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. Please remember that each of the posts under this title is part of a thought flow and it is important to go back and read the previous post in order to refresh and review the context.
Ch. 19 Silence the Mind.
Rsis of ancient times inquired into the nature and workings of the 'subject', the individual observing the world, and how that individual relates to the 'object', the world of experience. The decision to look inwards was a natural progression from their intensive and exhaustive investigation of the material world, from which they discovered a connection with the subject and the need to analyse that connection equally as deeply. These Masters, in seeking the Truth of existence from the objective world in the same manner as we now know as physics, chemistry or biology, came to understand that the 'observer' was an element not attached to these objects.
The Source of Actions.
The researches of the Rsis, then, focused fully on the human being and its activity in the world of objects. First observation was that not two people would act in the same way to the same situation. Such variety had to be examined. What was revealed was that each individual's re/actions were dependent upon their thoughts. The logical conclusion drawn was that actions are 'amplifications' of the thoughts; quality thoughts are likely to equal quality action. Where there are no thoughts, no action takes place (eg in sleep). The next enquiry then was as to the source of human thought. This turned out to be from the formation of desires. It is split-second stuff, but therein lies the truth. All thoughts occur as a direct result of a desire; even the most noble… for to engender noble thoughts and actions there must be the desire for such nobility to spark them.
What, then, initiates desires? The Rsis found that these spring from avidya - ignorance. A lack of knowledge about the Self, the Pure Consciousness. All individual selves are nothing but sparks of that Great Self. To remember that Truth of Self, the sparks can return to the Great Fire of Existence.
What keeps these sparks from returning automatically? The identification with the physical, the body, mind and intellect (BMI); but mistaking these for being our 'truth' we form the individual ego-self. Yet every one of us does have an inkling of our Blissful Truth; every individual has the desire to improve things in life - even if they do not recognise this drive as being the Pure Consciousness yelling at us to come home! In attempting to find that 'happiness', that 'bliss', we strive to attain position, acquire objects, to control events and so on. In doing so, we find agonies and ecstasies which we generally call 'life'.
In our avidya our desires create thoughts, some will just fly away and prove useless to us, others will demand action and those actions will be directly display the nature of our thoughts and desires. Desires, thoughts and actions are but three 'shades' of avidya and by controlling any one of them, we can control all three.
"This is the logic behind all the rules of ethics and morality, and all the prescriptions of the world's religions. By controlling action, which is the grossest representation of ignorance, we purify and control our thought-currents. When our thoughts are purified, our desires are also. The purer the desires, the lesser the thickness of ignorance and, where ignorance has receded, Knowledge shines forth."
The serious student of meditation is therefore initiated into the practice through training that insists upon a pure and ethical life. Brahmachaarya. Many mistake this to mean 'sexual abstinence' - but it is actually continence in all aspects of our behaviour. Refraining from over-indulging in all the temptations of the objective world is required.
Know the Enemy.
When we talk 'meditation', we certainly understand that an engagement of the mind a single point of thought is involved - and generally, this thought ought to be the Divine. True meditation brings all thoughts to bear upon this, and then, strips away even these thoughts until the mind is Divine. Not empty, note. Just one, single Divine Thought.
We have learned about the antaH-karana, the mind, intellect, ego, chitta combination. Whilst it is important to understand these four sides of the mental equipment, it is also important to understand, as with the thought triad, that control of one aspect will result in control of all. Meditation is the process by which the intellect gains dominance over the mind, such that it becomes still. The whole aim of meditation is to tame monkey mind. Understanding the mind its functions is an essential part of success in this endeavour. To know the enemy is to be able to strategise against him. We are so bound up in our own minds, that we rarely 'stand apart' from it. Unless we take an objective view of our own mind, it will remain difficult to control. No matter how hard or often we 'try to meditate', the ignorance of the actual workings of our mind will undo us.
Whilst mind is the constant flow of thoughts, thoughts themselves are not 'mind' - to say so would mean we had an infinite number of minds within us! Rather, 'mind' is the processing chamber for thoughts. In the car's engine, if top-grade oil passes through the combustion chamber, it will run smoothly and produce a better power output. If poor-grade oil is used, especially if it has additives, then the power output is likely to be poor also and there are likely to by-products such as pollution of the environment. Thoughts are the 'oil' which the mind must use to power the intellect.
In the human 'engine' however, the chamber is an illusory one, a virtual processing space. We cannot perceive our mind, per se, but we can notice our thoughts and the wilder they are the more we say our mind interrupts us! When thoughts are dammed, the river we call mind ceases to be.
Not only in Vedanta, but in all applications of Divine connection, the culmination of spiritual practices is to eliminate the mental mayhem.
"By physically relaxing the body, by adjusting it into a firm, neutral equilibrium, and by breath regulation, you can… withdraw from the outermost 'sheaths'... next step of meditation will be to transcend consciously the subtle body also."
Transcend the Subtle Body.
This is the point at which chanting a mantra or singing bhajans are advised, at a sound level for yourself to hear (the whole world does not necessarily need to join in!). Such chanting is done before a symbol which represents the Divinity/Shifted Consciousness for you - be it Buddha, OM, Christ, Sri Ram… The form is your personal choice, but a symbol is unavoidable as the human mind cannot easily hold the idea of something greater without a representation.
Hard-core materialists may argue against this, but even the most advanced physicist or biologist have their 'symbols' in the form of equations, without which they cannot move higher and higher through their discoveries.
There are others who might claim that to try and represent the Divine in a physical object is sacrilege… yet they have such representation in the very scriptures themselves. Words are objects. Use of the holy writings as the meditational focus is every bit as effective.
Whatever symbol you settle upon, fix your eyes upon it as you chant. After chanting for some time, close the eyes lightly. Body stable and upright yet relaxed; breathing regulated and relaxed; chanting flowing and relaxed; eyelids drooped and relaxed. As you chant now, only that ought to be in your consciousness. None of the physical. The ears may now need to be controlled, if there are distractions around. Equally so the nose, if there are odours. The tongue is occupied with the chanting, now let the ears be occupied with the hearing of it, they at least can now be under your control.
See how we can reign in our senses? Gradually stop the audible chanting and use mental chanting only. Let the tongue relax. You may notice the throat still trying to form the words. Let it relax. Now let the intellect be dominant as you become the observer of the chanting in the mind. Observe the effect this is having upon you.
Now; even after much practice of even this simple exercise, that the mind adapts very easily to chanting whilst 'multi-tasking' and wandering into other thoughts! Demand that of your intellect that it whip the mind into control again. Keep raising the 'inner pitch' so as not to fall into a 'groove' or permit the mind any chance of escape. It is tiring. Like any exercise, this requires regular and sustained practice. When the intellect cannot over-ride the mind in each session, that is the time to cease for the day. Watch very carefully. As you build the practice, you may find that in spite of the noise immediately before ending the session, at the point of closing, the mind even drops its efforts and there will be a moment of utter peace and silence.
That is what is being sought and then held. Remember those glimpses and seek the reward of extended periods of that silence.