Monday is AUM-day; in search of meditation.
We have been exploring the writings of Gurudev, through his book 'Meditation & Life'. All the instructive chapters have been rendered and now there follows twelve 'chapters' which are designed for contemplation both before and after each meditation session. Please note that the actual writings of Gurudev are quite lengthy, so only the gist and key points are going to be given here. You are again encouraged to seek out a copy of the book to keep to hand as it is an inspiration and with each reading something more will drop into place.
Ch. 29; The Subjective Conquest
To 'stop' mind (i.e. flow of thoughts), we must refuse to feed it with perceptions/objects which trigger thoughts. The ultimate aim is to quite imagining we are anything other than Consciousness. In the absence of the PFT (perceiver/feeler/thinker ego-self) mind has nothing to latch on to.
Gurudev's chart is worth printing out and pasting up somewhere close to your place of meditation. In its visual impact we can see and be reminded straight away that the grosser our outlook, the further we are from our objective of yoga with OM. The world of Objects Emotions Thoughts is where we 'reside' majority of the time. In stepping back a little we understand that our interaction with these gross expressions of life are connected to the Body Mind Intellect through the medium of the Perceiver self, Feeling self and Thinker self. (Note that our thinker self only exists in order to permit the flow of thoughts - thinking is the connecting of thoughts, is the distinction here.)
The ego-self considers "I am the feeler/thinker" - the meditator needs to drop this identification. In doing this, the "I" of aatmaan can come forward as the observer self (saakshi). Becoming the witness of the river of thoughts which bubble up and slither along allows saakshi to work back to source. Finally one reaches the end of mind, an egoless, detached state which is extremely subtle.
This is the jump-off point for deep and genuine meditation.
Mind is the thing which determines the sort of world we have around us. The quality of the mind generally speaking, reflects the quality of life. In Vedantic philosophy, it is understood that the mind projects the world in which we live. From our lower perspective, we do at least understand and accept that whatever is external to us can drive how we think and feel… and this is what traps us into thinking that changing the external will save us from our sorrows and pains. As Vedantins, though, we must come to understand that it is by taming the mind that we tame our world; by correcting our thinking, outer circumstances and the world of objects no longer make slaves or puppets of us.
It is this subjective conquest which determines 'conquests' in all other aspects. Quite often we do it in small terms, not necessarily noticing it. Diet for example. If we determine that certain foods are to be avoided in order to maintain health and body condition, those who are able to conquer their mind at the times of temptation will thus conquer the craving and the breakdown in dietary control. It is exactly this which is required for meditation - but at a much more advanced and knowledgeable level. Indeed, the satisfaction of success is determined not by the avoidance of temptation, but that we were able to control our mind in the process. We can win many battles without necessarily controlling the mental aspects, but that tends to mean that we face the same 'battles' over and over again. Only once mind has been fully reigned in do we fund the ability to not repeat our failing. All other conquests are small in comparison to conquest of the subjective "I" - the mind.
Conquering mind does not have to mean that we must run away to the mountains - in fact, an unruly mind will haunt us more there, as we come to realise it is not the external but the internal we must deal with. No. All that is required is to become aware of how the external distracts and hoodwinks us through our BMI equipment, through the senses.
This brings us to the methodology of conquest. Start small. Be alert to the senses and how they reach out. Awareness alerts the intellect as it observes the mind's tendency to latch on. Use the intellect then to whip the mind back from the external and look to the internal. As a meditator, constantly redirect the attention from out to in. Call the mind like it is a pet or a small child. Until mind is fully controlled, substitute the baser cravings with saatvic ones - 'no, you do not need that magazine of false truths - here look at this text from the upanishads…' The mind needs something, so give it something, but have control over what that something is and ensure it is pointing in the direction of the Higher. This purifies the mind. The purer the mind becomes, the less its agitations and cravings will become. By following the 'code of conduct' such as the saadhana chatushtaya, with Bhakti, japa, surrender… little by little the mind becomes well managed and finally conquered.
Mind wishes to flow towards objects it loves. Mind will linger where Love is. Show it every day the Love Divine and it will start to crave that most of all. Once occupied with that Love, with nothing else intervening, mind as at the point of contemplation. This can be aided by use of an altar, an image representing the object of devotion. This is where Bhakti leverages Jnaana and we have the two wings to lift us to the Higher.