Mantra Meditation and the Layers of the Mind
Adapted by Chris Simmonds from a Talk by Shrii Shrii Anandamurti
The inner sanctuary is that indwelling heart realm, the heart cave found in the depths of one’s Brahma sadhana [ meditation on cosmic consciousness]. Many barriers come to finding that indwelling heart cave where the stillness, the peace, the bliss, love and union abide. Barriers come in the mind and in the body, in the aches and pains and problems of the body, in hearing sounds, in sleepiness, in the mental thoughts that preoccupy the mind with worries and concerns and responsibilities and so on, and even with finding the discipline to sit, to simply sit, because the minute one sits, one thinks, “Oh! I need to do this! Oh! I need to do that!”
Does any have this when you sit down to meditate? You have forgotten it all day but the moment you sit and quiet your mind, it pops in, isn’t it? Then the overriding desire of all the muscles in your body is to pop up and run and do, do, do. At that time, take a few deep breaths and start to say your mantra. If you must, write yourself a note so you won’t forget it later and then say, “All right, I put it in the note. Now it is out of my mind.”
Then the monkey mind becomes a problem. It wants to go here and there and everywhere, wander around in all of its troubles and concerns, worries about this and that but the mantra is like a lodestone to bring you back, with breath and mantra, to the here and now, to the moment. Finally, if one keeps returning to the lodestone of one’s mantra, eventually the mind gets tired of running about and it actually starts to concentrate on the mantra.
When the mind gets a little bit concentrated, in dharana, then a flow in the waves of the mind begins and one enters into dhyana, into meditation practice where the mind begins to be in harmony with its object of ideation, where there begins to be a harmonization of waves. At first, so many waves are in the mind. The mind is busy with so many thoughts, with the senses, with the physical body, then with the memories and the thoughts. So many aspects of the lower layers, [koshas] of the mind absorb the awareness at first. When through mantra one keeps returning to the sound, the breath, the meaning, keeps returning to one’s dhyana, one’s ideation, then slowly, all these sensory engagements, memories, concerns, worries, issues in relationship, to your senses and your life in the world begin to lessen and the mind spends more and more time in concentration. Then slowly the mind becomes concentrated.
Your mind cannot grasp the object of your meditation for the object of your meditation is beyond the comprehension of the mind. You are meditating on the infinite formless timeless Brahma [Cosmic Entity]. Whatever your approach, you will find that this meditation is beyond the scope of mind. It is like a koan in the Zen tradition. You are given something to concentrate on that is so large, so vast, so without directional points, vast, timeless and formless, it is incomprehensible to the rational mind. The rational mind wants to put things in sentences. It wants to have a beginning, middle and end. So what is this you are concentrating on; something you simply cannot comprehend. That is the koan, the dilemma set by your meditation practice. You are given something to comprehend that your mind simply cannot comprehend so it keeps trying think about it and find a way to box it in to some kind of sentence structure, some sort of delineated thought, delineated linear approach but it keeps falling short.
At first, the mind cannot even focus upon its object of ideation. It is too abstract. It is too difficult. “I think I will focus on my trip to the grocery store or my worries about my relationship to so and so or that comment that such and such said to me. What did he mean when he said that? Oh, but first my back hurts.” Then there is this loud noise outside. In this way, you find many distractions to avoid concentrating on something that you really cannot concentrate on because it just is too big. It doesn’t fit in a linear thought. So then what to do? You slowly, slowly bring focus back to the breath and the sound of mantra, to the ideation, then slowly the mind begins to wear itself out and it begins to harmonize. It begins to give up.
When the mind starts to give up, it stops making such a racket. It just gets tired after awhile. Have you had this? You get tired of thinking so many things so then you actually concentrate and then something happens when you concentrate the mind. Suddenly, an inner experience happens, mood is shifting, feelings are changing. There become waves in the mind. They don’t precisely have form. They are not linear thoughts. In fact, the thinking mind becomes a little quiet. It doesn’t have so much to think about. If it wants to think, it begins to think on the object of ideation. It begins to think about the nature of Brahma and eventually it stops thinking altogether and starts being, feeling and experiencing directly. At that stage, you have moved beyond the lower koshas of the mind, governed by manas and rational mind, into the bhuddi, into the causal mind, the causal layers [ Kosas] of mind. And you touch directly at first the realm of creativity; Atimanas Kosa.
There the mind moves into a creative flow in your sadhana [meditation]. Creative imagery may be there in the mind, intuitive sense of things, intuitive feelings and a little blissful, expansive feeling starts to emerge. Out of this realm have come so many creative experiences and much knowledge; the great arts, the theories of science, the great scientific theories. They all come from this realm. All knowledge comes from this realm and from the layer even a little deeper; the Vijnanamaya kosha.
In this layer of the mind, the realm of all knowledge and wisdom is available and from this, the knowledge flows and becomes the creativity that moves into the rational mind and begins to express itself in linear thought. It comes from a realm that is non-linear. It is not linear thought.
When, in one’s Brahma sadhana, one experiences this realm of the mind, this most subtle layer of buddhi, one experiences the sweet, blissful knowingness, the wisdom of the ancients, the sense of truth, the sense of infinite association, then the “I” and “Thou” are one. One feels this unity with the Supreme. One feels direct communion, direct knowledge and a great deal of bliss begins to form in the mind.
Then one comes to Hiranyamaya kosha. Hiranyamaya is also called Anandamaya kosha [bliss kosha]. Here the mind flows and one feels the exquisite bliss of divine union. One feels “I and my Lord, we are one.” In this sense of divine union, in the bliss mind, the sadhaka [spiritual seeker] experiences direct communion in ecstasy. The white light is perhaps everywhere. There are no distinctive needs. Time and space become irrelevant theories. There is an exquisite beingness, the fulfillment of one’s heart and mind. This is the bliss body, the hiranyamaya kosha. (Hiranyamaya means golden, often called the golden egg.)
Then what happens? In this direct communion, all thoughts in the mind are suspended. There is no need for thoughts. Then the mind dissolves completely into the cosmic mind. Unit mind becomes completely immersed in the cosmic mind and one feels only Brahma exists. Only the divine exists. One feels no sense of separation. There is no “I” and “Thou” at all. There is only the infinite, the cosmic being, in which the whole universe abides. One feels, “I am that cosmic entity.” No sense of separation is there. One has no sense of individuality in this state of mind.
Then if one’s Brahma sadhana goes still deeper, one moves beyond the manifest universe, one moves into the unmanifest universe. From saguna, that with characteristics, with the gunas, to nirguna, that which is without the gunas, without time, space, causality. This is the pure Purusha [consciousness]. The matrix of creation is quiescent. There is not even the bliss or the cosmic “I-amness.” All this creation has become quiescent and in this state, all seeds are burnt. There is no mind. There is no memory. There is no movement. It is the pure, awakened, conscious being outside of time and space.
One who has gone to that realm, when returning to the realm of manifestation, will feel great, great bliss, will feel a great knowledge. A part of them will remain timeless. This experience, this nirvikalpa samadhi, can be maintained for up to twenty-eight days in a physical form. Beyond that time, the physical form cannot be maintained and the being goes into the unmanifest realm. Such a one is entirely free but if seeds of samskara remain, the consciousness will be brought again into the manifest realm to play in the halls of creation, in the weaving tapestry of the Lady Prakrti, to be woven again in her tapestry of life, change and expression.
All exists in a divine play. All is in the body of Parama Purusha [supreme consciousness]. That divinity exists in every molecule of this universe. That timeless unmanifest Purusha, unchanged by any form, is the very substance of all forms. That Purusha, the very substance of everything, is formed into every color of this universe, every tone, every wave, every form and yet remains completely undisturbed, completely unchanged. The change is all appearance. That is why your bondage is not real. It is appearance. You are truly ever free. You are truly unbound but the mind becomes confused, rooted in the body. It takes ego identity with body and then feels it is form. You begin to think you are form when you are spirit, when you are love unconditioned, when you are consciousness, ever free, ever whole, unlimited, unbound. Awaken from the dream and be your Self.