What is it about our vasanas (persistent reaction patterns born of ancient trauma) that organize our life away from spiritual pursuits and have the goal of enlightenment elude us lifetime after lifetime? Sri Ramana says:
“All the age long vasanas (impressions) carry the mind outwards and turn it to external objects. All such thoughts have to be given up and the mind turned inward. For that effort is necessary, for most people.” (1)
The basic spiritual movement is to turn from the outer world to God or the inner world. But that is made difficult by the tug and pull of the samskaras (latent impressions) and vasanas (reaction patterns).
We created our vasanas to have us automatically respond to situations to avoid shock, loss and pain.
They‘ve been recorded in memory in response to outward events like a punch, kick, wound, word of censure, loss of position, etc. They fix the attention outward like a radar scanning the world around us.
To drop them, we have to make the effort to observe them, locate in memory where they originated from, and then re-experience through to completion that earlier traumatic event, similar to the one in the present, that triggered the memories.
We have to allow the vasanas to rise to the surface before they can be processed. One cannot process a vasana that hasn’t gone off. It isn’t accessible or available for processing. As Sri Ramana noted:
“Bhagavan [Ramana] pointed out that it was a good thing to let the Vasanas … come out. It is useless to bottle them up and let them go on gathering strength inside. The consequence of doing [this] would prove fatal in the end.” (2.)
It isn’t useful to project them on others as I’ve done in my lifetime. It’s also not useful to eat them, swallow them or introject them. Jesus recommended a third way of allowing them to play and observing them. (3)
We have only one mind, not two. The same mind that’s gripped by a vasana is at other times not gripped by it. As Sri Ramana says:
“There are not two minds – one good and the other evil; the mind is only one. It is the residual impressions that are of two kinds – auspicious and inauspicious. When the mind is under the influence of auspicious impressions it is called good; and when it is under the influence of inauspicious impressions it is regarded as evil.” (4)
We call the mind gripped by a vasana our “shadow side,” our “dark self,” etc. No. Vasanas are just thoughts that arise in our (one) mind though they may assume command value over us for the time the vasana plays.
We may have peak spiritual experiences but if our vasanas have strength and are capable of claiming the mind’s attention, then these spiritual experiences usually fade, subside and disappear. They didn’t in the case of Sri Ramana but his case was very unusual.
“Such an experience of Identity [as the young Ramana Maharshi had] does not always, or even normally, result in Liberation. It comes to a seeker but the inherent tendencies of the ego cloud it over again. … The miracle was that in the Maharshi’s case there was no clouding over, no relapse into ignorance: he remained thenceforward in constant awareness of identity with the One Self.” (5)
For most people spiritual experiences don’t result in lasting enlightenment, and certainly not in liberation from birth and death, which comes with sahaja samadhi or full Ascension. (6) Sri Ramana undoubtedly came into this lifetime to model sahaja.
Our experiences as starseeds and other lightworkers from higher dimensions, who agreed to wear blindfolds but have ascended before, should show us how such a situation as Sri Ramana’s could have been. (I think we wear much more of a blindfold than he did.)
Until something like a “system restore” occurs, (7) one set of vasanas comes up after another, like shark’s teeth. As Sadhu Arunachala said: “As one set of Vasanas is worn away another takes its place.” (8) We seem to be trapped in an endless cycle of outbursts and eruptions, as if our minds and bodies were a volcanic ring of fire.
The standard understanding of vasanas is that it “takes time to eradicate past samskaras (impressions of the mind).” (9) Yes, it takes time to soften them up, eliminate many of them, etc. But there can also come a moment when the whole subcontinent of vasanas may sink below the waves of love, such as appears to have happened to me recently.
Sage Vasistha says: “Moksa or liberation is the total abandonment of all vasanas or mental conditioning, without the least reserve.” (10) “Only one who is free from all the latent tendencies (vasanas) is a Sage,” Sri Ramana tells us. (11)
I haven’t experienced Moksha or liberation. That comes with Ascension. But I think the dropping of the vasanas in a wholesale manner is a first step towards it, not like I would have known or guessed that just a few weeks ago. Full Ascension is the attainment of Moksha with sahaja.
Sahaja samadhi is a permanent heart opening, an event of such intensity and spiritual heat that it burns to a crisp all the seeds that the samskaras (persistent impressions) and vasanas (persistent reaction patterns) are. We’re then a siddha; that is, one whose seeds are “par-boiled.”
Seventh-chakra enlightenment or kevalya nirvikalpa samadhi (also called Brahmajnana or God-Realization) is a temporary heart opening, not powerful enough to kill the seeds of samskaras and vasanas. Says Sri Ramana:
“In kevala nirvikalpa samadhi one is not free from vasanas and does not, therefore, attain mukti.
“Only after the samskaras have been destroyed can one attain salvation. …
“Even though one practices kevala nirvikalpa samadhi for years together, if one has not rooted out the vasanas, he will not attain salvation.” (12)
To say that the heart has permanently opened is to say that the soul or Self, Atman or Christ shines perpetually from that person. Sri Ramana describes the state of such a person.
“He for whom the atman alone shines [i.e., whose heart is permanently opened], within, without and everywhere, as (clearly as) objects to the ignorant, is called one who has cut the nexus. …
“The old vasanas pertaining to the body, (mind and so on) are destroyed. Being free from body-consciousness one never has the sense of doership.
“Since such a one has no sense of doership, his karma, it is said, is completely destroyed. As nothing but the Self exists, no doubts arise for him.
“Once the knot is cut, one is never bound again. This is considered the state of power supreme and peace supreme.” (13)
Once one’s vasanas drop away, the mind comes to rest. One feels no threat any more. The consciousness of the body fades because the body no longer presents itself as one’s chief defender against threat. Threat itself has disappeared. One becomes peaceful, relaxed.
Doership is the focused, sensed perception of oneself as the actor, doer, agent of all of life’s activities. It isn’t that one ceases to do, act or create. But the concrete sense of oneself as the actor begins to subside, fade, dissipate. One is left with just doing, being, acting, but without a firm sense of a well-differentiated self.
As that feeling develops, I’d imagine it results in the rise of a sense of the universal Subject, the One actor, not the individuated Self but the one Self of all. But of that, I’m just guessing at this point in time. (Ask me tomorrow!)
(1) Sri Ramana Maharshi, Gems from Bhagavan. Comp. A. Devaraja Mudaliar. Tiruvannamalai: Sri Ramanasramam, 1985, chapter 8.
(2) Sadhu Arunachala [A.W. Chadwick] in A Sadhu’s Reminiscences of Ramana Maharshi. Tiruvannamalai: Sri Ramanasramam, 1961, 22. [Hereafter SRRM]
(3) “Jeshua via Pamela Kribbe: The Third Way,” Jan. 26, 2014, at http://goldenageofgaia.com/2014/01/26/jeshua-the-third-way/
(4) Ramana Maharshi in Anon., Who Am I? The Teachings of Bhagavan Sri Ramana Maharshi. Sarasota, FL: Ramana Publications, 1990, 16.
(5) Arthur Osborne, ed., The Collected Works of Ramana Maharshi. Tiruvannamali, 1979, iii.
(6) Steve Beckow: I’m trying to understand what level of enlightenment Ascension corresponds to. And I think it’s beyond the normal seventh-chakra enlightenment. I think it is what is called — and I’ll make this clear to readers — sahaja samadhi. Am I correct?
Divine Mother: Yes, it is beyond what you think of with your seven chakras. It is beyond, because what you are doing with the chakra system, even with the thirteen, we have emerged from the Third-dimensional realm, which is that reference point for the chakra system, into the new. So yes, you are correct, in this question and in this statement. (“The Divine Mother: Come to Me as I Come to You – Part 1/2,” Oct. 17, 2012, at http://goldenageofgaia.com/2012/10/the-divine-mother-come-to-me-as-i-come-to-you-part-12/.)
(7) “System Restore” at http://goldenageofgaia.com/spiritual-essays/emergence-2/system-restore/.
(8) Sadhu Arunachala [A.W. Chadwick] in SRRM, 40.
(9) Swami Chetanananda, They Lived with God. Life Stories of Some Devotees of Sri Ramakrishna. St. Louis: Vedanta Society of St. Louis, 1989, 275.
(10) Sage Vasistha in Swami Venkatesananda, ed., The Concise Yoga Vasistha. Albany: State University of New York, 1984, 5.
(11) Ramana Maharshi, Spiritual Instruction of Bhagavan Sri Ramana Maharshi. Eighth Edition. Tiruvannamalai: Sri Ramanasramam, 1974. SJA: Chapter 2, Question 26.
(12) Sri Ramana Maharshi in Ramananda Swarnagiri, Crumbs from His Table. http://www.ramana-maharshi.org. Downloaded 10 September 2005., n.p.
(13) Sri Ramana Maharshi in Vasistha Ganapathi, ed., Sri Ramana Gita. Tiruvannamalai: Sri Ramanashramam, 197., 49-55.