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!
You, one evening, sit beneath a tree on a hill. Below in the valley is a temple. As dusk falls, the valley darkens first and the priest in the temple lights the lamps, and you see the house of the Lord shining in its own light. Soon, the sounds of chanting and bells drifts up to you as the evening aarti is performed. You cannot see it, but you can hear it. You are the seer of the temple and the hearer of the temple, not the participant in the temple.
The seer and the hearer are something other than that which is seen and heard.
Sitting in contemplation, drawing back into observer status you become the seer of the body, which rests without movement, just like that valley temple. Drawing back into the observer status you can 'hear' the mind as it chants its mantra. As the observer, you have a relationship with your body that was developed in the case of the seer on the hill and the temple in the valley. As the observer you become aware that you are not the body or the mind - the building or the chanter.
When the aarti is over, the temple falls into a relative silence and there is a stillness pervading the temple. The quitened mind ought to give this same sense of tranquillity. However, we know only too well that the mind is a flow of thoughts and thoughts have a habit - like water - of breaking through! The thoughts which predominate will be according to our own habit of thinking; our homes, our family, our work. It would be rare indeed to think of another person's home or family or work… strange that! No, majority thoughts in which we have no control, will be about our own immediate environs and circumstances. It's natural. It's part of the survival instinct. All the thoughts which bubble up unbidden will be about things external to us.
What to do about this restless thinking pattern which is interrupting the tranquil process? We can give the mind a command to chant a specific mantra. It requires thought to remember the mantra and therefore the mind has to be engaged in a focal point, having less opportunity to wander unbidden. The mantra, if concentration is good, provides food for the naughty senses which always seek to be engaged - there can be form, colour, taste, smell and touch associated through mantra. It gives the mind a playground of our bidding.
As the mind becomes quiet through the chanting we can shift to the nama-japa - chanting the name of the Lord of our choice; in this way we are bring the thoughts and sense into a single focus.
Mantras are related to whichever face of God the student wishes; Shiva, Rama, Vishnu, Lakshmi, Yeshu, Yahweh, Buddha, OM… Whichever notion of 'god' the student finds comfortable and familiar is the place to start, because there is a pre-existing devotion. For some, a physical presence, nearest to human form, is all they can think of for the time being. For others, the more esoteric forms and even the concept of Formlessness appeals.
Whilst in the beginning it is useful to chant aloud, in true contemplation, the mouth ought to remain still and the voice silent. Remember this is an exercise for the mind! You the observer must stand apart, like the sitter on the hill, supervising the body to stillness and then mind to focus. In doing this you begin to recognise the Existence apart from the material world, the BMI. You the observer are the 'subject' and the BMI and everything external to it are the 'objects' of Awareness. The mind and its entire thought-play are but objects.
There are those who worry about mantras, or say they can only be given. Worry not! In the early stages, you may chose the mantra with which you feel comfortable. Given mantras are for advanced students who indicate a desire for diiksha or to take robes of renunciation.
Click on the 'Mantra' label in the side bar for a full selection of posts already made on this subject. Specific to today's exercise, however, you are advised to review this post.
Remember, little and often is the most effective. Regular and daily practice with dedication and determination will bring the virtuosity. Stop reading. Exercise!
Today is the third anniversary day for AV-blog. To those who have read from the beginning, blessings for your persistence! For those coming in during the journey, or who are very new, blessings and welcome and may you find something of what you seek here. A puja has been organised for the duration of this week through the Chinmaya Foundation. In addition, to mark the occasion, an Eternal Flame has been lit, as you can see on the top of the sidebar. may all who wander through this door, find a reason to linger and, in leaving, find that Love follows them.