by Swami Krishnananda
Tābhyāṁ nirvicikitse’rthe cetasaḥ sthāpi tasya yat, eka tānatva metaddhi nidi dhyāsana mucyate (54). When the ideas that we have gathered through hearing and studying from a preceptor are made to enter our feelings by deep reflection on the same, and when these ideas – that have become practically part of our nature by way of deep investigation, concentration and reflection – become inseparable from us, we become absorbed in them to such an extent that we think only these ideas. Our very outlook changes in terms of these ideas, and the whole world is envisioned by us in terms of these noble ideas only. Nididhyasana is this condition where knowledge acquired through study and hearing, and made one-pointed by reflection and investigation, becomes part of one's nature by delving into one's own heart and making the knowledge a part of one’s being. This leads to deep meditation.
In the meditation process, the consciousness of the meditator absorbs itself wholly in the object of meditation. Here in this case, Brahman, the Universal Reality, is the object of meditation. The consciousness of the individual extricates itself from its encasement in the body, moves in the direction of the Universal Being, absorbs itself in It, and endeavours to be conscious only of It and nothing else.
In this stage of initial practice, the factors of meditation are threefold: the meditator, the object meditated upon, and the process of meditation. There is also a fourth factor prior to the direct act of meditation – namely, the elimination of unnecessary thoughts from the mind. There are thoughts that are not conducive to the meditation process, such as internal impulses which are trying to gain access to the objects outside, or the problems of life, or many other entanglements in which one is involved. They are not connected with meditation at all; they are extraneous thoughts. Social situations, physical conditions and psychological repressions may intrude into the process of meditation. They have to be carefully brushed aside by a whole-souled onslaught of the consciousness on the Universal Being.
The love of the Universal Being will be a good panacea for the ills of the sense organs wanting pleasure of sense objects. “When you have a greater joy, why do you want a lesser joy? When you have a permanent joy, why do you want an impermanent joy? When you have a real joy, why do you want a false joy?” If we thus instruct the senses and the mind, the extraneous thoughts will wither away and die out. Then starts meditation with the threefold consciousness of the meditator, the object of meditation, and the process of meditation.
Dhyātṛ dhyāne pari tyajya kramād dhyeyaika gocaram, nivāta dīpa vaccittaṁ samādhi rabhi dhīyate (55). When, like a flame of a lamp placed in a windless place, consciousness flickers not and deviates not from the point of concentration on the Universal Reality – and transcends the triple awareness of the meditation process, the object of meditation, and the meditator – then the idea of oneself as meditator and meditating as the process, is transcended. The absorption is so intense that the consciousness is aware only of the object, so that the aim has become part and parcel of the consciousness meditating. The aim is realised. That is to say, the Universal becomes our experience. Our aim is Universality. When consciousness identifies itself with the Universality, which is the object of meditation finally, we exist as Universal experience. This is samadhi.
Vṛtta yastu tadānīm ajñātā apyā tmago carāḥ, smaraṇā danu mīyante vyutthi tasya samut thitāt (56). Samadhi does not necessarily mean a sudden, abrupt merger into the Absolute. It takes place gradually, as we will find it described in the sutras of Patanjali. There are five or six stages or degrees of samadhi; and in the earlier stages of samadhi, one does not actually merge with the Absolute. Due to the predominance of the cosmic sattva guna in the mind of the meditator, there is an experience of Universality. But, after all, the sattva guna also is only a guna. It is a property of prakriti. So as long as we are involved in the qualities of prakriti, we have not totally merged with the Absolute.
It is like seeing the Absolute through a clean glass. We are seeing the total Universal through a transparent medium. We are seeing it, of course. It is as good as being it. Yet there is a glass pane, as it were, preventing us from actually merging with it. Therefore, after this kind of samadhi where the experience is through the sattva guna of prakriti, there is a rising up from samadhi – utthana it is called. We will not always be merging. We will wake up due to the stirring of sattva caused by rajas prakriti, which is also there, submerged. In deep samadhi, the powerful Universal sattva drives down the impulses of rajas and tamas. But how long will they remain inside? They are in ambush; they are living underground, and after some time they slowly create a disturbance which causes the awakening of the person from samadhi, and one remembers that one was in the state of samadhi.
Smaraṇā danu mīyante: In the state of actual samadhi, there is no thought process. There is no remembering that “I am in the state of samadhi,” and so on. We do not go on thinking that we are awake. We are awake now, but do we go on remembering and thinking that we are awake? It is so spontaneous that there is no need of thinking that we are awake. It is a part of our nature, so we do not need to think it.
Similarly, thought is not there in samadhi. There is no conscious operation of the psyche. But when we wake up from samadhi, we will have a memory of it. The memory is caused because of the presence of the mind in the state of sattva. If the mind were not there at all, absolutely, there would be no coming up. We would have attained absolute liberation, videhamukti. But the sattva guna persists in the lower kind of samadhi which is known as savikalpa or samprajnata, as the case may be. The awakening is caused by the rajas principle; and the memory of having had the experience of samadhi is caused by the sattva quality of prakriti, which was the means or the medium through which the samadhi was experienced. We can remember that we had a good experience, just as we have a memory that we slept yesterday.
Vṛttī nāma nuvṛttistu prayat nāt pratha mādapi, adṛṣṭā sakṛda bhyāsa saṁskāra sacivād bhavet (57). These memories of samadhi persist on account of various factors, such as the effort involved in the very practice itself and the association of ideas caused by meritorious deeds that we performed in the previous birth. Experience comes through two factors – or three, we may say. Sometimes we say four.
Firstly, there is the effect of the effort that we put forth. We are so anxious, so eager and honest in this practice; this practice produces an effect. Secondly, there is God's grace itself. Thirdly, there is the blessing of the Guru. Fourthly, there is the effect of the purvapunya, or the meritorious deeds that we performed in the previous birth. All these factors come together in causing our experience of samadhi and also the memory thereafter of having experienced it.
Yathā dīpo nivāta stha ityādibhi ranekadhā, bhagavā nima mevā rtham arjunāya nyarū payat (58). There is a quotation in the sixth chapter of the Bhagavad Gita: yathā dīpo nivātastho neṅgate sopamā smṛtā, yogino yata-cittasya yuñjato yogam ātmanaḥ (Gita 6.19), and that verse is quoted here. As the flame of a lamp placed in a windless place is fixed and never oscillates, in the state of samadhi consciousness gets fixed in identity with Universality.
What happens in samadhi? All the karmas that we did in the past – crores and crores of karmas that we did through all the series of births that we have passed, endless migrations and transmigrations – these actions get burnt up. They get dissolved, just as every particle of darkness is dissolved before the light of the sun and every particle of mist gets dissolved when the sun rises. Every little karma that we did gets pounded to dust and dissolved, even if these karmas were accumulated stuff through centuries and eons of our transmigratory life. In one second they are destroyed, as a spark of light from a matchstick can reduce to ashes even a mountain of straw. It may look like a mountain, and the matchstick is so small; but the quality of the fire that is in the matchstick is enough to reduce the entire heap to ashes. The heap of karmas will be destroyed in one instant by the experience of this identity of consciousness with the Universal, though it is only a temporary experience and there is a rising up from it afterwards.
Anādā viha saṁsāre sañcitāḥ karma koṭayaḥ, anena vilayaṁ yānti śuddho dharmo vivar dhate (59). Dharma-megha samadhi is the word used in Patanjali's Sutras. Dharma-megha samadhi supervenes. Righteousness rains on our head, as it were. Here righteousness does not mean merely good behaviour and nice speech, polite conduct, etc. Here righteousness which rains upon us like torrential clouds, dharma-megha, is actually the identity of our consciousness with cosmic order and law. In the Vedic language, we get identified with cosmic satya and rita. That is, we don't have to be instructed, "Do this, do that." We will know what is to be done.
This state of affairs supervenes mostly in Krita Yuga where, as they say, righteousness rules the world. Righteousness is the nature of the cosmic order of things, identified with which everyone knows his duty. And in Krita Yuga – the Golden Age, as they call it – there was no governmental system. There was no ruler and there was no instructor. There was nobody to say, “This must be done, and this is not to be done,” because all were identical in their knowledge and capacity, and everyone was identified with the Cosmic Truth. This kind of knowledge, this kind of power, this kind of experience will be our blessing when dharma-megha samadhi ensues. This is the earliest stage of samadhi, where we have a sudden lifting up of our consciousness to a Universal state of the perception of the integratedness of all things, the interrelatedness of all things, and we are identical with every little bit of matter, and all space and time – entire galaxies. We will feel that everything, including the sun and the moon and the stars, is hanging on our body. Such Universality will be experienced: śuddho dharmo vivar dhate.