I received this letter from a young yoga student:
I am asking you this question not because I am in a hurry, but because I would like to know the answer. How long does it take to reach samadhi on average? And when samadhi is attained, how will I know that I have reached this stage.
Having read a little about karma yoga, I am not sure whether karma yoga states that all cause has an effect, or that actions should be done selflessly. I agree with both statements and I am aware of how difficult it is for these two assertions to be performed in everyday life. However I think it is possible to reach such a state.
I answered him:
Scientifically, All cause has an effect. It is what life is based on, but Karma goes one step further and says that "thoughts are things" and thus are causes - which create effects.
This cannot actually be proven except by self discovery about how you think, and then follow it through. If you hold a grudge or feel vengeful towards someone and it burrows into your subconscious, we know that it will color your outlook and produce effects in your life which are negative for you, but if you have a quick idle thought such as "That goddamn bastard" and then think no more about it, it will not have an effect. It is like a planted seed getting no water or care. It dies. Perhaps if there are too many idle thoughts which are negative all strung together then it will affect your life. You see around you people who are negative about so many trivial things, and their life is in a sham.
Because thoughts are things it is always better to try and eradicate your thinking. This is Patanjali's famous aphorism "Chitta Vritti Nirhoda" which means total annihilation of all mental fluctuation. Get to the NO-MIND state.
As for samadhi. That is a tough one to answer. When the See-er, the object seen and the act of seeing become one, you are no longer "you" and the object is no longer "it". YOU ARE ALL ONE. SO IT WOULD BE IMPOSSIBLE TO STAND BACK AND SAY THAT I AM ONE WITH THAT OBJECT, as that would have separated you again, so you would not be able to explain then what it was like, as memory dissolves reality.
Can you understand that? The best way to explain it is to say it is like waking up. In the transition of waking from a deep sleep, you know what is happening - you think about how nice the bed is , how nice sleep is, how comfortable you are, but yet you have to get up and sometimes you awaken , not because you have to but because you have had enough sleep. When you awaken fully, you no longer think about sleep, or think that you are any different kind of a person - you just know that you are awake - period.
It is much the same for samadhi - you just know you are awake in oneness, while at the same time not being separate enough from it to be able to say you are :))) Difficult eh?
Not too many people attain samadhi, because they get lost in the sensations of meditations, the colors, the visions, the feelings. This happens because the attention paid to what the attainment of samadhi means is not made clear enough, therefore Sunday meditations, or ½ hr ones seem to satisfy most yogis. Even during those meditations they become lost in fantasy, or colors or sensations of being uplifted - all in all, sensations that employ the mind to feel something or experience something. As long as that mind is being used you are no further toward your goal of samadhi than when you started. To remain awake in the No-Mind state takes a great deal more Willpower than pleasing your senses.
Here, I will just add that many Yoga schools rely on these sensations to try and keep their students paying their stipends for the classes. It is wrong.
When all mental fluctuations have ceased, what then remains is samadhi, and that gives an experience of satchitananda. That is about as much as one can say about it with any reality. I think you are all aware of what satchitananda means from past newsletters. It is the highest direct experience of the Paramatman that one can have in this concomitantly controlled objective world. It too is equally as much an illusion, but it is the final one, before one enters the 4th stage of consciousness called Truriya.
One could go into the glorifications of it, from its beginning stages of samadhi right up to its final stage of Sahaja Nirvikalpi Samadhi as so many Yogis do, but this is a danger, as it makes a promise of something which few can attain. I hope I have not misled anyone into thinking that everyone will attain samadhi. Because of this, one utilizes that great Yoga - Karma Yoga, by being so in love with act of doing, that it becomes joy enough.
Is the goal worth working toward? Only if you can do it with a loving heart. Not as a discipline and not as a duty, but with love.
Now to understand karma better it really means to love "the act of doing" without interest in the results of the action. The results will take care of themselves. Yes it is difficult to do in everyday life, but by employing Will to center attention on the act of ALL YOUR ACTIONS and that is all. It makes sense doesn't it? If you do an act with love, surely it means you will bring the best out of yourself in the doing. It stands to reason then that the results will be taken care of without you even thinking about it.
Hope this helps.