Monday is AUM-day; in search of meditation.
Meditation & Life, with Sw. Chinmayanda (Gurudev).
We are now exploring the writings of Gurudev on our focus subject of Meditation. The book is a thorough treatment of the subject and extends to over 170 pages of closely printed text. No attempt is intended, here, to present the text in its entirety. However, important paragraphs and quotes will be given, along with a summary of each section. You are encouraged to use the links on sidebar to obtain a copy for yourselves from CM publications (or from Amazon).
Despair amid Abundance.
In this section, an assessment is made of the human condition. It is to be remembered that any such writings regarding society, takes the general and prevailing trends to task. There are always going to be individuals within that who live life differently, but for purpose of teaching, the broader view must be investigated. For this reason, Gurudev regales his audience with broad sweeps of language; "..tragedy...of the world today...trying to run away from an inner sense of dejection… loud proclamation of the glories of the age and of the civilisation of the times… propaganda...of the machine age [about] high standard of living, efficiency of financial transactions and glories of war which uphold the blessings of peace… [constantly is heard] through the radio, press, journals, screen...parliament...and even the pulpit, acclamations of the present age...despite [which] exaggerated glorifications it is indeed a fact that every intelligent person with sensitive observation...concludes...there is more unhappiness today than ever…The moment we take an honest look, we see desperation and tears."
Gurudev does not say that science and its application is a wrong thing. It is acknowledged that much is positive in how it has improved the lot of many, removing much of the drudgery in daily existence. Furthermore, such advancement and refinement of mechanics has brought previously luxury goods into the reach of the middle and lower classes of society. Wider educational improvements (far from complete, but certainly much better than in centuries prior to the 20th) and generally improved social and cultural understanding all add to society mostly not now facing the 'rawness' of existence with which our forbears would have dealt. Now more than at any time in history, we have migrations (whether legal or otherwise) as people seek to raise the potential of their lives, many becoming natives of their adoptive countries, making 'global society' a more cohesive term than it has ever been.
"Yet, a superficial review of modern man in his 'brave new world' would provide melancholy reading. The pleasing surface of his world is like the painted beauty of a prostitute in the shaded streets at dusk, which under closer observation reveals the abhorrence that often lies beneath it. What causes this painful illness in our life, which seems to be at best an ugly paradox when viewed against the glorious achievements of our era and its 'civilisation'?"
Gurudev points out that the error cannot be with the world of 'things' itself, as this remains more or less the same - any change which takes place is generally for the 'better' in terms of how Mankind tames nature - whilst we are coming to know that such 'advancement' comes at its cost, there is no denying the inventiveness and ingenuity of our species. If the outer is not the actual source of our miseries, if all the taming of the Earth and her riches and the pressing of the bounty into service of the human species is not at all easing the angst, where are we to search for the cause of our pain?… it seems that the sorrow must perhaps have its generation actually within our being. Again, Gurudev pulls no punches; "When we thus enter into the inner world, no true critic of this age can….dare to compliment these times. Deep within ourselves we have grown more barbarous than the barbarians who lived in the virgin jungles of the newborn world. We have become unconsciously cruel, selfish, arrogant and we often behave sadistically and hysterically. We have grown vulgar in our thoughts, low in our values and have shattered our capacity to tackle our personal lives and problems… the age has failed because we have lost our mastery over ourselves. In our preoccupation with conquering [the external world] we have ignored our inner monstrosities...we have left our subtler perceptions undeveloped...like a neglected garden our inner world has grown into a jungle...Our character and personality determine the experiences that we gain from the outer world. Unless we learn to master our inner life, the outer scheme of life - however efficient and perfect - cannot but bring sorrow and unhappiness."
Whilst individuals may understand this, society as a whole has overlooked it; authoritative bodies seek to improve the lot of their citizens through encouraging prosperity, education, grabbing and moulding the exterior world to our own ends. Current generations now expect only things of the world and unless things are had, discontentment and anger arise. Governments and politics react to the world rather than seek to resolve it. As things worsen in any manner, the nationalism rises as a defence and this forms a sacrificial surface for personal freedom, love, tolerance and simple goodness. It is a great irony of our prosperous and cultured times that the more we have in terms of material existence, the less safe we feel and the more 'en garde' we find ourselves, ready to go into battle to protect and obtain. Possession leads to aggression. "...We are now living through an age of agony that has become tired of its own self-created problems. The age is slowly sinking into a hopeless sense of utter despair, because it finds no way to regain its balance."
It seems that we have become so accustomed to the degraded state that various horrors live shorter in our memories and, to an extent, have become the new 'normal'. The concept of walking a path in which we can be content and balanced seems like some kind of fantasy and indeed, many are so attached to the status quo, that they fear making the changes necessary to truly improve, living a 'better the devil you know' kind of life…"modern man, though he sadly mourns his plight, fears to walk the path of self-mastery and [instead uses his Bible, Upanishad or Koran to justify remaining in his wretchedness]… " failing, in this dogmatism, to rise to the highest philosophical teachings therein for his fullest benefit.
This is our 'dis-ease' - next we shall see its cure.