MAYA-GAIA INTRODUCTION & SITEMAP Update 03 07 07
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.
Nirvikalpa Samadhi is Insight to Ultimate Truth.
What is experienced is remembered imperfectly
This imperfection is then interpreted
We will never know the whole.
In Cosmic Consciousness I address the controversies both within the scientific and secular philosophical communities and between them and the integral spriritualy movement.
This article relates my experience to subjects I've already introduced in the pages on Extrapolating Samadhi and Credibility of Transcendence which concern the more subtle divisions within religious and metaphysical schools over the descriptions and interpretations of divine revelations. Advaitic Experience, focused on Sri Ramana Maharshi's views on samadhi with my notes about inconsistencies in my account with some of his teachings.
Here, I attempt an epistemological examination of my own experience to judge its credibility and introduce THE GURU GAME in which- in a display of overweening hubris- I provide intuitive answers to some ultimate questions which only a fully realized sage should address and present a tentative model for ultimate reality it revealed.
Playing the Guru Game (as with my entire Samadhi Chronicles) carries a caveat that my theosophy does not serve as a dharma or moral model for achieving an
ideal, stable, just and self sustainable society. In fact it suggests there is no moral prerequisite to qualify for the grace of Nirvikalpa Samadhi and although it is a direct knowing of Godhead and removes the fear of death, it does not necessarily bestow any particular virtuous qualities to the experiencer. Although h(she) may be fully realized by virtue of acute memory of the event- I hold that whatever transformation of living character results depends entirely on how the episode is integrated according to free-will decisions by the experiencer. This can range over a broad spectrum of memetics- embracing a traditional dharma, innovating an ishvara for devotion and worship or adopting some crazy wisdom, worldly engagement or detachment, having compassion for humanity and/or nature or becoming narcissistic or exploitive- and so on.
I also recognize that my "realizations" are not inspirational as a path or practice to attain liberation in the manner of those offered by traditional gurus or popular advocates of integral spirituality like Eckart Tolle or Ken Wilber and in fact conflict to one degree or another with the teachings of virtually all religious and spiritual schools.
The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy, presents an essay by Peter Forrest-The Epistemology of Religion- (First published 1997; substantive revision 2006) It primarily concerns how religious belief of the community at large can be justified rather than how individuals who have direct religious experience can warrant their premises. The following excerpts demonstrate the difficulty in arriving at consensus over criteria for believability of the non-material.
"Contemporary epistemology of religion may conveniently be treated as a debate over whether evidentialism applies to the belief-component of religious faith, or whether we should instead adopt a more permissive epistemology. Here by evidentialism I mean the initially plausible position that a belief is justified only if "it is proportioned to the evidence". Evidentialism implies that it is not justified to have a full religious belief unless there is conclusive evidence for it. It follows that if the known arguments for there being a God, including any arguments from religious experience, are at best probable ones, no one would be justified in having full belief that there is a God.
Newman's position has two interpretations. One, which differs little from Swinburne's probabilistic approach to natural theology, asserts that the consilience of a number of independent pieces of probable reasoning can result in a probability so high as to be negligibly different from certainty.
What is the difference between Empiricism and Rationalism?: According to empiricism, we can only know things after we have had the relevant experience - this is labeled a posteriori knowledge because posteriori means "after." According to rationalism, it is possible to know things before we have had experiences - this is known as a priori knowledge because priori means before."
In A New Integral Paradigm M Alan Kazlev offers some basic methodological working principles to assess validity of numinous revelations in formulating a new integral paradigm for a theory of everything which is analogous to religious belief. The most relevant to my project are the following with my notations of why my account scores positively (in red):
2. Because every datum of experience is colored by earlier experiences, the experiencer's own worldview, and the general expectation setting, an experience that corresponds to those expectations is less remarkable (and hence requires negative "weighting") than one that doesn't. e.g. if an Evangelical Christian experiences a vision of Jesus, that is not very unusual. But if a non-western Buddhist or Animist does, that is. I was utterly naive about religious or metaphysical subjects so had no expectations.
3. Where either the same or a similar datum of experience is independently reported by more than one individual or doctrine, without them both being biased by the same expectation set (point 2 above), that lends support to its significance (i.e. it can be "weighted" and considered "more reliable". e.g. if one person reports being followed by 2 meter long cockroach, this would have less credence then if several individuals independently report the same experience).
See Synchronicity in Two Samadhi
4. Likewise, where a datum of individual experience corresponds to an event outside the sphere of that individual's consciousness, that also lends support to its significance (i.e. it can again be "weighted" and considered "more reliable". This does not have to refer to secular-materialistic, scientistic, or religionistically agreed upon facts; it could be something like an astrological event). (empiricism) There is no aspect of my Nirvikalpa Samadhi journey that was inside my sphere of consciousness.
9. Adherence of an individual experience to a particular paradigm or fixed worldview that fits the expectation set should never be considered an argument for that experience's or explanation's validity. In fact we should look for experiences that conflict with the paradigm, these are the ones that tell us something about the universe and how reality works.
I take issue with Axiom 9. This views all current paradigms supported by epistemological consensus as essentially invalid or meaningless for aprising the credibility of experiences that find agreement with any of their features. Many datum in my samadhic scenario correlate to descriptions of the Advaitic experience of Nirvikalpa Samadhi- so by this axiom my account is unreliable- even though I had no a priori knowledge of any aspects of the samadhi experience. But there are also unique features not found in the anatomy of the Advaitic experience- by which the axiom finds the account credible. According to 9.- my account is both unreliable and credible. Thus the axiom is dysfunctional. Its flawed premise awards unique datum evidential status that is logical only if a majority of the hypotheses composing current paradigms are falsified and introduces an arbitrary math where credibility is proportional to the degree to which scenarios and features are outlandish.
Of course we have to be cautious about adopting new paradigms since the Godel Theorem says: A system of axioms can never be based on itself: statements from outside the system must be used in order to prove its consistency.
Phenomenology is even more abstract than epistemology as a device for philosophy's attempts to make sense of the ineffable. Dialectical Phenomenology: an exploration of phenomena (what presents itself to us in conscious experience) as a means to finally grasp the absolute, logical, ontological and metaphysical Spirit that is behind phenomena. Other versions include 'transcendental phenomenology'
and 'existential phenomenology'.
Daniel Dennett has criticized phenomenology on the basis that its explicitly first-person approach is incompatible with the scientific third-person approach, going so far as to coin the term 'autophenomenology'- which sounds rather more like what I may be guilty of in attempting to establish credibility for my samadhi.
So far- it appears that with all the uncertainty as to how epistemology or phenomenology can be applied to believability of religious revelation and since most of their concepts are frankly way over my head- I'm better off applying just the basic philosophical principles to my intuitive approach.
The historic evidence for the reality of a supreme state of non-dual consciousness which individuals can attain is warranted by Newman's proposition-that the consilience of a number of independent pieces of probable reasoning has resulted in a probability so high as to be negligibly different from certainty.
That said, the devil is in the details, and in superimposing my samadhic template over those from the classical transcendent archives I see an entire range of match and mismatch. No surprise since each dharmic school has proprietary definitions for Samadhi, Satori, Kensho, Dao not to mention the contradictions for instance among those sages with common roots in the Upanishads- Adi Shankara who stressed the scriptures of the Veda, Sri Ramana Maharshi who focused on the Adviatic tradition of recognizing non-duality and Sri Auribindo whose philosophy was largely Tantric and occult.
Since I've no education in epistemological concepts, my instinct for validating my mystical realization is to discover synchronicity within both archival and contemporary accounts that bolster support for its reality. Then to go deeper into sacred texts and examine modern experiences to see how they answer some fundamental religious/philosophical questions and whether I agree or disagree in light of my particular revelations. In The Advaitic Experience I measure some aspects of my revelations with those of Sri Ramana Marharshi.
According to axiom No 2 (above) as websites such as mine provide insight into the numinous realm- it will be increasingly difficult to ascertain the credibility of transcendent accounts that may be "contaminated" by a priori knowledge which load the experiencer with expectations. I present these insights under the divine permission described here.
In the following- GURU GAME- we temporarily suspend
all disbelief and assume my revelations offer divine
insight to answer some ultimate questions
Immanuel Kant- An Answer to the Question: What is Enlightenment? (1784) Enlightenment is man's emergence from his self-imposed immaturity. Immaturity is the inability to use one's understanding without guidance from another. This immaturity is self-imposed when its cause lies not in lack of understanding, but in lack of resolve and courage to use it without guidance from another. Sapere Aude! [dare to know] "Have courage to use your own understanding!"--that is the motto of enlightenment.
What the Buddha said: "Do not accept what you hear by report, do not accept tradition, do not accept a statement because it is found in our books, nor because it is in accord with your belief, nor because it is the saying of your teacher- Be ye lamps unto yourselves- Those who, either now or after I am dead, shall rely upon themselves only and not look for assistance to anyone besides themselves, it is they who shall reach the very topmost height."
My Answers in blue
Q- Do we have free will?
My confrontation with an omniscient God consciousness which offered me a choice between agreeing to die or not is unambiguous proof that while we are in a state of duality we have free will. However once in the nonduality of Nirvikalpa Samadhi consciousness our state is utterly deterministic and without volition. How, when or why we are transformed back into duality and thence returned to our phenomenal selves is an event over which we have no free will. This raises another question for which I have no insight: Does a jivanmukta who is said to be in a permanent nondual state of sahaja samadhi, have free will?
In support of a deterministic reality see Experiencing Determinism by Michael Hoffman
A discourse on determinism versus freewillism with citations to relevant works. The essence and origin of religion is the use of visionary plants to routinely trigger the intense mystic altered state, producing loose binding of cognitive associations. This loose cognitive binding then produces an experience of being controlled by frozen block-universe determinism with a single, pre-existing, ever-existing future.
Q- Are the various states of consciousness in the samadhi hierarchy- Laja, Savikalpa, Nirvikalpa, Sahaja, Satori, Kensho (or any of the multiplicity of sub-species identified in Hindu philosophies) always experienced as distinct and isolated episodes?
Most historic descriptions of samadhi give the impression that the various levels are experienced separately. In my case my scenario was a vivid journey starting out in a state resembling Savikalpa Samadhi with an exhilarated self-awareness and dual, supra-consciousness. Upon passage through a cosmic "gatekeeper"- in an episodic transformation- that which was conscious Self was annihilated and in a transformative burst- dissolved into the vastness of non-dual stillness, light, bliss and love of Nirvikalpa Samadhi. Apon the reconstitution of my dull self-awareness and all during my transport back in the stream of energy, once again in a state of dual consciousness (Savikalpa?) with awareness of my body but no cognition of my identity as a being or vasanas or of a material Earth. The only manifestation of my mind all during my return journey was that I received a cosmic message that MY DEATH WAS TEMPORARY- THAT I WAS RETURNING and was aware that I had just had a miraculous experience that I might forget and kept repeating a mental appeal to Cosmic Consciousness to "let me remember". The last cognitive events were seeing the funnel entrance to the ephemeral tube that wound down to a the top end of a body-like form and experiencing the sense of "coming home" as my consciousness was injected into my sleeping body.
Q- Is a guru necessary; is it necessary to rise through the hierarchy of samadhi or kensho via meditation to attain Nirvikalpa Samadhi or Satori; are there high moral standards one must adopt like celibacy to qualify for realization; what dharma must be followed; what practice must one incorporate; what bhakti must be performed; what knowledge is required?
Since my experience arose spontaneously I have nothing to say about prerequisites to attaining Nirvikalpa Samadhi except that in my case there were none- other than to enter into a state of absolute desirelessness via an ecstatic orgasm. This obviously shows that there is no practice, worship, sacred knowledge or special, high moral standard such as celibacy imperative for the Advaitic experience to manifest as Unqualified Grace. I have no insight as to what requirements may be necessary or helpful in a meditative practice aspiring to attain samadhi.
Q- Is there a sahaja or other samadhi that provides greater insight or realization than Nirvikalpa?
No- Nirvikalpa identifies the single ultimate realization and terms such as sahaja and turiyatita, refer to the level of integration of the samadhic revelation. The consensus in Hindu and Buddhist archives point to a single ultimate state which is most often identified as Nirvikalpa Samadhi and Satori respectively. There is much greater confusion in descriptions of the state of enlightenment resulting from the Advaitic experience. Sri Ramana Maharshi's standard is that all vasanas (or at least all bad ones) must be burned away or there is no enlightenment. Where this occurs, the experiencer becomes a jivanmukta and lives an active life in [sic] a state of continual non-egoistic non-duality and is said- to have experienced a sahaja samadhi.
See my detailed examination of contradictions concerning the identity of the highest state of realization of the Godhead and its role in attaining ultimate enlightenment as Sahaja and Jivanmukta.
Q- If the consciousness of a jivanmukta were truly in a permanent non dual state is there any way they could function in the phenomenal world?
We must first distinguish between the mindfull consciousness of one who has aquired a non dual world view and the non dual consciousness in nirvikalpa samadhi. In non dual samadhi consciousness there is no awareness of self or objects, no apperception beyond white light and love within a felt ecstasy where all desire (or ability) to "perform" is extinguished. It therefore is impossible for one in a permanent non dual state of consciousness to function other than someone in a coma (without even the bare responses of some in a permanent vegetative state) and after a few days- would require that they be hooked up to a life support system to survive.
Q- The literature of the non dual tradition suggests some rishis have remained in nirvikalpa samadhi for weeks. Is this possible?
See answer above.
Q- Do all who experience Nirvikalpa Samadhi become fully enlightened?
Most do not, as enlightenment is highly relative and an integrative process that assimilates revelation, intuitively selects truthful dharma, scripture or integral spiritual percepts to manifest lifelong right thinking and purpose. Although Samadhi often imbues a love for Gaia and compassionate world view it does not necessarily raise the quality of human character which can range from honesty to hypocrisy, egotism to humility, detachment to activism and so on. This suggests that having some philosophical grounding in non-duality or holistic spiritual foundation before an awakening makes for a much more successful integration.
Q- Is there a distinction in the reality between Nirvikalpa Samadhi, Bodhi or Satori or other names for ultimate states of consciousness that various non dual disciplines refer to?
At the risk of applying common sense to resolve an issue regarding ultimate reality my answer is that ultimate has only one reality. All distinctions are the result of imperfect recall and interpretation of the experience through proprietary philosophical or religious concepts.
Q- Is the cessation of heart-beat and breath a fundamental aspect of Nirvikalpa Samadhi?
Not that I had any revelation in this regards- but my Guru intuition answers No! There is a long tradition in India of fakirs and underground yogis publicly showcasing siddhis purporting to suspend life supporting functions but even if clinically monitored- there is no proof that they are entered into Nirvikalpa Samadhi. There are accounts of rishis experiencing Nirvikalpa Samadhi lasting hours, days and even weeks so assertions that this is an essential feature of an authentic ultimate samadhi are absurd.
Although there is only one conscious reality- for all practical purposes we experience two: the duality of the phenomenal world while we are alive with a human identity and the non-duality of the eternal cosmic state. Nirvikalpa Samadhi is God's embrace- affording a glimpse while we are alive, into ultimate reality. When released- we return to function in a world of duality but aware of our non-dual immortality. In "A Brief Theory of Everything" Ken Wilber (in an apparent endorsement of Ramana's dismissive view of samadhi) describes this functioning in terms of the Nondual tradition: "Recognition is the point. Recognition of what is always already the case. Change of state is useless, a distraction. So you can have certain breakthrough Enlightenment experiences--satori, for example--but these are just the beginning of an endless process of riding the new waves of Form as they ceaselessly arise. So in this sense, in the Nondual sense, you are never "fully" Enlightened, any more than you could say that you are "fully educated." It has no meaning."
For my take on this issue see my- Implications of the Nirvikalpa Samadhi Experience at Dual-Nondual Model of Reality
Q- Is Change of state useless and Recognition the only point?
All this disparaging of samadhi by the non-dual tradition (Sri Ramana Maharshi) is a proprietary conceptual expedience based on the relative futility of practice which strives to attain it intentionally. There is no justification for denying historic validation of the fact that the Grace of Nirvikalpa Samadhi provides direct insight to non-dual reality. On the other hand- while no practice may raise the chance of Grace evoking the experience- assimilation is a major challenge and the non-dual tradition offers an effective methodology for its integration. What merit there is in the traditional practice relative to Nirvikalpa Samadhi for an exclusive approach towards Enlightenment involves so many unknown factors as to be epistemological unanswerable.
Q- Sri Ramana Maharshi, Sri Aurobindo [Collected Works of the Mother- from Volume 8, Questions and Answers 1956, p.275-6 (22 August 1956) Conversation with Aurobindo in which he reveals his inexperience with samadhi] and other rishis felt comfortable refering to Nirvikalpa Samadhi as "trance" and Ramana in particular seemed to regard it as inadequate and vastly inferior to his practice of recognition of the Self as a means of attaining realization. Is "trance" or "unconsciousness" an apt characterization of the Nirvikalpa Samadhi experience?
I am perplexed that rishis would apply either of these terms as synonomous with the state of absolute nondual awareness in Nirvikalpa Samadhi as I experienced it as a supreme awakenedness of light, bliss and love and in conrast to Ramana's contention that "it has no value" found it profoundly contributed to my ongoing realization. In my view, the terms are only appropriate from the perspective of an external someone observing the experiencer as object- who might indeed appear to be in a state of unconsciousness or trance. I am left with the sense that the vast body of opinions, concepts and rationalization that ajudicate Nirvikalpa Samadhi in any sense inferior to the supreme state of transcendent realization has been imagined by those (including some revered rishis and saints) who have never experienced it.
Ramana also equated the state of consciousness in "deep sleep" to that of "trance" whereas I have a sharp memory of all ascending stages in my Nirvikalpa Samadhi journey as states of exhilirating awarenessnt as elequently expressed in the following article:
Nirvikalpa Samadhi and Self-Knowledge by Dr. Harsh K. Luthar. While deep sleep is a state of complete unconsciousness, Nirvikalpa Samadhi is the state of Full and Complete Consciousness. Deep sleep and Nirvikalpa Samadhi are the two sides of the same coin. In a very real and true sense Nirvikalpa Samadhi is the state of "deep awake". One is fully asleep to the world of perceptions and fully awake in the Self, which is Sat-Chit-Ananda.
An Alternative View on States Part One: My Presumptuous Proposition - Ken runs Aground on the Pre-Trans Fallacy #2 by Mark Edwards. Either the deep sleep state is a temporary experience of the causal realm or it isn't. This is irrespective of which definition we use. If it is both then integral theory is internally inconsistent and in need of urgent review. (mg comment: An example of the excruciatingly challenging process for integral theory to arrive at any objective conclusion about (among other issues) whether Nirvikalpa Samadhi and deep dreamless sleep are equivalent states of consciousness- a notion deeply embedded in the non dual traditions.