Yoga Vasistha, Part 9
Focus: (Chapter III continues...)
THE SEVEN STATES OR PLANES OF WISDOM
The Seven States of Planes of Wisdom are among the core teachings of the Yoga Vāsiṣṭha, as they form a virtual roadmap for the sincere spiritual seeker. Care should be taken not to see these as accomplishments, milestones or achievements, because each state is a letting go of what does not allow one’s true nature to be seen. It is by letting go that we return to our original nature and this is a double-edged sword as it is not difficult to let go if it obscures something you have seen real value in, but, it is sheer struggle if this clarity has not flooded the heart and mind. I have put these Seven States of Planes of Wisdom into three broad groups as some states often happen together though they need not always be so. Towards the end, we will return to look at each of The Seven States of Planes of Wisdom individually.
First, there must be a sincere urge in the seeker at gut level or at the core one one’s being, to have inner clarity, to be able to see things as they are and to know one’s true nature. This inner clarity is for return to our own nature and it cannot happen if one is not ready and enthusiastic about letting go of all conditioning—this is the first plane of wisdom called a noble wish or śubhecchā.
Second, there must be clarity in perception, which means to see things as they are, without our notions, hopes or expectations about them. This is also called awakening as we awaken to the delusion we create which disallows clarity in perception, action and experience. The sincere urge we have just discussed, now enters life and this, weakens and gradually uproots inner conditioning. The mind’s activity is brought into the field of steady observation along with outer activity and this is seen in one field. When one is continually aware of one’s conditioning and has direct perception, which is to see things as they are and not as one’s conditioning would like to see them, and conditioning weakens by disuse—this is the second plane of wisdom where begins direct and steady observation of the mind called vicāraṇā. The more you use inner clarity, the more it shines and illumines—this is the third plane of wisdom where the mind becomes thin and weakened and is called tanumānasi. Then, there is a natural turning away from natural turning away from sense pleasure on seeing it as delusion, and, and one prefers to dwell in clarity, things as they are, or the truth of things—this fourth state is called satvāpatti.
Third, we must be able to turn this gained clarity onto its source so to say to know who we are or our true nature and this is called liberation. At some stage in the seekers march to perfection, the first four states or planes of wisdom come together and are practiced together steadily. It is then that arises a natural and total non-attachment or freedom—this fifth state is called asamśaktti. Due to a natural cessation of objectivity, one rejoices in subjectivity or one’s own self and the perception of duality and diversity ceases and the seeker blossoms as a man of wisdom who is aware of objects only if and when he feels compelled to do so. This is the sixth state where there is natural and spontaneous cessation of objectivity—and is called padārthābhavanī. The seventh stage is when vision of division ceases and one is fully established in one’s own unconditioned nature. Self-knowledge is spontaneous, natural and therefore unbroken—this state is known as liberated while living or turīya.
This is why the rungs of yoga are essential in the foundation for one’s spiritual ascent and no rung can be bypassed. An earnest awakening is requisite before the journey home, nay, it heralds the journey home. This awakening does not come unless one leads an examined life to see the defects lie in our current way of seeing things—with conditioning. It is only when one clearly sees the danger within, up close and personal, that one awakens and aspires for the good—a better way of being and living which is free from the inner turmoil. Here, the march of the soul on the journey back home begins.
THE SEVEN STATES OR PLANES OF WISDOM
1. Śubhecchā or a noble wish
When one clearly sees the danger in leading an unexamined life, one has given up any and all craving for pleasure as well, and one aspires for what is good and lasting—it is called a noble wish or śubhecchā.
2. Vicāraṇā or direct and steady observation of the mind
When the mind is directly observed without remission, it is also called the practice of inquiry or direct observation into the nature of the reality or vicāraṇā.
3. Tanumānasi or the thinned and weakened mind
When there arises a disinterestedness in the pleasure of the senses, it is true non-attachment based on intelligent discrimination—the mind is weakened and it becomes subtle and transparent or tanumānasi.
4. Satvāpatti or natural turning away from sense pleasure and dwelling in truth
When the first three are sincerely practiced, there arises in the seeker a natural turning away from sense-pleasures and a natural dwelling in truth. This result in purity or satvā at heart is called satvāpatti.
5. Asamśaktti or natural and total non-attachment or freedom
When the first four are sincerely practiced, there is total non-attachment or freedom and at the same time a conviction in the nature of truth. There is great inner peace and joy independent of external objects and internal mental states. This state of non-attachment or freedom is asamśaktti.
6. Padārthābhavanī or natural cessation of objectivity
When one rejoices in one’s own self, the perception of duality and diversity ceases, and the efforts that one made at the inspiration of others, bear fruition in direct spiritual experience. The man of wisdom is aware of objects only if and when he feels compelled to do so. This natural and spontaneous cessation of objectivity is called padārthābhavanī.
7. Turīya or liberated while living
Coming to this stage, there is no other support, by persistent practice the vision of division ceases and one is fully established in one’s own unconditioned being. Self-knowledge is spontaneous, natural and therefore unbroken, that state is known as liberated even while living here or turīya.
The goal of all these states is known as Brahman in which there is no ‘I’ or ‘soul’ or ‘the other’, no vision of division, or notions of being and non-being. Self-knowledge is the cutting asunder of the knots of bondage. They who have risen above delusion rest in the supreme state, they are the holy men who have conquered their senses.