Monday is AUM-day; in search of meditation.
Continuing our deeper look at OM as focus of meditation.
It is worth noting that OM is both a 'stand alone' mantra form, but is always used as an opening to much longer mantras. The vibration of OM sets the level of vibration for the chants which follow them. By beginning with OM, sadhaks are focusing in such a way that the best can be drawn from the prayer which is to be chanted. OM is also used to close texts, saadhana sessions and so on, to ensure a correct interface between the internal and the external.
Back on 15th December post, you were told of A=waking, U=dreaming, M=deep sleep and the silence between is Turiya=consciousness. When undertaking meditation and chanting of OM, it is important to recall all these parts… to feel all these parts.
If you wish, you can make 'researches' on each akshara separately. Remember the point of meditation is to finally release all thought process. However, it is an inevitability that we require thought to get there! This being the case, the thinking must be directed appropriately and use of AUM is one method of doing this. There are many who will be reading this who have undertaken meditation from different sources, the most commonly known, likely, being 'guided meditations'. In this manner there will be a group and one of the group will have picked, perhaps, some background sounds/music to create an atmosphere in the space and will lead the group with words into their 'personal space'. These can be wonderful sessions for stress and anger reduction and are absolutely necessary. Others will have encountered, perhaps, the transcendentalism offered through yoga classes or institutions such as Art of Life. Or perhaps there are those who have experienced the silence of the Society of Friends ("Quakers"), or meaningful/mindfulness prayer methods….Whatever way you may have come to be a meditator, you are still doing it because you gained benefit, is it not? Here in Vedanta, it is being offered that you can take your meditation beyond all your expectations. Via the path of knowledge.
A common complaint of shishya to guru is that 'meditation is already advanced, why deconstruct what has already been achieved?!' The guru will smile only and keep insisting that the 'experienced meditator' pare back existing practice and look at it afresh. It can be incredibly uplifting to experience meditation 'highs', but unless you truly know what is happening, those exultations are as fleeting as the rest of the world. Using the steps provided by the Great Rsis, time-tested, untainted by modification, there is to be found a permanent 'high', a true freedom beyond all others. Moksha.
At this point it will be mentioned that there are considered to be seven levels of spiritual attainment through meditation (to be discussed at another time); the trick is to not mistake the first for the last!
Time for an analogy. You are offered a trip on a friend's yacht. You have never sailed before, but have always been intrigued. Along you go and are kitted out with all the appropriate gear and instruction (safety vest and how to use it, tether clip and when to use that, perhaps a cap with the yacht's name), then are asked to climb aboard. Off you go into the blue yonder, enjoying getting to know the rest of the 'crew' and doing your best to follow instructions. Everyone else seems to know what they are doing. After an hour, you are back on land and everyone is happy and smiling and a good time has been had by all. You accept invitations to go along each week for this particular event. You become more confident and you start to think of yourself as a sailor. All is well because you are in a group and there is a defined period of the week to which you assign this activity. One week you arrive to find no one else has turned up. How competent do you feel - would you launch the yacht and sail solo?
No. You would now be faced by how very little you actually know about sailing. Yes you can swim, yes you can work the winches and navigate reasonably well; but what about the jib, the anchor gear, the engine status if required??? To become a solo sailor, you need full knowledge of your boat, every inch of it, how it handles, how to respond, knowing its limitations. You also need to know more than your local waterway.
The analogy could be drawn with driving, or building or any other master skill; there are many levels. Lots of folk can undertake any of these things but with perhaps less than satisfactory outcomes, a lesser number of folk can make a perfectly decent job and still fewer can truly become masters. The difference between the many and the few is the level of experience combined with levels of knowledge, bound together in application. All masters of all crafts will tell you; knowledge without doing remains theory, doing without knowledge is foolhardy, but most risky is the bit between.
In your daily practice, focus on AUM. When concentrating on A, recognise the waking state, the physical processing level, the gross realm we call as world - understand that all of these are part of the whole. When concentrating on U, recognise the dreaming state, that part of us which processes without mental control, which informs the subtle and that these are part of the whole. When concentrating on M, recognise the deep sleep state, the part of us which is dormant, unperceiving, a state of possibilities unrealised, know it as the Causal part of our being wherein can be discovered all our vaasana-s, where karma is stored and know these all to be part of the whole. When concentrating on the space between the end of M and the renewal of A, recognise the True Silence, the Sacred Breath, The Consciousness which is Knowing this and know it to be The Whole.