Moksha (), also called enlightenment, vimoksha, vimukti, mukti, nirvana and Kaivalya, and means emancipation, liberation or release from samsara, the cycle of death and rebirth. Moksha connotes freedom, self-realization and self-knowledge.
Moksha is a central concept and included as one of the four aspects and goals of human life; the other three goals are dharma (virtuous, proper, moral life), artha (material prosperity, income security, means of life), and kama (pleasure, sensuality, emotional fulfillment). Together, these four aims of life are called Purushartha.
Moksha is not merely an absence of suffering and release from bondage to samsara, but also the presence of the state of paripurna-brahmanubhava (oneness with Brahma, the One Supreme Self), a state of knowledge, peace and bliss.
Let's look more deeply into Moksha and discover its relative and Absolute levels. Moksha is more of a path than a destination. Moksha is first realized when the individual has the direct experience of living in the present moment while witnessing the physical life going on by itself.
- Level 1 Moksha is where the prana mind has become the viewpoint of consciousness and you witness the physical mind and physical body from that perspective.This is where you begin to live in the NOW. When this has become your 24x7 reality, then you have attained what Maharishi calls "Cosmic Consciousness."
- Level 2 Moksha is realized when the person shifts the focus of consciousness from the prana mind to the manomaya kosha mind and witnesses the prana mind and prana body from that higher perspective.This is what Maharishi calls "God Consciousness."
- Level 3 Moksha is the experience of witnessing the manomaya kosha from the vijñanamaya kosha mind. You have attained what Maharishi would call Unity Consciousness when this is your experience. This is relative Unity Consciousness because you have the experience of being one with all life in this relative universe.
- Level 4 Moksha is the realization that the person is the Creator of this universe, hence witnessing vijñanamaya kosha from the perspective of Anandamaya Kosha. Brahman Consciousness is another name for this level of experience.
- Level 5 Moksha is the destination that arises with the realization that the person is an Eternal Companion of Krishna in Goloka. This is Krishna Consciousness or could also be labeled as Bhakti but there is considerable confusion around that label so be careful. True Bhakti is not some show of mood making, singing, chanting and dancing in the physical life.
We are extolled by Eckhart Tolle and others that living in the NOW is the key to enlightenment or Moksha. But they do not offer a practical way to get there. The story goes that one day Eckhart thought "I cannot stand to live with myself" and that triggered a sudden shift in consciousness where he questioned "who is this I" and who is this "myself"! He noticed that there must be two viewpoints of consciousness in operation simultaneously. This is astute and of course correct. The challenge is to shift from the "myself" consciousness to the "I" consciousness and live life from that higher perspective. We would say that "myself" consciousness is physical mind and body consciousness and "I" consciousness is the more subtle prana mind and body consciousness.
In this video, Eckhart explains the life that is lived only on the physical level. He says it is frustrating to live this way and that people are not aware of the NOW. He says the shift in consciousness arises when you become aware of a deeper presence. He is talking about becoming spontaneously aware of the prana mind and then witnessing physical life from that perspective. He says this is how you become detached from all the physical thoughts and attachments of the physical mind. He says to sense the presence that you are and when you realize that alive, luminous presence in the background of your life, then you are no longer in the grip of desire and attachement because you have something more real. Freedom comes into the life.
Eckhart Tolle - Reality of The Present Moment
What Eckhart leaves out is a practical way to reach this state of freedom in life that comes from living in the NOW. So our task is to determine how to live in the NOW, and to do that we must identify this prana mind within our self and identify with it as our true self and witness the physical mind as a lesser level of consciousness. If we can do this, then living in the NOW becomes practical. Before this stage, it is literally impossible to live in the NOW. The physical mind is incapable of doing this because it always is taking inventory or planing for the future. When we meditate we come closest to living in the NOW as we think the mantra, which has no meaning. This makes it impossible to think "about" the mantra.
Thinking the mantra is Dharana and that is a physical mind activity. But the mantra is more than a meaningless word, it is a vehicle of transcending.
Our instruction for meditation is not to think the mantra but to start the mantra. Then we are told the mantra can continue by itself and may change in some ways. It could change in tempo, rate (faster or slower), value, pitch, length, or pronunciation. So if the mantra can continue by itself, then the conscious physical mind is doing the thinking while another part of ourself is witnessing this. When this witnessing occurs we have transitioned to Dhyana and we are witnessing from the prana mind.
Now it is possible to live in the NOW. The prana mind is a witnessing mind, and it is not active at all. So we can easily and spontaneously be in the NOW if our conscious awareness is in the prana mind, witnessing the physical mind. There is no trying or mood making about living in the NOW. So for that 20 minutes we are living in the NOW, then we come out of meditation and at that point we have a choice: 1) return all of our conscious awareness to the physcial mind with perhaps a memory of witnessing from the prana mind (and this gives us a sense of expansion and freedom) or 2) retain our experience of witnessing of the physical from the prana mind.
To accomplish 2) is the challenge, but we do not need to try to accomplish this, nor should we. It is enough to know that 2) is the ultimate objective and continue with 1) until 1) gradually and spontaneously transitions to 2).
When we sit to meditate, it is important to gain the greatest value from the session of meditation by taking the correct start of meditation. First, sit quietly and notice and feel the silence in the mind. That silence is your prana mind. Identify yourself with that part of your mind and start the mantra, like you would start your car engine. Notice that after thinking the mantra a few times you can let go of it and the mantra will continue in the physical mind. If you are identified with your silent prana mind, this is very easy to do. So let go of the mantra and follow it with your prana mind and see where it goes. The mantra will naturally go deeper and deeper until it is with you in your prana mind, but simultaneouly the silence you feel will have become deeper as you transition to your manomaya kosha mind and witness the mantra in your prana mind from that perspective. Continue and soon the mantra will be in the manomaya kosha mind while you transition to witness from the vijñanamaya kosha mind. Continue until the mantra is in the vijñanamaya kosha mind and you are established in Anandamaya Kosha.
Along the way thoughts will come into the physical mind to compete with the mantra. Just witness those thoughts. Do not engage them or follow them. Only engage and follow the mantra. This takes practice. Like physical training to do yoga asanas or some exercise. You practice for a while and become tired but some progress is made. The next session, after some rest, you continue and more progress is made. Take your time of meditation seriously and focus. This is not the time to just go to sleep! You are training your minds and experiencing very subtle differences between the physical mind and the prana mind. It takes mental energy, but do not strain. Straining and concentration works against your progress. There is a delicate balance to be found. You do not want to be totally passive and you do not want to strain. Find that edge that will keep you gently focused and keep the dicotomy of physical mind and prana mind in place. This is the key: find that dicotomy and hold it in place throughout the meditation session. If you find you have slipped back into thinking the mantra instead of witnessing the mantra, return to the prana mind and witnessing the mantra. If you find your physical mind has stopped thinking the mantra, and is probably engaged in thoughts, come back to the mantra, and start it again. The mantra must always be going in the conscious physical mind during meditation.
Eventually you will witness your life for a few minutes after meditation and then the witnessing value will be lost until the next meditation. This period of witnessing will become longer and longer with each passing day until you are witnessing from the end of the morning meditation until the evening meditation then you are witnessing from the end of the evening meditation and as your body goes to sleep at night. You will witness how the prana body floats above the physical body for a while during each sleep cycle (you sleep in 90 minute cycles) and also you will witness dreams as they arise and watch them as if you are watching a movie.
The Levels of Moksha will be experienced a percentage of the time, for example you may experience Level 1 Moksha 90% of the time and Level 2 20% and Level 3 10% and Level 4 0% and have an occasional glimpse of Level 5. We would consider that you are experiencing Moksha if Level 1 is 90% or more. We are all constantly evolving to higher levels of Moksha. To reach 100% on all five levels would be exceedingly rare. A survey appears below that you can complete to give you an indication of where you are in this evolutionary process of realizing Moksha.