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.23: Inward Expansion
Here, Gurudev reminds us that our knowledge of the world of objects is relative to the individual who is 'knowing' it. Four of us could stand together before a work of art and, even when sticking to the purely visual and forget for the moment about the subjective context, will each describe it slightly differently - for none of us can stand in exactly the same spot with exactly the same light and height and all other conditions which equate to the 'knowing' of that scene. Perspective is relative to where we stand; it is also a non-constant, for the moment we move from where we are that perspective is altered.
Vedanta tells us that, living as we are in the delusory misconception that we are the body, mind and intellect, we take the perspective that these things are real and substantial. By using the 'viewing instrument' of Vedanta, we can pull back from our intimate and entwined perspective to a more objective view of these subjective parts of our being. In doing this, we also grasp the idea that the ego-self is one of 'those' and not part of 'this'.
"In order to perceive this insignificance of our self-asserting, egoistic arrogance, we have to step away from the ego for a moment and with detachment learn to observe it through the microscope of pure discrimination."
As things are at the moment, we all feel substantial and real, is it not? Let us explore. The example Gurudev gives is that of 'my house'; it stands on a street and has a number on the front door which differentiates it from all other houses in the street. That street is little more than a byroad which branches from a slightly bigger road and that in turn a larger route and so on up to a 'main road' for the city in which 'my house' sits. The city in turn is part of a larger area called, perhaps, district. The district is but part of a larger unit called as state; the state is part of the country in which the house sits and the country in turn may be part of a continent and all land masses are part of the planet called as Earth… and so on into the universe! Here is the question; in the context of that universe, vast beyond our ability to grasp, what is the significance of 'my house' and its not-very-original number?
Now look the other way. Within that house, exactly how much space does this body called 'me' occupy? At any given time, all this 'me' can do is occupy one sitting spot in one room, and that too, in only one small part of that room… yet the 'me' part of us will tell us that we are the only thing that matters in the matter-existence; that the 'me' must be watered, fed, indulged… but what is this 'me' really, in the context of the Supreme and All-pervading Reality within which the universe resides?
Sitting in this little corner of 'my house', these things can be fully contemplated and the start of the greater research into the Truth of Me can begin. This is where inward expansion truly begins to make some sense. Not just chanting "OM" like a gramophone, but feeling it, allowing it to lead us ever inward as we now find that we can 'talk to our mind'; become the observer of the matter envelopments in which we are housed. "Instead of concentrating our entire attention in making the mind chant OM and listening to the sound of OM… your next attempt is, whilst continuing the chant, to no longer find the source from which it rises; by observing you find that you alone are the source… a merging begins and there is no longer a sense of 'me, you, he, she, I'… Get yourself reduced to a nothingness that is everythingness!"
Ch.24: A Review
Key points of the technique of meditation.
1; SEAT; prepare a space in which you are content to sit each day for practice - clean, quiet, floor-cushion or small stool.
2; POSTURE; ensure correct aasana. There ought to be no room for physical distraction due to discomfort, but the body also must remain alert, hence the need to ensure erect spine, loose shoulders, stable base.
3; THOUGHT-MASSAGE; to settle the body further, use the mind to 'massage' those areas which are holding tension. Run your inner focus over the body and actively instruct a dropping of tension, making the minor corrections necessary for full physical containment.
4: THOUGHT-PARADE; having settled the body, now attend to the mind itself. Allow any thoughts at the surface to flow through their process - taking care not to allow the formation of any new thoughts! Emerging thoughts can be 'packaged' for later.
5: CONTEMPLATE THE LORD'S FORM; fix the gaze upon the symbol you have selected for your meditation and prayer space. Study it in detail and allow your heart-centre to feel love and devotion to the process; surrender to that which the symbol represents, asking for guidance and blessing in your practice.
6: OM-CHANT BY MOUTH; with the eyes on the murti/symbol, begin to chant audibly, allowing the vibration to expand from your lungs and larynx into the whole body and then the space around you.
7: OM-CHANT BY MIND; gently allow the eyelids to fall and the voice to stop, as the chanting continues within you. Keep the tongue and mouth still and focus on the mental chanting. Take care not to lose the rhythm and vibration which has been created.
8: THOUGHTLESS STATE; at a point when it is felt that single-pointedness is within reach, immediately stop the chanting and sit in the busy silence. If you find this difficult, resume chanting - louder and louder but still only within the mind - then slowly reduce the 'volume' and again reduce and again reduce till there is a mere hint of chanting in the mind - then allow this finally to dissolve into that silence. A thoughtless state with awareness ought now to be yours - however briefly! With continued practice that thoughtless suspension ought to expand. As soon as a thought invades that space, your meditation for this practice is over; chant now a few verses of scripture or Shankara shlokas so that the thoughts are at least ones of faith and devotion. Habituate the mind to such thoughts until, at last, you find the switch for 'on and off'!