Swami Rama Tirtha on Samadhi

Swami Rama Tirtha made a list of samadhi-meditations on Knowledge. In some of these there may still be a shadowy knowing process, and known object, but they are no longer real. He calls them vikalpa, which means a theoretical and illusory construct.

Shankara uses a pair of terms: with-vikalpa (sa-vikalpa) and without-vikalpa (nir-vikalpa). The term Brahman-with-vikalpa emphasises, that supposed attributes of Brahman the Absolute, are in fact Maya-illusion; Brahman-without-vikalpa means the Absolute without illusory attributes. Rama Tirtha adopted the extended use of the terms in his samadhi chart.

One of the with-vikalpa samadhis is merely to watch unmoved the changing world, as it’s Light so to say. He calls this a Phenomenal samadhi. Another, which he calls Noumenal, is to meditate: “I am Existence-Consciousness-Bliss”. Another, the world and its values are accepted as a Sport and the yogi takes part in that world.

In the with-vikalpa meditations, some shadowy appearances still arise from unfulfilled karma-involvements of the past; no new ones are created, but the momentum of the past ones may persist for a time. The individual self, said Dr Shastri, becomes like a burnt handkerchief – the form goes on for a little but there is nothing solid there. The Universal Self alone remains, a mass of light and bliss.

In the text called Gaudapada’s Karikas, that teacher reassures would-be yogis who are frightened at the idea of transcendence and going beyond their individual self. They fear that it would be an oblivion, like falling asleep, or losing consciousness. He explains the point in terms of the sanskara seedbed at the base of the mind.

Sanskaras are dynamic latent impressions, laid down by past actions, and not normally accessible to conscious inspection. He says that a mind trained in samadhi remains in control when it enters the realm of sanskaras, whereas in sleep, there is no control. So the sleeping man’s mind is dispersed, at the mercy of sanskaras of ordinary delusive life, which consequently form a thick veil. But not so in practised samadhi. It may resemble sleep and such states in that the mind is largely withdrawn from the senses and the mind is not moving in thoughts. But the sanskaras are becoming purer and thinned out, so that streaks of the cosmic light of intelligence find their way through. Perhaps Goethe was referring to his own discovery of this when he wrote to Humboldt: “The secret of inspiration is, consciously to enter the unconscious.”

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