Question: What is moksha? Is it the merging of unit consciousness into Cosmic Consciousness? Does meditation help in attaining moksha or what more should be done in order to attain it?
These are important questions, because moksha (written moksa in the Ananda Marga system) is the ultimate goal of yoga.
Here is what the guru of Ananda Marga, Shrii Shrii Anandamurti, says about it:
“When the samskaras of a sadhaka (spiritual aspirant) are exhausted, the inactive or dormant mind merges into the unit consciousness and the unit consciousness merges into the Cosmic Consciousness. This is the state of Nirvikalpa Samadhi. Nirvikalpa Samadhi, when it becomes permanent, is called moksa or salvation.”
Here he refers to samskaras, which means “reactions in potential form.” That is, when you perform any action, if that action is a conscious action then you will get a reaction. If the reaction is delayed, then it is a reaction in potential form (samskara) and it will express itself one day.
The reason why most people do not experience samadhi (absorption in Cosmic Mind or Cosmic Consciousness) is that they are too busy experiencing or thinking about the results of their previous actions. If you are doing meditation and you’re thinking about what you’re going to eat after you’ve finished meditation then you are not going to merge in Cosmic Consciousness!
When a yogi exhausts all of his or her samskaras then his or her mind will be silent and it will merge with the unit consciousness (atman or soul) and that unit consciousness will merge with Cosmic Consciousness. This is union or “yoga.”
That is the theory of it, but the practical question is how to do it? Many books have been written about it, and yogis have meditated for lifetimes trying to achieve moksa. In India, philosophers and yogis have stated that there are three main ways to reach the goal.
Some advocate the yoga of knowledge (Jinana Yoga), saying that if you study philosophy, do meditation and come to the understanding that you (your inner self) are the Cosmic Consciousness then you will attain the goal.
Others emphasize the yoga of action (Karma Yoga) and urge yogis to do good work in the world without ego; with the spirit that the action is being performed by the Cosmic Consciousness and it is being done to serve the Cosmic Consciousness.
The third path is called the path of devotion (Bhakti Yoga) and it means to do whatever you can to please the Supreme Consciousness. Though it is commonly understood to mean that one should chant mantras or sing songs, the true meaning of devotion is the inner surrender of your heart and soul to the Supreme Being.
It is interesting to note here that one of the greatest exponents of the yoga of knowledge, Shankaracarya, compared the three approaches and concluded that the path of devotion (and not the yoga of knowledge, of which he was an exponent) is the best way to attain moksa.
Shrii Shrii Anandamurti also said that the path of devotion is the best way of attaining the ultimate goal of yoga. Here’s how he puts it:
“For the attainment of moksa what is one to do? That pinnacled psycho-spiritual existence of yours is to be offered at the altar of the Supreme. The dearest entity for each and every human being is his existence, is his feeling of existence. ‘Oh Parama Purusa (Supreme Consciousness), I offer this feeling of existence, I offer this mind at your feet.’ This is the practice of moksa as taught by the acaryas [meditation teachers] during dhyana (meditation). It is the practice of moksa.”
So yes, one should practice meditation to attain the goal, but as you can see from the passage above, it should be a meditation in which you truly yearn to merge with the Supreme Being. If you practice such a meditation with unwavering determination and effort, then you will certainly attain moksa.