Monday is AUM-day; in search of meditation
SOLITUDE. Does it serve a purpose for the meditator? Does it have to mean 'lonely'? We are going to explore the writings of a number of notable contemplatives of various backgrounds and explore the role of solitude in spiritual pursuit. These are from a collection published by Chinmaya Publications.
Swami Sivananda was the first Guru of Swami Chinmayananda (Gurudev); he was the founder of the Divine Life Society. Here are excerpts from his essay on "Calming The Mind".
Many great masters Realised the Self by doing spiritual saadhana (practice) while remaining in the world. This is plausible, but not feasible for the vast majority. Easier said than done, as it were. Lord Jesus was missing eighteen years; Prince Guatama (the Buddha) went into seclusion for eight years; Sri Rama Tirtha was a recluse for two years… many had taken up seclusion during their saadhana. You can make a beginning in the world, but when you have made some progress, you must shift yourself to a suitable place where you will find spiritual vibrations and solitude in order to complete the task.
Willpower can become weak for many people, as they have no religious discipline or training under appropriate guidance. This is why, quite often, when making a change to more spiritual living, it is necessary to find those quite, separated places; to remove the distractions of the world.
Calm the bubbling emotions, sentiments, instincts and impulses through silent meditation. You can give a new orientation to your feelings by gradual and systematic practice. Those who have attended to family matters, who have retired from service, and who have no ties or attachment in the world, can remain in seclusion for several years practicing meditation and tapas (austerity) for purification and Self Realisation; when the tapas is over, they ought to return to the world and share their knowledge with others.
A householder still engaged in matters of the world but with yogic tendencies and spiritual inclinations can practice meditation in a solitary and quiet room in their own home, with special attention to holidays and pujas. If you are a householder who wishes to undertake saadhana, you cannot all of a sudden sever your connection with your family. It sill haunt you in your solitude. Break the ties gradually. Build the family's understanding of your need for solitude one day at a time; let them know it is not lack of love for them, but for the Greater Love that you do this.
If you are such an aspirant, you need to be free of hopes, desires and greed. Keep the mind steady. Seek to reduce your possessions and balance your relationship with those which remain… these ought to be the bare necessities for keeping the body well and there ought to be no attachment to them. Those who want quick progress in meditation during seclusion ought not to engage with the world by any form of communication. This aspirant must reduce the wants and attractions of the world; there must be discrimination and dispassion, a true desire for liberation form the bindings of this life. There must be a level of serenity, gained by seeing and rooting out the vaasanas of the personality. There must also be fearlessness - a most important qualification. Self Realisation is not for the faint of heart or timid of mind.
Withdrawing all the senses from the external and focusing on the internal, a disciplined yogi now can enter the cave of his being. Make the mind single-pointed. It will require patience and perseverance. Regularity of practice is paramount. You should know the ways and habits of the mind. Introspect. Self-analyse. Self-examine.
You will be astonished how, no matter how far you think you have come, the mind now will seek to return to old habits and tricks! The more you attempt to still them, the more they will bubble up with redoubled force. Do not be discouraged! Never despair. Keep on keeping on with the saadhana. Meditation upon the Immortal Self will act like dynamite upon all thoughts and memories.
How can sense-control be tested in the forest or upon a mountain side where there are no challenges or temptations? The yogic student must learn to test themselves after growing sufficiently by entering the world again and putting all the theory into practice.
May you al attain success in yhoga and enter into blissful union with the Lord, through this disciplined self-control and constant meditation.