Monday is AUM-day; in search of meditation.
Meditation & Life, with Sw. Chinmayanda (Gurudev).
As mentioned last AUM-day, we are now going to explore the writings of Gurudev on our focus subject of this day. 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. For that, you are encouraged to use the links provided last week to obtain a copy for yourselves. However, important paragraphs and quotes will be given, along with a summary of each section.
To set the scene, though, the entire preface is now given.
"Our physical, mental, intellectual and spiritual personalities must be blended into one harmonious whole. Meditation is the technique for achieving this harmony. It is the highest spiritual discipline. Through meditation we come to experience within ourselves. Internecine wars between desires end. Conflicts between duties no longer torment us. The mind is able to view life as a whole." (Gurudev)
Many of us are overwhelmed by the complexity of our lives. Due to that complexity, many seek to escape the pain and the pressure through a variety of means; through work or play or a combination of both. The tradition of spiritual thought called Vedanta advises us not to escape from life, but teaches us, instead, how to maintain a high quality of life through intelligent understanding of the true nature of existence.
In Meditation & Life, Swami Chinmayananda, one of the greatest teachers of Vedanta in modern times, takes us step by step through the thought process required to re-establish mastery over our lives, beginning with the world within. The instrument we use in our life experiences, says the author, is not the body, as we generally assume, but the mind. The state of our lives depends on the state of our mind. We all are familiar with the anguish we feel when our minds race uncontrollably around some worry, some experienced hurt, or some anticipated fear. Our minds manage to create a hell around us. As we learn to tame our minds into fit instruments of experience, step by step we gain control over our lives. No matter what our outer circumstances may be, with our minds controlled we are the masters of the situation; we can choose to live in joy.
This is what meditation teaches us. Meditation & Life takes us through the logic behind meditation, as well as the specific techniques of applying meditative practice to our daily lives. [We are shown] how, by gaining mastery over our inner lives, we transform our individual existence.
Entering the text proper, the very first section is titled 'Self-Mastery'. Here are the opening two paragraphs.
As long as a person is alive, he or she comes into contact with different things and beings and circumstances. Nobody in the world can, even for a moment, live without coming into contact with the objects of the world outside, or at least with his or her own thoughts and ideas.
Thus, not by choice, but by the compelling law of life, every one of us must meet our world of circumstances at every moment of life. If we are efficient in meeting our own world - if we have ready dexterity, decisiveness, firm will, balance, equanimity and understanding - no situation in life can break or enslave us. Unfortunately, many among us succumb to the apparent threats of life's situations and become shattered personalities…
The text then goes into two parts; condition and cure. ...tbc...