In our meditation tradition, we have an additional extraordinary practice called “bhāvanā”. It is a practice that is built upon and becomes actually possible, because of the prior established practice of deep introversive meditation. Simply stated: authentic meditation, which must be learned formally in our tradition, connects us with Source. By “Source” I mean that oceanic absolute field of consciousness that underlies the entire universe. That, which of itself is formless and infinite yet contains all potential forms, expressions and the knowledge of everything. Because it iseverything. An indescribable totality that is where we “go” and what we tap-into and come to directly “know” in our meditations. It is endlessly interesting and nourishes, sustains and enhances life in every aspect.
This practice is called bhāvanā and refers to meditation born insight. The birth of new knowledge being expressed out of that Source and crystallized into new insightful knowledge assembled out of our own inquiries or questions. The method is simple: We formulate what we desire to know, that which we desire to know and are deeply curious about, into a clear succinct inquiry. A question. Then, in the proximity of our introversive meditative state we “place” and release our question there. We offer it into “the deep end” of consciousness itself. We offer it and let it go. We have a specific mantra, a vibratory tool that supports the offering of bhavana, which is repeated just a few times. And then we let it go without strings attached.
The results are such that the Absolute, or Source, which actually contains the knowledge of everything (quite literally), will assemble new knowledge for us shaped around and in response to our sincere inquiry. It is like a crystal growing out of a solution in response to the presence of a tiny seed crystal. The knowledge is tailored to our own consciousness in just the way that it was asked. Then, out of necessity, it is returns back to us. The answer comes back to the origin, that is the person who formulated and offered the question. Time may pass: We will be doing something completely unrelated, at another time and place, perhaps hours later or sometimes days later. But the answer invariably comes back with astonishing clarity and with the certainty of being an expansive answer to our inquiry. It is “new knowledge” for us, which is the meaning of the Sanskrit word bhāvanā. It is not something we “figured out” from the prior contents of our personal knowledge. It is greater than that and filled with wisdom, hence its character of surprising astonishment. That is the hallmark of bhavana.
So I will share here an example of my own bhavana practice from this morning. (I find something to ask in bhavana practically every day!) I have been thinking recently, about the relationship of my own human ever-present field of self-referential awareness: what I am experiencing and knowing, together with the knowledge that it is “I” that is knowing it. The conventional materialistic view is that this experience of conscious awareness that we all have is some product or side effect of the complex neuro-processing of our brains. That it is an epi-phenomenon of informational brain complexity. And I can certainly see that having some constructed idea-of-self has great survival value for creativity and decision making for the human being. (See “The Mirror Within” blog post from November November 26, 2016 in my blog archives.)
And yet I know through my own direct experiences in meditation there is a great Absolute field of Consciousness, that, which is a great mass of Beingness-Consciousness-Bliss. Once “seen” and touched in meditation it transforms our perspective on life altogether. It can never again be “unseen” of forgotten. And its own nature is supreme self-referential Consciousness that has been called the great “I AM”, a realization of totality in unity.
So now, as a personal example, here is a recent bhavana inquiry of my own: “How can I know (with my intellect) that conscious awareness is a prior and universal principle, the ground of being of the entire world, and not an emergent field of qualia constructed by the neural network processing of the brain?”
The first-level answer returned promptly: “In Unity Consciousness, in the Heart, there is the knowledge of everything, sarvajñatva. It abides in Being, in its own Wholeness, in its own Freedom.”
This was very beautiful but seemed obscure and esoteric. So I inquired again: “Even the one-life fabric of this planet, the undivided biosphere of planet Earth – is a unity. Yet it is a temporary, ever changing and ultimately “mortal”, will ultimately pass away, subside. In all of nature I can see a self-referential operating intelligence that underlies all the creative expressions of complex life. At the same time, there is a fundamental self-referential unity and intelligence in the fundamental quantum physics of this universe; A correlating ‘entanglement’ interconnecting all of the actions and “particles” of the cosmos going back to time zero, to the Big Bang. How are these two orders or levels of self-referential consciousness related? The universal all-encompassing cosmic, and the individual (micro-cosmic) within my own lived experience?
From this another level of understanding came back: “The proof you seek is contained in your own access to the self-referential knowledge of the Absolute field of Consciousness. Which is an ever-prior universal totality of undivided awareness, alive, independent and free. The experience of even the tiniest portion of this (that is knowable in meditation), and which is beyond a personal human perspective. Your access to universal non-conceptual knowledge within is the proof that you seek. For it is there realized outside conceptual constructed knowledge.
“That is the image of ‘Indra’s Net’: that every node and every object reflects, connects to and contains the knowledge of everything else (sarvasarvātmakatva).”
And finally this morning I received a third level of bhavana, a more clear understanding of the relationship of the universal and the individual consciousness: “Human Consciousness is as ‘foam’ on the ocean of the Absolute, the small assemblages of self-referential awareness within the contents of human consciousness. These are the operations of the mind’s creativity, the ‘time-travel’ of making decisions on imagined futures and reflections of the past; the theory-of-mind activities that enable communication with others’ minds; the deciding, the planning, the protecting, the gaining or achieving; the connecting with others; the surviving in human life.
That is all just foam of human activity on that ocean -that which holds it all, including this physical quantum-entangled extraordinary universe depending upon so much perfectly self-organized magnificence. And all of it is being maintained by the intrinsic potency of living grace (‘Soma’). All of it arising, expressing, evolving then subsiding in the Absolute ocean, which is of the nature of self-referential Consciousness-Unity-Being. It is arising and is operating by it’s own grace (vimarśa, anugraha). The wholeness of that grace is reflected and fully present in everything else (Indra’s Net). And that is why this natural universe is so beautiful to us.”
Admittedly this is personal to my personal perspective and questioning. That is the whole point. Such insights, as in this example, demonstrate beautiful gifts of the practice of bhavana. This is why I engage in it nearly every day. It works for personal questions in life, for scientific insights and for esoteric transcendent understandings, for which the mind is of little help in being unable to make the leap to a higher perspective. As Einstein said: “The problem can be solved at the same level that gave rise to the problem.”
(Note: Bhāvanā is taught as an additional, more advanced practice after one has learned the core practice of deep introversive meditation (Neelakantha Meditation) and practiced it for some months on a regular basis. For it is only upon this foundation that bhāvanā can actually work for the individual. Both practices are extraordinary, precious and practical tools for life.)