तस्यापि निरोधे सर्वनिरोधान्निर्बीजः समाधिः I
tasya-api nirodhe sarva-nirodhat-nirbijah samadhih
Even (api) when this (tasya) [the wisdom obtained previously] is mastered (nirodhe), only when the complete (sarva) dissolution (nirodhat) [of all the impressions in the mind] occurs does the yogi experience the highest state of yoga: seedless meditation (nirbijah samadhih).
This is the last sutra in the first chapter of the Yoga Sutra-s of Patanjali. It describes the highest state an individual can reach – a spiritual experience that is beyond words. Since this state is beyond the level of the body and mind, this sutra will not have a “Practical Living” or an “Inspirational Person”.
IN THE YOGA WORLD According to Samkhya and Yoga philosphies, our bodies and minds are dominated by 3 qualities: tamas (steadiness), rajas (activity) and sattva (luminosity/balance). These 3 qualities oscillate depending on what emotions, thoughts or physical activities are dominant. They govern the body and mind. They determine the types of impressions we absorb into our conscious and subconscious minds. According to Yoga, we have been accumulating impressions from the time our mother’s egg and our father’s sperm united (some believe even before this). Most of those impressions we cannot access consciously but they may play an important role in how we think, what we believe in, how we perceive the world, and how we play and act in life.
The past few sutras have been describing the process of awareness. As a result of this awareness, we begin to act less and less from these subconscious impressions. Sutra I.47 talked about how these high states of awareness lead us to the heart, resulting in clarity and serenity. Sutra I.48 described the wisdom that comes with that awareness. In that state, the senses are no longer required for us to understand and acquire knowledge (see Sutra I.19). Finally, Sutra I.50 says that all of our old impressions are dissolved and replaced by a single one: one of clarity.
This leads us to the final sutra in this chapter: Sutra I.51. Here, in nirbija samadhi (seedless meditation), there is not even the impression of clarity. The gunas (qualities that rule the body and the mind) no longer have any power over us. There is an absolute connection with the Seer (our Purusha, our Soul, our True Nature). Imagine a group of rivers finally reaching the ocean. They merge with the infinite grandiosity of the ocean after a tumultuous journey through mountains, plaines, hills and grasslands.
Here there is no sense of identity anymore. There is no desire to define myself as “I”. There is nothing influencing the individual.
According to T. Krishnamacharya, a highly respected scholar and Yogi, this state can only be reached when one leaves their body. His argument was that as long as we have a body, the gunas are acting and have some degree of control over us. He believed that as long as we were alive, the seeds of impressions that we have both in the conscious and subconscious minds could be burnt but not deleted. Therefore, it was only when the body died that it would be possible to experience this complete union with the Self.
Often it is said that this state cannot be explained through words. Only those who have experienced understand it.
I leave you with a this open-ended explanation of this state of meditation. The mind will scream and complain that there isn’t something more concrete. I am doing that while I am writing this. But, if we follow Patanjali’s suggestions we will detach and move on to what we can do to move along the spectrum from agitation to serenity!
Do you have any experiences you would like to share? Please interact as much as you like – everyone will learn from your personal experiences!
Thanks and next week we begin the second chapter of the Yoga Sutra-s of Patanjali! This chapter is very hands on and filled with practical tools!
During my meditation practice, I can feel my level of self clarity to fluctuate. To me I feel as if this is so because the 3 gunas are still acting on me (I could be wrong). Obviously meditation is something I’m still working on, but no matter the level of which I feel pure, I still enjoy every second of focus. After meditating I too experience some high states of awareness, but never all of them at the same time. Is it possible to experience all states of high awareness all at once?
I now think about how so much life seems as if its focus is that beyond the present, beyond the body…In many spiritual paths people seek to minimize the effect of the body as if in their lives they could somehow access this re-connection. Or, the alternate approach that many take is to act with death in mind, or rather, with that eventual uniting of personal energy with some great beyond or state. But if, as Krishnamacharya states, a person cannot reach this state until after the body is discarded, then may be a more fruitful way of approaching it would be to ask if one could not use the body, or to manifest certain states of being through the body with the intention not to mitigate its negative effects on the mind, but to harness the connection instead.