Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Yoga Sutras - Part 5

Although the Yoga Sutras class series ended Wednesday, November 23, I made the commitment to continue these articles until I felt satisfied we had surveyed all four of the books (padas) of Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras. Hence this is Part 5 of the blog article series.

Book 2 is called Sadhana Pada. Whereas the sutras of Book 1 (Samadhi Pada) largely deal with the attributes of superconsciousness, Book 2 deals with the disciplines, practices, and attitudes necessary to achieve superconsciousness.

Before I go on, however, I’d like to comment on terminology. Throughout the sutras, and especially Book 1, the term samadhi is used. Just now I used the term “superconsciousness.” The two terms are not necessarily the same. In Yogananda’s teachings the term samadhi refers to the state sometimes known as cosmic consciousness: a state wherein the soul achieves Oneness with God, with Infinity. That state has a preliminary and temporary stage called sabikalpa and a final and permanent stage called nirbikalpa samadhi. But as previously described in a prior blog article Patanjali uses the term to describe several levels. In fact in translations from Sanskrit the term is sometimes translated simply as “concentration!”

In Book 1 when Patanjali describes at some length the interaction between the Knower, the knowing, and the object, the equivalency of concentration for samadhi seems close enough. In the state of cosmic consciousness there is no object, no knowing and no knower, for they are One. It strikes me that Patanjali’s use of the term samadhi is larger, broader, and somewhat looser than Yogananda’s. Hence my ambivalence in these articles in my own usage.

Superconsciousness, by contrast, is used by Yogananda (it may have even been his own term, though I am not sure of that) to describe the state of the soul and especially its attributes which are eight in number (listed in Part 4, the previous blog article). It is a state of intuitive perception that goes beyond the body and the senses and which perceives through the sixth sense: intuition. It is not samadhi as Yogananda uses the term. 
But a state of superconsciousness is part of the states described by Patanjali.

Sadhana Pada begins by defining “kriya yoga.” What Patanjali defines as kriya yoga are practices that are, in fact, aspects of the niyamas (the second stage of the 8-Fold Path, or right action). To we who are disciples of Paramhansa Yogananda and kriyabans (practitioners of the technique Yogananda taught which he and his line of gurus termed “Kriya Yoga”), this is all rather confusing. The practice of austerity (self-control, or tapaysa), Self-study (swadhaya), and nishkam karma (action without desire for the fruits of action, ascribing all action to God as the Doer) are certainly aspects of the yogic path but do not, by themselves, appear to describe Kriya Yoga insofar as it is an advanced breath control meditation technique that Yogananda made famous throughout the world in his teachings and his autobiography!

In his life story, “Autobiography of a Yogi,” Yogananda, in a footnote, explains that by using the term “kriya yoga” Patanjali was referring to the exact technique taught by Babaji or a similar technique. He goes on to  write that the reference to kriya as a life force control technique is proved by verse 49 of Book 2 which he translates as “Liberation can be accomplished by that pranayama which is attained by disjoining the course of inspiration and expiration (inhalation and exhalation).” This translation seems loosely formed even if, for all of that, clearer and more accurate as to its meaning. The literal translation of Verse 49 seems mostly to define “pranayama” as the fourth stage of the 8-Fold Path wherein breath is controlled, meaning transcended. Close enough.

Either way, this illustrates either Yogananda’s stretching a point to make a point or, as I prefer, demonstrates the necessity of having a true guru to explain and interpret the scriptures, and especially their deeper and more immediate meaning. Yogananda’s translation fits neatly into the clinical approach take by Patanjali throughout the sutras.

In Verse 2 Patanjali states that kriya yoga leads to samadhi and freedom from suffering. This is, at minimum, a hint that the term refers to something more than austerity, study, and selfless action as those terms (and practices) are commonly understood.

He then goes on to list the psychological attributes that lead to pain as being ignorance, egoity, attachment, aversion and clinging to life. As the verses of Book 2 proceed it is clear that he is establishing a link between the seeds of past action, suffering, and karma. Ignorance comes first and is the foundation for all the other attributes, he writes. Ignorance mistakes the ephemeral for the eternal. Egoity mistakes the soul for the body and its senses (the “instrument of seeing”). Attachment dwells on pleasure and aversion upon pain, while clinging to life is to abide in (to hold fast to) the present form and is derived from past experience of change, especially the great change we call death.

These are conquered by “resolving them” into their causal state. To quote Yogananda’s counsel, he said that a kriya yogi should “cognize breath as an act of mind,” in other words, as a thought, merely. By dissolving the thought, the object vanishes. This is rather subtle, to say the least, but let me try.

Every time we experience one or more of the five senses, say, we smell incense, we are in fact engaging in a mental act. The sense stimuli come to the brain via the organs of sense, say the olfactory nerves, and are noticed, then analyzed, then identified, categorized, and then judged by the mind. “Ah, I LOVE the smell of incense!” Truly, therefore, “it’s all in your head.” If you were asleep you would presumably not smell the incense. This isn’t to say that there is no reality to the smell of incense. It is to point out that without the functions of your mind, you could smell incense.

To a yogi, therefore, who attains full conscious control of otherwise autonomic functions, including the power to turn off the five senses at will in a state of deep meditation, the process is one of dismissing the sensory input and especially the mind’s interest in and response to that input. So the yogi who dissolves the reactive process of attachment and aversion, who dissolves the egoity that arises from awareness and identification with the body and the senses, and overcomes the clinging to that body has, by definition, and if only during that state, banishes false Prince Ignorance from the throne of soul  consciousness.

The clinical key to transcendence resides in controlling the mind and transcending its body-bound, matter-dependent, sense-dependent functionings. The creation is a dream, or thought, but not a subjective one of our making but a relatively objective one of the cosmic Dreamer. To banish the dream is not to dissolve the dream on its level but in relation to our consciousness. The objective reality of the creation is but a thought in the mind of the observer AS IT RELATES to the observer. The yogi can banish the world of the senses once he cognizes that, for him, it is merely a thought because it takes the cognizing functions of the mind to perceive it. In fact, we are all yogis at night when we sleep for then we banish the dream world of this world from our awareness. More on this later.

Well, like I said — I’d try.

Thus Verse 10, Book 2 concludes that by meditation the gross modifications (motions and appearances) of the world are rejected. Through Verse 15 Patanjali speaks obliquely about the law of karma and the samskaras (tendencies) caused by past action. In Verse 15 he says that to the yogi all is painful because he knows, in advance that: 1) the consequence of desire impelled action is its opposite; 2) in pleasant circumstances he knows it will have to end; or 3) after the pleasure of indulgence has past, the memory will bring fresh renewed sense cravings,  and  4) in all events the law of duality means everything has to balance to zero! Whew!

I recall that in an extraordinary movie about Padre Pio (the Italian stigmatic of the twentieth century), he turns to his confessor and says, without explanation or context, and in a whisper as if a secret that cannot be spoken aloud: “it is all sin, Angelino!” He doesn’t mean this in the judgmental, sin-oriented way of fundamentalists. He is speaking as a yogi, as a Shankhya-yogi (one who pierces the veil of maya – delusion). “All is maya,” he is saying: pleasure, pain, success, failure, health, disease and so on. It doesn’t matter! Any attachment we have has to be paid for: sooner, or later. 

In Verse 17 Patanjali “nails it” when he says that the cause of delusion, the cause of misery, and that which is to be avoided is the “junction of the Seer and the seen.” Yogananda frequently quoted Krishna in the Bhagavad Gita (another example of his overarching wisdom, for this quote cannot be found in the Gita!) saying to Arjuna: “Get away, oh Arjuna, from my ocean suffering and misery!” In the Self, alone and untainted by duality, the Seer is One. But as the mind cognizes objects, internal or external, revealed by chitta (consciousness modified by the lower mind’s contact with the senses and objects of the senses, whether past, present or in imagination), the Seer takes on these modifications (of chitta) and becomes colored or stained by them.

This sounds all pretty “heavy” except that as Yogananda would put it: with God all is fun; without God, it is anything but fun!” When we know this life to be but a dream, we can enjoy the show with the eyes of God.
Patanjali goes on to clinical define that which is “seen” as composed of the elements and the organs, and the interplay of the three gunas, or qualities of nature (Prakriti) which alternatingly illuminate, energize or hide the eternal Spirit who plays them all. Patanjali says that this play, this drama, is carried on for the experience (entertainment) of the Seer and for the ultimate release (freedom-moksha) of the Seer from identification with the drama.

He goes further in Verse 23 to turn the problem into the solution, for he states that this drama is necessary for the soul’s Self realization: the junction of the seen (Prakriti, or nature) and the Seer (soul, or Purusha) is the necessary perquisite to Self-realization. Discrimination practiced with unceasing vigilance is what is needed. Or as Krishna put it in the Bhagavad Gita, the soul cannot achieve the actionless state (of the Seer) by refusing to take action (engage with the seen).

Self-realization is achieved in seven stages: the first four eliminate past karma and are intuition born knowledge of Shankhya (essential maya of creation), cessation of suffering, samadhi and constant illumination (flowing of knowledge about all things). The latter three bring complete freedom from considering thoughts as having any reality, from this no more thoughts arise to create more reactive processes, and at last one achieves the permanent state of unbroken union with Spirit.

As we now have arrived at Verse 29: the stages of Ashtanga (8-Fold Path) – the most famous of the sutras of Patanjali – we will stop here!


Nayaswami Hriman

Monday, December 5, 2011

Yoga Sutras - Part 4

On Wednesday evening, the night before Thanksgiving, we completed class 4 of this Fall’s Yoga Sutras class. After the Thanksgiving holiday weekend I took a week of personal retreat and now, upon my return, I will continue with this series on the Yoga Sutras. Therefore, as with Class 3, I am writing this blog article AFTER rather than before the class (as I have done typically since beginning this blog).

I can’t say we got much further but we did at least venture into the Sutras book 2, Sadhana Pada. Since my guru, Paramhansa Yogananda said he was only permitted to study twelve sutras by his guru, Swami Sri Yukteswar, I feel exonerated that we did not get very far. Later on I shall explain why.

We began the last class by going back to last week’s four stages of samprajnata samadhi and attempting to create a suggested meditation routine from them. I did this in order to help make the sutras more practical for all of us and to show that however esoteric the sutras seem to get, they are based in actual inner experience which we can all attempt to access.

While sitting, therefore, in meditation try this experiment based on Yogananda’s commentary on Book 1, Verse 17: “Samadhi endowed with right knowledge is that which is attended by reasoning (savitarka), discrimination (savichara) bliss (sananda), and unqualified ego (asmita).” These are four stages of meditation which ensue from achieving “dharana,” the 6th stage of the 8-Fold Path of enlightenment:
1.       Meditate upon an object of contemplation and devotion thusly: one’s Ishta Devata or personal image of perfection or devotion, or an impersonal aspect of divine consciousness. For the former it might the image of one’s guru, Divine Mother, or deity. For the latter, it might the desired goal of inner peace, bliss or joy, the inner Light. Visualize your object or state of meditation and goal. Take your time to create and then concentrate upon this image.
2.       Extract from your image and contemplation those attributes of your object of contemplation that you seek. For example, the guru’s love or the feeling of contentment or satisfaction derived from inner peace. Rest in the knowing of the truth and value of these aspects as worthwhile, true, and lasting, and as your own Self.
3.       Extract from these attributes the joy you feel in their contemplation.
4.       Extract from this joy the pure experience of Self-awareness. Rest now in the Self and expand that Self outward in all directions (or, alternatively, extinguish that Self into No-thing!)
Dharana, by the way, is a stage of meditation wherein one can observe without a flicker of distraction some aspect of Superconsciousness. On an impersonal level, these are common: peace, wisdom, energy, love, calmness, inner sound, inner light, and bliss. However the four stages outlined above can be used as a guideline for one’s meditations or a specific meditation to try at certain times.

In our class, I digressed to talk about expansion versus contraction. By these terms I mean that on a very elemental or existential level souls tend to either expand their consciousness towards enlightenment or to dissolve ego consciousness in that same effort. It’s not necessarily an “either – or” but for some it is distinctive. In more outward terms we might compare a Mother Teresa (serving the poorest of the poor) with a Ram Gopal Muzumdar (who lived many many years in solitary meditation). Of course even Mother Teresa valued and engaged in silent prayer and meditation, and even so does Ram Gopal’s meditations serve and uplift humanity and anyone in tune with him for that purpose.

Still, the point is that in our meditation experience we may find that sometimes our consciousness expands and other times we enter a state of seeming dissolution. And some are innately attracted to one or the other, while for others, it comes in cycles. St. Teresa of Avila was both a mystic and a very active guide, counselor and founder of convents.

And now, therefore, I would like to extract from the Sutras some of the meditations implied or suggested by them in Book 1 (Samadhi Pada) (verses 28, 34, 35, 36, 37, 38 and 39).

1.      1.      Meditation upon OM. Chanting OM first aloud, then silently and deeply until you feel in your heart a resonance and can feel or hear inside the right ear, the rising subtle sound of AUM or other of the chakras (bumble bee, flute, harp, bell, wind).

2.       2.     Using traditional breath control techniques (pranayams) as taught by one’s teacher in order to purify the body and bring the life currents under control and for the purpose of transcending the need to breathe all together. Kriya yoga is one such pranayam.

3.       3.     Chakra meditations that produce inner experience of sounds, colors, tastes or energies.

4.       4.     Meditation upon the inner light, sometimes produced or enhanced by special mudras or other techniques as taught by one’s preceptor.

5.       5.     Meditation upon the feeling or intuition given you by superconscious dream experiences, or the bliss state experienced nightly in dreamless sleep.

6.       Meditation upon “anything that appeals to one as good!” Now, here Patanjali “winks and nods” suggesting that the window onto Oneness is achieved simply by such total concentration upon any object that appeals to one. This, he seems to say, is the “clinical” essence of meditation. Here I told the story that Yogananda tells in his lessons about the boy whose guru suggested he meditate upon a buffalo (that the boy loved) until that boy became the buffalo. At that point the guru touched him on the forehead and the boy went into samadhi! Thus it can be that anyone, even an outlaw, who lives with great intensity and concentration can find God once he directs that intensity towards God alone. Yogananda’s most advanced disciple was a self-made millionaire who mastered the art of material success (but found it wanting).

Towards the end of Samadhi Pada (Book 1), Patanjali makes reference to how in deep concentration all that is left is the object itself (of contemplation). The mind takes on, as it were, the qualities of that object. But he goes on to say that the highest state of Samadhi is beyond all qualities and is called nirbikalpa Samadhi. From this stage the soul is now free and can no longer “fall.” Yogananda calls such a soul a jivan mukta. There may be past karma yet to untie but such a one has an eternity or a moment to take care of this. He may even return to help his disciples or others.

I think I will stop here, at the end of Book, for now. But I feel a commitment (and, of course, the inspiration, to continue with more articles to get further into the yoga sutras. I promised to explain why Swami Sri Yukteswar only had his disciple, Paramhansa Yogananda, study twelve sutras. The sutras are like .facets of a diamond, or perhaps we could say like a hologram. As you enter into a certain number of them with the guidance of a true guru, you begin to see, and increasingly as you go, the bigger picture of all them. I related to a friend who also teaches Sanskrit that even although I've never taken the time to formally study Sanskrit, I had the blessing of discovering that as I viewed and read aloud the Sanskrit sutras, ideas and insights occurred to me even though knowledge of the language is rather limited. There's a vibrational aspect that conveys (similar to the feeling and communication of music, and art, generally) the meaning on a higher level than the intellect. 

Blessings to all,
Nayaswami Hriman

Friday, November 18, 2011

Yoga Sutras - Part 3

This blog post comes AFTER class #3 instead beforehand. In our first two classes, we've moved slowly in relation to the stanzas or sutras themselves. But I warned the class that I had no agenda and would move about as our interests guided us and that's the way it's been. It's been more fun for me and more engaging for everyone. The very vibration of these sutras - no less a scripture - inspires in one who seeks their treasure with reverence, a wisdom beyond one's years! So let us continue.....

In the first two classes (out of only 4), we had proceeded only about 5 sutras into book 1 (Samadhi Pada), out of 4 books. We've all agreed that the material is very deep, for each sutra opens like a picture window onto a panorama at at once diverse, colorful and expansive. So in class 3 this week, we began with stanzas 6 through 11 in which Patanjali talks about the most elemental "vrittis" or "modifications" in consciousness. As is typical with the sutras, Patanjali is clinically austere.

The five modifications (or vrittis) he says that our consciousness creates in contact with the qualities of nature are as follows: we either perceive what is true, or we mistake the false for the real, or we live in the unreality of our own thoughts and words (unrelated to any reality other than our own), or we experience the voidness of sleep (and other similar states), or memory brings to our mind recollected objects.

In the state of mind that perceives that which is true, we find three levels: lowest is that knowledge which comes from sensory or experiential evidence; next is that which comes through logical inference, and finally comes the highest form, or intuition (direct perception). The first two are easily understood but in our culture, intuition is greatly misunderstood and mistrusted.

We all rely on hunches and the combination of memory and insight to give us answers, often under difficult circumstances. The process of creativity is nothing less than intuition. The process of creativity has been widely studied and has found that inspirations and ideas come from a "place" that goes beyond logic and typically requires that one suspend ratiocination for a time. Sometimes that means going for walk; taking a shower; "sleeping on it" and the like. When thinking "aloud" so to speak, we often look up, or up and off to the side, as if, like a computer, we are searching for a file on some invisible hard disk. Sometimes the response is "file not found" but often in that "pause that refreshes" and which clears the grinding activity of the  conscious mind, the super-mind ("superconsciousness" or "sixth sense") drops an answer into the lap of the intellect. It is correct to say that "I had an idea" but our language fails to admit that the conscious thinking mind didn't produce the idea. It simply appeared by a process that is stimulated by our concentration upon the need for an answer and upon our knowledge and commitment to the subject matter, but otherwise appears as if a gift from a power that is beyond our conscious control. In ancient times this gift of creative ability was said to be the gift of the Muse(es), mythical goddess(es).

In modern history when artistry left behind the almost exclusive realm of serving religious artistry and the sense of individual self-hood began to appear more commonly, creativity was ascribed to the ego and to the subconscious mind. Not surprisingly the cultural image of the artist as slightly mad and dependent upon the need for opiates (of one form or another) to fuel one's creativity came into being.

Yogananda described intuition as "the soul's power of knowing God." But God is truth in any form, from the location of your car keys to the theory of Relativity. Yogananda called this realm of the mind the "superconscious mind." It is unitive in nature and beyond the boundaries of time and space. It manifests in an infinity of resourceful ways in human life but includes such proven and dramatic powers as telepathy.

In this class I was able to draw upon some of the interesting material from the lecture notes from Yogananda's class series on the Yoga Sutras. For example, he told his audiences that to take stock of another person's character (when necessity demands it), concentrate in your own heart center until you are very calm and then visualize the eyes of the person and "watch" for what feelings arise in the heart. Of course you should first beware of any superficial attraction or dislike and make sure those reactions are not creating filters. As he put it: to take a picture you must hold the camera very still!

Patanjali in stanza 12 speaks strong of the need for non-attachment. After speaking on the need for non-attachment, on how to be impartial in the face of criticism, and the need to rise above being too personal, he describes non-attachment not as denial (as it is usual thought of), but, rather, as sharing what one has while not thinking that it is yours! What a wonderful, positive, and expansive way to think about non-attachment.

On the subject of material desires Yogananda counsels us to beware of denying the power of temptation lest it overpower you by your very denial. He says "of course temptation is made pleasurable! Why deny it? But it comes at a cost. Learn to live without and not depend upon anything for your happiness."

Now we get into some heavy material. Thus far, Patanjali's progression in book one begins with stating that Oneness ("yoga") is achieved when the mind is freed of the delusive power of the vrittis. In the stanzas described above he describes those vrittis and how they are stilled by non-attachment, practice, and devotion. Now he comes to stanzas 17 through 20 which describe the stages of "samadhi" or true knowledge born of deep meditative concentration and born of superconsciousness transcendent of ego and body awareness.

In Yogananda's commentaries on the Bhagavad Gita he digresses to bring together the "Gita" and the Yoga Sutras. He explains that Patanjali was describing an extended ladder of states under the term "samadhi." In his own teachings, Yogananda limited the use of that term to the two highest states (known as "sabikalpa" and "nirbikalpa" samadhi). But here, in interpreting the yoga sutras, Yogananda follows the thread of Patanjali's analysis and explains Patanjali's terminology under the heading of "samadhi."

The terms "samprajnata" and "asamprajnata," he explains, go together but have a lower octave of meaning and a higher octave or set of meanings and experience. Furthermore, within samprajnata (on both the lower and higher levels) there are four sub-levels. For those four sub-levels Patanjali uses the terms savitarka, savichara, sananda, and sasmita. In the first octave of samprajnata samadhi, savitarka refers to intuition that is mixed with inner dialogue that questions, reasons, and doubts the nature and meaning of the experience that is taking place. It has a particular relationship to the coccyx center (the muladhara chakra) at the base of the astral spine. (Now I warned you this was going to get heavy.) For example, in meditation you might hear the characteristic astral sound of the bumble bee but in savitarka state you are unsure whether that's the sound you are hearing; you doubt, you question, and you try to reason your way through the inner experience that you are having.

The next stage is more upbeat. In the savichara state of meditation, intuition is still mixed with inner dialogue of reasoning and pondering but we are clearer and surer of our inner perceptions. This is associated with the sacral (swadisthana chakra) center, one and a half inches above the base of the spine (opposite the sex organs). Sananda is the next state which happens when those perceptions resolve into their deeper essence of joy!

The example I gave in class goes like this: you see a rose. Looking at it, you wonder to yourself: Is that a rose, or is it a poppy or daisy? You are unsure of yourself. In savichara you conclude (rightly) that it is indeed a rose. That conclusion makes you happy. Focusing on the happiness you now feel, you forget the rose and notice and enjoy the happiness. This is sananda. In the fourth stage, called sasmita, the joy recedes somewhat in favor of pure self-awareness. The joy doesn't disappear entirely but the feeling of pure Self-awareness dominates the experience.

If you are following the progression of chakras you will have concluded on your own that sananda relates to the manipur (navel) chakra and sasmita to the heart center. These first four are the product of the awakening of that stage of Patanjali's famous 8-Fold Path (not introduced by him, however, until Book 2, Verse 29) known as dharana: concentration. This is the stage where the meditator can hold in steady focus the perception of such inner sounds (of the chakras) and other astral manifestations described in raja yoga. In the stage of dharana (see my prior blog articles on each of the stages of the 8-Fold Path), the awareness of "I" as the perceiver remains. "I am feeling joy." "I am feeling peace." "I am seeing the inner light of the spiritual eye." And so on.

When samprajnata and asamprajnata achieve their higher octave, they are synonymous with the stages of samadhi described with the terms "sabikalpa" and "nirbikalpa" samadhi. The four stages samprajnata are described now seen as preliminary steps towards nirbikalpa samadhi -- a state of cosmic consciousness from which the soul returns into so-called ordinary or ego consciousness. By progressive flights into cosmic consciousness the soul eventually retains contact with transcendence even upon returning to wakeful consciousness. That state is then nirbikalpa samadhi.

Getting back to the four stages of samprajnata that are the initial forays leading to nirbikalpa samadhi, we find that savitarka is no longer the doubting mind but is filled with reverence and wonderment at what it is experiencing. In savichara the soul perceives the very nature of God, while in Sananda the soul experiences pure bliss. Finally in sasmita the expanded Self feel its identity in every atom of space as though creation were its own body. It is a state of perfect calmness in which the soul is like a grand mirror in which all creation is reflected! (Whew! Imagine....well, yes that's an excellent meditation exercise.)

Yogananda then takes a fun little detour to explain that the chakras produce these sounds in the same way that if you walk up to the projection booth of the theatre you will hear the electric light making a buzzing noise as it throws its light rays onto the screen below. The prana which enters the astral body and then down the spine and out the doorways of the chakras is like a subtle and intelligent form of electricity. It therefore hums like electricity. Yogananda says the coccyx center (muladhara) produces an astral and electrical current that makes the bumble bee sound but whose purpose is to solidify the life force current (known as "prana") into atoms. It is known as the "earth current." In doing so it produces the power of smell.

The next chakra, the water element of swadisthan, makes a flute-like sound and produces the sense of taste. The navel chakra (manipura) is the fire element wherein prana glows with heat and light, producing harp like sounds and the sense of sight. At the heart (anahat) chakra, the current combines life force and oxygen producing the bell or gong like sound and the sense of touch. At the throat center (visuddha), the vibration current is very subtle. Yogananda says that this current maintains the etheric background in the body "timing it to all spatial vibrations." Space, he says, is a vibration upon which all objects are projected and can appear to be separate and three dimensional. The etheric current produces the sense of hearing and the sound of distant waterfall or ocean rumblings. Finally, the sixth chakra is the dynamo (or holding vessel or battery) of consciousness and life force as it continuously recharges with life current and intelligence the sub-dynamos of the lower five chakras. It's sound is the symphony or source of the other sounds. It is the sound the AUM, the sound of a might ocean or thunder.

For reasons that are unclear and upon which Yogananda made no comment, stanzas 42-44 make another attempt to further define samprajnata samadhi. This time it's as if there are only two stages, not four, of samprajnata. With respect to what he calls "objects" savitarka samadhi is when we achieve knowledge that includes simultaneous awareness of sound and meaning whereas nirvitarka samadhi (samadhi without question) is attained when only the object remains and no trace memory of sound, meaning or knowledge remains! When the objects are subtle (meaning the inner powers of the chakras which have the capacity and intelligence to produce the five senses), the same two stages are called savichara and nirvichara!

There is a higher level of consciousness into which all the stages of samprajnata evolves (whether in its lower octave or higher). This level is called asamprajnata. In its lower octave, asamprajnata is when we move from the stage of dharana (described earlier) into the 7 stage of the 8-Fold Path, known as dhyana (absorption). Here we are in superconsciousness: knowing, knower, known are One. There is no flicker of interruption of consciousness. In its higher octave, asamprajnata samadhi is, as I understand it, the equivalent of nirbilkapa samadhi: the final and highest stage of transcendence, or Oneness.

On that one note, I think I shall end with a sigh of relief!


Nayaswami Hriman.