by Swami Krishnananda
Meditations which are more occult in nature consist mainly in the exercise of the will, charged with a determined understanding. This system, too, has a philosophical basis, though it takes an intensely practical turn when the exercise commences. This type of meditation is psychic in the beginning though spiritual in the end, a process by which one places oneself in a closer affinity with the objects of the world. By continued habituation to the subsisting relationship between oneself and the things of the world one gets into their substance and, in a sense, embraces the very roots of objectivity. The meditational techniques prescribed in the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali border upon a cosmic association of oneself with objects, stage by stage, commencing with particular things chosen for the purpose of meditation, and gradually expanding the area of action into other objects, culminating in the concentration of consciousness on that great reservoir of all things, the universe of elements and forces.
The object of meditation is generally regarded by novitiates as some isolated, individual, localised unit with no connection with other units, or other locations. That it is mostly taken to be so has been observed often in our earlier studies. This is the normal way of human appreciation. The segmentation of object is caused by a notion in the mind, according to which the object is a point of definition, by which set of characterisation, definitions which apply to other objects do not apply to this particular concerned object. The mind associates name and form with objects. It cannot think, conceive, or visualise an object as it is in itself. The objects, when they are presented to human perception and cognition, are already conditioned by these associations, viz., name and form.
There is a form given to the object of concentration. The form is a peculiar nexus of composition which distinguishes it from other forms. In fact, the differentia which isolates from other objects the particular point of concentration is the complex of formation – Rupa, the network of definition. But the mistake lies in the position that the form itself is taken to be the object. The metaphysical essence of the object is identified with the phenomenal form with which it is invested, and this identification is made worse by another imagination that it exists in its own status and bears no relation with others.
It was observed that the universe is an organism and not a society of isolated fragments. As it does not constitute an assemblage of differentiated parts but stands unified within itself, the empirical notion of the object cannot bear the test of deeper investigation. There is a basic error in the very act of sensory perception. The inward organic relationship which obtains between things at their back does not become the object of perception. What is cognised is only the form. It is difficult to explain the intricate involvements which contribute to the very subsistence of this name-form complex of the object. The form of the object is a temporary abstraction from a larger possibility of which also it is capable, but of which it is divested due to the particular intentions and abilities of the observing principle, observer, the percipient, or, rather, the desires of the individual. There are researches which have concluded that the constitution of a particular object does not merely depend on the nature of the relationship to a percipient, but it also depends much on its own individual appetitions. The status which an object occupies, the form which it assumes and even the relationship it bears to others are all determined by the basic affirmative force which maintains its given complex-form. The object is just this much, viz., the name-form nexus. One has to stretch the imagination somewhat to understand what all this means.
The secret of this way of interpreting the structure of objects is in the foundations of the Samkhya system of analysis, which, with some modifications, is now being propounded in the fields of present-day science. The pioneers in modern physics have come to the conclusion that the object so-called is not an existent something, but an abstraction, and the meaning of this word has to be clear to us. An abstraction is a philosophical concept by which what is intended is the segregation of a specific group of characters from the infinite possibilities of the universe by shutting out all such possibilities for the sake of a tentative convenience or a necessity arising out of a type of affirmation of individuality, which is what is called the 'object'. While there is an infinitude of resources at the background, there is a vast sea of potentials, one does not wish to present oneself as a sea, but would like to be projected as a percentage of the possibilities of this vastness, and become, for all practical purposes, one among the many and not the only one that is at the source. The analogy of the waves in the ocean is well known, but it does not explain the matter fully, because every wave is like every other wave in its essence. Though the size, the force, or the shape of a wave may differ from those of other waves, the quintessential base of one wave is the same as that of other waves. But, here, in the case of the objects that are being contemplated in this fashion, the case is different. One object is not like another object. There is an essential difference in the very structure of the objects, which arises on account of the difference in the nature of the self-affirmation, the central force, or the nucleus of the individuality, which is in every object, and which isolates itself, and has to isolate itself, from other such centres of affirmation, for its most surprising non-altruistic satisfaction.
One ego differs from another ego in the intensity of its assertion and also in the form of its assertion. An object is a centre of egoism, and this egoism, again, must be understood in its philosophical connotation, rather than in the social form which is generally associated with it. The ego as the subject of philosophical analysis is not the pride that is normally thought to be its feature. It is not the arrogance of social authority. The ego is an urge to maintain oneself as distinct from others. In the Yoga texts the term used is Asmita, the sense of 'I am'-ness. This affirmation of the 'I am', or the 'me', is the basis of one being different from another.
In the act of meditation, what is attempted is to break this barrier of the object by removing its affirmative demarcation characterising it as a form, or object, and entering into the essential presupposition of the very affirmation causing the presentation of objectness. Thus, in an act of single concentration, the meditative consciousness probes into the root of the object and thereby also comprehends the essence of every other object in the world.
In the system of Patanjali, there is a type of concentration that he prescribes among many others, – viz., the breaking of the knot of objectivity by means of separating the essence of the object from the form which it has assumed and also the name which designates it, or defines it. Nama, Rupa and Tattva, name, form and reality are the temporal and metempirical phases of everything in creation.
Every object is defined by certain characterisations. The definitions form the name of the object. The name is a verbal or conceptual symbol of the features which constitute the object. In the Indian tradition, the naming of a person is regarded as an important ritual in the career of life. Any and every name cannot be given to a person. The name of the person indicates the character of that person, the pattern of the individuality of that person, and it almost describes the person. The description of the behaviour of the individuality of the object is the name of that object. The name or the description has become a necessity in the case of the object because of the form that it has assumed either in relation to the percipient or on account of the special affirmative character of its own basic root, the ego.
The preliminary stage of meditation is a contemplation on the object associated with name and form – the designation, the description or the characterisation of the object, even if it be a conceptual object, plus the idea of its form. It will be found that a thing is invariably associated with an idea about it proceeding from the subject of cognition, and a description of it by which it is separated from other objects. An inward characterisation of the object isolates the particular object from other objects. This is what is called the naming of the object. And there is at the same time a concept of the object which is a more subtle and deeper isolation of the very existence of the object from the existence of other objects. Even if the whole universe is to be regarded as a total object of meditation, it will be conditioned by these invariable concomitants of cognition. Nothing can be imagined without being described in some such way. The name that is associated with the universe is, however, a purely psychological convenience and not necessarily a proper picturing of its nature. No word need be uttered in language in respect of an object, and yet it gets characterised in the minds of observers. This is the strange predicament in which one gets involved in the very act of perception of anything, from which extrication is hardly achieved.
The focussing of the attention of consciousness on the chosen object, whether it is an isolated thing or the whole universe, associating it with name and form, is an invariable step in meditation. This is regarded as the first step, though it is hard enough for a novitiate even to conceive it.
What does concentration do? The thing-in-itself, the object as it is, is attempted to be separated from the complexities in which it is involved, the form and the name. There is no necessity to go into the more philosophical meaning of all these issues. Simple examples may be taken to make the matter a little clear. Truly, no one has a name. One is Rama, another is Krishna; one is Jack and another is John. But these are only conventions and not realities in themselves. The particular name by which an individual is defined is not actually necessary for the existence of that individual. One can live even without that name. If a man were to live alone somewhere, the name would have no meaning for him. Nobody is going to call him, and it is not necessary that he should look upon himself or think of himself as a particular name. The name of an individual loses significance when there is no need to establish a social relationship with others. The need for social contact may be regarded as one of the reasons behind the naming of things. In fact, man stands alone in the world and, therefore, he can stand without a name. Imagine yourself as seated in an isolated place, with no one to see you and with no one to contact; what is there in your name then? And also, when you were born into this world, you did not bring with you any name. You have no name in actuality. It should, then, be easy to give up thinking in terms of names.
Thus, one should achieve a state of matter-of fact understanding as far as the name is concerned. Even as man need not have a name, anything in the world also need have no name. Things can be without name, though a necessity is felt for naming them in order to recognise them, describe them and associate them with other such objects, and for distinguishing them. But, as such, there is not always such an emergency to describe things and associate them or differentiate them.
This satisfaction would be to take one step as an advance in the way of meditation on the chosen ideal. Objects must be dissociated from their names and looked upon as they would be without characterisation by name. Do not call the tree as a tree. De-condition your mind by entering into the concept of the form of the tree without bringing in the name, or the word, 'tree'. We are so much familiar with names, and so much engrossed in their reality that we would not find this an easy affair. We cannot think of a tree without imagining that it is a tree, verbally also. It requires a little bit of the power of the will backed up with a sustained understanding, the understanding that there is no need to name an object. Objects have really no name. This is a clear understanding, and there should be no difficulty about it. If the understanding is stable, the will would take care of itself.
The concentration on an object, a tree, or any such thing, should be a mutual contact of the pure subject with the pure objectivity of that on which one concentrates. As the object need not have a name, we human beings, too, have no name. It is not a Mr. So-and-so concentrating on something called by such-and-such a name. The first step in this meditation is to dissociate oneself from one's own name and also the object from its appended name. This initial step would be a difficult thing, since no one can normally dissociate oneself from one's name and station. It is known that when we are fast asleep, we would not wake up if we are called by another person's name. Even in sleep the name manages to become an organic part of one's individuality. Such is one's attachment to name. If Rama is sleeping, he must be called as Rama only. If you call him Gopal, he would not awake. Even in sleep the person is Rama, the name. Look at the force of attachment! We are bundles of such entanglements, and Yoga is all detachment. We cannot believe ourselves to be anything other than what the name indicates.
But this is not enough, says Patanjali, the master of Yoga. Though the dissociation of the object from its name and the dissociation of one's own self from one's own name is essential and is difficult enough, there is something more difficult ahead, viz., the dissociation of the object from its form. The form is not the essence of the object, just as the body is not man's soul. When we see ourselves we look upon this body that is six feet in height. This physical frame is not our essentiality. Likewise, the form is not the essence of the object. The second step is more difficult than the earlier one. While the de-naming of a thing is hard indeed, the de-forming of it is still more difficult, because everyone lives in a world of forms. We see nothing but forms in the world. How could one go above the normal?
Here, one can be a little philosophical, again. As there is an interrelatedness of everything with everything else in this organic structure of the universe, it would be futile to imagine that any object has an independent form of its own. This is a more mature way in which one can convince oneself that objects have no form of their own. Hence, they cannot also have a name. When there is no form, how can there be a name? Profounder studies would convince us that the universe is made in such a way that everything is related to everything else, internally. Thus, there cannot be an isolated form for any part of the structure. There cannot also be a name to any such abstracted part. Name and form drop out altogether. The idea of the object and the description of the object are phenomenal associations from which the essence of the object has to be freed entirely. The pure object, or the artha, as it is called, has to shine in its own pristine purity. The subject has to behold the object as it is in its own status, not as it appears to the complex of the perceptual faculties. Objects are involved in space, time and the relativity of things. The space-time-cause complex is what is called the form of the object. Hence the form is a metaphysical entity, and it cannot be pierced through by any phenomenal faculty of man, such as the sense-oriented mind or the logic-ridden intellect. One has to sink down into one's metaphysical root in order to be able to encounter, befriend and break through the form. The subject and the object are on a parallel level of reality at every degree of their formation, depth or constituency. Yoga is not for the careless and the non-vigilant.