Object and Objectless Concentration
The four stages of concentration described in the previous sutra (1.17) were all concentration with object, which is called samprajnata samadhi. In the current sutra, concentration without any object is being described, and this is called asamprajnata samadhi. In this state not only the gross and subtle thoughts, but also the senses and thinking instruments of mind are in a latent state. It is a very high state of knowing, and is of the kind that is often described as not describable in words.
When the spiritual aspirant has achieved the highest degree of concentration upon a single object, he is ready to attempt the supreme feat – concentration upon consciousness itself. This is the state of perfect Yoga in which one passes beyond Prakriti, beyond all objective knowledge, into union with the Atman – the undifferentiated universal consciousness.
This state of perfect Yoga can only be entered into when the thought waves have been stilled and the mind has been cleared of all its samskaras, tendencies, both good and evil, when Mr.Patanjali has ceased to believe that he is Mr.Patanjali and knows that he is none other than the Atman. Yoga philosophy is emphatic that it is the samskaras alone that drive us from birth to birth because our desire to return and plunge into sense experience again and again is far deeper than we believe. Our temporary reforming tactics like new year resolutions count for nothing.
It follows that when the samskaras have been rooted out and destroyed completely (which is the aim of Yoga) there will neither be any urge towards rebirth nor any necessity for it any longer. He who achieves this pinnacle of success in Yoga is said to be LIBERATED. He is stated to be with an awakened mind. All human experiences, sorrow, grief, anxiety, suffering, doubt, restlessness and pain and what not are left behind. It is like the one having reached a mountain top, a STATE OF NO MIND or SAMADHI or NIRVANA or MOKSHA.
When you reach the peak, that in which you were caught and through which you were looking at the top when you were climbing viz. the towering trees, big creepers and thorny bushes, now become like a dimensionless green carpet. They no longer tower above you. They are leveled. You are towering above them and they look like a mere green carpet as though they have no height at all. So the whole relationship is changed. The view becomes more spread out. It becomes a Universal Vision.
This state of intense concentration is achieved by the spiritual seeker through faith, energy, focus, absorption and knowledge.
When a man with such an awakened mind casts away his mortal body, he will be united with the Atman forever. However, the achievement of perfect Yoga does not necessarily mean the immediate end of mortal life. Many saints have reached supreme spiritual experience and continued to live on for many years. They have continued to think, speak and act on the plane of external phenomena – but with a difference. The thoughts, words and deeds of a liberated man are said to be like ‘burnt seeds’ i.e. they are no longer fertile and fit for germination. So too, samskaras cannot create any new additions or bondage in a liberated man while he spends his remaining life time which will be governed by his prarabhdha karma i.e. karmas which were already in existence before his liberation.
He is like an actor on the last night of a play. He knows that the play will never be performed again no matter how well he plays his role, no matter whether the audience boos or applause. He has nothing to gain or loose by his performance. Nevertheless, he must play it through to the end till the curtains fall and he can go home. Speaking of the actions of one who has achieved liberation, Shankara tells us “Such actions are performed as it were, from memory. They are like the remembered actions of a dream”.
Can we give any example of such a Divine Personality, the Knower of Brahman, the one who has Become Brahman himself? Yes! We can! Such an ideal person is none other than the Jagadguru, Bhagavadpada Adi Shankaracharya.