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Thread: Objects of meditation in Raja Yoga.

  1. #1

    Objects of meditation in Raja Yoga.

    I've kind of posted this question in the Jnana Yoga section, but It seems more apropriate to put it here, since it is concerned with the Raja Yoga tradition.

    What are the objects used for meditation in Raja Yoga?
    I've not yet read the Yoga Sutras and this question is probably answered there, but...

    When I studied Swasthya Yoga, which is a westernized school which claims to be the most ancient of all schools, I learnt that one can meditate, on Mantra (sound), Yantra (image) and Tantra (which was only for initate students and was secret knowledge).

    I want to know if there is this kind of meditation in Raja Yoga, i.e., I would like to meditate on witnessing.
    Witnessing mental and body fenomena while they arise and not taking part on them.
    This kind of meditation is sometimes called, objectless, or unstructured meditation, and it seems to me that the only fixed object of concentration (Dharana), is the act of witnessing itself.


    Does this exist in Raja Yoga?
    Can this practice culminate in Samadhi?
    Last edited by FlipAsso; 06 April 2009 at 12:55 PM.

  2. #2

    Re: Objects of meditation in Raja Yoga.

    Concentration without an object is called asamprajnata samadhi by Patanjali.

  3. #3

    Re: Objects of meditation in Raja Yoga.

    Hi,

    The object can be any object of Prakriti/Nature, there are two kinds of objects : sthula/gross, ex: image of a god, or sukshma/subtle (or subtle aspect of an object) ex: the deity. To the first class correspond savitarka and nirvitarka samadhis and to the second class correspond savicara and nirvicara samadhis, all of them are classified as sabija samadhis/samadhis with object or seed. There is an object of concentration and there are still some subliminal activators/samskaras in citta/mind produced, these constitute the karma ashaya/karma deposit. Objects belong to Prakriti which is in constant change (parinamavada), so there is no fixed object in time.

    Objectless or seedless Samadhi/Nirbija samadhi happens spontaneoulsy when all samskaras are destroyed (or latent according to the interprations), only the Purusha/Seer which is unchanging shines, no samskaras are produced, so no karma ashaya binding (samyoga) the body-mind complex to Purusha. It is not a matter of practice. Nirbija samadhi is the natural state of a yogi in Kaivalya (isolation from Nature), the bondage is severed (viyoga).

    Asamprajnata samadhi is interpreted as a spontaneous state of special beings between sabija and nirbija samadhis, there are still samskaras stored in mind. Others interpret asamprajnata samadhi as equal to nirbija samadhi.

    If you are witnessing, then it is concentration in self-observation, so to speak. The object can be the body-mind complex or Prakriti itself. It is theoretically included in Classical Yoga. This kind of meditation has been recommended by Buddha, see Satipatthana sutra, it is at the core of the Theravada tradition, Zen and other Buddhist traditions though the metaphysics behind is different.

    Regards,

    Philippe
    Last edited by Philippe*; 17 April 2009 at 05:10 PM.

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    Re: Objects of meditation in Raja Yoga.

    Quote Originally Posted by Philippe* View Post
    Hi,

    The object can be any object of Prakriti/Nature, there are two kinds of objects : sthula/gross, ex: image of a god, or sukshma/subtle (or subtle aspect of an object) ex: the deity. To the first class correspond savitarka and nirvitarka samadhis and to the second class correspond savicara and nirvicara samadhis, all of them are classified as sabija samadhis/samadhis with object or seed. There is an object of concentration and there are still some subliminal activators/samskaras in citta/mind produced, these constitute the karma ashaya/karma deposit. Objects belong to Prakriti which is in constant change (parinamavada), so there is no fixed object in time.

    Objectless or seedless Samadhi/Nirbija samadhi happens spontaneoulsy when all samskaras are destroyed (or latent according to the interprations), only the Purusha/Seer which is unchanging shines, no samskaras are produced, so no karma ashaya binding (samyoga) the body-mind complex to Purusha. It is not a matter of practice. Nirbija samadhi is the natural state of a yogi in Kaivalya (isolation from Nature), the bondage is severed (viyoga).

    Asamprajnata samadhi is interpreted as a spontaneous state of special beings between sabija and nirbija samadhis, there are still samskaras stored in mind. Others interpret asamprajnata samadhi as equal to nirbija samadhi.

    If you are witnessing, then it is concentration in self-observation, so to speak. The object can be the body-mind complex or Prakriti itself. It is theoretically included in Classical Yoga. This kind of meditation has been recommended by Buddha, see Satipatthana sutra, it is at the core of the Theravada tradition, Zen and other Buddhist traditions though the metaphysics behind is different.

    Regards,

    Philippe
    Namaste Philippe,

    You have sunmmarised the yogic stages nicely. As there are many confusions regarding the terminology, I give below the stages in hierarchical fashion with short meanings:

    Samadhi is understood as a progressive step (though it is not).
    • Samprajnata Samadhi
      • Savitarka Samadhi
      • Nirvitarka Samadhi
      • Savichara Samadhi
      • Nirvichara Samadhi
    • Asamprajnata Samadhi
    Samprajnata Samadhi

    The word Samprajnata is combination of Sam + Prajnata. Sam means "with" and Prajnata means "knowledge with awareness". Thus Samprajnata Samadhi is a state where there exists knowledge with awareness. This awareness is in the form of reasoning, reflection, bliss and individuality.

    Asamprajnata Samadhi


    Asamprajnata Samadhi is the next stage in which there is no mental activity such as reasoning etc. However, some traces of Samskara or impressions still exist.

    Below are the meanings of the stages of Samprajnata Samadhi.
    Savitarka Samadhi

    Savitarka Samadhi means "Samadhi with reasoning" (Sa + Vitarka). In this stage word, its meaning and knowledge of that meaning exists.

    Nirvitarka Samadhi


    Nirvitarka Samadhi is the next stage where mind becomes pure and expresses the object of meditation alone. Thus there is no process of reasoning in Nirvitarka Samadhi.

    Savichara Samadhi


    Savichara Samadhi means "Samadhi with mental reflection" (Sa + Vichara). Vichara is more accurate and subtle than Vitarka. In this stage the object expresses itself as a reflection.

    Nirvichara Samadhi


    Nirvichara Samadhi means "Samadhi without any reflection".
    All the above type of Samadhi are called as "Sabija" or "with seed" because they involve a seed in the form ones ego or individuality.
    The final stage is called Nirbija Samadhi which does not involve a seed. It is total absorption of mind (approximately equal to Asamprajnata Samadhi).


    Actually the above experiential/intellectual classification should not bog down a practitioner since the goal is just ahead of intellect (or the substratum of intellect). Only by submitting the intellect to its source can the Samadhi be permanent.


    Om Namah Shivaya
    Last edited by atanu; 18 April 2009 at 12:38 AM.
    That which is without letters (parts) is the Fourth, beyond apprehension through ordinary means, the cessation of the phenomenal world, the auspicious and the non-dual. Thus Om is certainly the Self. He who knows thus enters the Self by the Self.

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    Re: Objects of meditation in Raja Yoga.

    Human mind categorises, labels, tags all its concepts and then forgets that which must not be forgotten.

    The goal is union of mind with the Self (which are never separated to begin with in truth but for the knowing mind this is unknown). Union with Self can only be at the terms of Self, without changing Self's nature. So, Samadhan (or Samadhi) can be only of one -- that is the Self.

    Final object of meditation can thus be Self alone. Gita teaches so and all Upanishads teach so. But unfortunately, the Self is imperceptible and ungraspable to the Mind.


    Experience of Turya (Self that is advaita and Brahman), the fourth state beyond the three states of waking, dreaming, and sleeping, is said to begin from savikalpa stage (where alternative forms/concepts (vikalpa) are still retained) but progress to nirvikalpa (doubtless-alternativeless) stage.

    Nirvikalpa is alternativeless and thus is breakless as long as it continues. But a break occurs as soon as one comes out of Nirvikalpa samadhi. So, the next state of Self Realisation is continuous abidance as Self alone -- in this state there cannot be any other states and thus no sleep.

    Veda calls Rudra as slumberless and never separate from Godhead. I understand this as Rudra's unbroken abidance as Self without any alternative.

    Below I paste an extract from interview of Shri Annamalai Swamy, a devotee of Raman Maharshi to further clarify:
    One evening, while I was accompanying Bhagavan on one of his walks, I asked him: 'When I meditate my breath seems to get suspended in my stomach. Is this good?'

    Bhagavan replied: 'That is very good'.

    Cheered by this positive comment I asked him a further question; 'If I go on meditating after that, what will happen?'

    'Samadhi will be attained,' replied Bhagavan.

    'Does samadhi mean that one is unaware of everything?' I asked.

    'No,' said Bhagavan.
    'Meditation will go on without our effort. That is samadhi.'

    'Then what is sahaja samadhi?' I asked.

    Bhagavan answered by saying, 'In that state meditation will always be going on. In that state the thought, "I am meditating," or "I am not meditating" will not occur.'

    I then asked Bhagavan about periods in my meditation when I was only aware of an all-pervasive blankness. 'Sometimes nothing is seen,' I said. 'Is this good?'

    Bhagavan did not seem to approve of these states. 'In the beginning', he said, 'it is good if meditators meditate with self-awareness.'

    The state of sahaja samadhi continued to intrigue me. A few week later I asked him another question about it. 'Can one practice sahaja samadhi right from the beginning?'

    Bhagavan replied by saying that one could. 'But how to practice it?' I asked. 'And how does one practice nirvikalpa samadhi?' How many different kinds of samadhi are there?'

    'There is only one kind of samadhi,' said Bhagavan, 'not many kinds. To remain temporarily subsided in the reality, without any thought, is nirvikalpa samadhi. Permanently abiding in the Self without forgetting it is sahaja samadhi. Both will give the same happiness.'


    (David Godman: Living by the Words of Bhagavan, p. 240)
    Om Namah Shivaya
    Last edited by atanu; 18 April 2009 at 01:21 AM.
    That which is without letters (parts) is the Fourth, beyond apprehension through ordinary means, the cessation of the phenomenal world, the auspicious and the non-dual. Thus Om is certainly the Self. He who knows thus enters the Self by the Self.

  6. #6

    Re: Objects of meditation in Raja Yoga.

    Yogasutra ends with sutra IV-34 :

    puruShArthashUnyAnAM guNAnAM pratiprasavaH kaivalyaM svarUpapratiShThA vA citi shakter iti

    The process of involution of the primary-constituents, devoid of purpose for the Self, is [what is called] alonenes [of seeing], or the establishment of the power of awareness in [its] own form. Finis (Feuerstein)

    iti means the end of the teaching. According to the interpretations, as Yoga sutra is open to many interpretations, the body-mind complex can dissolved, there is not any more union with the Self on the contrary there is detachment viyoga. The teaching of Yoga sutra is compatible with the concept of jivanmukti found for instance in Vedanta, though it is not explicited, it doesn't deny it. The body-mind complex is in union with the Self, in a state of sahaja samadhi.

    Yoga sutra is a kind of a map made by the human mind and describing states beyond the intellectual understanding, it was constructed for oral transmission during a time when there was no printing. It is useful as a mirror in one's sadhana. I agree that what matters is the practice, this is the point of Yoga, theory comes after. I for one am not interested in "leaving" Prakriti, but find in YS a mirror helping me in my sadhana.

    Philippe

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    Re: Objects of meditation in Raja Yoga.

    Quote Originally Posted by Philippe* View Post
    Yogasutra ends with sutra IV-34 :

    puruShArthashUnyAnAM guNAnAM pratiprasavaH kaivalyaM svarUpapratiShThA vA citi shakter iti

    The process of involution of the primary-constituents, devoid of purpose for the Self, is [what is called] alonenes [of seeing], or the establishment of the power of awareness in [its] own form. Finis (Feuerstein)

    iti means the end of the teaching. According to the interpretations, as Yoga sutra is open to many interpretations, the body-mind complex can dissolved, there is not any more union with the Self on the contrary there is detachment viyoga.
    Philippe
    Namaste Philippe,

    I am sorry that I do not understand you fully, may be. I surmise that you wish to convey that the finality is viyoga -- complete detachment from the Self? Is it so? It will depend on what you mean by Self. When true nature (svarupa) is indicated the Self is pure consciousness from which nothing can be detached. No Viyoga is possible from one's svarupa.



    Swami Venkasenanda
    The qualities and the characteristics of a person have no goal nor motivation any more. They return to their cause, ignorance! There emerges creative independence. The undivided cosmic intelligence which is omnipotent regains as it were its own identity.
    Jnanesvar Bharati

    4.34 When those primary elements involve, or resolve themselves back into that out of which they emerged, there comes liberation, wherein the power of pure consciousness becomes established in its true nature.
    (purusha artha sunyanam gunanam pratiprasavah kaivalyam svarupa pratistha va chiti shaktih iti)
    Swami Vivekananda

    4.34. The state of the self-in-itself or liberation is realised when the gunas (having provided for the experience and liberation of Purusha) are without any purpose to fulfil and disappear into their causal substance. In other words, it is absolute consciousness established in its own self.

    Swami Krishnananda (Purport)
    All thought ceases once for all in Nirvikalpa Samadhi. The seeds of Desire and Vasanas and Samskaras are fried in toto; this is Nirbija Samadhi. The Yogi in this supreme state loses all external consciousness, all awareness of duality and multiplicity; he loses even the I-idea (Asmita) in Asamprajnata Samadhi. That is the Supreme State where the Seer (Purusha) is established in His own Svarupa.
    Samkhya-Yogacharya Swami Hariharananda Aranya

    34. The state of the Self-in-Itself or liberation is realised when the Gunas (having provided for the experience and liberation of Purusha) are without any purpose to fulfil and disappear into their causal substance. In other words, it is absolute Consciousness established in Its own Self.
      • purusha = pure consciousness, Self
      • artha = purpose, meaning
      • sunyanam = devoid
      • gunanam = elements, prime qualities, constituents, attributes; (three gunas of sattvas, rajas, tamas)
      • pratiprasavah = involution, resolve, recede
      • kaivalyam = absolute freedom, liberation, enlightenment
      • svarupa = own form
      • pratistha = established
      • va = or
      • chiti = consciousness
      • shaktih = power
      • iti = the end, finis (to denote the end of the teachings)
    -------------------------
    Each and every guru highlights the Union of Seer (Purusha) with the absolute Self. I cannot see any viyoga herein. Brahma Sutra also teaches the ultimate attainment to be the realisation of the svarupa, as is taught in yoga Sutra. There is definitely no contradiction. And the very title: Yoga Sutra, indicates that attaining svarupa is yoga (and not viyoga) by way of involution (pratiprasavah) of Gunas.

    -------------------------------------------------------
    Further, Yoga Sutras indicate that breaches occur that allow impressions of memory to arise and colour the Seer's vision again, as below:

    4.27 When there are breaks or breaches in that high discrimination, other impressions arise from the deep unconscious.
    (tachchhidresu pratyaya antarani samskarebhyah)
    Thus, Vichara (savichara or nirvichara) is not one time effort but continues till the Seer is established in Turiyatita (sahaja samadhi) wherein the Samadhi is unbroken with unbroken abidance as Self (svarupa-pure consciousness and not the body-mind-personality).


    Om Namah Shivaya
    Last edited by atanu; 18 April 2009 at 08:32 AM.
    That which is without letters (parts) is the Fourth, beyond apprehension through ordinary means, the cessation of the phenomenal world, the auspicious and the non-dual. Thus Om is certainly the Self. He who knows thus enters the Self by the Self.

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    Re: Objects of meditation in Raja Yoga.

    Quote Originally Posted by atanu View Post
    Namaste Philippe,


    Thus, Vichara (savichara or nirvichara) is not one time effort but continues till the Seer is established in Turiyatita (sahaja samadhi) wherein the Samadhi is unbroken with unbroken abidance as Self (svarupa-pure consciousness and not the body-mind-personality).

    Om Namah Shivaya

    I just wished to remind that the so-called body-mind complex is nothing but transfiguration of consciousness only. From experiencing Nirvikalpa samadhi repeatedly and coming out in Guna world again and again, one has to pass on to a continuous state, which is true svarupa of Self, which is known as changeless and partless.

    Though there is huge amount of discussion and disagreement on this account, yet finally the body-mind must be known as Self-Consciousness, otherwise Nirvikalpa breaks into Guna filled world again and again. Turiyatita, wherein the Seer never is different from pure Turya, yet is free to See and Participate in the three states of objects, is IMO, a continuous state. But there is no doubt that advaita experience of Nirvikalpa Samadhi cannot be bypassed or neglected. Only, through Nirbija-Nirvikapla Samadhi the svarupa is experienced.

    ---------------------
    Note: This is only my understanding based on Ramana's teachings and my understanding is only an understanding.


    Om Namah Shivaya
    That which is without letters (parts) is the Fourth, beyond apprehension through ordinary means, the cessation of the phenomenal world, the auspicious and the non-dual. Thus Om is certainly the Self. He who knows thus enters the Self by the Self.

  9. #9

    Re: Objects of meditation in Raja Yoga.

    According to some interpretations, viyoga means detachement, the end of samyoga, which is the metaphysical bondage between Prakriti and Purusha rooted in avidya/ignorance. In Yoga Sutra, Prakriti has teleogically two goals : enjoyment (bhoga) and liberation (apavarga) for Purusha. When the metaphysical bondage is severed, this is called viyoga, a process of dissolution can happen. There is a kind of parinirvana or total extinction of the body-mind complex happening after death. All bondage and liberation actually happen only in Prakriti, as Purusha is forever free, liberation is a non-event from the Purusha's point of view. I write striclty about Patanjali Yoga Darshana, I know that it is often combined with other teachings such as Samkhya or also Vedanta and Tantra with the explicited ideal of jivanmukta. It can be combined with quite a lot of other teachings and points of view, that is why also it has been kept until today as a classical normative text by different yogis.

    Philippe

    P.S. : Just a few words... I would like to add that I follow the teachings of Sri Aurobindo while being also a practioner of Classical Yoga. I don't think that liberation is an end in itself, I think that Prakriti is manifested by maya taken here not as illusion but as the creative power of the Divine Consciousness. Prakriti is the field of the Divine lila/play and Ananda/bliss.
    Last edited by Philippe*; 18 April 2009 at 09:08 AM.

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    Re: Objects of meditation in Raja Yoga.

    Quote Originally Posted by Philippe* View Post
    According to some interpretations, viyoga means detachement, the end of samyoga, which is the kind of metaphysical bondage between Prakriti and Purusha rooted in avidya/ignorance. In Yoga Sutra, Prakriti has teleogically two goals : enjoyment (bhoga) and liberation (apavarga) for Purusha. When the metaphysical bondage is severed, this is called viyoga, a process of dissolution can happen. There is a kind of parinirvana or total extinction of the body-mind complex happening after death. All bondage and liberation actually happen only in Prakriti, as Purusha is forever free, liberation is actually a non-event from the Purusha's point of view. I write striclty about Patanjali Yoga Darshana, I know that it is often combined with other teachings such as Vedanta and Tantra with the explicited ideal of jivanmukta. It can be combined with quite a lot of other teachings.

    Philippe

    P.S. : Just a few words... I would like to add that I follow the teachings of Sri Aurobindo while being also a practioner of Classical Yoga. I don't think that liberation is an end in itself, I think that Prakriti is manifested by maya taken here not as illusion but as the creative power of the divine Consciousness. Prakriti is the field of the Divine lila/play and Ananda/bliss.
    Namaste Philippe,

    Thank you for your explanation. You are correct, yet, Yoga Sutra is about Yoga. And so is being Yuktatma, as taught in Gita, about uniting. It is interesting to note that it is Indra who separates the Mother and Father and keeps them separated -- probably so that we can get the correct view of each. But ironically, Indra is said to be both the Father and Mother.

    I wish to indicate again that the so-called Prakriti and its effect also must be seen as product of and not different from 'undivided not-two Consciousness' -- and that makes it yoga plus yoga.

    I wish to add a few points from my perspective.
    • Vichara is the way in Yoga Sutra as well as in Vedanta. Our mind likes to see 'my way as a different way'. But actually, consciousness being one, the paths and the teachings are not discrete and different. They merely suit different circumstances/levels/persons. Yet, the Goal cannot differ.
    • Attaining svarupa of Self is the goal in Brahma Sutra and also in Yoga Sutra.
    • Though the Self is not two, unchangeable and immutable, our interpretations are many, which are useless., since Self remains the Self.
    • Prakriti is so-called creative power and automatically the illusive power of the same Self. Only after successfully unveiling the illusive power, the Self can be experienced without aberration. There are enough evidences in Upanishads that it is true. Upanishads clearly say that as long as another is seen there is fear (which means no ananda). Gita teaches that the Self must be known as taintless non doer. So, to dip into the unlimited bliss of Prakriti of Self, the nature of Self must be known correctly as "Not Two".
    • Prakriti, being svabhava of Self, is anadimat (without beginning and end) as the Self itself. In order not to breach the yoga with Self nature (which is bliss), the Seer must continue vichara on coming out of Nirvikalpa samadhi, as rising up of samskaras, leading to viyoga of Seer from Self Nature and re-union to Gunas, is a danger taught in Yoga Sutra.
    • Continuous vichara on the Self nature allows the Seer to abide as Self, irrespective of anything else.
    Regards

    Om Namah Shivaya
    Last edited by atanu; 18 April 2009 at 09:55 AM.
    That which is without letters (parts) is the Fourth, beyond apprehension through ordinary means, the cessation of the phenomenal world, the auspicious and the non-dual. Thus Om is certainly the Self. He who knows thus enters the Self by the Self.

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