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Themes of Contemplation of Some of the Deities

"Meditate in the heart's lotus with mind concentrated on Shiva, the three-eyed one, the Transcendent Lord of Sleep, the Supreme Self of all, upholding the three fundamental qualities, the destroyer of the three impurities (of substance, of form, and of nature), with the all-auspicious shining goddess Uma seated, beautiful, on his left knee. Imagine accessories as given below and worship him with them.

"Peace of mind is the water to anoint him; the notion of all pervasiveness is this vesture, intrinsic shape is the perfumed unguent, extreme mercifulness is the unhusked rice, purified devotion the flowers, the four inner faculties (mind, intellect, I-ness and the substratum of memory) are the incense, the mass of sensory qualities is the lamp, the intrinsic shape of the Self beyond pleasure or pain is the food offering, the three fundamental qualities of Nature (sattva-rajas-tamas) are the rice, the life-breath is the obeisance.

"In this way should the Supreme Giver of Happiness (Sankara) be worshipped with mental accessories."

The Eighth Step, or Identification (Samadhi)

"When alone the object of contemplation remains and one's own form is annihilated, this is known as 'identification'." (Yoga Darshana 3, 3.)

In contemplation three elements are present: he who contemplates, the fact of contemplating and the object of contemplation. In identification, these three elements cease to be distinct.

The practice of the method of identification with a material object or with a subtle entity gives superhuman powers, but these powers are hindrances on the path of spiritual realization. Identification with the Supreme Reality alone leads to liberation.

"That which we call experience, is but a limited experience subject to error and delusion. The only genuine experience is the mystical experience which gives total knowledge of subtle causes and is beyond the limitations of space and time." (Yogatrayananda, Shiva archana tattva, p. 33.)

Only by identification can we perceive the subtle (adhidaivika) and abstract (adhyatmika) aspect of things.

"The knot of the heart is untied, all doubts are pierced. In this vision all past deeds are dissolved." (Yoga Shikha Upanishad 5, 45.)

"The light of knowledge, which shines when the impurity of ignorance is dissolved by practice of the steps of yoga, is called the radiance of discernment (viveka)." (Yoga Darshana 2, 28.)

Then only can supreme reality be witnessed.

There are two degrees in this supreme identification: it can take place with or without the maintenance of individual consciousness, and is thus called samprajnata (with consciousness) or asamprajnata (without consciousness).

"Identification 'while retaining [individual] consciousness' is the cause of Liberation in that, by witnessing the Essence of things, pleasure and pain cease to exist.

"And identification without retaining individual Consciousness is also a means of liberation because it destroys all the traces left by mental activity and allows a man to cross beyond his past." (Yoga Sara Sangraha, p. 2.)

Identification with individual consciousness is also called "with thought" (sa-vikalpa), or "with root" (sa-mula). In this form the faculties dissolve into the shape of the non-dual principle and there remains no perceived difference between knower and known, although the notion of an individual existence and of the fact of knowing clearly remain.

This conscious identification is further divided into four stages, representing identification on the respective planes of the reasoning faculty (vitarka-anugama), the thinking faculty (vichara-anugama), the experience of joy (ananda-anugama) and the notion of existence (asmita-anugama).

The second degree of identification is identification without individual consciousness, also called "without seed" (nir-bija) or without thought (nir-vikalpa). At this stage there remains no place for either an individualized knower or for a particularized knowledge. As salt in water becomes part of the water so the movements of the mind dissolve into the non-dual Principle, the Brahman, and nothing but the Brahman remains to be perceived. This identification without individual consciousness is itself of two kinds: either with the notion of experience (bhava-pratyaya), or, with the notion of a process (upaya-pratyaya). At this stage there remains no individual support and all mental movements are stilled. This is the "motionless" state (viruddha avastha), to be reached through transcendent detachment. The mark of the knowing faculty is no longer discernible and it ends with the complete destruction of the mind in "identification with the Cloud of the Law" (dharma-megha-samadhi). This stage is also called the "witnessing of the Self" (Atma-sakshatkara); it is the ultimate aim of existence and its fulfillment.

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