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  • Writer's pictureDipanshu

1.43 Emptiness


Smrtiparishudhau svaroopashoonyeva-arthamaatranirbhaasaa nirvitarkaa

स्मृतिपरिशुद्धौ स्वरुपशून्येवार्थमात्रनिर्भासा निर्वितर्का॥१.४३॥

smr̥tipariśuddhau svaru̅paśu̅nyeva̅rthama̅tranirbha̅sa̅ nirvitarka̅||1.43||

When the memory is purified, the mind becomes devoid of its self-awareness, and only the object remains illuminated, this is Nirvitarka.

“Know that any situation, any person can change at any time.”

_Gurudev Sri Sri Ravi Shankar

Yoga Sutras of Patanjali | Chapter 1 - Samadhi Pada | Verse 43 | Commentary

For a large part, our impressions in the memory are the basis of our identity. We identify ourselves as a gender, as a relation, as a position, as a title, etc. and as such do we identify others. Then the impressions of the past events superimpose on our perception of our present events, causing us to err in our perception and generating further impressions. The memory becomes clouded, and becomes a jumble of associations, and the awareness of the self is buried under fragmented perceptions. Most of us have an inherent trust on our memory, but in truth it has poor reliability. Research and experiments have shown that memory can be easily manipulated, so much so that, an innocent person can be convinced to confess to a crime with all the details of place, time and person even if they had never ever been to that place in their lives. What is to tell us that our memories regarding other events are truly accurate?

A clean/pure memory does not mean that there is no record of the events that have passed. Such a person, as can be imagined, would not be able to navigate any dimension of life, and would suffer from great trauma. A purified memory means where the associations have been unlearned, and the awareness is always fresh and error free. A purified memory is one which does not interfere until voluntary accessed.

In Savitarka samadhi, the memory is not purified. The learned knowledge about the object keeps on mingling with the name and form of the object. Learned ideas provide input about the object. The intellect continues to work. The name, the form, and the knowledge of the object are not yet distinct. The thoughts are arising, scenes from the memory are replayed, but the consciousness gains the ability to sit back and just observe, instead of going on a ride itself. The mind and the object/thought are two separate entities and the awareness of the distinction between the two components exists. The mind continues to try and work out the object, fetching reason and past data from the memory.

It so happens that after a while, the awareness of observing the thoughts also disappears. The memory disappears. All that exists is the present. The thoughts continue to arise and run, but the consciousness goes into a deep rest, where it is not aware. The observer on the bank watching the river run by realises that it is the same water, going through endless cycles. It lies down, and stares at the great, pure blue sky. Slowly the eyes close, and Nothing remains. It becomes Space. There is emptiness.

In this state of Nirvitarka Samadhi, the memory is purified. The logical faculties go to rest – you stop analysing and just experience what is without super imposing any association from your memory. We cannot remember what garbage, or which memory or impression has been removed from the mind, for it does not exist in the consciousness anymore. The mind starts to become burden free, soft, and light.

One can begin to experience the true nature of our existence in Nirvitarka Samadhi. A realisation starts to dawn. A freshness becomes part of every moment. The vastness of our existence starts to establish in the very moment.

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