Question: I have read in a book by Romain Rolland about Ramakrishna that nirvikalpa samadhi is a terrible and terrifying experience. Is nirvikalpa so terrible? Are we then undergoing all these tedious processes of meditation, purification and discipline only to end in a state of terror? Are we going to turn into living corpses?
Bhagwan : People have all sorts of notions about nirvikalpa. Why speak of Romain Rolland? If those who have all the Upanishads and vedantic tradition at their disposal have fantastic notions about nirvikalpa, who can blame a westerner for similar notions? Some yogis by breathing exercises allow themselves to fall into a cataleptic state far deeper than dreamless sleep, in which they are aware of nothing, absolutely nothing, and they glorify it as nirvikalpa. Some others think that once you dip into nirvikalpa you become an altogether different being. Still others take nirvikalpa to be attainable only through a trance in which the world-consciousness is totally obliterated, as in a fainting fit. All this is due to their viewing it intellectually.
Nirvikalpa is chit – effortless, formless consciousness. Where does the terror come in, and where is the mystery in being oneself? To some people whose minds have become ripe from a long practice in the past, nirvikalpa comes suddenly as a flood, but to others it comes in the course of their spiritual practice, a practice which slowly wears down the obstructing thoughts and reveals the screen of pure awareness ‘I’-’I’. Further practice renders the screen permanently exposed. This is Self-realization, mukti, or sahaja samadhi, the natural, effortless state. Mere nonperception of the differences [vikalpas] outside is not the real nature of firm nirvikalpa. Know that the non-rising of differences [vikalpas] in the dead mind alone is the true nirvikalpa.