Sunday, November 21, 2010

Nirvikalpa Samadhi

Supra-conceptual awareness
DEEPAK M RANADE, Nov 22, 2010, 12.00am IST
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Tags:Thoughts|spirituality|Human brain|god|Faith|evolution
Supra-conceptual awareness (Thinkstock photos/Getty Images)
The human brain has a frontal lobe that has the power of abstraction and imagination. A perspective upgrade enabled by the frontal lobe makes possible comprehension of complex concepts and ideas.

Religion, God, spiritualism and belief systems are complex concepts. These are acquired and planted by social conditioning of the individual. None of them are congenital; they are legacies of culture and conditioning. They are influenced by a host of geo-politico-social factors. Their diversity harbours immense potential to breed conflict within the individual as also without. They are relative to the environment in which the individual grows up. The personality and thought processes of each individual are a sum total of all such influences.

All learning is also concept based. These concepts lead to a conditioning of the intellect. Once the formatting is done, it becomes a template and reference for future thought processes.

The identity of ones own self is also a concept. Various influences of the environment mould this concept of the identity of the self. Like sedimentary rocks, time keeps adding layers to this notional entity. Likes, dislikes, pleasure and pain also develop in accordance with development of this identity. Eventually each person becomes an eclectic mix of ideas, concepts and opinions accumulated from diverse influences. An individual identity is unformatted consciousness superimposed with an acquired identity integrated with an assortment of concepts.

All thoughts that arise in the mind are also based on concepts that have been learned and acquired. Anxiety, fear, joy, happiness and sorrow are concepts that affect our lives profoundly. But they are all concepts, nonetheless. What is primary is consciousness animating this identity.

All pleasure and pain arise as a function of this assumed identity and are very relative to this identity. Pleasure and pain are mere sensations mediated by neurotransmitters as response to events in the environment. The sense of pleasure or pain never affects the sense of am-ness, which is impermeable to variable circumstances.

Liberation is also a concept. Liberation is sought from what, the travails of life? It seems more a pre-emptive effort to obviate any impending suffering since it promises deliverance from subsequent births. It may be an extension of the pleasure-seeking principle. True liberation would be from all concepts. All thoughts are in effect founded on the backdrop of concepts. Thoughts are derivatives of the assumed identity. They have no a priori existence. They are secondary to the identity. Thoughts and ideas are totally in the domain of tangible form.

The form can perceive only a form. For consciousness to be aware of itself, it has to abandon all paradigms of knowledge and concepts. Thoughts are images and attributes of the conceptual identity arising and subsiding on the screen of consciousness.

Meditation attempts to induce a state of thoughtlessness. Liberation is the wiping of this screen of all concepts, including the concept of the self as identity. The sense of `i am' needs no knowledge to become just am-ness. The "i" tries to perceive am-ness using forms and concepts. But am-ness is supraconceptual. It exists plainly and uncharacteristically and obviously.

Realisation would be a shift from "i" am to just plain am-ness without the pronoun "i" residing in a sense of mere am-ness. This state of residing in unqualified am-ness is called Nirvikalpa Samadhi or supraconceptual awareness.

(The writer is a consultant neurosurgeon.)

Read more: Supra-conceptual awareness - The Times of India