Dhyana — The Meditative State

Yoga Sutras, Chapter 3 on Raja Yoga (Royal Union) continued.

Last week:
III:1  Concentration (dharana) is the binding of the mind-stuff (chitta) to one place.

This week:
III:2  When definitely established with certainty in that one place, concentration (dharana) becomes meditation (dhyana).

The word dhyana refers to a true state of meditation, not just sitting like a pretzel and trying to make your mind shut up, or listening to ringing bowls, or sitting in the silence, as if there were nothing to know or learn about meditation.

Dhyana is a Sanskrit term that means “meditation.” The true state of meditation is a result of yoga sadhana, the regular practice of yoga. Yoga not only means union with God, but is the means of attaining union with God.

Look at this chart of the eight limbs of yoga as presented by the great sage, Patanjali, in his Yoga Sutras. You will notice that meditation (dhyana) is nearly last in the sequence, yet we westerners presume to begin here, unaware (or ignoring) that there is actually something to be learned and which must take place before true meditation can begin. Of the eight limbs, meditation is number seven:

Dhyana is a true meditative state that, as you will see as we go along, is not all that different from the highly sought-after samadhi. Everything that comes before meditation is what makes meditation not only possible, but effective. What do I mean by “effective”? I mean that true meditation will take you to samadhi and ultimately, to the end of all your troubles, freedom, fulfillment and endless joy. (Was there something else you wanted?)

Yoga, Meditation and Samadhi are Synonymous Terms

In the practice of meditation, initially the control of the physical senses is achieved through meditation with movement. As meditation evolves, the control of the mind is attained by means of meditation in which there is no movement. In this meditation, the mind is concentrated—the chitta is concentrated, bound to one thing, one place, as described in the sutras above. This is the natural order of the development of meditation to its maturity.

The mature state of meditation is samadhi, a state of super-conscious bliss in which the mind gets dissolved into nature, prakrti, the first cause, the original source of nature as we know it. The chief role of meditation is to bring about samadhi, which can be only be achieved through meditation.

A mind dissolved into nature becomes non-mind, devoid of any change. This changeless state ensures eternal happiness, peace and joy, and one becomes free from the duality of pleasure and pain, the final relief from all miseries. This is salvation, liberation, the end product of yoga.

The purification of the body and mind come to one through regular practice, but this alone is not enough. Once this task begins, one must be constantly on the alert to see that no new impurities creep in. Yama and niyama (restraints and observances) are aids to this, and help to make the journey simpler. If they are neglected, obstacles crop up and have to be removed. To save time and energy, one resorts to yama and niyama.

There are several yamas and several niyamas, but Patanjali has conveniently narrowed them down to five yamas and five niyamas most suited to yoga sadhana (whew!).

Next week, we’ll have a look at…SAMADHI.

Durga Ma

Learn how to understand and use the yamas and niyamas in, Ten Keys to Success (scroll down the page).

Learn to teach this course and others through Meditation Teacher Training & Certification.  View Curriculum-At-A-Glance to see what your options are.

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