meditation

Linked Glossary of Terms
(references to De Wijsbegeerte der Wetsidee, unless indicated. See concordance for correlation with pages in the New Critique. The concordance is in pdf format.)

meditation
nirvikalpa
ox-herding pictures
samadhi
sahaja
trance

Dooyeweerd refers to self-reflection. How does this differ from meditation?

First of all, Dooyeweerd is opposed to any kind of meditation practice that would separate us from temporal reality. He is opposed to any spiritualistic practice that separates knowledge of God and Self from the temporal world:

“In the Christian experience the religious fullness of meaning remains bound up with temporal reality. Every spiritualistic view which wants to separate self-knowledge and the knowledge of God from all that is temporal, runs counter to the Divine order of the creation. Such spiritualism inevitably leads to an internally empty idealism, or to a confused kind of mysticism, in spite of its own will or intentions. (NC II, 561).

For the same reasons, Dooyeweerd is opposed to any mysticism that assumes some kind of supernatural cognition (NC II, 562). but Dooyeweerd sometimes uses the word “mysticism” in a positive way. For example, he says that the rationalism of Leibniz was “mitigated” by his mysticism (I, 308). And many of Dooyeweerd’s Ideas can only be described as mystical, although not in a spiritualizing way. For example, we may consider his reference to self-reflection, the participation of our supratemporal heart in Christ, the nature of our selfhood as the religious root of temporal reality.

From Dooyeweerd’s view of consciousness, we can be sure that he would not agree with a meditation practice that sought a “pure consciousness” in the sense of pure psychic awareness. That would be an absolutization of the psychical.

Nor would Dooyeweerd agree with a meditation practice that seeks to remove us from any sense of diversity. That kind of meditation is often associated with a trance state that tries to block out our awareness of temporal reality. This kind of trance state is sometimes referred to as nirvikalpa samadhi. Although Dooyeweerd says that the knowledge of our supratemporal heart is beyond concepts, he does not agree that this means there is no longer any cosmic diversity. That type of reasoning is based on logicism.

But Dooyeweerd does speak of a state of “cosmic consciousness.” As I understand it, in cosmic consciousness we are aware of our enstatic state, but we also have moved out of that state into the temporal in a state of ex-stasis, and deepened our state of enstasis, returning once again to the continuity of cosmic time through our intuition in an act of synthesis. This seems to be similar to what Baader (following Boehme) refers to as seeing with the double eye–the supratemporal and the temporal eye.

The state of cosmic consciousness seems to have some similarities with what Ramana Maharshi calls ‘sahaja samadhi.’‘Sahaja’ means natural. It is the state of the one who is liberated while alive, the state of the jivanmukta. My book on Abhishiktananda examines this state of enlightenment and its claims, and reviews Abhishiktananda’s comparison of them to the Christian experience of Sonship. In sahaja, we find the supratemporal within the temporal. We recover the world, and discover the reality of time, of becoming, of particularity and multiplicity, at the very heart of Being itself. Saccidananda, p. 129. Time is not wholly distinct from eternity. What is transitory does not make a pair with what abides. Diary of Abhishiktananda, p. 274 (16.5.64). Sahaja samadhi in involves seeing God (Brahman) in all things. Or as Abhishiktananda described it,

Sahaja means ‘natural’. But clearly it is not the ordinary way of viewing the world, but the way that is attained by liberation. Enlightenment is ‘natural’ only in the sense that this is the way things were meant to be, this is reality as it truly is.

Dooyeweerd refers to the experience of seeing things as they really are. This language of seeing things as they really are is similar to the emphasis in Zen Buddhism of seeing reality as it really is, in its suchness. One is reminded of the Ten Oxherding Pictures, and the final picture where the enlightened one returns to the everyday world. There is a return to the everyday world, but it is seen differently. The world is seen as more inter-related. One image of this inter-relatedness is Indra’s Net.

This does not mean that we have to meditate in order to attain enlightenment. Ramana Maharshi did not see meditation as necessary. Dooyeweerd does not emphasize meditation. But both Dooyeweerd and Ramana emphasize the need to search for our true selfhood. Dooyeweerd’s emphasis goes beyond the selfhood, to a search for our true Origin, whose image we are. (I, 196). True knowledge of self is dependent on true knowledge of God, and only then can we have true knowledge of the cosmos.

Revised Dec 27/04

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