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Samyam – not just a practice but a way of living

 

(from Sanskrit Samyam - Sanskrit holding together, tying up, binding)

“Yogasthah kuru karmani”, Lord Krishna had advised the most powerful thing in the simplest way possible in Bhagwat Gita (Ch2, v48), meaning, “United with Me, perform all action.”

And then the Bhagwat Gita goes into detail on how to perform action United with Krishna. Our beloved Guru dev Sri Maharishi Mahesh Yogi goes at length in His commentary on Bhagwat Gita to explain this and lo, I thought that theoretically I got it all!

So we have this great saint called Patanjali who gave to humanity this most talked about (also mentioned in the Bhagwat Gita by Krishna), eight-fold path of Yoga as below:

Patanjali’s Eight-Fold path to Yoga

1

Yam

The Don’ts

2

Niyam

The Do’s

3

Asana

The Posture

4

Pranayama

Breath Control

5

Pratyahara

Withdrawal of senses from external objects. Internalization of senses

6

Dharana

Fixing the consciousness on one point or region

7

Dhayana

A steady, continuous flow of attention directed towards the same point or region

8

Samadhi

Becoming absorbed into the object of dharana and dhyana to gain the true meaning and understanding of the same

For centuries people told us that the above is the right order of gaining Samadhi or Unity with the Absolute. So we have countless aspirants stretching themselves hard to ensure that the Do’s and the Don’ts are lived and everything else is done perfectly because of course Unity with God cannot be attained by one who is indulgent in external sensory pleasures. This made the path to Samadhi very hard, almost unimaginable by a common man.

Along came Maharishi who showed us that the entire eight-fold path had been turned upside down and mis-understood by people for centuries. Even Lord Krishna’s statement in Bhagwat Gita, “Yogasthah kuru karmani” had been completely mis-understood by almost everyone.

Krishna and ArjunaKrishna says, “First Unite with Me and then perform all action”. But if the eight fold path is to be followed the way it has been presented to us by many, then Unity with the Absolute (Samadhi) is the last step of all – so everything is not springing from Unity, instead Unity is springing from everything else that we need to do. So control your anger, control your aggression, control your passion, control your desires, control your behavior, control a host of other things before your senses can become free from external sense objects and you can become eligible for Samadhi. This concept made Samadhi a very far-fetched and bookish dream.

Maharishi advised that this way of looking at the eight-fold path to Unity was incorrect. To explain His argument Maharishi brought our attention back to the much forgotten “Sankhya” philosophy handed down to us by Sri Adi Sankara. The Sankhya philosophy speaks in detail about the origin of Creation and the order of unfoldment of the principal building blocks (called Tattavas in Sanskrit) from the Absolute to the mundane. Other philosophies found in Tantra and various sects of Shaivism and Vaishnavism also speak a similar language relating to the unfoldment of the Creation through the Tattavas from the Unmanifest to the subtle to the gross. You can call it the “moving forward” of the Absolute gradually from Its Absolute state to Its mandane state.

The creation did not happen with a big bang and random, crazy scattering of material. Instead the creation proceeds in an extremely precise and calculated order (Sankhya means that which can be counted, calculable).

According to Sankhya, the “senses” and eventually “sense-organs” actually have their roots in and evolve from the “sense-objects” called Tan-matras” in Sanskrit. Since the senses and the sense organs are lower in hierarchy to and evolve from the sense objects they are naturally and firmly attached to the sense-objects! Forcefully taking the senses away from the sense-objects creates un-due stresses as it is blocking the natural flow of consciousness.

The below order of unfoldment of Tattavas is given in the Srimad Bhagwatam (3.26.23)

Tattava

Description

Pradhana

Unmanifest form of Krishna’s energy

Mahat Tattava

Manifest form of Krishna’s energy (described as a cloud in the spiritual sky)

Ahamkar

Generated from Mahat tattava and a material energy that serves to cover the true self-awareness of conditioned beings

Buddhi

Intellect

Manas

Mind

Sound

Tan-matra (subtle vibrations) or subtle sense-object proceeding from manas/mind

Hearing

The sense developed from the Tan-matra of sound. Element unfolding here is Ether

Touch

Tan-matra (subtle vibrations) or subtle sense-object proceeding from sound

Tactile perception

The sense developed from the Tan-matra of sound and touch. Element unfolding here is Air

Form

Tan-matra (subtle vibrations) or subtle sense-object proceeding from vibrations of sound and touch

Vision

The sense developed from Tan-matras of sound, touch and form. The element unfolding here is Fire

Taste

Tan-matra (subtle vibrations) or subtle sense-object proceeding from vibrations of sound, touch and form

Taste

The sense developed from Tan-matras of sound, touch, form and taste. The element unfolding here is Water

Odor

Tan-matra (subtle vibrations) or subtle sense-object proceeding from vibrations of sound, touch, form and taste

Smell

The sense developed from the Tan-matras of sound, touch, form, taste and odor. The element unfolding here is Earth

In the above table notice the alternation of sense-object (tan-matra) and senses. Notice how the senses and the elements that lead to the creation of gross sense-organs are evolving from and have their roots of origin in the preceding sense-object (tan-matra). Notice further that all the sense-objects (tan-matras), the senses, the elements are reporting into and developed from the Manas (mind). Mind is the master of the senses and since the mind wants to enjoy it directs the senses to the sense-objects from which the senses have originated. The impure buddhi (intellect) identifies these experiences with the false ego (ahamkar) creating the impression of the individual self enjoying life.

Hence there is a natural tendency of the senses to indulge in sense-objects from which they are created and please the mind who resides above them all ! So how can one successfully follow the eight-old path in the order laid down by the recent gurus without hampering the natural flow of consciousness and creation !

The reality as explained by Maharishi, is that the eight-fold path was made to be followed in the reverse as below:

Samyam

Dharana and dhyana automatically lead to the states of Samadhi, when performed correctly. This combined practice of dharana, dhyana and Samadhi is called Samyam. In Hindi, the common meaning of the word samyam is “to pull oneself together, to show patience, to integrate oneself”.

So what happens with the repeated practice of Samyam? One’s conscious awareness is made to dip again and again into states of Unity with the Absolute (in our example from Srimad Bhagwatam table above let us call it Pradhana – Krishna’s unmanifest energy). But Pradhana is higher in hierarchy to all, even the mind, the intellect, the false ego. So the senses, the mind, intellect that were all hitherto externalized and satisfying the false ego (ahamkar) with a sense of self enjoyment get a chance to internalize and experience their very own source and origin. Such is the intense charm of that Source (Pradhana) that, when dipped again and again into it the mind, the senses, the intellect all begin to gradually and naturally lose charm for the external and begin to remain attached more and more to the internal source. The mind, having tasted the Pradhana, becomes attached to It and begins to identify with It causing the senses to no longer be attached to the external sense objects even if the senses are active. The mind being identified with the Pradhana, the Buddhi (intellect) being purified by the Pradhana, the Ahamkar (false ego, self identification of jiva) begins to crumble and break and eventually the rigid material energy of amahkar (ego) gives way and it and all below it become completely identified with Pradhana. The identification to the false self crumbles and gives way to the identification with the Universal Self. Over a period of time, this leads to a complete internalization of the senses in a natural and spontaneous way and not in any artificial and forceful way. This internalization of senses is called “Pratyahara”.

So what do we see?

Pratyahara

This internalization of senses leads to a natural state of controlled and calm breath to support higher states of consciousness.

Pranayama

The above lead to a natural state of posture and following of the Do’s and Don’ts is a spontaneous state of living – not something to be memorized and “adhered” to.

Samyam is then not only a thing to be experienced and practiced but a natural state of living. We live in a natural state of Samadhi in the Absolute. The physical body is performing all actions on earth while the soul continues to remain un-attached and absorbed in Samadhi (Unity). We have dipped ourselves into Samadhi so many times over and over again that we walk, talk, live, breathe, eat, sleep, play, work in states of Samadhi with the Absolute. This Unity is never lost!

Since the mind and intellect have completely become absorbed in the Absolute and the false ego has given way to identification with the Universal Absolute Self, any action performed on the earth does not make any impression on the mind and the intellect does not attribute the action to the false self and hence all actions performed in this state are free from the bondage of karma and do not generate karmic impressions upon us! Karma is generated when vibrational impressions of earthly actions are left on the mind. These impressions are seeds for the future karma. With the mind un-attached to the field of action (external sense-objects) and absorbed in the Absolute, no impression of any action can be left on the mind to generate any future reaction. Now one rises above all karma and lives as a jivan-mukta despite performing all actions on earth!

So attaining this Unity is the first step and not the last!

This is what Krishna meant when He said, “Yogasthah kuru karmani” – First Unite with Me, then perform all actions, then your actions will not bind you into the never ending cycle of action and reaction called karma ! A small statement but so profound and so powerful. So much knowledge and information in just three utterances of the Lord! The people of the world missed the whole point.

My dear readers, Samyam is a living reality. Repeated practice of this most simple and powerful technique quickly generates the states of consciousness where the jiva is constantly living in states of Unity with the Absolute.

We at SriVyuha encourage you to learn and practice this most subtle, most powerful and most fulfilling technique that transforms all of life!



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