“All meditation techniques work for what it is they are designed to do. Contemplative techniques are not designed to create transcendence, but sometimes, inadvertently, because they’re tiring, they do create transcendence.”Thom Knoles
Regular listeners know already that the power of Vedic Meditation lies in the ability to allow transcendence. But is it the only way? And how do you know if you’ve transcended?
Prompted by a question from a listener, Thom takes a brief look at other meditation techniques and compares them to Vedic Meditation with respect to transcendence.
He also explains the clues the experience leaves to allow us to conclude that transcendence has taken place.
While meditation can have many functions, we have a choice between a technique that is specifically designed to help us transcend, or other ‘tiring ways’ which are designed for other purposes but may result in occasional transcendence.
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Q – Is Vedic Meditation the Only Meditation Technique That Allows Transcendence?
A – Other Meditation Techniques
The Mind is Thinking, Thinking, Thinking
Creating the Moment of Bliss
Many Tiring Ways of Transcending
Less Volume of Thought
Mantra is Here
Mantra is Not Here
This is Transcendence
I Must Have Transcended
Jai Guru Deva
[00:45] Q – Is Vedic Meditation the Only Meditation Technique That Allows Transcendence?
Thom, I’m fairly new to Vedic Meditation and would like to hear your answer to the following question. How do I know if I have transcended, and is Vedic Meditation the only type of meditation that produces the effect of transcendence? Do Buddhist techniques, mindfulness techniques also cause the meditator to transcend?
[01:10] A – Other Meditation Techniques
Let’s deal with the second part of your very worthy question first. Do other techniques also cause transcendence to occur, and is Vedic Meditation the only way to experience transcendence? We’ll dive into that one first.
There are many, many techniques of meditation in the world. Probably hundreds, if not thousands, ways of doing something, either eyes open or eyes closed, which is designed to change your experience.
And so then the word meditation, is in a sense, a kind of misnomer for the technique that we refer to as Vedic Meditation. We call it meditation because it gives people the accurate understanding that you’re going to sit in a chair and close your eyes and do something different.
But when we look up the definition of the word meditation, we see that it means a thought process. And in this practice, we’re not actually intentionally engaging in a regular thought process. All meditation techniques work for the purpose for which the technique was designed.
Contemplative techniques, and this will include almost all of that, which is taught under the name of Buddhism, whether actually, it was something the historic Buddha taught or not, we’ll leave that question to a later date.
My bias is that no, the Buddha was teaching what we’re teaching. Nonetheless, that which has become known as Buddhism largely falls into the category of contemplative techniques. And they all work.
[03:06] The Mind is Thinking, Thinking, Thinking
What does contemplation mean? You think about thinking. You think about not thinking. You think about your role in the evolution of everything and your place in the Universe. You think about cascades of cause and effect. You think about space and time. You think about things.
These are thought inducement techniques. We induce thought, and they work. They really do induce thought. Do they cause transcendence? The mind is thinking, thinking, thinking, thinking, and if you’re practicing one of those methods that involves you closing your eyes, then you’re there thinking, thinking, “What am I. What is the universe? What’s my relationship in the universe? What is time anyway? What is the human condition?
“What are the relationships between these thoughts and the Knower? What’s the relationship between the Knower or the Knowing and the Known? What does it mean when you think of the word Kaivalya from Sanskrit? Let’s examine all of the meaning of it…”
The mind thinking, thinking, thinking, thinking, and the mind starts feeling a little bit tired, and the mind’s thinking, thinking, thinking, and then a little bit of sleepiness starts to come over you and you’re thinking, thinking, thinking, forcing the mind to continue to think, and your eyes are closed, and you’re sitting in the chair, and you’re thinking, thinking, thinking, and then eventually you feel, “Oh, I’ll, I’ll stop thinking any moment.”
[04:24] Creating the Moment of Bliss
And you get into that moment where inadvertently you go into sleep onset. The thoughts become very abstract, a little dream-like. You forget that you’re practicing your contemplation technique. And then there’s a moment. A moment where thought evaporates, and there’s the unboundedness.
But this unboundedness was extracurricular. It wasn’t intended. It was an innocent, unintended byproduct of perhaps hours and hours of rather exhausting the mind. Mind became exhausted by the process of the contemplative technique, and it fell into, inadvertently fell into, a moment of transcendence. From this, one gets great encouragement.
“The technique that I practiced created a moment of bliss, a moment of complete expanded awareness, a moment where the Knower, the Knowing, and the Known all merged together into one knowingness, and I was in absolute supreme contentedness. Let me do it again.”
And so then you start again. “What is my role in the evolution of the Universe? What do I think about this? What do I think about that? What’s my relationship with other humans? What other humans anyway? There’s the I. There’s the Knower. There’s the me.”
There’s, “I’m not this. I’m not that I’m actually not the body. I’m this. I’m that.” And then hours and hours and hours of the internal contemplative chatter, and thinking, thinking, thinking, thinking, thinking. And then once again, inadvertently just after some sleep onset, falling for a moment into the bliss.
[06:19] Many Tiring Ways of Transcending
We can, through other techniques that require effort, inadvertently transcend for a moment. But the technique’s not designed actually to do that, though it’s achieving it somehow. It’s achieving it, but it is arduous. It’s arduous.
See, we don’t deny that there are many tiring ways of transcending. There must be many tiring ways. If I’m in New York City and I want to go to Los Angeles, I could walk to Los Angeles 3,000 miles, but by the time I get to Los Angeles, I’m practically dead and gone. Or I can ride the bicycle, or I can take a motor car, or I can take a nonstop jet flight.
There’s so many ways of getting from New York to Los Angeles. So many tiring ways. And then there is this really comfortable way. You sit in a comfortable chair, and it takes off, and you have a meal and maybe watch a little movie and converse with your neighbor for a minute or two, and time goes by in a jiffy, and next thing you’re landing in Los Angeles.
That’s our way. The nonstop jet flight to transcendence. All techniques work for what it is they’re designed to do. Contemplative techniques are not designed to create transcendence, but sometimes, inadvertently, because they’re tiring, they do create transcendence.
[08:05] Cognitive Processes
Transcendence then, let’s get back to the initial part of your question. Transcendence is a state where consciousness stands alone. Consciousness normally is that which is the invisible producer of thoughts, thought after thought after thought after thought.
Cognitive scientists are convinced that somewhere between 60,000 to a hundred thousand individual cognitive processes occur in a day. What is a cognitive process? Well, a thought, a memory, a desire, some kind of thinking process.
Someone may say, with a degree of legitimacy, “The environment makes me think.” All right. We’ll say that the environment could be the cause of thoughts, but the environment doesn’t do the thinking.
Though, it may be the stimulus, the cause, the environment is not the source of thought. Thoughts come from within. Whatever it is you’re stimulated to think, it’s your consciousness that experiences the thinking.
Thoughts bubble up, as it were from deep within. Sixty thousand to a hundred thousand thought forms in a given day, tremendous amounts of thought forms arising in the mind in a given day.
Every thought is a stream of energy and intelligence. Energy we know thought has because thought is a process, and all processes require energy. Thought has intelligence in it; we know because thought discriminates, it differentiates.
A thought is about a specific thing. It is not simply a random explosion of energy in all directions. So, energy and intelligence, 60,000 to a hundred thousand streams of energy and intelligence rising in the consciousness every day.
[10:28] Less Volume of Thought
What is the fountainhead of all of that? Where’s all that coming from? There is a layer, a stratum, a level; deep inside the active mind, there’s a quiet place. And that quiet place is the fountainhead of all the thoughts, the source of thought. It’s the source, the source of thought must be an infinite reservoir of creative intelligence and energy, given that all thoughts come from there.
And so we would like to see if it is possible for the Knower inside, and you are the Knower, to let the activity of thinking become less and less voluminous, less volume of thought, to see if the mind could, your mind, could experience a moment where it doesn’t think. And we commence our technique of Vedic Meditation.
[11:40] Mantra is Here
In Vedic Meditation, as we make use of a particular kind of mantra, a Bija mantra; Bija in Sanskrit means a seed. A seed is something that can germinate. We make use of a Bija mantra, and we allow the mind innocently, effortlessly to repeat the mantra for as long as it is effortless to do so, and the mantra, then spontaneously by its nature, by its property, will become subtler, fainter, quieter, softer, and this increasing subtlety of the mantra with each pulsation of it, will be a little more charming than the previous pulsation of it. It charms the mind.
And our mind is very susceptible to charm because our mind’s natural inbuilt tendency always is to move from something that is less charming to something that is more charming. This is the nature of the mind, effortless movement from lesser charm to greater charm.
And here’s the mantra, greater charm, and even more subtle now and even greater charm now, and even more subtle, with the next pulsation of it, and even greater charm.
And there comes a point where we feel as though, “Any moment now, unless I use effort, and my teacher tells me not to use effort, this mantra is going to just disappear.”
[13:12] Mantra is Not Here
And the instruction is there vibrant in our awareness from our teacher. “If you feel anytime you’re beginning to forget to repeat the mantra, do not try to persist in repeating it. Don’t try to keep on remembering it. Let it go.”
And because that was there, then spontaneously one, let’s go. And then what? The next thing it occurs to you, “Oh. That’s right. I’m meditating. Oh, mantra is not here, but hold on for a moment. Mantra’s not here. That means I have to come back to my mantra. But wasn’t I thinking the mantra the last time I checked? I was thinking the mantra. And now mantra’s gone.
“Was there any thought that occurred between that and now? I don’t think there was a thought. What was that? What was that state? That state of no mantra and no thought. I’ve just emerged from someplace. I don’t know what was going on.
“But I do know the last thing I was doing was thinking my mantra. And now, suddenly, I have to come back to the mantra. I have to come back to it again, but I can’t recall anything else having replaced it. What was that then?”
[14:40] This is Transcendence
That was transcendence. Transcendence is not a taste, a touch, a smell, a sight, or a sound. It is not a relative sensory experience. It is the absence of all experience. It’s the absence of all perception.
It is the absence of anything memorable. “I was evidently awake inside because my head is still upright.” And what happens if you fall asleep? Your head falls. You remember that from high school.
“My head is still upright. And yet I can’t recall what I was just now experiencing. It wasn’t the mantra because I’m coming back to that. But I can’t recall any thoughts having been there either.”
This is transcendence. This is transcendence. And along with that, having emerged from transcendence, you see here, transcendence is not a thing I can decide that I am in while I’m in it. I can’t be in that absolute, unmanifest, thought-free state of Being and have a reckoning that says, “This is the absolute, innocent, thought-free state of Being” because that’s a thought, and that thought may be the first thought that you have upon coming out of it, but you can’t have that thought while you’re in it.
[16:20] Implicit Bliss
Transcendence is a thought-free, reckoning-free state, but the after effect of it is very tangible. The body absolutely still. Awareness of where the edges of the body are, or where the hands are very often, completely, “I don’t know where anything is, body hands, anything.” The mind feels very content — content just to be, not to have to generate any thoughts.
And the heart rate is very low. You can tell that. Your body is deeply, deeply rested. Far more rested than sleep, and you’re conscious of it, and it feels great. And the blissful-ness, therefore, is there, but the bliss of transcendence is not blissful. It’s stillness.
It is supreme inner contentedness. And this is why consciousness in that state does not generate thoughts. It doesn’t generate thoughts for a moment because the bliss saturation level is so great.
The mind cannot conceive of anything which, if you were to experience it, would be better than this. And therefore, the mind simply does not generate a thought. It’s intrinsic bliss. It’s implicit bliss.
Implicit bliss means we can apply, we can infer, that it must be bliss because we’re conscious, and yet we can’t recall what we were thinking.
[18:09] I Must Have Transcended
Time evidently has passed.
If I were to peek at my watch, after what seemed to be a very deep moment of meditation and more time had gone by than I can account for, “Maybe I was thinking this for a little while. I was doing the mantra for a little while. I was doing that…” and all of that adds up to a certain number of minutes, and yet a larger number of minutes seems to have passed on my watch than all those things account for. And I don’t think I was asleep because I’m sitting upright and my head didn’t fall down. I didn’t fall over in the chair.
So we can infer that must have been the bliss state. It must have been. And the deep, the deep, restful feeling in the body, the feeling of satisfaction, feeling of contentedness is there. These would be the byproducts that would tell us that must have happened.
We learned from Plato, “Inference is a very valid means of gaining knowledge.”
Inference. Inference means, in this case it means, “Though I can’t say directly that I had thoughts about being silent while I was silent, the fact that I feel the way I feel, and all the things that led up to it, and the fact that I was conscious and the fact that I was doing my mantra, then it must have stopped because I had to come back to it. It wasn’t there, but I can’t recall any other thing having replaced it…” all of these things, from these things, we can infer, “I must have transcended. Must have.”
And then we take that as it comes and continue with our practice on that basis.
Jai Guru Deva.