“ To remember the ‘name’ is knowledge; to forget it, ignorance. “ – Eknath.
( This is the interview of a spiritual friend which I conducted recently for a paper to be submitted in a psychological conference.)
Shri Bhag Singh is a small businessman in Punjab. He takes non-vegetarian food and doesn’t go to religious places any more than a man in his station would to satisfy societal obligations. Meeting him as he deals with rustic customers who want a battery refilled or some other electric thing done, you would never be reminded of any saint. However, you would be stuck by his cheerful mien and horse –sense; a man well at home in his own little world. But as you probe further, your perceptions would change.
This sixty-three years old man says he has ‘inherited’ mysticism from his paternal grandmother, who , he claims, was a saint. When asked , what spirituality is, he replies, “ Spirituality is an intelligent power, beyond the senses, but within the ambit of experience - an everlasting way.” He further elaborates, “ Accessible through the grace of an ‘enlightened Master’, the power is within and without the universe.” I asked him what he meant by an enlightened man. He answered , “ An enlightened man is one in conscious touch with the audible vibration of consciousness, which can be distinctly perceived as a reverberating sound.”
Q : Since when have you been meditating?
A : Right from my childhood.
Q : When did you experience the ‘sound vibration’ for the first time?
A : I was 33 years old when I had my first experience of the ‘sound current’.
Q : What was the trigger for this experience?
A : I was sitting in my room, meditating on a mantram.
Q : Which mantram?
A: That’s hardly important.
Q : I would like to know.
A : I was meditating on ‘ Sohung Hung sau’ ( Literally means, I and the essence of the universe are One.)
Q : Did anybody initiate you into this mantram?
A : Swami Ram Das Ji , who used to work in IAAS, Shimla, and was visiting my hometown, Malout.
Q : What exactly did you perceive?
A : A whistle like sound reverberating inside me; resembling the aftereffect of a whistle rather than a whistle per se.
Q : Were you meditating specifically to hear this nada?
A : No. Meditation on a mantram was a part and parcel of my life since childhood.
Q : Were you aware of the existence of ‘anahata nada’?
A : I had heard that there is something known as ‘anahata nada’ but had no experience prior to that night.
Q : What exactly was your experience?
A : I heard the ‘sound current’, resembling a whistle.
Q : Where did you perceive it, in the ear or the skull?
A : I heard it first it in the left ear, then in the right.
Q : How did the ‘sound current’ effect you?
A : There was no particular effect that night.
Q : Was there any sensation in your body that night?
A : No.
Q : What did you do about that experience?
A : I told about it to my Guru.
Q : Had your Guru told you such a ‘sound current’ would result due to mantram meditation?
A : No.
Q : What was his response?
A : He congratulated me saying I had experienced what seekers of all time and climes pine for. He said the sound current would increasingly become more intense. He described the ‘sound current’ as the bridge between soul (individuated consciousness) and God (absolute consciousness). He told me bliss would come as the sound stabilizes.
Q : What were your worldly circumstances at the time of this experience?
A : I was going through an economic crisis. Business wasn’t well.
Q : When did you start meditating?
A : I was interested in meditation since childhood. I was into mental repetition of mantram since childhood. However, it was a routine thing then. I did it mechanically without much conscious effort.
Q : What discipline such as pranayama ( breath control) etc. did you follow?
A : I am very different from your notions of a yogi. I followed no pranayama or asana (body posture). I didn’t deny myself liquor or animal food. And I had no routine time set aside for meditation.
Q: What did the sound current do to you?
A : The sound current began from ears and increase in intensity. It spread all around my skull and then got concentrated at the top of my skull. My present state is that of continuous awareness of the primordial vibration at the top of my skull – 24 hrs. a day.
Q: When did you experience ‘the inner light’?
A : I had a glimpse of the ‘inner effulgence’ between 1980 and ’85. As I experienced the ‘effulgence’, I lost all consciousness of space, time and body. So long as there is awareness of the ‘effulgence’, there is no consciousness of space, time or the body. Yet, awareness is profound, though without any subject-object differentiation.
Q: How often are you aware of ‘anahata nada’?
A: 24 hrs a day.
Q: Did you ever block your ears with fingers or ear-plugs when trying to get in touch with the ‘anahata nada’?
A: No. I never did.
Q: When did you experience the ‘inner effulgence’? What was the color of the light?
A: I had my first glimpse of the effulgence close to 1980. The colors appeared in succession – red, violet, saffron, yellow and azure.
Q : Did you experience white effulgence then?
A : No, not white.
Q : When did you experience ‘white effulgence’?
A : I had a glimpse of ‘white effulgence’ in late 80s.
Q : What was the effect of your inner experiences on your day to day life?
A : Initially, I wanted to enjoy the bliss of anahata in solitude. Now, it makes no difference whether I am sitting alone in my room or busy working. The experience of anahata is always there irrespective of the external situation.
Q: What do you feel when aware of the anahata?
A: I feel neither happiness, nor sorrow. You could say it’s a kind of shamelessness. For instance, I felt no sorrow when my young son, and later my brother died. It was all the same to me. All is anahata- all is awareness. Material bodies come and go.
Q: Did you feel absolutely no grief when your young son died?
A: What the social occasion demanded came out of me. There was no sense of personal loss.
Q: Is meditation a means for happiness?
A: In meditation, there is no desire of any kind.
Q: What then, is meditation?
A: That which is, Is not. That which is not, Is.
Q: If I am not to gain any happiness out of it, why am I to meditate?
A: The world is engaged in a mad race – a futile chase, hankering after fleeting pleasures which contain seeds of pain. Every worldly activity, what is seen and heard, what is desired and achieved or lost, contains seeds of suffering. Meditation burns these seeds, frees you from the worldly rat race.
Q: Is happiness a result of meditation?
A: Just as mediation frees you from suffering, so does it liberate you from happiness.
Q: But I don’t want freedom from happiness. I would rather bear pain in hope of some experience of happiness. I want happiness. Absolute unlimited happiness is my desire. If I cannot get absolute happiness, I would have some happiness and some pain rather than a state of being free of both happiness and suffering. What good would such a state be to me where I won’t have any experience of happiness?
A: What you think is happiness and grasp as such, is fleeting and contains seeds of its own destruction. Meditation would give you the real and free you from useless tethers.
Q: It seems like a blank state to me- would I become a vegetable after meditating- feeling neither happiness nor sorrow, blank in mind. I would like to have at least fleeting pleasures even if suffering sullies them – rather than kill all my emotions.
A: Only after you are liberated from the vertex of happiness or sorrow would you know the true bliss- the pure effulgence of the unitary awareness. What you are playing with now are causally entwined emotions of pain and pleasure, the one leading to the other.
Q: You say there is no awareness of body, space or time in the state of complete absorption (Samadhi). That happens in deep dreamless sleep. How is Samadhi any different from sleep?
A: In Samadhi effulgence and vibration exist and you are that effulgence and that vibration. There is no individuation. That doesn’t happen in sleep when neither you nor any other entity exists. Sleep is emptiness. Samadhi is pure bliss. The experience of Samadhi is a profound awareness of inner effulgence and vibration sans individuality.
Q: How is the inner effulgence any different from physical light, say, that of sun?
A: The effulgence is of the nature of conscious bliss. It is neither inner nor outer but the only substratum of reality upon which the images of waking, dreaming and sleeping existence are entwined. And I have experienced it. It can be experienced by anyone by deep concentration on the audible vibration which appears when the mind is in a state of profound awareness without any object of reference. It’s a living experience rather than any theory or philosophical notion. The physical sun and other such objects are the shadows of pure consciousness.
Q: Is faith on the Guru’s word or scriptures a pre-requisite for meditational experience?
A: Right meditation is a technique which doesn’t call for any faith. However the commitment to practice it has to be there. If you follow the technique without faith, the result would come. If you have blind faith but don’t follow the method, no result would ensue.