If we are gifted by God with a human birth, we have secured an opportunity to liberate ourselves from samsara. It is only through personal effort and God's grace that we can escape from the consequences of our Sanchita karma, all of which is imbedded in the mind awaiting fruition.
Yogic philosophy tells us that it is only through sadhana that we can eliminate the storehouse of karma in our mind and travel beyond the mind to the very essence of our being, beyond all the kosas and finally to the divine intelligence, the Atman, which is identical to Brahman. This divine intelligence is also named purusa. Apparently, the purusha misidentifies with the universe of experiences that the mind presents to it and becomes ensnared with samsara, losing memory of its divine origins. As a result, we suffer through countless incarnations, all the while we long for something that always seems to escape through our fingers. It is the afflicted mind where our suffering plays out. Karma is a tool used by God to train, educate and uplift every jiva. It is only through purification of the mind that we transcend karma and can experience the pure consciousness, bliss, illumination and freedom that we actually embody as infinite beings. Samsara exists outside us and inside our minds. Outside, the scenery changes and is impermanent in nature. But inside our minds, every experience, desire and attachment is recorded in the citta. Nothing is ever lost. Knowing that the mind records every experience presented to it, undertaking meditation allows us to slowly transform the citta and infuse it with powerful spiritual impressions, or samskaras. This process is invariably all that is needed to learn.
To continue the arduous task of purifying the mind for a lifetime attracts a person who may have attempted to reach such a goal in several previous lifetimes. These are people who may have a distaste for worldly matters and wish to seek out God, but don't know where to look. They may do rituals, or prayers or mantras but lack a cohesive system. I will attempt to describe a system I have used.
For anyone who has meditated would know, the mind is not easily conquered. One of the first of the mind's phenomenon experienced are thoughts or vrittis. These vrittis are of five varieties (right knowledge, wrong knowledge, imagination, memory, sleep) and can either be klishta (colored) which causes suffering or aklishta (uncolored), which does not cause suffering. The coloring of the vrittis or samskaras are significantly affected by the five kleshas (Avidya ignorance) Asmita (egoism) Raga-Dvesha (Attraction and repulsion) and Abhinivesha (clinging to life).
At first glance, one might feel overwhelmed by the enormity of the impurities in the citta. But slowly and surely, meditation overcomes any impurity. Samskaras, vasanas, kilshta vrittis or the kleshas exist as small pockets of energy in the mind. They can be transformed so they lose all potency and become like burnt seeds. The process is simple. I do 100 half-minute repetitions of Kriya Yoga pranayama (inhale breath and mentally focus attention on each chakra along the spine). I then do 10,000 to 20,000 repetitions of AUM japa. Both of these actions leaves my mind primed for meditative absorption. As we know, the prana from the kriyas helps immensely to stabilise the mind and prepare it for contemplation. Japa also purifies the mind with mantric samskaras of God and is a symbol for Him.
When I meditate, I have no object to focus on. I put on ear muffs so I can’t hear anything and just embrace the darkness, silence and emptiness. I then try and stay in the 'gap' between thoughts as much as possible. I do not have an object because I do not want any form of prakrti in my citta, no form of potential bondage. Objectless meditation is also called Asamprajnata, or Nirbija or Nirvikalpa Samadhi. There, only consciousness is experienced and there is nothing obstructing the view that purusa has of Itself.
Objectless meditation or Asamprajnata is the most difficult to master because it requires great desirelessness, non attachment and purity of mind.
Patanjali (YS 1.51) talks specifically about the 'nirodha' samskara that is produced by Nirbija samadhi in that it dissolves and subdues any samskara whatsoever, even samskaras of other forms of meditation that uses an object. Its clear from the Yoga Sutras that any object, however subtle, needs to be transcended until the yogi progresses to the final stage of yoga, Nirbija. It has been written that Nirbija is the only samadhi that is capable of uprooting all karma and granting Kaivalya, liberation or moksha to the sadhak.
A meditator is really just doing the same thing continuously - accumulating millions of nirodha samskaras so that all other samskaras are dissolved. If somone were to just meditate like this and just stay in the 'gap' between thoughts, thats all that is needed to achieve liberation eventually because you are creating the perfect samskara.
I have renounced using all objects in my meditation like mantras, dieites or the breath. I want to cultivate the highest samskaras so I will not be forced to transcend any other samskara that is grosser in nature.
So that is my 'system'. 100 half minute pranayama, 10-20,000 repetitions of AUM and the rest of the day in meditation. I would also note that I have been in Maha Shodasi ajapa for around 2 years. Being ajapa for that mantra completely transformed my spiritual life and certainly my meditative life. You will go much, much deeper more often if you are ajapa.
I am so very blessed by God to reach the highest samadhis in meditation and to stay there for many hours each day. You can judge your progress in meditation by the length of time you can spend in the 'gap' between thoughts. This will gradually lengthen over time as nirodha samskaras begin to dominate the mind.
But no matter how much sadhana to I do, I never think I am liberated. I still always feel I have more work to do. This mentality will never change.
If anyone has any questions, I am only too happy to respond. Thank you.
James Cowan can be contacted through email - firstname.lastname@example.org