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Signposts of Progress in Meditation
Part IV: Degrees of Detachment

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WEEKLY MESSAGES

In this new feature of our website, we present every week a new selection of the teachings of Vedanta, taken from a variety of sources lectures and writings of Swami Adiswarananda, Ramakrishna-Vivekananda Literature, and other spiritual texts.

 

 

 

 

SIGNPOSTS OF PROGRESS IN MEDITATION:

PART IV: DEGREES OF DETACHMENT

 

Swami Adiswarananda

Ramakrishna-Vivekananda Center

New York

Meditation is a twofold practice of attaching the mind (to the Ideal) and simultaneously detaching it from its worldly preoccupations. The former involves concentration; the latter, discrimination. One is not possible without the other. The extent of an aspirant's detachment is an indicator of his progress in concentration and meditation. Mastery over the virtue of detachment has four stages:
 

  1. Yatamana, in which the aspirant realizes sense enjoyments to be undesirable and recoils from them

  2. Vyatireka, in which he is able to see clearly which specific senses are to be subdued

  3. Ekendriya, in which attachment to internal pleasures is given up and aversion to external pains is removed, and the aspirant's mind concentrates upon the task of removing attachment and aversion to the sense of honor and dishonor

  4. Vasikara, the stage of detachment in which the mind voluntarily gives up all attachments to pleasures and pains, whether gross or subtle, here or hereafter

At the last stage, the aspirant no longer feels any attraction to or repulsion for such things even should they appear before him. Vyasa, in his commentary on Patanjali's aphorisms, mentions that, as the aspirant advances in the path of meditation, he is tempted by invisible beings in high places. According to Patanjali, these are fallen beings who, notwithstanding their considerable progress, have been distracted in the path and remain merged in Nature. They tempt the aspirant in the following words:

Sir, will you seat yourself here? You might enjoy this pleasure, you might find this maiden attractive. This elixir will banish old age and death. In this chariot you can fly through the air. Over there are trees which grant all wishes. That heavenly stream will give you happiness. Sir, you are entitled to all these rewards.

Thus tempted, the aspirant is advised to reply as follows:

I have been baked on the dreadful coals of reincarnation. I have writhed in the darkness of rebirth and death. Now at last I have found the lamp of yoga which dispels the shadows of ignorance How then can I, who have seen its light, be led astray once more by sensual things?

To be continued

[Copyright Swami Adiswarananda]

  

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