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The Ultimate Experience of Samadhi
by Swami Krishnananda

That all things in the world are very strange phenomena, and are really something different from what they appear to be to normal perception, is something that we have noticed in great detail. Also, we came to the conclusion that even if there is an inch of distance between the aspiring consciousness and that which the consciousness is longing for, that longing cannot be fulfilled. It is like an electrical connection. Even if there is a little gap, though very minute, in the fixing of the plug for allowing current to pass, there will be no performance. It will be as if nothing is happening.

This is the case with everything. The difficulty before everyone is that we cannot think anything without some distance. Again we are coming to the same old doctrine of spatiality and temporality, which condition our mind to such an extent that we cannot think anything—even God Himself—except as being somewhere in high heaven, in vast space, and at some time before creation. If we feel God existed before creation, we are bringing the time factor into it; and if He is very far, in heaven, we bring the spatial aspect. This is a metamorphosis and emphasis in a transcendental manner of a defect in the very thinking process itself.

Patanjali's great point in the exposition of the samadhis and samapattis is herein. All achievement is perfect union. Even a little conceptual distance between two things—consciousness and its content—will not permit the implementation or the fulfilment of the achievement. Even if it is God Almighty Himself, if He is half a foot away from us, we can expect nothing from Him because there is a communication gap between the Almighty and ourselves as a seeking soul. A mighty thing is before us, but there is no connection of an intelligible manner between that which is before us and ourselves.

This is the reason why many of our longings are not fulfilled. Almost all our desires are frustrated. Everywhere there is defeat of any kind of desire whatsoever. People are defeated completely. They get nothing out of what they actually expected. There is bereavement always. What comes, also goes. No one has come to stay forever. Why should this happen? This is the picture of mortal existence, the picture of the passing of things. Everything is phenomenal, nothing is really existing. Everything is transient and, like a wisp of wind, everything blows in whatever direction it wills.

But the seeker of Immortality—kaivalya moksha, eternity, where rebirth of any kind is stopped completely—aspires for that which is inseparable from the aspiring consciousness. The content of consciousness should not stand outside consciousness. It may be physical, visual or conceptual, but when we think a thing, that thing which we are thinking should not stand outside the thinking process. It should be immersed in the thinking process, so that in thinking a thing, the thinking gets enhanced in its quantum and intensity because of the entry of the thing which appeared to be external to the thinking process. Thinking a thought or an object is not of any benefit. The object of thought has to increase the potentiality, content, dimension and intensity of the thought itself so that in thinking a thing, the mind becomes filled with a completeness of itself. It becomes a plenum. Instead of a bare thinking abstract process, it becomes a completeness in itself because the thought has become one with that which it thinks. This is samadhi.

When we were dealing with the samadhis—savitarka, nirvitarka, savichara, nirvichara etc.—it was mentioned that the final thing that we have to encounter is space-time. There is no other obstacle except that. Space-time keeps everything away from us. This is the whole difficulty. So, in the higher forms of samapatti, samadhi, the externality imposed upon consciousness by the intervention of space-time—the so-called externality that keeps us out from that which we are aspiring for—is also made an object of meditation itself. The devil himself becomes a god, we may say. That devilish nature of things is due to the outsideness of things. If we make that thing our own, we ourselves become the so-called devil; and as we cannot be a devil, we become a god immediately.

The condemnation of things is due to the keeping of things away from us as either desirable objects or undesirable objects. The most difficult thing in meditation is the identification of space-time itself as the object of meditation. We are uniting ourselves not with something, but with space-time itself. Then the question of separation, isolation, distance, temporality, will not be there.

How is it possible for the mind to include space and time in its thinking process, as it is well known that they condition the thinking process? Here is a transcendental feat that the yogi has to perform, which no philosopher can understand. The feat of yoga is transcendental, super-philosophical, and no argument touches here. When all the great thinkers and philosophers have told us that we cannot think without space and time, how dare we? To overcome this limitation itself, we are trying to step over the very condition of our existence. We are trying to go beyond that which has made us. Is it possible?

We are space-time stuff. We are not solid objects. It is a peculiar apparition that seems to be in the form of this physical body—an apparent condensation, though indescribable, of the peculiar structure of space-time itself. We have heard it said that all matter is puckered space; a dent in space looks like matter. We cannot understand how it is possible. Space is bent where there are large bodies of matter. Experiments have shown that when light passes through large bodies it dents a little bit, and the straight line is a bit changed; it looks as if light itself is bending in a semi-curvature form because of the tremendous gravitational force of the large body which is the Sun. How can anybody imagine that light can bend into a semi-curvature? Who can imagine that solid Earth, like brick and mortar and iron and steel, is only a peculiar adjustment of space-time within itself?

Can thoughts become things? We are sometimes told that thoughts are things. It is horrible to hear. I want a thing, I do not want a thought, but thought itself is that thing because space and time are only peculiar types of thought. They may not be individual thought, but they are some kind of thought. There are three kinds of thinking: individual thinking, interconnected thinking, and transcendental thinking. Those philosophers who tell us that space and time cannot be overcome are thinking in terms of individual thought. When Berkeley, the great thinker, said that all things are ideas, the question arose: Whose ideas? These huge mountains and stars—are they concretisations of Mr. So-and-so's ideas? So he had to modify his doctrine and say that it is not possible, because large expanses of externality in the form of the world cannot be considered as modifications of an individual's mind.

“Understanding makes nature,” said Immanuel Kant. Whose understanding makes nature? Is it Kant's mind that is creating the whole Germany and the entire globe of the Earth? Then he had to modify his thought, and in a subsequent edition of his book he introduced a chapter called the “Refutation of Idealism”. People were surprised that he added another chapter in the second edition of his book—“Refutation of Idealism”. This was because he had a suspicion that his doctrine almost resembled Berkeley's when he said that understanding makes nature. Whose understanding? His problem was the same as Berkeley's, because nobody's understanding can make nature. Nature was before we were born. We were born later on, nature existed earlier, so how can we say that our understanding makes nature? Hence, we have to make a clear distinction between real understanding, the real idea, the real mind that seems to be concretised into the objects of sense, and the ordinary sense.

As I mentioned, there are three kinds of thought. There is purely individualised thinking, as my thought, your thought, etc. There is interconnected thought. Interconnected thought means everybody thinks. And everything which does not appear to be thinking also thinks in a potential prehensive manner, as philosophers call it. There is a distinction that philosophers make between apprehension and prehension. We are apprehending things; but things which do not apprehend through the intellect prehend. The tree knows that we are here. It is not apprehending through the intellect, but a subtle, deeper-than-intellect process is operating through it, and the leaves can know that we are here, talking. Even the Sun knows what is happening in the world. The breath of the universe is operating through the breath of every individual.

Thus, there is an interconnected, universal, organic operation taking place, which is the reason why we say that the world is the body of God. It is a living embodiment of interconnected operations, like the operation of our own body. The body, which we call our own, is an organic integration where everything is subsistent to everything else. Nothing depends on the other. Everything is everywhere. The cause is the effect, and the effect is the cause. Where there is a circle of operation, one part causing another part, we cannot know which is the cause and which is the effect. Anything is the effect and anything is the cause, in a circular form. Every part of the body is organic and aware of itself. There is no dead part in our body; everything is alive. Even the toes and the fingers, and the nose and the eyes, are all alive. They contribute their individuality for the purpose of a total organisation of the entire body. In a similar manner is the cosmic setup.

Apart from this so-called individuality, even a cell of the body has an individuality of its own. Our whole personality can be seen in one cell of our body. From birth to death, what is taking place to us is inside, in a mirror of a cell which looks like one among the many; but even that one among the many is like many due to its interconnection, and this is the interconnected consciousness or mind that we think of. It is very difficult to imagine because imagining it is possible only if we know the world is one whole and not made up of little fractions or parts. This is the interconnected, organised form of thinking of the mind, where apprehension and prehension go together, the material and the conscious also get blended, matter and spirit cannot stand separate. This is another kind of mind. When people such as Berkeley or Kant appear to say that understanding makes nature and mind is projecting the whole world, without actually mentioning it in their books, it is a larger interconnected cosmical operation which can be said to be the cause of this substantial, so-called physical world. We can say this, just as we say our physical body is a solidification of the collection of our karma potencies that we have brought with us from our previous birth. Thoughts make things. Our ideas have concretised into this body. This is what we call prarabdha; and whatever ideas we entertain will become our next body. This is what seems to be the implied suggestiveness of these great thinkers when they said that ideas are things and understanding makes nature. We have to read between the lines, and not take what they said literally.

But there is a third kind of mind, a transcendental mind. It is the mind—if at all we can use that word—of the Absolute. We should hesitate to use such words about the Absolute because it will raise the question of whether the Absolute is thinking. The Absolute does not think. It is just Being. The Being of the Absolute is the Thought of the Absolute. How can we imagine such a thing? Therefore, it is called transcendental; it is beyond human conception. That has concretised itself into this whole universe.

I mentioned something about Kant and Berkeley. Now we go to Hegel. He says that ideas become nature. There is only pure Idea. Idea externalises itself into the form of this nature. How can we imagine that ideas, which are abstract concepts, as it were, can become solid objects like a tree, a stone, etc.? He does not explain how. The author does not tell us how ideas become things because here again arises the same question as to what idea it is, and whose idea. Hegel's idea is not my idea or your idea; it is, again, an idea of the interconnected organismic part of the whole operation, or we may call it the Absolute conceived as if it is thinking.

These philosophers are very difficult people. If we take them literally we will get confused, so we have to go deep into it. Their intention is very good, but the way they express it is so confusing. However, I am repeating once again: The whole world is unsubstantial, we may say. Berkeley says that the vault of heaven, everything, will crumble down as dream objects. What does Shakespeare tell us? “We are made of such stuff as dreams are made on.” Do we not see hard substances in dream? We can see rocks, we can see gold, we can see silver, we can see railway trains, we can see everything in dream. We can even hit our head against a wall in dream and bleed. But has it really taken place? How a thought can externalise itself into an apparent space and time complex, and create a world of so-called solidity, is something that is illustrated in our dream experience. The world is considered as a long dirgha svapna. Dīrgha swapnaṁ idaṁ vishwaṁ (Y.V. 3.42.8) says the Yoga Vasishtha. We had a short dream, now here is a long dream. If we could manufacture hard things in our dream consciousness, this cosmic mind, interconnected mind, transcendental mind can create this world. If we say that our dream hardness does not really exist, that it is a projection of our thought, the same thing is this world. The world is a nihil; it does not exist. It is only an idea complex. What all these philosophers have said is correct.

Patanjali goes into this subject. Because of this feature of the so-called visible world, space and time are also ideas only. Though it is said that the ideas are controlled and determined by the operations of space and time, when we go further into the transcendental level we will find that space-time cannot control the mind unless it is an individual mind. If we take it as an interconnected mind, then space-time is included in that. The world is not contained inside space, as Newton thought. Space is a part of the world itself. The world is nothing but space itself, and so space is not a cup inside which matter is made. Therefore, the idea of space and time should not trouble us in our meditation or samadhi. We must have a little strength of imagination and power of will to feel how the so-called troublesome externality of space and time becomes one with the Absolute form of thinking—total identification of consciousness with its own imagination, samadhi. It is a total identification of the products of our imagination with the imagining consciousness itself.

This is very difficult unless we have freed ourselves from all humdrum activity and distractions, passions and desires, anger, greed and lust. If these are inside us, in our subconscious mind, this samadhi is not possible. It will be merely a word, and nothing will result, because who can think like this? Can we go beyond the idea of space and time? Can we think in a cosmic form? Can we imagine that we are in a transcendental state, in the apex of the universe? Can anybody think like that? If we can think like that, we are in a state of liberation. Who can bind us, when the binding factor has become part of our consciousness? Dacoits cannot harm us, because the dacoits have gone inside the mind itself, and the mind is controlling them. This is difficult. A great feat of imagination is necessary, and tremendous will power. We must be totally dispassionate. “I want it one hundred percent, and want it only, and I don't want anything else. It must come. This is so. I have determined.” Like Buddha sitting under the tree—let the flesh melt and the bones break, but Buddha decided that he would not get up from that place until enlightenment.

But the world is a hard thing; we must know that. Though we may say it is like this and like that, it is not going to listen to our discourses. “I will tell you,” it will say. But we must be stronger than that. We must superimpose ourselves and pose ourselves above the point from where this trouble arises. In a way, we may say that we have to sit on the apex of heaven, at that very point where the Absolute is sitting. How can we think like that? This is a power of strong imagination. Can any one of us think that we are on the topmost, pre-Big Bang condition of eternity, where God is supposed to have existed. Oh! We will shudder; our body will melt; our mind will stop thinking. This is God thinking, if we want to call it so. This is samadhi. Patanjali says in that condition, a great joy liberates itself. It becomes sananda samapatti.

Do we know what joy is? We have seen the little joys of a cup of tea, a little drink, a good meal, a little rest, and a little travel here and there. We are accustomed to these joys. This is a different thing altogether. Other joys in the world that we think of are just titillation or scratching. When we scratch, we feel some satisfaction. Do we call it satisfaction? The sense organs tantalise us, tease us, hang a carrot before our nose which we will never obtain because when we move forward, the carrot also moves forward. There is complete deceptive activity going on in the operation of the sense organs. They deceive us right from childhood, from birth to death.

That ananda is something else. That ananda which we are speaking of as the content of sananda samapatti is not derived from some operation taking place. It is not that we have acquired something and therefore we are happy. We ourselves are a substance of Bliss. Can we imagine that we are made up of joy? We should not say that joy comes from something. It does not come from something; it is ourselves only. Who can think like that? The mind refuses to think that joy is in oneself only. It is not even inside; we ourselves are that.

The joy is neither inside nor outside; it is ourselves. Our substance is joy. Our being is the same as ananda. Sat is the Consciousness of Pure Existence, and it is itself Bliss. This is why this great state is called satchitananda—Existence Consciousness Bliss. It is not Existence-Consciousness-Bliss. No. It is existence which is conscious of itself as fulfilled plenum perfection. Nobody can think like that. Our mind has to stop there. Such a thing we are; such a thing everything is; such a thing is the Transcendental Being. Such ananda manifests itself. What a joy! We should not use such words. No language, no word is adequate here. It is not joy; it is the super-abundance of the overflowing of Absolute Existence. We have to be very poetic and ecstatic in the description of this condition. Poets go into ecstasy and say anything they like when they speak of this marvel. See how Meister Ekhart, in his great works, talks about the One, the experience of the One. He is simply jumping; the whole personality melts and jumps into ecstasy. We do not know what language he uses. There are no words for that—no words. How can there be words when we are not there? Such an ecstasy takes place when we are conscious in an integrated cosmic manner that this samapatti is our real nature.

Patanjali goes on teasing us. He does not leave us so easily. He says it is still not sufficient. Even if we get seventy-five percent, it is not sufficient; we must get one hundred percent. A consciousness of one's being nothing but Pure Bliss arises in an indescribable manner. That Self consciousness of a cosmic nature, which is aware of itself as great Bliss, is called sasmita samapatti, the Universal Self-awareness: I am what I am, or I am that I am. Here is the penultimate existence. We have broken the boundaries of thought and imagination.

There is something beyond that also. We can ask Patanjali, “Why are you troubling us like this, saying there is still more, still more? Where will it end?” It will end where the horizon ends. Where does the horizon end? From here we can see that somewhere near Lakshmanjhula space seems to bend, touching the earth; but if we go to Lakshmanjhula, we will find the horizon is still further away. Similiarly, we will find that we have not reached anything, because again the spatiotemporal idea persists. That indescribable thing, God as He is in Himself, Absolute Pure Substance—our mouth will close, our words will get hushed up, and we will feel ashamed to say anything. The tongue will consider itself as incapable and unfit to utter a word about this great Being. That is something which burns the seed of the potentiality of coming back. We will call it by some word, and for us it is only a word—nirbija or nirvitarka. What does it matter? We can use any Sanskrit word, or anything else.

Here is a picture before us which is worthwhile beholding, and a wonder. Wonder! That is all I can say—ashcharyam. Āścaryavat paśyati kaścid enam āścaryavad vadati tathaiva cānyaḥ (B.G. 2.29). The Upanishads and the Bhagavadgita tell us that we can describe it with no other word except 'wonder'. Oh, wonder! They cry, “Oh, wonder! I am honey! Oh, honey! Oh, I am the cosmic tree.” We have seen in some of the passages of the Upanishads and the Panchadasi how the ecstasy of the great realised soul is described in imponderable ecstatic style of poetic expression.

But, a caution has to be exercised. If we jump too much and climb a tree without knowing how to catch hold of the branch, we can fall down. The higher we go, the greater is the chance of coming down. We should climb provided that we know how to perch on the tree branch, where two birds are sitting, as the Mundaka Upanishad says. Dvā suparṇā sayujā sakhāyā samānaṁ vṛkṣam pariṣasvajāte, tayor anyaḥ pippalaṁ svādv attyanaśnann anyo'bhicākaśīti (M.U. 3.1.1): Two birds are sitting on the branch of this Universal tree. One bird is very eagerly eating the sweet berry of this tree, and is unconscious of the other bird, which is just looking at it. The other bird is the Universal God Himself. The bird that eats the sweet berry is myself, yourself, all this. How? What is the solution? We have nothing to do. We have simply to look back and see that bird. We are liberated immediately.

Arjuna, seated on the chariot, could not look ahead at the huge, frightening army. His heart sank completely. “Can I face this world of the terrible forces of the Kauravas?” Look back—that is sufficient for us. Here is the Mighty Being behind us, which takes us above the turmoil of this distressing panorama of forces around us. So many drops are standing before us—millions and millions of drops are standing there as soldiers—but here is a sea behind us which says it will inundate us immediately

The two birds can be said to be Ishvara and jiva, God and the individual, or Krishna and Arjuna in the chariot, which is nothing but a symbol of the tree of the universe. Both should join together and move forward to the abode of that perfection. We must work jointly, we must have the backing of this Absolute at every moment, and we must also put forth effort. People say, “Let God do everything. Why should I do anything?” It is like Arjuna saying, “You do everything for me. I will keep quiet.” The backing power is already there. It will give us the impulse to move forward and charge us with energy, but we must move as an instrument. A driver of a vehicle simply puts forth the energy, but the wheels must be there to move. If there are no wheels, if there is only the engine, nothing will happen.

It is difficult to imagine the relationship between the individual and the cosmic. It is a great eternal question. In what way are we connected with the Universal, and is our relationship inside or outside? Are we inside the world, are we outside the world, or are we ourselves the world? Nobody can answer this question. Many times it looks as though we are inside the world. If that is the case, we cannot accept the fact that the world substance is our own substance. As I mentioned earlier, the very substance of this individuality is nothing but the building bricks of nature, which is made of earth, water, fire, air and ether. We cannot stand outside it, because there is no house minus the bricks, steel and mortar; and if we pull out the contents, the whole building falls down. So we cannot say we are inside. We are the world itself, but yet the mind says that we are inside. Sometimes we may feel that we are outside the world. “I can walk on the road. Who can trouble me? The world is not impeding my movement. I can go anywhere on the surface of the Earth. I am outside it.” Sometimes we feel we are inside the world because we are social entities. Neither of this is a fact. Neither are we inside the world nor are we outside the world. The relationship is very enigmatic, intriguing, and it will continue as long as we feel and think of the world in terms of a big ogre standing before us as vast space and long time. This idea must be removed. That process is the Patanjali Yoga System, for which great purification of the mind is necessary.

What is purification? It is an honest feeling that we do not want anything else. When we have what we want in a most abundant manner, in the form of utter perfection, would we like to have the tinsels of the world? The senses will say, “Yes, they are also good.” The glass pieces shine as the diamond shines. Will we go for the glass pieces when the diamond is in our hand?

Self-instruction, a self-educative process, should also go on. A little bit of vichara, as it is called, is very important. It must be possible for everyone to discriminate between that which really is and that which is only appearance. What is the relationship between the snake and the rope? The rope appears to be a snake. Is the rope creating the snake? The snake is the projection of the rope. Does it exist, or does it not exist? If we say the snake does not exist, why we are frightened and jump over it? If we jumped, it must be a real thing. How can an unreal thing produce a real jumping? If we say it is really there, who created it? It is a very indescribable situation.

The whole world is a mystery, to put it briefly, and nobody can understand how it is made, why it came, from where it came, and so on. For this purpose, we have to enter into the magician himself. The magical performance is very beautiful, but how have things come? We do not know. Enter into the mind of the magician himself, andthen see how things are projected. That entry of consciousness into the magician's heart—into the Cosmic Operator, call Him by any name—is utter Union.

Suffice it to say that the whole issue before us is to what extent we are able to unify ourselves with another thing. The so-called another is harassing us. There is always something which is another—conceptually, physically or socially. Can this so-called another become us only? There we see the whole sea merges into a confluence of one big mass of experience. This requires a very strong will, real determination, honesty of purpose, dispassion at the core based on proper understanding, intellectual sharpness, poise of reason, and total dedication. If this is there, we will get everything.