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'.
Chapter 29: AT WAR WITH MIND.
As we explore this chapter of the book, remember that it ties in with japa very closely; repetition of mantra, be it OM, or the Gaayatri. Japa is to be used when entering meditation proper, as the precursor to redirecting the mind into the divine channel.
We saw the first four pointers as to keeping the mind in our control. Let us continue;
- During the practices ( अभ्यासाः /abhyaasas), the seeker must consider his mind with an attitude of motherly botheration, full of love-prompted anxieties. Watch how a loving mother intelligently tries to control her child in its mischief! Those tactics are all available for the seeker in controlling his mind. Persuasion is one of the most common methods. To persuade the mind, to realise the glories of meditation as its highest vocation, should be a daily preoccupation with all seekers. The more a seeker is convinced of the profits that we would gain by his activity in his prayer room, the more shall he find that his mind is peacefully settling down to meditation.
- Sometimes a mother would persuade the child by offering it something quite tangible by which to win its attention and take it away from the particular mischief (or danger) in which it had been playing. Thus, a mother would say to the child 'come, I will give you something, I have been keeping it specially for you… come don't you want to see it?' What child can resist the lure of such a cajoling from the one it trusts and loves?! Curiosity alone would bring it. Entice your curious mind with the promise of a glimpse of the eternal!!! Whilst you have not experienced this for yourself, you will have the promises given from the masters who have and sheer curiosity can help to focus the mind. Constantly recalling the readings of such great spiritual adventurers is what can whip the mind back to purpose.
- There are moments when this also fails, but the inexhaustible armoury in the mother's heart has many more secret weapons to fight the dangerous tendencies of the wayward child. For example, the promise of greater freedom in reward for improved behaviours - negotiation of a chance to do what it wants to if, for now at least, it behaves… the promise of sanctioned freedom is a great lure. Thus, when our mind wanders away to a worry or ponder a task in waiting, or just to avoid the work of meditation, we can similarly tease it back with a promise that after this time of focus, it can freely work on those things afterwards. It must be firm, no ifs or buts… concentrate now, run free later.
- There are moments when, even the best of mothers know when a child needs 'cane treatment'. At such moments - and it most certainly must be rare - comes the short, sharp shock or a raised hand or 'grounding'; something which instills a level of emergency to convey the seriousness of consequences if the orders are not taken. In such a manner also, we can reprimand our mind. How? By imposing tapas, a level of austerity upon it. No music or reading for 24 hours if it refuses to meditate. In traditional situations, the tapas would be physical - and we can do this also if it proves to yield results. Fasting or cold showering… but these are to be the final acts; they ought not to be overdone. A healthy mind can be had only in a healthy body. Severe disciplines must be measured and used only at appropriate times. Great care must also be taken to not overdo the compensations offered; for example, after a fast, do not then gorge foods after. No over-punishment, no over-reward is the message then. Sometimes, even under threat of punishment, the child/mind still plays truant. At times such as this the mother/intellect must stand as observer, watching the child/mind and causing it to find its own shame! The child steals a few glances at the mother and, reading her disappointment, will usually come to its senses.
- Similarly, when the mind is uncontrollably agitated and runs about wildly, we can, identifying ourselves with our intellect, watch in detachment our minds, mildly critical of its misbehaviour. The mind may still wander for some time, but it realises that it is directly under the observation of a disinterested intellect critically and continually observing it. The mind wants then to take the intellect's example, to be more like it, and it will become available for application at meditation.
Any one of the methods given can be employed at various times to help overcome problems you may be having in meditation. A diligent practitioner can certainly discover new methods and ideas of similar types, or adapt these according to their circumstances. In all, the most important factor is that we must have a deep sense of sincerity, a great conviction born of faith and understanding and a hardy sense of seeking, at once adventurous and revolutionary. Without these great and noble qualities of head and heart, nothing can be expected in our spiritual researches.
To wait for these qualities to descend upon you from the heavens or to hope to earn them by pick-pocketing a Guru, is like waiting for somebody who has not been born to come and feed you. Strive hard. Act diligently. Meditate regularly. Discriminate continuously. Be good. Do good. Be kind. Be tolerant, merciful and all-loving. Eradicate weaknesses steadily. Grow in your own inner strength. Keep brahmachaarya (purity and continence), good company and good health. Even when threatened with death, renounce dishonesty, deception, lust and passions. Meditate.
Meditate. Meditate. Meditate and again meditate. This is the only path, the only true path to perfection. Quick. Easy. Simple.
...and here we reach the final words of our exploration of the publication Kindle Life. The work of meditation is taken up on AUM-day posts.