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A Suspended Sense of I
Questioner: Dearest Ramji, forgive me, as I see I am sending you what seems to be too many questions. I will completely be okay if you don’t reply, as I’m sure you must be inundated with emails. For now, I will formulate the question and leave it to you to decide.
The question is about nirvikalpa samadhi. I have been trying to figure this out for several years. Finally, it was yesterday when, while listening to your Trout Lake Panchadasi teachings, it hit me. You quoted Swami Paramarthananda as saying that it has the following characteristics:
1. It can be any object.
2. There is no thought “I am thinking of X…”
3. The “I-thought” is suspended.
4. You can later infer that you were there once the samadhi ends.
Based on these key characteristics, it seems to me then that nirvikalpa samadhi happens very often! I say this because I can go through periods where the mind is not “talking” with any running commentary on the action (e.g. while making beds, doing laundry, talking on the phone, texting with a friend, even listening to your Vedanta recordings). The actions flow without any agent. Is this experience in everyday life also the case for all jivas or only particular jivas? I would say that it occurs in all jivas, although the frequency may vary from jiva to jiva.
Also, because it can be any object, it can be absorption in something dharmic or adharmic. Therefore its value for purifying the mind and getting it more sattvic for inquiry depends on the object. If the object is dharmic, Vedanta scripture, for instance, then its impact on purifying the mind is vast. Yet, if the object is adharmic, absorption in stealing a wallet, for example, then it will reinforce a tamasic vasana. Is it correct to conclude that (a) nirvikalpa samadhi is “neutral” in value; (b) its “value” depends on whether the object of absorption is dharmic or adharmic; and (c) it cleans the “filter” of the mind so it is more qualified to assimilate Vedanta scripture?
I have pondered these questions since I studied with Mooji before I ran into ShiningWorld. I studied with Mooji online for a few months until I realized he had no teachings, only shakti, whose feel-good and sattvic effect only lasted so long and then I had to tune in online to get another “hit,” which was a big disappointment.
James: Yes, it happens to everyone often; a housewife doing her chores, a musician playing a guitar, a long-distance runner, a skier, etc. The “sense of I” is suspended when the mind is completely absorbed in some object or activity. It is a value-neutral state of mind, and, yes, its spiritual value depends on the nature of the object in which the mind is absorbed. Sattvic objects like Vedanta produce growth. Tamasic thoughts cause spiritual degeneration.