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Signposts of Progress in Meditation
Part VIII: Dispassion

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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 VIII: DISPASSION

 

Swami Adiswarananda

Ramakrishna-Vivekananda Center

New York

Another subjective sign of progress in meditation is the depth of dispassion the aspirant has toward the world and worldly enjoyments. The degree of passion for Truth is directly proportionate to the degree of dispassion for anything that stands in the way of realizing Truth.

Shankaracharya in his Vivekachudamani describes the meaning and the necessity of dispassion: “The shark of hankering catches by the throat those seekers of liberation who got only an apparent dispassion (vairagya) and are trying to cross the ocean of Samsara (relative existence), and violently snatching them away, drowns them half way.”

The traditions of Vedanta mention seven depths of dispassion. The first is called subhechha (auspicious inclination) in which the aspirant develops a longing for holy company and a desire for Self-Knowledge. The second is known as vicharana (discrimination): by attaining this, the aspirant's desire for Self-Knowledge becomes active and he makes tangible spiritual efforts to purify his mind through the practices

of meditation and self-control. The third depth is called tanumanasa (attenuation of desire); at this stage the aspirant's aversion toward worldly enjoyments becomes strong, and consequently his practices of meditation and self-control become steady. The fourth is called sattapatti (perception of the being): by attaining this depth, the aspirant is able to maintain a steady meditative mood. The potencies of contrary thoughts having faded to a considerable extent, he gets glimpses of his goal and a sense of placid tranquillity pervades his mind. The fifth is called asamsakti (freedom from attachment): by attaining this depth, the aspirant is no longer overcome by gross sense desires or even by memories and thoughts of them, and as a result he experiences a taste of inner joy. The sixth depth is called padarthabhavini (meditation on the Real), which endows the aspirant with an intense one-pointed devotion to his object of meditation. Being free from all the pulls, gross or subtle, of contrary thoughts, the aspirant's mind now naturally gravitates toward the goal of his meditation. Oblivious of all multiplicities, he attains a state of deep absorption, from which he can be roused by another person only after long effort. The seventh depth is known as turyaga (the transcendental stage), the culminating result of the aspirant's mastery over the preceding six depths. The seventh depth endows the aspirant with such deep inner absorption that he cannot be roused from that state by any means.

The first three depths taken together are designated as "wakeful" because at these depths the aspirant continues to perceive the world and worldly things in a way that one perceives them in the ordinary awakened state. By attaining the fourth depth, the aspirant perceives the world as he would in his dream. At the fifth depth, he attains the state of nirvikalpa, but he is yet to become established there. The fifth depth is designated as "dreamless sleep," at which he witnesses both "wakeful" and “dream” conditions. The sixth depth has been compared to deep dreamless sleep. The aspirant who has reached this depth does not feel either ego-consciousness or absence of ego. The experience of the seventh depth is compared to the state of Pure Consciousness or turiya, the fourth, as indicated in the Mandukya Upanishad.

To be continued

[Copyright Swami Adiswarananda]

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