In samadhi, then, no activity takes place in the body. You would not breathe, your heart would not beat, there would be no pulse, unless you have given a part of your consciousness and mind to these functions. Of course, if you have done that, it means that you have not given your whole mind and consciousness to God. And if you do not give your whole mind and consciousness to God, how can you expect to have the full vision of God? You can’t. It is said that the mind is finite. But when the mind becomes absolutely and totally concentrated on God, then the mind becomes infinite. And it is only then that the vision of God becomes reflected in the mind, and being so reflected it destroys the mind because the mind is no longer necessary.
So the spirit of man, which is different from the mind, becomes one with the other spirit, which is called God. Other spirit? Because it appears so to us in ignorance. In truth, the spirit of man is God. So, that is how full and complete knowledge of God is attained, and that state has been called, technically in our books, nirvikalpa samadhi. Samadhi means complete contemplation and meditation, and nirvikalpa means that in which there is no other thought. When there is no other thought, when there is no perception of any other thing, but only of God and God alone, then it is considered the mind has reached that desired condition.
The Swami had attained to that state even while his master, Sri Ramakrishna, was living. That was in 1886. And of course, as our books say and our tradition maintains, one has to practice again and again; one has to attain to that state again and again, until it becomes natural. If you ask, ‘If we realize God once, why should it not become natural? Why should we lose it again?’ The answer is that if you come back to this body, it means you have some prarabdha karmas left, that is to say, some of your worldly tendencies are left.
The aforesaid state is like a man who has left home and joined the monastery. Of course, he had a desire to join, otherwise he would not have gone there, but afterwards he finds he wants to go back home. It means that some desire for home life is still left in his mind, and then it pulls him back. Similarly, even when one has the vision of God some little things might remain, and so you have to realize God in samadhi again and again until that state becomes natural with you and you will never come down to a lower plane. The Swami had realized that state in India, as I told you, and then he had a second realization.
To be continued
About the author
Swami Ashokananda (1893-1969) was a much-venerated monk of the Ramakrishna Order. He was ordained into sannyasa by Swami Shivananda, and was the editor of Prabuddha Bharata, an English monthly of the Ramakrishna Order brought out from the Advaita Ashrama, Mayavati in Uttaranchal. He was an outstanding writer and speaker and the leader of the Vedanta Society of Northern California (San Fransisco) from 1931 until his passing away in 1969.