Application - that is what 'Workings-days' are about!
VEDANTA IN ACTION.
This is the title of a publication from CM which, whilst it of course has items by Gurudev, also includes selections of writing from other well-esteemed Gurus from the Vedantic tradition as well as leading businessmen. Its focus is the working life. We shall be exploring these essays for the next few weeks on Workings-day as, clearly, they pertain directly to the premise of this section of AVBlog! As ever, you are encouraged to read back over previous posts, to ensure full benefit.
3: Actionless Action.
Meditation in Action (Swami Ajaya)
Common Aspects of Meditation and Meditation in Action.
There is actually little difference between the way we master our thoughts during meditation and the way we must learn to deal with ourselves in the midst of action. Consider what happens in meditation. You sit still, withdrawing your awareness from the external world and attempt to centre yourself on a single point of focus. You may be told to become aware of your breath or be given a mantra and asked to become more and more absorbed in it, leaving your restlessness and preoccupations behind. It is a simple thing that you are asked to do. Yet it is difficult, because many other thoughts that are embedded in your memory come into your awareness. The hopes, expectations, fears, joys, all sorts of things arise from the unconscious. They distract you and disrupt your tranquillity. The practice of meditation is a process of learning how to remain centred even though such thoughts come pouring into the mind. As we advance in skill, we learn not to be disturbed by these intruders. Rather than becoming involved in them, we become a mere observer of them.
Dealing with the world outside in meditation in action is essentially the same process. Here you learn to centre your mind on a particular thought in the midst of your work. In this case, the disrupting thought do not come only from your memory, but from all the suggestions, events and melodramas of the waking world. Many of these also release further deep memories.
Quantitatively there may seem to be more to deal with when we are actively involved in the world, but qualitatively there is little difference. Thoughts are thoughts, no matter where, when or how they occur. The process of meditation is, in each case, learning not to identify with or to become absorbed in those thoughts, regardless of their type or number.
Meditation in action seems more difficult because of the complexity and quantity of stimulation with which we must deal. In a sense, sitting meditation might be thought of as a simplified preliminary practice. The complexity is purposely reduced so that we can find our centre and learn how to watch our thoughts. When we learn to play an instrument, we do not begin with grade eight compositions. We work separately with first familiarising ourselves with the instrument and the technicalities of playing; fingering, scales, rhythm and so on. Eventually we must also deal with the world itself, just as the accomplished musician must learn to play an intricate piece. The more we evolve in our meditational practice, the more we become interested in applying what we are learning to the more complex situations.
Applying meditation to action is like being aware of two channels at once. You take part in and notice your actions, at the same time you maintain awareness of a centre within. That centre can be a mantra, watching your breath or another such stabilising focus. Even though there is an outward activity, you remember that centre and remain calm. You are like a wheel. The outermost part is spinning rapidly, but the axle-point is still. As long as you identify with the outer rim you are restless and agitated; but when you identify with the hub, you are at peace. The behaviour you engage in and the activities that are going on around you are just like the thoughts that come before your mind in meditation. They are part of your awareness, but the do not affect you adversely.
In the Bhagavad Gita it is stated that even the advanced meditator has many thoughts coming before his conscious mind. However, these thoughts do not lead him to become disturbed or unbalanced because he does not identify with them. Thoughts don't disrupt him, don't carry him off from that centre so that he throws his weight out onto one section of the rim of the wheel, creating imbalance. Similarly, as we go through the day, if we can have part of our mind focused on a calm centre such as a mantra or breath, we will be able to maintain peace and tranquillity in the midst of confusion. If you could observe yourself in your actions from this centre, serenity would be yours.