Dharana is the practice of gaining steadiness of mind. The energy that was confused and unsteady is made steady. The mind that was disturbed and constantly distracted becomes restful. There is a qualitative transformation in receptivity. Whatever process you go through, you need to bring out the latent sensitivity that is contained within.
We are in such a hurry that instead of simply observing and watching, we would like some technique, formula or method to instantly or magically change our consciousness. We have to learn to observe, that is to say to educate our physiological structure to remain in the beauty and sensitivity of attention.
If you learn to observe and watch the thought process without any reaction or value judgement then you will come to see that it is a repetitive and mechanical movement that does not belong to you. There is the movement of thought but you are not the thinker. There is the movement of knowledge but you are not the knower. It is a movement that is going on by itself, so it is not necessary to identify with the movement.
Thoughts cannot be excluded. The momentum of the thinking process lies in the act of identification. When you watch the thought process without identifying yourself with the thoughts, one thought comes up and wanders about for some time. Finding no one there to accept or reject it, the mind moves to another thought. And there finding no one to accept or reject it, it moves on to a third. If you don’t try to control anything and you just watch, you will see that in the end the momentum just gets exhausted by itself.
When you look at thoughts in openness, not accepting them or rejecting them, then they lose their grip on you. And when there is a space between the movement of the thought structure and the observer, a very funny thing happens. You feel as though you are sitting in front of a mirror and looking at yourself. The reflection in the mirror and you are the same. The thinker and the thought are not separate.
Observation leads to the cessation of the mental movement. First the flame of attention becomes steady and then the consciousness that we are observing also disappears. There is neither the observer nor the observation. That’s where silence begins. And so the initial observation leads to an inner silence.
When we enter the silence we put ourselves in the state of non-experiencing, non-knowing and non-doing. We move away from the ideational dimension which is the artificially structured domain of humanity and we plunge into the real. Silence is the act of taking a plunge into the knowledge-free reality. When the whole thought structure and its movement goes into abeyance, we jump out of the stream of the known.
What is aloneness? Aloneness has nothing to do with physical isolation. Aloneness means to be free of the movement of thought and the spoken word. It is the measure of total relaxation. It is not the physical relaxation of lying down in shavasana. It is deeper than any physical relaxation. It is the total relaxation of the being. It is the freedom from all thoughts, comparisons, measurements, concepts and judgements which are just forms of fragmentation. The sacredness of life is found in this dimension of reality. Ideas, concepts and thoughts cannot be sacred. They are simply the movement away from the sacredness of life which is wholeness.
The modern way of living ignores the dimension of silence. It is the dimension of non-movement. This silence is sound free and thought free. In this dimension of consciousness there is complete freedom from the movement of thought, freedom from sound and verbalization and also freedom from the movement of relationships. Life as an all-inclusive whole is both the movement of sound and speech as well as the magnificence of silence. Life is the dance of the inter-action of energies. It is the movement of the innumerable energies and the forms that these energies take as well as the motionless of silence.
When thought does not move, when emotions do not move, when there is no pressure on the nervous system and when there is complete relaxation of mind and body then the curative and healing energies in the body begin to move. It is the relaxation that activates the creative and healing energies in the dimension of silence.
If one allows oneself to be in the dimension of silence, then the energy of intelligence or awareness, the energy that is born of the non-duality of silence begins to vibrate in the body. So relax into unconditional effortlessness and let the cosmic life operate on you. Your effortlessness does not mean nothingness, void or darkness or inertia. When you relax totally, then the cosmic intelligence can operate.
From silence into dhyanam
Dhyanam comes after dharana. It comes after the mind has stabilized. It is something qualitatively different that occurs by itself. It is the identification that gradually takes place with the subtle energy or mind stuff that has become steady and stabilized. In dharana there is division and effort. There is the division of subject and object. In dhyanam the division comes to an end. The identification with the “I” or “me” centre disappears. Subject and object merge together in non-movement. In dhyanam there is no activity at all. There is no effort or doing. It is the ending of all mental effort.
Dhyanam is the ending of all techniques and methodologies because there is nowhere to go from there. Dhyanam is the ending of the concept that you can transform further. It is the arrival at effortlessness where all methods and techniques have dropped away altogether. It is where you relax into the silence of unconditional effortlessness or beingness and allow the cosmic life to operate on and through you. It is where the subtle energy of intelligence starts to operate through you. The perfume of this is the energy of awareness.
Concentration and Dhyanam
Generally people call concentration meditation. They think that meditation is some method, some technique, some formula where you exercise the mind and the willpower making an effort. To concentrate is to focus the attention on something with deliberation. It has nothing whatsoever to do with dhyanam or meditation.
Concentration develops the powers of the mind. It sharpens the mind. It gives the capacity to manifest esoteric or psychic abilities that are latent or dormant in the psyche. It is all mental activity. Concentration has nothing to do with dhyanam. Dhyanam as an all-inclusive state of attentiveness is a movement into a different dimension or state of being.
Those who practice concentration may attain psychic powers like clairaudience or clairvoyance or may be able to read the thoughts of others. They imply the functioning of the individuated “I” consciousness on a subtler plane.
People get very happy when they get some visions or unusual experiences. They feel that they are religious and have made a lot of progress. They feel superior to others. Actually it is only playing around with the subconscious. There is nothing religious, let alone spiritual about it.
You hardly come across anyone who has arrived at the unified state of dhyanam as a result of concentration. You may enter into a state of trance as a result of concentration but this is not dhyanam. In a state of trance there may be visions and extraordinary experiences but this merely indicates that there is a someone there to experience them. As long as there is the experiencer, you are nowhere near dhyanam. Dhyanam is the dimension or state where there is no experiencer.
The process of concentration has a beginning and an end in time. But once the state of dhyanam dawns on you, it has no beginning or end. It is there. It is there vibrating within you. It takes away your fragmentary existence and makes you whole. In the dimension of dhyanam you live in the totality or wholeness of life like a fish lives in water. It is not permanent in the sense of being static. It is anew and afresh in each and every moment. It is dynamic. And so it seems to me that concentration and dhyanam are diametrically opposed to each other.
Dhyanam as the non-dual state
Meditation as the unified dimension of dhyanam cannot be taught. It is a way of living. It is a state of being. Sitting in silence is helpful only to put the body in a steady position so as to quieten the mind. You cannot “sit in meditation” as the state of dhyanam is entirely unrelated to physical posture. It cannot be practiced because it is not a psychological, physiological or cerebral movement. It is a spontaneously arisen state of being.
Dhyanam arises as the by-product of being in the dimension of silence. It is a mutation of consciousness that occurs. With the practice of concentration you can say, “I concentrate for two hours a day”. It is a psycho-physical activity. You can say, “I will sit in silence for two hours.” But you cannot say “I will do or enter dhyanam for two hours. A person who grows into the dimension of meditation or dhyanam, lives in the dimension of inner emptiness throughout the day.
It is only when the silence crystalizes as the normal dimension of consciousness that a mutation of consciousness or a quantum leap into the non-dual state of dhyanam can occur. It is not the result of any human effort or willpower. You cannot bring it about. It may occur.
Meditation as dhyanam is an all-inclusive and self-arisen awareness. It is not an exclusive activity like concentration. It is an all-inclusive perception, an all-inclusive attention which we might call awareness. Awareness is a holistic energy. It is quite different to the energy of thought which is partial, exclusive and fragmentary.
We might call the state of dhyanam the state when you just are. This state begins where the realm of duality ends.
It is the state when you are not moving anywhere. Consciously or voluntarily you are not the doer, the knower or the experiencer. All the movement has ended with dhyanam and you remain at the source of your being in non-doing. There is only being. Purusha contains this non-dual beingness. It is the non-cerebral non-fragmented perception that is the intelligence of purusha.
It is only reached through the unconditional relaxation and the unconditional stillness of silence. Unless there is the voluntary cessation of all movement from the sensory to the mental, there cannot be this state of meditation. It is the cessation of all movement.
There is only a holistic awareness which does not divide life. There is no division of subject and object. The awareness of the whole permeates the being. It percolates through all the senses manifesting that non-dual consciousness as one unified holistic awareness.
Dhyanam as a state of being brings about the total liquidation of the “I” centre and brings about the activation of the cosmic intelligence as a radically new energy that has no centre or circumference.
Once you recognize that there is just one fundamental energy permeating the whole cosmos, then the sense of separation of “me” and “other” just disappears. Not as a theory of non-duality but as the reality of your life. That sense of duality as separation, the tension of duality just drops away like the autumn leaves from the trees. You don’t renounce anything at all. The “me” does not forgo the sense of “Iness”, it just becomes redundant and what remains is the vibrating awareness of the oneness of that all-permeating intelligence of life.
The person who has arrived to or grown into the dimension of dhyanam comes to live in the natural state of sahaja. He or she no longer has any desire to gain anything for him or herself from the sensory, mental and non-mental movements. He does not want anything from either the world or from particular states of consciousness that may manifest. There is no desire for fame or profit. He simply lives for the sake of living and lives for the love and joy of being alive because the act of living is the worship of the divinity. The act of living is the expression of gratitude towards the purusha as the supreme intelligence.
He or she wants to extract nothing from life and there is nothing he wants to obtain for himself. And so alone or with others, in sickness or in health, in success or failure all psychological suffering has ended. When the person lives is the dimension of sahaja the essence of the divinity which is unconditional love, compassion, intelligence and understanding begins to manifest through the person. And so the person becomes a vehicle through which the highest intelligence can make itself known.
In this dimension there is inner relaxation. There is no tension. There is no exhaustion. The body may get tired or old and wrinkled but inwardly it is always green. The freshness of life, the innocence, the humility and the tenderness towards life are there until the very last breath.
The honey of life
In the Chandogya Upanishad the cosmos is described as being full of honey. It is a lovely way of looking at life. To live alertly and skilfully is to learn to extract the honey from the movement of relationships with the help of the senses and sense organs. The senses are imagined to be bees and the cosmic existence is a huge flower. The senses and the sense organs have to extract the nectar contained in the sun, the moon, the stars and the planet. The earth, water, fire and air that are extracted from the flower of existence feed the inner being inside the body. And in return the inner being feeds and looks after the cosmos with the honey. The purpose of living is to fill your whole being and the cosmos with the nectar of life. In one’s relationship with the rest of the cosmos it is harmony that is the honey and the nectar.
The nectar of life refers to the holistic healing energies that are contained in the emptiness of space. The vitality and creativity contained in the emptiness always remains intact even though it unfolds itself or reveals itself as a blade of grass or a drop of water or a ray of light from the sun. The energy contained in the emptiness always remains intact and complete despite it manifesting itself as the infinite forms of the cosmos.
So when you live in balance with the cosmos through the energy of awareness, the honey of life is tasted. If you live in the state of awareness which is sahaja, your being becomes an instrument of the flowing of the honey. When you live in the isness or beingness of life, then life itself stimulates the flow of the amritam or nectar. The honey contained in the cosmos flows towards you. The supreme intelligence directs the honey of life to flow towards the person who lives in and from the inner silence of his or her being.
The purpose of life is not the accumulation of material possessions or the attainment of power or recognition. And the purpose of spiritual life is not the acquisition of some special transcendental state or psychic abilities or some imagined emancipation of the soul. The purpose is a cosmic one. It is to establish oneself in health, happiness and harmony both within and outwardly in relationship with other living beings and the rest of the cosmos.
So whatever you do in or with your life, let it be an offering to the harmony, health and happiness of the cosmos. Your being is organically related to the cosmos. You are the microcosm in the macrocosm so all you need to do is to find that happiness, health and harmony that is already there in the nature of the macrocosm. Let your life be an offering.