International Forum for NeoVedantins
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Samkhya and Vedanta
More About Guru
Life of Ramakrishna and Its Relevance
Advaita Vedanta as the Quest for Knowledge
Related to Swami Vivekananda
Swami Vivekananda: Short Biography
At The Parliament of Religions: Chicago 1893
Swami Vivekananda and Madame Calve
Nature of India's Contribution
Related to Ramakrishna
Sri Ramakrishna: A Brief life sketch
The Game of Ladder
Glory of Sri Ramakrishna
Related to Hinduism
What is Hinduism?
Gita: An Introduction
Path of Devotion in Gita
Karma Yoga in the Gita
Introduction to Katha Upanishad
Introduction to Isha Upanishad
Religious Social Movements
Related to Vedanta
Yoga: Part 1 | Yoga: Part 2
ASC: Altered State of Consciuousness
ASC: Part 1 | Part 2
ASC: Part 3 | Part 4
ASC: Part 5 | Part 6
ASC: Part 7
The final culmination of Altered State of Consciousness
There are three planes of mental action: Unconscious (subconscious), conscious, and super-conscious state. In human beings we encounter both conscious and unconscious acts. The food I take is a conscious act, accompanied by ego sense: "I" have eaten. Its digestion, assimilation, and conversion to blood and various tissues are unconscious acts. These activities are not accompanied by the feeling of egoism, or 'I' sense.
But there is one more plane upon which the mind can work. It can go beyond the ordinary consciousness. Just as unconscious actions are devoid of egoism, similarly the actions at this super-conscious plane are not accompanied by sense of egoism.
Both unconscious and super-conscious states may appear similar and may be confused with one another because of the absence of ego working. But it is obvious that an unconscious person degenerates into a vegetative state. On the other hand, the person who has achieved the 'state beyond' appears to have acquired new knowledge -intuitive illumination. The person becomes a sage! Therefore, there must be another method of acquisition of knowledge, a method other than reason and logic of ordinary consciousness.
In the conscious plane ethics and morality (doing good to others, etc.) is forced upon the individual by the law or the custom. However, the person who has had direct perception of Reality develops qualities of universal love and morality as a desirable and natural attribute to his being. He perceives these qualities directly and enjoys them because of the truth he has experienced of them. The genetic selfishness of conscious act is replaced by altruistic selflessness of intuitive illumination. The person realizes that the source of values is that super-conscious state which Vedanta calls as Atman, Brahman, or even God.
After this illumination, the utility of rationality, logic, and scientific reasoning is seen to be inadequate because now the higher utility of intuitive knowledge has dawned in the heart of that person. Ideas of happiness, enjoyment, utility, privilege, and duties gain a new dimension, in short the person enjoys the compulsions of the knowledge of his newly acquired state.
When the one pointed mind itself is transcended there remains only the knowledge of unbroken Reality. This highest state is known as "nirvikalpa samadhi" where mind itself dissolves in the ocean of universal consciousness.
As the mind itself is transcended, language, reasoning, and thought processes are all lost in this state. "When the five senses of knowledge come to rest together with the mind, and the intellect, too, does not function, that state they call the highest -the state of samadhi." Therefore, no one as yet is able to describe the state of nirvikalpa samadhi in words. Whatever we read or imagine about it is but an indirect or close approximation at the best.
In the Gita, (II: 54), Arjuna asks Lord Krishna about special features of a person established in samadhi, non-dual consciousness. The Lord answers by highlighting these features as:
"The person so established in that state has renounced all the desires, there is no modification of his mind stuff, and the person is in a state of divine contemplation enjoying the bliss of super-conscious state (Gita, II: 55). He has controlled and got rid of all common human tendencies like reacting to pleasure and pain, and has controlled the sense organs like a tortoise withdrawing its limbs from the sense objects (Gita, II: 56-58). Moreover, there is no hypocrisy in his behavior, his renunciation is genuine; he behaves as he speaks."
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C S Shah
Of Special Interest:
Altered States of Consciousness
Neurophysiology of Meditation
Extra Sensory Perceptions
Holy Mother Ma Saradadevi
Frequently Asked Questions
Glossary of Words related to Indian Philosophical Systems, Mythology, etc.
Stories From Great Indian epics:
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