Author Topic: The Yoga of the Uncontradictable: Meditative Absorption Vs. Ultra Mystic ....  (Read 2927 times)

Subramanian.R

  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 43824
    • View Profile
The title should read as :  The Yoga of the Uncontradictable:  Meditative Absorption Vs.  Ultra-mystic
Realization:   

(An article from Mountain Path, Jan.-Mar. 2016 issue)


Paul Brunton (1898-1981) presents the spiritual teachings of the East in a form that speaks clearly
to the mind and the heart of the 21st century spiritual quester.  During his youth in London, Paul
Brunton experienced profound mystical and occult development. An ardent seeker of Truth, he was
led to travel first to India and Egypt, and then around the world, to meet teachers and engage in spiritual
research.  In his books, Paul Brunton infuses traditional teachings wit wisdom and a broad perspective
gained through his inner inquiry and unfoldment. He offers guidebooks that lead the aspirant step by step
to the greatest of all treasures, the Higher Self or Overself.  The following discussions is adapted from
The Wisdom of the Overself, the chapter entitled 'The Mystical Phenomena of Meditation', where he explains
the difference between the exalted yogic stage of meditative absorption (nirvikalpa samadhi) and ultra
mystic realization (sahaja samadhi).

contd.,

Arunachala Siva.     
« Last Edit: February 01, 2016, 01:29:10 PM by Subramanian.R »

Subramanian.R

  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 43824
    • View Profile
In the opening chapters of The Hidden Teaching Beyond Yoga, there was stated, somewhat briefly
and incompletely, certain problems, connected with what yogis usually regard as the culmination of
all their efforts  - the trance state.   They concerned its temporary character, its failure to stabilize
its own exceptional but fugitive insights, its results in unfitting a man for further social existence, its
creation of an attitude of complacent indifference toward the welfare of others, its persuasion of the yogi
to withdraw permanently from society and its inability to show ethical improvement at all proportionate
to the effort involved.  These problems must now be provided for.  But this term 'trance' has some
unmystical associations in the spiritualistic sense,  some unfortunate ones in the Western consciousness
and some ugly ones in the medical consciousness.  Indeed, it carries with it offensive pathological suggestions
of danger and is freely used in connection with the unpleasant phenomena of insanity.

But the peak state of right meditation is not a morbid or unhealthy or dangerous one, as a trance is
usually thought to be, but rather one of special exaltation and emotional happiness.  It is a fruit of mental
discipline, not of mental aberration.  The average Western reader is likely to form a wrong notion of
what is meant here by such a term. He is more likely to catch the correct meaning if the term 'reverie'
is used instead but here again there is the implication that reasoning processes are all still actively
working, albeit in a vague dreamlike way.  Samadhi, the Sanskrit word under discussion, has also been
translated by Orientalists as 'ecstasy'.

contd.,

Arunachala Siva.           

Subramanian.R

  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 43824
    • View Profile
This too may be misleading when we remember that its highest stage is entirely thought free.  Therefore
it may be less likely to lead to misunderstanding if we here use 'self absorption'  as an equivalent and
refrain henceforth from using the term 'trance' altogether.  What is meant is a rapt absorption of the thoughts 
in the essence of oneself and a profound immersion of the feelings in the indescribable felicity.  If used at all
for yogic experiences the word 'trance' ought to be reserved for those cataleptic states which consummate
the efforts of practicants in the final phases of the yoga of body control, with which we are not here concerned
for such a path can never directly lead to that realization of the Overself which is the proper goal set out in
these writings.  The unconscious state attained by this system is not regarded as desirable or necessary on
the path unfolded here.  It would indeed be useless.  The trances of the hatha yogis, of the faqueers who
permit themselves to be buried alive for a few hours or days, render the man unconscious as the 'I' thought
falls back into its source within the heart. When it returns, he has had no more spiritual benefit than he
has had from ordinary sleep, whereas in the higher self absorption of mystical meditation the ego merges
back into the heart while fully conscious.

Nobody need be frightened away from the practice of meditation therefore by the belief that it is beyond
the reach of all but a select few or that it will be necessary for them to fall into a trance in the sense of a
fainting away into unconsciousness.  On the contrary, the practice itself is not only within the capacity             
of all but seeks a state of fuller consciousness, a psychological condition of expanded awareness.

contd.,

Arunachala Siva. 

Subramanian.R

  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 43824
    • View Profile
The first problem of self absorption is its fleeting character.  Whether in its lightest phase of soothed
nerves, its intermediate phase of suffused sense free reverie, or its final phase of full absorption,
world-remoteness, and self-mergence, it is always labeled with impermanence.  The mystic may climb
all the foothills and summits of a divine existence during this experience but he has always to descend
them again.  His way yields magnificent glimpses of growing breadth and luminosity but it does not
yield a permanent foot hold. He cannot hibernate forever in self absorption even if he wants to.  Or 
as the Chinese mystic, Lao Tsu, put the problem: 'One cannot remain forever standing on tiptoe.'

Consciousness cannot be kept on the stretch of formal contemplation all the time; it can only enter this
condition at intervals.  The interior immobilization is not an enduring one and their trances are
transient -- this is the constant complaint of the few mystics who have cared to analyze their own
experience.

contd.,

Arunachala Siva.         

Subramanian.R

  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 43824
    • View Profile
Many Western mystics, like St. Gregory and St. Augustine, and not a few Eastern yogis like Vivekananda,
have mourned this fact that they could not maintain what they believed to be the highest stage in mysticism,
the stage of complete withdrawal from sensations and thoughts, for more than a few minutes or a few hours
but had always to fall back again to their prosaic everyday condition.  St.Bernard too has well described
this recoil in his own melancholy words:  'All these spiritual powers and faculties began to droop and languish
as if the fire had been withdrawn from a bubbling pot.  Then my soul was necessarily sad and depressed
until  He should return.'

The discontinuance of experience is always something which the mystic cannot control or prevent. Consequently he is faced by the difficulty of bringing it into smooth adjustment with the necessities of his bodily existence, a difficulty which he never really overcomes.  Philosophy, perceiving this, remarks that
this particular method of approach has reached a point where it has exhausted its serviceableness to him
and that Nature has consequently hoisted a warning signal for him. The mystical experience must be
brought to completion by the unfoldment of a profounder insight and not left with its ultimate end unattained.

contd.,

Arunachala Siva.     
   
« Last Edit: February 01, 2016, 01:43:13 PM by Subramanian.R »

Subramanian.R

  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 43824
    • View Profile
Thus its very transiency becomes useful eventually to make the mystic aware that this cannot be the final
goal itself and to make clear to him that he has yet to advance in a different direction. The hidden
teaching most emphatically affirms that the state of self absorption is not the supreme objective for
mankind, however much the common run of yogis may assert the contrary.  It is only when waking
that the person is fully projected whilst when sleeping it is not projected at all.

Therefore, it is only in the fully awakened state and not in an entrance one -- which corresponds
to dream or sleep -- that the higher purpose of its limitations can be recognized and the widest
consciousness of reality attained.  Hence although he may or may not have to pass through trance
on his upward way the aspirant certainly does not have to pass through it when he reaches the crest.
The fourth state of consciousness is something which, in its finality and fullness, persists at all times
and does not depend on  transient trances for its continuance.

contd.,

Arunachala Siva.
   

Subramanian.R

  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 43824
    • View Profile
The second problem by which the mystic self absorption is beset  - its failure to stabilize its own exceptional
but fugitive insight,  its inability to provide an ever active awareness of reality -- is also solved only by
philosophy.  To understand this, we must first understand that out of the repulsion and compulsion of a
strongly held world view, the meditator of necessity deliberately turns his back on his external environment,
forsakes and spurns his earthly existence during the inward progression towards his spiritual self.

contd.,

Arunachala Siva.   

Subramanian.R

  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 43824
    • View Profile
He first discovers or grasps the existence of the intangible invisible imageless Mind during a rapt
contemplation, when he becomes intensely absorbed within himself in utter forgetfulness of the
external world.  So intense is his concentration that eventually all sensations and  thoughts vanish,
all mental images pass away, and he abides in a great void, where no-thing is and where he is,
in theological language, merged in pure Spirit.  But the mind can no more rest permanently in this
void than  the breathing lungs can rest permanently in a complete vacuum. The individual thought-
waves soon swing inexorably back into the ocean of universal mind, his absorption breaks, and the world
is precipitated once again into his consciousness. He can abide there only for a while for he is then
driven out of the mystical Garden of Eden by the symbolic Angel with a flaming sword. Hence this
cannot constitute the ultimate goal.

The yogi who attains this point may strive hard to retain it by plunging himself anew in a prolonged
absorption but he can recover it again only by disregarding the world and retreating into himself once
more. Yet all-wise Nature will have none of it and hurls him back as often as he tries. Misunderstanding
her intent, he strives all the more, ascribing his inability to wrong causes and failing to learn its
hard lesson that Nature has built the flesh for instructive experience, not for stultifying desertion.
The finite world is insistently there. He cannot annul it permanently although he can do so intemittently.
He may and usually does console himself however by arriving finally at the belief that whilst in the flesh
this is as far as man can go and that perfect liberation will come after death.

contd.,

Arunachala Siva.   
     

Subramanian.R

  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 43824
    • View Profile
Mere mental quiet is an excellent thing as a step on the upward way but it is not the true transcendence.
The mental blank which is so often the absorption state of yogis is not the same as the self understood
awareness which is the absorption state of the philosophic yogi.  The peace of the first may easily lead to
world fleeing weakness and lethargy whereas the peace of the second can only lead to world helping
strength and inspiration.  To look at this state from the outside only and to believe that both enter into
a similar condition is to be guilty of a grave misapprehension. The diffuse drifting negativity of the first
is inferior to and different from the discriminative intelligent awareness of the second.   The one merely
refrains from thinking.  The other actively engages the thought free consciousness in understanding
its own nature. The one is all flowers but no fruit.  The other is all flowers and all fruit.

Hence in The Supreme Path, a text of rules for aspirants compiled eight hundred years ago in Tibet
and still highly cherished there, the warning is plainly given that:  'The stillness of inactive thought-
processes (in the individual mind) may be misunderstood to be the true goal, which is the stillness of
the infinite Mind."  The key to this extremely subtle situation is therefore two fold.

contd.,

Arunachala Siva.       
 

Subramanian.R

  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 43824
    • View Profile
First, the possession or absence of metaphysical knowledge.  Second, the mental attitude with which
the contemplative enters the state of self absorption.  These factors are firmly intertwined and cannot
be separated from each other for the second depends naturally on the first.

The moment when  wakefulness turn into dream or sleep is, we now know, a highly critical one.
The general direction of the consciousness at this moment can determine the character of the dreams
or the sleep which will follow it, and can indeed transform either the one or the other into something
entirely superior.  The moment when thinking activity merges into complete self absorption is
likewise highly critical.  The general direction of consciousness can then also determine the character
of the state which follows it.

The mental attitude at such a time is truly creative.  The mystic passes through this moment intent
only on his personal reactions to the experience, carried by his personal feelings of its great delight.
He is made very happy by it and can never afterwards forget it.  But he has left his task only half done,
a melancholy fact which is attested by his return sooner or later to the ordinary prosaic state to stay
there.

contd.,

Arunachala Siva.         

Subramanian.R

  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 43824
    • View Profile
Owing partly to this personal reference and partly to his metaphysical ignorance and consequent
unpreparedness, he enters into the state of contemplative self absorption like a man walking backward
through an open door into a room, keeping his eyes stubbornly fixed on the familiar place he has started
from and refusing to look where he is going.  Just as this man will only half know where he is even when
he inside the room, so will the mystic be only half aware of the nature of Pure Mind even when he is
immersed in self absorption.   

Moreover, this personal reference causes his preconceived views and dogmatic beliefs merely to be left
temporarily at the threshold of Mind, as it were, and not to be held in its purifying flame.  Hence they
are picked up again when he emerges once more from the experience. If however meditation is practiced
jointly with the philosophic training, that is, if it no longer remains a merely mystical exercise only but
is informed by rational reflective knowledge, then the erroneous view of reality can never revive again
because the pure being will be experienced AS IT IS.

Contd.,

Arunachala Siva.   

Subramanian.R

  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 43824
    • View Profile
Bliss is present in both cases, but in the one its satisfying character becomes a hindrance whereas
in the other it does not.  Both have touched reality but one has touched its quivering surface whereas
the other has penetrated to its immutable depth.

Thus there is a large difference between  the states arrived at by the two methods, whose surfaces
are so deceptively the same but whose results are so strikingly apart.   The yogi empties out the
contents of the vacuum. The illumination by pure Thought overwhelms him with its dissimilarity
from all previous experience and dazzles him with its lustrous mystery.  He has opened the mystical
eye within himself but has not fully understood what it is that is fitfully presented to it at times and
during formal meditations. It has yielded total forgetfulness of space time limitations but his body
is still  within them and his consciousness must still return to his body. When he has to return and
pick up his thoughts of the world again, the descent fills him by its contrast with a sense of abysmal
difference.  Hence he regards the world as being the very negation of reality and the chasm which
separates them as being uncrossable. So he lets the great prize slip from his hands, through a
despairing sense of being utterly unable to hold both within consciousness at the same time. 
Henceforth he is a dualist, an upholder of the belief that reality can be attained only in  trance
and that the world is a Matter standing at the opposite pole to Spirit and so a snare or an illusion
to be despised.

contd.,

Arunachala Siva.         

Subramanian.R

  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 43824
    • View Profile
The harsh ascetic who scorns it or the dreamy mystic who ignores it is always puzzled at the end
of his own path how to relate his spiritual triumph with the universal life which surrounds him.
He does not know how to do so and consequently disposes of the problem by pretending it does not exist.
All this arises because his method of approach does not attempt to deal with the problem of the world
but ignores it. He banishes reason and shuts his eyes to the supposedly material outside world. Hence he
has no means of relating it to the undoubtedly immaterial inside world which he so blissfully experiences.

contd.,

Arunachala Siva.     

Subramanian.R

  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 43824
    • View Profile
The philosophic student, however, studies the nature of matter and discovers it to be a manifestation
of Mind.  Through such mentalistic reflection he comes to perceive that all the different evolutionary
explanations of the universal existence are truly only from the relative point of view; that all the elements,
principles, energies, substances, and processes out of which, it is taught, the universe has grown are
themselves mental manifestations;  and that just as water cannot be different in reality from oxygen and
hydrogen of which it is composed, no matter how different  it is from them in appearance, so these images
of earth, water, air and fire, cannot be essentially different from the Mind out of which they came.

In this way, he establishes himself thoroughly in the comprehension of the ultimate mentalness and hence
the ultimate oneness of all things and permits no appearance to dislodge him from this intellectual position.
He is imbued with the fact that with every breath and every thought he is  co-constructing this universe
with the World Mind and that therefore, in the New Testament phrase, 'in Him we live and move and have
our being.'

contd.,

Arunachala Siva.     

Subramanian.R

  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 43824
    • View Profile
The mystical exercise in which he engages himself is not a blind one.  He overcomes the world idea by
absorbing it.  He utilizes the reason to go beyond reason but he does not dismiss it prematurely, He
not only discovers pure Thought but also meditates reflectively upon his own discovery.  When he empties
out the contents of consciousness he does so with open eyes, holding steadily to the understanding that
they are the froth and foam thrown up by reality and not essentially different from it.

After the vacuum is filled by the presence of pure Thought, he returns to them with less and less sense
of having to cross an abyss of difference,  with the consequence that he has less and less difficulty in
bringing them into relation, continuity , and harmony with his previous meditation experience. He trains
himself to bring this reflective attention directly into his everyday active existence and to insert it
continuously into whatever thoughts may engage his awareness and whatever deeds may engage his body.
He disciplines his consciousness to hold the body thought without identifying itself with it, to function
through the five senses without ceasing to function in the infinite  Mind.

As he continues to unite metaphysical reflection with mystical contemplation there suddenly arises within
him out of their fusion a new faculty which has neither the limitations of reasoning intellect nor the one-
sidedness  of mystical emotion but is actually superior to both. This mysterious state of consciousness is called
in Sanskrit 'that which is all-full', a reference to its completeness and finality.  It yields enlightenment beyond
that of ordinary yoga.

contd.,

Arunachala Siva.   
« Last Edit: February 15, 2016, 02:32:59 PM by Subramanian.R »