Monday is AUM-day; in search of meditation.
Meditation & Life, with Sw. Chinmayananda (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, within a summary of each section. You are encouraged to use the links on sidebar to obtain a copy for yourselves from CM publications.
2: Meditation and Life.
A human being cannot rest contented without 'knowing'. We are endowed with a constant curiosity about what is going on within and without. It is what brought us forth from the seat of our creation, out of the caves, into formed societies, into modulated enquiries and advanced researches. Human history is nothing but a discussion of our exploration (and subsequent exploitation) of our world, using nothing but that innate curiosity. Knowledge of the world outside, constituted of things and beings perceived by our senses, is the subject matter of 'science'. Pursuit of knowledge of discoveries from our inner world, when appropriately arranged and studied scientifically, is what makes philosophy.
Science, having discovered much upon the 'surface' began to turn to what could not be seen, to what made up 'matter'. It was found that the basic unit of matter was an 'atom' and that were many different elements which arose from this according to how the atoms mixed and matched. This was poorly understood until the 20th century, when it was found that the atom itself was made up of many smaller particles and that the ultimate factor was realised in energy.
In the same manner that science has been researching and discovering the external world, philosophy has been seeking to discover the inner 'world' of mankind. To claim that philosophers are daydreamers, ineffectual poets or Utopian scholars would be to declare an ignorance of philosophy. Philosophers are striving to extend the kingdom of knowledge as much as any material scientist might be. Both are working to bring greater benefit to mankind. The only difference is the field of enquiry. Within the material sciences there are different approaches; chemistry, physics, geology and so on. In the same way, there are different branches and approaches within philosophy. Gurudev points out:
"The criticism that philosophy is impractical or that it has no direct bearing on life can to some extent be justified when one views the Western concept of philosophy. To the West, philosophy is essentially a view of life; its aim seems to be merely to envisage an ideal state of affairs and a goal of life to be achieved when the necessary conditions are created. The philosopher of the West sis comfortably in his armchair and...points to a distant goal...Then he expects his readers to experience the possibilities of his perfected Heaven upon Earth purely in their imaginations.
In contrast to this is the philosophy of the Hindus, with its six main schools of thought, none of which are mere textbook descriptions of a Utopian ideal. If philosophy had merely painted an ideal without providing the methods of working out is fulfillment, the practical-minded Aryans would have considered it poetry only. They, in Hindu tradition of thought, declared that philosophy should not only prescribe an ideal and a perfect view of life but must also prescribe the means and methods by which every one can reach that state of perfect living. Thus, whereas in the West philosophy is merely a view of life, in the East it is view and way of life. No Hindu school of philosophy has overlooked this aspect of the science of religion. Every one of them has a complete and clear prescription of technique, following which the practitioner can be assured of achieving his or her spiritual goal. The practice of meditation is one such technique...From the ...Upanishads, the most profound among the writings of India, we can see that India's philosophers have been as much concerned with life as the phsyical scientists...In all spiritual and philosophic discussions in Hindu tradition, we find a thoroughly rational and completely scientific investigation into the nature and composition of life and the factors that contribute to its harmony and disharmony."
It is the human race alone in which individuals can make choice and seek to rise to the highest effort, beyond mind and intellect - beyond all physical limitation. In such 'transcendence', the seeker enters into the higher planes of perfection; the type of living which Darwin may have envisaged when he described 'the superman'.
Being simply told to meditate does not serve however, for this current generation, as it wishes to have everything rationalised. Unless we know what meditation is and the how of it, it becomes nothing but another ideal thought. It can only manifest and become a tool if we understand exactly what the scriptures mean when they talk of prolonged /dhyaana (meditition). How many of us can truly sit without the mind and intellect roaming away on their own paths and wanderings? The key to meditation is first to control these two miscreants! Only when we have developed a steady hold on our thoughts (be they feeling (mind) or thinking (intellect)), gaining mastery over them and directing them in a specific flow, can we claim to truly be meditating.
The animal world too has a mind and an intellect, but they are not at all developed to this level. Humankind alone has the capacity to truly integrate and develop the mind and the intellect for a benefit that is beyond the purpose of daily survival or satisfaction of needs and desires.
"Once integrated, the mind becomes the full servant of the intellect. At this point the clarity and brilliance of each individual's intellect sparkles. The cultivation of this control leads to the development of a fuller personality and thus marks the beginning of meditation."