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Nirvikalpa Teachings

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")


ANECDOTE 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)

Why contented?

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:

Yogananda 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:

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

Yogananda 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.

  • People who practice Transcendental Meditation look and feel younger, and are biologically 12 years younger than their chronological age in average. It depends in part on how many years TM has been practised.
  • There is also a 66% decrease in the rate of death, heart attack and stroke in people who have practised TM over five years in average.


Grass Means Much on Earth

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
I shall mutely watch you
Walking o'er me in the fresh grass-blades
And seeing me in my living leafy presences.

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.

Kongzi 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).


Veal Talk

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.

"Good news!" responded the latter.

"She was a shrew," continued the first.

"Bad news!" said the friend.

"With her dowry I bought a house," continued the first.

"Good news!" congratulated the friend.

"The house burned down," replied the first.

"Bad news!" said the other.

"Not all bad," said the first, "for she burned up with it!"

(ATU 2014 - Uther, Vol 2)

What seems bad at a time, could be for our luck, and the other way round, and so on.

What to be thankful for

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. . . .

[There is] ample use of garlic and sesame seeds. (Weeks, Boumrar, Sanfilippo 2014: "mediterranean cuisine")

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:

Wisdom That . . . by which speech is expressed, know that alone as Brahman, not that which people here adore. . . .

That . . . by which breath is drawn, know that alone as Brahman, not that which people here adore. (Kena Upanishad 1.5,9)

Things that are hard to understand, require a good teacher. Guru is Sanskrit for teacher. They are graded.

Sri Krishna Just for the sake of educating the people in general, you should perform your work. (Bhagavad Gita 3.20)


TM, Transcendental Meditation, Nirvikalpa, Grass, Veal, Good food, longevity, healing, biological age, a cult, Literature  

Bradley, Tamdin Sither. Principles of Tibetan Medicine: What It Is, How It Works, and What It Can Do for You. Rev. ed. Lonon: Singing Dragon, 2013.

Chang, Garma C. The Practice of Zen. New York: Perennial/Harper, 1970.

Clark, Barry, tr. The Quintessence Tantras of Tibetan Medicine. Foreword by Dalai Lama. Boston and London: Snow Lion, 2014.

David, Elizabeth. A Book of Mediterranean Food. Reprint ed of 2nd, rev. ed. London: Penguin, 1991.

Fields, Gregory P. Religious Therapies: Body and Health in Yoga, Ayurveda, and Tantra. Albany, NY: State University of New York Press (SUNY), 2001.

Fuller, Edmund. 2500 Anecdotes for All Occasions. New York: Wings, 1970.

Giles, Lionel, tr. The Sayings of Confucius. London: John Murray, 1907. (Reprint: Twickenham: Senate, 1998).

Hestosky, Carol. Food Culture in the Mediterranean. Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 2009.

Kriyananda, Swami (aka. James Donald Walters). The Path: Autobiography of a Western Yogi. Nevada City: Crystal Clarity, 1977.

Lad, Vasant Dattatray. Secrets of the Pulse: The Ancient Art of Ayurvedic Pulse Diagnosis. Albuquerque, NM: The Ayurvedic Press, 1996.

⸻. Textbook of Ayurveda: Fundamental Principles of Ayurveda. Volume One. Albuquerque, NM: The Ayurvedic Press, 2002.

McIntyre, Anne. The Ayurveda Bible: The Definitive Guide to Ayurvedic Healing. London: Godsfield, 2012.

Nikhilananda, Swami. Vivekananda. The Yogas and Other Works. Rev. ed. New York: Ramakrishna-Vivekananda Center, 1953.

Rechung Rinpoche, tr. Tibetan Medicine: Illustrated in Original Texts.. Paperback ed. Los Angeles: University of California Press, 1976.

Self-Realization Fellowship. Self-Realization (Mag.). Los Angeles, Self-Realization Fellowship, January 1952:11)

Sharma, Hari, and Christopher Clark. Ayurvedic Healing: Contemporary Maharishi Ayurveda Medicine and Science. 2nd ed. London: Singing Dragon, 2012.

Speake, Jennifer. Oxford Dictionary of Proverbs. 6th ed. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2015.

Svoboda, Robert E. Ayurveda: Life, Health and Longevity. Albuquerque, NM: The Ayurvedic Press, 2015 (1992).

Uther, Hans-Jörg. The Types of International Folktales: A Classification and Bibliography Based on the System of Antti Aarne and Stith Thompson. FF Communications No. 284-86, Helsinki: Academia Scientiarum Fennica, 2004.

van Schaik, Barbara. The Nature of Life: The Tibetan Approach to Health and Wellbeing. A Modern Interpretation of an Ancient System of Medicine. Seattle WA: Amazon Digital Services / Barbara van Schaik, 2014. Vermes, Geza. The Real Jesus: Then and Now. Minneapolis, MI: Fortress Press, 2010.

Weeks, Caitlin, Nabil Boumrar, Diane Sanfilippo. Paleo Mediterranean Cuisine. Las Vegas: Victory Belt Publishing, 2014: "mediterranean cuisine". WP. Wikipedia, the Free Encyclopedia.

Yogananda, Paramahansa. Autobiography of a Yogi. 11th ed. Los Angeles, CA: Self-Realization Fellowship, 1971.

⸻. God Talks With Arjuna: The Bhagavad Gita. 2nd ed. Los Angeles, CA: Self-Realization Fellowship, 2001.

⸻. The Divine Romance. 2nd ed. Los Angeles: Self-Realization Fellowship, 2002.

Zukav, Gary. The Dancing Wu Li Masters: An Overview of the New Physics. London: Rider, 1979.

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