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Four Steps To Samaadhi PDF Print E-mail
Gita - Gita Articles

Satsangatve nissangatvam
Nissangatvey nirmohatvam
nirmohatvey nischaltattvam
nischaltattvey jeevanmuktih.

|| Bhaj Govindam (9)||

We have discussed the three steps before and now we are on to the fourth and final step of samaadhi (jeevanmuktih). Once the nischaltatva or sthitapragya stage is reached the fourth is a natural outcome. All effort has to drop here because this is more a divine grace than something that we can make an effort for. Many believe that this is the end of our goal, we all strive for getting to the samaadhi stage.

But, it is far from truth. Samaadhi, nirvana or enlightenment is not the end of our life’s journey. In many ways this is just the beginning of life of a different kind. When Buddha got his nirvana, he kept silent for a few days. And then he decided to share his experience with us for our uplifting. Vivekananda got his samaadhi by the grace of Ramakrishna, but then Ramakrishna kind of took it away from Vivekananda and returned it to him only 3 days before his (Vivekananda’s) death. And all this was because of Ramakrishna’s compassion for us. Vivekananda had a bigger duty of telling us the ways, and so he did. Not every one who reaches samaadhi can spread the message. But, this is from where the real truth can be revealed to us.

The third stage of Nischaltatva or sthitapragya (we have called it decisiveness) is an important stage. A man, who has reached samaadhi or has become a brahmagyani (gyanyoga), if he chooses to share his knowledge with us, has to come to this nischaltatva level to do that. When Ramana Maharshi tells us techniques of “who am I” he is talking from this level and not from his samaadhi level. There is actually nothing to tell once the samaadhi is reached. All communication happens at the prior three levels and all karma (actions) happens also at the first three levels.

It should be noted that Shankaracharya has deliberately avoided the word karmayoga. And this is because all karma happens, as mentioned above, at the level of attachement, moha or nischaltatva. The karma at the level of nischaltatva, where the attachments and moha have dropped, is what Krishna calls nishkam karma. When Krishna starts talking about Karma yoga in Gita, he actually uses the word Buddhi-yoga and does talk about ek-buddhi, which again can be translated, to clarity or decisiveness. A man who has reached to this stage or one who is centered is a yogi or sthitapragya as per Krishna. He has come to the stage of nischaltattva according to Shankara. The journey is not from Dwaita (duality) to Adwaita (non-duality). There is a stop in between and that is ek-buddhi (clarity). There are no doubts here; there is what we may call nirdwandwa (absence of duality or doubts) stage of mind.

Normally we deliberate over all the possible outcomes and come to a decision. Different interests are taken into account. All politicians think this way. They have to consider all options. A centered person will also do that. But he can keep himself outside of all this as well. When Arjuna and Duryodhana both come to Krishna for help in the Mahabharata war, Krishna obliges them both. Krishna actually gives the decision in the court of Duryodhana. Duryodhana could choose between Krishna on one side and his whole army on the other. Duryodhana chose Krishna’s army because Krishna had said that he would not pick up arms. It is really difficult to differentiate between what Krishna is doing and what Duryodhana is doing. But, it is somewhat akin to how a medical student behaves compared to an experienced doctor. A patient, who does not know who is an experienced doctor and who is a medical student, may get more impressed by the medical student. The student might give more time, attention and explanation to the patient. Similarly a person acting out from nischaltattva or sthitapragya stage may appear the same as one who is acting out from the stage of attachment. Krishna addresses this in detail in shlokas to come and we shall examine it with him in more detail there. We all do karma at whatever level we are. Duryodhan fights and so does Arjuna. So, where is the difference? Krishna is teaching Arjuna the art and science of Buddhiyoga and asks Arjuna to arise and fight, but fight with clarity and fight with anasakti (non-attachment) and without any moha. We shall explore all this as we go along further in Gita. But, let us understand here that Karma-yoga and buddhi-yoga are interrelated.

Let us recap some of the steps again. Thoughts are the beginning of attachment. Becoming aware to thoughts is satsang. There is no need to get identified with the traffic of thoughts. This leads to the realization of the fact that non-attachment is our default status. Non-attachment then leads to dropping of moha (desires or let us call it emotional attachments). The conditioning has to go as well. Awareness to the emotions is the satsang here. It is relatively easy to become a witness to (aware) the traffic of thoughts but is relatively harder to be a witness to the emotions without getting identified to it. Emotions have deeper roots. But, it is possible to get there by practice (abhyas yoga). Once moha is dropped we get to the stage of nischaltattva. There is no conditioning left. Nothing has to be suppressed, because this is our natural state. It is like an alcoholic who gets rid of alcohol and its effects on his body. He is free of alcohol and its effects for the first time and his outlook to life is then totally different.

How does a non-attached person live in this world? Anasakti or non-attachment is not against materialism. It is against attachment to the material things. There is nothing wrong in possessing a Rolls Royce or a Mercedes car. That is not the point. The point is how much of possessiveness is present inside of us. Similarly dropping of desires does not mean that there is no relationship. In fact a non-attached person can fulfill his obligations of relations better than a person full of desires. An attached person is more likely to react from an emotional stimulus than a non-attached person. A non-attached person is more likely to respond appropriately to a situation rather than react emotionally. Let us examine this by an example. A wife is angry because the husband came late in the evening. She feels that the husband was with another woman. The husband was late because he had a meeting with another women. He knows that he just had a business meeting. So, when he comes home, he becomes angry because his wife does not trust him. Arguments break out and soon they are talking about divorce. This is a typical response of an attached person, a person who has not dropped his desires. A non-attached person will have a more intelligent approach, not because he wants to keep the marriage but because he can see things more clearly.

It is not that difficult to practice some of these techniques. I really admire these four steps to samaadhi and the importance Shankaracharya has placed on the state of nischaltattva (sthitapragya in Gita). Although Shankara has not talked here about Karma-Yoga, these points will help us understand the intricacies of the karma-yoga. Karma yoga after all is intimately related to the buddhi yoga, which is the basis of nischaltattva. We shall get back to Gita from our next column for a more detailed understanding of these points.

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