MAYA-GAIA INTRODUCTION & SITEMAP Page Update 08 24 07
Note: My Anthropic Trilogy web-book, 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.
Thesis On The Advaitic [Samadhi] Experience My Notes on Excerpts from Page 1 of 5 PDF Pages
John Glenn Friesen- Submitted in accordance with the requirements for the degree of Doctor Of Literature and Philosophy in the subject: Religious Studies at the University of South Africa; Promoter: Prof J S Kruger; Joint Promoter: Dr M Clasquin 2001
[maya-gaia commentary in red text: The concepts and terms defining the range of transformative mystical states identified in the Hindu and Buddhist traditions are a legacy of over a thousand years of attempts to describe the ineffable. Even in the model of transcendent consciousness that has been subjected to the most intense ontological, epistemological and phenomenological review- the Advaita- there is acute ambiguity in the distinctions ascribed to the hierarchy of Samadhi and in criteria for establishing its credibility. Dr. Friesen's thesis provides an intimate view into the reality that- despite the twelve revisions of Upanishad doctrine, the evolution of Vedanta and Buddhism and the full realizations of countless rishis and yogis- the subject of the advaita experience- Samadhi- remains a divine enigma.]
Note: My perspectives on Ramana's precepts are based on my view through the lens of my Nirvikalpa Samadhi direct experience.
Abhishiktananda An Interview with J. Glenn Friesen by Jim Arraj - When I asked Glenn to do this interview, I told him to imagine the questions that an astute interviewer would ask, and then answer them. The result is a probing portrait of Abhishiktananda (Henri Le Saux), the Benedictine monk who was a pioneer in Hindu-Christian dialogue in India. (with Glenn's perspectives on Ramana as a Neo Vedantan, his position regarding Nirvikalpa Samadhi which he called 'trance' and Sahaja, etc.)
Sahaja and Jivanmukta Questions - a further examination of Hindu and Non-Hindu views of Jivanmukti and the identity and character of the supreme samadhi.
Ramana Maharshi References Extended excerpts from Hindu and Non-Hindu Interpretations of a Jivanmukta by Dr. John Glenn Friesen In the following, I have excerpted passages from another of Dr. John Glenn Friesen's scholarly and penetrating essays that like his Abhishiktananda again provides an intimate look into the minds of the sage-philosopher of non-dual tradition- in this case those of Ramana Maharshi, his co-sataguru Ganapati Muni, some of his devotees and some biographers.
Happiness of Being A website dedicated to exploring in depth the philosophy and practice of the spiritual teachings of Bhagavan Sri Ramana. e-book copy of Happiness and the Art of Being, which is an in-depth introduction by Michael James to Ramana's philosophy and practice.
Paul Brunton Dr. John Glenn Friesen - studies relating to Paul Brunton and Ramana Maharshi. Brunton is the author of A Search in Secrete India 1934, the book that made Ramana well known. This essay details some of the estrangements and criticisms by and about Brunton in regards to Ramana.
Ramana Maharshi, His Life and Teachings: by David Godman. 'I' and 'I-I' - A Reader's Query - Speculations about the intricate distinctions of Ramana Maharshi's "I" and "I-I" and his specific meanings for some samadhi terms found in his teachings: nirvikalpa, kevala and sahaja.
Arguing Reality 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.
The Heart, Nirvikalpa Samadhi, and Self-Realization: By Harsha (Harsh K. Luthar, Ph.D) Nirvikalpa Samadhi and Sleep - Harsha Writes: The nature of Nirvikalpa is known clearly only when the Self is Known. Self is Nirvikalpa. Nirvikalpa is simply a term which means "without kalpas" or "without thoughts" or "without imagination", etc. Self is beyond words, thoughts, feelings, and imagination. Yet, it is not a state of unconsciousness like deep sleep. Those who equate Nirvikalpa Samadhi with deep sleep and make all sorts of pronouncements have only known and enjoyed the Self-bliss in complete unconsciousness of deep sleep. Self, however, is never unconscious, its nature being pure consciousness itself.
Nirvikalpa Samadhi is completely different from all types of Savikalpa Samadhis. In Nirvikalpa, the seed "I" itself vanishes. No one remains to know anything. There is only Pure Self-Knowledge, in continuous knowing of It Self. Its nature is that of Sat-Chit-Ananda. Existence, Consciousness, Bliss.
Self is fullness of consciousness, fully and perpetually transparent to itself as one whole. That is Sahaj. Sahaj means natural. Consciousness is the nature of Self. Consciousness is natural to the Self. When the Self rests in its natural state spontaneously and all effort has disappeared, that is called Sahaj. The beauty of Nirvikalpa Samadhi lies in allowing us to clearly recognize the perpetual Self-knowing in all states as it is only the Self knowing It Self in all states of modifications of the mind and all states of consciousness.
The truth is that no matter how clever the terminology and how subtle the expression of the experience of the Self, it misses the mark. It is because the Self has no point of Reference in experience being It Self the very Foundation on which All experience appears to take place..
From "Atma Vidya" ("e;age of Arunachala"e;). "e;When you have not understood yourself, what is the point in understanding other things? When you have understood yourself, what else is there to understand?"e;
Harsha Writes: The nature of Nirvikalpa is known clearly only when the Self is Known. Self is Nirvikalpa. Nirvikalpa is simply a term which means "e;without kalpas"e; or "e;without thoughts"e; or "e;without imagination"e;, etc. Self is beyond words, thoughts, feelings, and imagination. Yet, it is not a state of unconsciousness like deep sleep. Those who equate Nirvikalpa Samadhi with deep sleep and make all sorts of pronouncements have only known and enjoyed the Self-bliss in complete unconsciousness of deep sleep. Self, however, is never unconscious, its nature being pure consciousness itself.
Nirvikalpa Samadhi and deep sleep are like night and day. In Nirvikalpa Samadhi Self Knows It Self By It Self and Through It Self. It is Fullness of Pure Consciousness and not unconsciousness. Nirvikalpa takes one beyond intuitive knowledge and Reveals the Self in Actuality as Pure Sat-Chit-Ananda.
Ramana distinguishes between a state of trance (which he calls nirvikalpa samadhi) and the highest state of consciouness, . He describes this state in terms that are clearly related to the idea of jivanmukti in the Yoga Vasistha: In this state you remain calm and composed during activity. You realize that you are moved by the deeper Real self within and are unaffected by what you do or say or think. You have no worries, anxieties or cares, for you realize that there in nothing that belongs to you as ego and that everthing is being done by something with which you are in conscious union. Ramana says that a trance is only temporary in its effects; "there is no use of trance, unless it brings about enduring peace of mind. There is happiness so long as the trance lasts. But after rising from it, the old vasanas (latent ideas and forms of the mind) return. Unless the vasanas are destroyed in sahaja samadhi there is no good in trance." [mg note: No Good! - except you know God, no longer fear death, may be imbued with a holistic compassion for Gaia, etc., etc.! There is no question Ramana experienced some profound trance at age 16, but it seemed not to be a direct experience leading to his realization since he has such a qualified view of nirvikalpa samadhi. It is as if the almost catatonic trance he was in for over six months was some unique psychic state that bore no resemblance to the classical samadhi but resulted in his subsequent intense reading to absorb knowledge which he integrated to the degree that he became a fully realized jivanmukta. This can be compared to Shankara becoming a sage through extraordinary intellectual insight applied to interpreting the Veda and other religious texts despite never having a direct advaitic experience. The suggestion is that there is no such advaitic experience beyond nirvikalpa referred to as sahaja samadhi but that 'sahaja' defines the quality of enlightenment that results from Nirvikalpa Samadhi, intellectual/religious integration or a combination of both- not by what experience is attained. Ramana's sometimes condescending characterizations of nirvikalpa samadhi suggest he either had no direct experience of one or simply renamed his experience sahaja since he defines that in terms that exactly apply to nirvikalpa. Further- in describing the qualities of sahaja samadhi, Ramana provides no clear differentiation between the "experience" of his samadhi and all the qualities he details regarding the resulting conscious "state" of a jivanmukta.]
To a questioner who continued to ask about the importance of trance, Ramana replied. "If you are so anxious for trance any narcotic will bring it about. Drug-habit will be the result and not liberation. There are vasanas in the latent state even in trance. The vasanas must be destroyed." [mg note: Here again- to suggest an equivalency between these two experiences- Ramana reveals a shocking naivity of the character and quality of both a drug experience and the bliss and non-duality of Nirvikalpa Samadhi.]
Sri Ramana Maharshi distinguishes these levels of samadhi: 1 Holding on to Reality is samadhi. 2 Holding on to Reality with effort is savikalpa samadhi. 3 Merging in Reality and remaining unaware of the world is nirvikalpa samadhi. 4 Merging in Ignorance and remaining unaware of the world is sleep. 5 Remaining in the primal, pure natural state without effort is sahaja nirvikalpa samadhi.
In nirvikalpa samadhi, which Ramana also calls kevala samadhi, the mind is alive, but "sunk in life", "like a bucket with a rope left lying in the water in the well to be drawn out." One can come out of the state. It is therefore temporary, a mere suppression laya of consciousness, a state of trance. It is the samadhi of nondifferentiation; it consists of "pure consciousness", which is capable of illuming knowledge or ignorance. Nirvikalpa samadhi is the merging in the one Reality that underlies all phenomena and the remaining unaware of all transitory manifestations. The state is compared to a waveless ocean. In nirvikalpa samadhi one is unaware of anything but the inmost Being. [JGF Note: It therefore appears that Ramana means a state of Pure Consciousness when he refers to nirvikalpa samdhi. ] [mg note: Here JGF cleans up in summation an awkward definition which includes the ambiguity as to what "illuming knowledge or ignorance" implies.]
In sahaja samadhi, the mind is "dead", "resolved into the self, like a river discharged into the ocean and its identity lost." And yet, although the mind is "dead", in sahaja samadhi one is able to continue to function in the world after enlightenment. The enlightened one lives as a jivanmukta. Sahaja, the highest state of consciousness is not withdrawal from the world or a cessation of activity. A person who has attained Realization may or may not withdraw from active life. Some realized persons carry on trade or business or rule a Kingdom like Rama as described in the Yoga Vasistha. Realization does not mean being inert like a stone or becoming nothing.
Ab' provides (Page 227) further perspective on Ramana's opinion about sahaja samadhi. In Sannyasa, the last major article that Ab' wrote, he says that for Ramana, the highest form of samadhi is sahaja samadhi, that which is completely natural ('innate'). He conrasts it with nirvikalpa samadhi, which he refers to as "ecstasy". "In this [sahaja] there is no restraint of a man's normal bodily and mental awareness, as in ecstasy (nirvikalpa samadhi), which itself implies a dualism; rather the jhani continues to be fully aware of himself and of all around him, but within the indivisible awareness of the atman." This description by Ab' acknowledges that in sahaja samadhi there is a content to the experience. One is "fully aware of himself and of all around him." In that state, unlike nirvikalpa samadhi, "there is no restraint of a person's normal bodily and mental awareness." Thus, in the terms we have been using, sahaja is not an experience of Pure Consciousness. It is an awareness of unity, an "indivisible awareness of Atman. [mg note: It would appear that Ramana has drawn from his own personal NDE or Savikalpa Samadhi-like transcendent experience and imposed its qualities of duality and content to define sahaja samadhi and then awards it the highest status above the state of non-duality and ineffability of nirvikalpa samadhi.]
Notes to Page 256
[mg note: Where the term Jivanmukta appears in any of the discourse in mg webpages it assumes the meaning ascribed in the traditional context but is overlain with mg's skeptical view about the notion that the sant is functioning normally in a permanent state of conscious non duality. Some suspect Ramana never attained an advaitic experience beyond an NDE which appeared to contain aspects of duality- or at least skipped Nirvikalpa and re-entered life as a jivanmukta. This may explain why he distinguishes sahaja samadhi from nirvikalpa samadhi by saying- In sahaja samadhi the mind is "dead", "resolved into the self, like a river discharged into the ocean and its identity lost."...but that precisely describes Nirvikalpa Samadhi and completely contradicts Ab's interpretation of Ramana's description of the nature of sahaja samadhi in the paragraph above. Ramana also says: "the trance has no good unless vasanas are destroyed." But Ramana holds a strong bias to the early Upanishad and Vedanta that essentially dismiss the advaita experience of non-duality as antithetical to their doctrine which may account for his disparaging the "trance" and "ecstasy" of nirvikalpa samadhi and placing it in a lower status than his version of a sahaja samadhi with duality and content.
In an effort to explain Ramana's distinction between Nirvikalpa and Sahaja he may assume it is not the quality of the "experience" (which may range from NDE to Nirvikalpa Samadhi) that determines rank in the samadhi hierarchy- but to what degree vasanas are permanently destroyed or (as in his own case) already highly evolved- apon re-entering phenomenal life. This appears to determine the level of enlightenment one manifests after the advaitic experience- which can range from remaining in a state of relative ignorance- as in my case where I retained many of my original vasanas- or becoming a jivanmukta like Ramana. Ramana's "latent ideas and forms of the mind" (vasanas) were already highly evolved at the time of his experience- so apon re-emergence from whatever experience he attained- his vasanas further evolved via intense intellectual perception of religious texts to the degree he could function as a jivanmukta. Thus for Ramana it is more the quality of enlightenment one retains after the transcendent experience as to what name and rank he awards the level of the original experience -and thus in my view arbitrarily applies the term 'sahaja samadhi'. In short- I assume sahaja does not enter into defining the quality of the ultimate state of a samadhic experience where Nirvikalpa is supreme- but distinguishes any level of advaitic experience which results in the experiencer becoming imbued with highly evolved vasana enabling his/her permanent enlightenment as a jivanmukta.
In a more recent take on Ramana's perception of Sahaja, in an interview at Innerexplorations (John Glenn Friesen website)-
Jim: But didn't Ramana believe that you have to first achieve nirvikalpa samadhi before achieving sahaja samadhi?
Glenn: No. He says that sahaja samadhi can be directly experienced in the heart. He makes the analogy, if you want to go to Tiruvannamalai from Madras, why go to Benares first? We should search for the origin of the ego by diving into the heart, and not waste our time in meditation on the chakras, nadis, padmas or mantras, or on the deities, or their forms. He advises against engaging in Yogic practices or incantations (and later) or seeking trance.
[mg Note: The implication is that Ramana is not comparing Sahaja to a transcendent experience of nondual realization of Brahaman as in Nirvikalpa but defines it as a state attained through gradual opening of consciousness to awareness of the absolute Self and the dissolution of vasanas to manifest the realization of a jivanmukta.]
See also: A Biographical Sketch of Swami Abhishiktananda (Henri Le Saux) by Harry Oldmeadow - Page 12: In the years following Ramana's death Abhishiktananda spent two extended periods as a hermit in one of Arunachala's many caves. He wrote of an overwhelming mystical experience while in retreat on the mountain, an experience of non-duality (advaita), and stated that he was "truly reborn at Arunachala under the guidance of the Maharishi", understanding "what is beyond silence: śūnyatā (voidness)." "Ramana's Advaita is my birthplace. Against that all rationalization is shattered." He who receives this overwhelming Light is both petrified and torn apart; he is unable to speak or to think anymore; he remains there, beyond time and space, alone in the very solitude of the alone. It is a fantastic experience, this sudden irruption of the fire and light of Arunachala. "Ramana and Arunachala alike had", he said, "become part of my flesh, they are woven into the fibers of my heart."41
Mysticism and the Four Yogas Chapter 9 — excerpts Muhammad Rumi, Book 1. - All aspects of Hinduism ultimately boil down to mysticism, which is the goal of the religion. Mysticism means contact with the absolute within the living body (although the word is frequently used as a kind of synonym for any mystery connected with spiritual matters). This absolute may be understood in any form, from the personal god of dualism to the absolute Brahman of Advaita, but the defining moment is a contact with this higher truth. Of course, mysticism is sought not just in Hinduism, but also in practically all religions, including Christianity and Islam. In other religions, though, the mystical experience is not the goal of the orthodox doctrines, and mystics are often considered rebels – that is, when they are not persecuted outright. The goal in such primarily dualistic religions is to live according to the book so as to ensure reaching heaven in the hereafter; true religion lies in living a good life as defined in the doctrines. But in Hinduism, the goal of religion is solely this contact with the truth, and until this is achieved, the spiritual quest is considered incomplete. All other things are considered secondary to this supreme end, and no performance of religious duties can be a substitute. Hence the Upanishads declare, alone among all religious texts, that they are not the end of religion, and the truly religious must go beyond them in their spiritual quest. These strikingly daring words - where the religious texts themselves declare that true religion lies beyond them, and that they are only a pointer - have come to define the Hindu spiritual life, with its tolerance and broadmindedness... The Upanishads define bliss to be our true identity. Bliss is the purest, the most natural state of our existence. It is when our consciousness is drawn outwards that we are diverted from this bliss. This definition of our true identity is the lynchpin of all Upanishadic mysticism and the goal of yoga is to stop the outward diversion and regain this natural state of supreme happiness. But even beyond this is the final experience of mysticism, when we will exist only as the absolute Brahman.
A reformulation of the Indo - European System of languages and a recovery of the deep morphology of Varnamala A synoptic collation of twin research by the Sandhi Language Group and the Indian Institute of Technology, Kharagpur, India by Prof. V. N. Giri, et al - Varnamala and its thermodynamic hierarchy and human evolution. Exploring and designing an etymologic / articulation based foundation of Varnamala and the contemporary constructs of Signal Processing sciences and technology by Dr. Partha Sarathi Bera, et al (mg commentary: This link brings up a compendium of research into the origins of Sanskrit writing that is the earliest record of Vedantic scripture.)
SAHAJA AND JIVANMUKTA QUESTIONS- a further examination of Hindu and Non-Hindu views of Jivanmukti and the identity and character of the supreme samadhi.
LINKS TO INSIGHTS TO SAMADHI - including some modern, first-person accounts of experiences which are essentially distinct from NDEs or OOBs in that consciousness tends to manifest the non-dual and contentless nature that characterizes the state of nirvikalpa samadhi
DUAL NONDUAL REALITY MODEL My heuristic metaphysical model for reality based on integration of revelations from my Nirvikalpa Samadhi.