Viveka and Vichar

 On left: Eve offering the apple to Adam in the Garden of Eden and the serpent (detail), c.1520-25 (oil on wood) by Lucas Cranach the Elder (1472-1553).  On right: murti of Lord Buddha displaying the “dharma chakra mudra” (detail).

Viveka is distinguishing between what is permanent and what is temporary. Vichar is deep contemplation on the permanent. The only thing that is permanent is the experiencer; never the experienced. The highest form of vichar is meditation upon the Self. Ramana Maharshi explains: “Find out where from this ‘I’ springs from and merge at its source; that is tapas. Find out where from the sound of the mantra in japa rises up and merge there; that is tapas.” In japa we think only the mantra, which is the manifest or vibrational form of the Self. When there are no thoughts other than the mantra, then we notice the space of silence between mantras. This space is the unmanifest Self, pure consciousness and the source from where all thoughts spring. If the only thought is mantra, then in the gap, where there is no mantra, there will be no thought—only consciousness. Through practice we can \ widen this gap and expand our experience of the experiencer. We hear Ma dance in Her name and see Her shine in the silence between Her names. This method is the essence of the last instruction our Guruji gave me while alive. As we become absorbed in this thoughtless consciousness, known in Tantra as the bindhu, we enter the sushumna.