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!
Develop Love (with the capital 'ell') and Forgiveness.
How are these an exercise? For the simple reason they have to be worked at! Neither of these comes smoothly to us for most of the time - unless we are practiced at them. There is an art to them. Oh yes we can give lip-service to them and even emulate them, to a degree. Unless we feel them, though, unless we live them, they can become part of the falseness of the rest of the world of objects.
We have been learning that to take the skill of contemplation to a level which transcends all the falsity of life we must eliminate all distractions, develop strong focus and bring the mind under control, thinking only on The Higher. It takes time to gather any sense of mastery of this adjusted way of living; and for every individual that time is theirs. Depending on our vaasanas and other factors we may rise sooner rather than later - or we may feel that we are making slow progress indeed. Eventually, though, with persistence, the mind accepts the new values and gets established into the regimen. It starts to become its own monitor; the injunctions of the shaastras become lodged. The mind, thus re-educated in the Higher possibilities, begins to open to previously unseen visions of such depth as to astound. An intellect trained to this level is called as iv}anvan buiÏ/vijnaanavaan buddhi. At this point the student tastes mastery, but knows still there is work to be done.
Rising to this, as we all know, is fraught with pitfalls. Disturbances and challenges from within and without lie along the path. They arise from our relationship to others, to things and even to ourselves. Yes, ourselves, perhaps most of all.
During each day's interactions many and various are the situations and circumstances which surround us and we find that we get 'wounded'. Wounded in our ego. We feel smothered with disappointments; expectations fall short; anger and frustration well up. So many different ways there are for us to sustain bruising, crushing, angst. We let these wounds sit open within us to fester and suppurate and they damage our personality so that we become bitter, mean and vitriolic.
When we attempt to sit in the quietude and tranquillity of meditation, then, it is little surprise that we find we are faced with all these hatreds and jealousies and such, all crowding for attention and justification. The mind, a delicate object, gets so scratched and etched. In the contemplative activity, part of our exercise must necessarily be to smooth this damage to the mind and our personality. One of the great benefits of appropriately managed contemplative activity is to discover which of the scratches and scabs holds any worth; and almost inevitably we find that the greater majority of the damages are slight and it is but our ego which has inflated their importance. Many of our 'wounds' are nothing but silly ego plays.
First step in the forgiveness exercise then, is to run the mind over all its grooves and with all those discovered to be shallow, laugh them off; those a little less shallow and where others may have had a hand in them, require that we now give a nod of acknowledgement and then forgive. Simply forgive. No harm done. Forgive everyone - including yourself - because you can now see it was only the ego dancing proudly which took on wounds never intended; in seeing this, now also move into apology, the flip side of forgiveness. If we are to forgive we must also know that we need to ask for it. Acknowledge, at this point, that others have their own ego plays and whether you know it or not, you may have been the cause of their feeling wounded and damaged. Ask forgiveness.
Mentally prostrate to those you are forgiving, and to those from who you beg forgiveness.
There can be no true forgiveness without Divine Love. To forgive all is to Love all. This is the Love which passeth all understanding. We feel it when we properly surrender in forgiveness and apology; it brings succour and relief to all tension. When we can fund this Love within ourselves, the ego does not feel the pricks and prods and jibes. Agitations are reduced and we touch the Divine within ourselves.
Reaching this point in our contemplation, we begin our japa. Keep the manasa udgiiti (mental chanting) regular, keep it steady. Through it find the Divine presence. Learn to recognise that 'you' are not the body or the mind in which 'you' reside… that the body and the mind are merely objects of awareness. That light of Awareness is the Divine, that which many would call as "God". The BMI functions as a human unit only due to Its presence. In your contemplation, work on the understanding that these body equipments are determined by vaasanas, but having not known this till now, you have come to identify with them in states of "I"ness and "my"ness. Understand that you the experiencer are a thing separate from the material existence; you are the 'subject'; that the subject may exist within objects, but objects cannot exist within the subject. The 'subject' is Consciousness, the Eternal Self.
We shall complete this teaching next week. Meanwhile… practice!