[Advaita-l] Vedanta and Nirvikalka Samadhi - Part I
kuntimaddisada at yahoo.com
Wed Jul 8 00:49:56 CDT 2015
PraNAms: A sincere seeker in Facebook had series of discussions on the above topic. I am posting his final post and my response in parts for those who are interested.
After asking series of question related to Nirvikalpaka samAdhI, Vedanta, and moksha he posted the following statement:
Question on the relationship between knowledge and meditation/samAdhI:
The Rishis themselves discovered Vedic knowledge in meditation, yet Vedantins say this cannot happen. I have heard it explained that in a previous kalpa, or cycle of creation, they were taught by a living guru, and then reincarnated in this kalpa to start the cycle again. This is not found in Shruti however. Also, we have the story of Dakshinamurti. If that is to be taken literally however, Dakshinamurti did not teach in spoken words at all, he was silent. So saying that yogic samadhi is never a means of knowledge, and it is only found through words continues to mystify. The Rishis had a "mystical experience," and with continued practice and exploration, they also had a teaching methodology. It occurs to me that this may be a replicable process through the system of yoga, and other methods. This does not in any way discount or discredit the teaching method of Vedanta, but it does mean that it would not be the one and only means of knowledge of the Self.
The following is the response being posted in many parts.
What you wrote may be true. I have no way to prove or disprove. I will summarize your questions as follows:
Questions from our point is –1. Is study of Vedanta necessary for self-realization
2. Is meditation a means of self-realization 3. What is involved in nirvikalpa samadhi?
I am going to present my understanding for whatever that is worth. Please think along with me; you can accept it or reject it, if it does not make any sense. First we need to understand the problem before we even sit for meditation.
First some basic concepts:
1. Self is all-pervading and infinite; and of the nature of pure consciousness, says Vedanta – prajnaanam brahma – consciousness is infinite. Its intrinsic nature is pure-existence-consciousness-limitless; and limitless itself is happiness, since any limitations cause unhappiness. Brahman being infinite, it is one without a second. From its reference, no realization is needed as it is self-existing and self-fulfilled. For the purpose of our discussion let us call this absolute as pure or original consciousness (OC). In Advaita it is called paaramaarthikam.
2. Who am I then? Since Brahman is one without a second and since I am conscious-existent entity, by definition, I cannot be different from Brahman. Brahman is infinite, but I do not feel I am infinite. In fact, I feel limited and unhappy all the time. I am limited time-wise, space-wise and object-wise (desha-kaala-vastu parichhnnatvam), and all my struggles in life are to gain absolute happiness or I want to be fulfilled all the time.
Logically one can establish that the happiness that I am longing for actually comes from myself only; Vedanta also echoes this fact. That is, I am fulfilled all the time. If I am already full and happy as I am, then why am I searching for happiness, if asked, Vedanta says you are a) ignorant of your intrinsic nature; and 2) therefore take yourself to be the limited body, mind and intellect (BMI), and 3) then try to become infinite or become full by gaining this or that. Thus everyone is trying to solve a problem where there is really no problem; this very seeking for happiness or becoming full has itself became a problem. This, in essence, is samsaara or cause for suffering.
The ignorance of myself is called fundamental or primordial ignorance or muula avidya, and like any other ignorance it is beginning-less. Taking myself to be limited ‘this’, this being BMI, I have been trying to become limitless or absolutely happy, spending life after life; thus trying to solve a problem created by ignorance of my true nature. Only solution to the problem, therefore, is to recognize my true nature – that ends all seeking; since I recognize or realize that I am full as myself therefore happy as I am. End of all problem. For one who has realized that he is happy as he is, the problems at the transactional level then becomes a drama, where an actor, knowing very well that he is a millionaire, still plays the role of a beggar in the scene, and in fact better than a real beggar. The drama of life goes on even for a sage. For him it is a drama, for others it is real.
Ignorance of the self can only be removed by knowledge of the self, just as the ignorance of chemistry, which is also beginning-less can only be removed by knowledge of Chemistry. When I say I do not know this or that, we are referring to the lack of knowledge of this or that, in the intellect. Hence locus of ignorance is our own intellect; however, taking myself to be the intellect, I say I am ignorant of this or that, including chemistry or even the true nature of myself. In essence I am, which is pure existent-conscious entity, identifying myself with this limited intellect claims that I am ignorant of Chemistry or now a knower of Chemistry; and like-wise I am knower or ignorant of myself. Only difference between objective knowledge and self-knowledge is in the former case, there is subject-object duality, while in the latter case this reality of the duality ceases, since the subject knower and the object known are understood to be one and the same.
While many technical terms are used to provide this in finer details, for our purpose the above distinction is sufficient; and there is no need to complicate the issues more than required. It is like scientist who understands that everything is nothing but electrons, protons and neutrons; but yet at transactional level still eats only delicious food, rejecting garbage; even though fundamentally they are the same
Continued in the next part.
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