Nididhyāsana

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You are utterly alone at the peak of achievement, or in the intense struggle of adversity. In the excitement of an adventure that tears down all restraints, or at the peak of ecstasy which you can share with no one else, you find a stillness or aloneness that is ennobling. The first time you come upon it, you are startled. If you have stretched your body beyond limits, even to the point of danger, it doesn’t seem to matter anymore. If your mind is in a tizzy, gone berserk, or even torn apart in exhaustion, it doesn’t seem to matter anymore. You have stumbled upon a zone, beyond words, thoughts, and feelings, unearthly, not exactly divine, but too real, much more real than any desire or happiness or pain or calm that you have ever known. That stillness in aloneness is too existential.

But, as I said, such aloneness is available to one, only when one has stretched and gone beyond limits somewhere. A rock climber goes beyond all sense of danger to life and thought of consequences, to find that stillness that focusses, even in such grave danger. An athlete lets go all aspirations and goals, forgets every training that he has had, and dashes into an unknown, completely oblivious to all consequences, as though no tomorrow exists. A lover of God or man has thrown all social decorum away, thrown herself entirely into love, unmindful of what will come of it, not bothered even for a moment of a possible rejection, too lost in the flow to bother about the destination.

Something distinguishes the men from the boys, here onwards. A cricket pace bowler can often get into a rhythm, where the body and mind seem to be working in perfect unison—you are only aware that something is moving—and the ball seems to be falling in right areas. Such moments are so worship-worthy for the bowler, and he wants to continue to bowl, irrespective of whether he gets wickets, or whether he is useful for the team cause or not. Very few focus merely on the experience and make it a point to pursue that alone in life; most consider those as precious moments in their careers and continue to be available for such golden moments, while remaining tethered to their earthly cravings.

Then, there are the men who are willing to give up everything and pursue that experience alone. The experience that appeared as a call from the yonder. The rest of us are boys, who are stuck to mediocrity but still crave for those heavenly zones, of which we have had a taste here, and a glance there, just to relieve us from the mediocrity of mediocrity, once in a while.

In short, those are men who meditate, who seek to deepen that experience, or unravel it more, and are willing to stand for it alone. They are so held by what they experience or see that they pray that that experience eats them up more and more, such that they become utterly unavailable to anything here. The rest of us are merely bargaining within the status quo that we cling to, to unsustainable stability, to tangible gains that we have already accrued.

Now, let us focus on the men and what they pursue. Meditation is not all about the strength of that experience and losing oneself into it more and more. You are a true meditator only when you have begun the whole thing with a certain integrity. And, what is that integrity?

The truth is that you haven’t been able to quit the world utterly. There exists no experience or pursuit out there that holds you eternally. You will have to come back to this world, of people, of relationships, of work, of the struggles here, and, of the relativity here. But, you are very likely to harvest every ounce of what you have done there, in that other world, in that aloneness, and use that to build a career here, in this world. You will create reputations; you will create a maṭha, you will create an āśram, and so on, just to sell your personality!

That is a terrible loss of integrity! It would have been better if you hadn’t meditated at all, if you hadn’t pursued anything sublime when young. Now, instead of pushing the people here towards pursuing something of the higher or the sublime, you have used your past to sell yourself here, in this world.

Just look at all the Sadgurus and the Jagadgurus and the Yogīs and Babas! They are not even selling spirituality. They are selling themselves as a spiritual brand! They are selling their story, and creating false hopes amongst people. Those people who have decided to be status quo-ist, who are unwilling to step out of the tangible, who are unwilling to pursue experiences on their own, they are giving them hope. You get the deception here, don’t you?

Let me explain further. I am fascinated by out of body experiences, let us say. I am fascinated by that Yogī in the Himalayas, who spends his entire time pursuing something, and who speaks less. I am overwhelmed by the sheer power of the story when I see or hear of someone giving up home and hearth to pursue something of music or dance, let us say. It gives me goose bumps, but I am never inspired enough to try it out myself. I get a high every time I listen to such stories. I get a powerful experience, a huge kick in fact, but I go back to my wife and family, to my work, to money, to politics, to entertainment, to friends, to some bits of social service, and so on. That is me, and that is the status quo life I lead. I know not how to get out of this, nor am I seeking to get out of this. I have never known any experience or stuff that can pull me out of this, in the first place. But, I worship you, because you seem to have done it, seen something. And, you keep selling your story, and I keep consuming it!

This is nothing less than a racket. This is the false hope that I was alluding to. The Guru who sells spirituality to you like this can never help you to see something beyond you. He doesn’t, he can’t, but he merely talks about it. You don’t experience anything beyond you. You don’t want to get out of the status quo that you are pledged to, but you want to indulge yourself, quite regularly, in those ‘beyond’ stories! The arrangement works fine between the two of you, isn’t it? Supply and demand!

True meditation must cross this vice, with no doubt lingering. And, the vice comes about because the meditator hasn’t found anything further to pursue or has hit a ceiling there. The moment he walks off from what he pursued, from the thing that held him, he shall be enclosed in worldliness. He may be shy and reticent initially, but gradually he takes to worldliness even better than you and me. He understands the game here even better than you and me. You get the criminality here, don’t you? You may not still appreciate the gravity of it, but at least do you get a sense?

The meditator must realise that he has been thrown away (vikṣiptaṃ) by That! Until he has realised that he has been dumped, and that unless he goes back to woo and court it, how will he ever find a re-entrance into it? And, the man who is intent on harvesting a reputation here, or even guarding an image here, forget the one who is actively promoting a career based on spirituality, how can such a man ever be courting the higher again? Even logically, it makes sense, doesn’t it? If I am either telling you ‘this is spirituality, I shall lead you’, or actively promoting something here so that you all take to it and enjoy it or find some meaning in it, then how could I be courting something of the higher at all? In effect, it can only mean two things. Either I have concluded, ‘this is all there is to it’, and therefore, come here to sell and motivate and promote etc., or, I know that I haven’t seen the end of what is to be seen, that I got tired or fatigued somewhere, and hence, I came away here, people accepted me, and I started doing what I am doing, and something has grown.

The integrity that shapes your entrance into meditation is what makes you manly. Such honesty is what keeps you away from worldliness, even when you are not being held by the higher. But, the actual experience, the content of it, is utterly feminine. You simply succumb to That!

The focus of the meditator is inner experience, touching the ground of those experiences, seeing where the journey takes him and seeking greater depths, such that the experience itself liberates him of worldliness. In other words, you don’t see the experience as something happening within you; like you are happy if you got a promotion at work, or when you became a father for the first time. The experience must be greater than you, must be able to capture you lock, stock, and barrel, confiscate the entire of you, immerse you fully, sweep you such that you no longer can be tethered, and lift you to a more sublime world. Else, you remain bigger than the experience, and you will enjoy it immensely if it is pleasant, or agonise if it is discomforting.

When you are at the mercy of that experience, it has the power to accept you, own you, or throw you, isn’t it?

Now, let us take a detour and come back to the experience of the meditator later.

Research is different from meditation. While the meditator implicitly trusts experiences that not only overwhelm but also immerse him, the researcher seeks to understand external and internal phenomena, by deciphering universal patterns as laws, principles, mantras, sūtrās, siddhānta, so on and so forth.

The meditator, though, explores differently from the researcher. The meditator will have to swim into the experience first, leave the shores of the gateway through which he got there, dive into the open seas, walk up cliffs, get lost in endless deserts, be blown away by winds and thunderstorms, levitate upon idyllic islands, and so on. He has to see the Suns and Moons and stars, bask in their light, know the rough and tough of exploring alone first-hand. The researcher, on the other hand, is not actually diving into anything per se but is lost in thought, in cracking the puzzle of how it works. He is ideating and speculating only for a while, playing with words and their suggestions and tones, but is drawn into deeper patterns, which appear complex initially, but begin to feel simple, despite the intricacies.

The keen observer is wary of his conclusions and inferences, and constantly double-checks whether he is drawing conclusions which appear logically sound and aesthetic in structure, or whether the understanding is indeed of something that actually exists and functions. That extra effort alone makes the researcher different from a normally intelligent or studious man; you are a diligent scholar only when you doubt the ease with which you arrived at conclusions. Something that got designed and crafted by nature for millions of years, how could you ‘grasp’ it within just a few ‘try’s? That very hand of nature in revealing things to you in its own way must become apparent to you, and hence you need to remain uncluttered in observation, and patiently wait upon the phenomena to reveal itself.

You know where I am heading, don’t you? You do expect that I am going to converge the meditator and the researcher, at some point, don’t you?

Well, you are not wrong. But, we have a cliff to climb before such convergence. Most likely, the one who believes by experience has long foregone his faculty of observation; he now trusts getting into the seas and swimming alone. And, the one who has found the light of insights and discovered the vitality of principles and laws by himself, has lost all ability to get into something and experience it directly.

Nature has many doorways through which she invites us, but she seems to mislead us deliberately towards wrong destinations. Now you know why a Śaṅkara or the Buddha or Krishnamurti is so rare. Because, you will find many saints and wise men of immense experience, who have hit a ceiling long ago, and not found anything further in that journey of theirs; some have been humble enough to state that ‘this is all they know’, while most have thought that ‘this is all there is to be known’! A world of difference there! As far as scholars, researchers, students, and worshippers of light go, very few have reached firm territories of understanding, where there no longer exists any danger of them being discovered lost in words and empty theories. But, beyond reaching such solid terra firma, and discovering the basis of light and truth, they tend to taper off in momentum, making them feel that reaching such solid lands of understanding was indeed the point and purpose, and that this is all there exists to be achieved.

When you approach a person like the Buddha or Śaṅkara, you find yourself coming upon a certain difficulty. If you are a student/researcher, you tend to ignore the personality and his journey, and pick from his teachings, recordings, his words, and findings. On the other hand, if you were to be a meditator, and sought to dwell on experience, you would ignore all the siddhāntās, theologies, the principles, most of the words, and pester them to come out with their experiences, how they went about it, and so on. Both approaches are necessary to comprehend them completely. Because, the Buddha or Śaṅkara is not merely a person; he is the best we have of something universal too. A student of universal principles and patterns tends to approach Śaṅkara that way, and takes away words, sentences, declarations of truth, the logic used, insights provided, etc. A meditator is left with little information about Śaṅkara and the Buddha because there is hardly any well-documented biography, forget any autobiography.

If you approach such men as a personality, you are making one sort of error. If you approached them as a universal principle, you are making another sort of mistake. You must be aware of this difficulty, and aim for convergence carefully, and not jump to conclusions quickly.

Even if you’re an experienced design engineer, math and science could continue to remain challenging, as insurmountable as they probably were when you dealt with them in high school. Difficult back then, difficult even now! Hence, you would seek someone’s help to verify calculations as well as conceptual accuracy, wouldn’t you? Similarly, weaknesses in faculties from birth, and every single thing that you have escaped or dodged or knowingly ignored, shall come to torment you, when you take to more in-depth study. Your worst inhibitions, fears, anxieties, phobias, and your addiction to certain tones of experiences, will all get exposed in pure experiencing and meditation. If you have found no comprehension and steady intelligence in certain areas of life, then you will be forced to rework on them from basics, if you have to proceed any further in the study.

Not just this. Routine life treats us with lots of compassion. I can use my calculation and ambition at the workplace, and cool off and passively receive affection at home, isn’t it? At home, I am one sort of person, at work another, and with friends, a third other. When it comes to meditation or true study, no such distinctions or domain privileges exist. You will have to find everything of you firing and going full steam in every aspect of life.

This is also why meditators and researchers detach from routine life. Firstly, routine life requires a certain commitment to results and rewards, which makes pure exploration a non-priority. Moreover, everyday life also divides itself into spaces ruled differently by time, like home and work, which is entirely non-congruent for genuine exploration.

I was pointing out to you the division in the path of exploration. You can see it within you too. Suppose you are a scholar, and you have debated hard, read through interpretations, and concluded on a view, you would still seek some form of experience to confirm the truth of that conclusion for you. What you have left out as a path of exploration would remain a blind spot, and you would seek something from that world to confirm that you have reached. Else, even for the keenest of observers, it remains slightly short of being first-hand. So too is the case with the meditator, and the one who is ready to plunge into an experience. Initially, experiencing itself is holy, not the word that describes it. Increasingly, the meditator comes to shun words and theories; he even thinks of such men as irresponsible and puffy, who are unwilling to plunge or immerse. Who are just noisy. But, gradually, he realises how important word is, for word alone can achieve the clarity of experience. So long as he didn’t put a word, or assign a form, that thing that he experienced remained numb, unspeaking, though exhilarating. At some point in time, the meditator becomes eager to understand his experience, rather than merely experience it alone. Understanding restores/affirms something vital to experience, that mere experiencing cannot.

Gradually, respect emerges for the other path, but you tend to be still rooted in your path. The man who has achieved something via study and cautious deliberation will advise the same to his student, and he would be unable to work with someone who begins from experiencing. Like a typical Vedāntin. The same is true for the other case too. The meditator would initiate a neophyte into pure experiencing first, rather than take him to explanations and theories. Like so many schools of Tantra and Yoga.

Let me attempt an illustration.

You study Advaita Vedanta and come upon āvaraṇa śakti, the power of ‘veiling’. How do you understand it? And, you even get to know that this power of ‘veiling’ itself is the cause for vikṣepa to happen. Vikṣepa, being thrown away, is a distinct experience, isn’t it? Suppose you sit down to study, your mind is unable to stay on focus, and is continuously getting ‘thrown away’ from the subject. However much you try to focus, you are constantly battling against something that throws you away. So, vikṣepa is a distinct experience, not āvaraṇa. How does one actually understand āvaraṇa, and that being the cause of vikṣepa? What is that veiling that causes this ‘throwing away’? Which means, that while you study, if you stay sufficiently firm and don’t get pushed away, you are likely to stumble upon that veiling power directly, isn’t it?

Chigurida Kanasu is a novel written by Dr Shivaram Karanth, the Jnanpith award winner from Karnataka. In it, Dr Karanth delineates the story of a young man who discovers his roots, his origin, his context. A similar story, but not so emphatically asserted, is that of the Hindi movie Swades. In the Kannada story, the hero is a young boy who has just finished his studies at BHU, Varanasi, and returns to his home at Delhi. His father has an unusual surname, Baṅgāḍi, which suddenly strikes as odd for the young boy. Just the tug of that name pulls him to explore its source, and he undertakes a visit to Karnataka, and specifically to that village in Uttara Kannada by that name. There he meets his grand-aunt, the sister of his grandfather. His grandfather had quit the village under trying circumstances and migrated to Mumbai, never to return to the village again. The young boy gets to know the entire story from his grand aunt.

To cut the long story short, the young man realises that circumstances had forced his grandfather out of the land where he belonged; he had been thrown out of his context and that began a journey of listless life and travel, not just for his grandfather, but even his father, in alien lands, in alien cultures, living with people who don’t feel yours, working for things that don’t matter to you, and so on. A general listlessness, because of being uprooted from one’s context, from the land where they all belong—the grandfather, father, and now, this youngster. You see the vikṣepa śakti in operation here, don’t you? Something that throws the entire lineage away from where they belonged, their origin, their context, makes them feel listless, and that listlessness is so overpowering that it doesn’t allow that lineage to find the verve to come back to its roots too! There is so much resistance from the status quo! And, what exactly is the status quo? Listlessness itself, isn’t it? It holds you so much that it turns you mediocre where you live and exist, not allowing you to function to your full potential, and doesn’t even let you find the vigour to return to your roots, through some silly calculations! Do you see how vikṣepa śakti works here?

So, what does the youngster do? He takes a brave decision of returning to the context, to his roots, gives up everything of the city, gives up even his family, gives up the worthiness of his degree and education. There is enormous resistance not just from the people of his village, but many doubts plague him from within. For a long time, nothing seems to settle his decision, and it all appears a colossal mistake. Of course, the story ends with the youngster discovering ‘home’, a sense of belonging, an original feeling of nativity, and acceptance. Until the young man stood there and worked and lived there, he could not dispel the spell of the āvaraṇa śakti fully, could he? Obviously, he couldn’t have done it by staying in the city and pursuing that life, nor could he have done it by merely visiting his native village once a year, using the vacation to merge into nativity for a while!

Take up the Bhagavadgītā for study today; nothing stirs you. Nothing magical happens; in fact, you may even doze off! But, each time you listen to some satsaṅg or lecture, you feel tugged by something of that book; you feel you belong there. Yet, you continue your life, merely go to lectures often to feel that tug, and contribute some earnings of yours to patronise something related to Vedas and scriptures. That is listlessness, isn’t it? That is how the vikṣepa śakti holds us tied to our current life, knowing very well that it is mediocre, that reminds us again and again that we have deviated fundamentally from what we should have been, and yet, it doesn’t allow us to discover a new energy and verve to go back and sit with the scripture itself, not get put off when each word and sentence there rejects us, but go back and woo, work on, yearn for, and court it, until it reveals its connection with us. That requires some work: Re-establishing your connect with your origin!

Until you have cracked this puzzle, you won’t find the marriage between your ‘study’ faculty and the ‘experiencing’ faculty, which is absolutely necessary for a life of true contemplation.

A marriage of the head and the heart!

One more thing. As long as I experience and see an ‘other’ distinct from me, if duality is a practical truth to me, then to what avail is talking or believing about the ‘one truth’ or ‘Brahman’ or whatever? The final summit is to crack the puzzle of duality, both in the way I see it as well as the way I experience it. To climb that summit, one needs this marriage of the head and the heart.

We conclude in the next.

You must have heard stories of Ramakrishna Paramahamsa being immersed in Samādhi, when he was young, Ramaṇa being completely lost to the body for many years. You would know the story of Sadāśiva Brahmendra, who was oblivious to the fact that he was completely covered in the sands of the river Cauvery, and had to be awakened to it. He was on the banks when the river ran lean, lost to the world. The river in spate had covered him completely, with this man still being unaware of the body, and when the water receded, it left him buried in the sand. You would have heard the story of Chaitanya Mahāprabhu completely lost to the Lord, swaying and dancing; and running into the seas once as though he saw the Lord there.

Nididhyāsana is none of these. These are experiences of being lost in something that not everyone can have. There isn’t any need for you and me to have them either. They are beautiful to hear and very immersive. Ratnākara, a bandit, sat down taking the name of Rama, lost himself entirely to this world. The body was still for days and months—almost all life sucked off it. And anthills grew over it—the way termites gather over deadwood. Haven’t we heard that story? These are all definitely possible because such utterly vulnerable and pious men do exist, and when the higher overtakes them, they acquiesce so easily and are lost there. Yet, this experience of being lost to the body for days or even months is not an end in itself. Such absorptions and immersions are indeed a tremendous high for the meditator. Tantra and Kuṇḍalinī Yoga would talk of many more recorded experiences. The books Autobiography of a Yogī by Paramahamsa Yogananda and The Himalayan Masters by Swami Rama detail many accounts of Yogīs and Sādhus lost to this world, living in caves and high lands, rarely visited by humans, pursuing various kinds of experiences and achieving various feats. All of them are just that—meditative experiences; highly exalted, indicating a very pure soul, who is ready to be blown away by something of the higher. And, such a life does lend much penetration into experiencing per se, for him or her.

Patañjali refers to Samādhi differently. He isn’t talking about experiences, but he relates to cognition. And, those who seek to understand and follow Patañjali must mark this key differentiation. Because, those who take to Yoga, especially āsana and prāṇāyāma, only seem to be doing it for some experience and calming. That is not what it is meant for. The moot point of Patañjali’s Aṣṭāṅga yoga is to reach Samprajñāta Samādhi, and finally Asamprajñāta Samādhi, which are states of cognition, rather than experience. You may experience much on the way, or you may not; that is not of much consequence, and of no indicative interest to Patañjali. Patañjali is merely saying that there is a way that the Puruṣa cognises or sees, that not only quietens Prakṛti and settles her, but also brings in order and perspective. Prakṛti here means everything from the mind onwards until all materials of this world.

There exists cognition that settles things into order.

Isn’t this the pursuit of a pure scientist or student or researcher? Unlike most of us who seek knowledge to control or exploit Prakṛti, the pure researcher or student merely aims to find the cognition that settles or quietens Prakṛti. We seek knowledge that will make us control more and more, and harvest the rewards they generate. We could share the rewards with an entire community, though, and not aggrandise all for ourselves. But, still, the very purpose of observation is to find that knowledge that controls. The pure researcher or student has lost all want for control, and instead, is focussed on what settles Prakṛti, what nails it, what contains it exactly, what understands it correctly, and so on.

One more thing to be said before we move towards Nididhyāsana.

The researcher/student inadvertently finds himself becoming a pure observer of everything. As long as he observes, the divide between him and the observed remains. The only time when the division collapses is when he is either tired or fatigued or when he sleeps. So long as he is keen, and if he discovers effortlessness in observation, the observer-observed division shall remain. Observer fatigue is natural, isn’t it? The fatigue would be far less if you observe the mind, not merely watch, but study the mind, in a sense. Experientially, you are likely to find observing a rose, studying a book, doing some experiments in a lab, deliberating about something out there less fatiguing than observing and understanding the mind. But, that is merely the initial resistance. Once you discover a deeper self, it becomes easier to understand and observe the mind.

Well, the point I wished to make was this: true observation alone makes the observer independent of the field. I said this is inadvertent because independence is probably not what the observer intended in the first place. Right understanding was always the point. But, true observation gets you to step out of the field of observation.

True meditation and experiencing also does the same. Initially, when you enter deep waters, the buoyancy there throws you back to the surface. Similarly, the meditator must cross the buoyancy to remain immersed, only then can he explore and dive deeper. There is a point when the meditator does come back to the surface. No longer rejected by what he is immersed in, but more organically. To stand on the surface as a meditator itself is his independence!

Independence, simply put, is self-assertion. There is something that you lean on to assert, isn’t it? And, what is an absolute assertion, or true independence? An assertion that is not dependent on anything. All forms of independence move towards Absolutism. Meaning, towards less and less dependence on anything else, and more and more independent spine!

How do all of us assert independence? A man can assert independence just because he is a man. Born a boy and grown into a man! His biological gender alone is enough. Most men assert power and independence this way alone, don’t they? You could assert your independence perched on the wealth you create, or what you inherit. Independent power of the rich man! Most communities may assert their power and independence due to their caste or religion. A Brahmin may declare his independence and authority because he is close to God! High social positions may make you discover independence! Until a few years ago, you had no independent opinion about anything. But now, ever since you rose to that high position, you seem to have opinions and judgments about everything and everybody in town. The power of charm in the market for a model or celebrity itself could give one independence. Responsibility makes you independent, does it not? Your knowledge, your domain expertise, all of them could easily be converted into independence, right? Say, you have lived in a single space like a large family; just living there for long gives you stature and respect, and some independence. You wriggle out of sorrows and pain, or maintain distance from inner fires and cauldrons, in the name of detachment; even that provides some independence.

All these forms of independence or self-assertion are merely one-way alleys; some are short, others are a little longer. But, they are finally one-way streets. Which means that if you don’t want to stagnate or fall inert, and if you want to proceed further, you will have to come back to the very same point from where you began. In other words, you will have to descend every step that you have ascended, and that is mightily painful, isn’t it?

True independence is only when you study or meditate. And, that too, only when you have shown integrity like I described in the first part. Then, you won’t harvest your findings or discoveries in the world here. You will merely pause when you are unable to make headway, or rest for a while, but never shift focus from the higher.

Nididhyāsana is when you attempt true independence, a clean rise, an unfettered rise, a rise that goes not against anything, that tramples nothing, which is as simple as you standing up from a crouching position. When you stand up that way, you then come upon the only thing to be resolved.

Duality.

Duality between ‘I’ and the ‘other’.

The ‘other’ is the mind and everything else.

The insistent divide, slit, or chasm between ‘I’ and the ‘other’! Perfect duality is when ‘I’ and the ‘other’ run completely parallel; both existing right through, never lost to each other, but never converging. And, in this slit, rises the entire of creation—thoughts, desires, sensations, experiences, beliefs, fears, so on and so forth. When the ‘I’ loses its keenness or focus, it appears to collapse or fall into the ‘other’, but, only temporarily.

True Nididhyāsana is when the ‘I’ never loses this divide with the ‘other’ ever. The ‘I’ is then the substratum of all, the true and natural Self. Ātman.

Only two teachers have explicitly talked about this summit of Nididhyāsana. Śaṅkara and J Krishnamurti. Śaṅkara talks about it in his Adhyāsa bhāṣya, the introduction to his commentary on Brahmasūtrās.

Almost unprovoked, because the rest of the content of the Brahmasūtrās did not warrant such an introduction at all. Śaṅkara chooses to introduce us all to the very summit of the human issue—duality! Of course, in a matter of a few lines, he dismisses the issue of duality itself as non-existent, and that it will be found false, upon true seeing/experiencing. But, to come to the point of discovering its falsity, Śaṅkara would ask us first to do Ātma-anātma Viveka, where the ‘I’ separates itself from the stream of objects, experiences, and thoughts. And such separation is not merely disowning the mind, but clearly seeing that the ‘I’ is not that. Such separation achieved by Viveka and Vairāgya isn’t enough, if the overriding hunch of non-duality is not being considered. Therefore, śravaṇa, where you listen to the possibility of aikya of ‘I’ and the universal truth, Brahman, and contemplate on it, manana. Manana is really possible only when the division between the meditator and the researcher ends. Only then, can one enter Nididhyāsana, where the ‘I’ discovers itself to be the natural subject for all, sākṣī of all. In other words, until the self doesn’t lose its individuality, it can never enter Nididhyāsana.

The central teaching of J Krishnamurti is: ‘Observer is the observed’! He talks of seeing and experiencing in a non-dual manner, which doesn’t create divisions, yet, razes down artificial divisions that exist, if any. JK urges us to examine ‘relationships’. Of course, he isn’t talking of relationships between two humans here. He asks the ‘I’ to stay glued at the slit between the two— ‘I’ and the ‘other’. Where relationships and connections emerge. The entirety of creation exists there. And, that is where Śaṅkara points to the Adhyāsa, superimposition.

Outside such clear and emphatic pointers by these two teachers, we don’t see much elsewhere. Of course, the Māṇḍūkya does talk about Prapañcopaśamam, a clear cessation of everything. The same Māṇḍūkya does talk about Śivam, Śāntam, and Advaitam.

With Nididhyāsana alone, does every resource and thought get restored to its original universal state, redeemed from the clutches of individuality. It is only then that the substratum, ‘I’, assert its full vision and suzerainty over all. All divisions and fragmentations disappear.

Outside Śaṅkara and Krishnamurti, there are strong indications that the Buddha knew this. He talks of Nirvāṇa, a complete extinguishing. Though not much is available from his recorded teachings directly. Nāgārjuna too is likely to have known this.

Vyāsā touches upon this briefly in Kṣetrajñam cāpi mām viddhi sarvakṣetreṣu bhārata (13th Chapter of the Gītā). The Kenopaniṣad too points to the same in the mantra Pratibodhaviditam matam.

Rāmānuja and Madhwa seem to have visited this divide between the ‘self’ and the ‘other’, and interpreted it as non-duality being impossible.

Nididhyāsana is the final summit to be reached, and the beginning of the sacred journey. Sanctity, because every corruption that had happened due to the usurping by the individuality would be reversed and healed. And, the Self rises as the Absolute truth, the only way to end the fundamental issue of duality.

Nididhyāsana alone settles everything, leaving out nothing.

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Sudheendra Chaitanya

Sudheendra Chaitanya is a Hindu monk based in Bangalore, India. After completing Engineering, he studied the scriptures at Chinmaya Mission in 1991, and continued with Mission work until 2005.

He now chooses to spend time with himself, observing life—people and happenings—keenly, and his insights flow out as writings. As a serious investigator into the core issues of life, Sudheendraji connects to people and subjects of life alike…with intimate directness. He has also authored several books. Notable among them are Blooming in the Open, The How, What and Why of I and God and Personal Worship. In a lucid narrative, his writings deliver fundamental insights, ruthlessly searing through conditioned thoughts and beliefs, but nourishing the soul with care.

Sometimes nourishing, sometimes revealing…