vivikta asina uparatendriyo vinirjitatma vimalantarasayah vibhavayedekamananyasadhano vijnanadrkkevala atmasamsthitah
Settling oneself down in an undisturbed place, quieting the sense organs from all disturbances of sense objects, holding the body steady and unmoving, calming the mind from all its oscillations – established in the pursuit of steady meditation and withdrawn from all other yoga-means – one should steadily contemplate upon the one Self, the spring of life within.
Sri Rama explains a scheme consisting of five adjustments for the contemplative student to strive for and successfully achieve in establishing himself or herself on the path of contemplation. Newcomers to the path must very diligently attend to all five adjustments:
These five adjustments are repeatedly indicated in many places along the vast expanse of Upanisadic literature. Thus gathering all the wandering rays of the mind, turn its entire attention to the one Self and learn to merge into the higher state of Consciousness.
- Select the right place and time for your practice of meditation. Choose a quiet place: there should be no disturbances, at least not from the outside.
- Clam the senses, and disengage them from all their preoccupations with sense objects.
- Learn it sit firmly (sthira) and to hold the body without any swinging movement (acala). When the body is thus held firm and steady, the mind automatically enters into a state of inner poise and balance.
- Many other yoga-means may have been pursued at one time or another by the student: Dedicated service to others (karmayoga), devotion to the Lord through worship of Him at the altar (bhaktiyoga), even serious and laboriously concentrated efforts to study and reflect upon the subtle declarations of the rishis in the Upanisads (jnanayoga), and so on. Memories of these might come up in the contemplative student’s mind as he sits in his seat of meditation. Let him learn to rise above these thoughts, and bend his entire attention to the nature of the Self, exclusively.
- Let him then contemplate solely upon the one infinite Self, without allowing any other dissimilar thought current to crisscross his mind pell-mell.
visvam yadetatparatmadarsanam vilapayedatmani sarvakarane purnascidanandamayo ‘vatisthate na veda bhayam na ca kincidantaram
This dynamic world of things and beings perceived by us is nothing but the supreme Self. One should merge it into that Self, the cause of all. He who accomplishes this in himself is merged into the limitless, blissful Self, and remains “knowing” nothing of his outer or inner worlds of plurality.
This dynamic world of names and forms is perceived by our instruments of experience: the body, the mind, and the intellect. The experience of this world of plurality is the perceiver-feeler-thinker entity, who, in his present state of consciousness, perceives the world as a march of events, a clamoring, noisy field of happenings. The individualized ego feels persecuted by the tensions and struggles brought to him by the merciless situations in his environment. Sri Rama is advising Laksmana that in the seat of meditation the student must try to recognize that the entire world of plurality, the endless crowds of confusing names and forms, are all but a disturbance in the infinite Consciousness.
The roaring, thunderous hosts of oceanic waves are all nothing but their own essential substratum, the serenely tranquil ocean.
One who accomplishes a full awakening into his own real nature merges into the Self to become the Self. From that realm of pure Consciousness, removed from all inner and outer pluralities of objects, he revels as the one objectless Awareness.
Names and forms are the interpretations of our sense organs. In deep sleep none of these names and forms disturb us. In the mood of contemplation, the mind rises above the inner and outer worlds of plurality and arrives at a unique state of consciousness where the Self alone is. It is a state wherein all the mental and intellectual fluctuations have disappeared; therefore, the mind-intellect (dhi) has become thoughtless, totally undisturbed (sama). In this samadhi-state, thoughts cease, the mind-intellect withers away, and the Consciousness that was caught in the web of thoughts gets released totally from all its encumbrances. In this total state of liberation one recognizes neither an outer world of names and forms, nor an inner world of emotions and thoughts. The individual and his world of plurality merge to disappear in the experience of the substratum, the Self.
purvam samadherakhilam vicintaye – domkaramatram sacracaram jagat tadeva vacyam pranavo hi vacako vibhavyate ‘jnanavasanna bodhatah
Before reaching this state of total absorption (samadhi), contemplate upon the entire universe of names and forms, the moving and the unmoving as nothing but Omkara. Om is a sound symbol representing the entire world. This (duality) appears due to ignorance and not after direct Knowledge. This practice is valid only before direct Knowledge; never afterwards.
Now Sri Rama is trying to explain how to take the mind to the state of total absorption (samadhi). Samadhi is of two kinds, with thoughts (savikalpa) and with no thoughts (nirvikalpa). The former is popularly known as the state of contemplation, and the latter is called the state of meditation.
In the state of contemplation (savikalpa), the contemplator has an awareness of the subject-object relationship, technically called the triputi. When the subject and object are merged into one awesome state of infinite Existence, that state is called total absorption (nirvikalpa).
Sri Rama now indicates how to persuade the mind to enter into these states of partial and total absorption. He first advises Laksmana to contemplate upon the entire world of perceived names and forms as Om or Omkara. The Mandukya Upanisad indicates how the three sounds that constitute Om (or Aum), a, u, and m, represent the experience of our individual waking, dream, and deep-sleep states. The silence between two successive Oms (amatra) represents the pure Self.
Names and forms have a validity only when we are conscious of them. One Consciousness illumines all names and forms, as well as all perceptions of the outer world and of the inner mind. When we shift our attention to the pure Consciousness, the names and forms merge, as it were – just as in the waker’s mind the dreamer and his entire dream world merge.
To stimulate the condition of steady mental poise, which is the immediate precondition for samadhi, contemplation upon Om is very useful. Contemplation is neither necessary nor valid once the individual has merged into the pure Self and directly lives the state divine.
akarasamjnah puruso hi visvako hyukarakastaijasa iryate kramat prajno makarah paripathyate ‘khilaih samadhipurvam na tu tattvato bhavet.
The rishis of the Vedic period declare that a-kara represents the waker, u-kara represents the dreamer, and ma-kara, the deep sleeper, and all their respective experiences. These distinctions are all valid only before samadhi, never in the absolute nature of Reality.
As was mentioned in the commentary for the previous verse, the three sounds that together constitute Omakara represent the three states of consciousness through which every one of us moves during each twenty-four-hour day of our lives. The sound a represents the waking-state world of the waker; u represents the dreamer and his dream world; and m stands for the deep sleeper and his experience of the absence of things.
All these pluralistic concepts prevail only before samadhi. Once the mind is transcended, when the thought flow has ceased and the mind is in state of total absorption, that is, has the vision of the realized saint, there is neither the waker, the dreamer, nor the deep sleeper; neither the individual nor the world of plurality (Virat); neither the Creator (Hiranyagarbha), nor the Lord (Isvara), the Creator-Sustainer-Destroyer, the Intelligence behind the cosmos. In the one Self there is neither the microcosmic world nor the macrocosmic expansion of the same.
visvam tvakaram purusam vilapaye - dukaramadhye bahudha vyavasthitam tato makare pravilapya taijasam dvitiyavarnam pranavasya cantime.
The a-letter sound in Aum represents the visva-jiva that expresses in a thousand ways, along with its microcosmic expression as Virat, and it may be merged into the u-letter sound, representing the taijasa-jiva, along with its microcosmic expression as Hiranyagarbha. Now the u-letter sound, the second letter in Aum, may be merged into the m-letter sound, the last of the triple sounds that make up the Aum symbol.
The process of contemplation, how to fold up all the delusory manifestations of our perceived world of plurality by using Om-upasana (Om-worship), is being explained in this verse and the next. Both the microcosmic expressions of the Self in the individual, visva (waker-I), taijasa (dreamer-I), and prajna (deep-sleeper-I); and the microcosmic expansion of the Self, Virat (total gross world of forms), Hiranyagarbha (the Creator, the womb of the universe), and Isvara (the Lord), are to be merged into the Aum sound-symbol.
This process is called upasana (worship). To recognize a mighty vision in an insignificant symbol is called the art of worship. To see the Mother Divine in an ordinary river Ganges; to see Siva in a stone idol; to see the son of God and His sacrifice for man’s sins in a wooden cross – this is upasana. In Om-upasana we try to seek the waker-I (visva) and the total universe of names and forms (Virat) in the a sound. Then we merge this private gross world (visva) and the universal gross world (Virat) into the subtle world of the dreamer-I (taijasa) and the total womb of forms (Hiranyagarbha). Let this then be merged into the last sound of Aum, the m sound, representing the deep-sleeper-I (prajna) and the universal cause of both the gross and the subtle worlds, the Lord (Isvara).