Monday is AUM-day; in search of meditation.
Thus far we have discussed;
- Aasana - correcting position for prolonged introspection
- Necessity of clearing the mind
- Supplanting extraneous thought with guided thought in the form of AUM
- Taken up some understanding of how to think on AUM
- Introduced breathing as part of aasana and focus
- Introduced the idea of objectifying thought
Please keep reading back over these things, raise any questions, seek correction. It is one of the peculiarities of modern education that students seek only to have it confirmed that they are 'doing it right' rather than asking 'what can I do better?'
No matter how much a teacher says, it is never enough; for the student must first take what has been said, then must exercise appropriate analysis and put into practice. Almost certainly there will appear gaps in understanding, failures in application. The keen and observant student will realise that either something in the teaching already received has been missed or misunderstood; or there is still something more to learn which has not yet arrived in the teaching. Either way, the hand must go up!
In gurukula meditational instruction it was not uncommon to see the guru moving round the group and with a staff, or a foot, pointing to the backs which were bowing, shoulders which were stooping, heads which were falling… every guru would know who was working and who was sleeping! Sleep, or dozing at least, is the most common foe to the early meditators. There are many group meditations the world over where someone drops into the 'snoring' phase of meditation! How many denials have been heard over the centuries? "No no no swami-ji, I reached samaadhi, I knew nothing!"
Which gives the shishya away immediately. In समाधि/samaadhi one has certainly moved beyond thought, but, we are told, all knowledge is known.
Can such a condition be there? There is a common experience of nothingness and everything-ness which is described by serious pursuers of this truth. Some choose to stay in their caves and turrets and remain seated in bliss. Some, though, elect to came back from those far reaches and bring the news to us and seek to give guidance. All of them say, though, that all they can do is point to the path. Walking it is yours alone.
In the early stages, company and leadership are required. Sometimes the guru can appear harsh, may all the time be correcting. There are students who will crumble from this. The guru has no ill-intention, but it is his responsibility to raise the spiritual fitness of the student in order that the oncoming rigours can be met with the best that student has. Seargent-major of Company Y needs to drill them before entering any theatre of battle. Whilst the battle may involve many parts, the individual within it must always have the greater good in mind, the purpose for his/her being there, and be fit enough to overcome the onslaught. Spiritually, our battlefield is our ego, our mind, our emotions, our attachments… these are the things which Arjuna lamented and Krishna corrected him from in the sacred text of Bhagavad Gita.
These are the things which Lord Yeshu had to overcome in the desert when 'the devil' offered temptations. Conventional Christian interpretation is straightforward warning against material lusts; this is perfectly appropriate as the greed of food, pride of life and avarice (seeing and wanting) are among the strongest barriers to spiritual advancement. Additionally though, once an understanding from vedantic standpoint is gained, this portion of scripture (Matt 4, 1-11/Luke 4, 1-13) brings even more. In taking Himself to the desert after baptism (sanyaasa - adopting spiritual habit) and fasting ( तपः/tapas - abstinence/austerity/discipline) and keeping always the thought of the teachings of the forefathers and His own Father in mind (ध्यानम् /dhyaanam - contemplation), our Lord funded the inner strength to beat down the 'devil' ego which would keep arising and go searching for distractions. Why would the Son of God need to do this? For He had come in human form. He was subject to all the strife of human life. Thus we can hold the example of Christ up in the light of vedantic philosophy whilst losing nothing of the Christian exegetic concept.
These are the kinds of contemplation which must be taken up before approaching advanced meditation. Success in meditation comes in having clarified our knowledge, asked our questions, voiced our doubts, cleared away all our inner debris. The daily exercise which has been given thus far is to be maintained. There is to be no rush to extend beyond it. Use it to settle yourself in the mornings and evenings. Use it, also, before approaching study and mananam (reflection/contemplation) regarding the effect of what is learned upon you.
All of this is incorporated in the early steps of meditation. The more that is learned, the easier it becomes to empty yourself.
Then the journey really begins.