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. 30; The Present Moment
The aim of meditation is the state of 'no mind'; a withdrawal of all extrovert thoughts induced by contact with the world external to ourselves and a containment of wandering thoughts of plotting and planning. So easily we reach out to hold onto things and beings at the great cost of our spiritual being.
The mind is a constant flow of thoughts. Those thoughts consist mostly of things of the past, or projecting things of the future. All of us experience this. Depending on our basic nature from our vaasanas, the balance of time spent in past or future may vary. Constantly the mind presents us with regurgitations of memory; good, bad, indifferent, inglorious, embarrassments, triumphs… so many, many things rise to be 'lived again', either as a torture or as a pleasure. To live with past thoughts is to live with the dead. So much energy can be wasted and dissipated through this reliving of things which can not be changed, which cannot make any difference to where we are now. It is important to note that the more we focus on things, whether 'good or bad', the deeper we are binding ourselves to the vaasanas which have thrown them up for notice in the first place. If we are to burn the vaasanas, we must also ignore the thoughts.
Similarly, the future can bind us, even though it is not arrived yet! It can of course be useful to planning and even a little healing and relieving to allow the mind to wander to the 'what ifs and if onlys'… but we all too readily can become anchored in wishful and longingful thinking and having prepared an ideal outcome in the future for ourselves, we are constantly setting ourselves up for disappointments when that expectation is not met. Or we can stymie ourselves from moving well in our future due to projected fears and anxieties. Anticipation is one of the great cripplers of the personality.
Due to the nature of our memories, the ego-self easily considers itself 'individual', something separate from the wholeness of creation. When all the past memories arise, the ego grabs onto them and works them round to begin the 'painting' of the future that ego desires or fears. In doing this the ego-self rarely has the ability to appreciate the very moment in which it sits. Not just the smelling of roses or coffee, not just the feeling of the weather upon the skin or the listening to a full-throated birdsong in the morning air; all are present moments which become so speedily moments of the past. Truly sitting 'in the moment' can result in a suspension of the concept of time altogether.
In the seat of meditation, we can quite often become adept at shutting off the thoughts of past… and fall into the trap of believing we have conquered the mind, then start thinking on that and looking forward to the 'empty mind' - only to miss the fact that now we are thinking in the future.
A mind not engaged in thoughts of the external world very eagerly engages in the internal and this is no less a hurdle to pure meditation as the external. It is imperative that we are watchful of creating thoughts after we have succeeded in stemming the flow of already existing thoughts in our hard storage. Once we attain 'present moment' awareness, we must anchor ourselves there and there alone. The Rsis constantly remark in this way, "moment to moment engage the outgoing mind to live in the present. Completely reject the past. Renounce the future totally - at this point, the agitated mind shall reach the state of mindlessness."
It is not the mindlessness of uncaring, stupidity, cruelty… but the mind-less state of pure existence.
In this state there is awareness. In the fullness of its depth, the external is still experienced, it is observed, but it has no bearing on the existence of 'now'. This state of experience is called smaix/samaadhi. It can only be found within yourself. No Guru or any other person can confer samaadhi upon you. There are no fast-tracks or tricks and tools to attain samaadhi. It is a state of whole awareness without engagement in action which each and every seeker must reach by themselves. Becoming the witness of yourself and your place in the wholeness is a benefit of samaadhi. Here it becomes ever easier to quench the constant thinking which can sully daily existence. By constant practice of 'thought eradication' the mind starts to attach to its own emptiness and seeks more to revel there instead, in a suspension of thought and replacing it with the 'holy of holies', Aware Consciousness, existence without experience.
It is here that we come closest to 'return to source' and understand what a transient and inconsequential thing 'life', as we have till now comprehended it, truly is. Gurudev says, "this is the goal to be reached, the Truth to be realised, the experience divine to be lived as the meditator's own essential Self. It is not a thing to be objectively recognized or even intellectually comprehended; this state is to be spiritually apprehended, in an immediate , personal, inner experience… meditation gets fulfilled and the meditator becomes The Self, where the triple factors of meditator-meditated-meditation become as one transcendent whole in the condition of Self-realisation."
All good and well. In the modern upsurge of desperation to reach the meditative state, there are more reports of 'failure' in meditation than there are of any success - and the those of 'success' are often caught in the trap of the various stages towards transcendence. The goal is one to be coveted, but the meditator cannot reach it without the necessary preparation. There can be no dashing into the act of meditation. A mountaineer seeks not to reach the summit by any other means than his or her own sheer and physical effort, each step carefully assessed, all equipment checked and secure. Helicopters to the top will not constitute having scaled the mountain. Attempting the climb without having taken up exercises to improve fitness and stamina is not only fool-hardy, but could result in disaster. Falling back down the mountain, the fainter-hearted 'climbers' will turn and say, 'that mountain cannot be climbed' and give it up.
Be patient. Be steady. Strive continuously. Cultivate the qualities of a true sadhaka as given in the scriptures. Hurry without haste. Hasten slowly.