Tuesday, 3 October 2017

Dhyana Yoga 2 – Bliss, problem and promise

Gita essays – 10


Lord Krishna describes a Dhyana Yogi thus in verse 6-18:
यदा विनियतं चित्तमात्मन्येवावतिष्ठते। (Yadaa viniyatam chittamaatmanyevaavatishthate)
निःस्पृहः सर्वकामेभ्यो युक्त इत्युच्यते तदा।।(Nihsprihah sarvakaamebhyo yukta ityuchyate tadaa)
That person who has become free from longing for all desirable objects and whose mind is well-controlled and rests in the Self only is said to be established in Dhyana Yoga. 
An uncontrolled mind is one which wanders in search of fulfilment among the sense objects.  A controlled mind is one free from agitations that can concentrate on the Self that is Brahman which is infinite and unfettered.  Resting in Self happens when mind is filled with thoughts contemplating the Self and Self only, replacing the normal thoughts concerning worldly objects and relations.  Lord then goes on to describe the state of mind of such a Yogi.  Human mind normally is vacillating, fluctuating among hundreds of thoughts. This is compared to the flickering flame of a lamp exposed to wind.  When the wandering thoughts are arrested and fixed firmly in the Self, as in a Yogi’s mind, the single pointed mind is compared to the bright and steady flame of the lamp kept in a windless spot. The mental bliss experienced by the Yogi with such a mind is described by the Lord in the next four verses (20-23).  Translated in English, Lord’s words read as:
20). When the mind, restrained by the practice of Yoga, attains quietude, and when, seeing the Self by the Self, he is satisfied in his own Self,
21). When he (the Yogi) feels that Infinite bliss, which can be grasped by the (pure) intellect and which transcends the senses, and is established therein, he does not slip from his real nature.
22). Having obtained which, one thinks there is no other gain superior to it; wherein established, one is not moved even by the heaviest of sorrows.
23). Let that be known as Yoga which is a state of severance from the contact with pain. This Yoga should be practiced with perseverance and with an undaunted mind.

All these four Verses taken together explain the stages that a Yogi, whose mind has become single pointed in meditation, passes through .  The goal of the meditator is attaining quietude of mind and this is achieved when his mind is completely restrained.  Then he gains an experience of Brahman not as an entity separate from himself but as his own true Self.   When ego's identification with body, mind and intellect is replaced by the principle of Divine Consciousness the meditator feels the infinite bliss of the Brahman.  In fact through discovery of his Real Self, he becomes conscious of the infinite bliss of Brahman that is his svarupa.  This results in his disassociation from the ego-self which is prone to pain and sorrow.   Attaining that natural state of highest happiness, he does not slip from it even while engaged in worldly transactions and even heaviest sorrows cannot trouble him thereafter.  This state of disassociation with pain and sorrow that results from Realisation is termed Yoga and this Yogic state may not be achieved straightaway and one has to keep on working for it with great determination and patience, without any despair or despondency.

Lord Krishna also discusses various stages in this process.   The meditator has to subdue the faculty of imagination of the mind to arrest the thoughts of fancy that it gives rise to. Secondly he has to keep in check the wandering mind from roaming among the sense-objects.  Thirdly he has to pursue his goal with patience and perseverance, slowly and steadily, keeping his mind firm in the contemplation of the Self and Self only with the help of the intellect.   Whenever the mind, out of past vasanas, strays into other thoughts, patiently he must bring it back to contemplate on Self.  The means of bringing under control the restless wandering mind is through the knowledge of the mithyatvam of sense-objects and the association of pain and sorrow with samsara which helps to cultivate indifference to them. Through persistent practice of discrimination and detachment the mind gradually settles into steady contemplation of Self.

The greatest benefit from successful Dhyana Yoga is sarvatra sama darsana, seeing the Self in every being and every being in the Self.  This frees him totally from raga-dveṣha  and this freedom from raga-dvesha is samathvam, equanimity.  Isavasya Upanishad says in Mantra 6 & 7 – “He, who sees all beings in the Self and the Self in all beings, feels no hatred for any being.(Mantra 6);  What delusion can there be to one who realizes all beings as his own Self?  (Mantra 7)”.   He is neither attached to any worldly thing passionately nor does he hate anything intensely.  He might have preferences in life, but no compelling likes and dislikes. He is not a slave of any object, situation or person.  As Swami Chinmayananda says “He never acts like a body passionately, as a mind egoistically, or as an intellect arrogantly -------- He is FREE, He is WHOLE, He is FULL”.   In short, he is a Jivan muktha, attaining Liberation in the present life itself, while alive. 

Arjuna now raises a doubt.  Perfect equanimity, a mind free from restlessness in all conditions and circumstances appears nearly impossible to Arjuna, as he feels the mind by its very nature is strong, turbulent, restless and unyielding.  So he interrupts Lord Krishna to remonstrate that trying to control the mind is as difficult as trying to tame the wind.  And Lord Krishna agrees with Arjuna only to point out that though control of mind appears an uphill task, it can be achieved with continuous repeated efforts and detachment of mind, Abhyasa and Vairagya.  Patanjali Yoga sutras that defines Yoga as control of thoughts also states in sutra 1-12; अभ्यासवैराग्याभ्यां तन्निरोधः(abhyasa vairagyaabhyam tan nirodhaḥ), “That (controlling the thoughts in mind) can be achieved by repeated practice and detachment”.  Lord Krishna further states that this Yoga is not possible for one who has not achieved self-control through other means like the practice of Karma Yoga that helps to cultivate the power of self-withdrawal from the attraction of objects-emotions –thoughts.  Now Arjuna raises another doubt.  He wonders openly as to what will happen to the meditator who though full of faith and sincere in his effort, fails to achieve success due to mind’s wandering, extrovert nature.  Such a person has not tasted the sensory pleasures of the material world and now the unfettered Bliss of Yoga is also lost to him. So will not such a person’s life become a wash-out like the drift and collapse of a scattered cloud, he asks the Lord.

Lord then promises that the sincere seeker who does not achieve perfection in Yoga in this birth will not come to grief, either in this world or thereafter, due to this failure.  He says that the one who was not able to attain the goal of infinite bliss in spite of his best efforts due to past vasanas or the one who achieved some progress in Yoga but had not reached the final state of permanent bliss due to present deficiencies like lack of sufficient dispassion or inability to control totally the turbulent senses, attains the worlds of happiness inhabited by those pious souls who performed great religious sacrifices while living on this earth. So for such a person, who is Yoga bhrashta, a person fallen from the path of Yoga, “a minimum phalam of Svarga is assured even if maximum phalam of Moksha is missed” in the words of Swami Paramarthananda..  Further after enjoying the pleasures of Svarga as long as the punya of the past spiritual life lasts, he is born again in the house of spiritual and religious minded people where he will continue his spiritual journey from the point where he had left in the previous birth, due to the vasanas of the present spiritual sadhanas which will have their influence on the future life. When he is born again the vasanas of his sadhanas in the present birth will energize him to continue his spiritual sadhanas from where he left.  Whatever progress a person makes in present birth, he retains and no effort in the practice of Yoga goes waste. One need not despair or feel any anxiety regarding failure to achieve the goal in present birth itself  as long as he tries with shraddah and vairagyam.   In the next birth with the added advantage of purva janma vasana, his spiritual journey will start earlier and not only will it start earlier, it will be faster and will continue until he attains jnanam and mokṣha and therefore there is no reason to be pessimistic but to continue the spiritual journey with faith and vigour taking heart from the lives of spiritual geniuses like Ramana Maharishi and Swami Vivekananda who apparently started from where they left as Yoga bhrashtas  in their previous birth and became Jivan Mukthas.  Lord concludes his  advice on Dhyana Yoga glorifying Dhyana Yogi as more closer to Liberation than those spiritual people engaged in penance, rituals and Vedic studies and remarking that those Yogis who meditate on the Lord with single-minded devotion are the closest to the Lord.

No comments:

Post a Comment