Saturday, 25 February 2017

Meditation and the Goal

Upadesa Saara – verses 7,8,9&10

In the first six verses of Upadesa Saara Maharishi talked about Karma, Karma Yoga. Bhakthi and Upasana.  In the sixth verse Maharishi has said “Singing the Lord’s praise is better than kayika Puja, but better than that is loud chanting of japa, and superior to loud chanting is soft chanting of japa. However, best of all is silent, mental japa.” The silent mental Japa is a process of upasana which is meditation only.  Maharishi discusses about meditation in the next verse no.7 which reads as:
आज्यधारया स्त्रोतसा समम् | (Aajya dhaarayaa srotasaa samam)
सरलचिन्तनम् विरलतः परम् || (Sarala chintanam viralatah param)   
Meditation or continuous thoughts (or continuity of a single thought) which is like the flow of ghee (or oil) and of the flow of water in a river, is better than broken thoughts (that which is interrupted).

Meditation makes one completely focused onto an object. At that time, there remains no external object except the object on which meditation is being performed. This is called dhyanam as well and is  defined in Patanjali Yoga Sutra (3.2) as तत्र प्रत्ययैकतानता ध्यानम् (tatra pratyayaikatanata dhyanam) i.e. “The repeated continuation, or uninterrupted stream of that one point of focus is called dhyanam”   For the  uninterrupted flow of thoughts in meditation two examples are quoted. One is the flow of ghee and other is the flow of water in a river. Flow of ghee stands for effort in achieving the flow and flow of river water for effortless ease in the flow of thoughts.  In both, whether with effort or without effort, Isvara Chintanam i.e. meditation on Ishta Devata and uninterrupted, continuous flow of thoughts are common. Initially effort is needed to guard against distractions, the natural tendency of mind. But with continuous practice and detachment from other distractions one can achieve this as Sri Krishna points out in Gita (6-35):  “O Arjuna, The mind is brought under control only through practice and detachment.”

After emphasising Iswara Dhyanam is superior to all other forms of worship, Maharishi  fine tunes it further by stating in the next verse (verse no.8) that Soham Dhyanam is superior to Dvaita Dhyanam
भेदभावनात्सोहमित्य्सौ | (Bheda bhaavanaath soham ithyasau)
भवनाभिदा पावनी मता || (Bhavana abhidha paavani mataa)
Meditation without feeling of duality, that is, meditating as ‘I am HE’, (which affirms identity of upasaka with the Lord) is superior to meditation with a feeling of duality which assumes a separation between the upasaka (devotee) and the Lord.

Iswara Upasana is classified here into two types, In the first one called Bhedha Bavana, the upasaka thinks of Iswara as different from himself and there is the duality of upasaka and Iswara and this is Dvaita Upasana. In the second one called Abedha upasana, upasaka looks upon Iswara as non-different from himself with the affirmation “I am HE” and invokes Iswara on himself, which is called Ahamgraha upasana. Ahamgraha upasana is Soham upasana. Soham is made up of two words Saha and aham i.e.He and I and together stands for He I am.  This upasana facilitates acquisition of Advaita Jnanam at a later date.  This Abedha upasana is done out of the knowledge “As Lord is everywhere He is also in me and that Lord I am meditating on” and not out of Advaita Jnanam “Aham Brahasmi”.  But as this upasana prepares one for Advaita Jnanam it is superior to Bedha upasana, marked by duality.

But this Abedha upasana can only take one to Savikalpa Samadhi where the distinction between meditator  and object of meditation is not erased and highest upasana is one that leads to Nirvikalpa Samadhi, where there is no division at all between the meditator and the object of meditation.  In verse no.9, Maharishi speaks about this highest upasana.
भावशून्यसद्भाव सुस्तितिः (Bhaava soonya sad bhaava susthithih)
भावनाबलाद् भाक्तिरुत्तमा ||  (Bhaavana bhalaath bhakthih uttama)

Upasana without any divisions, Nirvikalpa samadhi, when a person is totally absorbed in abheda chintanam, is achieved through practice alone & is the highest upasana.

Maharishi calls highest upasana as Uttama Bhakthi, which stands for Para Bhakthi.  Bhakthi is classified into two types. One is Apara Bhakthi where there is the differentiation between the devotee and Brahman or the object of devotion. But in Para Bhakthi, this differentiation vanishes and only pure Consciousness or the Self alone exists.  Maharishi calls this as ‘Bhava Soonya’.  But it is not real soonya but only apparent soonya as this is a thought-free state.  In deep sleep one does not have any thoughts nor is one aware of anything as mind and all sense organs are completely at rest and one is not conscious of anything including the fact one is sleeping or even the fact of his existence, It is as if there is a void in one’s awareness.  But Consciousness is awake and alert and that is why one is able to say after waking up that “I slept very well. I knew nothing”.  The Consciousness was awake and knew of the nothingness.  This void happened involuntarily in sleep. In Nirvikalpa Samadhi one enters the state voluntarily and there is only Pure Consciousness, which is pure Existence, which  Maharishi calls as ‘sad bhava’.  This is the state of Para Bhakthi, the highest state of Bhakthi where a person is completely and fully established in Brahman i.e. pure Consciousness. This is achieved when mind is totally under control and free of thoughts and this is achieved through practice. 

After discussing the Karma yoga and Bhakthi and Upasana yoga, Maharishi moves on to discuss Ashtanga yoga and Jnana yoga. But before moving on to them, he makes an observation which we can call the essence of Maharishi’s teachings in the next sloka, sloka no.10. 
हृस्थले मनः स्वस्थता क्रिया | (Hrit sthale manah swasthathaa kriya)
भक्तियोगबोधास्चा निस्चितम् ||
(Bhakthi yoga bhodaascha nishchitam)
Fixing the mind in the Heart (Source) is true Karma (action), Bhakti (devotion), Yoga (union) and Jnana (knowledge) (Yoga)

Maharishi emphasises in this verse that whatever path one adopts, the final destination is the non-dual state of Advaita.  There are four main yogas or paths that can take one to Liberation.  Maharishi has discussed two of them already; Karma Yoga (action), Bhakthi or Upasana Yoga (Bhakthi).  He will discuss the other two in subsequent verses; Ashtanga yoga or Raja yoga (yoga) and Jnana Yoga (knowledge).   But all these paths end in one action, Mano-nasa by merging mind in spiritual heart. The spiritual heart is not the physical heart that is in the left side of the body.  Of the spiritual heart Maharishi has stated “The physical organ is on the left; that is not denied. But the Heart of which I speak is nonphysical and is only on the right side. It is my experience –. it is the Source of ‘I AM’’, whence the sense of ‘I’ rises”  It is this merging of mind with the spiritual heart, when the mind becomes thought-free is called Mano-nasa, not the destruction of the mind.  It is this state where the mind is turned totally in ward towards the Self and this is the goal of all yogas.

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