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RE: Stages of Sadhana

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  • Narasimha PVR Rao
    Namaste Rajarshi, What you are describing is essentially evolution of gunas. What you call first stage is dominated by tamas, with some rajas too. What you
    Message 1 of 5 , May 12, 2012
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      Namaste Rajarshi,
       
      What you are describing is essentially evolution of gunas. What you call first stage is dominated by tamas, with some rajas too. What you call the second stage is dominated by rajas, with some tamas too. What you call the third stage is dominated by satta, with some rajas too.
       
      This can be further broken down as follows:
       
      (1) Mostly tamas: Does not think about spiritual sadhana or progress. May fear god and go to temple or see/do poojas now and then.
      (2) Mostly tamas, with some rajas: Engages in some sadhana. But the ignorance and attachments bring fears, worries, anxieties, doubts etc. As tamas reduces and rajas increases, doubts and fears are allayed to some extent, some direction is found and there is more focused effort.
      (3) Mostly rajas, some tamas: Engages in a lot of sadhana, but still has some misconceptions and doubts in mind. As tamas reduces, doubts and misconceptions reduce.
      (4) Mostly rajas, some sattwa: Engages in a lot of sadhana and focus and clarity of thinking starts to set in. As sattwa increases, one's thinking, vision and focus become clearer.
      (5) Mostly sattwa, some rajas: Weaknesses that troubled earlier start to trouble less and there is mental clarity. There is still some passion, attachment and resultant internal stress (i.e. resisting divine will or the fruits of previous karmas), which reduces as rajas reduces.
      (6) Mostly sattwa: Clear vision, nice focus of mind in sadhana, very good acceptance of divine will (fruits of previous karmas) and flowing with the divine rhythm.
       
      There can be several other abstractions to look at stages in sadhana. Vasishtha describes some in Yoga Vaasishtham.
       
      *        *        *
       
      One important thing to note is that sadhana and spiritual progress are not something to flaunt. If one is in stage 2 or 3, it is nothing to be ashamed of and one need not pretend otherwise. The most important thing is to be honest internally. If there are doubts and anxieties, there is no point in suppressing them. They should be addressed in the earnest. A proper and natural evolution of understanding comes with time to everyone. Pretensions of being someone one is not and forceful suppression of misunderstandings does not help in the long run.
       
      Secondly, one need not spend a fixed amount of time in each stage. Some people make fast progress and some people take more time. If God wills, one can become liberated in a second. So don't worry wherever you are in terms of these "stages".
       
      *        *        *
       
      BTW, what you say of "external experiences" applies to "internal experiences" as well. After all, mind (especially an imaginative one) is capable of "manufacturing" over time whatever it fancies. Some experiences can be hallucinations. Even when not, they can reinforce some unneeded conditioning. I am not just talking about beginners, but even highly evolved sadhakas.
       
      For example, there have been several elevated yogis claiming to be the reincarnations of Ramakrishna Paramahamsa. They may all have genuinely believed it and not trying to deceive anyone. If one's mind nurtured a secret desire to be somebody important and if one likes Ramakrishna, it is possible to experience an internal vision suggesting that one is a reincarnation of Ramakrishna.
       
      Let me give a subtler example. I was once discussing the meaning of "Mantra Pushpam" here (see http://groups.yahoo.com/group/vedic-wisdom/message/7015). A learned yogi wrote to me that it was about denser elements dissolving in lighter elements as Kundalini ascends and denser elements coming back from lighter elements as Kundalini descends. When I pointed out weaknesses in that interpretation, he told me that that was the *vision* (internal experience) he got when he meditated with it. However, that absolutely does not add up. What is described in Mantra Pushpam is not chain of X merging in Y, Y merging in Z, etc. Moreover, all elements are not covered. Moreover, water is common, i.e. X lies in water, water lies in X; Y lies in water, water lies in Y, and so on. That is different from dissolution and creation of elements as happens when Kundalini ascends and descends.
       
      However, I can believe that that yogi may have indeed gotten the vision as he claimed. When one looks at a verse (or any other notion or idea), one's rational mind may consciously or sub-consciously come up with an intellectual understanding. If an imaginative and focused mind meditates then, it may indeed experience a corresponding vision! It is all a play of mind and of no significance. Not every internal experience of even an elevated yogi who genuinely experienced aspects of divine (but not yet liberated) may mean something.
       
      Knowing which internal experience is a result of some conditioning, some desire or some rational/emotional notion still present in the mind, is not easy, even for good and sincere sadhakas.
       
      *        *        *
       
      External and internal experiences cannot be avoided as one does sadhana. Depending on one's conditioning, one may experience many things.
       
      Whether an experience is external or internal is not IMHO the main thing. Both can be useful in some cases and increase faith and confidence or give clarity of thinking, and trigger positive internal transformation. Both can be detrimental in some cases and increase pride or reinforce some wrong notions, and delay positive internal transformation or even trigger negative internal transformation.
       
      Vasishtha's guidance is very clear. Neither seek nor avoid experiences (which are like roadside trees as one travels on a hilly road to the top of the hill). Keep the mind focused on sadhana to the best of your ability.
       
      Though I said it before, I will say this again, because it is worth saying many times:
       
      The only worthwhile measure of spiritual progress and the only experience worth longing is the internal experience of detachment. If one experiences less stress in situations that would've stressed one before, if one experiences less anger in situations that would've angered one before, if one experiences less lust in situations that would've made one lusty before, if one experiences less jealosy in situations that would've made one jealous before, and so on, then one is making progress.
       
      Best regards,
      Narasimha
      -------------------------------------------------------------------
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                           Twitter ID: @homam108
      -------------------------------------------------------------------
       
       
      On Thu, May 10, 2012 at 2:57 PM, rajarshi14 wrote:

      Three stages of sadhana, as I see it. Purely my own observations. Not points of debate. Everyone is free to disagree.

      1st stage of Sadhana: Try out scoops of everything, hanging on to solicited or unsolicited advice from anywhere and everwhere, and eventually moving in confused circles, feeling proud and happy about the fact that, yes I am doing something called sadhana while many others are not. The mind lies in the communal stage (communal = anyone one who mentally identifies to a community not necessarily in a religious sense), trying to find a community of similar minded individuals and hang on to the same in a subconscious attempt to define itself.

      2nd stage of Sadhana: Get bits and pieces of "experiences" in an external format which the mind correlates to the process of sadhana and either feels happy, or dejected. Soon it gets boring, for none of these so called external "experiences" are consistent or even replicable at will. Doubts start creeping, boredom sets in, confusions galore, and some fall back to stage 1 described above.

      3rd stage: One realizes the absolute futility of the external experiences compared to what is happening inside, if at all anything is happening. Until a transformation process triggers inside the mind, all of it is meaningless. The external world may crack open and 33 millions deities may dance infornt, yet it eventually counts for nothing if it is not able to still the "monkey-mind" and make the sadhaka enjoy a concentrated feeling of internal joy. This joy will overflow into other secular activities and thoughts, it's so powerful and dynamic in nature. One who is firmly established in this stage, will never bother too much about the external ritual, its source, its accuracy etc. He/she does not shun external rituals, but he/she realizes that the real barometer for judging the efficacy of a sadhana is inside the mind and heart. This is the beginning of the "alone" phase. Alone, but not lonely. In loneliness one craves for external validation, in being alone one needs no validation apart from his/her own joy.

      As such, if this person were to meet another sadhaka, the only worthy information he/she will try to extract is what has the other person experienced internally, and be least bothered about what path he/she walks and which deity he/she is trying to worship. Fancy names and theoretical classifications do not impress him/her anymore.

      From here starts the real journey. Before that, stage 1 and stage 2 is like a kindergarten attitude. So each sadhaka must ask himself/herself objective, where does he/she stand and where is he/she headed!
    • priyank_priyank
      Respected PVRji, Thanks for explaining the concept. Long time back you had suggested one particular version of Yoga vashistham, kindly let me know and where i
      Message 2 of 5 , May 12, 2012
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        Respected PVRji,

        Thanks for explaining the concept.

        Long time back you had suggested one particular version of Yoga vashistham, kindly let me know and where i might get in india.

        regards
        priyank



        --- In vedic-wisdom@yahoogroups.com, Narasimha PVR Rao <pvr@...> wrote:
        >
        >
        > Namaste Rajarshi,
        >
        > What you are describing is essentially evolution of gunas. What you call
        > first stage is dominated by tamas, with some rajas too. What you call
        > the second stage is dominated by rajas, with some tamas too. What you
        > call the third stage is dominated by satta, with some rajas too.
        >
        > This can be further broken down as follows:
        >
        > (1) Mostly tamas: Does not think about spiritual sadhana or progress.
        > May fear god and go to temple or see/do poojas now and then.
        > (2) Mostly tamas, with some rajas: Engages in some sadhana. But the
        > ignorance and attachments bring fears, worries, anxieties, doubts etc.
        > As tamas reduces and rajas increases, doubts and fears are allayed to
        > some extent, some direction is found and there is more focused effort.
        > (3) Mostly rajas, some tamas: Engages in a lot of sadhana, but still has
        > some misconceptions and doubts in mind. As tamas reduces, doubts and
        > misconceptions reduce.
        > (4) Mostly rajas, some sattwa: Engages in a lot of sadhana and focus and
        > clarity of thinking starts to set in. As sattwa increases, one's
        > thinking, vision and focus become clearer.
        > (5) Mostly sattwa, some rajas: Weaknesses that troubled earlier start to
        > trouble less and there is mental clarity. There is still some passion,
        > attachment and resultant internal stress (i.e. resisting divine will or
        > the fruits of previous karmas), which reduces as rajas reduces.
        > (6) Mostly sattwa: Clear vision, nice focus of mind in sadhana, very
        > good acceptance of divine will (fruits of previous karmas) and flowing
        > with the divine rhythm.
        >
        > There can be several other abstractions to look at stages in sadhana.
        > Vasishtha describes some in Yoga Vaasishtham.
        >
        > * * *
        >
        > One important thing to note is that sadhana and spiritual progress are
        > not something to flaunt. If one is in stage 2 or 3, it is nothing to be
        > ashamed of and one need not pretend otherwise. The most important thing
        > is to be honest internally. If there are doubts and anxieties, there is
        > no point in suppressing them. They should be addressed in the earnest. A
        > proper and natural evolution of understanding comes with time to
        > everyone. Pretensions of being someone one is not and forceful
        > suppression of misunderstandings does not help in the long run.
        >
        > Secondly, one need not spend a fixed amount of time in each stage. Some
        > people make fast progress and some people take more time. If God wills,
        > one can become liberated in a second. So don't worry wherever you are in
        > terms of these "stages".
        >
        > * * *
        >
        > BTW, what you say of "external experiences" applies to "internal
        > experiences" as well. After all, mind (especially an imaginative one) is
        > capable of "manufacturing" over time whatever it fancies. Some
        > experiences can be hallucinations. Even when not, they can reinforce
        > some unneeded conditioning. I am not just talking about beginners, but
        > even highly evolved sadhakas.
        >
        > For example, there have been several elevated yogis claiming to be the
        > reincarnations of Ramakrishna Paramahamsa. They may all have genuinely
        > believed it and not trying to deceive anyone. If one's mind nurtured a
        > secret desire to be somebody important and if one likes Ramakrishna, it
        > is possible to experience an internal vision suggesting that one is a
        > reincarnation of Ramakrishna.
        >
        > Let me give a subtler example. I was once discussing the meaning of
        > "Mantra Pushpam" here (see
        > http://groups.yahoo.com/group/vedic-wisdom/message/7015). A learned yogi
        > wrote to me that it was about denser elements dissolving in lighter
        > elements as Kundalini ascends and denser elements coming back from
        > lighter elements as Kundalini descends. When I pointed out weaknesses in
        > that interpretation, he told me that that was the *vision* (internal
        > experience) he got when he meditated with it. However, that absolutely
        > does not add up. What is described in Mantra Pushpam is not chain of X
        > merging in Y, Y merging in Z, etc. Moreover, all elements are not
        > covered. Moreover, water is common, i.e. X lies in water, water lies in
        > X; Y lies in water, water lies in Y, and so on. That is different from
        > dissolution and creation of elements as happens when Kundalini ascends
        > and descends.
        >
        > However, I can believe that that yogi may have indeed gotten the vision
        > as he claimed. When one looks at a verse (or any other notion or idea),
        > one's rational mind may consciously or sub-consciously come up with an
        > intellectual understanding. If an imaginative and focused mind meditates
        > then, it may indeed experience a corresponding vision! It is all a play
        > of mind and of no significance. Not every internal experience of even an
        > elevated yogi who genuinely experienced aspects of divine (but not yet
        > liberated) may mean something.
        >
        > Knowing which internal experience is a result of some conditioning, some
        > desire or some rational/emotional notion still present in the mind, is
        > not easy, even for good and sincere sadhakas.
        >
        > * * *
        >
        > External and internal experiences cannot be avoided as one does sadhana.
        > Depending on one's conditioning, one may experience many things.
        >
        > Whether an experience is external or internal is not IMHO the main
        > thing. Both can be useful in some cases and increase faith and
        > confidence or give clarity of thinking, and trigger positive internal
        > transformation. Both can be detrimental in some cases and increase pride
        > or reinforce some wrong notions, and delay positive internal
        > transformation or even trigger negative internal transformation.
        >
        > Vasishtha's guidance is very clear. Neither seek nor avoid experiences
        > (which are like roadside trees as one travels on a hilly road to the top
        > of the hill). Keep the mind focused on sadhana to the best of your
        > ability.
        >
        > Though I said it before, I will say this again, because it is worth
        > saying many times:
        >
        > The only worthwhile measure of spiritual progress and the only
        > experience worth longing is the internal experience of detachment. If
        > one experiences less stress in situations that would've stressed one
        > before, if one experiences less anger in situations that would've
        > angered one before, if one experiences less lust in situations that
        > would've made one lusty before, if one experiences less jealosy in
        > situations that would've made one jealous before, and so on, then one is
        > making progress.
        >
        > Best regards,
        > Narasimha
        > -------------------------------------------------------------------
        > Free Jyotish Software, Free Jyotish Lessons, Jyotish Writings,
        > "Do It Yourself" ritual manuals for short Homam and Pitri Tarpana:
        > http://www.VedicAstrologer.org
        > Films that make a difference: http://SaraswatiFilms.org
        > Spirituality: http://groups.yahoo.com/group/vedic-wisdom
        > Jyotish writings: http://groups.yahoo.com/group/JyotishWritings
        > Twitter ID: @homam108
        > -------------------------------------------------------------------
        >
        >
        > On Thu, May 10, 2012 at 2:57 PM, rajarshi14 wrote:
        >
        > Three stages of sadhana, as I see it. Purely my own observations. Not
        > points of debate. Everyone is free to disagree.
        >
        > 1st stage of Sadhana: Try out scoops of everything, hanging on to
        > solicited or unsolicited advice from anywhere and everwhere, and
        > eventually moving in confused circles, feeling proud and happy about the
        > fact that, yes I am doing something called sadhana while many others are
        > not. The mind lies in the communal stage (communal = anyone one who
        > mentally identifies to a community not necessarily in a religious
        > sense), trying to find a community of similar minded individuals and
        > hang on to the same in a subconscious attempt to define itself.
        >
        > 2nd stage of Sadhana: Get bits and pieces of "experiences" in an
        > external format which the mind correlates to the process of sadhana and
        > either feels happy, or dejected. Soon it gets boring, for none of these
        > so called external "experiences" are consistent or even replicable at
        > will. Doubts start creeping, boredom sets in, confusions galore, and
        > some fall back to stage 1 described above.
        >
        > 3rd stage: One realizes the absolute futility of the external
        > experiences compared to what is happening inside, if at all anything is
        > happening. Until a transformation process triggers inside the mind, all
        > of it is meaningless. The external world may crack open and 33 millions
        > deities may dance infornt, yet it eventually counts for nothing if it is
        > not able to still the "monkey-mind" and make the sadhaka enjoy a
        > concentrated feeling of internal joy. This joy will overflow into other
        > secular activities and thoughts, it's so powerful and dynamic in nature.
        > One who is firmly established in this stage, will never bother too much
        > about the external ritual, its source, its accuracy etc. He/she does not
        > shun external rituals, but he/she realizes that the real barometer for
        > judging the efficacy of a sadhana is inside the mind and heart. This is
        > the beginning of the "alone" phase. Alone, but not lonely. In loneliness
        > one craves for external validation, in being alone one needs no
        > validation apart from his/her own joy.
        >
        > As such, if this person were to meet another sadhaka, the only worthy
        > information he/she will try to extract is what has the other person
        > experienced internally, and be least bothered about what path he/she
        > walks and which deity he/she is trying to worship. Fancy names and
        > theoretical classifications do not impress him/her anymore.
        >
        > From here starts the real journey. Before that, stage 1 and stage 2 is
        > like a kindergarten attitude. So each sadhaka must ask himself/herself
        > objective, where does he/she stand and where is he/she headed!
        >
      • Chandra Prakash
        Namaste, Thank you! Although I do not have any personal thoughts to share, Swami Krishnananda has penned some nice thoughts on this topic.
        Message 3 of 5 , May 16, 2012
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          Namaste,

          Thank you!

          Although I do not have any personal thoughts to share, Swami Krishnananda has penned some nice thoughts on this topic.

          http://www.swami-krishnananda.org/upanishad/upan_14.html

          Neat thing is that one can also listen to it (left hand corner on the webpage: "listen")

          A nice website, in general with a lot of e-books and audio/video lectures.


          --- On Sat, 5/12/12, Narasimha PVR Rao <pvr@...> wrote:

          From: Narasimha PVR Rao <pvr@...>
          Subject: [vedic-wisdom] RE: Stages of Sadhana
          To: vedic-wisdom@yahoogroups.com
          Date: Saturday, May 12, 2012, 11:00 AM

           

          Namaste Rajarshi,
           
          What you are describing is essentially evolution of gunas. What you call first stage is dominated by tamas, with some rajas too. What you call the second stage is dominated by rajas, with some tamas too. What you call the third stage is dominated by satta, with some rajas too.
           
          This can be further broken down as follows:
           
          (1) Mostly tamas: Does not think about spiritual sadhana or progress. May fear god and go to temple or see/do poojas now and then.
          (2) Mostly tamas, with some rajas: Engages in some sadhana. But the ignorance and attachments bring fears, worries, anxieties, doubts etc. As tamas reduces and rajas increases, doubts and fears are allayed to some extent, some direction is found and there is more focused effort.
          (3) Mostly rajas, some tamas: Engages in a lot of sadhana, but still has some misconceptions and doubts in mind. As tamas reduces, doubts and misconceptions reduce.
          (4) Mostly rajas, some sattwa: Engages in a lot of sadhana and focus and clarity of thinking starts to set in. As sattwa increases, one's thinking, vision and focus become clearer.
          (5) Mostly sattwa, some rajas: Weaknesses that troubled earlier start to trouble less and there is mental clarity. There is still some passion, attachment and resultant internal stress (i.e. resisting divine will or the fruits of previous karmas), which reduces as rajas reduces.
          (6) Mostly sattwa: Clear vision, nice focus of mind in sadhana, very good acceptance of divine will (fruits of previous karmas) and flowing with the divine rhythm.
           
          There can be several other abstractions to look at stages in sadhana. Vasishtha describes some in Yoga Vaasishtham.
           
          *        *        *
           
          One important thing to note is that sadhana and spiritual progress are not something to flaunt. If one is in stage 2 or 3, it is nothing to be ashamed of and one need not pretend otherwise. The most important thing is to be honest internally. If there are doubts and anxieties, there is no point in suppressing them. They should be addressed in the earnest. A proper and natural evolution of understanding comes with time to everyone. Pretensions of being someone one is not and forceful suppression of misunderstandings does not help in the long run.
           
          Secondly, one need not spend a fixed amount of time in each stage. Some people make fast progress and some people take more time. If God wills, one can become liberated in a second. So don't worry wherever you are in terms of these "stages".
           
          *        *        *
           
          BTW, what you say of "external experiences" applies to "internal experiences" as well. After all, mind (especially an imaginative one) is capable of "manufacturing" over time whatever it fancies. Some experiences can be hallucinations. Even when not, they can reinforce some unneeded conditioning. I am not just talking about beginners, but even highly evolved sadhakas.
           
          For example, there have been several elevated yogis claiming to be the reincarnations of Ramakrishna Paramahamsa. They may all have genuinely believed it and not trying to deceive anyone. If one's mind nurtured a secret desire to be somebody important and if one likes Ramakrishna, it is possible to experience an internal vision suggesting that one is a reincarnation of Ramakrishna.
           
          Let me give a subtler example. I was once discussing the meaning of "Mantra Pushpam" here (see http://groups.yahoo.com/group/vedic-wisdom/message/7015). A learned yogi wrote to me that it was about denser elements dissolving in lighter elements as Kundalini ascends and denser elements coming back from lighter elements as Kundalini descends. When I pointed out weaknesses in that interpretation, he told me that that was the *vision* (internal experience) he got when he meditated with it. However, that absolutely does not add up. What is described in Mantra Pushpam is not chain of X merging in Y, Y merging in Z, etc. Moreover, all elements are not covered. Moreover, water is common, i.e. X lies in water, water lies in X; Y lies in water, water lies in Y, and so on. That is different from dissolution and creation of elements as happens when Kundalini ascends and descends.
           
          However, I can believe that that yogi may have indeed gotten the vision as he claimed. When one looks at a verse (or any other notion or idea), one's rational mind may consciously or sub-consciously come up with an intellectual understanding. If an imaginative and focused mind meditates then, it may indeed experience a corresponding vision! It is all a play of mind and of no significance. Not every internal experience of even an elevated yogi who genuinely experienced aspects of divine (but not yet liberated) may mean something.
           
          Knowing which internal experience is a result of some conditioning, some desire or some rational/emotional notion still present in the mind, is not easy, even for good and sincere sadhakas.
           
          *        *        *
           
          External and internal experiences cannot be avoided as one does sadhana. Depending on one's conditioning, one may experience many things.
           
          Whether an experience is external or internal is not IMHO the main thing. Both can be useful in some cases and increase faith and confidence or give clarity of thinking, and trigger positive internal transformation. Both can be detrimental in some cases and increase pride or reinforce some wrong notions, and delay positive internal transformation or even trigger negative internal transformation.
           
          Vasishtha's guidance is very clear. Neither seek nor avoid experiences (which are like roadside trees as one travels on a hilly road to the top of the hill). Keep the mind focused on sadhana to the best of your ability.
           
          Though I said it before, I will say this again, because it is worth saying many times:
           
          The only worthwhile measure of spiritual progress and the only experience worth longing is the internal experience of detachment. If one experiences less stress in situations that would've stressed one before, if one experiences less anger in situations that would've angered one before, if one experiences less lust in situations that would've made one lusty before, if one experiences less jealosy in situations that would've made one jealous before, and so on, then one is making progress.
           
          Best regards,
          Narasimha
          -------------------------------------------------------------------
            Free Jyotish Software, Free Jyotish Lessons, Jyotish Writings,
          "Do It Yourself" ritual manuals for short Homam and Pitri Tarpana:
                            http://www.VedicAstrologer.org
               Films that make a difference: http://SaraswatiFilms.org
               Spirituality: http://groups.yahoo.com/group/vedic-wisdom
            Jyotish writings: http://groups.yahoo.com/group/JyotishWritings
                               Twitter ID: @homam108
          -------------------------------------------------------------------
           
           
          On Thu, May 10, 2012 at 2:57 PM, rajarshi14 wrote:

          Three stages of sadhana, as I see it. Purely my own observations. Not points of debate. Everyone is free to disagree.

          1st stage of Sadhana: Try out scoops of everything, hanging on to solicited or unsolicited advice from anywhere and everwhere, and eventually moving in confused circles, feeling proud and happy about the fact that, yes I am doing something called sadhana while many others are not. The mind lies in the communal stage (communal = anyone one who mentally identifies to a community not necessarily in a religious sense), trying to find a community of similar minded individuals and hang on to the same in a subconscious attempt to define itself.

          2nd stage of Sadhana: Get bits and pieces of "experiences" in an external format which the mind correlates to the process of sadhana and either feels happy, or dejected. Soon it gets boring, for none of these so called external "experiences" are consistent or even replicable at will. Doubts start creeping, boredom sets in, confusions galore, and some fall back to stage 1 described above.

          3rd stage: One realizes the absolute futility of the external experiences compared to what is happening inside, if at all anything is happening. Until a transformation process triggers inside the mind, all of it is meaningless. The external world may crack open and 33 millions deities may dance infornt, yet it eventually counts for nothing if it is not able to still the "monkey-mind" and make the sadhaka enjoy a concentrated feeling of internal joy. This joy will overflow into other secular activities and thoughts, it's so powerful and dynamic in nature. One who is firmly established in this stage, will never bother too much about the external ritual, its source, its accuracy etc. He/she does not shun external rituals, but he/she realizes that the real barometer for judging the efficacy of a sadhana is inside the mind and heart. This is the beginning of the "alone" phase. Alone, but not lonely. In loneliness one craves for external validation, in being alone one needs no validation apart from his/her own joy.

          As such, if this person were to meet another sadhaka, the only worthy information he/she will try to extract is what has the other person experienced internally, and be least bothered about what path he/she walks and which deity he/she is trying to worship. Fancy names and theoretical classifications do not impress him/her anymore.

          From here starts the real journey. Before that, stage 1 and stage 2 is like a kindergarten attitude. So each sadhaka must ask himself/herself objective, where does he/she stand and where is he/she headed!
        • rajarshi nandy
          Dear Narasimha, Your are right. The evolution of gunas makes logical sense.
          Message 4 of 5 , May 18, 2012
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            Dear Narasimha,

            Your are right. The evolution of gunas makes logical sense.

            <<BTW, what you say of "external experiences" applies to "internal experiences" as well. After all, mind (especially an imaginative one) is capable of "manufacturing" over time whatever it fancies. Some experiences can be hallucinations. Even when not, they can reinforce some unneeded conditioning. I am not just talking about beginners, but even highly evolved sadhakas.>>

            One more delusion that many sadhakas face is the belief that they are somehow special, and therefore they know more. Maybe they prayed for xyz and it happened and that reinforces a subtle and sometimes not-so-subtle ego that they are indeed something! What they probably fail to realize is that, anyone who has done some sufficient sadhana, and gone to some depth would invariable have experienced some similar and/or apparently miraculous things, irrespective of the path or the deity. As a parameter for judgement spiritual depth, it does not mean much.

            -Regards
             Rajarshi
             
            Bazeecha-e-atfal hain duniya mere aage.
            Hota hain shab-o-roz tamasha mere aage
             
            Ek khel hain aurang-e-sulemaan mere nazdeek
            Ek baat hain ijaz-e-masiah mere aage.


            From: Narasimha PVR Rao <pvr@...>
            To: vedic-wisdom@yahoogroups.com
            Sent: Saturday, 12 May 2012 8:30 PM
            Subject: [vedic-wisdom] RE: Stages of Sadhana

             
            Namaste Rajarshi,
             
            What you are describing is essentially evolution of gunas. What you call first stage is dominated by tamas, with some rajas too. What you call the second stage is dominated by rajas, with some tamas too. What you call the third stage is dominated by satta, with some rajas too.
             
            This can be further broken down as follows:
             
            (1) Mostly tamas: Does not think about spiritual sadhana or progress. May fear god and go to temple or see/do poojas now and then.
            (2) Mostly tamas, with some rajas: Engages in some sadhana. But the ignorance and attachments bring fears, worries, anxieties, doubts etc. As tamas reduces and rajas increases, doubts and fears are allayed to some extent, some direction is found and there is more focused effort.
            (3) Mostly rajas, some tamas: Engages in a lot of sadhana, but still has some misconceptions and doubts in mind. As tamas reduces, doubts and misconceptions reduce.
            (4) Mostly rajas, some sattwa: Engages in a lot of sadhana and focus and clarity of thinking starts to set in. As sattwa increases, one's thinking, vision and focus become clearer.
            (5) Mostly sattwa, some rajas: Weaknesses that troubled earlier start to trouble less and there is mental clarity. There is still some passion, attachment and resultant internal stress (i.e. resisting divine will or the fruits of previous karmas), which reduces as rajas reduces.
            (6) Mostly sattwa: Clear vision, nice focus of mind in sadhana, very good acceptance of divine will (fruits of previous karmas) and flowing with the divine rhythm.
             
            There can be several other abstractions to look at stages in sadhana. Vasishtha describes some in Yoga Vaasishtham.
             
            *        *        *
             
            One important thing to note is that sadhana and spiritual progress are not something to flaunt. If one is in stage 2 or 3, it is nothing to be ashamed of and one need not pretend otherwise. The most important thing is to be honest internally. If there are doubts and anxieties, there is no point in suppressing them. They should be addressed in the earnest. A proper and natural evolution of understanding comes with time to everyone. Pretensions of being someone one is not and forceful suppression of misunderstandings does not help in the long run.
             
            Secondly, one need not spend a fixed amount of time in each stage. Some people make fast progress and some people take more time. If God wills, one can become liberated in a second. So don't worry wherever you are in terms of these "stages".
             
            *        *        *
             
            BTW, what you say of "external experiences" applies to "internal experiences" as well. After all, mind (especially an imaginative one) is capable of "manufacturing" over time whatever it fancies. Some experiences can be hallucinations. Even when not, they can reinforce some unneeded conditioning. I am not just talking about beginners, but even highly evolved sadhakas.
             
            For example, there have been several elevated yogis claiming to be the reincarnations of Ramakrishna Paramahamsa. They may all have genuinely believed it and not trying to deceive anyone. If one's mind nurtured a secret desire to be somebody important and if one likes Ramakrishna, it is possible to experience an internal vision suggesting that one is a reincarnation of Ramakrishna.
             
            Let me give a subtler example. I was once discussing the meaning of "Mantra Pushpam" here (see http://groups.yahoo.com/group/vedic-wisdom/message/7015). A learned yogi wrote to me that it was about denser elements dissolving in lighter elements as Kundalini ascends and denser elements coming back from lighter elements as Kundalini descends. When I pointed out weaknesses in that interpretation, he told me that that was the *vision* (internal experience) he got when he meditated with it. However, that absolutely does not add up. What is described in Mantra Pushpam is not chain of X merging in Y, Y merging in Z, etc. Moreover, all elements are not covered. Moreover, water is common, i.e. X lies in water, water lies in X; Y lies in water, water lies in Y, and so on. That is different from dissolution and creation of elements as happens when Kundalini ascends and descends.
             
            However, I can believe that that yogi may have indeed gotten the vision as he claimed. When one looks at a verse (or any other notion or idea), one's rational mind may consciously or sub-consciously come up with an intellectual understanding. If an imaginative and focused mind meditates then, it may indeed experience a corresponding vision! It is all a play of mind and of no significance. Not every internal experience of even an elevated yogi who genuinely experienced aspects of divine (but not yet liberated) may mean something.
             
            Knowing which internal experience is a result of some conditioning, some desire or some rational/emotional notion still present in the mind, is not easy, even for good and sincere sadhakas.
             
            *        *        *
             
            External and internal experiences cannot be avoided as one does sadhana. Depending on one's conditioning, one may experience many things.
             
            Whether an experience is external or internal is not IMHO the main thing. Both can be useful in some cases and increase faith and confidence or give clarity of thinking, and trigger positive internal transformation. Both can be detrimental in some cases and increase pride or reinforce some wrong notions, and delay positive internal transformation or even trigger negative internal transformation.
             
            Vasishtha's guidance is very clear. Neither seek nor avoid experiences (which are like roadside trees as one travels on a hilly road to the top of the hill). Keep the mind focused on sadhana to the best of your ability.
             
            Though I said it before, I will say this again, because it is worth saying many times:
             
            The only worthwhile measure of spiritual progress and the only experience worth longing is the internal experience of detachment. If one experiences less stress in situations that would've stressed one before, if one experiences less anger in situations that would've angered one before, if one experiences less lust in situations that would've made one lusty before, if one experiences less jealosy in situations that would've made one jealous before, and so on, then one is making progress.
             
            Best regards,
            Narasimha
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            On Thu, May 10, 2012 at 2:57 PM, rajarshi14 wrote:

            Three stages of sadhana, as I see it. Purely my own observations. Not points of debate. Everyone is free to disagree.

            1st stage of Sadhana: Try out scoops of everything, hanging on to solicited or unsolicited advice from anywhere and everwhere, and eventually moving in confused circles, feeling proud and happy about the fact that, yes I am doing something called sadhana while many others are not. The mind lies in the communal stage (communal = anyone one who mentally identifies to a community not necessarily in a religious sense), trying to find a community of similar minded individuals and hang on to the same in a subconscious attempt to define itself.

            2nd stage of Sadhana: Get bits and pieces of "experiences" in an external format which the mind correlates to the process of sadhana and either feels happy, or dejected. Soon it gets boring, for none of these so called external "experiences" are consistent or even replicable at will. Doubts start creeping, boredom sets in, confusions galore, and some fall back to stage 1 described above.

            3rd stage: One realizes the absolute futility of the external experiences compared to what is happening inside, if at all anything is happening. Until a transformation process triggers inside the mind, all of it is meaningless. The external world may crack open and 33 millions deities may dance infornt, yet it eventually counts for nothing if it is not able to still the "monkey-mind" and make the sadhaka enjoy a concentrated feeling of internal joy. This joy will overflow into other secular activities and thoughts, it's so powerful and dynamic in nature. One who is firmly established in this stage, will never bother too much about the external ritual, its source, its accuracy etc. He/she does not shun external rituals, but he/she realizes that the real barometer for judging the efficacy of a sadhana is inside the mind and heart. This is the beginning of the "alone" phase. Alone, but not lonely. In loneliness one craves for external validation, in being alone one needs no validation apart from his/her own joy.

            As such, if this person were to meet another sadhaka, the only worthy information he/she will try to extract is what has the other person experienced internally, and be least bothered about what path he/she walks and which deity he/she is trying to worship. Fancy names and theoretical classifications do not impress him/her anymore.

            From here starts the real journey. Before that, stage 1 and stage 2 is like a kindergarten attitude. So each sadhaka must ask himself/herself objective, where does he/she stand and where is he/she headed!


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