MAYA-GAIA INTRODUCTION & SITEMAP       Update 10_20_08

Note: My maya-gaia website, evolving since 1997, is a chronicle of my passing all considered opinion
through the lens of my Nirvikalpa Samadhi with both an open-mind and healthy skepticism.

Experience of the Godhead-Brahman-Atman-Cosmic Consciousness Singularity

An examination of the contradictions concerning the highest state of
realization of the Godhead and it's role in the attainment of enlightenment.

Notes and Excerpts from Hindu and Non-Hindu Concepts of Jivanmukta by Dr. John Glenn Friesen
Go Here to distinguish among the various application of the term Singularity.
The Ultimate Question the unacceptable answer.
Keywords: Brahman, Atman, Godhead, Nirvikalpa Samadhi, Sahaja Samadhi, cosmic consciousness, non-dual realization, Bodhi, singularity, Bhagavan Das, Kaula Tantra, bhakti yoga, jnana yoga, entheogens

In a skeptical yet open-minded overview of the Perennial Wisdom traditions of Advaita Vedanta, Kashmir Saivism, Zen Buddhism, Vajrayana Buddhism, and contemplative Taoism (the main five sacred traditions that have engendered the rise of nonduality in the West)- a single metaphysical concept survives all doubt. That it is possible for our living consciousness to experience the supreme Godhead-Atman-Brahman-Bodhi singularity in a brief episode of non-dual transcendent consciousness- after which the knower returns to mundane life. The event may or may not imbue the experiencer over an infinite range of transformations of character, spirituality or religiosity depending on how much is remembered, what spiritual preconceptions overlay the realization and how vasanas are transformed.

Despite the millions of allusions to this Nirvikalpa Samadhi singularity in scriptures and other classical accounts it is consistently referred to as ineffable. Whatever terms and concepts that have been applied to it beyond unknowable merely present paradoxes that return it to the indescribable . It is a Void but not Void, an unstruck sound, etc. Since the beginning of the 20th century there has been a concerted effort by Western scholars to place the singularity - secular term: Cosmic Consciousness - into the context of an epistemology which has grown under the auspices of a number of post-modern quasi-disciplines such as transpersonal psychology and integral spirituality and by independent trans-philosophers in the non-dual community.

Update 02 07 09:
Naked Singularity and Samadhi Scientific American January, 2009 Do Naked Singularities Break the Rules of Physics? The black hole has a troublesome sibling, the naked singularity. Physicists have long thought--hoped--it could never exist. But could it? All kinds of processes unknown to science may occur at the singularity, yet they have no effect on the outside world. Astronomers plotting the orbits of planets and stars can safely ignore the uncertainties introduced by singularities and apply the standard laws of physics with confidence. Whatever happens in a black hole stays in a black hole according to the Cosmic Censorship Hypothesis. Yet a growing body of research calls this working assumption into question. Researchers have found a wide variety of stellar collapse scenarios in which an event horizon does not in fact form, so that the singularity remains exposed to our view. Physicists call it a naked singularity. Matter and radiation can both fall in and come out. Whereas visiting the singularity inside a black hole would be a one-way trip, you could in principle come as close as you like to a naked singularity and return to tell the tale.

(m-g: This suggests a tantalizing analogy or synchronicity to the role of Nirvikalpa Samadhi realization and its relationship to the phenomenal, material world in which we are born, live in and die. It provides a state of consciousness by which a consciousness singularity is exposed to our view and we are returned to tell the tale.) End Update

Here is an overview of the basic attributes of the Nirvikalpa experience based on my anecdotal account and my intuitive perspective on classical non-dual concepts which I accessed only after-the-fact.

Rarely it appears in the form of a mystical journey of numinous but dual awareness that proceeds to the ultimate experience. More often this stage is either highly condensed or unremembered and consciousness is swept up in a rapturous rush in which it's transformation from dual to non-dual occurs in a slow-motion ecstatic burst- like a drop explosively diffusing throughout an ocean of exhilarated light, bliss and love. Accounts of Nirvikalpa Samadhi or Cosmic Consciousness are consistent that consciousness is transformed from Self to No-Self one with a Godhead. Only rarely are any other aspects between the time transcendence starts to when consciousness returns to duality- remembered with any degree of clarity. Further, whatever memory there is becomes extrapolated in our reconstituted minds to form language that attempts to convey what is essentially a feeling experience to those who have not had the experience. That challenge is similar to trying to describe colors to a congenitally blind person. Those already imbued with concepts and language from non dual, mystical or religious traditions will extrapolate their experience in these terms.

The unique value to my Nirvikalpa Samadhi account is that I had absolutely no prior knowledge of any aspects of those traditions yet described an experience- vividly remembered- that matched the classical scenario of a transcendent journey in which my consciousness was transformed from dual to non-dual and back.

The singularity of Nirvikalpa or the Godhead non-dual experience should not be confused with the Near Death Experience. NDEs may come to the brink of transcendence but are restrained in a perspective of duality which compare to the state of consciousness in Savikalpa Samadhi.

In some instances, even major sources of tradition diminish the importance of experiencing this ultimate numinous state to attain enlightenment. The Upanishads only briefly refer to turiya as a fourth state of consciousness, Shankara hardly mentions 'experience' and holds that study of the revealed scriptures of the Veda is the path to enlightenment and Ramana made disparaging comments regarding 'trance' as something one can replicate by 'taking drugs or going to sleep' and dismissed attaining it in favor of his discipline of Self-inquiry. Aurobindo was also dismissive of 'trance' saying it is a way of escape and does not solve the problem of the waking consciousness which remains imperfect.

But overall, the non-dual traditions as typified in Advaita, Tantra, Jainism, Taoism and various forms of Buddhism tend to place the realization of this singularity at the pinnacle of their spiritual agenda and the entire body of their sacred scriptures are devoted to prescribing dharma to qualify for its attainment.

It is a paradox that Shankara, Ramana and Aurobindo and Zen masters- satgurus who most categorically dismiss Nirvikalpa Samadhi or Bodhi- the ground for traditional dharma- are the most famous and revered for their spiritual wisdom particularly so in the West. I suggest for explanation that the supreme non-dual singularity is not something achieved through worship, prayer or meditation as prescribed in traditional dharma but by grace alone. That those satgurus who dismiss Nirvikalpa Samadhi and pursue a philosophical jnana yoga such as self-inquiry or integral yoga or mind upheaval as the path to enlightenment may never have experienced it and displaced it with some neologism that infers a superior state of realization attained via their proprietary practice. That these jnana yoga mentalist disciplines de-emphasize devotional aspects- a revisionism which appeals to the intellectual, post-modern Western mind by empowering it with method for control over a logical progression to realization rather than the often futile wait for the uncertain grace of Nirvikalpa Samadhi to occur via the passive traditions of Bhakti or even the more classical forms of Dhyana. It may be that these mind-directed alternative practices can result in high levels of spiritual knowledge and comprehension but fall short of the supreme realization of the Godhead/Moksha experience which is still dependent on the incident of grace.

Update 09 5 2012: The following two references provide a closer examination for factoring Sankara's teachings:

Sankara Parallelism excerps from: Could There Be Mystical Evidence For A Nondual Brahman? by Stephen H. Phillips. The great Advaita Vedantin Sankara puts forth a mystic parallelism thesis that is philosophically examined: mystical and sensory experiences are epistemically parallel.

One step beyond the question of the whether mystical experience has epistemistic value is the value of first-person experience in assessing credibility for reality of the event in comparison to third person descriptions of phenomenal action. The following essay explores this topic in detail.

First-Person Methodologies: Why, What & How? Francisco J. Varela and Jonathan Shea, 1999. Section I: the introspective approach, derived from scientific psychology; SectionII: the method of phenomenological reduction, derived from the philosophical tradition of Phenomenology and phenomenological psychology; Section III: the pragmatics of meditation practices derived from the Buddhist and Vedic traditions.

By first-person events we mean the lived experience associated with cognitive and mental events. Sometimes terms such as 'phenomenal consciousness' and even 'qualia' are aslo used, but it is natural to speak of 'conscious experience; or simply 'experience'. These terms imply here that the process being studied (vision, pain, memorey, imaination, etc.) appears as relevant and manifest for a 'self' or 'subject' that can provide an account; they have a 'subjective' side. In contrast, third-person descriptions concern the descriptive experiences associated with the study of other natural phenomena. Although there are always human agents in science who provide and produce descriptions, the contents of such descriptions (i.e. of biochemical reactions, black holes or synatic foltatges) are not clearly or immediately linked to the human agents who come up with them...such 'objective' descriptions do have a subjective-social dimension, but this dimension is hidden within the social practices of science. The ostensive, direct reference is to the 'objective', the 'outside', the content of current science that we have today concerning various natural phenomen, such as physics and biology.

What is central in this contribution is whether the phenomenal description can help us both validate and constrain the empirical correlates that are available with the modern tools of cognitive neuroscience and dynamical systems theory.

...each (meditation) tradition has come up with different means for filling-in the initially void field with new phenomenal data but all share a common discovery, namely, that successful progress requires mediation by another person who has been there to some degree, and thus provides (a second-person position) hints and further training.

Indeed no methodological approach to experience is neutral, it inevitably introduces an interpretative framework into its gathering of phenomenal data. To the extent that this is so, the hermeneutical dimension of the process is inescapable: every examination is an interpretation, and all interpretation reveals and hides away at the same t me. But it does not follow from this that a disciplined approach to experience creates nothing but artifacts, or a ‘deformed’ version of the way experience ‘really’ is. To be sure, the exploration of experience will suffer along with all other methodical investigations from cultural expectations and instrumental bias, but there is no evidence that the phenomenal data gathered are not equally constrained by the proper reality of conscious contents. Thus whatever descriptions we can produce through first-person methods are not pure, solid ‘facts’ but potentially valid intersubjective items of knowledge, quasi-objects of a mental sort. No more, no less. End Update

There is a alternative Vedic tradition that supports the notion that moksha is not attained via the personal effort to satisfy any dharma protocol but requires grace from the personal form of God. The bhakti tradition proposes that a devotional surrendering as in Kirtan is a yoga for inviting grace. Divine Grace is Required to Attain Moksha Bhakti Yoga Meditation teachings of Jagadguru Shri Kripalu Ji Maharaj. Ultimately, final liberation (moksha) is attained through divine grace. Nondual realization is impossible until a jnani adds bhakti or devotion into his practice. The reason for this is that maya is of two kinds: Vidya maya or swaroopavarika maya and Avidya maya or gunavarika maya. As described in the description of samadhi, vidya maya is the original veil of maya, obscuring our essence as soul. Avidya maya is that aspect of maya that causes us to form attachments in the world. Another way to understand this is there are three qualities in maya: satva, rajas, tamas. Rajas and tamas are avidya maya. The jnani can transcend these two through his own effort. After this point, a jnani becomes an atma jnani or self-realized, a knower of his self (the soul). But he is not yet a brahm jnani, a knower of the impersonal aspect of God. Non-dual realization only happens after he transcends the quality of satva, which is vidya maya. But this quality of satva is only overcome through God's grace, not through a jnani's personal effort of any kind. Thus, through gyan practices, a jnani could terminate his avidya maya, but he can't eliminate vidya maya. The jnani who practices devotion to a personal form of God receives God's grace and then his maya ends. If his maya doesn't end, even if he has reached the height of self-realization, he is bound to lose this spiritual accomplishment because he is still under the influence of maya. Grace is only received from the personal form of God. God is one and whatever powers God possesses, He possesses in all His aspects. However, the impersonal aspect of God is called avyakt-shaktik brahm . Avyakt-shaktik means His shaktis, powers, are concealed and inactive. They are there, but dormant. It is merely a nondual divine existence. The giving of grace is a quality of sakar brahm, the personality of God. If a practitioner desires nondual realization, in order for him to transcend maya completely, he must receive grace from this aspect of God, and that is accomplished through bhakti or devotion.

The Mother on Sri Aurobindo from the Collected Works of the Mother: Volume 8, Questions and Answers 1956, p.275-6, (22 August 1956) In a recording of her account of an early meetings with Sri Aurobindo, The Mother Meera quotes a conversation they had about samadhi:

I incidentally could tell you that in all kinds of so-called spiritual literature I had always read marvellous things about this state of trance or samadhi, and it so happened that I had never experienced it. So I did not know whether this was a sign of inferiority. And when I came here, one of my first questions to Sri Aurobindo was: "What do you think of samadhi, that state of trance one does not remember? One enters into a condition which seems blissful, but when one comes out of it, one does not know at all what has happened." Then he looked at me, saw what I meant and told me, "It is unconsciousness." I asked him for an explanation, I said, "What?" He told me, "Yes, you enter into what is called samadhi when you go out of your conscious being and enter a part of your being which is completely unconscious, or rather a domain where you have no corresponding consciousness -- you go beyond the field of your consciousness and enter a region where you are no longer conscious. You are in the impersonal state, that is to say, a state in which you are unconscious; and that is why, naturally, you remember nothing, because you were not conscious of anything." So he reassured me and I said, "Well, this has never happened to me." He replied, "Nor to me!" (laughter).

Arguing Reality m-g presents a synopsis of the three main approaches to arguments about the nature of reality, enlightenment and consciousness and raises questions about some specific assumptions in Ramana's self-inquiry teachings.

Atman & Brahman Dr. Jill Carroll, Adjunct Associate Professor in the Department of Religious Studies at Rice University. The phrase "atman is Brahman" captures the Vedanta school's primary view about ultimate reality and our human relationship to it. First is "atman" - loosely translated, this means "soul" or "individual soul." Atman refers to the essence of each individual living thing - its soul or primary living energy. Brahman is "world soul" or "cosmic soul." It is the eternal essence of the universe and the ultimate divine reality. It is the life source of all that has been, is and will be throughout the entire cosmos. It is not an individual being - it is more like the primal ground or reality of all being and existence.

Practicing Ramana's Self-Inquiry (scroll down to Wednesday, February 06, 2008) Beginner's Confusion is Unavoidable by Conrad Goehausen: David Godman remarked in an interview a few years ago that someone interested in self-enquiry stood at the door of the meditation hall at Ramanashram asking for help on self-enquiry, and found that not a single person was actually practicing it there.

Mysticism and Mystical Philosophy Compared Paul Brunton Notebooks - Its Realization Beyond Ecstasy - Notation 62: The metaphysical thinking must work its way, first upwards to a more and more abstract concept and second inwards to a more and more complete absorption from the external world. The consequence is that when illumination results, whether it comes in the form of a mystical trance, ecstasy, or intuition, its character will be unquestionably different and immeasurably superior to that which comes from the mere sterilization of the thinking process which is the method of ordinary yoga. (mg comment: Ecstasy Presents the alternative reverent, perennial view of Nirvikalpa Samadhi that Ramana and other proponents of jnana yoga disparage as 'trance' and insinuate it provides 'no good'. (end comment)

The Integrationalists and the Non-Dualists by Peter Holleran - a thesis presented as an imaginary conversation between contrasting points of view on the relationship between realization and transformation. Presented in excerpts that Maya-Gaia finds especially useful for integrating the Nirvikalpa Samadhi experience particularly in regards to support for the theme I put forth here and elsewhere that awakening is not an award for right practice of jnana or bhakti or any other yoga but is an unqualified gift of God's grace that appears to arise in synchronicity with a state of absolute desirelessness (and subsequent free-will to surrender life itself).

Theism and Atheism in the Spiritual Non-Dual Traditions Tathagata (Buddha) is "God", known under countless diverse names: ...Isvara, Brahma, Shiva, Vishnu, Non-Duality (advaya), Nirvana, Dharma, Brahman and infinitudes of names and terms for Godhead. As the Buddha declares in the Mahaparinirvana Sutra (Vol. 4, p. 47): "Truth is one, but names are many."

Higher States of Consciousness: Literature Review and Theoretical Integratation by Jayne Gackenbach. There is a central psychospiritual state of consciousness for which there is now adequate scientific evidence that the experience of it is healthy, life enhancing, and promotes development. It is pure consciousness. Several other transpersonal experiences can be understood as clustering in some way around or leading to this central experience. (m-g commentary: However- what this overview of the post-modern efforts to put the experience of pure consciousness into an empirical context sug ests- is that we have yet to advance its comprehension much beyond the enigma referred to in Upanishad texts over three millennia ago.)

Rational Mysticism by John Horgan - generous online content of book by an acclaimed- often skeptical but open-minded journalist investigating the ways in which scientists, theologians, and philosophers are attempting to formulate an empirical explanation of spiritual enlightenment.

Varieties of Nondual Realization: Divine Play as One/Many by Dr. Timothy Conway 2006. A concise overview of how a strong recent movement of nondually-oriented psychotherapists interfaces with a nondual and "neo-nondual" spiritual movement in Asia, Europe and America featuring more-or-less enlightened teachers and students in lineages of eastern and western religions who have increasingly integrated the traditionally mystical-spiritual perspective of Pure Solid Awareness - the profound Truth or Reality of whatever experience/experiencer arises. This is Nondual Realization, the quintessential mystical experiencing.
(mg note: with some reservation regarding his relationship with Guruphiliac - Jody Radzik. Actually I find myself empathetic with the mission of Jody's Guruphiliac blog - "...to blow the cover off the facade of holy divinity and expose the much more accessible humanity that always lies just a tenth of a millimeter underneath." My main point of contention with Radzik is his claim that the drug ecstasy can induce an authentic Nirvikalpa Samadhi experience. I maintain that such potent entheogens produce an impure version mixed to varying degrees with psychic baggage - resulting in a frequently inspiring but warped illusion of realization.)

Update 11 16 08:
Jody Radzik (mg: Jody sent me an Email calling my attention to this statement in his blog- refining his view on psychedelic spirituality and positing that it disclaims my "strong misapprehension" that he advocates the drug ecstasy as a enabler for authentic samadhi. I generalized from the considerable body of Google references to his drift which seemed an enthusiastic advocacy of ecstasy-inspired spirituality. I'd say his challenge is to convert the public impression this body has created with as vigorous a campaign as for example Antony Flew launched when he converted from an advocate of atheism to born again deism.)

Update 05_25_08:

I've just read the downloadable Chapter 1 of a yet to be published book by Sutapas Bhattacharya. The Brainstem Brainwaves of Atman-Brahman - The Synthesis of Science and Spirituality Bhattacharya takes us - with a thoroughly justified pro-active India-centric vigor - on a scholarly, comprehensive sweep through three millennium of history of how light is the core of all the world's mystical traditions which eminated from India - the cradle of philosophy. These 54 pages are a compendium of intimate perspectives and connections to the subject - of virtually every authorative source and individual in philosophy, metaphysics and science I've encountered in my integration effort over the past ten years.

You might have heard it said that the human body is the temple of the Spirit. Indeed, a Hindu temple is said to symboli e, in its architecture, the so-called subtle body (or etheric or energy body). The most sacred part of the temple is hidden deep within the structure. Beneath the surface of what seems to us most familiar and unassuming, our own consciousness, there lies this greatest secret of human existence which most will not become aware until the final moments of life. This revelation at the moment of death is not one that can usually be transmitted to others. This secret has long been suppressed by Christians and Muslims as it undermines their religious beliefs. Ironically, modern Science, which we shall see is in fact the disaffected child of Christian mythology, also wishes to suppress this greatest of secrets which likewise undermines its fundamental beliefs.

p 43: Surrender and Death: Westerners were too afraid of surrendering so that Yoga was an inappropriate practise for them. Such letting go is releasing the grip of the ego mind with which we are all so familiar that we can hardly contemplate its disappearance. Yet the French call the sexual orgasm -tit mort (little death) as phenomenologically there is a recognition here that orgasm involves a momentary extinction of ego consciousness (or at least a loosening of the ego boundaries) which is similar to the ego dissolution in deeper states attained by mystics in union with the Divine Light or the ego dissolution of Nature mystics which occurs in the normal waking state. John White states that the yogic death experience is literally ecstatic as the etymology of this word derives from ex (out of) and stasis (static condition). Ecstasy is the ancient term for the out-of-body experience or Astral Projection, the (Shamanic) flight of the soul. Indeed, the famous positive descriptions of the Atman-Brahman (the Divine Light of Pure Consciousness within us, the impersonal Deeper Self that is within us all yet is also one with the Godhead) is that it is Satchitananda; Pure Being (Sat), Pure Consciousness (chit) and Divine Bliss (ananda). This Bliss which, as we shall see, naive materialists try to reduce to merely opiate release etc. in the brain, refers, not to simple pleasure but to the release and freedom from worldly attachments, limitations, desires and fears that come with the loss of individuated existence (like petit mort) and participation in the Divine, the Eternal Oneness which is unborn and uncreated and for which death has no meaning as the uncreated is beyond the creative flux of the temporal realm. Grosso's clarification of supposed experiences of Jesus by Western NDErs indoctrinated into Christian culture actually confirms the partial validity of the Constructivist thesis that mystical experiences are culturally-indoctrinated. However, the constructivists argue that they are all mere imagination whereas the projection of the Christ-form onto the Pure Light again underlines the universality and centrality of the Divine Light as the common, underlying core of all mystical traditions.

p 43-(mg note:) Surrender and Death: Grosso's clarification of supposed experiences of Jesus by Western NDErs indoctrinated into Christian culture actually confirms the partial validity of the Constructivist thesis that mystical experiences are culturally-indoctrinated. However, the constructivists argue that they are all mere imagination whereas the projection of the Christ-form onto the Pure Light again underlines the universality and centrality of the Divine Light as the common, underlying core of all mystical traditions. In Hindu philosophy, the form projected by the mind onto the Light or Godhead is known as the Ishta Devata, the Chosen Deity. Any image, not only anthropomorphic ones, can perform this function of representing the Godhead. So long as there is awareness of form (object) in the light comprehended by subject it is an experience of duality as in virtually all NDEs and conforms to savikalpa samadhi (with seed) and not to the non-daul state of Nirvikalpa Samadhi (without seed) or temporary oneness with Brahman.

See Also The Oneness/Otherness Mystery - The Synthesis of Science and Mysticism (1999) by Sutapas Bhattacharya.End Update

Update: 04 30 2013 Sutapas Bhattacharya writes: "Having spent 7 years writing my new book The Brainstem Brainwaves of Atman-Brahman: The Synthesis of Science and Spirituality, I just published my website preview that includes the essay The Tacit Racism of Western Academia.. For obvious reasons I am searching for an Indian publisher." End Update

Grace in Vedanta and Kashmir Shaivism Divine Grace is anugraha in Vedanta and shaktipaata in Kashmir Shaivism. Both the philosophies understand it to be unconditional. They are in complete agreement on this point. Vedanta says that intellectual power, study of the Vedas and even spiritual instruction are persuaded by divine grace alone.
'It is by Lord's grace that one is led to monistic practices.'
Again, the Upanishads declare:
'Atma can be realized by him whom He favours and to whom He reveals Himself.'
In Shaivism also it is Shaktipaata that makes self-recognition possible.
'One is directed towards the preceptor as if tethered with a rope'.
'There is no human effort to earn shaktipaata'.
It is the independent will of Lord Siva to grant shaktipaata or divine grace to any one at any place and at any time.

The Taoist Mystical Experience:- Analysis of the Numinous and Mystical Aspects by Jennifer Layton. In his essay "Mysticism and Meditation," Robert M. Gimello's praises Ninian Smart for his distinction between the "numinous" and "mystical" experience; however, this distinction can be misleading for it assumes that the "numinous" experience belongs solely to those mystics of the prophetic religions - Judaism, Islam and Christianity - and that the religious experience of "certain strands of Buddhism (along with some varieties of Taoism, Hinduism, etc.)" is exclusively "mystical" (Katz 171). Gimello, paraphrasing Smart, goes on to describe a numinous experience as "an encounter with a being wholly other than oneself . . . gratuitous, in the sense that those subject to it are not themselves responsible for its occurrence" (Katz 171). By contrast, the mystical experience is "not so much an encounter with a `sacred other' as it is the interior attainment of a certain supernatural state of mind" and is the result of the "subject's own efforts in following a certain contemplative discipline or method" (Katz 172). Layton argues the distinctions are more problematic.

Consciousness - an animation of Spirit. A youtube animated video by avaita.org portraying our transformation from the illusion of duality to non dual realization via a guru.

See Wikipedia Article - Trance Trance is increasingly used as a meta-paradigm and inclusive term for different states of consciousness and what has come to be known as altered states of consciousness. No value judgement on the states is intended. The trance as meta-paradigm model has been developing through the confluence of various fields and disciplines since the 1970s.

Ecstatic Trance Felicitas Goodman writes that "there are no traditional rituals or ceremonies that truly work and change our reality without the use of trance." (other examples: Hoffman, 1998: p.10; Wier, in his 1995 book, "Trance: from magic to technology", defines a simple trance (p.58) as being caused by cognitive loops which always result in various sets of disabled cognitive functions. With this simple definition, Wier defines meditation, hypnosis, addiction and charisma as complex forms of the simple definition. In Wier's 2007 book, "The Way of Trance," he elaborates on these forms, adds ecstasy as an additional form and discusses the ethical implications of his model, including magic. John Horgan in Rational Mysticism (2003) explores the neurological mechanisms and psychological implications of trances and other mystical manifestations. Horgan incorporates literature and case-studies from a number of disciplines in this work.

(From a very tentative skimming of the following essay- it sounds like it's 12-step discipline has some resemblance to the Self-inquiry of Ramana Maharshi and the discovery of the Supermind of Aurobindo and some of the other traditions of jnana yoga.- mg)
Psychodynamics of Spirituality: The Higher Power and the Personal Unconscious by Gibbs A. Williams, Ph.D. The purpose of this paper is to shed light on the nature of spirituality as a core issue underlying alcohol addiction {possibly other addictions as well} and the resulting implications for treatment. For the purposes of this paper, treatment will be limited to The Twelve Steps Program of Alcoholics Anonymous and, or Psychoanalytic Psychotherapy.

The entire body of scripture, dharma and yoga may be a convolution of arbitrary prescriptions-become-doctrine attributing cause for the effect of grace. Within each discipline grace occasionally occurs thus confirming the efficacy of the tradition. Meanwhile grace seems to spontaneously occur randomly throughout the entire belief spectrum of humanity, which until modernity was only recorded in the religious context and otherwise went undocumented. A contemporary body of first-person accounts of singularity episodes which arose spontaneously out of situations with no religious or spiritual content have provided additional perspective to the classical accounts- most dramatically in regards to confirming or refuting what prerequisites may effect their attainment. For example- in my Nirvikalpa Samadhi experience- attaining a state of absolute desirelessness was the only fundamental percept of tradition that I had accidentally conformed to, otherwise I met none of the many prerequisites prescribed in the doctrines of the non-dual traditions.

Update: 01 01 08
The intellectual methodologies of those sages most admired by the transpersonal psychology, integral spirituality, non-dual and Wilberian communities in the West can be contrasted with the bhakti-devotional approach of Bhagavan Das whose teachings carry on experience-centered ecstatic traditions in which music, chanting and worship directly inspire higher realization and invite grace. In the late 60's, Bhagavan Das introduced a young American, Richard Alpert to his guru Neem Karoli Baba whose repeated teaching was the derivation of the title of the book Be Here Now that Alpert later a thored under his spiritual name- Baba Ram Das.

I had not read any work by this yogi before writing my Deist Gaia Manifest so was surprised to discover a quotation in a Bhagavan Das Interview which describes a more intensely doctrinaire version of my deist theosophy in which my Gaia is his Shakti without the Tantric attributes and my ultimate Brahman has no gender. Bhagavan Da: "For me, I worship Shakti; I worship the Divine Mother. For me, God is women. I perceive all women as God and the female energy. I know that it is both male and female, but for me, it's the Mother. That energy is everywhere in nature, it's the moon, it's the wind, it's the green of the Earth. That's my own particular path which is the Tantric path. The way it works is that we see the male form as being the spirit or formless energy of God and that the manifestation of God is the Mother. Since we do live here in the body, I think it's very powerful to worship the form."

See Bhagavan Das Videos

See Alan Kazlev's critique of lack of gnosis by the integral community.

Varieties of Nondual Realization: Divine Play as One/Many 2006 by Timothy Conway: Nonduality in devotion, parabhakti or abheda bhakti. For anyone considering the wisdom- and devotion-paths as necessarily divergent and incompatible, spiritual literature reveals that most of our eminent nondual mystics possess, in addition to a strong Intuitive-Sage temperament, a spontaneous, full-feeling Devotional temperament. The Shvetashvatara Upanishad, Bhagavad Gita, Shankara, Nagarjuna, Indo-Tibetan Mahasiddhas and Tantrikas, Bistami, Sanai, Rumi, Juan de la Cruz, and many other nondual mystics East and West display strong devotional temperament toward the Absolute/God/Buddha/Father/Mother/Guru. Ramana Maharshi was often found with tears of love streaming down his cheeks for his "Father", Arunachala Siva.

Many neo-Advaita circles display a smug attitude of condescension toward the devotional path as a "lesser, dualistic path", and anyone among advaitins who speaks too lovingly of God is regarded as some kind of heretic sinning in the Church of Nonduality. Such anti-devotional advaitins do well to see if an unconscious, hidden agenda- perhaps rooted in childhood trauma over religious abuse- is engendering an aversion to spontaneously feeling and regarding Pure Awareness in a loving, devotional way, the One Reality (non-narcissistically) celebrating/loving ItSelf as the Beloved.

Relationship of Maya-Gaia to Jnana-Bhakti Tensions

Modern metaphysical and new science writers identify states analogous to Nirvikalpa Samadhi with secular terms such as Cosmic Consciousness and Peak Experience and the integral spiritual and transpersonal psychology communities are inventing neologisms for their ongoing effort to map the landscape of transcendent consciousness described in the non-dual traditions.

What practical approaches are there to intentionally move closer to the godhead experience?

Every warp and woof woven into the fabric of the non-dual traditions over millennia is an e fort to create a codex by which aspirants can attain the godhead experience. 99% of its pattern is based on the belief that realization can be earned through an infinite variety of practices involving, scripture, bhakti, meditation, worship, sacrifice, moral obedience, acts of compassion and good works. Included here are the disciplines of jnana yoga of self-inquiry, killing the mind or transforming to Supermind. 1% acknowledge the importance of adopting morally responsible principles but recognize that transcendence comes from grace alone. Post-modern integral concepts suggest that grace can occur anywhere along the entire spectrum of conscious states and activity that range from a religious adept in devotional meditation with his sataguru to mundane acts with no spiritual intent like having sex, reveling in a sunset or sleeping.

To Practice or Not to Practice by Joel Morwood 2004 The aim of all mystical paths is to end suffering through a Realization (Enlightenment or Gnosis) of the Truth - namely, that our experience of being a separate entity or self, subject to birth and death is, in reality, a delusion. In reality, there is only Consciousness, Itself, ("God," "Brahman," "Buddha-mind," etc.) in which all apparent `entities' and `selves' arise and pass like the seamless waves of a shoreless ocean. In recent years teachers have appeared who recommend a kind of effortless contemplation in which the practitioner is advised to abandon all efforts, cease seeking to attain anything, and just be still. Norwood argues in favor of practice and disciplines for such things as conducting inquiry, training in meditation, cultivating morality, and kindling devotion.

This raises the question: can the state of intellectual awareness attained via these various methods of inquiry (Ramana's Advaita, Aurobindo's Supermind, Buddhism, Zen or modern integral permutations) trigger authentic Nirvikalpa Samadhi or Satori or is the practice in itself sufficient to bring the practitioner to full 'direct experience'? I suspect that Samadhi, although rare, occurs randomly and spontaneously throughout mankind in association with momentary states of absolute desirelessness with or without practice. That it is a manifestation of immanent grace in which the experiencer is swept up into a divinely orchestrated deterministic scenario of light, bliss and love that provides a brief, temporary, palpable, direct realization of non-dual Godhead reality. I also suspect that the effect of Dharma knowledge and practice may be conflicting in that while it facilitates the integration of Samadhi if it occurs, it may make attaining a state of desirelessness more challenging by conditioning expectations.

I conceive of gnosis symbolically at the pinnacle of a vertical hierarchy of immanent spiritual states of consciousness/feeling in a continuum within a two-tiered ultimate reality. At the bottom of the conceptual model are our animal instincts for pair and maternal bonding. From there they rise through the nature/nurture induced spectrum common to our species for compassion and love in duality to higher states of spiritual communion, epiphany, ecstasy and rapture which bring us to the brink of transcendence. Throughout the hierarchy there is the potential for the spiritual ground to rupture out at any point of duality through grace into the godhead experience so any state is actually a hologram of potential for transcendence. So activities that induce any of those immanent spiritual states of consciousness/feeling may offer a way to be within better range of grace.

The formula that has the greatest potential for evoking this rupture may also be the most difficult to incorporate into practice. It would be a single act of bringing together male and female into a perfectly synchronous state of love and passion to cause an ecstatic orgasm evoking a state of absolute desireles ness. It is in this ephemeral moment that the uncertain grace of Nirvikalpa Samadhi seems most immanent. But the authenticity of this synchronicity may be so critical as to defy prescription which is why simply bringing together a, sexually hot- even loving- couple whether invoking neo-tantric disciplines or not, may not create the optimum state of desirelessness or even if it does so, as with every intentional practice, grace-always rare and uncertain- may yet not appear.

Kaula Tantra emphasizes it's dharma as an equal-opportunity for both male and female partners to attain simultaneous realization. I can only relate to those Tantric teachings that are configured exclusively for the benefit of heterosexual males attaining realization, in that Patti did not have the Samadhi experience that I was graced with. (I assume many middle-aged females may fantasize about having an affair with a hyperactive young stud but I'm not aware of any architypal profiles for their gender with the specificity prescribed for males in the literature of either the non-dual traditions or postmodern psychology.)

The following article has some bearing on this issue: Tantric Transformations from a Woman's Perspective, a non-dual journey from sexual trauma to wholeness: a phenomenological hermeneutics approach - Lewis, Lisa; University of Lethbridge. School of Health Sciences, 2007. Abstract: This thesis explores the Tantric transformational journey from sexual trauma to wholeness. The research question offers to explain, "What are the experiences of women who have experienced sexual trauma and have embraced the non-dual path of Tantra as a transformational journey to wholeness?" A phenomenological hermeneutic method of study was used to investigate and understand themes that surfaced from the coparticipants narratives.

Within the convoluted and conflicting ritualistic and moralistic strains of Shaktism, is a prevalent concept that the ideal consort for the male is what contemporary Western culture would consider a pubescent girl. In Shakespeare's era where Juliet was 12 or currently in Islamic cultures where Muhammad consummated his marriage to Aisha when she was 9, the nubile age retreated. (A concept expressed in the ultimate reward for Islamist martyrdom of 72 virgin wives- although it's not clear what the perks are for female suicide bombers.) See World Map Legal Age. Her actual age is less an issue as long as she supports the fantasy of an innocent girl become an eager co-conspirator in her seduction thus bringing forth the usually hidden psycho/erotic power and passion of the forbidden. (Vamacara Tantra prescribes additional acts of transgression to heighten the sense of violating moral and religious tradition.)

An alternative perspective to the Tantra tradition as providing equal opportunity for both male and female genders is presented at Honey On The Razor's Edge - The Nature of Gender and Romance by Ngak-chang Rinpoche & Khandro Déchen. There are no criteria to which the tantrika has to conform. If you are a yogini, a woman, that is simply what you are - and the same is true of a yogi, a man. According to inner Tantra, the "concave definition" is that your gender is simultaneously fulfilled and transformed by your relationship with your environment. In the Tantric teachings of all schools of Tibetan Buddhism, this is one of the primary vows. The vow is that we attempt to experience the entire spectrum of external reality, either as method-display (male) or as wisdom-display (female).

To further complicate the formula, my finite experience suggests this should be an act that happens when the guy is middle-aged, who has been eating out his heart for such a relationship and who by miracle meets the ideal Shakti. Then there is the clincher of the miraculous appearance of the ideal entheogen. Certain Cannabis seems to bring orgasmic ecstasy to the doorway of a spontaneous, authentic transcendent journey so that it functions as a trigger rather than the charge. In contrast- the psychedelic effects of more potent entheogens tend to take charge during the entire course of the transcendent episode- warping the entire experience. In any event, it's clear that intentionally instigating such a life-altering formula is simply more challenging than fate can provide the average guy given all the cultural taboos and laws against such a scenario.

In My Own Way by Alan Watts. With this new edition of his acclaimed autobiography, this excerpt is a great, often hilarious, read as example of many anecdotes where the laid-back Watts gently tweaks enlightenment pretensions of some celebrity gurus. This account involves Swami Prabhavananda (a proponent of asceticism and sexual abstinence) who had emerged from the Hindu diaspora in the 1950s and was installed as the main guru of the California Vedanta Society. The exchange can be traced back to a passing remark Watts had made in the course of a lecture, that there was some analogy between the ecstasy of Samadhi, or mystical experience, and sexual orgasm.

What to do other than try various degrees of modifications and compromise the ideal I've outline above which is what is going on in the neotantra community where more conventionally matched couples focus on raising the quality of ecstatic orgasm sufficient to attain a state of "absolute desirelessness" in hope it will trigger the grace of transcendence. Some Tantric Shakti protocols stress participants need the highest moral prerequisite as loving husband and wife while others merely require couples be compatible and loving. Transgressive versions range for a Shakti to be "other than one's wife" to choosing a girl of the lowest caste and doing it in a graveyard. A rational permutation of principle suggests that a scenario that will produce a maximum turn-on customized for each neotantrika couple will cover a wide spectrum of ultimate fantasies defined over an infinite range of sexual configurations. So there appears to be a broad spectrum over which aspirants can find a mutually compatible psychological and spiritual regimen- from techniques emphasizing self-identity with Shiva/Shakti to those focusing on maximizing the level of passion by forbidden casual, kinky sex- any of which may approximate the psycho/sexual aspects of one version of Tantric and Dao sexual yoga or another.

There is fairly large contemporary modern community drawing on the ancient traditions and shamanic practices which believes that there are entheogens that alone can raise an individual to a state of transcendent consciousness identical to Nirvikalpa Samadhi. Prominent in this modern chain of being are LSD guru Timothy Leary; Aldous Huxley; theologian Huston Smith, spiritual heir to Joseph Campbell; Andrew Newberg, the scientist questing for the "God module" and Alexander Shulgin, legendary psychedelic drug chemist. The 21st century version of Leary as counter culture phenomenon is Jody Radzik touting the virtues of the drug Ecstasy to reprogram an entire generation to a Gaian consciousness. Transpersonal psychologist Stanislav Grof's first LSD experience in a lab experiment involving stroboscopic lights suggests combining entheogens with sensory altering devices like flotation tanks or strategies like fasting may trigger or induce a transcendent episode.

Then there are those scientists involved in the field of neurotheology- seeking the biological basis of spirituality. Neurobiologist Michael Perringer has built a "God Machine" which he claims can replicate religious experiences by electro-stimulation of certain parts of the brain. Other researchers focus on psychological, genetic, and biochemical origins in a reductionist effort to find a cause for an effect they cannot accept has a reality in itself and especially that it may be divinely graced.

See also The Neurosciences of Religion: Meditation, Entheogens, Mysticism - How the Neurosciences Explain Religion or Not, 2007 - lecture by William Grassie Presented at the Society for the Integration of Science and Human Values (SiSHVa) Department of Pali and Buddhist Studies The University of Peradeniya, Kandy Sri Lanka. The essay provides an overview of advances in the cognitive neurosciences and new research on the neurological basis for religious and spiritual experiences.

Aside from sexual and entheogenic approaches, traditional options for evoking ecstatic states include dancing/drumming whirling dervish or transcendental Sufi, doing kirtan (chanting, singing) and other practices that tend to raise the spiritual/emotional energies of a group into a collective rapture. Similar effects manifest over a wide range of religious practice as best represented by ecstatic orders such as Charismatic Pentecostals or various flagellant sects but can infect any number of individuals during mass religious rituals such as the hajj in Mecca, or religious festivals like the Sufi Qalandar in Pakistan, the Kumbh Mela on the Ganges river in India or miracles at Lourdes.

Similar effects undoubtedly arose in the Eleusinian mysteries and survive in the rites of contemporary Pagan and Wicca cults with some question as to the nature of altered states that arise in the secular atmosphere of trance and techno dance clubs and festivals even counting out the effects of drugs. (I have serious reservations as to whether my Goombay experience was more a collective channeling of some psychic overmind which suggests that secular, shamanic or Voodoo type group ecstatic episodes may be manifests of some form of psychic state outside the immanent/transcendent continuum. This connects to my caution regarding Kundalini where consciousness risks becoming spirited out of the numinous continuum into the occult and psychic realm.) See also: Distinguishing Numinous - Psychic Mystical Experience.

Individual meditation can raise transcendental consciousness and group meditation can create a synergistic effect which can be felt by a disciple in the presence of a guru in an order of intensity relative to the yogin's degree of authentic holiness. Ecospiritual group rites or individual communion with nature such as viewing a sunset or petting a Labrador retriever can elicit any degree of spiritual uplift even including the ultimate transcendent experience.

Although my Nirvikalpa Samadhi journey may be unique in both its Tantric aspects and the relative clarity of its memory, I realize that skepticism is as justified here as with any of the vast body of historic and contemporary revelations about ultimate reality that is growing exponentially both in print and online. Nor is its authenticity any reason to give credibility to any of my extrapolated conclusions about how anyone else might be graced with the experience.

On the subject of ultimate questions - consider the plight of the AGNOSTIC, DYSLEXIC, INSOMNIAC - he lay's awake at night, wondering if there really is a Dog?

My later (02_2009) reflections on the purposefulness that my samadhi has graced my old age HERE.

Update 07 31 2011: I am currently evolving a Primordial Rhythm Meditation page outlining a tentative model for an active meditation by which I can practice communion with my Panendeism God. I've created a youtube audio/video in which I perform a synopsis demo of the sounds and moves in my meditation. My practice is a form of Bhakti, but since I have already been blessed with God realization, the aspiration for moksha- to merge with Brahman or Bodhi - inherent in Hindu and Buddhist yoga - is not in my agenda. However, for aspirants I see no reason why the practice I outline would not have the full potential to serve this ultimate goal as well as Bhakti, Nada or any other traditional yoga.

See MY PERSPECTIVE that the term sahaja really defines a supreme integration of a Nirvikalpa Samadhi rather than a higher samadhi experience and Sahaja and Jivanmukta for more on that issue.

SAMADHI ANECDOTAL ACCOUNTS Examples of the variety of scenarios that manifest in the state of duality that precurses the transformation of consciousness into the non-dual state of Nirvikalpa Samadhi and how these projections can color whatever realization paradigm the experiencer may compose.

LINKS TO SAMADHI Insight and speculation- distinguishing the transcendent noumenon where consciousness is transformed into the non-dual and contentless, acosmic character of nirvikalpa samadhi from NDE or OOB experiences.

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