The insistent passions behind belief and non-belief in the ways of the world very often provoke heady disputes within and around us, plaguing us, our relationships and even nations. How many feuds and fights have been fought, and how much of humanity mislaid amid shrill and disputing cries of real belief, reared in conventional wisdom, theological disputation, zealous one-upmanship and prejudice.
How do we acknowledge and if necessary correct ourselves when our beliefs, especially those we cherish, are contested by circumstances; and, when challenged by people, resolve the state of affairs with them in mutual respect and humility?
There is a way.
Whether you designate the principles of human evolution as yoga in Sanskrit, or by their equivalent term in English or Farsi or Hebrew, the experience of the finer spiritual states generated in yogic practice bear resemblance for and benefit all humanity.
It would be wonderful to display the efficacy of a yogic practice by enabling the experience of the finer states, leading to superior discrimination, self-regulation, and inner guidance and so on. Knowledge thus acquired under the tutelage of personal experience will allow neither doubt nor contradiction. Ministered by experience, such knowledge embellishes and enlightens life. Contrarily, knowledge deprived of experience, especially in the field of yoga, often stays buried as a burden.
Prior to the achievement of this ideal of attaining the finer spiritual states, one must sincerely ask whether it’s out of fear or a notion to acquire divine gifts, either in this or a world beyond. An individual free from fear or temptation of God is the true seeker; rather the ideal seeker.
A FUNDAMENTAL QUESTION & THE SCIENCE OF YOGA
Experiences at the physical, emotional, mental and spiritual levels can reveal who we truly are. Simple observation says that I need to breathe every moment or have my daily meal for optimal upkeep of the physical body. The mental and emotional needs however do not demand such continuous, daily, fulfilment; while spiritual needs fulfilled once in a lifetime take care of the individual existence. This leads us to logically deduce the importance of fulfilling the needs of the grosser body, the subtle body and the causal body or the soul. In the literature of yoga the three bodies are labelled sthoola sharir, sukshma sharir and kaaran sharir.
Fulfilment of the physical as well as the subtle body’s needs are well known for which various physical exercises including asanas or specialized postures are prescribed in yogic literature. The further upkeep of the subtle body and the boosting of its potential is well known as well, fulfilled through various ways in enriching the mind.
The fundamental question still remains: How to enrich the soul—the causal body or the kaaran sharir? We will take this up towards the end of this essay when we discuss dhyana or meditation leading to samadhi.
The science of yoga thus developed in order to nourish the physical or gross, subtle and causal bodies through five well-defined approaches: Hatha Yoga, Karma Yoga, Jnaana Yoga, Bhakti Yoga and Raja Yoga.
In order to forge ahead towards the centre of our existence, rather than stall at a peripheral physical, grosser or sensual level, the yoga aspirant must dive deeper to the very core of existence. Various ways and means are prescribed in order to reach the noble destination.
Let us first explore our origins. Our consciousness covered up by the ego and fueled by the senses and faculties contributed to our present condition. Without interest or devotion, and knowledge and action, we stagnate in our pursuits, be they worldly or spiritual. Many religious traditions speak of the need for devotion by way of interest or upasana, action or karma and knowledge or jnaana. Moreover, the four basic elements—sadhana-chatusthaya—well noted for the fulfilment of worldly and spiritual pursuits, remain almost the same in most methodologies and spiritual traditions.
1. Discrimination or viveka
To attain viveka, the first sadhana, the seeker must become aware of what is good and what is not for one’s evolution. What is the cause versus what is the effect? What is harmful versus what is beneficial? What is necessary versus what is not? We see many things in the world, but as we ponder over their existence, we find that they are fickle and changeable as circumstances change. We then turn our attention within to go deeper in order to trace out the cause. Our attention is diverted from transitory things to that which is unchanging or eternal and to reach that we adopt a worldly and spiritual life conducive to evolution.
2. Renunciation or vairagya
Known as the second of the four sadhanas, the state of vairagya is also brought about by certain situations. For example, when we are fed up with worldly objects after indulging in them to our heart’s content, we sometimes begin to feel an inward repulsion towards them. In such cases, our attention is naturally diverted towards some nobler ideal and we feel a bit awakened to Godly thought. Secondly, when we have been deeply pricked by the treachery and faithlessness of the world we feel disgusted and inwardly averse to worldly things. Feelings of dissatisfaction and detachment also develop when we are bereaved of a dear one. But vairagya created under such circumstances is seldom genuine or lasting. It soon disappears with the change in adverse circumstances.
A feeling of vairagya actuated by sudden causes is therefore short-lived and sways with circumstances. This is so because a sudden shock, even if it temporarily creates a feeling of vairagya, has to concede to the seed of desires and enjoyments that still lies buried deep within the heart and which may sprout forth immediately when it finds a congenial atmosphere. Renunciation truly means non-attachment with worldly objects and not the non-possession of things.
The feeling of vairagya in the real sense and with lasting results can only be developed after thorough cleaning and due moderation. A close study of the subject will show that that really, viveka and vairagya are not the means or sadhana, but only the result of some means. In the true sense, viveka never develops unless the senses are thoroughly purified. This happens only when the mind gets properly regulated, disciplined and egoism or ahankar assumes a purified state. Thus viveka is the result of practices followed to bring about the desired results. Now vairagya, the second sadhana, is likewise the result of viveka. They are thus the stages of elementary attainment in yoga and not the sadhanas or means of attainment of the stages.
Viveka or vairagya is a state of mind developed at different stages by constant practice of certain yogic means, e.g., remembrance, devotion, love and so on. In the Sahaj Marg system of Raja Yoga, viveka and vairagya are not treated as sadhanas but are left aside to be developed automatically by an aspirant during her progress. It starts from what is known as the third sadhana, which consists of six forms of spiritual attainments known as shat-sampatti. The first of these sampattis—sham—pertains to the peaceful condition of mind leading to a state of calmness and tranquility. When sham is practiced, viveka and vairagya follow automatically.
Vairagya, in the sense of non-existence of things is, in my opinion, a very difficult process as the aspirant has to take a negative stance, discarding or rejecting everything that comes to view. But if the aspirant takes a positive stance, accepting one thing only as the real, and abiding by it wholeheartedly, other things will naturally fall away in the background. Progressively, you, the aspirant, will become unmindful of them, your attachment to them will disappear and you will gain vairagya by the easiest means. The primary objective therefore in yoga is the proper regulation of mind which is ever restless. The mind creates numerous ideas and thoughts, stimulates the senses and faculties and sets the body into action. Everything good or evil originates from the mind and it is the mind alone that governs all our feelings, emotions and impulses.
3. The Shat-sampatti: Sham, Dam, Uparati, Titiksha, Shraddha, Samadhana
3.1 Sham or molding of the mind & Dam or control of the senses
In the Sahaj Marg system of Raja Yoga, the practice starts with sham—the first of the six sampattis of the third sadhana and devote all our attention to the proper molding and regulation of the mind; this is easily accomplished by the help of the transmitted power of a worthy teacher.
3.2 Control of senses or dam follows automatically when we fix our mind on one thing alone, which is the reality, ignoring all others. Generally, most yoga aspirants follow this course, while a few attempt an approach to sham through the practice of karma or action, and others through bhakti or devotion. There are still others who set aside both and proceed on through the medium of jnaana or knowledge.
In fact, the stages of karma, upasana and jnaana are not different from each other but are closely interrelated and exist together in one and the same state. For example, in upasana, regulating of the mind is karma, the regulated state of the mind is upasana and its consciousness is jnaana; in jnaana the process of thinking is karma, staying on the thought-out object is upasana and the resultant state is jnaana; while in karma, the resolve to act is karma, process of bringing it into practice is upasana and consciousness of the achievement is jnaana.
In the Sahaj Marg system of training, therefore, sham and dam are taken up together, while automatically creating the state of viveka and vairagya in the true sense. No practice is really of any avail if it does not naturally result in viveka and vairagya. In the real form of viveka an aspirant begins to realize his own defects and shortcomings and feels repentant deep in his heart.
We have now dealt with the first two sampattis.
3.3 Uparati or self-withdrawal
We now come to the third known sampatti as uparati, which means self-withdrawal. In this state a man is free of all desires, even those pertaining to the next world. He is not charmed or attracted by anything in the world. His mind is all the time centered in one—the real. It differs from the state of vairagya in the sense that vairagya produces a feeling of aversion for worldly objects while uparati is a state in which both the feelings of attraction and repulsion are absent. Vairagya is really the incomplete form of this nobler and higher state. At this stage the yoga aspirant’s mind, senses, jnaana and karma indriyas are completely purified. We begin to feel fed up with all external things and dissociate from them thinking them not to be worthwhile paying any attention to. We are free from the effect of worldly attachment. Even the comforts of “paradise” have no charm to such a person, nor does he feel any attraction for salvation, liberation or other higher ideals.
3. 4 Titiksha or state of fortitude
At this stage the yoga aspirant is perfectly satisfied with what is allotted to him by God with no feeling for injury, insult, condemnation or appreciation.
3.5 Shraddha or faith
The fifth in the sampattis is shraddha or faith—a very high attainment and very different from the preliminary state of artificial faith, which is formed, lost or regained many a time for a variety of reasons. True faith is really an unspeakable virtue which is beyond the scope of religion; it is the dauntless courage which leads a yoga aspirant on to success; it is that ubiquitous force which makes the path smooth; it is in fact the only thing that solves the problem of life.
3.6 Samadhan or self-settledness
The last in the shat-sampattis is samadhan, a state of self-settledness without even the consciousness of it. At this stage a yoga aspirant is perfectly devoted to the Divine without any thought besides.
We have thus dealt with the various attainments of the third sadhana.
We now come to the last of the four sadhanas known as mumukshu. Little remains now to be accomplished when an aspirant comes to this stage except to develop close association with absolute reality or actual merging in the state of non-entity. It is the practical phase of realization and could be achieved after earnest practice of the elementary sadhanas under the old system of yoga.
SAHAJ MARG, THE ZENITH OF YOGA
The modern system of Sahaj Marg diverges from the old path in that Sahaj Marg does not take up the different steps of Ashtanga Yoga, one by one, separately. Under the Sahaj Marg system, asana, pranayama, dharana, dhyana and samadhi are all taken up simultaneously during the course of meditation or dhyana. In due course, meditation leads the aspirant to concentration or the state of samadhi. Thus the aspirant naturally proceeds to samadhi which is the final step of yoga. This is how the soul—the causal body or the kaaran sharir is enriched. The most exalted samadhi can be made possible when yogic transmission guides our consciousness during meditation. One can actually verify the results of meditations done with yogic transmission versus without this transmission. We have thousands of trainers worldwide located in over 110 countries. One can make this services available in person or remotely. You can inquire about presence of such a trainer in your town via either visiting http:/heartspots.heartfulness.org or sending an email to firstname.lastname@example.org. You can also visit heartfulness.org for more information.
Three stages of concentration
There are three forms of samadhi or the stages of concentration. In the first of these a person feels lost or drowned. His senses, feelings and emotions are temporarily suspended in a way that they seem apparently dead for the time being. He resembles a man in a dead slumber, unconscious of everything.
The second form is in which a person, though deeply concentrated on a point, does not feel actually drowned in it. It may be described as a state of consciousness within an unconscious state. Apparently he is not conscious of anything but still consciousness is present within, though only in a shadowy form. A man walks along a road thinking deeply over some problem. He is so absorbed in it that he is unconscious of everything else nor does he see anything in his way nor hears the sounds near about. He walks on in an unconscious state of mind, yet does not collide with a tree by the roadside nor knocked down by a car coming that way. In this state of unconsciousness, he unknowingly attends to these necessities and acts as occasion demands. He has no consciousness of the actions. In this state of mind, the consciousness of other things appears to be in a sleeping state and creates little impression.
The third form is the sahaj samadhi. This is the finest type of concentration. In this state, a man is busy with his work, his mind being absorbed in it, but in the innermost core of his heart he is still settled on the real thing. With his conscious mind he is busy with the external work, while at the same time his subconscious mind is busy with divine thoughts. He is all the while in a state of samadhi although apparently he is busy with worldly work. This is the highest form of samadhi and little remains to be done after a person has entered this state permanently.
Arriving here at this stage, one finally realizes the supreme state so exalted in the ancient texts and by Lord Krishna that through yoga all our actions become skillful – YOGAHA KARMASHU KAUSHALAM!