Adventures in Advaita Vedanta, the philosophy and science of spirit. We are one you and I; are you curious why?..


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Hari OM

हरिः ॐ 

Each Monday is to be a focus on contemplative practice.

"Meditation" is a much touted word these days.
1.     the action or practice of meditating.
"a life of meditation"

Contemplation, thinking, pondering, consideration, reflection, deliberation, cogitation, reverie…. 
2.     a written or spoken discourse expressing considered thoughts on a subject.

This is the standard definition for daily use.  Meditation in terms of yoga**, however, has the very singular meaning of 'suspension of thought'.  It is, in a sense, a culmination of the processes of focused thought and it is this process which has become more widely called as meditation.  The Sanskrit word समाधन/ samaadhana is what has been translated as 'meditation', but it is described by Bhashya-kaara in verse 26 of Vivekachudamani thus;
Samaadhana (tranquility) is that condition when the mind is constantly engaged (stablised) in the Pure Brahman/the Supreme Reality; it is not gained through intellectual oscillations.
By this we see that no actual thinking is taking place when one has entered true meditation.  It is a coexistence with the Supreme.This condition is referred to as being in समाधि/samaadhi. To attain such heights of practice requires much time and effort, for it calls for nothing else than total control of mind.

For the vast majority this may seem an impossible goal.  Attempts to free the mind are continually made, though. Why?  Mainly because there are saints and sages who have gone before and proven the possibility of attaining highest spiritual bliss.  Not only in the Sanskrit culture (although it is here that we find the scientific approach and longest history, with most prolific teachings on the matter), but with others also.  In the Christian tradition we have the likes of Teresa of Avila, whose work The Interior Castle holds amazing similarity to the steps towards jiivanmukta in the Eastern tradition; emphasizing that we must begin at the beginning and steps are taken one at a time - no shortcuts!

So meditation is not simply sitting for a given length of time, with candles and or incense burning and some quiet music in the background.  Relaxing it is, certainly.  Unless the mental agitations are being dealt with, however, it is nothing more...and possibly not even that, if all one does is go over the worries of the day and write the shopping list.

There is no magical or external solution to removing the restless thoughts.  It is an exercise like any physical one, which requires firstly a desire to sublimate the ego, next the stamina to stick to the regime and finally, the application of other 'tools' to maintain balance outside the specific time of focus.

We shall explore all this, together, on AUM-days...the very first rule of meditation is patience!

**NB - 'yoga' is the Sanskrit word for 'union'.  Specifically of lower/ego self with Higher/non-ego Self.  It can be achieved by following a particular path, according to your inclinations and capabilities.  There are four paths; कर्म /karma (activity), भक्ति /bhakti(service and devotion), ज्ञान /jnaana (knowledge) and हठः /hatha (physical) yogas.  Those who are restless and 'doing' folk may best maximise efforts through activity; those inclined to more charismatic and emotional expression can benefit from majority devotional practice; intellectuals, scientists, doubters will get the most from knowledge path; the dance-y, sporty types are most likely to follow the physical path which most in the world now mean when they use the term 'yoga'.

A balance can be struck whereby all are practiced; indeed it must be, in order to get the best out of transactional (worldly) life, however one will be the dominant path. 

The rules of meditation are the same in all paths.


1 comment:

  1. The meditation side of yoga is the primary reason I go, and "the suspension of thought" expresses it perfectly. For that amount of time, I do nothing but breathe, concentrating on the inhale, the exhale, and the spaces between poses. It has been invaluable to me.

    Best wishes,



Hari OM
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