Ideation & bha’va

Besides the sound science involved in mantra meditation, there is the less discussed aspect of the mantra’s meaning. In sacred meditation mantras there exists consciousness (caetanya) itself; there is deep meaning to the mantra.  Every mantra has within it intention and meaning that in Sanskrit is termed bha’va. Bha’va does not have a direct English translation but we will refer to it here as the idea or consciousness that flows within the vibration of a particular mantra. Bha’va makes the mind soft and subtle, flowing with spiritual feeling. The richer the bha’va, the more sublime the state of mind.  The emergence of bha’va reinforces meditation as a practice. [brahma sa’dhana’]

Besides the energy and power of the mantra’s vibration, the mantra works by gradually awakening the yogi to this mystical idea because this consciousness (caetanya) is embedded in the mantra. The yogi in turn cultivates the empowered mantra by ideating upon the idea, the meaning, intrinsic within the mantra.

A principle of tantra (mystical intuitional science) is to embrace what is, and then transform the “what is”, progressing towards greater evolution of consciousness. This happens through vistara (expansion) and rasa (flow). This implies that the meditation practitioner “ideates” on the mantra according to her best approximation of the meaning of that mantra, the limited conception of the mantras meaning will, through practice, gradually evolve, unfold and expand to more refined levels of realization of the inherent sacred meaning. In a dialectical manner your current thesis about what the ultimate reality is will be expanded to a more refined one, the antithesis, and that in turn will continue to be upgraded. It’s a bit like a continual upgrading of both your computer and your software so that you end up with increasingly better ability to ideate upon the supreme. This is vistara, the continual expansion that evolves through a regular spiritual practice. Rasa is feeling one’s way into the meaning. Gradually a spiritual feeling will emerge. This direct spiritual experience will help shape and guide the ideation. This is an intuitional science. The new meditator can practice patience and work with the best approximation of ideation until this more intuitive state unfolds more fully. With patient practice, mind expands, resulting in more depth, breadth and spiritual mood and thus richer quality of ideation. [This process can be referred to as “Brahma sa’dhana’”-meditation on the Great. This implies that this meditation practice is the effort to expand the mind in a movement of increasingly greater proximity and flow with the ultimate awakened blissful consciousness.]

Careful attention to pratya’ha’ra, withdrawal, in the first stage of yoga meditation can attract awareness closer to the super conscious layers of the mind and thus more quickly cultivate this spiritual bha’va. The evolution of this process brings more flow (rasa), harmony with the spiritual realm of consciousness. This is not a theoretical construct but a practical result of following the science of the meditation instruction. Mindful practice can verify this subjective science. The current of this mind withdrawal (pratya’ha’ra) is from the outer surface of consciousness toward the inner deeper layers of the mind.

Rasa, spiritual flow, may be aided through recollecting a prior spiritual experience by which one then associates as a quality or degree of the mantra’s meaning. This recollection helps ignite the mood of the mantra in a way that the aroma of incense helps some to be in a spiritual mindset. This association can be considered as an incremental step towards higher quality ideation. This is a method that cultivates the sentient (sattvik) state of mind. The more refined the mind the “riper” the ideation will be.

Direct experience of the mystical can be brought about through a variety of stimulus. There are many degrees of spiritual experience from the subtle to the most profound experience of one’s life. To cultivate spiritual feeling aspirants have worked with spiritual readings, hearing spiritual/philosophical discourses, keeping company of others on the path (satsaunga), being in nature, meditation practice itself, spiritual music, tantric practices, etcetera. A very powerful method of cultivating spiritual mood prior to meditation practice is by chanting kiirtana-singing sacred names. These ideation enhancers increase spiritual flow, moving in the rasa.