Retreat Reflection #1
The SRV ashram in Portland Oregon was the setting for a recent non-residential retreat with Babaji. Responding to the many requests of students and devotees, Babaji led a rare guided meditation on dissolving the mind stream. This was a remarkable meditation experience for all, as Babaji led us on a journey from the gross to the subtle elements to the point of dissolution into the very source of bliss where transcendence begins to happen. That the world is mind made manifest has been a teaching that has been emphasized over the years. This meditation offered a visceral experience in tracing what we see and think back to their causes and origins.
Of course, this meditation was made all the more powerful by the solid grounding in jnana that Babaji prepared at the start of the retreat. Indeed, this preparation included the prior weekend classes in which Babaji focused on the Svetashvatara Upanishad. Particularly notable and helpful to this student was the chart on the Process of Samprajnata to Asamprajnata Samadhi in which Babaji elucidates states of samadhi including – in order of subtlety – Savitarka, Savichara, Sananda, Sasmita, and Asamprajnata Samadhi.
Babaji noted that the tattvas are forms in front of us that we need to see through and transcend. They are another term for tamas and rajas. The consummate devotee sees that the wool has been pulled over his eyes, as well as the eyes of the world. Thus, in order to be free, we need to hone our intelligence and pierce through the coverings of maya. This curtain of nescience is built of fear, doubt, and brooding. We must master all of these by knowing none of these belong to us. He stated, “Before we can know who we are we must know what we are not.” We are not the five elements, the five subtle elements, the five active senses, the five cognitive senses, the fourfold mind, nor are we unmanifest prakriti. All of these comprise the world. The world is changing while God is the unchanging reality. With this recognition we can eventually arrive at the point where we can say "I am” – and “Everything Is." The dissolving element in this process is the awakened Buddhi. The Prakasha Shakti (revealing power) is the corrective power that helps us to peer and pierce through Maya’s influence, leading us towards freedom. Of course, all these elements are divine and should be accorded reverence. A true aspirant will use all darshanas as a window into truth and raise himself to the Ideal. Babaji amusingly stated during an earlier class that we need to "....use God as a doorway, not a doormat."
There were many other charts presented – too numerous to mention for this article – that were extremely illuminating. As Babaji noted, all this information and wisdom on Vedanta that we receive is good, but we must meditate on these teachings and unwrap them in our minds. This very process slows down time and helps us to transcend space as well. As we meditate upon and unwrap these teachings in the present, the eternal moment opens itself up. This has been the experience of this student. I related this experience to Babaji, to which he replied with a smile, "You become the master of time." — Anuraga
Dissolving the Mindstream at the Oregon Seminar
[The notes below do not touch on everything covered in the retreat, or even entire teachings of any one topic, but are offered as they are – reminders of the teachings in the retreat.]
Welcome to the “DMS” Retreat, or Dissolving the Mindstream. In it, everything that has caused our presence in the body, here on the physical earth, will be retraced and retracted. So, you could say, that we are here for a great Cause! [pun: Mahat/Aum/Unmanifest Prakriti are the “Cause” of all phenomena]
In the "dissolution of the mindstream" meditation, we are dissolving the mindstream and all it projects in knowledge. It is a fine method, different than either the aim of transcendentalism, or the clueless style of meditation of just sitting for years, void of either subtle knowledge or any definitive purpose. Consciousness is omnipresent; it occupies every level, or tattva, simultaneously. The consummate practitioner does not leave any station behind; there is no discarding of one level for another. Therefore, we are to consciously trace the steps from form to formlessness, gross to subtle, ending with an all-out accounting and all-embracing vision of all levels of Existence. The mind at cosmic, collective, and individual levels, performs this act of involution each day and night anyway, when we dissolve the waking state into the dreaming state, and the dreaming state into the deep sleep state, then returning to form in reverse fashion. So we may as well do this consciously in wakeful, vigilant, meditation – all under the watchful, all-pervasive eye of Awareness/Turiya.
There are four ways you can dissolve the mind – in deep sleep, death, meditation, and Samadhi. Only one of these (Samadhi) is permanent, for it takes one up and out of the Kalachakra, the wheel of birth and death in ignorance.
The arati lamp, holding flames that are waved before the divine image at the altar, represents the Fire of Intelligence and its purificatory powers.
Authentic Teachers are those who have experienced all the steps along the way. Others, those who transcend (jump from the bottom to the top) get salvation, but they do not necessarily know what happened along the way.
Morality has to lead to dharma, wherein one takes precepts, believes in them, and lives by them. Dharma then has to lead to sadhana, spiritual disciplines. Sadhana, performed steadfastly with sincerity leads to one's svadharma, the true goal of one's life, the real destination for the soul.
In contemplation and meditation, first dissolve the "two's" with the aid of the "three's." The two's are the pairs of opposites, confusing dualities such as good and bad, life and death, happiness and sorrow, virtue and vice, etc. These cause restlessness of mind. So implement the sets of three's, since they dissolve the dualities and lead to wisdom samadhi. The sets of threes, called triputis, are trios like creation, preservation, and destruction; individual, cosmic, absolute; seer, seen and seeing; knower, knowledge and knowing. Along the way of this dissolution you will encounter the "fives" – five elements, five senses, five pranas, fivefold mind (if one includes Mahat). Knowing this quintuplication process, backwards and forwards (involution/evolution), initiates the soul's move towards freedom.
Bhakti, devotion, can burn karma, but it has
to be intense. Jnana is normally what burns karma. Not even meditation can burn karma except through repeated absorption in asamprajata/nirvikalpa Samadhi. Those karmas are extremely subtle, or causal.
Every sacred tradition in India, if inspected, is working towards the same end. That is, essentially, the mind must be dissolved. The methods used may differ in detail, but the fundamentals and the destination are both the same.
To date I have created some 200 charts, or visuals, for classes and retreat. As I looked back on them, I noticed that fifty-five out of those 200 charts, spanning six darshanas of India, have to do with dissolving the mindstream. This indicates how important this spiritual art form is, as well as the varied approaches that can be taken.
Retreat Reflection #2
I was blessed to be in such good company. Jai Ramakrishna! I was very helped in the continued endeavor of renouncing all Sankalpas as true Yoga within and without. I enjoyed Babaji’s teaching and many charts, ( I appreciate Babaji’s rigor to serve and assist us). I love all reminders that ALL is BRAHMAN. I am enjoying Yoga Vasishtha, I highly recommend it! Thank you and Love to All. Your Brother, Raymond
What is the dissolving element in taking apart the dreaming, projecting, fantasizing mind? It is the Jnana Matra, the particle of Intelligence. Generally, it can be called the awakened Buddhi (intellect).
The Jnana Matra dissolves sankalpa.
The Sankalpa [creative thoughts] of a dissolved mind is prompted by meditation, scripture, worship, and serving God in beings.
This Jnana Matra is like a cell with a protective membrane. That protective membrane is made of smriti – retentive memory. In other words, it protects against forgetfulness. An aspect of the Jnana Matra cell is called smriti betu, which indicates our causal memory. Aspiring individuals all retain a memory of the "experience" of formlessness. Some, the ignorant and fearful, relate it only to death. The dreamers and seekers of nominal bliss relate it to deep sleep. Spiritual aspirants, and those who have practiced deeply, relate it to meditation. The illumined souls relate it to Samadhi.
Another inherent feature of the Jnana Matra is arupamanonasha, the power that dissolves the mind, renders it formless. It is harder to dissolve the mind down to the gross evolutes such as senses, elements, body and false identification with it; this part is dealing with ignorance. But dissolving the mind up, or inwards – fourfold mind into Cosmic Mind, into Aum, into Atman, into Paramatman – is easier. The ignorant have congealed their knowledge into objects, and are attached to them as if they are real. The wise reverse this unwholesome trend and use their knowledge to liquefy – to dissolve the mindstream.
Samskaras are inherent tendencies or memories from prior lifetimes. These create a "canyon wall" in the mind against which the experiences of the current lifetime, like an echo, find their context and support. If there is no canyon wall, then there is no echo coming back. For instance, if the soul mastered music or medicine in a previous lifetime, then it has a facility for them in the present lifetime. Thus, the soul can cry inwardly, "What should I do?" and the echo will come back, "Be a doctor," etc. In the case of worthless minds, they can cry out all they want, but no echo comes back. In the case of the luminaries, they cry out, "Who am I," and the echo comes back, "Nobody," (if one is a Buddhist), or, "You are Atman, All-abiding!" (if one is a Vedantist). And they are satisfied.
Attaining Samadhi gives one the best samskara of all, akin to eventual freedom from all samskaras. The collective mind of the West has no samskara for nonduality. It barely has one for the personal God; what is there has been conditioned by 2,000 years of devious meddling and rash interpolation.
DMS via Yoga
In dissolving the mindstream according to Yoga, we contemplate the tattvas, the cosmic principles, from the element earth on up to unmanifested Nature. As we contemplate each one, we contemplate it in the following ways:
1 - its origin
2 - its qualities, attributes, characteristics
3 - its appearance in waking and dream
4 - its changing nature
5 - its place in the mind and thoughts
6 - its power and hold over the mind
7 - its disappearance in deep sleep
Unmanifested Prakriti is like a Great Chest of Drawers. When dissolution occurs, it is not destruction, or voidness. The Divine Mother of the universe simply washes, irons, folds and puts all objects, as concepts, away, tucked into various cosmic drawers, to be taken out again and utilized for the forthcoming cycle.
One cannot get any lower than fear of death. You are an eternally existing Soul; what is there to fear? It is no different from waking and sleeping. One does not think oneself to be dead when asleep. One is not reborn upon awakening. So, you have gaps in your consciousness. Deal with it! Try to make your consciousness seamless by meditation practice.
When the father of Yoga says, "shun pain," he means that the ignorant person thinks that seeking pleasure is the solution to pain. But pain follows pleasure as a matter of course. Titiksha (forbearance), and transcendence are the proper methods for dealing with pain.
Rock, leaf, lake, mirror. Light shines best on a mirror. But the mirror must be wiped clean, constantly. Sitting in jnana yoga classes is one of the best ways to wipe the mirror clean. In class, when one feels tired, bored, distracted, interested, inspired, etc., those very experiences constitute the wiping process in class. You can know by them that purification is underway. Now, strive for one-pointedness and rapt concentration.
Sri Ramakrishna is the living example of a dissolved mind, and even an example of the difficulty of, and skill needed, to coagulate it again for service to humanity.
Whatever you think about will color the mind and eventually manifest. It is like writing in lemon juice and having it show up on paper.
Death cannot do any harm to me. This gets to the heart of the matter. People think harm can come, but as Vivekananda states, "It may be that you will feel very free and see the Light at the time of death." The Tibetan Book of Dying says this difficulty should be forborne. It is natural to feel certain uncomfortable sensations while in the process of leaving the five elements behind. As the soul separates from them, it begins to encounter that ecstasy that it should have been experiencing in life during daily meditations.
[End of Oregon Retreat]
DMS in Vedanta, Hawai’i
If thoughts are flowing then universes are being created. The mindstream carries the thoughts of all beings, from the Mahat down to human souls. If this mental power carries it outward into manifestation, then it can be made to carry it back inwards, to the Source of Existence. But from the human perspective, this stream of thought is coming down through levels and being concretized. Thus comes the need of the aspiring soul to reverse the chain of cause and effect and establish itself in Brahman.
This is why people are meditating, knowingly or unknowingly - to find the Source of their energy, thoughts, soul, bodies, etc. If they can find the Source, then they can master the art of abidance and have that "Peace which passeth all understanding."
God is not in the world, the world is in God. Dissolving the mindstream leads us to see the Origin, and then one finds there is no origin to anything. All is. Existence Is!
There are two kinds of dissolution: concentrated mind dissolving into the Source; and scattered mind fragmenting into the world/maya. Lord Kapila describes these two dissolutions as Kaivalya Pragbhara and Samsara Pragbhara — a stream of souls flowing toward Kaivalya, liberation, and a stream of souls flowing toward rounds of birth and death in ignorance.
We have been seeking the Oneness of everything. We made the connections and found the interconnectedness of all things. Once one realizes this Oneness, one does not want it. Every thing
is in nature, but the Atman is not in nature. Soon, the soul realizes that, all along, it has only been playing with objects in nature, and along the way winding itself up inextricably in the vine of maya. It is so inscrutable, and a shocking realization to come to. Most turn away from seeking a solution at this point, and re-immerse themselves in maya. But that sense of rejection that now visits you is a rehearsal for Realization. Even death is a rehearsal for this, but we are either failing to show up for it, or failing the audition. Thus, deep introspection is needed at this level to arrive at the Oneness that is all-pervasive.
DMS in Yoga, Hawai’i
The purpose of dissolving the mindstream is twofold, and the darshana of Yoga is one of the best at highlighting this. Yoga sees Mind as the culprit. If the mind can separate out time, space, causation, and nama rupa (name and form), and also reconstruct them, then the proof is final.
Once one has embarked on the path of Yoga, one is awakened; now the only thing is perseverance – sticking with it until one realizes the result. This builds character. Just remain resolved and see what character is developed after 20, 30, 40 or 50 years of practice. In this effort at spiritual longevity, suffering, ignorance, impediments, even maya, will simply retreat, naturally. One will not have to do anything....just practice.
As soon as one keeps the mind balanced for extended periods of time, inner Wisdom will manifest itself; it begins to surface of its own accord.
We have to dissolve certain things before we can dissolve the mindstream, such as the penchant for the six passions and eight fetters. If we work on these in our sadhana, the Fire of Yoga will burn them away.
At each level of the tattvas (cosmic principles)* one acquires a certain facility. One develops Wisdom and ability at each level, and this qualifies one for succeeding levels.
*(such as earth, fire, water, seeing, hearing, tanmatras, mind, and nature.)
One can see how subtle karma is; it pursues the aspirant even into Samprajnata Samadhi.
One has to go from ignorance to knowledge, to higher Knowledge — asato ma sadgamaya....
Make no mistake about it: life is wanderlust based on desire. If we can at least turn it into an avenue for selfless service, then it has meaning and justification.
Dharana, concentration, is the pivotal place in all of life – secular and spiritual. Look into the dynamics of concentration. See that it is grounded in Intelligence which is making concentration possible, and is also manifesting as objects. When one sees this, then the mindstream flatlines — no more peaks and valleys — and one arrives at the ekagra, the one-pointed state of mind, and meditation is possible. Thus, concentration will be possible and get matured by mastering all the prior limbs of Yoga, like pratyahara, withdrawing the mind and senses from objects.
According to Yoga, there are three changes of mind:Nirodha Parinama
– One is starting to be able to dissolve one's fixation on objects and responses of attachment and aversion. This change of mind concerns the restless, dull, and imbalanced states of the mindfield.Samadhi Parinami
– This is the ability to get Samadhi, bliss, and contentment. It corresponds to the beginnings of Ekagra, or the one-pointed state of the mindfield.Ekagra Parinami
– Here, one goes beyond a separate bliss. "I and my bliss are one," or, "There is no one present to have a separate bliss." This corresponds to the Nirudha state of the mindfield.
Samskaras (inherent tendencies from prior lifetimes) are at first an impediment to clear seeing, as in the obstacles to Nirodha Parinama. Later, one can use them to see into the nature of collective consciousness. They become windows, showing a yogi how souls are moving, or stagnating; and through them he can perceive the operation of cosmic laws.
If one centers one's intelligence in secular subjects, all the problems occurring in earthly and worldly matters will present themselves. If one centers one's intelligence on intellectual subjects, then all the problems that occur at the intellectual level will manifest. This is true for centering one's intelligence in dualistic religious matters as well. Thus, one is going to want to learn to center one's Intelligence on the Cosmic Being and transcend all these fluctuating arenas.
Retreat Reflection #3
As a senior student who has been studying with Babaji from the beginning, these classes have given me new eyes to experience these philosophical systems, especially those other than Yoga/Patanjala. In Yoga, that dissolution of the mindstream as the main practice is obvious. The sutras tell us to meditate on each of the cosmic principles and connect and dissolve them into their cause, to the ultimate Cause, and beyond. However, I had never looked at the other systems in terms of this imperative to dissolve the mindstream before, even though, in retrospect, it is pretty obvious. I know that I have received a new depth of understanding of these systems as a result of these classes.
For instance, Tantra is not giving us a cosmology of 36 cosmic principles only in order to show how subtle things can get, nor is it describing the secret of creation via Siva and Shakti’s attraction and resultant manifestation of subtle vibration/Nada and Bindu for our intellectual delight. These systems are routes to travel, as Sri Ramakrishna puts it, “from the Nitya to the Lila and back to the Nitya.” That is, from the Eternal to the Sport of Consciousness via names and forms, back to the Eternal – ever established in the Eternal. He did not say anything about Maya here – getting lost in phenomena by forgetting who we are. By the same token, in Vedanta, we learn about the Four States of Consciousness – waking, dream, sleep, and all-pervading Turiya, and link them to AUM. The Five Koshas are another such tool. Vedanta emphasizes the practice of “not this, not this,” to arrive at ultimate Reality. But as Babaji states, “Consciousness is omnipresent; it occupies every level, or tattva, simultaneously. In practice, we do not leave any station behind; there is no discarding of one level for another.” The Vedantic neti-neti thus also familiarizes us with the routes of gross to subtle, subtle to gross, back and forth.
The concept of the Jnana Matra, the Intelligence Particle, and Babaji’s elucidation of it, is yet another grand opening to the practice of dissolving the mindstream, clarifying the role of Intelligence in this process. It is reminiscent of teachings long ago in his classes about how Mother Saraswati, personification of dynamic Consciousness, i.e. Intelligence, is the very power of comprehension, the reason why we understand anything. She wields Om, the primal vibration, and causes the worlds to come forth. She is the cause of the connection between word, sound, and meaning. She is retentive memory itself. Starting in January at the Hawaii Retreat, Babaji has revealed Her anew via the Jnana Matra and delineated a few of Her amazing properties along with the knowledge that it/She is present in all of us, intact, awaiting our intent, concentration, and recognition. With deepest gratitude, Annapurna