Chapter 3: The Transcendental Current of Love-Bliss
THE SAMADHIS OF HAPPINESS
“Goal-Samadhis” and Native Happiness
SPIRITUAL MASTER: Yesterday we talked about the difference between the sixth stage realization of the Essence of the self and the Divine Self-Realization of the seventh stage of life.
Another word for Divine Self-Realization is the traditional word “Samadhi.” Samadhi, or conscious and ecstatic identification with the Source or Condition of conditional existence, is the native disposition of manifest being. The samadhis that are proposed as goals in the various paths that seek to solve the problem of life, and that include savikalpa samadhi (or absorption in the objects of the higher mind), nirvikalpa samadhi (or the samadhi of no-mind or transcendence of mind), and jnana samadhi (or the samadhi of the internal Essence of self) – these “goal-samadhis,” the proposed goals of the various stages of life, are conventional states. They are themselves transcended in Sahaj Samadhi and Bhava Samadhi, or the samadhis of our natural or native disposition.
The fourth, fifth, and sixth stage traditions in their conventional forms propose various samadhis as the ultimate goal. Thus, in the fourth stage conventions, savikalpa samadhi is proposed as the goal, or absorption via the higher mind in the Divine Form, which is conceived to be over against oneself and yet a Reality in which the self can be ecstatically absorbed. In the fifth stage, forms of savikalpa samadhi are also proposed by some schools of yoga, but the ultimate goal of the fifth stage is nirvikalpa samadhi, the transcendence of mind and body via the ascent of attention. And in the sixth stage the goal proposed is jnana samadhi, or absorption in and identification with the self-Essence.
I have criticized the orientation of the philosophical discipline of the sixth stage as it is proposed in the traditions of Advaita Vedanta and certain schools of Buddhism because it is associated with a samadhi that is not identical to Ultimate Realization or Enlightenment but rather is limited to absorption in or exclusive identification with the internal self-Essence, the essential quality of conscious being over against or independent of phenomena.
The self-Essence is not the ultimate Realization. Its realization cannot be called “Self-Realization,” even though it is sometimes confused with Self-Realization. True Self-Realization is Realization of the Divine Self or the Transcendental Being. It is the Realization of the equation between atman and Brahman or Paramatman. The essential self is the atman. To identify with the atman is not to Realize the Divine Self or Truth. It is only when the atman is transcended, or Realized in ecstasy to be identical to Brahman, that there is Divine Self-Realization.
The method of Vedanta is the method for achieving identification with the essential self or the atman. This is at best only the first stage in the process of ultimate Awakening. Therefore, I make a clear distinction between the Samadhis of Enlightenment – Sahaj Samadhi and Bhava Samadhi – which express the natural or native disposition of our real existence, and the various samadhis of ascent and inversion, which lead to savikalpa, nirvikalpa, jnana, and so forth. These are the conventional paths, built on the presumption of independent consciousness and the acknowledgment of the world as a problematic condition of existence. They employ various exercises in reaction to phenomenal existence that lead to the ascent of attention in the fourth and fifth stages of life and, in the sixth stage of life, to the ultimate inversion of attention upon its root.
The Way that we consider is the Way of the transcendence of contraction. Thus, it is different from the path that derives from the convention of problems and the manipulation of attention to achieve a higher state free of the presumed dilemma of life. The conventional paths of the fourth, fifth, and sixth stages play upon the problem-contraction. The Way that we consider is the Way of the transcendence of the problem of contraction from the beginning. We do not temporarily adopt a method that plays on the problem-contraction, hoping ultimately to transcend it. The Way that we consider begins in understanding and the direct or unmediated transcendence of the problem-contraction or the conventions of ordinary consciousness.
In this process of transcendence there is natural and immediate identification with Brahman, or the Divine Reality, or the Radiant Transcendental Being, rather than with the separate atman, the essential self, or the attention that springs from the essential self. It is a native Realization rather than a progressive one, or one caused as an effect of a conventional exercise. Through the method of ascent and inversion, what is ultimately achieved is seclusion as the self-Essence. That very result must itself ultimately be transcended, as also any other ordinary state of life. The conventional samadhis-savikalpa, nirvikalpa, and jnana-must be transcended, just as all of the ordinary conditional experiences of the body-mind.
Sahaj Samadhi and Bhava Samadhi are the native expressions of Enlightenment or Divine Realization that express the ecstatic equation between the essential being and the Transcendental Being. To invert upon the essential being is to enter into jnana samadhi. To manipulate the essential being through the mechanism of attention is to realize savikalpa samadhi and nirvikalpa samadhi or, if the method of inversion and ascent is not used, it is to realize the ordinary phenomena of conditional consciousness. Sahaj Samadhi is the Realized equivalent of jnana samadhi and savikalpa samadhi. Bhava Samadhi is the Realized equivalent of jnana samadhi and nirvikalpa samadhi.
In Sahaj Samadhi the process of attention is Siddhi, or spontaneously manifesting Divine Power, but prior to Realization attention is a problematic automaticity with which the usual individual is always struggling. In Sahaj Samadhi the process of attention is still spontaneously arising, but it has the form of a Siddhi. It is not binding in its effect. In Sahaj Samadhi the binding power of attention is transcended, while in Bhava Samadhi the arising motion of attention itself is transcended. In Sahaj Samadhi the individual may spontaneously play the “Crazy” role or seem to serve actively in one manner or another. It is also possible that in Sahaj the quality of Bhava may manifest as a kind of steady inactivity. The individual simply recognizes but does not react or respond to the states and conditions of the body-mind.
Ramana Maharshi is an example of an individual who transcended jnana samadhi. He entered into the disposition of jnana samadhi in the early phase of his Realization, and it developed ultimately into Sahaj Samadhi, the natural state. But he did not become activated in any worldly role, certainly, nor in any conventional teaching role. He expressed the quality of steadiness, or Sahaj Samadhi in the mood of Bhava, and was relatively inactive. Others in the condition of Sahaj Samadhi act like “Crazy Wise Men.” They are very active, often unconventional and wild, and they serve people in that mood or attitude.
DEVOTEE: I had just assumed that so many saints who had realized nirvikalpa also were basically inactive.
SPIRITUAL MASTER: Certainly the nirvikalpa state itself is motionless. It is described in the traditional texts as a state in which the individual looks like he has become stone or wood, lifeless as if dead and yet still alive. The body can also die in nirvikalpa, but very often an individual remains in nirvikalpa, and the life-impulse is still kept in the body. People serve that body to help keep it alive, they feed it and so forth, and sometimes, when this nirvikalpa state is permanent, there is no return to outward-directed consciousness. The person remains as if in a coma. In other cases, there is a slight descent of attention so that the person seems obviously conscious but may not speak or be physically active. The Poondiswami is an example of somebody like this. He was kept alive by devotees. The body would have died eventually, probably by starvation and the abuses of Nature, but he was found by devotees and kept alive.
Ramakrishna wandered through various states. He passed between savikalpa and nirvikalpa quite frequently and often also returned to a rather ordinary state of consciousness, moving back and forth among them all. This movement created his particular point of view. He examined all the philosophical propositions of the various traditions and saw that they were true when viewed from the point of view of one or another kind of consciousness.
Thus, from the point of view of nirvikalpa the absolute monistic propositions seem true. From the point of view of savikalpa, the theistic view of the world seems true. From the point of view of the conditional state of consciousness, relatively sattvic or relatively degraded, other conceptions of Reality seem obvious. Therefore, Ramakrishna said all paths are true, even all points of view are true, because they all derive from states of consciousness.
Ramakrishna represents a class of saints who are founded essentially in the fourth stage point of view and who wander through various states of consciousness that belong to the fourth and fifth stages. He did not enter into the sixth stage realization, although he exhibited some intuition like it, but he was not disposed to it most fundamentally. The sixth stage realization is not a matter of nirvikalpa. Ramakrishna achieved nirvikalpa, which can be understood and interpreted from the point of view of Vedantic monism or Advaita. But it is not the same samadhi that is characteristic of the sixth stage.
Jnana samadhi is characteristic of the sixth stage process, and it is not a matter of the ascent of attention into nirvikalpa but of overcoming the root of attention in the heart. Ramana Maharshi is an example of an individual who realized jnana samadhi, and I also have spoken of it (as well as savikalpa and nirvikalpa) in my own case.
The sixth stage realization of jnana samadhi is associated with the heart, the fifth stage realization of nirvikalpa is associated with the crown of the head, the sahasrar, and the states of savikalpa are associated with the ajna center, the high brain centers, the centers of the higher mind that have their reference in the brain below the sahasrar.
The sixth stage method in Hinayana Buddhism imitates Sahaj Samadhi and the sixth stage method of Vedanta imitates Bhava Samadhi. In the Hinayana method of mindfulness, attention is kept on phenomena without inverting upon the conscious being. Rather, the conscious being continues in relationship with phenomena, simply noticing and observing them. This method imitates the characteristics of Sahaj Samadhi, although it does not achieve Sahaj Samadhi itself. It ultimately achieves something like jnana samadhi or identification with the Essence of the conscious being. In the Vedantic method, attention is inverted upon the conscious being. This method imitates Bhava Samadhi or absorption in the Self prior to all noticing of objects, although it does not achieve Bhava Samadhi. Rather, it also achieves jnana samadhi.
But both of these sixth stage methods are involved in the self-Essence or atman, even though the atman as a category is denied any fundamental or permanent status in the Buddhist philosophy. From a philosophical point of view, what is ultimately realized through these sixth stage methods is unqualified and objectless conscious being rather than egoic consciousness. Atman simply means conscious being, but the conscious being of the individual. The atman is the Essence, the consciousness, the conscious being of the individual. Paramatman or Brahman is the Transcendental Self, the Divine Self, which is not merely the base of the individual body-mind but is the base of the entire manifest world, visible and invisible.
Sahaj Samadhi is not itself a matter of or a result of trying to witness instead of responding to or reacting to or identifying with conditions. Nor is Bhava Samadhi a result of trying not to notice conditions. The method of either trying to witness, as in Buddhism or trying not to notice, as in Vedanta, is precisely the exercise of the sixth stage ideals. The conventional methods, their attitudes and problems and their acquired states, must be transcended.
This principle is recognized even in the Vedantic tradition in such texts as the Tripura Rahasya . In that text the wife acts as the Guru to her husband, who realizes the Vedantic or Advaitic goal. But as he sits like stone with his eyes closed, she mocks him until he Awakens to Sahaj Samadhi, to the identity of atman and Brahman, in which there is no need to separate from phenomena. Thus, the transcendence of the sixth stage method and of jnana samadhi is acknowledged even in certain forms of the Vedantic tradition.
In the Buddhist tradition, such transcendence is also acknowledged, particularly in the Vajrayana schools and in certain aspects of Mahayana, and it is acknowledged in all of the schools of tantric Buddhism, the schools of the Mahasiddhas, and so forth. If these methods and their attitudes and problems and their acquired states or samadhis are transcended, there is Sahaj Samadhi or natural and native identification of atman with Brahman rather than savikalpa samadhi, nirvikalpa samadhi, or jnana samadhi, which are states of the independent atman. On the basis of this natural Sahaj Samadhi or Realization of the Divine or Transcendental Self, there is spontaneous recognition of all arising conditions as non-binding, transparent, unnecessary modifications of the Divine Self. This process of recognition, which is spontaneous or natural in Sahaj Samadhi, becomes Bhava Samadhi. It is through the process of recognition in Sahaj Samadhi that Bhava Samadhi appears.
From the point of view of this Way that I consider with you, we must first understand Narcissus or the self-contraction and Awaken to Divine Ignorance, and on this basis be converted in feeling-attention to trust or faith, love and surrender, or constant sacrifice into the Radiant Transcendental Being in all functional occasions of the body-mind. This process of sacrifice may proceed by stages, thus accounting for and transcending all of the fourth, fifth, and sixth stage conventions, until Sahaj Samadhi and then Bhava Samadhi.
DEVOTEE: Master, is it possible to remain in Sahaj Samadhi, to be stuck there, so to speak?
SPIRITUAL MASTER: There is no question of being stuck in Sahaj Samadhi, because it is not a stage of limitation. It is the Realization of Truth but not dissociated from phenomena. Phenomena are simply recognizable from the point of view of Sahaj. Therefore, not only does the present lifetime continue, but there may also be future births, but because the being is Awakened to the Truth, those lifetimes are liberated lifetimes. The process of Enlightenment may occur again and again, life after life.
If the process of recognition in Sahaj Samadhi becomes most intense, most profound, it becomes Bhava Samadhi or the Outshining of phenomena, the Outshining of the process of attention. Then there is no migration from life to life, because the process of attention no longer springs forth spontaneously. Rather, attention is infinitely extended, fulfilled in the Transcendental Being, so that it does not move to a higher world or a lower world. It does not go anywhere. It simply is what it is. It simply is the Reality, the Fullness of the Divine. There is no question of migration, therefore, from that “point of view.”
As long as there is the motion of attention, phenomenal configurations tend to arise. That tendency appears as an automaticity in ordinary beings who are not Awakened. Their experience is determined by the tendencies that they establish in their self-possessed mode. But for those who are in Sahaj Samadhi, neither the arising of attention nor the arising of conditions is an impediment. The arising world is a spontaneous and “Crazy” Play. Such beings are born as other beings are born, but they live an Enlightened lifetime and serve others in the Enlightened disposition.
Samadhi or Enlightened Realization is not merely detachment or dissociation from the world of pleasure or from the process of self-indulgent exploitation of the world. Samadhi or Enlightened Realization is not merely detachment from the world of pain and suffering, nor is it the fulfillment of the introverted reaction to the world that seeks to negate or escape the conditions of manifest existence. Samadhi or Enlightened Realization transcends positive or pleasurable conditions or habits of response and extroversion as well as negative or painful conditions or habits of reaction and introversion.
Truly Enlightened Realization or Samadhi has nothing to do with the conditions and conventions of manifest existence or any positive response or negative reaction to them. It is natural and native Realization of the sublime Reality or ultimate Bliss of existence itself. All conditions are nothing but a transparent, non-binding, unnecessary play upon ultimate existence itself. When they are recognized as such, Sahaj Samadhi is the expression of Realization, and when all conditions are Outshined beyond all noticing by the Blissful Reality, Bhava Samadhi is the expression of Realization.
You should understand, therefore, that this seventh stage disposition is a matter of the Realization of Sahaj Samadhi, or native identification with the Radiant Transcendental Being, not merely the samadhis of attention or the samadhi of the essential self. The way of life from the seventh stage point of view, the Way of life in the Way of Radical Intuition, is simply to abide in Sahaj Samadhi and naturally recognize conditions as they arise. This is the entire practice. Ultimately, there is no other practice than Realization itself, and Realization is a matter of natural or native Identification with the Radiant Transcendental Being. On that basis there is spontaneous recognition of phenomena. This is the Siddhi of Enlightenment in the seventh stage.
The practice of Enlightenment, therefore, is a matter of abiding in Sahaj Samadhi and recognizing conditions as they arise until Bhava Samadhi is perfected. There is no goal in the seventh stage to achieve Bhava Samadhi, which is the natural ultimate expression of Sahaj Samadhi. Sahaj Samadhi is not in any sense a lesser Realization. It is the same Realization expressed in terms of phenomenal existence. Therefore, the Spiritual Master may live in Sahaj Samadhi, which is simply natural or native identification with the Divine Being, in which the process of attention arises as a spontaneous Siddhi, creating a lifetime of auspicious signs that does auspicious work for other beings.
The characteristics of Sahaj Samadhi will vary from individual to individual. Some are wilder than others, some seem more conventional than others, some appear to live in a rather steady state with much of the quality of Bhava Samadhi, essentially inactive. Many roles may be played by Enlightened beings, but they are played in the disposition of Sahaj Samadhi. And when recognition becomes most intense, the conditions of attention are Outshined, and there is naturally no noticing. It is not that one strives not to notice, but the lack of noticing is the natural expression of recognition in its most intense form. Likewise, the process of recognition is a Siddhi, a spontaneous expression of Sahaj Samadhi and it is this Siddhi of recognition that produces the forms of Transfiguration and Transformation in the seventh stage.
Bhava Samadhi is Translation. The extraordinary bodily dissolution that may occur in that case is a sign projected upon Man that expresses the ultimate future of human existence. If all beings continued in Sahaj Samadhi forever, ultimately the entire world and all bodies would dissolve or be Outshined by the Transcendental Reality. But as a matter of fact, in the case of individual beings, Translation will occur essentially in the Realized form of Bhava Samadhi. There may be kinds of physical dissolution associated with the death of certain extraordinary individuals, but these are not Translation in the highest sense. They are phenomenal events in which the physical is dissolved into the more subtle elementals.
In the course of my own sadhana, I entered into all of the conventional samadhis of the fourth, fifth, and sixth stages. Because of the particular force of the Way that was spontaneously generated in me, all of these samadhis were realized to be limitations and were passed beyond. I did not enter into them on the basis of adherence to the practices or the traditions that seek those states as goal. Thus, when they arose, the natural, spontaneous force of my own sadhana, which has been generated since birth, overcame them. I have described how nirvikalpa samadhi was attained under the circumstances of my meeting with Swami Muktananda, Swami Nityananda, and Rang Avadhoot, and I experienced many occasions of savikalpa samadhi or levels of subtle absorption.
The realization of jnana samadhi was also associated with various moments in my life including the death experience at the seminary, and jnana samadhi was overcome in the Vedanta Temple event. Likewise, forms of jnana samadhi arose just previous to the Vedanta Temple event. There are many incidents of samadhis that are not mentioned in The Knee of Listening . I experienced countless samadhis in my daily practice for years, so many that they could not all be described in the literature I have produced. I mention certain outstanding examples of these kinds of samadhis, but also I describe them in terms of their philosophical significance and how they were transcended in the further course of my sadhana.
The event at the Vedanta Temple is associated with the Realization of Sahaj Samadhi, which transcends jnana, nirvikalpa, and savikalpa, all the visionary states, all the exclusive states, all the conventions of Realization, all association with the inward essence of being. In Sahaj Samadhi the essential being, the body-mind, and all conditions are Realized to be inhering in and transparent to the Transcendental Divine.
On a number of occasions I have pointed out to you that “I” is the body-mind. It is the body talking, but the “I” points to the conscious being. It is in the transcendence of the “I” that the conscious being is realized, but the “I” itself is simply the body-mind. The body-mind, therefore, points to the conscious being, means the conscious being. The conscious being in and of itself is simply the atman, the essence of individual existence. We must awaken the essence of individual existence to the Condition of the essential being. The atman must realize its equation with Brahman or Paramatman.
In the past-and today-I have mentioned certain equations in the philosophical tradition of high Hinduism. One is the equation between atman and Brahman. Self-Realization is the Realization of this equation, not merely the Realization of the atman, which is expressed though jnana samadhi in the sixth stage. One such equation begins, “There is only Brahman, the world is not real.” But there is a third part to that equation: “Brahman is the world.” Very often the Advaitic system is criticized, and its practitioners are called “mayavadins.” They believe in the unreality of the world, and this belief is criticized as a philosophical impediment. But the Vedantic System rests on the total equation. There is only Brahman, and the world is (as an independent condition) unreal, but Brahman is the world . This last is a necessary part of the presumption. “Brahman is the world” is the same as “Nirvana and samsara are the same.” It is an ecstatic presumption based on the Realization of the equation between atman and Brahman or atman and Paramatman. Ultimately these philosophical equations can be seen to be the equivalents of the equations found in the later traditions of Buddhism.
In the course of some traditional sadhana, the ecstatic transition would have to be made. We can see how it was made in the case of Ramana Maharshi, for instance. But in the course of our Way of practice, we do not achieve the samadhis of conventional existence as a goal. We are not oriented to them as if they are the proper results of practice. Rather, from the beginning our orientation to practice transcends all phenomenal conditions. Because the conscious process is always going beyond, then even though we practice in the fourth, and the fifth, and sixth stage modes, the conscious process always transcends the phenomena conventionally associated with each level of conditional existence.
Now it is obviously likely that people practicing this way will enter into states of savikalpa, nirvikalpa, and jnana, but the disposition expressed through the conscious process of this practice will always pass beyond those states. They will be recognizable and transcendable. The force of your practice as you conceive of it from the very beginning is always passing beyond these limiting conditions of the self. This is precisely how the various stages work in our Way. They are not stages of conventional traditional exercise leading to the usual results, which then somehow or other you must undo. Rather, the conventional stages of human development occur quite naturally in the process of this Way, but the Way itself is a conscious exercise that transcends the limiting containers of phenomenal awareness.
Thus, in a natural manner Sahaj Samadhi is Realized in this Way. We need not trick ourselves out of the lesser samadhis, in order to Realize Sahaj Samadhi. Sahaj is the natural expression of even the fourth stage practice and likewise of every other stage of practice in our Way. These conventions of the body-mind do in fact arise quite naturally, and they arise in a sequence because they express the natural development of self-awareness in higher and higher forms. Therefore, it is quite natural to move from the fourth stage of this Way to the fifth and into the sixth and then to the seventh. But the process itself is always transcending phenomenal limits.
DEVOTEE: Master, do nirvikalpa and jnana and savikalpa occur for the individual who has Realized Sahaj Samadhi? I have often wondered if Ramana Maharshi saw the “blue pearl,” or was his Realization so profound that if visions did arise they were simply understood from the point of view of Sahaj Samadhi?
SPIRITUAL MASTER: From his recorded conversations it does not seem that he experienced much of mystical phenomena. He experienced some occasional extraordinary states of bi-location, for instance, in a dream. He saw himself as if in a dream, somewhere else, relating to some devotee or other. He appeared to himself as if in a dream, but the devotee later told him he had seen him in that place at that time. This is an example of an uncommon experience, but he did not apparently experience mystical states such as internal lights and sounds-at least he does not report them. But this does not mean that they were prohibited by his condition of existence. They could very well have arisen like some state relative to the body in the natural gross world. They just did not, by report, at any rate.
DEVOTEE: Are they just not necessary?
SPIRITUAL MASTER: There is no binding force in the being to trap attention in such phenomena. They may arise quite naturally, but they are utterly recognizable and transparent. They have no significance, no binding power, there is no lust for them, there is no great desire for them. There is a natural quality of identification with the Fullness of the Divine Being, the Divine Self, which Outshines all phenomenal possibilities, so that whatever phenomenal possibilities do in fact arise have none of the binding quality of the usual desire, which moves attention as an automaticity and is always associated with binding emotions.
Thus, any of the samadhis of ordinary existence can arise in Sahaj. Visions can arise in Sahaj Samadhi, nirvikalpa can arise. Obviously the sense of the essential self remains, but it is transcended as a structure in the native disposition of Sahaj Samadhi. It is recognizable and therefore has no binding quality. It is as if it does not exist, because it does not bind at all. It has no implication. It is completely transparent.
In the traditional setting, where a problem is conceived and the being seeks to solve it through various exoteric and esoteric exercises, these samadhis are sought as a goal. In our Way they may arise, but they are not pursued as a goal. Rather, a simple exercise which is self-transcending is performed from the very beginning, and in that self-transcending disposition, in the equanimity that arises naturally in the self-transcending disposition, Sahaj may be Realized spontaneously, by Grace of the Divine Being.
But it is a profound transformation, and an expression of it is that all phenomena become recognizable as nothing but modifications of the One Self. One is no longer the ordinary interior, separate personality, separate self. One is utterly identified with the Universal and Transcendental Self, and everything that arises is tacitly obvious as nothing but a modification of That. The Self to which everything points is the Divine Self, and that is the Self with which the being is Identified. He or she is no longer identified with the atman but with Paramatman. This Realization, rather than any intellectual exercise, makes everything recognizable, completely obvious, as conditions arising in Consciousness, which is not inside here but Infinite.
Thus, in Sahaj Samadhi the being exists in the Divine Domain, the Transcendental Domain of Radiant Being, in which there is nothing lacking. It is not a matter of being associated with interior consciousness and feeling that you need not bother with phenomena. It is a condition of extreme Bliss, perfect Happiness. It is all-sufficient. There are no limitations in it. There are no threats. It does not support the conventional psychology of egoic trouble.
The Happiest of beings are those who seem to have the least to do with life. They have committed themselves to Happiness. The great Sages and Adepts are not committed to un-Happiness, although they do not necessarily look like they are doing what other people think we must do to be Happy. They keep the being in Happiness, in Bliss, constantly. That is their commitment. They are not interested in being un-Happy. They do not see any reason to be un-Happy, so they just stop choosing what is un-Happy