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Nididhyasitavyah - the deep pondering of self (atman), whereupon the Self (Brahman) become known

"Meditation is central to the spiritual endeavor in many schools of Hinduism, notably the Yoga tradition. The Bhagavad-Gita (12.12) ranks meditation above intellectual knowledge, and the Garuda-Purana (222.l0) states: "Meditation is the highest virtue. Meditation is the foremost austerity. Meditation is the greatest purity. Therefore be fond of meditation."This exhortation expresses a sentiment that is widespread in the sacred literature of Hinduism."

Yoga and Meditation (Dhyana) by Georg Feuerstein

Introductory Statement

Meditation is central to the spiritual endeavor in many schools of Hinduism, notably the Yoga tradition. The Bhagavad-Gita (12.12) ranks meditation above intellectual knowledge, and the Garuda-Purana (222.l0) states: "Meditation is the highest virtue. Meditation is the foremost austerity. Meditation is the greatest purity. Therefore be fond of meditation." This exhortation expresses a sentiment that is widespread in the sacred literature of Hinduism.

However, meditation is by no means universally regarded as the principal means of attaining Self realization. For instance, the Bhagavad-Gita (13.24) states that some behold the Self (atman) by means of meditation, while others approach it through samkhya-yoga and karma-yoga. Here samkhya-yoga stands for the spiritual practice of discernment (viveka) between the real and the unreal, and karma- yoga is the practice of dispassionate action....

Etymology

The Sanskrit word dhyana, derived from the verbal root dhyai ("to contemplate, meditate, think"), is the most common designation both for the meditative state of consciousness and the yogic techniques by which it is induced. The Vedanta tradition also employs the terms nididhyasana, which stems from the same verbal root, upasana (literally "dwelling upon"), and bhavana (literally "cultivating").

The term dhyana is widely used to refer to the contemplative process that prepares the ground for the ecstatic state (samadhi), though occasionally the term is also employed to signify that superlative state of consciousness.

Historical Review

The underlying idea of dhyana, though not the word itself, is found already in the Rig-Veda (see dhi, brahman). The expression dhyana is first to be met in the Upanishadic literature, starting with the archaic Chandogya-Upanishad (7.6.1,2; 7.1; 26,1) and Kaushitaki- Upanishad (3.2 3 4 6). In the Brihadaranyaka-Upanishad (4.5.6), which is generally held to be the earliest scripture of this genre, the verbal form nididhyasitavyah ("to be contemplated") is used in the sense of deeply pondering the Self (atman), whereupon the Self becomes known.

It is in the Chandogya (7.6.1) that we read "meditation is more than thought (citta)," and that "The earth meditates as it were (iva), the heavens meditate as it were, the waters meditate as it were, the mountains meditate as it were, deities and humans meditate as it were." This suggests that meditation is a form of abiding, of simply being present, which certainly describes an important feature of the meditative state. In the same Upanishadic passage, we learn that true greatness among men is a result of having obtained"A share of meditation as it were."

In the oldest Upanishads, dhyana is not yet recognized as a formal component of the spiritual path. It is, however, beginning to be referred to as one of the means of acquiring knowledge of the Self. In that context, it usually stands for the contemplation of the revealed truth, the Vedic teaching about the Self deep within the human psyche.

Yoga and Meditation (Dhyana)
by Georg Feuerstein




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