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Mind Beyond Mind: [27.02] Thoughtless Meditation (2)

Published: 24.06.2007
Updated: 06.08.2008

Thoughtless meditation is also called Samayika. Samayika and Dhyana are identical and Mahavira placed a great stress on Samayika. He told Gautama "The soul is Samayika. It alone is the content of Samayika." It is the original and pure state of consciousnesses. It means to be in the self. The soul is formless. The terms Samayika and Atma denote and connote one and the same thing.

Atma and Dhyana are also one and the same thing. They also imply being in the soul, which means thoughtlessness. Thoughts produce a kind of intoxication in the mind. They make it restless. Ideas make men fierce. All this comes to an end in a state of equanimity.

There is an interesting story I would like to tell in this connection. Somebody knocked at the door of a famous philosopher at midnight and when he was asked as to how he had come at such an odd hour replied, "I want to know if God exists. I am very keen to know the answer from you, because you are a great thinker." The philosopher replied, "You seem to be in a drunken state. Come to me when you are in your senses." The visitor retorted, "Such questions crop up only when one is in a state of intoxication. If I were in my senses, somebody else would have come to ask this question." The fact is that very few of us are in our senses. Men are seldom found in a normal state of mind. Ideas have such a great impact on us that we begin to behave like a drunken man totally intractable. All of us are more or less mentally abnormal. We remain unconscious of ourselves and are sorted out only when we have gone totally mad. What is madness except the fickleness of mind? This fickleness is a universal characteristic of man. It can be got rid of only when we have achieved a state of thoughtlessness. The state of thoughtlessness is a state of perfect consciousness in which we do not need to distinguish between light and darkness or between things opposed to each other.

Our ordinary experiences are characterised by the duality of things. There is neither complete light nor complete darkness at any time. Light and darkness always go together. If you come out of your, room in the daytime and stand in your veranda, you will feel that the room is darker than the veranda. If you stand before your house, you will feel that the veranda is dark as compared with the world outside it. This happens in the reverse way also. Thus there is light in darkness and darkness in light. A point comes where darkness or light disappear completely. Darkness is not only a visual phenomenon. There is another kind of darkness, which may be called spiritual darkness. There are dark recesses even in knowledge, philosophy, and progress. There is nothing absolute in the world. Darkness will not disappear until consciousness has arrived at the state of its purity and transparence. There are times when the shadows of darkness grow thicker and times when they grow thinner. But light and darkness must go together, like knowledge and ignorance.

The point where darkness ceases is the moment of complete thoughtlessness. This state is the state of illumination with no stain of darkness in it. It is a state of perfect knowledge where we see nothing but truth.

Concentration of the mind is the first step of meditation. We concentrate the mind on a single subject or thought-point. In this state the mental processes begin to flow in one direction only. This is an essential step. The stage of concentration should not be taken to be the final stage. What we perceive in a state of concentration should not be confused with reality. What we see in concentration is only a modification of the mind. We see sights and hear sounds, which have nothing to do with meditation. The state of concentration is not the state of self-perception.

The soul is thoughtless and it cannot be realized by thinking. Words, ideas, and thoughts are not the medium through which you can arrive at the self. A complete cessation of these mental processes is the precondition of self-realization. That is the essential message of the scriptures. It is impossible to imagine what the soul is. The normal experiences of life are based on sense knowledge and the various kinds of feeling associated with it. We cannot think what is there beyond them. Our limitations do not allow us to think that there is an order of things other than that which we come across through the senses and the mind. The life we live is a life based on sense experiences and mental processes, which by their very nature are fleeting and impermanent. But there are moments when we begin to feel that there is something beyond sense experiences and mental processes. It is this something beyond which is the spiritual world where there is permanent joy independent of the sense experiences and the mind. This joy is the native characteristic of the self and it can be achieved by a complete isolation of the self from the world of common experience. The state of self is an autonomous state. It is the state of undifferentiated and undivided consciousness. In the ordinary experiences of life consciousness remains split up into separate individual experiences. We have to collect it in order that it may begin to flow into a single undivided current like a mighty river. Concentration and meditation are the means of collecting the life force so that it may cease to flow towards different directions. They are attempts to localize the self in itself. The mind, the sense organs, thoughts, and imagination keep the soul wandering here and there. They divide the self as it were. They keep the life force weak and ineffective. Once the flow of the self has become centralized, it gains strength. It is in its extrasensory and extra-mental state that the soul becomes powerful and manifests its characteristic joy. In order to achieve this state of the self, we will have to come out of the mental processes and enter into a state of thoughtlessness. We will have to watch the activities of the mind very carefully lest they should lead us astray. In other words we have to be self-watchful. We have been given to believe that the age through which we are passing is not favourable to self-realization with the result that we have lost initiative and have become fatalists. However, life does not stand still. We must move forward. A self-watchful man will move forward deliberately and towards a consciously chosen aim. That aim is the attainment of a state of pure consciousness characterized by joy and perfection and unity and stability.


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Some texts contain  footnotes  and  glossary  entries. To distinguish between them, the links have different colors.
  1. Atma
  2. Concentration
  3. Consciousness
  4. Dhyana
  5. Equanimity
  6. Gautama
  7. Mahavira
  8. Meditation
  9. Samayika
  10. Soul
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