What is Vairãgya? How can it be attained?
Vairãgya is translated as dispassion or detachment, but it is defined as “not necessarily detachment from material things, but it is the capacity to be completely, mentally detached from cravings for anything that is non-Self (finite).” In simple words defined as “the readiness to lose anything at any time’.
This is the most important and primary requirement for Liberation. This dispassion (recognizing that Brahman alone is permanent and all else is ephemeral) is caused by two factors.
• Fully and clearly understanding the finite nature of the sensual pleasures
• And irresistible passion for the Infinite
All pleasures have a beginning and an end. The happiness that they bring is transitory, temporary, short-lived and therefore finite. These pleasures need the senses, mind & intellect to experience. These are matter, gross and disintegrate – are not permanent in nature.
Understand that attachment to these impermanent objects & happiness, lead to sorrows, samsara and bondage, leading to the cycle of birth & death.
Without achieving sufficient disinterest in the worldly objects, relationships, pleasures and enjoyments the seeker will not be able to quietitude of his mind to go deeper into the spiritual path. Therefore, Vairãgya (dispassion) is the first and most important step.
The four aspects of faith. Faith is Åraddhâ in Sanskrit.
Faith is the total surrender/simply trusting something IS even though we can’t see it. As per this chapter, faith is four fold i.e.
• The ability & the nobility of the teacher – not to challenge the teacher on his knowledge & wisdom
• That the existence is reality – not just the worldly objects or the happiness gained from it. There is only ONE, appearing as many.
• Having the faith in the scriptures that they impart knowledge of Truth which is beyond the secular knowledge
• Finally one’s ability to gain that universal knowledge as the Self alone exists.
Differentiation between Åravana and manana
Åravana is intense listening, not just hearing. Listening require full attention by an individual with all his senses. One should be convinced intellectually what the teacher shares and is possible only by listening. Åravana to a teacher grants a student the conviction that by following all the sadhanas in Vedanta, one can directly experience the jiva-brahama-aikya. (Realization that the Atman and Brahman are one and the same)
Manana is reflection of what one heard from the teacher. It is an intellectual and logical analysis of what is heard. The student should be completely convinced in his own accord through arguments and not blindly obey what the teacher has said.
This will resolve all the doubts and confusions that have arisen. The logic and reasoning should be in sync with the teachings of the guru that the Self is Brahman and is the same is all. There is only ONE and ‘Aham Brahmasmi’. It is this inner intellectual conviction acquired through manana is critical in the spiritual path.
Differentiation between DhyÄna and samãdhi
Even after intellectually convinced that the Self is Brahman by Vairãgya, Åravana and manana, seeker still finds it difficult to transform. This deep hole between the information & transformation is due to the vasanas in a seeker. He might be completely convinced intellectually but if the vasanas from previous births direct him to the material objects, pleasures he is still under that pressure.
Samadhi is the sustained practice of dhyÄna. In the DhyÄna stage a seeker has one thought on the contrary Samadhi is the state of thoughtlessness. Even the thought ‘I am Brahman’ is not there. It is an experience that cannot be described or verbalized. It is a state of pure consciousness. A seeker at this state is completely from the bondage forever. Such a seeker is called as Jivan-Mukta, the liberated being.
Differentiation between Anantama-cinta and anatma-vasana
Cinta refers to thoughts at the suksma/ subtle body level. Anatma-cinta refers to the thoughts that are attached to the body, mind and intellect, seeing the world separate from Self, thought of doership and enjoyership, and the sense of duality. These thoughts can be monitored and managed. One cannot control as they can becomes suppressed but one can focus on sublimating them with deeper intellectual understanding.
Anantama-vasana is much deeper; it is the collection of thoughts from all the previous births at the karana/causal body level. This is the root. Unless this root is eradicated completely, no amount of intellectual understanding of the non-self birth will help the seeker in his spiritual path. The dormant seed will keep sprouting at every chance with the sense of doership and enjoyership. DhyÄna is an effort to undo the anatma-vasana at the causal level so that anantma-cinta ceases forever.
The role of dhyÄna (nididhyasana) in Self-Realization
The depth between the information and transformation is huge. If people with high intelligence and knowledge could achieve Self-realization, many would have realized by now because there are plenty of such people in this universe. There are people full of scriptural knowledge, able to reason and give logical explanation but one has to go beyond the intellectual level to realize the Self. Realizing the Self is experiential and cannot be explained.
To reach that stage dhyÄna is vital. What is dhyÄna? According to the texts, which I am convinced by is
DhyÄna, also called as ‘nidhidhyasana’ is a process where the seeker stays focused on only one thought ‘I am Brahman’ It is continuous flow of the same thought referring to Brahman (the stream of water that pours on the lingam in temples symbolizes this). The purpose of dhyÄna is to eliminate the habitual wrong thinking (viparita- bhavana) that one is non-self.
The intellectual analysis and logical reasoning though necessary are not strong enough to attain Self-realization. Even after being convinced fully intellectually of the oneness with the Brahman, the seeker is troubled by fears, attracted by desires, anchored by the worldly objects and sensual pleasures. Complete transformation seems to be very hard to get hold of and the seeker continues to identify with the anatman due to vasanas.
The shackles of these vasanas cannot be broken at the intellectual level (anatma-cinta). They need to be eradicated at the root level, which is anantma-vasana i.e. the tendency to identify with the anatman at the causal level, to avoid sprouting again.
How to eradicate this anatma-vasana?
Habits are formed by repetition of the habitual tendency to think that I am the non-self or the attachment to the body, mind, and intellect is formed by habit. To undo this, we need start develop a habit of thinking ‘I am Brahman’, the opposite of the original habitual thought, repeatedly & continuously with conviction & understanding, excluding all other thoughts. That is dhyÄna.
Repeating ‘I am Brahman’ mechanically and monotonously will not remove the anantma-vasana. It needs to be strictly backed up by the thorough intellectual understanding that the Self is Brahman, (done by reflection (manana)).
Therefore, dhyÄna is to destroy the wrong thinking and divert the mind to the single thought with right understanding, without any doubt, with strong conviction.
With my exposure to satsang and sustained efforts, I intellectually understand that this body is temporary and a passing phase, even though I continue to be drawn to my relationship with family & friends. often I prefer silence and being alone, unable to converse freely on material objects, my thoughts not in coherence with others’ thoughts. These behaviors also cause concerns in my mind (ego) on my survival (who is to survive?) There is a constant internal conflict (battle of Kurkshetra)
I continue to read Vedic scriptures (also due to vasanas) for hours together along with the shackles as they continue from previous births. and experience the inner peace which is purely experiential.