Tuesday, October 7, 2014
Ashtanga yoga talks about the experience of nirvikalpa samadhi which is a state of absorption in which there is no second thing. Pujya Swamiji says in Gita Home Study, "The knower, known, and the instrument of knowledge — all three of them — coalesce into one experience lasting for a length of time. Although it does not take away the samsara, it is definitely the last word in samsara.
Nirvikalpa samaadhi is the opposite of deep sleep. In deep sleep there is nirvikalpa alright, meaning that the knowerknown-knowledge division is not there. But, in nirvikalpasamadhi the mind is awake, unlike in deep sleep where the mind is sleeping. In both cases, there is ignorance, the difference being that when the mind is asleep there is no thought, whereas in nirvikalpasamaadhi, the mind is awake, meaning there is thought. Therefore, the greatest thing you can have in life is nirvikalpa-sam¡dhi, which is why it is the greatest hooker also. It baits people because it is the last thing that you can think of accomplishing in samsaara, in your life here in this world.
EXPERIENCE ALWAYS HAS AN END
But nirvikalpasamaadhi has an end; it is something you come out of. All that is needed is for someone to drop something in front of you or to start a vacuumcleaner in the next house. As soon as you become aware of the sound, you are not only out of nirvikalpasamaadhi. Nirvikalpasamaadhi is something that does not last forever; you will come out of it in time. And, once you are out of it, it becomes a past experience that you then talk to others about — 'Swamiji, yesterday I had the most wonderful thing happen to me!' Even the language used to describe the experience is different! But as soon as the thoughts come, or someone begins hammering, or a child begins to cry, or a bug creeps up your leg, real or imagined, it is gone; you have come out of nirvikalpasamaadhi.
There are those who will tell you that once you experience nirvikalpasam¡dhi and you come out of that experience, the world will be different. They also say that you experience the aatmaa in nirvikalpasamaadhi. How can this be? All that happened was that the knowerknown-knowledge difference coalesced. All differences disappeared — a desirable experience, no doubt. It is recognised by the intellect, and is also beyond sense perception. But how has this experience changed the state of your vision? In fact, you may become very sad. Before you knew aatmaa, you were only sad if you lost some money, some power, some hair, or a relationship. Now, having known the aatmaa, you have a new item which can be lost and be a cause for sadness — yourself. Previously, you lost certain things but retained yourself, but now you have experienced a much greater loss — the loss of yourself…….. And even if it lasts for some time, there is sadness because it ends. All that can be said is that I was eternal for half an hour! For that period of time, the division between the knower, known, and knowledge that is usually there went away; time itself went away. For half an hour you were free from time, which means you were timeless, eternal. And, after half an hour, you become what? Non-eternal. Even if you have samaadhi for two days, you become non-eternal. In this way, it is no different than being in a coma for two days and then coming out of it. While in the coma, there was no division whatsoever and the person also did not know what was happening. Therefore, the length of time that one is in nirvikalpasamaadhi has no meaning.
DISCIPLINE IMPLIES A CERTAIN MASTERY OF THE MIND
As a discipline, however, nirvikalpa samaadhi is great because, when you gather such an experience, it indicates that you have a certain mastery. Otherwise, you would not have been able to have the experience of nirvikalpa samaadhi. Because a certain mastery is involved, nirvikalpasamaadhi is considered to be the height of experience that one can gain; it is like a prize, the end for those who want to gain experience. To say that it indicates a certain saattvikavrtti on one's part is fine, but to say that after you come out of nirvikalpasamaadhi, you will see the world entirely differently is not correct because how you see the world depends purely on your vision of reality. Having experienced nirvikalpa samaadhi, you have to interpret that experience. And to interpret the experience, you must have a pramaaaa, a means of knowledge.
Again, then, we come back to a means of knowledge because you do not interpret an experience in any other way than by what you know. All interpretations depend entirely upon your knowledge, which is dependent on the pramaana available to you. And all the pramaanas that one has, perception, inference, etc., operate by maintaining a duality — duality of the doer, the object of doing, the act of doing itself, the instrument of doing, etc. All these are collectively called as kaarakas. Retaining the duality alone, one's pramaanas, the various means of knowledge, operate.
Perception and inference do not swallow the kaarakas. Only the Agama, the teaching, swallows them. It says that you are not the knower, pramaataa; you are the very essence of the knower, the knowledge, and the object of knowledge, all three of them being one and the same. In this way, the Agama resolves the division.Om Tat Sat
Monday, October 6, 2014
Q: New students often say “I see that what I have taken as ‘me’ is just a flow of thoughts” But then, I am only zero—in fact nothing at all?
Swamiji: “I” that is awareness is always present in every thought. However, this “I” itself is free from the distinct characteristics of any given thought. The non-recognition of this fact leads to the mistaken notion of taking oneself to be not only the obtaining condition of the mind, but also of the body and senses. Thought flow does not constitute ‘me’. It constitutes only the mind and this flow has its origin, being and dissolution in awareness. Therefore, only the non-recognition of this essential basis of all thoughts creates a situation of divided reality such as ‘I’ thought and ‘this’ thought. This itself is confounded further by the thought ‘this is me.’
If thought existed independently without the awareness, there would be only one constant thought and therefore there would be no thoughts, much less a flow of thoughts. In the improper teaching of VedËnta, one of the mistakes is that a change in thought flow makes ‘me’ free from problems and therefore naturally I see myself as the thought flow. This false notion leads the discerning student to conclude that the removal of the thought flow that is ‘me’ amounts to zero.
In fact, every thought has two aspects – one is the awareness and the other is the form of thought. This is exactly like the water and the wave; one is real and the other is apparent (mithya). The non-recognition of the real causes the false attribute-bound, ‘me.’ The recognition of this fact is the release from the false problem.
Once Pujya Swamiji told me that ‘I am essentially a mystic, though I don’t encourage mysticism’. This gave me a lot to think about. I understood that for Swamiji, mysticism is insight into the fact of identity with God, and yet the teaching methodology may be absent and so this insight cannot be communicated to another. The mystic has only some personal experience not backed by knowledge of the pramana, the means of knowledge and the traditional methodology of teaching, and so can’t pass it on.
Swamiji says in a satsang, “we don’t lead you to some kind of experience that is mystical. "When you try to give your mystical experiences to someone you create problems…….. The statements of a person who has seen the truth of himself but who has no means of knowledge for it, are not regular teaching. Since there is no tradition of teaching involved it becomes mystical. All the statements may be true. The person may know. But to assimilate the knowledge, methodology is required. Unless that knowledge is assimilated you cannot pass it on to another person. You know it, but you cannot talk about it. Teaching requires methodology, a tradition. And there is an evolved tradition.”
I have been reading Swamiji’s old writings – from when he was 27 years old. It is very clear in them, that he had mystical experiences that revealed much spiritual insight. However he was anguished till he came across the teachings of Swami Pranavanandaji – who pointed out to him that Vedanta is pramana - a means of knowledge. It is when he understood this and began to study the Shankara bhasya that everything in Vedanta came together. Swamiji’s mystical insight into truth was validated and what was more Swamiji found that he could communicate this great knowledge of Jiva-Ishvara aikyam using the traditional methodology of teaching that is Vedanta. The words of Vedanta, are handled by Swamiji with great mastery over the subject matter and the method of unfolding that is uniquely his own. Swamiji never looked back after that. And his students testify to his capacity to make them see the truth of the teaching. Wielding Vedanta as a pramana Pujya Swamiji has reached out to countless seekers and made them see the truth of themselves.
Thursday, October 2, 2014
Q. Swamiji, what part does the Lord (Ishvara) play in the vision of Vedanta? Is an acceptance of the Lord necessary, or can he be dismissed as simply a belief which one may or may not accept as true?
Swami Dayananda: You can dismiss the Lord (Ishvara) only from one standpoint. If you say that anything observed involves an observer, it is not difficult to discover that both the observer as well as the observed, and the knowledge thereof, are all false. If you analyze in keeping with the scriptures (shruti) the nature of the observed, the world, and the nature of the observer, they are false in the sense that they are apparent, having no independent existence, and are subject to negation (mithya). Therefore, the truth, that which cannot be negated (satyam), is only yourself, which is the essence of the observer and also the essence of the observed.
When the observer-observed division itself is apparent then the world becomes only an appearance (pratiti). Therefore you need not account for the world at all. When you don’t account for the world, there is no question of the Lord, coming into the picture. The whole thing is apparent. Once you recognize this, you can dismiss the Lord, you can dismiss the world, and you can dismiss the individual (jiva). You can dismiss everything. There is only one thing you cannot dismiss. That is your self, Brahman, the limitless ‘I’, and that alone is the truth.
Where does the Lord come into the picture? This question arises only if you start the inquiry from the standpoint of the apparent (mithya); that is, seeing for the time being the observer, the observed, and the knowledge thereof as the truth (satyam). You find that there is an order in this apparent creation. At the same time, there is helplessness on part of the observer, the doer, and his total non-participation in the creation of things that are already there. As an individual, one does not really participate in the creation, in the sense that it is already there. Your mind is already there, your senses are already there, and the world is there. You don't see the world behaving in a manner that is not expected. It behaves in a manner that can be expected and can be figured out to an extent. And if you are not able to figure out certain things, that is because of a limitation of knowledge.
All that we see, the working of the world, involves an order and structure, and that structure is not something that is subjective. It’s not that my mind creates it. Even something that is created by the mind also requires a mind that is not created by the mind. It’s clear, then, that as an individual you do not have any type of authorship qualities. And therefore, when you deal with the world and start the inquiry with what is in front of you, you must naturally appreciate the Lord (Ishvara), the creator.
Once you appreciate the Lord then the inquiry goes further. You find that your logic is not enough to prove the existence of the Lord nor can you logically dismiss Him. Therefore, you have to have faith in the existence of a Lord. That is how you get into different religions, called faith. You cannot dismiss the Lord and you cannot prove his existence logically, so the Lord is accepted on faith. Then, if you accept the Lord there are certain qualities that you naturally have to attribute to Him. The very acceptance provides the basis for qualities of the Lord; such as, omniscience and omnipotence, Creator of everything, He, Himself, not created by anything, etc. All these attributes become very evident.
Still it is a faith because the Lord (Ishvara) is established in faith. Here is where we require the scriptures (shruti). The scriptures reveal the Lord as all knowing (sarvajnah) and all powerful (sarvashaktiman) and it also tells that the Lord is not only the creator but the creation, which is something assimilable and can be understood.
If the scriptures were to point out a Lord (½Ûvara) other than the creation, then you could neither understand the Lord, nor could you prove his existence; you could only have faith in the scriptures and her words. But since it talks about a Lord none other than the creation, then you cannot dismiss that Lord because you cannot dismiss the world and its order, you cannot dismiss your body, mind, and senses, you cannot dismiss means of knowledge (pramanas) and their operations, etc. Since you cannot dismiss all this, the day your inquiry leads to a point where it helps you dismiss the very creation, then you can dismiss the Lord also. Until then, the Lord is as true as the creation is, because the scripture does not say that the creation is other than the Lord (Ishvara).
Thus, you can dismiss the Lord only when you can dismiss creation. When you can dismiss the creation, as I said in the beginning, then you can dismiss the Lord. But this is possible only if the sentence the limitless self alone is real and the world is apparent (brahma satyam jaganmithya) is clearly understood. And to understand this, to dismiss the Lord, you require all the grace of the Lord. Then it works. Otherwise you have to accept Him, ½Ûvara.
Om Tat Sat