QUESTION: How should nididhyasanam (contemplation) be practiced?
ANSWER: The biggest obstacle to ‘aham Brahmāsmi’ (I am Brahman) knowledge is the basic ignorance of the jiva (individual soul) identifying himself with his body/mind.
Even after understanding what the Srutis (Scriptures) teach, the orientation that he is the body/mind still remains.
Just because he has a body/mind because of his past karmas (action), his real identity of being Atma (Self) never changes.
It is his ignorance that he takes himself to be a karta (doer) and bhokta (experiencer).
This kartritva bhoktritva buddhi (doer enjoyer identification) has to be given up.
This thought of association with the body/mind is very deep and is a vasana (impression) carried on from birth to birth. This wrong identification needs to be given up.
The fact that the seeker of the vedantic knowledge is himself Atma (Self) has to displace this wrong identification.
Nididhyasanam (contemption) which is a Vedantic meditation helps to uproot this wrong idea from the mind of the seeker. It is not a means for getting knowledge. It only helps to remove the viparita-bhavana (wrong identification) entrenched in the mind.
The knowledge has to come only from the study of scriptures and undergoing sravanam (study) etc.
The seeker should understand that if he were to be the body/mind, he can never be purna (whole) since body/mind is anatma (non-Self) and is full of deficiencies.
He should meditate on the fact that he is not the body/mind, but the witness consciousness within him. That is his real svarupa (nature).
This meditation is not an upasana or prayer which can lead to moksha (freedom). It is only a step, a very important step for removal of the dehatma-buddhi (body identification) from the mind of the seeker.When he looks at his body/mind and experiences it, he should focus his attention only on the pratyagatma (inner Self), the Sakshi chaitanyam (witness consciousness) behind his actions.
Mandukya Upanishad advises the seeker to understand the mithyatvam (apparent reality) of the three shariras (bodies), the three states of existence and claim his turiya (real) status.
He should understand that both the vyashti (individual) and samashti-sharira-trayam (total), which is Ishvara (the Lord) with his Maya (creative power) and Prakriti (available for creation) are within ‘Him’ and He himself is in the form of Virat (creation), Hiranyagarbha (total subtle body) and Antaryami (Indweller).
Mere negation of the world or the body/mind is not enough. He should say that He alone is there in all of them.
He should say: “Let them all of them be where they are, I always remain unaffected by them and I alone exist knowing fully well that all these are nothing but mithya (apparent existence)”.
He remains unaffected just like a screen remains unaffected by a fire projected on the screen.
Acharyas advise all the seekers to practice this meditation every morning as soon as they wake up , when their mind is fresh. This will make the nididhyasanam (contemption) more effective.
Another Reason for Continuing Your Sadhana – Despite Mokṣa…
Keeping up your sadhana once you are liberated is the best gift you can give Isvara for bringing you to Vedanta. Neglecting it is the worst thing you can do.
It is the best gift you can give your teacher also (guru dakshina). Neglecting it is the worst gift you can give the guru.
Keeping up your sadhana is also the best publicity for Vedanta. And keeping up your sadhana is a blessing for the world (loka seva).
So you should keep the qualifications – discrimination, dispassion, etc. – but convert your desire to be free, into the the idea (which is a fact incidentally) “I have always been free.”
If you think you achieved mokṣa – you are still thinking of yourself as a jiva.