"In the pure effulgence of divine bliss, peace is born from the death of the mind."
—Sri Muruganar, Hindu Advaitist
"ThThe total bliss of non-action is realized through the non-conceptual state and the absence of desire."
—Dzogchen Tantra, Tibetan Buddhism
"In the view of the Tribe, wujū ́d is finding the Real in ecstasy, but you do not witness the Real in that state‚ for it is witnessing Him which annihilates you from witnessing yourself and witnessing those present..."
"The object of vision, which is the Real, is light, while that through which the perceiver perceives Him is light. Hence light becomes included in light. It is as if it returns to the root from which it became manifest. So nothing sees Him but He."
—Ibn al-'Arabi, Sufi Master
The Hindu Advaitists have a term, Sahaja Samadhi, to describe the ultimate state of spiritual enlightenment. Sahaja literally translates as: spontaneous, natural, simple, or easy. Samadhi is a term that refers to a higher state of consciousness. Samadhi has been used in different ways by different authors, Hindu and Buddhist, but in the context of Sahaja Samadhi, it refers to the non-dual state of transcendental consciousness. Taken together, Sahaja Samadhi has often been translated simply as the natural state.
This natural state, which in truth is simply the realization of our divine nature as Consciousness Itself, is the goal of all spiritual pursuits. It is an effortless state of supreme relaxation, absorption in the recognition of the Truth, and an overflowing of profound bliss beyond all threat of extinction. It is the spontaneous arising of undifferentiated existence-as-awareness. As such, it is also the revelation of the actual condition of the cosmos, of things as they are, in Truth.
Things—all phenomena, great and small, inner and outer—are revealed in the natural state to be modifications of the One Light of Pure Consciousness. This conviction comes not through a process of mental reflection, however. The process comes via the elimination of the mental modes of reification—the habit of taking mental objects to be real. This leads ultimately to what Sri Muruganar calls "the death of the mind," what Ibn al-'Arabi calls "annihilation," and in Dzogchen terms is "the non-conceptual state."
Conditioned consciousness—all experience under delusion—involves overt or subtle resistance. Sometimes termed "desire," this resistance is the "clinging" that Buddha blamed for dukha, or the "unsatisfactoriness" of samsara, or cyclic existence. Gross forms of resistance such as lust, greed, hate, and fear are obvious sources of suffering. Much of the spiritual path is followed by learning the lessons taught by these demons. But deeper and more subtle forms of desire remain, until the root of the mind is cut off completely.
Spiritual practice is the process of becoming aware of the subtle levels of resistance that remain for the seeker. Spiritual progress is the gradual releasing of this resistance, and spiritual liberation is the sudden, final, and complete severing of that conditioned mode of consciousness which involves clinging and its resultant reification of objects.
It must be remembered that the concept of a subject also involves the objectification of consciousness. The only true subject cannot have any connection to sensory and cognitive forms, such as the body, memory, self-image, etc. The ultimate subject is identical to pure Consciousness Itself. In fact, the entire cosmos, and all beings, circumstances, and possible events are contained within—and as a seamless unity with—Consciousness. This sudden jump from gross and subtle object-identification to the recognition of no-mind is often preceeded by many experiences of partial release. Final liberation transcends all progress, however, and alone propels the seeker into complete absorption in the natural state...an effortless condition of supreme bliss in which all suffering ceases.
Effortlessness does not entail indolence. Indulgence in sensory forms requires an enjoyer to partake of and grasp at the experience. Beyond the triad of experiencer, experience, and experienced is the condition of relaxed openness requiring no constriction of consciousness to enjoy. Rather than enjoying experience, one's experience relaxes into enjoyment itself.
Effortless bliss is not identical with pleasure. Pleasure is a coarse form of enjoyment that involves the movement of subtle energy (prana in Sanskrit or qi in Chinese). Either movement—of subtle energy in an area of former restriction, or greater movement than usual in a sensitive area—is usually experienced as pleasure. On the other hand, restriction of energy movement is usually experienced as pain or discomfort. And pleasure, often associated with desire or clinging, is always subject to change.
Neither is effortless bliss an experience of positive emotional charge. All possible emotions are implied within the body-mind expression of Consciousness, and are also subtle expressions of energetic movement. The natural state witnesses all transitions, but without clinging they are experienced in their pure form as love, clarity, creativity, equanimity and the like. During the course of the spiritual path, the heart experiences all shades of both exhilaration and despair. These are merely aspects of the process of disengagement with object-identification. Even the refined exultations of worship do not approach the bliss inherent to it, regardless of any relation or condition. Ultimately, the heart takes on the condition of peace, and this allows the recognition of true bliss.
Effortless bliss is not the result of movements of subtle energy or the modification of any objects of awareness. Bliss is inherent in Consciousness Itself and, as such, cannot be created or destroyed. Under the conditioned mode of consciousness (delusion), it is blocked—partially or wholly—by the resistance to subtle and gross mental objects. Once the supreme stage of no-mind has been reached, it is recognized directly that Consciousness Itself, identical with the True Subject, is the supreme bliss already.
This simple recognition of effortless bliss will not inhere in a mind that is subject to the vicissitudes of desire, clinging, and resistance. It is only, as the Dzogchen Tantra says, "realized through the non-conceptual state and the absence of desire." Desire, as was mentioned, can only be transcended through the recognition of misidentification with subtle objects, and these include very subtle concepts regarding the presumed relationships between supposed entities and objects. In Truth, all entities and objects are intrinsically non-existent modes of Light—Consciousness that has been seemingly dimmed from itself due to habitual conditioning.
The state of no-mind does not entail the extinction of mental objects. A state absent of mental forms is found in deep sleep and in formless samadhi, both of which are temporary conditions of consciousness. In the supreme effortless condition, thoughts are free to come and go, but no longer have the power to bind attention and constrict awareness to the conditioned subject-object mode of consciousness.
Only through the death of the mind, in the state of no-mind—the concept-free state—can bliss manifest as the light beyond and through which all thoughts and apparent objects arise. This bliss is natural—it is obvious and unmodified. This bliss is total—nothing exists or can exist outside of it. This bliss is completely satisfying—all desires having been extinguished, nothing is left but peaceful rest. This bliss is freedom—nothing can oppose or confine it. This bliss is the supreme, effortless, divine self-disclosure, bringing to an end all struggle, all seeking, all doubt.
Having achieved the supreme goal, all duality is dissolved in effortless bliss. The effortless abidance of supreme bliss resides timelessly—as past and future are only mental constructs. The effortless abidance of supreme bliss spontaneously gives rise to all phenomena. The effortless abidance of supreme bliss transcends all activities of the body-mind. The effortless abidance of supreme bliss annihilates concepts of self and other, inner and outer. Thus, the effortless abidance of supreme bliss culminates the spiritual path, is the fount of all true knowledge, gives birth to all worlds, and is the True Body of all beings.
-Matt, Fall 2014
1) Non-Dual Consciousness: The Flood Tide of Bliss (Sri Ramana Anubati); Sri Muruganar; p.88, v.513.
2) The Supreme Source: The Fundamental Tantra of the Dzogchen Semde (Kunjed Gyalpo); Chogyal Namkhai Norbu and Adriano Clemente; p.195.
3) The Sufi Path of Knowledge: Ibn al-'Arabi's Metaphysics of Imagination, William Chittick, p.212, p.215.