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The Difference Between Nirvikalpa Samadhi and Deep Sleep
Manigandan: James, would you please clarify for me what the differences are between nirvikalpa samadhi and deep sleep? If I understand it correctly, the mind is absent in both cases. If that is true, the person in nirvikalpa samadhi is not aware that he is in samadhi, just like when we are in deep sleep we are not aware of that state. Is my understanding correct?
~ Thanks, Manigandan
James: Hi, Manigandan. In terms of moksa there is no difference, since the intellect needs to be available for self-knowledge to take place. But there is a difference. In deep sleep there is an experiencer. It is called prajna, the deep sleeper. It is not the waking state entity, but it is a transformation of the waker into a “suksma vritti,” a subtle thought, that makes the experience of limitless/bliss without thoughts possible. In nirvikalpa samadhi there is no vritti, no vikalpa, so there is not even the experience of limitlessness. As far as the waker is concerned, the knowledge of the samadhi is only inferential, since the waker is a grosser transformation of prajna, the sleeper. In nirvikalpa there is no knowledge. The self “experiences” itself without the aid of an experiencing entity, which is to say that it is an experienceless experience, i.e. no experience at all.