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


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AUM Explorer 2

Hari OM

Monday is AUM-day; in search of meditation.

Last week we began our deeper study of the OM and it's chant. The post closed by asking you to pracitce meditating on the physical expression of OM and to begin mananam on the more subtle meanings. All must culminate in the bindu - the dot at the top. Picking up and expanding on that...

Keeping it simple: A funny thing happens with meditation--it is both very complex and utterly simple at the same time. Both the beginning and advanced stages have their own forms of simplicity to the process. It is the middle ground, the intermediate stages, where it can get confusing. In the very beginning one simply sits, does a few basic practices and experiences some degree of peace of mind. It seems pretty simple. Then, we start learning about philosophy and many other practices; it gets complicated… or so it seems.

The good news is that at the advanced end of the spectrum we return to simplicity, but of a much higher order. Just as apprentices first enter skill-learning with naiveté and looking admiringly at the master then struggle through the application of lesson; adherence, practice and determination bring results.  Mastership is obtained and all works with an amazing ease. Similarily in meditation, we come to see that all of the complexity comes down to a few simple principles, which merge into the bindu or point of convergence. We come to see that the point of convergence is one and the same with the original point of divergence. Pretty simple. Not easy to do, but simple.

Yantra of Tantra
Symbols of the bindu: The point of divergence and convergence is called bindu, which means point or dot and is also related to a seed. The Sanskrit root of bindu is to break through or to burst through. The dot at the top of the OM symbolizes turiiya, the Absolute Reality, or Pure Consciousness. OM is suggested in both the Yoga Sutras and Vedanta. The highest, most advanced symbol of Tantra has a dot in the centre, which also symbolizes this point of divergence and convergence. The mustard seed has been widely used as a symbol of the smallest point, out of which the largest emerges and to which that largest returns. Here are a few interesting examples of the mustard seed being used:

"Atman [Self], residing in the lotus of the heart--is smaller than a grain of paddy, than a barley corn, than a mustard seed, than a grain of millet or than the kernel of a grain of millet. This, my Atman residing in the lotus of the heart is greater than the earth, greater than the sky, greater than heaven, greater than all these worlds. (Chaandogya Upanishad)

"The one I call holy does not cling to pleasures, like water on a lotus leaf or a mustard seed on the point of a needle. (Dhammapada)

"Seek first the kingdom..." (Matthew) "The kingdom of heaven is like a mustard seed, which a man took and planted in his field. Though it is the smallest of all your seeds, yet when it grows, it is the largest..." (Matthew)

"The gate of liberation is narrow, less than one-tenth of a mustard seed. The mind has become as big as an elephant; how can it pass through this gate? If one meets such a True Guru, by His Pleasure, He shows His Mercy. Then, the gate of liberation becomes wide open, and the soul easily passes through." (Guru Granth Sahib)

It is worth noting that all philosophical structures recognise the concept, albeit not by the Sanskrit nomenclature; there is a seemingly universal human experience of the bindu itself on the inner journey, just as the inner experiences of light and sound seem to be common and universal. While the reality is universal, the way of interpreting the experience of bindu may be different for people of different cultures and religions. The need for a singular focus IS the point.

Bindu is beyond the senses and thoughts: It is very important to understand that the actual bindu is far beyond the senses and thoughts in the conventional sense of thinking processes involving strings of words, images, or other such impressions. This means transcending not only the senses as operating through the physical organs, but also the inner or mental experience of sensation. For example, one not only closes the eyes, but also goes beyond all manner of inner visualization. When attention on all of the gross and subtle objects and processes collapses, so to speak, and thus, moves inward towards the bindu, there is a convergence on a point which is the finer meaning of one-pointedness of mind. There may be an extremely intense awareness of the nature of pure sound and light, but this is very different from what we experience by mental visualization or imagination. The journey to the bindu starts to become the experience of the source of light (Jyotir Bindu / Tejo Bindu) and the source of sound (Naada Bindu), as well as being the source out of which other sensation, mental processes and the 'instruments' emerge.

Earlier and later stages of practice: In the earlier stages of meditation and contemplation, inner sensory experiences and mental processes are intentionally explored so as to attenuate the colourings of attachment, aversion and fear. It is later, building on this solid foundation of purifying and balancing the mind that the aspirant seeks to transcend these experiences so as to enter the inner cave with the intent of encountering and piercing the bindu. By being aware that the inner thoughts and sensing either are or are not present at the different stages of meditation and contemplation, the process is predictable, comfortable and not confusing. There is a true art in finding the times, the moments when it is just right to seek to enter the stillness, darkness and silence so as to pursue the bindu. Like all arts, it refines with practice.

It is hoped that you find that some of the focus here on the nature of bindu will add a deeper dimension to your daily practice. Do not force, do not seek chase it down. Continue gently, by always checking aasana, breath and eliminating extraneous thought. Visualise the physical OM and bring your focus ever more close to the very centre of bindu. Expect nothing. Receive all.

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