Disciple: You said that you will talk about Nirvikalpa samādhi.
Guru: It is the ultimate stage of samādhi. This stage of samādhi can be reached, only if multiple energies operate on your mind. But before that you must know about other types of samādhi-s. Following are the seven types of samādhi-s revealed Patañjali in his Yoga Sūtra-s and some of them have different stages.
1. Samprajñāta Samādhi or savikalpa samādhi (I.17)
2. Asamprajñāta Samādhi or Nirvikalpa samādhi (I.18)
3. Savitakrā Samādhi (I.42)
4. Nirvitarkā Samādhi (I.43)
5. Savicāra Samādhi (I.44)
6. Nirvicāra Samādhi (I.44)
7. Sabīja samādhi (I.46)
I will give you a brief of these types of samādhi-s. First of all, you should know what samādhi is. It is the state of your individual consciousness in alignment with Supreme Consciousness, during which state the effects of your sensory organs are suspended. Therefore, different samādhi states refer to different purity levels of your mind.
Disciple: Is there any difference between dhyāna and samādhi?
Guru: Dhyāna or meditation is a cognitive process and samādhi is the result of dhyāna. The important factor for meditation is mind control and mind can be controlled through prāṇāyama. Without attaining mind control, you cannot practice meditation and without practicing meditation, you cannot experience samādhi.
Disciple: When do I experience maiden samādhi?
Guru: First experience of samādhi is known as samprajñāta samādhi or savikalpa samādhi. Samprajñāta or savikalpa means distinguished or discerned.
Disciple: How to reach this stage of samādhi?
Guru: I am discussing with you about various stages of samādhi because, you are considerably evolved towards your spiritual goal. If you are still in the stage of raising basic queries, I would not have chosen to waste your time.
Sam here refers to union and prajñāta or prajñātman means natural wisdom, which can be explained as the pure form of Consciousness. Who has natural wisdom? Only Brahman has natural wisdom and hence He is called as omniscient. In the state of samprajñāta samādhi, you unite your consciousness with the Supreme Consciousness. But there are four stages in this samādhi.
Disciple: Four stages in this samādhi!
Guru: That is why I am stressing that one should move to spiritual path at the earliest. Unless you cross all these stages, though Bliss is possible, liberation is not possible. You cannot park your vehicle 100 KMs away from your destination and say that you have reached your destination. Many times, experience of samādhi could be deceptive. Stage of thoughtlessness is not the state of samādhi, though the former is the prelude to the latter.
Disciple: Is it?
Guru: Yes, it is. As you know, samādhi means union. In the stage of thoughtlessness, your individual consciousness prevails as it is. Based on the level of your consciousness and purity of your mind, samprajñāta samādhi is divided into four levels and you begin from the first level and move on to the fourth level. These four levels are vitarka, vicāra, ānanda and asmitā.
I will explain this briefly. Vitarka means uncertainty or opposition. This is the stage where you need some external object to contemplate upon. You are not sure of the Self within. You are into non-duality here. The next stage is vicāra, which means consideration. You move away from uncertainty to certainty. You are now ready to consider that the Self is within. Your confusion is getting diluted in this stage. You no longer need any external object to contemplate upon. In the third stage known as ānanda, the result of your previous stage is experienced in the form of inexplicable happiness.
Disciple: Why do you call this as inexplicable happiness? Happiness is always due to some reason.
Guru: You have answered your own question. Happiness is due to some reason. In this stage of ānanda, there is no reason to trigger happiness. Ānanda is due to the purity of your mind. Purity of mind means your mind has no impressions due to your actions. In other words, you have become a karma yogi. You do your duty in the best possible manner without attaching importance to the end result. Let us take you as an example. You work hard in your office and you do expect a promotion. Without expecting anything in return, you discharge your duty. This is called karma yoga. Remember that the first stage does not cause bliss, as there is an object associated with your meditation. But in the second stage, there is no external object. This is the stage where you have transcended all gross levels. The moment you turn your consciousness inwards, you begin to feel the bliss. However, there are various levels of bliss, which we will discuss later.
Disciple: What is the fourth stage, asmitā?
Guru: Literally asmitā means egoism, the “I am” factor. As I already discussed with you, there are two types of ego – essential ego and non-essential ego. We cannot survive without essential ego as long as we live. This is the ego that is required to identify yourself. This is the ego which co-exists with your prāṇa and soul. They can never be separated. When your Guru says, “You are That”, he refers only to this ego. Only with this ego you affirm in the final stages of liberation “I am That”. Hence this is called essential ego. Without this ego, you cannot be liberated. This ego includes your individual consciousness and your veiled soul.
Disciple: What is nirvikalpa samādhi?
Guru: This stage of samādhi is beyond any reasonable explanation, merely because it can only be experienced and cannot be described properly. Further, experience in this stage differs from person to person.
What happened in savikalpa samādhi? You mind was active, though pure. It is only the mind that experienced infantile bliss. If your mind is totally inactive, how will you feel the state of bliss? In savikalpa samādhi mind is there and hence thought processes are also there. If you can call liberation as an adult, the state of ānanda in the fourth stage discussed above is only an infant. Ānanda has just begun to grow and it has to mature and attain potency to remove the veil of māyā around the Self within. This child is always known as Ānanda; this means that the state of bliss attains potency with practice and ultimately becomes Bliss. In this state of Bliss, we realize Parāśakti. The Self, when veiled by māyā is known as the self. What we are discussing here is about Self-realization and not self-realization.
Unless Parāśakti is realized, we cannot even think of realizing Shiva. It is only Parāśakti, who reveals Shiva to us. In order to realize Her, we do sādhana (practice). Sādhana can be categorized into four parts such as yantra sādhana, mantra sādhana, dhyāna sādhana and kuṇḍalinī sādhana. Yantra sādhana is Śri Cakra navāvaraṇa pūjā; mantra sādhana is mantras like Pañcadaśī, Ṣoḍaśī, etc; dhyāna sādhana is what we are discussing now and the fourth one is kuṇḍalinī yoga or kuṇḍalinī sādhana. Out of the four, last two are very effective in realizing Her.
Disciple: Should I practice in this order? Beginning with Yantra sādhana and proceeding to kuṇḍalinī meditation?
Guru: Yes, it is the order. But there is scope for manoeuvring with the last two. Though dhyāna sādhana and kuṇḍalinī sādhana are almost similar, the latter leads to quicker results than the former. As we have already discussed about yantra sādhana, mantra sādhana and kuṇḍalinī sādhana, we are now discussing about dhyāna sādhana.
You asked for an explanation for nirvikalpa samādhi, which is also known as asamprajñāta samādhi. This should be read as a-samprajñāta, where ‘a’ is negation. Samprajñāta means distinguished or discerned and asamprajñāta means in imperceptible by the mind. This means that in this samādhi, even the mind becomes dysfunctional. In samprajñāta samādhi sensory organs became dysfunctional. There are no stages in nirvikalpa samādhi because when the mind is annihilated, what else is there to dissolve.
Therefore, in this stage, you are neither afflicted by your senses nor afflicted by your mind. Literally this is the stage of unconsciousness. When you attain perfection in this samādhi, you become devoid of desires and attachments. You do not even maintain your body properly. You are not concerned about all these as you have understood that neither your body nor your mind has anything to do with the Self. You also understand that they are deceptive in nature and perishable. When you attain absolute perfection in nirvikalpa samādhi, you can be called as a yogi. Some call this stage as the state of jīvanmukta, which is not right. I will explain this later.
But always remember that entering into this samādhi could cause detachment from your wife, children, parents, friends and relatives. This could affect your marital life, your parental care, etc. You cannot do injustice to your wife, children and parents. This could also affect your career. Therefore, it is advisable not to practice this samādhi at a young age. This also does not mean that you should enter into a forest to practice this samādhi. This can be safely practiced in your home, subject to the conditions discussed above. But the only precondition is that you should not be disturbed with sound or touch, as this could cause panic attack in you. Seriously speaking, during this samādhi state, you function only with your causal body and other bodies are subdued (other bodies are subtle and gross). Only in this state of samādhi, kuṇḍalinī awakens on its own and traverses through suṣumna. Gradually you begin to lose interest in your life.
Disciple: I have a few questions on this particular stage of samādhi?
Guru: A disciple should not hesitate to ask questions to his Guru and a Guru also should not get annoyed with any questions from his disciple. You can ask any questions, but not now, as it is time for you to go to your office.