Dhyana is Oceanic
1. In [Lesson 10]… I referred to dhyana. Let us gain a more formal understanding of dhyana…. Meditation is not dhyana and dhyana is not meditation.
The term meditation does not come in the Yoga Sutras, or the science of yoga. The word that has been [used is] dhyana, and it must be retained. Dhyana… is a technical term and one should not translate it into meditation.
2. A chemical analysis would show that there is no difference between water… in a vessel and water in the ocean…. However, there would be a big difference. A water vessel could never [contain] high tide and low tide…, or a tsunami. Howsoever you penetrate the vessel, you will not find any [splendor]. Whereas out in the ocean, is a lot of [splendor]. That is why the ocean is called a ratnakara. Ratna means jewels — valuable stones, jewels, pearls, diamonds. You can find all that in the ocean.
You can feel the waves in the ocean. You can see the… high tide waves, low tide, bubbles, foam, that you will not find in the water that you have collected in a vessel. So, there is a big difference. A vessel is, after all, a vessel.
So also, in case of the ocean, the waves are oceanic. The bubbles, foam, [all] the phenomenon on the surface of the ocean, are also part of the ocean. Ocean has all that…. Ocean contains them. They don’t contain ocean. They are part of the ocean but they don’t contain the ocean.
Similarly, dhyana is like the ocean. Meditation is one of the phenomena in the ocean [of dhyana]. One of the many, many, many phenomena in the ocean. Therefore, we should never equate meditation with dhyana. Dhyana is a technical term which should be retained.
3. And finally…, meditation is just a part of dhyana. [Whereas] the ocean has an infinite amount of water, the vessel has a finite quantity of ocean water. The case of dhyana and meditation is similar.
4. In the formal understanding of the subject, we should not conveniently use the term meditation for dhyana. We have seen that meditation needs… caliber, qualifications, reservations. That is not the case of dhyana. Dhyana is an open architecture.
Dhyana in Hindu Chants +5.00
1. In [Lesson 8] I gave you an example. Dhyana describes the personal deity. I gave the example of Ramaraksha. I told you about Vishnu-sahasra-nama (thousand names of Vishnu)…, where you get dhyana [in Lesson 10]. When you open the stavana (songs of praise) to any personal deity, you will invariably get dhyana.
Dhyana in Patanjali Invocation +5.26
1. In the two verses that we chant for Patanjali, I told you that the second verse is a dhyana shloka (verse) because it describes [the image] of Patanjali on which we are supposed to have dhyana…, or meditate…. So the [concept of] dhyana also comes there.
Dhyana—An Attentive Thought Process +6.00
1. Dhyana also [means] advertence (attentiveness) in the vernacular, as in the English expression, “please listen carefully.” “Listen attentively…, advertently.” “Attention please” is the expression in English, and many other languages.
The word dhyana comes in vernacular Hindi [expression]… “dhyana se suno (listen carefully).” It means “carefully listen, intently listen, diligently listen, advertently listen….” Do we lack qualification to listen to something… advertently? More or less, all of us are qualified..,. if not equally qualified. More or less, we are all qualified to listen carefully. Listen intently. Listen advertently. All those predicates are also expressed in the vernacular by the word dhyana.
2. Like I said, as the example in Hindi, “Dhyana se suno.” In English we never say, “Meditatively hear.” Because everyone is not qualified to meditate then listen. But dhyana is such a liberal term. It is such a liberal notion, idea, concept that it can [apply to] hearing advertently (attentively), and thinking intently, advertently, diligently. Dhyana purvak vichara (think carefully). [All] you need is an involvement. You must shun all your digressions. You must focus. That is also dhyana.
That is not meditation. Meditation does not come there. It is not a liberal term. If you look into lexicons (classifications of words), it is not a liberal term. It is a very, very conservative term. Whereas dhyana is not. Therefore, I have repeatedly told you that we should not venture to use the English word meditation for dhyana.
3. Dhyana has several connotations. It is liberal. It has an open architecture. We saw one meaning: you are hearing something advertently, intently, diligently, shunning all digressions.
It also [connotes] a focused thought process to whatever extent possible, that… differs, more or less, from person to person…. However, everyone can have a thought process with some focus. So, even a thought process can have dhyana. Dhyana isthe word for that. So, try to understand several connotations of dhyana. It’s a very liberal concept, idea, notion.
Dhyana in the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali +10.00
1. Then I [said] that Patanjali had mentioned dhyana in three places… because it has three different connotations.
When the mind is below normal, we… worry that we are not in our normal element because our mind is disturbed. There is worry, anxiety, some fear, or sometimes we are [even] petrified. It is a totally disturbed mind…, in disarray.
2. When the mind is in [disarray], you cannot stipulate that someone meditate. However, you [can] go for dhyana, and it will be really fruitful, because the connotation for dhyana [differs] there.
One of the many connotations for dhyana is the ability to lift your mind from the subnormal level — [when] the mind is disorganized, in disarray, vexed, and tormented to a high degree.
Whatever means you apply to steady that mind…, and revive the mind to its normal plane, to stasis, is dhyana. You don’t have to be sitting quietly, steady, closing the eyes. Such a technical process will not work when you are absolutely devastated, petrified or [suffering] enormous tumult, turbulence, anxiety, worry, tension, or stress. However, dhyana will come.
3. Dhyana can even be a thought. Sometimes, a thought will pacify your mind, to some extent. It is not that it would be totally, 100% revived, 100% steadied. So when the vexed mind, finds a solution by a thought process — sometimes talking to someone eases the mind… [because] that person has such a radiation, caliber, or so relates to you — you are comforted… and the turbulence of the mind is set aside, mitigated, or neutralized. Sometimes it is even sufficient to recover from a disturbed state of mind. Dhyana can even be a thought.
4. Dhyana can [occur when]… you hear someone… talking to you. Merely [hearing] the voice of that person comforts you… because you have such an affiliation with that person…. The voice, plus subject matter… plus… communication, conversation, will comfort you. That is also dhyana. That is not meditation. That is dhyana. So that is one meaning of dhyana where the mind is even partially lifted from an [unstable], subnormal state….
5. Sometimes, even a memory of someone, or something, will comfort you. That is also dhyana. Because that also lifts your mind from where it has gotten stuck in the mire. That is also a meaning of dhyana. It can be a wise man’s thought. It can be a voice of a person with whom you have a special bond, affiliation, or relationship. [When] merely the voice of that person lifts you, that is also dhyana. You did not meditate. There was no… meditation, there was no meditativity. Yet you were comforted.
Dhyana Pacifies the Kleshas (Afflictions) +15.50
1. Patanjali mentions this in the second chapter [of the Yoga Sutras]…. After describing the five kleshas (causes of suffering) — avidya (ignorance), asmita (egoism), raga (attachment), dvesha (aversion), abhinivesha (fear of death)…, he says that the klesha vrttis may not torment us. That we will see when we really deal with the kleshas.
2. But the klesha vrttis can torment us. Klesha vrttis are shadripus (the six enemies), such as uncontrollable passion, lust and anger…. When it is an unwieldy kind of passion, lust, craze, delirium, infatuation, or anger, we are vexed. We are tormented. It is almost like we have a volcano within and that parches us.
[The shadripus] are all klesha vrttis — kama, krodha, lobha, moha, mada, matsarya (desire, anger, greed, delusion, arrogance and jealousy). Kama is passion, desire, lust. Krodha is anger, exasperation, furor. Lobha is greed, avarice. Moha is infatuation, delusion. Mada is pride, self-conceit…. Matsarya is jealousy, malice. They disturb our own mind [to the point] where it goes out of proportion. We ourselves will be burnt by that. We become explosive.
3. When these klesha vrittis are tormenting us, harassing us, parching us…, we Iyengar students, may go to Viparita Karani…, Half Halasana, Janu Sirsasana, or hang in Rope Sirsasana. Any measure that you apply which mitigates it, manages it, or lessens it, is called dhyana.
So that is one dhyana that Patanjali has mentioned: dhyana-heyah tad-vrttayah (vrttis are to silenced by dhyana) [PYS II.11] When there is a fierce battle of klesha vrttis within us…, whatever justifiable measures advocated by yoga… we take to pacify them…, then it is dhyana.
4. Otherwise, you can cavil [object] that those who are addicted… will consume… liquor and say, “I pacified my mind by that.” It is not a justifiable means… advocated in yoga. So, when you take recourse to any measure that is advocated by dharma, adhyatma, yoga, spirituality… it is also called dhyana.
Dhyana Allays Fear +19.35
1. However, even [if] there were not an iota of meditation, or meditativity, it would [still] be dhyana. In our tradition, our parents and ancestors told us that whenever we were petrified…. Suppose, you are taking a walk… by a cemetery or a crematorium…. Passing by a cemetery or cremation ground makes the mind uncomfortable. So, children, and even adults, become petrified.
2. So, they advised us to take the name of the greatest savior, Rama, [and repeat it as a] japa — Rama Rama Rama Rama Rama Rama. These were not any formal kind of japas — Ram, Ram, Ram, Ram, Ram, Ram, Ram, Ramakrishna Hari, Ramakrishna Hari, Ramakrishna Hari, Ramakrishna Hari, Ramakrishna Hari; Achyutananda Govinda, Achyutananda Govinda, Achyutananda Govinda, Achyutananda Govinda, Hanuman, Maruti — or any personal deity, which gives solace to the mind. The very japa (repetition) of those nama (names) is dhyana.
Dhyana of the Yoga Sages +21.10
1. However, you are not composed, not sitting steady, or straight, in meditation, as the… Bhagavad Gita advises,
| samam kaya-shiro-grivam dharayan achalam sthirah |
| samprekshya nasika-agram svam dishas cha-anavalokayan ||
Sit straight, steady, firm, neck, head straight. Close your eyes and look towards the tip of your nose and see that all digressions are shunned. [Bhagavad Gita 6.13-14]
2. The mind is not going helter-skelter. That is one kind of dhyana that is mentioned.
That kind of dhyana cannot be done when you are passing by a cremation ground, when you are petrified, …angry, …disturbed, …vexed, or… devastated. You cannot go for sitting straight, etc. That is also dhyana.
3. Today meditation has become fashionable. Dhyana, in the form of meditation, has become fashionable…. Meditation is prescribed in our times as stress management. The [doctors] are also advocating that one should adopt life-style changes, and… [start] yoga and meditation. Meditation [has come to] mean stress management.
Now… modern man has developed the idea that meditation is something you must do when you are stressed. When you are stressed, you must go for dhyana. In the modern world, dhyana is only prescribed for those having hypertension, worry, anxiety, or vexed by worldly conditions….
The sages… did not explore meditation because they were vexed, tormented, harassed, or stressed. Yet they meditated. They actually thought of meditation, and dhyana, as a means [to attain] jnana (knowledge).
[But] today dhyana is a means to de-stress oneself. Modern man construes that dhyana is a measure for stress management. I am afraid, that in the future that [will become] the limited meaning of dhyana and meditation.
4. The point is that… dhyana was devised by the sages of the lore. The whole idea was… to lift the mind up, from a sub-normal to a normal state. Certain acceptable measures [were required]… to be called dhyana, although you wouldn’t necessarily sit and close your eyes. It could be a thought process.
5. Another kind of dhyana is to lift the mind from its normal plane to higher plane — to take it to a higher rung. That [lifting] to a higher [rung]…, is a kind of dhyana which comes in samapatti (the state of coalescence). [It follows] the topic of chitta parikarma (consciousness purification) [which begins in PYS I.33].
6. There is dhyana which comes in the aphorism —
| yatha-abhimata-dhyanat-va |
Or, by meditation (dhyana) on any desired object (conducive to steadiness of consciousness). [PYS I.39]
So, when the mind is, say, normal, take recourse to a noble thought-process to take it to a higher plane. The mind will be etherealised. A divine…, noble…, philosophized thought-process, will lift the mind from a normal level to higher rung.
Again, it could be a thought, …a memory, [or] even… perception and cognition, like the wonderful scenery — mountain ranges, lakes and rivers, trees and forests, and woods… at a holiday resort.
Not that your mind is vexed — your mind is normal, perhaps a little delighted, happy. But when you see sublime scenery — it takes your mind to a higher rung. It will sublimate the mind. The normal mind… will become more ethereal, more sublime from the sublime scenery.
By listening to sonorous music, it would be taken a rung above. Mind will become tender, sublime. Mind will become etherealised — so you go a rung higher.
It could be some perception, cognition, memory, thought, interaction with a person. If you interact with a knowledgeable, noble, revered person… naturally your mind will be elated, etherealised.
So, any such acceptable measures applied which will take the mind to a higher rung is called dhyana. You may not be meditating; there is no meditation…, no meditativity, yet there will be dhyana. That is another meaning of dhyana.
7. Now, as I said, dhyana does not really need any qualification as such. Not only doesn’t it need qualification…, there is a form of dhyana which is imperative. It does not look for your qualification…, etc. That is why it is something mandatory for life on a spiritual plane. It is a must. There is something within us which needs a form of dhyana.
Therefore, it is without qualification, [thus without] assessment of success or failure. Many of us assess our meditation, and often say, “My meditation failed.” If you are your… own honest auditor, then you say that your meditation backfired, or more often, that your meditation even failed.
Therefore, our minds are distressed. If our meditation has failed, we can never [raise] up our spirits. We are depressed. There is a despair. Why? Because we have failed. Here, for that kind of dhyana, where no qualification is in consideration, that… success or failure is not counted.
So, there is a kind of dhyana which becomes imperative for a human being to be a good being. You must have that kind of dhyana. It is a must.
8. When you are hungry and thirsty — you cannot say, “I will refrain from water and food.” You know that it is badly needed. When it is badly needed…, you don’t look for qualification. Many times you don’t even look for the quality, or taste, of the food. If you are darn hungry, dead hungry, you will try to gobble all that comes your way. You don’t consider likes and dislikes.
Otherwise, you have tantrums, “I don’t like this, I like that. I must have that, I don’t want this etc., etc.” Those who have food tantrums… are not actually hungry. When you are hungry, you will gobble up whatever comes your way. [If] it is edible, you will eat it. You will not entertain likes and dislikes, favors and disfavors, etc.
There is a form of dhyana which is a must. Why is it a must? Let’s try to consider that. [For that], we [require] a little insight into our embodiment.
[When] you go for a whole-body scan, all kinds of insights — mechanical insights by all kinds of MRIs — trace everything that is in you. Will they know… why your mind is the way it is? No scan report will tell you why your mind is [the way] it is. Even if you go for an encephalogram, a brain scan, it will not tell you why your mind is how it is. It is not traced.
So, there are so many things that are not traced by the insights of radiology, chemical processes of tests, lab tests, and pathology tests.
So many things are beyond the grasp. In our embodiment there is something which needs dhyana. So, let us try to understand what in our embodiment [requires] we go for dhyana — a type of dhyana, a mode of dhyana.
Again, you don’t need to qualify…. You don’t need to develop caliber…. It is a liberal concept; it is a liberal idea that dhyana is a must for a human being to be a good human being.
Let us try to consider that kind of dhyana in the next session.
 We have seen that meditation needs… caliber, qualification, reservations: Prashant began this recurring theme in detail in “Iyengar’s Yoga — Dynamic Meditation +30.25,” Dynamic Meditation 4-25-20.
 Patanjali had mentioned dhyana in three places… because it has three different connotations: This section offers several examples of how to interpret: PYS I.39 Or, by meditation (dhyana) on any desired object (conducive to steadiness of consciousness). The following section will focus on dhyana as a remedy for the kleshas. See “Qualifications for Meditation +11.00” Meditation is Not Dhyana 5-3-20; 2) “Asana — Meditative Activity +25.25,” Virtue of Ahimsa in Asana 5-2-20; 3) “What is Meditation? +11.20” Dynamic Meditation 4-25-20.
 When the mind is in [disarray], you cannot stipulate that someone meditate: See “Mano Vrttis are External +18.00,” Mind—External Part of Chitta 5-9-20. Yoga is not mano-vrtti nirodha. Restrain your mind and then go to yoga.
 After describing the five kleshas (causes of suffering) — avidya (ignorance), asmita (egoism), raga (attachment), dvesha (aversion), abhinivesha (fear of death)…, he says that the klesha vrttis may not torment us: PYS II.3 Avidya (spiritual ignorance), asmita (egoism), raga (attachment to pleasure), dvesha (aversion from pain), abhinivesa (fear of death) (are the) kleshas (afflictions which disturb the equilibrium of the consciousness). PYS II.11 The vrttis (fluctuations of the chitta created by the kleshas) are to be silenced by dhyana.
 Klesha vrttis are shadripus (six enemies): See “Yama Implies Shat-Sampatti (Six Virtues) +32.15,” Virtue of Ahimsa in Asana 5-2-20. So long as one continues to live with the six enemies (shadripus) in the form of desire (kama), anger (krodha), greed (lobha), delusion (moha), arrogance (mada) and jealousy (matsarya), even if one retires to a forest, one will continue to be fear-ridden and cannot hope to have any peace of mind. (Bhagavatam 5.1.17) Guruji objectified the mind by superimposing mental states onto body matter: aggressive (himsaka) wrist; greedy (parigraha) knee & toe; fear (abhinivesha) in ribs. See B.K.S. Iyengar & The Dalai Lama: Paths to Happiness +28:30.
 Meditation [has come to] mean stress management: External restraint of manas is the precursor to internal restraint of chitta. See “Mano Vrttis are External +18.00” Mind—External Part of Chitta 5-3-20.
 dhyana which comes in samapatti (the state of coalescence): Samapatti (the state of coalescence) is when the vrttis (modifications) have subsided (kshina), [and the chitta has] become like a transparent crystal (abhijata) [that refracts nearby objects], attaining stability in (tat-stha) and coalescence with (tad-anjanata) the grahitr (cognizer), grahana (the act of cognition), and grahya (the cognized). [PYS I.41]
 chitta parikarma (consciousness purification) [which begins in PYS I.33]: VB I.33; Citta parikarman (purification) prescribed by the shastras (scriptures) — what is it like? PYS I.33; Through cultivation (bhavanatah) of maitri (friendliness), karuna (compassion), mudita (joy), and upeksha (indifference) respectively towards sukha (pleasure), duhkha (pain), punya (virtue) and apunya (vice), the citta (consciousness) becomes prasadana (serene, benevolent and diffused like a calm lake).
The stages of chitta parikarma, from Yoga Sutras I.33 to 39, correspond to ashtanga yoga: I.33 corresponds to yama, niyama, and asana; I.34 to pranayama; I.35-39 to pratyahara, dharana, and dhyana. [B.K.S. Iyengar, Light on the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali, HarperCollins, San Francisco, 1993. P. 86]