Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Kaivalya - Absoluteness

Sri gurubhyo namaha.

Following on from the previous post where the nama sarvamayi suggests total and complete non separation (of the Devi) as a requisite for total or unlimited dominion, the concept of Kaivalya or Absoluteness takes an altogether new perspective.
Before I venture deeper into the details of the state of Kaivalya, it would be appropriate to first introduce you to what the term means - both in the way it is understood and what it really is. In the spiritually alienated society we live in today, religion, philosophies and other spiritual concepts are deeply penetrated by a dualistic perception of life and the world. Thus the non- dual ideas and concepts that are the very core of yoga and 'true' spirituality, like freedom, happiness or liberation etc are heavily misinterpreted or misrepresented. This is the case when we look at the concept of Kaivalya too. The more common translations/interpretations of the word Kaivalyam contain a false or wrong understanding of it as a withdrawal or as isolation. They purport to derive this meaning from the root 'kevala', alone or by itself, etc and thus paint the supreme state of Kaivalya to be akin to an isolation. They say that it is that state where one is 'free' from the pull of the external universe and its eternally confusing array of tricks. They also describe the state of being of the yogi in the state of Kaivalya as one who is (in appearance)not any different to any other human being. His life is still punctuated like all of ours by the night and day, rain and dry and all other natural stimuli. The difference is that, unlike others, the yogi in kaivalya is able to transcend the 'effects' of these stimuli and is able to be in a state of mental 'isolation' where these effects are not felt. Like a state of 'comfortably numb'. This, as we all know, is perhaps even achieved with the aid of morphine or other opiates! Why would anyone go through the tough and hard path that is yoga to arrive at a dull, uninvolved and non - present state of mind? This misinterpretation of Kaivalya stems from the attitude of separateness that affects all of us in the world today.
But that could not be all? The siddhars and many other yogis have actively sought and in many cases have also attained to this supreme state called kaivalyam. Surely, it cannot be connected to isolation and separateness. Surely, there must be a better explanation? Yes, there is! Kaivalyam cannot be viewed as freedom from anything in the context of escape, hiding, aversion,or sheer laziness to not be involved. Rather, this supreme state is a result of something altogether different in nature. It is not possible to arrive at this state through intellectual processes or though differentiation or reductionism or an attitude of separateness. Instead it is a state that is achieved through the release of such things! And once again, this 'release' is not a conscious process of giving up on things - it is more like a spontaneous surrender that is a result of some 'direct' spiritual experience or experiential realisation. Kaivalyam then should be defined as union more than isolation.
Like how the nama (in the previous post) Sarvamayi indicates that non separation (or union) is a requisite for unlimited dominion, the state of singleness without attributes (the definition of kaivalya) is also only possible on arriving at a state of union. Even the yoga sutras of Patanjali describe Kaivalya as the ''establishment in its own nature (swarupa) of the energy of consciousness.'' Bhojaraja, a commentator, explains that state of energy in which modifications are extinct and when it remains alone with its own nature is Kaivalya. This being alone in ones one nature is inclusive and not isolation as one's own nature is that of this universe. It is a state of absoluteness that happens as an effect of the self realising its unity with the entire universe. At that state all differences and modifications cease to be- as there is nothing that is not I. This supreme and totally connected state of samadhi is Kaivalya. It is solitary not because of the negation of everything else, but because everything is included into oneself. And the supreme Devi graces Her bhaktas by being Kaivalyapadadayini (Bestower of the solitary abode(kaivalya)). This She does by destroying the dualistic knowledge (a result of avidya) and manifesting the knowledge of oneness and unity, beyond all separation or objectification.