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Is Samadhi Useful?
John: So, Ramji, I am in the midst of moving my residence and office, paying off my debts, winding down my divorce properly and keeping up with my job, friendships and girlfriend. I reckon that it is my practice, done daily, which allows my subtle body to remain sattvic enough so as to not get re-stuck into ego-identified thinking. And it really seems to be working for me. I’m super grateful to you for your the teaching!
Ramji: Good for you, John! Life is your spiritual practice. For someone with a tendency to let unpleasant things slide, it seems like you have a handle on everything. Work hard, with the karma yoga attitude. Don’t start any new projects. Right action is cleaning up the detritus. Life becomes increasingly spacious as you proceed. Incidentally, I’m glad you’re checking in from time to time.
John: My question for you is really, what’s next for me? But before you answer, here is a “report” on my “spiritual” practice. I have been doing my meditations now for almost a year. The experience and the knowledge still seem profound, the process still feels amazing, (this is it, more or less) – first, I focus my mind on gratitude to God and then to consciousness itself, aka “taking a stand as awareness-consciousness itself,” and separation of awareness from thoughts and trying/wanting (removal of superimposition) and seeing thoughts, including my will to change my inner state, as belonging to Isvara and experience of consciousness as atman, aka non-dual love. All of this is so much easier to do while meditating than outside of the meditation cocoon, by the way. But you already know that.
In my meditative process, there is a gradual or sudden dawning of “presence.” This presence, that you have mentioned many times in your teachings, is known as an experience that is felt to be based on reality. I also think of this experience as a sattva-generating one, in that I believe the energy induced will help me remain clear and relatively unfettered in my understanding of who I am and (hand in hand) who I am not, throughout the day. I also notice that “seeking the experience of presence” does not really work. God does not seem to honor the seeking of “state” in the same way that God honors a sincere wish for Self-knowledge, right?
Ramji: No, seeking the experience of presence is futile. Any seeking is futile. Although the “presence” you experience feels like a (sattvic) object, it is actually you, existence/awareness. See your orientation. Your statement comes from the point of view of the John-body-mind entity. Moksa “happens” when you are identified as “presence” and view the John-body-mind entity as an object.
John: At the final stage, the meditation comes closer to Ramana’s instruction to “be still.” Typically in those moments, there is a knowledge + experience that go hand in hand. It seems like I’m not doing anything. So in summary, this meditation has seemed really worthwhile, except for a side-effect thought that I must be special somehow, to be able to have this experience day after day. That seems to be the only drawback, and I am aware that this thought contains the seed of enlightenment sickness. So I can then use discrimination to objectify that thought as well.
Ramji: Good observation. Specialness is a really ugly thought.
John: Nowadays, I notice that any memory/feeling/thought that seems to present an obstacle to knowing who I am is always still just only a thought. Even a “sticky” presumption of a limited egoic identity separate from awareness, as a default setting (so to speak), is still just a thought. The wanting/wanted split, as Swami Dayananda discusses, is also still only a thought, and all thoughts can be objectified and proven to be “not me.” So I have the same tool to use over and over, that of discrimination (mithya from satya).
Ramji: Yes. Discrimination is a “tool” until it become second nature, i.e. hard and fast knowledge, like your name. You don’t have to keep saying “I am John” forever to keep from forgetting who you are. It is just knowledge.
John: So I’m attaching a three-page document from Arsha Avinash, that explains that nirvikalpaka avastha (state of divisionlessness) that can be brought about by meditation actually does not have much value, because problems are just kept in a dormant state, only to get revived after the samadhi (deep meditation) is over. This is based on Swami Paramarthananda’s teaching. I want to ask you about this; it hits home. I had presumed that “experiential exposure” to samadhi would have a positive cumulative effect. So now I’m wondering if this “samadhi meditation” has value. If the value is one ONLY of sattva-induction, that is acceptable to me because that IS of value. Please share your thoughts.
Ramji: Nothing to share. It is an excellent article, and you have assimilated it correctly. The general issue is to have a preponderance of sattvic, as opposed to rajasic/tamasic, actions; and meditation of any sort is good for the mind.
John: If you were to ask me what I want, it is to be taught. If you ask me why I wish to be taught, it is because I wish to live the teachings, to honor the lineage and to be in a position to teach what I have learned to others.
Ramji: It’s the best desire. It shows humility and pays off.
John: Ramji, where do you think I should be focusing? Reading, contemplating? Right now we’re reading The Value of Values, and I am also reading Tattva Bodha.
Ramji: It seems you’re focusing properly now. You’re cleaning your karma and you’re studying Vedanta, and you are reflecting on what you have heard; the Swami Paramarthananda article is a case in point. It also seems that you know the difference between the jiva and the Self. You say the process is amazing, so there’s no “next” insofar as “amazing” can’t be beat.
~ Love, Ramji
Nirvikalpa Samadhi, by D. Natarajan
Swami Paramarthananda has discussed this subject in his various lectures. The word nirvikalpaka means “divisionlessness.” We experience the world in the form of division of “subject and object,” hence it is a clear case of dvaita (duality).
World is also presented in another way: without an instrument, “seer” and “seen,” it cannot be experienced. And there has to be a “Creator” of what is seen. He is called “Isvara” (God). With the help of the power of Maya (creative power), he manifests all that is seen. So we can say that the world consists of a “triputi” (group of three), which is Isvara (God), the world and the jiva (individual soul), which sees and experiences the world with the instruments of knowledge with which he is born. Technically, triputi (group of three) is referred to as “subject, object and the instrument of knowledge” – the pramata (knower), pramanam (instrument of knowledge) and prameyam (that which is seen and experienced). In substance, the world is in the form of dvaita (duality), hence it is called “savikalpaka” (with division).
In Vedanta, nirvikalpakam (divisionlessness) is of two types:
Nirvikalpaka avastha – a state of divisionlessness, a state in which all the divisions are resolved. Resolution of vikalpa (division) happens in different ways: in deep sleep; going into a coma state; death and pralaya (complete dissolution). Thus it can be natural or artificially brought about like yogic samadhi (deep meditation). But all such divisionlessness states are not really divisionless, because divisions have not gone away but are in a dormant form. In other words, it is only a temporary nivikalpa (divisionlessness) and not real nirvikalpaka (divisionlessness).
In the vision of Vedanta, nirvikalpaka avastha (state of divisionlessness) does not have much value, since such a state solves no problems – in the sense that all the problems are just kept in a dormant state, only to get revived after the state of samadhi (deep meditation) is over. As a temporary measure of course, it is useful, but nothing more.
There is another nirvikalpaka samadhi (divisionless deep meditation) which is not a “state,” but has the nature of Brahman (the ultimate truth of everything as existence, consciousness and limitlessness). It is a state where there are absolutely no divisions or any kind of action. It is the state of being Brahman (the ultimate truth).
Brahman (the ultimate truth) is called nirvikalpaka (divisionless) because it is free from all divisions and actions. Brahman is in fact nirvikalpaka vasthu (nature of divisionlessness), and not just a nirvikalpaka avastha (state of divisionlessness). It is so in this nature that all the time and the mithya (existence depending on something else) world cannot disturb it at all.
So our aim is to be that nirvikalpaka vasthu (nature of divisionlessness) and not just reach a state of nirvikalpaka samadhi (divisionless deep meditation). Let the savikalpaka (with division) world appear and disappear (as in deep sleep), but “I” as Brahman am always nirvikalpaka (divisionless).
Matter, being anadhi (beginningless), cannot be created. It was there in potential form before the Creation, it exists as the Creation and gets resolved at the time of pralaya (resolution). All this happens with the power of Maya shakti (creative power). But it is jadam (inert) in its nature. But Brahman is neither manifest nor unmanifest, since it is the non-material consciousness principle. Consciousness is the reality in which the universe manifests and unmanifests; but it is not a part or product of the universe, but the only reality. This reality undergoes no change whatever.
All the Vedantic students should understand this difference and not look forward to just nirvikalpaka samadhi (divisionless deep meditation) as advocated by many of the teachers of philosophy.