A university committee was selecting a new dean, and finally the choice was between a mathematician, an economist amd a lawyer. In turn, each was asked this question during the interview: "How much is three plus five?"
The mathematician answered at once, "Eight."
The economist thought a while before telling, "Eight, plus or minus one."
Finally it was the lawyer's turn to answer. He drew the shades in the room, looked outside to see if anyone could possibly overhear him, and then whispered, "How much do you want it to be?"
This brings us to nirvikalpa samadi. What do you want it to mean? There are some options. Nirvikalpa (also Nirbikalpa) is a Sanskrit adjective with the meaning "not admitting an alternative" (from ni, away, without, not") and vikalpa, alternative, variant thought or conception. Other meanings are "free from change or differences", "not wavering", and "admitting no doubt", says Sanskrit Dictionary for Spoken Sanskrit.
Heinrich Zimmer says Nirvikalpa samadhi means absorption to such a degree, or in such a way, that the meditator has no sense of anything. Based on that, we could add he has no recollection after such an experience either. "No impressions whatever, no memory".
In Buddhist philosophy, the technical term nirvikalpa-jnana is translated by Edward Conze as "undifferentiated cognition" He describes the term in this way: "The 'undiscriminate cognition' . . . directly intuits the supreme reality. . . . There is here no duality of subject and object."
As the Sanskrit dictionary shows, there are other nuances and meanings involved as well.
(Main source: WP "Nirvikalpa")
Charles Darwin was once approached by two small boys of the family, whose guest he was. They had caught a butterfly, a centipede, a beetle, and a grasshopper. Taking the centipede's body, the butterfly's wings, the beetle's head and the grasshopper's legs, they had glued them together to make an original insect.
"We caught this bug in the field," they said innocently. "What kind of a bug is it, Mr. Darwin?"
Darwin examined it with great care.
"Did it hum when you caught it, boys?" he gravely asked.
"Yes, sir," they answered, while trying to hide their mirth.
"Just as I thought," said Darwin. "It is a humbug." (Fuller 1990, No. 1121)
As an old nun among Yogananda's monastic disciples lay on her deathbed, she felt sorry that she had not reached nirvikalpa.
He comforted her:
She asked me for nirbikalpa samadhi, but I said, "You don't need that. I saw you in God. When you reach the palace, why do you want to go in the garden any more? Divine Mother has taken care of you." And she was contented. (Self-Realization [Magazine], January 1952, p. 11.)
Yogananda otherwise teaches that nirvikalpa is the highest, that "being in the garden" is best, but also that being in the garden is not the best, but in the palace. Yogananda said in another place, by the way, that he had been a lawyer in a former life. Yogananda:
I can sleep and dream that I am born in England as a powerful king. Then I die and dream I am born a devout man. And then I die again and am born as a successful lawyer. . . . (Yogananda 2002, 169)
"Prevention is better than no cure"
Yogananda tells that in 1932 he begged God to let this nun live when she seemed on death's door, and she did not die. He found himself in a peculiar position afterwards, for
I was extremely grieved that I had asked the Father to spare a life which I later found was to be constantly tested . . . I would not have asked the Father to spare her life had I known". (Self-Realization [Magazine], January 1952, p. 11.)
The nun suffered for twenty years due to Yogananda's intervention, he says. (Same source)
To outwit Death, will it create the life you want? Who knows? The Yogananda confession means he was not all-knowing, for then he would have known. Besides, he could have bore in mind to beg for better health for her as well, for twenty years - or found other means for it. There is Tibetan Medicine, for example (Clark 2014), Ayurvedic means (Sharma and Clark 2012; Fields 2001; McIntyre 2012), an Ayurvedic health check (Lad 1996) and many other options.
A brilliant first step, and maybe the solution: The effects of Transcendental Meditation, TM have been researched: TM helps people to live longer and with better health.
Even withered grass has its uses, as straw hats show.
There is much to consider
From the poem "When I Take the Vow of Silence" by Yogananda
A doormat and a lawn have in common that people and animals step on them with little concern or respect.
On a picnic in the grass or among straws, may you find out that grasses are hugely underestimated benefactors. Animals feed on them, and people too, for example the grains of wheat, rice and barley, maize, oats and millet are seeds of grasses, also called cereals. (WP, "Grass")
When you walk over the fresh grass blades, it could pay just to let grass be grass and not Yogananda lying there, maybe eavesdropping. In that way there could be no developing neuroses, presumably or hopefully.
"Fields have eyes, and woods have ears," is a proverb that has been known since the thirteenth century (Speake 2015, 109). It means there could be unnoticed listeners around. The Yogananda statement of being in grass and leaves may furnish added meaning to Yogananda followers.
Now some Chinese wisdom.
In matters which he does not understand, the wise man will always reserve his judgement. . . . The wise man . . . is never reckless in his choice of words. (Analects, Chap. 1, in L. Giles' translation)
"Grass is grass is grass"
You may sense an air of Zen here. Garma C. C. Chang writes in The Practice of Zen,
After one has attained Satori, he should cultivate it . . . Zen work consists of two main aspects, the "View" and the "Action," and both are indispensable . . . Being a most practical and straightforward teaching, Zen seeks to brush aside all secondary matters and discussions and to point directly to . . . the seeing or viewing of Reality . . . carrying wood, fetching water, sleeping, walking . . . the plain and ordinary mind is Buddha's Mind; "here and now" is the paradise . . . "Carrying wood and fetching water are miraculous performances." This high-spirited, bold view is truly the pinnacle of Zen. (Chang 1970:52-54)
In praise of that common sense
Common sense is in part good calculation applied to life in general. [Cf. Henri Frederic Amiel]
As for good and staunch common sense - enough of it looks like genius and may compete with the gods. [Josh Billings]
Your common sense may evoke criticism from indoctrinated guys.
Sound moderation, decency, tact and a straight opening to Atman (soul, Spirit) within are much too good to be overrun by wrong servility and calculated humility.
To the shallow all looks shallow, and what such people venerate, is shallow as well - flimsical, of facades and shows.
"That is an interesting proposition. Now prove (document) it is so," is a way to consider a different idea or way. The burden of proof rests on the one who proposes it. It is also skilled to put unresolved issues in suspense, at bey, and avoid immature conclusions. By these simple skills of handling many sorts of assertions we are freed to go forward. And while decent proof is not forthcoming, time may be used to our own benefit. (Cf. Zukav 1979).
A meal of veal may reveal God. What else? Genesis 18:1-15 tells that Yahweh was a veal-eater.
Silver linings abound
There is a silver lining to some clouds. Have you considered how someone with violent hiccup may be saved by it and not from it in a very real way?
Unawares entering a sweet-talking, but suppressing sect, a person with extreme hiccup may be shooed from the sect meetings and later the sect itself for disrupting the services because of the minor ailment. Thereby he or she may escape the jaws of suppresson and advancing death as an individual and may in time mutter in appreciation, "Luck was on my side, hiccup."
It could remind of a folk tale:
A man reported his wedding to a friend.
What seems bad at a time, could be for our luck, and the other way round, and so on.
Deep enough is reaching the heart. If you do not attune yourself to your own heart, how can you reach the hearts of others without manipulating a lot?
Even if you cannot document things, some of them could still lighten your way, for unproved is not necessarily and always unfit.
Through a comparison, much may be made somehow understandable. But "the comparison halts" too, as a proverb says. Even worse, some comparisons are not really helpful, and may be misleading Kriya yoga can be compared to many things, as Yogananda shows, but basically it is breathing in and out.
Many sorts of food have been made widely available, for example Brussels sprouts.
From South America and Meso-America come amaranth (flour) avocado pears, bootle gourda, Brazil nuts, cashew nuts, cassava, cerimans, cerimoyas, chayote, chia seeds (salvia hispania), cocoa, fuchsia berries, guava fruita, oca, papaya, passion fruit, peanuts, pineapplea, prickly pears, runner bean, sapodilla fruit, squashes and pumpkins, string beana, sunflower seeds, sweet corn (maize), sweet pepper, sweet potatoes, tamarillo and tomatoes,
to name some.
Maybe God in the Bible got no tomatoes to go with his meal of veal - no potatoes, no guacamole - and not much else that we know of. How tasty and useful these fine foods can be. However, the cuisine in the Mediterranean basin is old and also good. (Hestosky 2009; David 1991) Adding to Hestosky and David:
Mediterranean cuisine . . . generally relies heavily on local and seasonal ingredients . . . [S]pices such as cumin, cinnamon, coriander, paprika, turmeric, and saffron are lit up by the bright flavors of fresh herbs like cilantro, parsley, and mint. Olives and olive oil are plentiful and used . . . [for] salads, soups, and dips. . . . [F]atty fish . . . add a unique depth of flavor to almost any dish. . . .
He hails in vain who hails a crook - probably
Selling oneself goes a long way and has many shades. Yogananda hails Jesus and his teachings, claims Babaji's kriya as a means of salvation, but all the same it does not suit the gospel words that salvation is from the Jews (John 4:22).
What does 'saved' mean, really?, and how?" Then avoid coming to conclusions if the evidence to base it on is much menial. That is in the art of living, where wise folks refrain from believing notoriously, and "The prudent are crowned with knowledge (Proverbs 14:18)."
"Brahman is Atman" ("Godhood is soulhood") is a great Vedic teaching, for it says the spirit of a true human being is divine. Atman is within everyone who breathes:
That . . . by which speech is expressed, know that alone as Brahman, not that which people here adore. . . .
Things that are hard to understand, require a good teacher. Guru is Sanskrit for teacher. They are graded.
Just for the sake of educating the people in general, you should perform your work. (Bhagavad Gita 3.20)
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