Saturday, July 7, 2012

Bhagwan Sri Ramana Maharshi on Samadhi

Question : What is samadhi?
Ramana Maharshi : The state in which the unbroken experience of existence-consciousness is attained by the still mind, alone is samadhi. That still mind which is adorned with the attainment of the limitless supreme Self, alone is the reality of God.
When the mind is in communion with the Self in darkness, it is called nidra [sleep], that is, the immersion of the mind in ignorance. Immersion in a conscious or wakeful state is called samadhi. Samadhi is continuous inherence in the Self in a waking state. Nidra or sleep is also inherence in the Self but in an unconscious state. In sahaja samadhi the communion is con-tinuous.

Question : What are kevala nirvikalpa samadhi and sahaja nirvikalpa samadhi?
Ramana Maharshi :The immersion of the mind in the Self, but without its destruction, is kevala nirvikalpa samadhi. In this state one is not free from vasanas and so one does not therefore attain mukti. Only after the vasanas have been destroyed can one attain liberation.

Question : When can one practise sahaja samadhi?
Ramana Maharshi : Even from the beginning. Even though one practises kevala nirvikalpa samadhi for years together, if one has not rooted out the vasanas one will not attain liberation.

Question : May I have a clear idea of the difference between savikalpa and nirvikalpa?
Ramana Maharshi : Holding on to the supreme state is samadhi. When it is with effort due to mental disturbances, it is savikalpa. When these disturbances are absent, it is nirvikalpa. Remaining permanently in the primal state without effort is sahaja.

Question : Is nirvikalpa samadhi absolutely necessary before the attainment of sahaja?
Ramana Maharshi : Abiding permanently in any of these samadhis, either savikalpa or nirvikatpa, is sahaja [the natural state]. What is body-consciousness? It is the insentient body plus consciousness. Both of these must lie in another consciousness which is absolute and unaffected and which remains as it always is, with or without the body-consciousness. What does it then matter whether the body-consciousness is lost or retained, provided one is holding on to that pure consciousness? Total absence of body-consciousness has the advantage of making the samadhi more intense, although it makes no difference to the knowledge of the supreme.

Source: David Godman - "Be As You are"

Friday, July 6, 2012

Sri Aurobindo on Meditation - Part 4

The mind is always in activity, but we do not observe fully what it is doing, but allow ourselves to be carried away in the stream of continual thinking.  When we try to concentrate, this stream of self-made mechanical thinking becomes prominent to our observation.  It is the first normal obstacle (the other is sleep during meditation) to the effort for yoga.

The best thing to do is to realize that the thought-flow is not yourself; it is not you who are thinking, but thought that is going on in the mind.  It is Prakriti with its thought energy that is raising all this whirl of thought in you, imposing it on the Purusha.  You as the Purusha must stand back as the witness observing the action, but refusing to identify yourself with it.  The next thing is to exercise a control and reject the thoughts – though sometimes by the very act of detachment the thought-habit falls away or diminishes during the meditation and there is a sufficient silence or at any rate a quietude which makes it easy to reject the thoughts that come and fix oneself on the object of meditation.  If one becomes aware of the thoughts as coming from outside, from the universal Nature, then one can throw them out before they reach the mind; in that way the mind finally falls silent.  If neither of these things happens, a persistent practice of rejection becomes necessary – there should be no struggle or wrestling with the thought, but only a quiet self-separation and refusal.  Success does not come at first, but if consent is constantly withheld, the mechanical whirl eventually ceases and begins to die away and one can then have at will an inner quietude or silence.

It should be noted that the result of the yogic processes is not, except in rare cases, immediate and one must apply the will-patience till they give a result which is sometimes long in coming if there is much resistance in the outer nature.

Growing within – The psychology of Inner Development
(Compilation of the works of Sri Aurobindo)

Sri Aurobindo on Meditation - Part 3

The sitting motionless posture is the natural posture for concentrated meditation – walking and standing are active conditions.  It is only when one has gained the enduring rest and passivity of the consciousness that it is easy to concentrate and receive when walking or doing anything.  A fundamental passive condition of the consciousness gathered into itself is the proper poise for concentration and a seated gathered immobility in the body is the best position for that.  It can be done also lying down, but that position is too passive, tending to be inert rather than gathered.  This is the reason why yogis always sit in an asana.  One can accustom oneself to meditate walking, standing, lying but sitting is the first natural position.

Sri Aurobindo

Growing within – The psychology of Inner Development
(Compilation of the works of Sri Aurobindo)

Sri Aurobindo on Meditation - Part II

Conditions internal and external that are most essential for meditation

There are no essential external conditions, but solitude and seclusion at the time of meditation as well as stillness of the body are helpful, sometimes almost necessary to the beginner.  But one should not be bound by external conditions.  Once the habit of meditation is formed, it should be made possible to do it in all circumstances, lying, sitting, walking, alone, in company, in silence or in the midst of noise, etc.

The first internal condition necessary is concentration of the will against the obstacles to meditation, i.e. wandering of the mind, forgetfulness, sleep, physical and nervous impatience and restlessness etc.

The second is an increasing purity and calm of the inner consciousness (citta) out of which thought and emotion arise, i.e. a freedom from all disturbing reactions, such as anger, grief, depression, anxiety about worldly happenings etc.  Mental perfection and moral are always closely allied to each other.

Growing within – The psychology of Inner Development
(Compilation of the works of Sri Aurobindo)

Sri Aurobindo on Meditation - Part I

There are two words used in English to express the Indian idea of Dhyana, “Meditation” and “Contemplation”.  Meditation means properly the concentration of the mind on a single train of ideas which work out a single subject.  Contemplation means regarding mentally a single object, image, idea so that the knowledge about the object, image or idea may arise naturally in the mind by force of the concentration.  Both these things are forms of Dhyana, for the principle of Dhyana is mental concentration whether in thought, vision or knowledge.

There are other forms of Dhyana.  There is a passage in which Vivekananda advises you to stand back from your thoughts, let them occur in your mind as they will and simply observe them and see what they are.  This may be called concentration in self-observation.

This form leads to another, the emptying of all thought out of the mind so as to leave it a sort of pure vigilant blank on which the divine knowledge may come and imprint itself, undisturbed by the inferior thoughts of the ordinary human mind and with the clearness of a writing in a white chalk on a black board.  You will find that the Gita speaks of this rejection of all mental thought as one of the methods of yoga and even the method it seems to prefer.  This may be called the Dhyana of liberation, as it frees the mind from slavery to the mechanical process of thinking and allows it to think or not to think, as it pleases and when it pleases, to choose its own thoughts or else to go beyond thought to the pure perception of Truth called in our philosophy Vijnana.

Meditation is the easiest process for the human mind, but the narrowest in its results; contemplation more difficult, but greater; self-observation and liberation from the chains of Thought the most difficult of all, but the widest and greatest in its fruits.  One can choose any of them according to one’s bent and capacity.  The perfect method is to use them all, each in its own place and for its own object; but this would need a fixed faith and firm patience and a great energy of Will in the self-application to the yoga.

Growing within – The psychology of Inner Development
(Compilation of the works of Sri Aurobindo)