Monday is AUM-day; in search of meditation
Having now completed a further text on the aspect of meditation called as japa and looking a little deeper at the 'senior' mantra, all that remains, in truth, is the practice. Perhaps a little review is in order.
Remember that "yoga" is far more than the physical exercise of body and breath manipulation. The word "yoga" actually means 'path', but in the sense of the philosophy chosen to steer one through life. Hindu culture permits for all personality types and therefore offers a variety of 'yogas'; karma (action), bhakti (devotion), jnaana (knowledge) and hatha (sometimes called as raja, or ashtanga… the physical disciplines). There is nothing to say that one cannot practice all four, but as a general rule, one is likely to find that one or possibly two is quite sufficient.
Contemplation fits in with all four, but will itself adjust accordingly.
- In karma, where the personality is generally extrovert and involved in the world, but with a spiritual focus and the offering of rewards of actions to the Higher, the contemplation comes in the form of remembering one of the many names of that Higher and in the attempts at eradicating the ego. It is unlikely, but not impossible, that a karmi will rise to the higher levels of contemplation which constitute true meditation; however their efforts will be rewarded with a tranquillity and equanimity of their heart and intellect, a congruency of personality.
- In bhakti, the prayer and puja and constant remembrance of the Higher is, in fact, the contemplation. It is inclined to be limited to a singular form of worship and face of the Higher and the key to it becoming more than superstitious repetition, is the contemplation of the wider form and presence of that Higher. Bhakti, therefore, benefits from taking on aspects of
- Jnaana, wherein all the scriptural knowledge is available to feed the mind and intellect and permit them to churn the learning in true contemplation. Questions and doubts must be brought out and resolved to each individual's satisfaction; the logic must become clear. Only when the seeker reaches the point where the burning desire for liberation from the bindings of Maya arises, can absolute meditation become a practice.
- Hatha is an adjunct to the first three; a balancer, a grounder. As long as we remain in physical form, then it behoves us to care for that physique in the best way we can. Exercise yoga is, then, a health choice. It is enhanced with application of knowledge of its place in life and it, in turn, potentially enhances our ability to minimise physical distraction by preparing the body for meditation.
Meditation proper is the single-pointed focus upon the Higher with the goal of merging with That. This is not something which can happen in an instant. We must begin where we are and make the efforts required to raise our being-ness to that level. This is why it is frequently referred to in terms of mountaineering! It is not unknown to experience 'glimpses', little gifts of the spirit, which show us that there truly IS something beyond our current awareness and which keeps us interested. What we must be careful of is not to become certain that we have 'reached'. Many can attain a very high level of meditative experience, but true Realisation - let's be honest! - is beyond the majority. To attain even a fraction of the skill of the true masters, though… what a boon to life that can be! Part of this process is making peace with the fact that not everyone is destined in this life for those pinnacles of spiritual attainement.
Fear not, then; be not discouraged of all this talk of 'high meditation'; know it to be the goal, but enjoy the attempts to get there; maximise the benefits gained thus far by reasserting your practice. Keep checking in on the basics of aasana, praana, japa and mantra. Try. Try. Try again.