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