Continuing his teaching of the Gita, Swami Paramarthananda said, after discussing the general and specific preparations to be taken care of before meditation, now, Sri Krishna is talking about the actual process of meditation itself. The process of meditation includes dharana, dhyanam and samadhi. Dharana is focusing mind on object of meditation. This focusing happens only as a relevant thought modification. Thus, focusing on a tree means that tree is the object. In Sanskrit, we call it vriksha akara vrrtti; vriksha means tree; akara means the form of an object & vrtti means a thought modification. So when I entertain vriksha akara vrtti, my mind is focused on vrikshah; Ghatakara vrtti is focusing on ghatah. Ishvara akara vrtti is focusing on Ishvara and atmakara vrtti is focusing on Atma
And after that, try to retain the flow of the same thought. Thus, vriksha akara vrtti can stand for a moment alone, because every thought has got only a momentary life. No thought can exist continuously; it has only a momentary existence. Therefore, in Dhyanam, what I try, after entertaining vriksha akara vrrtti, is to have the next vrrtti also as vriksha akara vrrtti and continuing with the same thought. This repetition of same thought is technically called sajatiya prathyaya pravahah or the flow of similar thought with each thought dealing with the same object. This is called dhyanam. As a result of this attempt, which involves effort, which involves initiative, which involves deliberation, if a person follows naturally, after sometime, the mind gets into the groove of a similar thinking, by sheer habit, which you can also experience if you have attended akhanda nama bhajana.
In akhanda nama bhajan same name is repeated without a break. In this process the mind gets into a groove and thought gets deeply registered in subconscious mind. So, even after akhanda nama bhajan, that thought, such as Hare Rama or Om Namashivaya, keeps playing in our mind.
It is like an advertisement that keeps playing in our mind. The mind has a capacity to form Vasanas or impressions.
Samskara means vasanas and by the strength of that vasana that particular thought continues. It is like for pedaling the cycle for sometime, and thereafter you do not cycle, but because of the momentum of the initial effort, the cycle continues to run for sometime. The same thing happens to the thought cycle also; once that vrtti continues, my willpower is not required; and any vrtti which takes place without our effort is called sukshma vrrtti; any vrrtti that occurs in our mind, without deliberate effort is called sukshma vrrtti, the om namasivayah mantra which goes on in your head
throughout the day, is a sukshma vrrtti. Sukshma vrtti means subtle thoughts. When the subtle thought is taking place in your mind you are not even aware of
it since your mind’s focus is not on it. This is called absorption in a particular thought and in this state of absorption the subject object division is not felt.
It is exactly as in deep sleep state. In sleep state, the subject-object division is not felt; but still there is a thought modification taking place in sleep. It is not a deliberately entertained thought; but it happens in the sleep. How do you know that such a thought took place in sleep? Because, after waking up, we say I slept well.
To have that experience, we should have gone through a thought modification and that thought modification is called sukshma vrrtti. It is this sukshma vrrtti, subtle thought, which registers the experience in the dormant mind which we activate in waking state.
(Note: See explanation of Vrithi given below as a postscript.)
After some time by sheer momentum the thought continues and that thought is called
sukshma vrrtti. In Sukshma Vrrti the subject-object division is not manifest. The subject-object division exists but it is not manifest at that time. This state of the sukshma vrtti continuation, this state of the subtle thought continuation, is called absorption or Samadhi. Since the division is not manifest in that state it is called nirvikalpaka samadhi. Nirvikalpa samadhi is a state of division-less-ness. What division are we talking about? It is about the subject-object-instrument division. When we say that it is a state of division-less-ness one, we do not mean the divisions are absent; rather it means divisions are in un-manifest form.
An Acharya has given the example of water in which salt is dissolved. I, myself, have added the salt to the water. However, since it has become one with the water, visibly the salt is not there, although you know salt is there. In the same way, in absorption, thoughts are there but the thoughts are like the dissolved salt. They are there and they are capable of doing their functions, but they are not dominantly experienced. Such a state is called Nirvikalpaka samadhi. And Sri Krishna wants to talk about dharana, dhyana and samadhi in the verses Shloka’s 18 and 19 respectively.
Shloka # 18:
यदा विनियतं चित्तमात्मन्येवावतिष्ठते।
निःस्पृहः सर्वकामेभ्यो युक्त इत्युच्यते तदा।।6.18।।
When the well-controlled mind abides solely in the Self, rid of cravings for objects of desires, one is said to be integrated in Yoga.
In the shloka Viniyatam chittam means withdrawing mind from object. It means thoughts are not entertained. Thus, if my mind is in the office, it means Officeakara Vrithi is maintained. So one has to withdraw mind from office. Here mind withdraws from Anatma or objective universe. Now, Anatma has three parts. They are: Whole world, Body and Mind. So do not entertain thoughts related to these three. This is called Chittam Viniyatam. This is possible only by forming detachment from Anatma. So, if you are attached to a person, that thought keeps coming up. Our Ragaha and Dveshaha dominate our thoughts. Meditation, however, requires detachment.
When the mind is rid of anatma akara vrtti then the mind becomes free. When the mind is pre-occupied with the objective world, how can that mind be available for atma dhyanam? Therefore, withdraw the mind from the world then the mind abides in atma or the mind dwells in atma.
Atma being all pervading, the mind also rests in it. Mind cannot go out of Atma. If so, what does it mean when we say mind dwelling in Atma? It only means that you have thoughts related to that object, Atma.
If my mind dwells on Badrinath, it means I have thoughts related to Badrinath; therefore if the mind has to abide in atma it means the mind should entertain the thought modification’s of one’s associated with atma. Vedantic meditation is not thoughtlessness. Yoga does have thoughtless meditation. This, however, is not approved by the Vedas. They feel thoughtless meditation is of no use. We give importance to thought centered on Atma. The “ I am Consciousness” principle by which the mind, body and thought are known also knows the thoughtless state of mind. This awareness is the witness (sakshi) of thoughtful and thoughtless mind.
The “ I am” thought arises in consciousness. This thought, however, cannot disturb consciousness.
It is like my hand moving in the light; but the hand does not disturb the light; the light illumines the hand. Similarly “I” the consciousness illumines the thought, witnesses the thought, but the thoughts themselves do not disturb me; this is called asangatvam. So aham asangh; is one form of thought; aham sakshi is another form of thought; and these thoughts arrive and depart, but “I” never arrive and depart. It is exactly like the people entering a hall, the light illumines the hall; all the people vacate the hall, the empty hall is also illumined by the light; people come and go; hall gets filled up and
vacated; but the light illumines the full hall, as well as vacated hall. Our mind is like the hall; the thoughts are like the people, and consciousness is like the light, however, “I” never come nor go.
While I have been talking ,you have been listening and even as you listen, your mind should have entertained relevant thoughts about Atma or Anatma. All the thoughts that you have been entertaining are dealing with Atma and this is called akhanda akara vrtti. Akhanda akara vrtti means any thought pattern connected with the consciousness or sakshi.
And entertaining this thought pattern, is called atmani avasthanam or it means dwelling in atma or abiding in atma. It is not thoughtlessness. I can have thoughts like aham ekahah; aham asangh; aham rupa rahitah; I am formless, I illumine the formed body, but myself am formless, like the light illumines the formed hand, but the light itself is formless, thus aham arupah, aham sakshi, aham asangh, aham nityah; aham
shuddhah; All these are called atma dhyanam.
And entertaining this thought pattern is called atmani avasthanam.
Therefore, Sri Krishna says, the mind abides in atma, entertaining the relevant thoughts and this state is called yogah or samadhih or state of absorption.
And as I said in the last class, samadhi itself is divided into two types. When effort is involved it is called Savikalpa Samadhi. It is a state where ego is dominant and individual effort is pronounced. Once this effort is maintained for some time and then it becomes an effortless process, like pedaling the cycle for some time then cycle moves on its own momentum. This is the state of Nirvikalpa Samadhi. It is a state of absorption.
And what is this state of mind like? An example is given in the next shloka.
Shloka # 19:
यथा दीपो निवातस्थो नेङ्गते सोपमा स्मृता।
योगिनो यतचित्तस्य युञ्जतो योगमात्मनः।।6.19।।
As light in a windless spot stirs not, this is the simile of the Yogin whose mind is controlled and who applies himself to Yoga.
Suppose a lamp is lighted. When kept in an open place, the flame flickers due to breeze. The direction depends on the breeze. In meditation, thought is like a flame. When I think of an object, within moments some other thought comes up without any awareness. This is the flickering mind. Now, when the mind is protected, like the lamp in an enclosure, the flame remains steady. This steady flame is an example of Nirvikalpa Samadhi. My Atmakara Vrithi is not disturbed.
So, what can enclose the mind? What can protect it?
Mind is subtle and it requires Vairagyam and Bhakti as its enclosures. What is Bhakti and Vairagyam? I will just give a clue. Details of these two topics I will discuss later. Sri Krishna discusses this in shloka 6.35 as well.
All our worries are because we cannot face the future. There are two types of future, the actual future and the imaginary future. The imaginary future threatens more than the actual. Questions come up like what will happen if I fall sick etc. Thus, the worry of future is a cause of disturbance. Only solution here is to surrender the future to God.
The second disturbance is due to attachment. If I do not worry about myself; I worry about my family members; what will happen to them; and how can I help them; etc. When such thought comes, you tell yourselves they will be better off, without me; they will be taken care of by God.
And what is that disciplined mind doing? It is practicing atma dhyanam. Yogam in shloka means dhyanam. So, the un-flickering flame is an example of the restrained mind. Such a mind that is engaged in atma dhyanam reaches a state called samadhi.
So far Dhyana swaroopam was discussed. Shlokas # 20-23 are the culmination of Dhyanam. It is all about Nirvikalpa Samadhi. This is the consequence of ashtanga yoga. Nirvikapla Samadhi can be in any field. It is our natural faculty. We had this faculty in full measure when we were babies. Babies when they see an ant or cockroach they want to catch them with single-minded attention. You cannot distract a baby. It is a faculty we have lost in the name of growing up and now further eroded with our worries.
An absorbing book, a thrilling one-day cricket match all have moments of Nirvikalpa Samadhi. There is no mysticism in it. We use this faculty in Vedanta to direct our mind to Atma. Seven definitions of Nirvikalpa Samadhi are given now.
Atma: I am formless, I illumine the formed body, but myself am formless, like the light illumines the formed hand, but the light itself is formless.
Anatma: Anatma has three parts. They are: Whole world, Body and Mind.
How to keep mind steady in meditation? The mind is subtle and it requires Vairagyam and Bhakti to keep it steady.
With Best Wishes
P.S: Explanation of Vrithi from the internet:
Between the two compartments of thinking and perceiving of mind, though it is easy to stop the thinking part, it is verily hard nut to crack so far as the perceiving mind is concerned. According to the Advaitic theory of perception it is the consciousness within us which makes perception possible by uniting the consciousness in the object. The Vedantic theory of perception is that the mind comes out through the eye and assumes the shape of the object outside. A ray of the mind actually goes out assumes the shape and form of the object and envelops the object. Mental image coupled with the external something is the object, for whatever objects we see outside have got their own images in the mind. When we pass through a mango garden, a ray of the mind comes out through the eye and envelops the mango. When it assumes the shape of mango, the ray is termed as impression or Vritti. The enveloping process is called Vritti Vyapti. The veil that envelops mango is removed by the mental ray. As there is chaitanya associated with the vritti which illuminates the object ‘Mango’, this is called Phala vyapti.
When this vritti chaitanya illumines the object, then only does perception of mango take place. At this point, mind comes to function and does sankalpa – vikalpa by asking as to whether this is mango or not? Budhi (intellect) comes as a prop and determines from previous experience that this is mango. Chitta then makes enquiry “how can I get the mango?”,”may I ask the gardener?”Ego asserts:”I must get the mango anyhow, as I want it.”Then senses of actions are commanded by mind for execution. When we see a mango tree it is external to us as far as our body is concerned, for we know the existence of the tree through the mind only so also our body is as much external to us as the yonder mango tree for it is also a mental percept. They are mere appearances that float in the one absolute Reality. Now as the tree is external to body and body is also external to us, the idea of externality of this universe is blown up. There is internality with reference to externality and when externality goes away where does internality arise? They are mere illusions and creations of mind. There is only the solid existence ,The real infinite ’ I’ That is our own self.Om Tat Sat.