Application - that is what 'Workings-days' are about!
We are now undertaking basic technical discourse on Vedanta. The text forming the basis of these posts is 'Kindle Life'. Please do reread previous posts using the labels 'Workings-days' or 'Kindle Life'.
Ch. 27 JAPA YOGA, continued.
How did you find the different mantra chanting? Keep noting in your little books how you find yourself reacting and responding to japa meditation.
While doing japa, always remember that the tools and techniques - the externals of aasana, praana, rolling the beads… - are not the actual japa! Japa is not of itself physical but is, rather, of quality of mind aiming to rise through to the realm of the spiritual. Simply by sitting and fingering some beads and uttering exotic moans will gain the sitting, swinging, moaner very little indeed. Japa requires to be an intense and intent exercise in which the sadhaka seeks to bring his mind and intellect through all the noise and nonsense of emotion, will, logic, love, faith, discrimination and so on, tuning his instrument to the purest point of focus upon the mantra. All else falls away and the sadhaka is alone with the focus of his or her devotion.
All too often, during japa, that wayward instrument of mind and intellect seeks to trip up the spiritual aspirant. You have surely already encountered the traffic jam of thinking underneath your hoods!!! How easy it is to start trying to sort out some of that jam, allowing byways to divert us from the highway. Allowing this lack of discipline means that one travels from meru to meru and realises that half the beads were not felt or acknowledged and the chanting has become nothing but an echo. This sort of drifting attention is prevalent in any situation which requires us to focus to our benefit. We are wonderpeeps at side-tracking ourselves. Even in prayer, even when listening to a lecture or sermon… even reading this? Yes it happens! It's like eating salad. We know it is good for us. We know that, actually, when we do it we feel much better, more uplifted - yet still we find ways to avoid it and often unknowingly. It is not even 'mindful or purposeful' avoidance. We are allowing mind to become our master whilst all the time desiring to reverse the role.
This is, in part, why the saadhana is being restricted to one mala and not more than half an hour at this stage. Maintaining even that in full focus will almost certainly be proving a challenge is it not? You ought not to seek extension of this until the fullness of focus has properly been achieved… you will know that time when it happens, for you will not feel time at all.
|© 2010 alejandro blauhorn florido|
Beware another trap of the japa session. Sleep. Hands up everyone who has fought at least once in each session not to drop into a doze??? You must be honest about this! It is actually quite natural in the early practice for the very simple and biological reason that, now that the mind is indeed beginning to calm itself more readily, what it has been used to in this condition is to go to sleep. That is all it has known to this point. "Oh you're shutting me down for the day are you - fine, see you later…"!!! This is again a show of the mind controlling us rather than the opposite. At the moment the first nod happens, draw an extra breath, reassert aasana and pick up the mantra anew. Train the mind to be still without the need to stop. In parked position, only the mantra is to exist within the mental frame.
Something else which may arise, not during japa, but soon after, is a sense of displacement which brings about poor temper. This can come about because of the purification process which must happen and is the reason for undertaking japa in the first place. If there is stuff to come out, then it must. Be prepared for it. Some of the disgruntlement may be inwardly directed, self-castigation for negative behaviour in practice or in daily life. Some may be from the physical strain arising form practice.
This can be likened to that of anyone learning a new physical activity which requires both mental and body presence; driving, swimming, parenthood - until familiarity with process and clarity of purpose are there, it can be very draining. Thus it is in spiritual activities, the yogas. The fatigue is at an altogether more subtle level, but is there nonetheless. It could be likened, in this instance to the art lover who is learning the subtle art of critique; to be able to assess one piece against another with satisfactory outcomes is itself an art. One which, in truth, cannot be so much taught as indicated and it is only in the practice of it that one comes to discover the depth and breadth of possibilities. Japa yoga, all saadhana, must develop a harmonic particular to the practitioner and this can only come with practice.
Whilst you may have found good 'harmonics' with the OM japa or with the mantra you picked last week, you are now invited to pick a different mantra from the list and practice for one week with that. Again, observe its effects, whether it is more suited to your own current vibration or whether you struggle more with it.
This is a very real practice. It can be quite profound. Do not sit entirely alone in it. If queries or issues arise, contact Yamini-amma.