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. 34; Transforming Influences
We saw last week that the nature of the mind according to our guna, determines the personality. Another factor in this are the vaasanas, the urges, motives and deeply-seated tendencies, which add to the full tapestry of our character. As our thoughts, so our actions. In our world, we almost entirely assess a person based upon their actions; if we are ourselves focused on the grosser world, we can only assess it in the grosser fashion. At a higher level, we might assess another according to feeling; our own tendency to feel strongly will look for connection through similar sentiment. At a still-higher level, if we are more inclined to the intellectual, we might assess according to how we perceive another's way of thinking and what motivates them.
At this point, keen observers will come to understand that there is another, more pertinent, aphorism now; as we think, so we become. By understanding the first, that our thoughts inform our deeds, we can use our intelligence to transform our thoughts so that our deeds are equally transformed.
The attempts of a meditator are to revolutionise the structure and function of the mind.
We are constantly influenced by the physical world and by our mental 'world'. It is such a steady state of being that we are mostly unaware of it. The fact is, even if we think that we are ignoring all the rude, vulgar, selfish, immoral (etc.) aspects of the world around us, simply by present in it there is an influence asserted by it upon our nature. We mentally 'breath in' the essence of our daily transaction. It is a rare few alert personalities who can truly shake off this residue and hold resilience against such influence.
For the serious seeker, then, it is always pointed out that one must seek to have the company of others on the same path (satsanga), daily if possible; take a time to physically retreat each day in the same way one might take a physical shower to remove dirt; and read scriptures or other uplifting texts on a daily basis. In short, when it comes to environment for spiritual practice, it is up to us to create it. We must create the thinking within us which will create the spiritual 'we'. Shankaraacharya writes in Vivekachoodamani, 'for all creatures, mind alone is the cause for 'bondage' and 'freedom'. Mind muddied with agitations binds man to his passions with attachments; while the same mind, free from passions, is the instrument to free man from all his inhibitions and perversions and to take him to the eternal abode of his essential Selfhood.'
Thus we are continually advised to purify our thoughts as well as our physical being in order to bring a spiritual dynamism into our living. At no time are we told 'this is easy'! The virtues of patience, perseverance, forbearance and more (see 'saadhana chatushtaya') are all asked of us in this pursuit. As we progress intellectually in Vedanta, we must never forget the physical and practical applications which aid our understanding and experience. There will be times when the mind just refuses to come under our control - even advanced meditators will have times like this. This with when to observe and understand the weakness built in to the hardware upon which this all sits. Move into the sakshii and laugh at the antics of the mind; allow the mind to beat down meditation attempts and shrug the shoulders as a sportsman might, saying there is always the next contest. Remain cheerful and fully confident that in the next 'race' you will win over the mind. At all times remember the ultimate 'weapon of mind destruction', the True Knowledge of Self. Mind, being attached to hardware is, in the end, only matter and matter is, by nature, inert. Give mind no credence. To encourage us, the Masters who have forged the path for us all state that in grasping that final Knowledge, we will find an experience similar to having sat in a dark room and someone switches on the light. All becomes clear. To quote Shankara again, 'just as clouds born of the sun's rays cover the sun, so the mind and ego, born of the Self, veil the Self and play as thought there were no Self behind them.' Until the clouds are burned away, we forget what the sun looks like and what is like to feel it upon our skin! At no time is it that the sun is never there; we temporarily forget it is all, and carry on our lives according to the condition of 'darkness'. Our thinking is nothing but The Self, cut off from itSelf. It is up to us to burn away the clouds of pleasure, despair, attachment and so on in order to rediscover the fullness of our being.
Mind is given dynamism by our own selves and by our own selves we can destroy mind and return to Full Consciousness. We must learn to destroy the mind and we can do this through meditation. Do it quickly - but always hasten slowly.