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What is Nirvikalpa Samadhi?
Author Acharya Prashant
Acharya Prashant
12 min
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Questioner (Q): Sir, my assumption about the Nirvikalpa Samādhi and Jāgrat Suṣupti that you talked of is that in that state, one enters into the ‘new’ each moment as one doesn't allow the ego to make its grip on to anything. Is the fate or state of the one in that choiceless state different from the one not in that state after the death of the physical body? If not, then why is it so important to be in that state even if it's one's nature and ultimate desire? If yes, then who wants to know how? And if yes and the ego dissolves, I don't see any reason why the ego might not emerge again because it did emerge without any cause or reason in the first place. The ego clearly doesn't want to surrender so easily, it is revolting. I seek your help.

Acharya Prashant (AP): As it is revolting, it can only revolt only in its own bizarre and non-sensical fashion. On one hand, in the initial lines themselves, you say that the state of Nirvikalpa Samādhi or Jagrat Sushupti is one of choicelessness. On the other hand, you are saying that in that state, one doesn't allow the ego to hold on to anything. If that state is of choicelessness, where is the question of allowing or not allowing? Allowing certainly proceeds from a choice. You could have not allowed it. Who is there to allow or not allow the ego to hold on to anything and this and that? Are you playing games with yourself? Is it some kind of tactic to lose the self and titillate the self, entertain the self, enhance the self?

Nirvikalpa Samadhi is when the ego has come into an inexorable friendship with the truth. Nirvikalpa Samādhi is when the love affair of the ego with the Truth has gained stability, a certain permanence. You have seen enough not to want to go back any longer. Your desire to try more, to venture out, to be disloyal has subsided to an extent that it has vanished - that is Nirvikalpa Samādhi .

Nirvikalpa Samādhi is when being disturbed is no longer attractive to you. Nirvikalpa Samādhi is when you are alright being peaceful; peace is always available.

The thing with most of us is that we are not alright being peaceful. When we are peaceful, we feel disturbed. And if you feel disturbed in peace then you will surely think that there is peace in disturbance. You know that is why we get attracted to disturbance, that is why the whole world embraces excitation.

One thinks that by being excited one would come to peace, one thinks by entering noise one will come to silence.

Nirvikalpa Samādhi is when you know peace as peace. Nirvikalpa Samādhi is when you are peaceful in peace. Nirvikalpa Samādhi is when you are silent in silence. The situation with most of us is that if we are put to silence, we revolt with even more noise. Try doing that, or rather, try not doing anything - that is silence. The moment you are not doing anything, you find yourself doing even more than what you normally do. We have such distaste for silence and peace.

Most of us think that truth is a lie, and if you think that truth is a lie then surely you will go to lies thinking that it is the truth. Most of us think that love is an illusion. And if love is an illusion then you will certainly go to illusions, thinking that illusions are love. That is why, don't you see most people wedded to illusions in their search for love? That is Nirvikalpa Samādhi .

Nirvikalpa Samādhi is not at all about all these things that you have written. These are concepts that one picks from one's own personal interpretation of books and teachers. "In that state, one enters into the new each moment as one doesn't allow the ego to hold on to anything". The ego can do anything, it can hold on to this hold on to that, the action doesn't matter. Sometimes the ego can hold on to something, sometimes it may not hold on to something. The ego has absolute freedom with respect to action. Is it the action that matters or the actor? In Nirvikalpa Samādhi , the ego is so fully surrendered to the Absolute that it gets absolute freedom. In that absolute freedom, it can hold or it may not hold. In that absolute freedom, it may decide to act as free or it may decide to act as bonded. But that absolute freedom is conferred on the ego only by virtue of its devotion to the Absolute. That absoluteness is called Nirvikalpta - choicelessness. Absolute means not contaminated, absolute means not mixed. Absolute means giving up the option to go back. Absolute means a certain timelessness. Absolute means I quit the right to revoke my surrender - that is Nirvikalpa Samādhi .

Next, you are asking, "Is the fate or state of the one in that choiceless state different from the one not in that state even after of the physical body?" Yes, the physical body dies. What does that have to do with Nirvikalpa Samādhi ? What is the relationship that you see? Death comes to the body, or does death come to the Samādhisth one? So why are you conflating the two? Or do you think that the one in samadhi lives somewhere inside the body? Surely, your question is based on an assumption something like that.

The body will die, of course. The one who used to give so much credence and weightage to the body had already died long back in nirvikalpta . Now, only the body is left to die. The ego has already met its end and that end is exactly the same as what I called as absolute freedom for the ego. Do you see, why in spirituality, death is so celebrated? Because it is also total freedom. Death is absolute liberation. That is the real meaning of death. Death is not an end, death is a resumption of the beginning.

Then you are asking, "Why is it so important to be in Nirvikalpa Samadhi ?" and then you have asked, "Why can't the ego emerge again even after nirvikalpta ?" It can emerge a thousand times, why can't it? But what threat do you see in that? The ego does what it does, you remain centered, that is nirvikalpta. The emergence of the ego from the center is not a threat at all. After all, what is the universe? The universe is a grand manifestation of emergence. Things have emerged from the central point and then you have this great egg called the universe. But does the movement of the universe affect the one at the center?

Krishna says, "Look at me, Arjun. I run the entire world for no purpose at all. I gain nothing from it, yet I keep running it." Even if it comes to a standstill right now, how does it affect Krishna? It does not, yet he keeps running the show. He even keeps participating in the show. And it's beautiful when from his unmanifest self he emerges as a manifest person and participates. There is no threat in that. In fact, there's beauty. You want more of Krishna to emerge and Krishna himself promises, "Whenever I would be needed, whenever the call of Dharm would beckon, I would come over. In every age, I would come over in different forms, in different persons, in different ways." Why are you so afraid of the emergence of the ego from nirvikalpta ? In fact, only from nirvikalpta can the ego again emerge sound, not vulnerable, not liable to be corrupted. It's like you emerging vaccinated from a hospital. Now even if you go to the world, no virus can infect you - that is nirvikalpta .

"The ego clearly doesn't want to surrender so easily, it is revolting. I seek your help!" Let the ego revolt fully, that's in his own best interest. A bad ego is a hidden ego. An ego that comes out in the open with all its ammunition, shining a fire, brandished is not at all dangerous anymore. Now the cards are not hidden. You can see the stuff that the ego is made of, you can see its limited powers. You can allow the child to flaunt his muscles, you can allow the monkey to brandish his weapons. Once they are out in the open, they are coming to their destiny. Soon, they will be overpowered by their own adolescence, immaturity. Let the ego come out, let it pose all the arguments, let it show its most rebellious face. "Let us see, baby, what you have to offer. Come on!"

The candle can presume to be the Sun only within a fortified vicinity. Once it is taken out to the open sky, to the open winds, the candle will know its worth and place. Let the candle fight the Sun openly, not within a closed room. Within a closed room, you feel entitled to claim anything. "So baby, come out in the open, let's meet you there. Face a little bit of the storm. Come on, make faces to the sun. Revolt to the vast sky. Show them how resplendent you are. We all want to be dazzled by your brilliant glory, dear candle. Of course, we are your fans. We know how bright you are. Let the whole world be illuminated by you. Come out, come out. Your silence is such a ploy. Come out. You're not silent, you're just hiding. Come out, let's talk. Out in the open field, let's meet there." The walls are such refuges to even the dimmest of candles.

Q: Can the state of *Nirvikalpa Samādhi*be lost or is it permanent and absolute? And if it cannot be lost then how is it total freedom, and if it can be lost then how it can be permanent and absolute?

AP: You can lose anything when you totally have it. In fact, only in Nirvikalpa Samādhi can you totally lose your freedom. Only God can become perfectly bonded. You never totally lose anything, you just keep moving within degrees of finding and losing. Losing then becomes a play. Losing then is without fear. Right now, the question itself is arising from fear.

You are asking "Can the highest ever be lost after attainment?" Yes, after attainment you will do nothing but repeatedly lose the highest. Such would be your sureness. You feel attracted to the highest and then you feel like clinging to the highest only when you are not totally sure of the highest, and in that sense, only when you are not totally devoted to the highest. When you have it, then you can easily throw it away - that's the great thing about having it. You do not need to have it anymore. It stays with you even when you are throwing it away. When you are throwing it away then that becomes the thrower.

We stick, we cling to everything including Truth, including God, including enlightenment, including nirvikalpta . The only way to stick to anything is by turning it into a concept. Now you can think of it and there's nothing called sticking without thinking. To really come to something is to go beyond all thoughts of it. Having come to something you are now totally free to forget it. Having forgotten it, you are free to forget it again and again and again and again and forget in a thousand ways.

The model, the mental model that the questioner has is of objective attainment. You are modeling Truth as a thing of the world. You are asking, "The Truth is that precious diamond ball, can I lose it after getting it?" It is the ball that contains the universe, it is the ball that contains you.

You can lose something that you hold. How can you lose something that holds you?

Within the ball, you are free to go anywhere, find anything, lose anything, do whatever you want to. So, the model, the assumption on which your question is based is itself a thought-out model and nothing thought-out ever represents the Truth. Question the model, see its limitations. Drop it.

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