International Forum for NeoVedantins

The Story of Sri Ramakrishna:  Part 5
A Long Series

Spiritual and Mystic Experiences of Sri Ramakrishna


General Considerations:

There are three planes of mental action: Unconscious (subconscious), conscious, and superconscious states. To give an example, the food one takes is a conscious action, accompanied by ego sense - "I" am eating; while its digestion, assimilation, and conversion to blood and various tissues is an unconscious activity. These unconscious 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. This superconscious state also does not have "I" sense!

Apparently, both unconscious and superconscious states may be confused with one another, because of absence of ego working. But it is obvious that an unconscious person, and a person waking from sleep, come out of those states as the same person. On the other hand, the person who has achieved the state beyond - the state of samadhi, on coming down to conscious level, appears to have acquired new knowledge - intuitive illumination. Therefore, there must be another method of acquisition of knowledge, a method other than reason and logic of ordinary consciousness. That state where the truths from the Universal Ocean of knowledge are brought to the mind is known as samadhi.

At conscious plane, ethics and morality are forced upon the individual (and the society) by force of the law or the customs. But the person who has direct perception of Reality in samadhi develops qualities of universal morality and love as the pure form of knowledge, and naturally such a sage believes them to be desirable and inevitable. He perceives these qualities directly and enjoys them because of the truth he has experienced of them. The genetic selfishness of conscious acts is replaced by altruistic selflessness of the state of samadhi. Therefore, superconscious state (which Vedanta calls as God, Atman, or Brahman) is the only source of knowledge and values.

Therefore, the utility of rational, logical, and scientific reasoning becomes inadequate, and higher intuitive knowledge becomes desirable, as seen in those persons who have had experienced that highest altered state of consciousness. Ideas of happiness, enjoyment, utility, privilege, and duty acquire new dimensions. In short, the person becomes totally selfless, as if compelled by the knowledge from this state.

How to achieve this state?

How to achieve this state? Rather, can this state ever be achieved? The Upanishads and the Gita say yes, this is possible by repeated practice and perseverance. Even if everyone may not achieve the superconscious state in his/her lifetime, to strive for it itself is most wonderful experience, and in reality is the only goal of human birth.

Theoretically, this is explained as below:

By controlling all the modifications of mind-stuff, it is possible to concentrate the mind on a single idea, say of Personal God, and a state is achieved where only the knowledge of personal God would remain. In this state whole mind has taken the form of that idea, or the form of chosen deity, with uninterrupted vision of the same. This is known as 'savikalpa samadhi', samadhi with form. Still further, when the one-pointed mind itself is transcended, only the knowledge of unbroken Reality remains, and this highest state where mind itself dissolves in the ocean of universal consciousness is known as 'nirvikalpa samadhi' (samadhi without form).

"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," (Says one Upanishad). As the mind itself is transcended, the speech, reasoning, and other functions of the mind are also lost in this state, and therefore, nobody can ever describe the state of nirvikalpa samadhi in words. Whatever we read or imagine about it, is indirect close approximation at the best.

In the Gita, (II: 54), Arjuna asks Lord Krishna about the special features of a person who has had experienced the state of samadhi. 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 such a person is in a state of divine contemplation enjoying the bliss of superconscious truth (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."

It is an experience beyond description. However, for the individual the realization brings immense joy, knowledge, and values. We may not understand this, but the utility of this state is that the infinite knowledge of Eternal Truth is brought, albeit indirectly, on this earth for the benefit of millions of people. It may take long time for these truths, realized by Divine Incarnations (saints and sages), to unfold and manifest in common masses. Therefore, we see the influence of their teachings remaining valid for centuries. We are talking of Jesus Christ, Sri Krishna, Buddha, Mahavira, and many others of yesteryears, and of Sri Ramakrishna, Swami Vivekananda, Raman Maharshi, Aurobindo and many other great souls of various countries of recent times. The untrained mind of masses is not capable of sustaining or receiving this knowledge, and hence, it gets distorted in the flow of time. By necessity, the same Truth and Knowledge again becomes manifest in due course of time in some person, and a new Mystic or a God-Man is born.
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