View Full Version : Core of meditation
21 August 2011, 05:18 PM
For one that takes up meditation as a upāya¹ there are many approaches no doubt. I have read no less then 112 methods found in the vijñāna bhairava kārikā-s . The brilliance of this work when in the hands of the competent muni ( teacher) uplifts the aspirant (student) and unfolds their experience of pure consciousness. Pending one's disposition, focus, & intent, various techniques are available for each practitioner.
Yet at the core of meditation patañjali muni calls out the fundamentals in his yogadarśana. Let mention this
triad in this post, then followup with more discussion in upcoming posts.
Many practice meditation and are unaware of the components ; yet there are many that do meditate and are quite aware of the following as a practical daily experience:
dhāraṇā ( some write dhāraṇām ) - retaining; the act of holding , bearing , maintaining . It is rooted (√) in dhṛ - to hold, maintain ,fix or resolve upon
dhyāna - meditation . Note this word is rooted in √sthā and is defined as to continue in any condition or action or remain occupied in ,continue in, to station one's self
samādhi is defined as putting together , joining or combining with . It is absorption, total absorption. Because of this absorption it is called concentrated, one-pointedness. It is rooted √ in kṛ ' to attend ', to bring to completion , to direct one's thoughts to completion.We will continue in the next post and take these 3 ideas a bit deeper.
upāya - that by which one reaches one's aim , a means or expedient ; a technique. But to do what ? Upayāta - arrival ; one who has obtained; approached , visited , frequented - to arrive at one's intent.
21 August 2011, 08:02 PM
Let's talk more of yuktaḥ ( occupied with , engaged in) regarding the triad (3) components mentioned in post 1 above. It is best to look at it in the most simpliest of terms or ideas.
Let's start with dhāraṇā ( some write dhāraṇām ) - retaining; the act of holding , bearing , maintaining . It is rooted (√) in dhṛ - to hold, maintain ,fix or resolve upon
Think of dhāraṇā as one's attention. Attention is awareness applied. In meditation it is maintaining, or holding one's attention on the process that is at hand. In many techniques a mantra ( sound vibration) is used. This is one of several approaches and not the only way, but very effective as I see it. So, when we are talking of dhāraṇā and a mantra , we are (gently) holding (dhṛ - to hold) the mind on this sound. Let me represent it graphically : - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
It is like this dashed line. The mantra comes, then there is some silence. The next impulse or thought in the mind is once again the mantra vibration.
Yet people report it looks more like this with their initial experiences:
_ _ _ _ ┌------┐_ _ _ _ _ ┌------┐_ _ _ _┌------┐_ _ ┌------┐_ _ ┌------┐_ ┌------┐_┌------┐_ _ _
That is, they begin their practice _ _ _ _ and then for some reason they are no longer fixed (dhṛ) on the mantra or upāya but have travelled off ┌------┐ and are now thinking of other things. At some point one comes to the realization that they are not fixed on their practice and then goes back _ _ _ _ .
It is when we keep our mind maintained on the practice it is called dhāraṇā.
With practice this _ _ _ ┌------┐_ _ _ _ _ ┌------┐_ _ _ becomes this - - - - - - - - -
I hear often - I do not have this steadiness (patience) that I can perform this dhāraṇā . How then can fitness or preparedness for dhāraṇā be acquired ? Patañjali-ji informs us , it is via prānayām ( some write prānayāma). This HDF post may be worth reading called prāṇa - in or out? http://www.hindudharmaforums.com/showthread.php?t=3911 (http://www.hindudharmaforums.com/showthread.php?t=3911)
types of prāṇāyām - post 6
3 different movements of the breath - post 11
patañjali’s chapter 2 ( sādhana pada ), 50th sūtra - the notion of length and depth of breath in prāṇāyām - post 13praṇām
22 August 2011, 10:33 AM
This dhāraṇā ( see post 2 above) becomes or is considered dhyāna - meditation when it is continuous. Just as we said dhāraṇā is like the dashes of a line - - - - - let's call it the drip of water.
Each drip in succession , one after another is dhāraṇā. When this drip becomes a flow, like pouring honey, one continuous flow _______________ it is considered dhyāna. The mind is well mannered and no longer hops from one idea to another and remains absorbed in dhyāna.
What then occurs ? Pratyāhāra or withdrawal. But withdrawal of what? The senses. One's attention ( awareness) is resolute and facing inwards. There is no attention feeding hearing, smelling, seeing ( even with eyes closed), etc.
The mind is now well mannered. The word concentrated comes in . Yet we do not get to this point by trying to concentrate. Why so ?
If we use force, excessive discipline, the mind pushes back. Vasișțha-ji tells us the mind is like a child. It should be trained to tranquility by persuasion, by consolation. It is brought into ~discipline~ in this manner.
Just as one uses force to discipline a child, stubbornness comes out from the child and there is push-back. Like that, so goes the mind.
So it is by this method dhāraṇā --> dhyāna --> which brings one to pratyāhāra , but where does that deposit one? The result is samādhi, absorption. We will take this up in the next post.
22 August 2011, 02:59 PM
So it is by this method dhāraṇā --> dhyāna --> which brings one to pratyāhāra , but where does that deposit one?
The result is samādhi, absorption.
We said samādhi = absorption. There is no reflective thought ' oh I am now in samādhi '.
There is total balance, absorption of the mind. But of what is it absorbed in ? Pure awareness. Some call this turīya, the 4th.
In the beginning stages one experiences the entry and the exit of samādhi. They know they were not sleeping but perfectly awake and aware, but aware of no object. For some this samādhi may occur a few times during their practice ( upāya), maybe only once. It has much to do with the level of rest the individual possesses.
If one is extremely tired, as one does their practice they may dose-off and nap. One knows the difference between sleeping and samādhi. Sleep is brought on by a preponderance of tamas. Samādhi is perfect sattva, these two experiences are different.
But what does this process do ? It grooms sakta¹, the capability to entertain this level of awareness again and again. What does one do? They meditate, then when done go back into activity with that calmness of mind.
Then they return to meditation some hours later to bathe again in sattva. This is true snānaṁ¹. The wise have called it out this way:
Withdraw from the parts (aṅga) and experience the the whole, (aṅgī); then withdraw from the
withdrawal i.e. withdraw from that whole or aṅgī, and come back to the parts.
Said another way, Withdraw from the duality of life, the parts, diversity (aṅga) and experience fullness,
bhuma, turīya ( aṅgī ), then (refreshed from snānaṁ¹) come back to diversity of every day life.
sakta - able competent for , equal to , capable ; This we find for retrograde grahas.
snānaṁ - bathing , washing , ablution ; bathing in sacred waters - in this case the waters of pure awareness.
23 August 2011, 08:48 PM
With the above 4 posts one may have a better appreciation for the components of meditation. Yet there is a more subtler understanding of this notion of samādhi.
I mentioned samādhi = absorption. With this post we will go a bit deeper on this idea. IMHO this next section will take some focused attention on your part verses casual reading if one wishes to understand this knowledge, as it begins to extract the 'flavors' of samādhi.
When I mentioned absorption it is known as samāpatti. This word is worth looking at because it can be viewed as sam-āpti .
sam = 'intensity', or 'together with'
āpti = abundance, gainSo intense abundance = absorption, some like to call it engrossment.
What does this have to do with samādhi? Well , absorption occurs within the process of meditation and can in general be viewed as two types¹ :
vīja ( also written bīja) - with seed , suggesting with a vehicle, or with support ( of the mantra)
nirvīja - seedless or without a vehicle or supportHold that thought on these types , vīja and nirvīja, as we place them into the context of this whole idea that is unfolding and you will see how they apply.
When I called out dhāraṇā + dhyāna + samādhi I mentioned we used a vehicle, a sound vibration or mantra . We can call this approach vīja or a seed, a vehicle, that assists in the meditative process. ( There are other names too, but lets not co-mingle ideas). With this seed or support we come to some new definitions and insights and the 1st is samprajñāta yoga.
This approach just mentioned is considered samprajñāta yoga.
This word samprajñāta means 'distinguished, known accurately' ( think of it as defined) ; the seed (vīja) is the vehicle ~known accurately~ and used to deposit the practitioner into samādhi where only the engrossment (sam-āpti) of that mantra sound and nothing else exists... not even the idea of I am thinking of or practicing this mantra, oh yes, I am meditating with this seed sound, etc.
This is called savicāra samāpatti. What is savicāra ( some write savichāra) ? It is defined as 'that to which consideration is given'.
Hence this is the engrossment (samāpatti) with consideration given (savicāra) to the vehicle ( mantra) that got us to this state of samādhi. So we call this savicāra samādhi , that is, samādhi with the support of the mantra, and one is fully engrossed in the vehicle in this case the mantra.
Now what of seedless (nirvīja) ? We enter into the definition of asamprajñāta yoga. Recall that samprajñāta means distinguished , a+samprajñāta means without distinction. I call it without boundries, or limitation.
It is when one practices meditation and over time one goes beyond savicāra samādhi, experiencing the unbounded level of pure awareness, pure consciousness. This level of Being is asamprajñāta without distinction as it is boundary free. This engrossment (sam-āpti) is considered nirvicarkā samādhi - that engrossment without consideration (nirvicarkā) or any support.
Why without support ? The mantra or any vehicle is left behind. The mind and all of the relative field of existence has been fully transcended - there is no reflective thinking , oh yes here I am in this unbounded condition.
This is the condition I talked about in post 4. It allowed me to lay the foundation for this post and inform the reader that there are a few forms for this samādhi to unfold.
We now know there is samādhi with support and without support. But why would one care or have access to one vs. the other ? This, we can take up in the next post if there is interest.
Yet one must be aware that there is flavors of this samādhi and one type may be more accessible then the other. For the new aspirant one would think savicāra samādhi would be the only experience - yet I found this not to be true , as new ( and innocent ) practitioners report nirvicarkā samādhi.
1. There are a few more as there is a more refined way of viewing this which we will leave for a future post.
29 August 2011, 10:15 PM
One may ask, why do this? Why pursue this nirvicarkā samādhi reviewed in the 5th post ? Patañjali-ji tells us in the 37 sūtra of his yogadarśana. He says adhyātmaprasāda.
adhyātma = concerning self or individual personality; own , belonging to self
prasāda = purity ; clearness , brightness ; serenity of dispositionHence this says one becomes purifed. This is the purification process talked about so often in sanātana dharma.
Yet there is a deeper meaning ( as you would expect):
adhyātma also means the Supreme Self
prasāda = graciousness Hence adhyātmaprasāda also informs us of receiving the grace of the Supreme.
Purity and grace . A noble effort for anyone on this good earth.
What is purifed ? Rajas and tamas , leaving us with sattva ( Being).
26 February 2012, 04:41 PM
The mantra comes, then there is some silence. The next impulse or thought in the mind is once again the mantra vibration.
A thread that holds a string of pearls can be seen between any two pearls. Like that ( simularly) Pure Consciousness, hidden by the modifications of the intellect can also be perceived between any two modifications ( just like the thread between any two pearls) ...
lagu vākya vṛtti - 10th sloka, by ādi śaṅkara-ji
Ādi śaṅkara we know as śaṅkara bhagavatpāda.
ādi = first, beginning
Śaṅkara = śaṃkara = causing prosperity , auspicious , beneficent. This is another name for śiva or rudra.
bhagavatpāda = bhagavat+pāda bhagavat is glorious , illustrious , divine + pāda or pādāḥ is added to proper names or titles in token of respect.
With this case pāda it is then a ray or beam of light (considered as the foot of a heavenly body).
Yet what is this 1st or beginning? He was the first Śaṅkarācārya , as he set up the maţha-s (some write as mutt's, math's) across India.
Why so ? To preserve and perpetuate knowledge of the Supreme.
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