The 7 valleys of meditation

The ascending of the Kundalini as described by Sri Ramakrishna

“I will try to make you understand what happens, but this is so ample and sublime that the words almost cannot allow it to be rendered. Therefore I insist to plunge yourself in the waters of such an experience, because there can be no other modality to search it deeply however penetrating your mind and your spirit might be. They cannot rival with the flashing brilliance of the Absolute Presence. Both make nothing else than rise the dust of the words in which they are lost. If what the eyes of the soul contemplate is impossible to describe, on the other hand the ways which it follows can be undoubtedly defined through words. Even if the goal is one, the modalities to reach it are different.
Since the oldest times the great wise (RISHI-s) have enumerated at least five ways in which the soul can focus or concentrate its energy towards the Absolute when in a state of prayer and meditation. For example, the RISHI-s say that the human soul advances often through clumsy jumps – as the toad. Other times it runs as a snake that glides up a hill slope: in flashes and curves.

Then there is still another way. Each cell of your body and every pulse of your heart beat slowly, and the regularity of the rhythm with which your intuitions catch fire is slow and inexorable as the march of a row of ants from one spot to another. The fourth way is the way of a bird, or of the birds. You know how the birds fly off one tree, and move in the air as though they were wandering aimlessly. Yet they aim at a distant tree, that has been in their mind all the while. Similarly rises and focuses towards the Divine your concentrated soul-energy when thoroughly quickened by persistent devotion. Each atom of your being seems to fly up on the wings of all-pervading Light. It may wander about aimlessly first. But if you keep on meditating and praying, those wings will bring you to the House of Oneness.
The fifth way is quite different from the others. The sages have called it “the way of monkeys” . You can sometimes see monkeys sitting still like a rock. Then suddenly they start leaping and bounding and they do not stop until they have reached their destination – somebody’s mango garden. So acts your spiritual intuition also.
You sit still and meditate day after day, yet nothing happens. But you keep on thinking of SAMADHI with your body, heart, mind and soul. Let not even a particle of you flag, concentrate hard till in the course of two or three years sud¬denly your Spirit leaps from plane to plane, climb¬ing the steepest precipices with the ease of a hawk, then plunges into ADVAlTA – the perfect union with the Infinite Intelligence.
“Besides the different ways by which a soul climbs till the perfect unity, you must also know the planes of consciousness that you must cross. No matter whose meditation – whether of Lord Buddha or of a common man – it must take him across six different valleys – planes of consciousness – in order to reach the seventh, the last. Whether your soul’s intuition hops like a toad or flies like a bird, it must cross the seven valleys. The experience of each one of those valleys is identically the same, no matter how a soul reaches it.

It is good to know that I too, even if you admire me now, was acting in the same way as you, sitting still as my Guru had advised me. Afterwards I purified my thoughts and feelings of all the dross of separation. In my mind, in my heart, in my soul, in every cell of my body I sought His Presence. I knew that I was not separate from Him. He was in me. Hence I quickened every bit of myself to elicit the hidden Self. I was saying:
Come forth, o thou sword of immortality, from this thy scabbard.” Thus I prayed for days, weeks and months.”

 The awakening of KUNDALINI and its gradual ascent from CHAKRA to CHAKRA

At last my spirit hopped, it leaped over the embankment of this world into the waters of the first of the seven valleys. A light utterly unknown, like from another Sun, shone upon what I perceived. All the things of the earth that I looked upon wore the vesture of Beauty.
Everywhere I glanced, beyond and around, beauty and spirituality leaped out of the matter like tigers from dark dens. Now I was aware that this was the home of the senses. The sight of so much wonder filled me with terrible desires. “Possess, possess” they cried. I was seized with an overpowering desire to taste and own all the beauty that lay about me. Just at that moment another cry broke out in me: “Beware, beware of the sinister temptation of this valley!” No sooner heard than done, I set out to quicken meditation. I meditated harder and prayed more intensely for release from the first valley. At the end of some months my prayers were answered. The word of the senses tempted me no more: slowly the first valley fell from my consciousness as the skeleton of its prey falls from the eagle’s talons.

“Thus, I had entered in the second valley. Here I was not obsessed with the c1awing material beauty of what I saw. The light in which the world appeared now was more refined, more subtle and soothing. I felt happy here. Fragments of beautiful colours, shapes and sounds haunted – and sweetened my hours in this valley. I thought of relaxing my meditation and staying here. Then I was even tempted to create life: “thoughts of sex“. For in the sublime light of the second valley, sex wears the appearance of beatitude and power.
But no matter how it appears, the soul must resist its temptation. I set out to free my consciousness from the besetting beauty of sex. I heaped more fuel of devotion on the altar of God-quest. The fire of illumination burnt very low at first. But gradually it became brighter and in a few more days, lo, it burnt like daggers of light. And in those biting flames the second valley burnt into cinders. Neither it nor its temptations fretted me further.

“Thus I reached the third stage. In this valley I found that the sense of power that I had experienced before, in the second, had increased a hundredfold. Now I felt that I could take the Sun between the palms of my hands and crush it into a handful of burning dust.
This sense of power must be resisted, for it is nothing but a test of one’s character. There is no temptation viler than the sense of power. The instant I had perceived the danger that beset me, I quickened my meditation to the utmost. It had to be more powerful than the power that I had to resist. I prayed – oh, how I prayed – to be freed of my lust for power. Like the fangs of a viper it held me. But my soul would not yield to it. I rose on the wings of medi¬tation higher and higher till a height where it had no more meaning for me. At that moment the snake opened its mouth and fell from my side.

“Now like an elephant hurtling through a fence I plunged on the valley of HRIDAYA JYOTI – the light of God’s Heart. As if my heart had become a torch lit by the flame from His, light gushed out from my soul over everything. Pebbles and stars all sang with equal radiance a song of the Ineffable. In the forth valley I felt well nigh secure from every temptation. Yet I kept a strict watch on myself.
Though I was a chalice of light, yet I felt suspicious of temptation. That feeling served as a warning to me. I decided not to tarry here. Thus followed another long period of fasting, prayer and meditation.

“Fortunately this time I did not have to wait so very long. The light in heart expanded. It flung a vast circle-net of Suns around and beyond. Extremely surprised I realized that I had reached the next valley, the realm of utterance. My thoughts and feelings, every pulse and each cell of me was enlightened! Through my throat and lips poured words of wonder and benediction. I praised the Lord all the time. Save of Him I could not bear to speak. And if anyone spoke of possessions and pleasures, their words smote me like rods. It got to be so that if any of my relatives came to consult me on family matters I used to run away and hide myself in the woods of PANCHAVATI.

Relations and friends who sought to own me appeared to me as a deep well dragging me down – I feared to be suffocated in the water way below in the dark earth. I felt as though drowning in their presence. Only by leaving them could I find peace. In one word: this valley is not full of tolerance and love for all. One must transcend it. That is why I flung myself into deeper and steeper meditations yet. There was no peace nor pleasure for me. “Either I find Him face to face, or take my life”, I said to myself. As a tiger crouches in order to leap, so did I. I prayed, I waited, I watched. I would not linger in the valley of utterance; I must not give in to merely praising God. I must see Him. So I sat couchant with prayers.

“Suddenly I perceived something ahead. That instant I leaped – in a trice I was in the sixth – the valley of TURYA. Here I was dose to my Beloved. I could see and feel Him in the next chamber. Only a thin transparent veil separated the soul from the Self. At last I knew that I was in a room in the House of Oneness.

“From the sixth valley it is not difficult to pass in the seventh. Here all was reduced at ideas floating as shadows in the obscure silence of the spirit. Only the much weakened concept of my ego was asserting itself with interruptions of a dull monotony. My soul became pure reality. Any dualism between the subject and the object disappeared. My Self knew no more limits. Whatever existed was only infinite joy. I was beyond the language, beyond the expressible experience, beyond thinking … and to call this state “liberty” means to diminish very much it sense. There no word can enter, nor the chatter of human thought. Only your soul clad in silence can lift the veil that separates Him from your embrace.

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