I hear many people say, “Oh, I’m clear of my vasanas.” To the best of my knowledge, very, very few people are free of their vasanas. “As one set of Vasanas is worn away,” Sadhu Arunachala said, “another takes its place.” (1)
Don’t forget that we can and do have vasanas from other lifetimes too. When Sri Ramana helped his dying mother source her vasanas, “the vasanas of the previous births and latent tendencies which are the seeds of future births came out.” (2) Sri Ramana describes what happened next:
“Innate tendencies (vasanas) and the subtle memory of past experiences leading to future possibilities became very active. Scene after scene rolled before her in the subtle consciousness, the outer senses having already gone. The soul was passing through a series of experiences, thus avoiding the need for re-birth and so effecting union with Supreme Spirit. The soul was at last disrobed of the subtle sheaths before it reached the final Destination, the Supreme Peace of Liberation from which there is no return to ignorance.” (3)
That’s a pretty good description of our eventual experience as well, once we’ve completely transitioned to the Fifth Dimension, which apparently we haven’t yet.
I’m tempted to say that, if we had no vasanas, we’d be reunited with God again, but, as far as I’m aware, that isn’t quite true.
What actually keeps us separate from God are what Vedantists call vrittis, which means waves or movement in the mind. Any movement in the mind keeps us separate from God, who is no movement at all (no physical movement, that is). Vasanas are one form of vritti, but, as far as I know, any stirring of the mind separates us from God because any stirring keeps the mind alive. That’s why Sri Krishna could say: “‘The light of a lamp does not flicker in a windless place.”(4)
“When, through the practice of yoga, the mind ceases its restless movements, and becomes still, he realizes the Atman. It satisfies him entirely. Then he knows that infinite happiness which can be realized by the purified heart but is beyond the grasp of the senses.” (5)
You remember how the Buddha, after having finished extensively studying under the best Hindu teachers of his day and having reached seventh-chakra enlightenment (Brahmajnana, God-Realization, kevalya nirvikalpa samadhi) left his teachers because he still detected movement in his mind.
He began the practice that later became known as Vipassana, designed to observe and cause to disappear the remaining virttis or waves in his mind. And when he succeeded in achieving Sahaja Nirvikalpa Samadhi, a higher form of enlightenment (one that we’ll achieve when we’re anchored in the Fifth Dimension), he ceased. He had taken enlightenment to a new level in the society of his time.
Sahaja occurs when the kundalini goes past the seventh chakra and enters the spiritual heart or hridayam, causing a permanent heart opening.
Vasanas are one form of vritti. As I understand it, negative vasanas obstruct certain early stages of enlightenment; positive vasanas do not. Says Sri Ramana Maharshi:
“Vasanas which do not obstruct Self-Realization remain [after Self-Realization]. In Yoga Vasistha two classes of vasanas are distinguished: those of enjoyment and those of bondage. The former remain even after Mukti [liberation] is attained, but the latter are destroyed by it. Attachment is the cause of binding vasanas, but enjoyment without attachment does not bind and continues even in Sahaja [Fifth-Dimensional enlightenment]. (6)
Enlightenment itself is virtually endless. What may not obstruct one level of enlightenment may obstruct another. We tend to think of enlightenment as a singular event, but in fact it stretches on past the human level of existence, past the angelic, and where beyond that it ends, no one knows. We speak of “full enlightenment,” “mergence with God,” and a “return to God,” but usually the level of enlightenment we’re referring to is very far away from the endpoint of the total journey.
Nonetheless, the clearing of all our vasanas would be a wonderful milestone. We would then only have the subtle waves in the mind to release, but that work too could take vast stretches of what we consider time. It’s a long, long journey. All that we’re doing here and now is freeing ourselves from duality – the view that sees people as separate from each other and distinct in their wants, needs, deservingness, etc. At that point we achieve unitive consciousness – the view that all are one – but that is by no means the end of the road; only a good beginning.
(1) Sadhu Arunachala [A.W. Chadwick], A Sadhu’s Reminiscences of Ramana Maharshi. Tiruvannamalai: Sri Ramanasramam, 1961, 40.
(2) A.R. Natarajan, Bhagavan Ramana and Mother. Bangalore: Ramana Maharshi Centre for Leanring, 1982, 39-40.
(3) Ramana Maharshi in M. Subbaraya Karnath, Sri Maharshi: A Short Life-Sketch. Tiruvannamalai: Sri Ramanasaramam, 1986, 24-5.
(4) Sri Krishna in Swami Prabhavananda and Christopher Isherwood, trans., Bhagavad-Gita. The Song of God. New York and Scarborough: New American Library, 1972; c1944, 66.
(5) Loc. cit.
(6) Ramana Maharshi, Cohen, S.S., Guru Ramana. Memories and Notes. 6th edition. Tiruvannamalai: Sri Ramanasramam, 1993, 89.