ALSO KNOWN AS: Asamprajnata-Samadhi
SAMADHI: (Sanskrit) "Enstasy without form or seed." The realization of the Self, Parasiva, a state of oneness beyond all change or diversity; beyond time, form and space.
NIRVIKALPA:- Nir means "without." Vi means "to change, make different." Kalpa means "order, arrangement; a period of time."
Nirvikalpa Samadhi is generally considered to incorporate the following four Jhanas within its scope:
8) Eighth Jhana: jhana beyond perception and nonperception (nevasannanasanna) Saijojo.
7) Seventh Jhana: jhana of pure emptiness (akinci, lit. "nothingness") Ken-Chu-Shi.
6) Sixth Jhana: jhana of pure expansive consciousness (vinnana).
5) Fifth Jhana: jhana of boundless space (anantakasa).
Enstasy: A difficult term that embraces both ecstasy and profound attainment of wisdom, the state of enstasy is, in fact, that state of Nirvana when one recognizes The Void, the absolute reality that everything is nothing.
Kalpa: (as a period of time) A Maha Yuga is 4.32 million years, ten times as long as Kali Yuga. Twenty seven Maha Yugas is one Pralaya. Seven Pralayas is one Manvantara. Finally, six Manvantaras is a Kalpa. That is, one Kalpa is 27x7x6 = 1,134 Maha Yugas. This works out to 1134 x 4.3 million = 4.876 billion years.
Kalachakra: the Wheel of Time:
1. The Outer Wheel – the cosmic time cycle. While each Kala comprises a year, an unit of Chakra is the time taken by the sun to move across twelve constellations and for the Kala to repeat 21,600 times.
2. The Inner Wheel – the life force. Channels and energy circulation within the individual person. While each Kala comprises a day, a unit of Chakra is the time taken by the various internal energies to pass the ‘Twelve Wheels’ and for one to breathe 21600 times.
3. The Other Wheel – shatters the Ten Fetters of life and death, enables the practitioner to transcend the cycle of Rebirth, and gain spiritual purity and emancipation, thus achieving the “Kalachakra Buddhahood”. The Other Wheel is based on the mutual interaction, circulation and spiritual union between the Outer Wheel and the Inner Wheel.
Once upon a time, Indra, the king of heaven and of whom Indra's Jeweled Net is attributed, wanted to stop an event. Indra summoned Mother Kali, representing Time, who acted as Obstruction to stop the event. Obstruction then began to stop many other events. Only Ganesha was beyond Time, so Ganesha controlled Time and became Lord-of-Obstruction. Now, at the start of ANY undertaking, the help of Ganesha is needed to control Obstructions.
It is said the legendary land of Spiritual Enlightenment, the mystical kingdom of Shambhala, hidden deep in the mountains of Tibet, guards the most sacred and secret spiritual teachings of the world, including the Kalachakra (Wheel of Time), the pinnacle of Buddhist wisdom.
As to the above opening sentence, "Nirvikalpa Samadhi is generally considered to incorporate the following four Jhanas within its scope," then going on to list Jhana's number 5 through 8, it should be so brought to the attention of the reader that the Buddha in his quest for Awakening was NOT able to fully find the answers he sought in the Eight Jhana States to his satifaction. They are, thus then, not the end all be all of Full Attainment. To wit the following as found in The Jhanas in Theravadan Buddhist Meditation:
"Before he became the Buddha, at the beginning of his spiritual quest, Siddhartha Gautama studied with two teachers. The first teacher taught him the first Seven Jhanas; the other teacher taught him the Eighth Jhana. Both teachers told him they had taught him all there was to learn. But Siddhartha still didn't know why there was suffering, so he left each of these teachers and wound up doing six years of austerity practises. These too did not provide the answer to his question and he abandoned these for what has come to be known as the Middle Way. The suttas indicate that on the night of his Enlightenment, he sat down under the and began his meditation by practising the Jhanas (for example, see the Mahasaccaka Sutta - Majjhima Nikaya #36). When his mind was "concentrated, purified, bright, unblemished, rid of imperfection, malleable, wieldy, steady and attained to imperturbability" he direct it to the "true knowledges" that gave rise to his incredible breakthrough in consciousness known in the sutras as Anuttara Samyak Sambodhi. So we see that the Jhanas are not only at the heart of his teaching, but also were at the heart of his own practise." (source)
The first teacher taught him the first Seven Jhanas; the other teacher taught him the Eighth Jhana. Both teachers told him they had taught him all there was to learn. But Siddhartha still didn't know why there was suffering, so he left each of these teachers and wound up doing six years of austerity practises.
On the night of his Enlightenment, he sat down under the Bodhi Tree and began his meditation by practising the Jhanas. When his mind was "concentrated, purified, bright, unblemished, rid of imperfection, malleable, wieldy, steady and attained to imperturbability" he direct it to the "true knowledges" that gave rise to his incredible breakthrough in consciousness known in the sutras as Anuttara Samyak Sambodhi. The austerity practises as found in Zen monasteries that follow the original tenents of the ancient traditions is designed to replicate the environment faced by Siddhartha that led up to his breakthrough. See:
DOING HARD TIME IN A ZEN MONASTERY
It should be noted that in his monograph, The Question of the Importance of Samadhi In Modern and Classical Advaita Vedanta (1993), discussing Asamprajnata Samadhi being the same as Nirvikalpaka Samadhi, Michael Comans, PhD, writes:
"I do not know why later Vedantins used the word Nirvikalpa to characterize what is essentially the yogic Asamprajnata Samadhi. Perhaps they wished to distinguish their practice from that of classical Yoga. The word Nirvikalpaka was first introduced into the astika ("orthodox") tradition by Kumarila Bhatta, who used it in his explanation of perception, under the influence of the Buddhist philosopher Dignaga. See D. N. Shastri, The Philosophy of Nyaya-Vaisesika and Its Conflict with the Buddhist Dignaga School (Delhi: Bharatiya Vidya Prakashan, 1976), p. 438."(source)
BUDDHIST MEDITATION: Stages of Mindfulness and Absorption
PATH OF MINDFULNESS LEADING TO INSIGHT
The explanation of the distinction between Sahaha Samadhi and Nirvikalpa Samadhi is a difficult one. The following on Sahaja Samadhi is extrapolated from the works of Ed Fisher:
The Baghavan Sri Ramana Maharshi distinguishes Sahaja Samadhi from Nirvikalpa Samadhi by saying:
In Sahaja Samadhi the mind is "dead", "resolved into the self, like a river discharged into the ocean and its identity lost."
Ramana also says: "the trance has no good unless vasanas (latent ideas and forms of the mind) are destroyed." But Ramana holds a strong bias to the early Upanishad and Vedanta that essentially dismiss the Advaita experience of non-duality as anti-thetical to their doctrine which may account for his disparaging the "trance" and "ecstasy" of Nirvikalpa Samadhi and placing it in a lower status than HIS version of a Sahaja Samadhi with duality and content.
In an effort to explain Ramana's distinction between Nirvikalpa and Sahaja it may be he assumes it is not the quality of the "experience" (which may range from a Near Death Experience to Nirvikalpa Samadhi) that determines rank in the Samadhi hierarchy --- but to what degree vasanas are permanently destroyed, or (as in his own case) already highly evolved --- upon re-entering phenomenal life. This appears to determine the level of Enlightenment one manifests after the Advaitic experience- which can range from remaining in a state of relative ignorance to becoming a jivanmukta like Ramana.
Ramana's vasanas were already highly evolved at the time of his experience, so upon re-emergence from whatever experience he attained his vasanas further evolved via intense intellectual perception of religious texts to the degree he could function as a jivanmukta. Thus for Ramana it is more the quality of Enlightenment one retains after the transcendent experience as to what name and rank he awards the level of the original experience --- and thus in my view (i.e., Fisher) arbitrarily applies the term 'Sahaja Samadhi'.
In short --- I assume Sahaja does not enter into defining the quality of the ultimate state of a samadhic experience where Nirvikalpa is supreme- but distinguishes any level of advaitic experience which results in the experiencer becoming imbued with highly evolved vasana enabling his/her permanent Enlightenment as a jivanmukta.(see)
NOTE: In a question and answer interview in the book Be As You Are by David Godman, Sri Ramana is asked to clear up the difference between Samprajnata-Samadhi and Nirvikalpa Samadhi. Ramana responds with:
"Holding on to the supreme state is Samadhi. When it is with effort due to mental disturbances, it is Samprajnata. When these disturbances are absent, it is Nirvikalpa. Remaining permanently in the primal state without effort is Sahaja."
Ramana seems to elevate Sahaja Samadhi to a higher rank than Nirvikalpa Samadhi wherein Fisher smoothes out the distinction. Fisher, of whose works the above section on Sahaja Samadhi is cited from, and whom I worked closely with editing and citing his works, is a champion of Nirvikalpa Samadhi, primarily because he himself, at age 42, experienced a self-realization consciousness raising event he calls a spontaneous transcendent episode that he relates almost exclusively as being Nirvikalpa Samadhi. Fisher fully outlines his Awakening experience in a booklet, now found in it's completeness online at:
A MYSTICAL EXPERIENCE: A Transcendent Journey
To his everlasting credit, and why I find Fisher's experience credible, is what he presents in a footnote on his transcendent journey:
"Wholeness is an invented term expressing the ultimate reality (or non reality) partially revealed through transcendent experience. The feeling is that this account describes one infinitesimal step towards awareness of an ultimate state similar but not identical to the Buddhist concept of Suchness."
The fact that Fisher says his experience is most likely just one infinitesimal step towards awareness of an ultimate state similar but not identical to the Buddhist concept of Suchness is most telling. Especially so in that the section on Nirvikalpa Samadhi it is stated that Nirvikalpa Samadhi, of which Fisher champions, incorporates the highest Jhana states but nothing about going beyond them. If you recall, the Buddha had to go beyond the Jhana states in order to achieve the consummantion of incomparable enlightenment, Anuttara Samyak Sambodhi.
James Swartz, known as Ram, in an interview titled Commentary on the Teachings of Ramana Maharshi and conducted by John Howells in January 2003, at Tiruvannamalai, South India, offers the following regarding Nirvikalpa Samadhi:
"If you argue that you are aiming at nirvikalpa samadhi where there is no mind, fine, but the problem with nirvikalpa samadhi is that a fly landing on your nose can bring you out of it, not that there is anyone there to come ‘out’. And when the ‘you’ who wasn’t there does ‘come back,’ as I just mentioned, you are just as stupid as you were before… because you were not there in the samadhi to understand that you are the samadhi. If you are the samadhi you will have it all the time because you have you all the time…so there will be no anxiety about making it permanent." (source)
Compare Fisher's experience with that of the Wanderling's as found in Dark Luminosity.
For possible additional clarification, especially as it applies to the Ramana side of things and Nirvikalpa Samadhi, as well as other spiritual guides, please see:
SAHAJA SAMADHI: OTHER VIEWS
SRI RAMANA MAHARSHI: THE LAST AMERICAN DARSHAN
RECOUNTING A YOUNG BOY'S NEARLY INSTANT TRANSFORMATION INTO THE ABSOLUTE DURING HIS ONLY DARSHAN WITH THE MAHARSHI
Fundamentally, our experience as experienced is not different from the Zen master's. Where
we differ is that we place a fog, a particular kind of conceptual overlay onto that experience
and then make an emotional investment in that overlay, taking it to be "real" in and of itself.
AWAKENED TEACHERS FORUM
ZEN ENLIGHTENMENT IN A NUTSHELL
ON THE RAZOR'S
ALL ABOUT SAMADHI