rooted, breath was drawn out of my lungs as if by some huge magnet. Soul and mind instantly lost their physical bondage and streamed out like a fluid piercing light from my every pore. The flesh was as though dead, yet in my intense awareness, I knew that never before had I been fully alive. My sense of identity was no longer narrowly confined to a body but embraced the circumambient atoms. People on distant streets seemed to be moving gently over my own remote periphery. The roots of plants and trees appeared through a dim transparency of the soil; I discerned the inward flow of their sap…….The creative voice of God I heard resounding as Aum, the vibration of the cosmic motor.”
The second anecdote related to the Swami’s yogic interface with a Catholic mystic of Bavaria, named Therese Neumann, who since 1923 abstained completely from food and drinks and on every Friday since 1926 was believed to have been experiencing in her own body the stigmata or sacred wounds of Christ (from crucifixion). On a Friday in July, 1935, the Swami visited the saint of Bavaria primarily to test whether her stigmata was genuine or self-inflicted. As he entered her cottage, he put himself in a yogic trance in order to attain telepathic and televisional rapport with her. In attunement with her, the Swami could clearly see the scenes of her vision, viz. that she was watching Jesus as carrying the timbers of the Cross amid the jeering multitude. The Swami could also see though her vision that the Lord had fallen under the cruel weight. From the above instance it would transpire that a yogi can extend his consciousness to another person to experience what that person has been going through.