Monday is AUM-day; in search of meditation.
The text being referenced for the next few weeks is "The Art Of Contemplation". Obtaining the booklet for yourself would be a good move. Use it as your prompt, your guide - even as a note book; don't fear to scribble points for yourself within the pages! The exercises might be looked at separately; but there is a 'step-ways' progression, so best to begin at the beginning!
EXERCISE 5 cont'd.
In the first part of the this exercise, last week, we saw that finding within our contemplation the facility to Love Truly and thus funding forgiveness were essential parts of spiritual progress. Without these, we are stuck in our mire of attachments and all that entails. Given how the mind will so readily drop itself to fretting over one thing or another and creating disturbance even more when we attempt to sit in meditation, it is necessary to clear out that 'compost heap' at the start of our sitting. This is pretty much what all the preceding exercises have been about.
Thus, when you are sitting for your contemplation each day - no matter of what duration, be it fifteen minutes or an hour - a high proportion of that time is spent in the preparatory phase, making adjustments to our body, first, then the mind - and mostly the mind! The actual contemplation, in fact (particularly in our novice and beginner stages) is therefore quiet short. It is fine to be so. Having contained all thoughts, having gained a centred-ness and degree of emptiness wherein there is a glimpse of complete and total stillness… the mind will again rear up and say 'see, it is so peaceful!' At that point, leave the contemplation and move on with your day. Initially, it may only be a matter of seconds in which true tranquillity state called as meditation is achieved - but each second is a triumph. Also, because the mind has decided this is indeed peaceful, it will start to hanker for more and more and gradually (oh so gradually!) begin of its own accord to settle, in anticipation of the stillness.
Contemplation must never, indeed can never, be enforced. It is a process to which the mind must be led and there it must decide of its own accord to drink. As with the proverbial horse in this metaphor, it can be tickled and shown and perhaps be shown a reward for taking that drink of bliss, but ultimately, it the mind alone which can make the decision to leave itself and free the Real You to the space of Selfhood.
Beware overdoing things though. The mind, being what it is and easily 'hooked' on things, it will demand more and more - even this must be controlled. Having meditated in the morning, tell it that it cannot look for more of this until the evening meditation. The effect, you may be surprised to find, is the some part of the mind rests in 'daydream' of that later moment and thus there is a tranquillity and presence maintained throughout the day, bringing a focus and alertness you may not have felt for sometime, if ever.
With continued practice of this nature, the mind begins to struggle less and less at the restraints put upon it and begins to move with the intellect's desire to move into the higher element. Joy and peace increase. Ever more readily, our practice advances until Bliss truly arrives.
The realisation of True Self is possible through sheer contemplation; however, enjoying the happiness of this realisation can only come where there is devotion. It is through bhakti that we prepare the mind for this enormous task. There are those who seek to stay within the bounds of dry intellectual pursuit; therein the Truth remains only an intellectual element - present but unlived. Only by working with devotion can the Truth which has been discovered be fully manifested; praarabdha insists that we must continue to live out existence of this body till its natural end, therefore, if we have been fortunate enough to walk the path of Jnaana and find the Bliss, the very least we can do is to present it outwardly through our Love and deeds in the world; this is saadhana. Equally, those who live with only bhakti, whilst gaining much from it, will find that shanti is still missing. The relief of the mind comes from jnaana alone.
Knowledge without devotion is tasteless; devotion without knowledge is mere idolatry. Not everyone is capable of contemplating upon nirguna, Reality without a form, thus to ease the mind and aching hearts (alamban), we have our 'heroes' in the form of OM, Christ, Rama, Krishna, Buddha and so forth. They become the conduits through which we connect with that Higher Element.