Friday, 28 November 2014

nature of the mind


Practical steps to spirituality- section 7 part  23

The Gita  revisited 

The  nature  of  the  mind  

                   Arjuna  raises  a very  important  question regarding the  nature  of the  mind.  He  wants  to  know  how  the  mind , which is  by nature restless  , could  be  controlled  . This  indeed  is  a universal  question  ,which  all  of us  for  sure  would  also  have  in our  mind  . We  would  all  agree  that  the  mind ,which  by  nature  is  restless,  fickle  and  stubborn ,  is  difficult  to  be  controlled. . The  mind  by  its  very  nature  is  extremely  restless  and  keeps  jumping from one  thought  to  another  at a  terrific  speed  . The  mind can  create  chaos   and  confusion   and  can torment  us  . The  mind  is  strong  and  presents  to  us  every  moment   with an  assortment  of  worries,  demands  and  fears. . Once  the  mind  gets  hold  of a desire or  an  idea  , it keeps  hankering  after  that desire  until the desire gets  fulfilled or until  the idea comes to its  logical  conclusion. It  also  looks  as  though   it  is  unmanageable  or  unrestrainable  .

                   Such being the  nature  of  mind  , how  can a  man  sit   quietly  in meditation   is a  question  that  all  of  us  would  be  raising  like  Arjuna  did to  Lord  Krishna  . So  Arjuna  thinks  it  is  unrealistic  to  expect  evenness  out  of  this  restless  and  unsteady  mind. . He  says  it  is  easier  to  control the  wind  than  the  stubborn  mind  . The  Lord  agrees  with  Arjuna  that  the  mind  that  is  unsteady  by nature  is  difficult  to  be  controlled. But  the  Lord  assures  Arjuna  that  the  mind  can  be  brought  under  our  control  by  the  twin  practices  of  abhyasa  (  practice  )  and  vairaghya  (  dispassion )  . 

to  be  continued.....


Monday, 24 November 2014

Benefits of meditation


Practical steps to spirituality- section 7 part 22

The  Gita  revisited  

The benefits  of meditation .

                           We  are always  in the  habit  of asking what   we will gain from doing  any action   and  for that  matter  ,we will  always  be  inclined  to  ask  what  we will  gain from  meditating  . Meditation gives  supreme peace  . We  have all  experienced  the  disturbance  in the  mind  when  there  is  a lot of noise around. . While it   is  true that a noiseless  place  does give  peace  to our  mind , the  mind that attains  peace in meditation  is  the  supreme peace  of  one's own nature  ,which  is not external  and  which  is beyond all  states.  Such a  mind  becomes free  of all  desires. 

                    In  meditation  , the  meditator  feels  totally  fulfilled  as  he has gained  the very purpose  of  his  life. . There  is  total satisfaction  which  is beyond  the  mind and  body  and  this  satisfaction  is  not temporary  and  is  never  lost.  A finite  object  or  being  cannot  bring  joy  or  sorrow   by itself  . It  is  the  association  or  dis association  with  them that  brings joy or  sorrow. All  sense pleasures are the  root cause  of sorrow  , whereas  the  bliss  of  one's  own  nature  is eternal, endless  and  unconditional  . In  meditation  , one  remains  in direct  contact  with  the  infinite  source  of  joy. 

                     When  we  talk  about  worldly  gain  , we know  it  is impermanent  . On  gaining  worldly  things  ,the  mind  does  not feel  fulfilled   and  it craves  for  new  things  and  newer  experiences. . In  the  gain  of the  infinite Self  in meditation  , the  gain never gets  lost  . This  gain becomes  incomparable  to  any   worldly  gain  . This  gain  of  realising  one's  own  infinite  nature  gives  complete  fulfillment  and  there  then  remains  no  desire  to  gain  anything  thereafter  . Hence  that  is  the  supreme  gain we are  talking  about  here. 

to  be  continued.....

Saturday, 22 November 2014

Two obstacles in meditation


Practical steps  to spirituality- section 7 part 21

The Gita  revisited  

Two  obstacles  in meditation  

                  The  Kathopanishad  says   walking the  spiritual  path  is  like  walking on a   sharp  razor's  edge    and  hard  to  tread  and  needless  to  say  there will  be  obstacles  at  every stage  of  one's  spiritual  journey. The  obstacles  that  are external  are  mainly  due  to a  lack  of preparation  before  meditation. . These  can  be  corrected  to a  great  extent  . The  two most  important  obstacles  a  seeker  faces  in  meditation  are  sleep  and   mental  agitations  .  The  meditator  might feel  sleepy  because  of  ill-health  or  tiredness  

                   The  mind  usually  knows  only  two  states  that  of  getting  distracted  by  external  events  /objects. or  going  off  to  sleep. . So  in  meditation, when  the  mind becomes  quiet  , the  meditator  goes  off  to  sleep  .So it  is  important  for  the  meditator  to  change  his  life style  and  he  must  ensure  that  he gets  enough sleep  in the  night.  A person  performing selfless  actions  (  karma  yoga  )  can  overcome  sleep  to a great  extent  . Even  as  one  feels  sleepy  at  the seat  of  meditation, he  should awaken  himself  by  means  of  deep  breathing  or  by  loud  chanting  of  mantras. .

                  The  second  obstacle  one  faces  in meditation  is  mental  agitations. . The  mind  by its  very nature  wanders  from  one  thought  to  another. . At  the  seat  of  meditation  , thoughts  that  disturb  the  mind  should  be  arrested  and  an  alert  mind  should  bring the  mind  back  to  its  focus  on the  Self. . This  can  be  achieved  successfully  with  practice.  The  meditator  must  make a  firm  resolution  just  before  meditating  that  he  would  keep  his  body  still  and  not  move  it. . Secondly  ,that  while  he  is  at  the seat of meditation, he  is  only a  meditator  and  does not belong to  anyone  nor  anyone  belongs  to  him. . His  only  identity  is  that  of  a  seeker  of  Truth   and  thirdly  , that  meditation  is  the  only  important  task  of  his  life. and  that  nothing can  distract  or  disturb  him  .

to  be  continued......

Monday, 17 November 2014

Meditation involves two processes


Practical  steps to spirituality- section 7 part 20

The Gita  revisited  

Meditation involves two processes  .

                Meditation   involves  two processes , that  of withdrawing  the  mind  and  absorbing it in the  Self. . The  mind has to be withdrawn  from all  its  preoccupations  with   the  external  world  of  objects  and  beings  . The  memories  of the  past  , the  agitations  in the  present  and  the  fantasies  in  the  future  ,all  three  agitate  the  mind  and  make  the  mind extroverted  . . The  mind has to be kept   extremely  alert  in  not  entertaining  any thoughts  that  could  disturb  it. . The  mind  has  to  be  intelligently,  slowly  , patiently  and  gently  but  firmly  withdrawn  from  all its  preoccupations with the  external  world .

         The  second  process  involves  keeping  the  mind  absorbed  in the  Self.  The  mind that has been  withdrawn  from  its extrovertedness  cannot  stay  in  vacuum.  and  such a mind  then  has to  be  kept  engaged  on  looking  within  . The  meditator  has  to  give up  all  his  identifications  with  the  body- mind- intellect  and  his  individuality. . In  meditation  ,he  owns  up  his  own  true  nature  . It  is  because  of  one's  ignorance  of  one's  Self  that  one  comes  to  identify  oneself   as the  finite  individual  . In  meditation  the  thought 'I am  finite  ' has to be replaced  by   the  thought   'I  am   the  infinite   Self.'and  this  thought  has  to  be  repeatedly  sustained  during  the  course  of  meditation.
          The  meditator  by  sheer  practice  comes to  carry  this  one  thought  ' I  am  the  infinite  Self'  to  the  exclusion  of all  other  thoughts  . In  course  of time  ,the  intellect  becomes  totally  still  with  this  one  thought  alone. And  this  eventually  leads  him  to  a  thoughtless  mind  /intellect  in to  a  state  of samadhi  ,into  the  state  of  Self  -Realisation  . The  individual  meditating  realises  the  infinite  Self  as  his  own  true  nature  as  of  the  nature  of Sat- Chit-Ananda. 

to  be  continued.....      

Thursday, 13 November 2014

The preparations before meditating


Practical steps to spirituality- section 7 part 19

The Gita revisited  

The preparations before meditating 

                       Lord Krishna  speaks  about preparations needed  before the seeker meditates  . Some  of the external preparations  are  selecting  the right place  and  time  and  the  need  to remain in solitude while  meditating. . The  seat  should neither be too soft nor  too  hard  , neither  too  high nor too low, so that  it allows  him to maintain   the  correct  posture . The  sense organs  must be withdrawn  from  their  field. 

                    Coming down  to the  inner  preparations  , the  Lord  says , it is  important  to fine tune  the seeker's  mind at the seat  of  meditation. . There  should  be  no  anticipation  nor  expectation  of any specific  result  ,or  of  any  extraordinary  experience  . These  distract  and agitate  the  mind  and  keep  him  extroverted. All  the  knowledge  both secular  and spiritual  should be  thrown  out of the  mind  before  meditating  because  only a  relatively  calm and peaceful mind can  experience  inner peace  while  meditating. . The  mind can  be  quietened  by the repetition  of a  mantra  or  observing  one's breath. . Some  carry their  worries    like,' what will  happen  to  my  family  if  I went  into a  samadhi? ' ,or ' what  will  happen  to  me  if I  lose  body  consciousness ? ' to the seat  of  meditation. . Such fears  should be discarded  . It  is  important  the seeker  sits in meditation as a seeker  of Truth  and  hence  should give  up  all  identities  ,such as  I  am a  father, a  business  man  and  so  on. 

                    Another  important  aspect  of meditation  is  to  develop  devotion to  God  and  this  devotion alone  will  help  the seeker  to  keep his  mind  focussed  .In  meditation , the seeker  should realise  God  alone  as  Supreme  ,so that  his  mind does  not  drift  away  towards  any  of his  relationships  or  for that  matter  in to  any  important  task  that    has  to  be completed. . If and  when  the  seeker  decides  to  meditate  ,he  should  also  firmly  resolve  to meditate  regularly  and sincerely  and  with  a lot  of enthusiasm  to  eagerly  await  his  meeting  with  God  / or  his own  Self  in meditation. 

to  be  continued.....

Tuesday, 11 November 2014

A life of moderation


Practical steps to spirituality- section 7 part 18

The Gita revisited

A  life  of  moderation  conducive  for  meditation 

                 We  should make meditation an integral part of  our life. To  be  able  to meditate  , we should  experience peace  and  calmness  all  through the  day  for  which  we  should  have  a  life style  conducive  to  successful  meditation.  Scriptures  advocate  a  life  of  moderation  .It  is  said  of the  Buddha   that  when  he  was  on his  quest  for  Truth, he  totally  denied  himself  food  and  he  became  so  terribly  weak  that  he  fell  down  and  became  semi-conscious  . It  is  then  that  he  heard  a  master  explaining to a  student  that  a  musical  instrument  produces  sweet    music only   when  its strings  are  not  strung  too  tight  nor  too  loose  but  just  right  . The  buddha  understood  then  and there that  complete self denial  will  not  help him  in his  spiritual  journey  

             The  Gita  says  'yukta  ahara  '. meaning  the  seeker  should  eat  the  right  quality and  quantity  of  food  to  keep  himself  healthy  and  the  mind  calm and  alert. . This  applies  to  all  sensory  intakes  . Continuing, the  Gita  says  '  yukta  swapna  avabodha  '.meaning  too  much  sleep  or  the  lack  of  it  keeps  the  mind   dull  or  agitated  . Sound sleep  rejuvenates  us  . So  it  is  important  the  seeker  maintains  regular  sleeping  and  waking  hours. 

             Continuing  on this  topic  ,the  Lord  says  ,  'yukta  vihara  '. meaning  entertainments  refresh  us  . But  entertainments  should  be  of  sattvik  in nature  ,so that  they  really  refresh  and  lighten  the  mind  and  not keep  it  agitated  . And  finally  the  Gita  says  '  yukta  cesta  '  meaning  neither  the  lazy  man  nor  the  workaholic  can  sit  peacefully  in meditation  . It  is  only  a  man  who  performs  selfless  actions  that  can  have a  peaceful  mind at  the  seat  of  meditation. . Thus  the  seeker  should  understand  that  meditation  is  not  possible  for  one  who  eats  or  sleeps  too  much  or  too  little  , nor  for  the one  who  is  lazy  nor  for  one  who  tires himself  in frenzied  activities  through out  the  day. 

to  be  continued.....  

Thursday, 6 November 2014

The purpose of meditation


Practical steps  to spirituality- section 7 part 17  

The Gita revisited  

The purpose of meditation . 

                 Meditation  is to stay  in one's own  true nature  . It  is not a special  action,  a form  of worship ,  japa  or a concentration exercise  .. Meditation is just being  what you are  -the  infinite Self. . Meditation involves  the withdrawal  of the  mind  from the  external world  of objects  , emotions  and thoughts  and  keeping it focussed  on the  Self  . . It  is  the  individual  jiva  identified with its  mind and  intellect  who   is  the  meditator  .Neither  the  body  , the sense organs  , the  physiological functions  ,nor  the  infinite  Self  meditates  . It  is  the  mind that meditates  

             Lord Krishna  has given a detailed  description of the  posture, the seat  of meditation  , and  so  on, but they are only aids  in meditation. . The  meditator  meditates  not  on any external  object  . The  object  of  meditation  is  the  subject  "  I ", which is  of the  nature  of  Sat- Chit  - Ananda  . Some  meditate  on divine  forms,  some  on  OM  ,but  these can  can only make  our minds  pure, concentrated  and  subtler. . They cannot make us realise   and  abide in the  Self. and  this  is  the  purpose  of  meditation. . The  mind  and  intellect are the  instruments through which  one  meditates . Hence  the mind and intellect have  to be  made  pure and  peaceful  before  it can meditate  on the  Self  . The  mind  has  impurities  such as  raga and dwesha  , kama and krodha   and  karma yoga  can  help remove their  physical expression. . 

         The  intellect has  the  impurities  of  ajnana  (  ignorance)  , samsaya  (  doubt  )  and  viparyaya  (  vagueness  and  false notions  )  . Ignorance  and  doubts  can be removed  by  sravana  and  manana  respectively   and  the seeker  could get  clarity  and  subtlety . . The  false  notions  like    "  I  am  a  finite  being  "  ," I  am  the  body  "  , " I  am  the  doer  of actions  and  the  enjoyer  of  the  results  of actions  "..   have  been  with us  from many life times  . The  purpose  of  meditation  is  to remove  these  false  notions  with the  knowledge  that  I am  the  infinite  Self  .The  removal  of  the false  notions by  owning  our true  nature  is  called  meditation  (  nididyasana  ). 

to  be  continued..... 

Monday, 3 November 2014

who is fit to meditate ?


Practical  steps to spirituality- section 7 part 16

The Gita  revisited  

Who is fit to meditate  ?

                           In  the modern  times  , there are  various  programmes  for  instant  realisation  and  many  types  of meditation  are  taught  by teachers  ,who claim  that  practising  them  one could attain  moksha  . One  just  comes  to wonder  if  meditation  is  a  lifestyle,  a technique  ,a  skill, a  journey  or  the  destination. , whether  it  is  a  perishable  product  or  the  imperishable  Truth. The  general  conception  about a  meditator  is  one  who  sits  quietly  in solitude  without  any other occupation  . Meditation  ,in the real    sense  of the  term , is  the  absorption of  the  mind  on  the  Self  within   where there is  inner  calmness  and  peace   in the  meditator's  mind.  

                          A desire filled  mind  can  never  sit  quietly  in meditation  . Such a  mind  becomes  restless  and  extroverted  and  can  never  look  within  . A  person  who  indulges  in all  kinds  of  pleasures  and  entertains  thoughts  about  sense pleasures  , can  never  go  through  the process  of  meditating  on his  higher Self. We  have  seen  in the  first  chapter  , a  highly  confused  Arjuna  wanting  to  run away  from  his  duties  of  fighting  the  righteous  war   being  advised  by  Lord  Krishna  that  karma  yoga  is  a  necessary  preparation   to  the  path  of  meditation  and  to  living  a  peaceful  and  happy  life. . When  a  karma  yogi  performs  actions  with  the twin attitudes  of  Iswara  arpana  bhavana  and  Iswara  prasada  ,  he  comes  to  give  up  his  likes  and  dislikes  and  comes  to  carry on his  obligatory  duties  selflessly   and  he then  comes  to have  a  calm and  peaceful mind  ,which  is  essential  for  him to sit  and  meditate  

                      We  have  seen  in previous  pages  that  the  true  renunciate  is  one  who  has  renounced  his  desires  . Only  a  relatively  desireless  mind  can become  quiet   and  turn  within  and  meditate  . By  walking  the  path  of  selfless  actions  ,one's  mind  becomes  relatively  free  of desires  and  turns  within  and  contemplates. Only  such a  mind  is  then  ready  to  renounce  worldly  and  religious  duties  and  follow  the  path  of  meditation. 

to  be  continued........

Saturday, 1 November 2014

Raise yourself from the fallen state


 Practical steps  to spirituality- section 7 part 15 

The Gita revisited 

Raise yourself from the fallen  state 

                     We  can  raise ourselves  from the fallen  state  only when we become intensely aware  of  our fallen  state  and  when  we  have a  compelling desire  to  come  out of this fallen  state   and  finally  when  we  are prepared  to  make  the necessary  efforts  to  raise  ourselves  from this  state. 

                     What  is  the fallen  state referred  to  here  ?. We believe  we  are  mortal  beings  ,who are  finite   and  hence  go through  sorrow  and  sufferings  all  through  our lives  and  let us not forget  that  this  suffering and  sorrow  has been  created  by  our own  ignorance  of  our true  nature. . Being ignorant  of our true nature  ,we get tossed  about  like a  boat  on the  rough seas!

                     The  first  step  we  should take  is  to learn  to  control  our  mind  ,for  a  controlled  mind  is  our  best  friend  and  an  uncontrolled  mind is  our worst  enemy. . An  uncontrolled  mind  can  give  us  endless  troubles  and  sorrows  by  its  fanciful  imaginations  ,  compulsive  desires  or  negative  thinking  . A controlled  mind  , on the  other hand  ,is  our best friend  ,who  helps  us  to  face  all  of  life's  problems  and  troubles  and  encourages  us  to  rise  up  again and again  from  the  repeated   falling. . A controlled  mind  guides  us in the right direction  , and  guides  us  to take  the  right actions  to  correct  our past  mistakes  and  to reach  the  pinnacle  of  perfection  in this  very  life  . We  can  attain Self- knowledge  in this very life time   ,in the  here and  now  . Why  wait  for the next  life  to  fulfill  our  goals  ? Start the  journey  now  . It  is  never too  late  . 

to  be  continued..... 

lift yourself by yourself


Practical steps  to spirituality- section 7 part 14 

The  Gita revisited  

Lift yourself by yourself  

                The  Gita says  , " lift yourself  by yourself  "  . " uddaredatmanatmanam  ". Verses 5 and 6 of chapter 6  tell  us  not  to degrade  ourselves  , not  to  look  down  upon  ourselves  or  distract  ourselves,  not  to  fall  in the eyes  of others  or  in our own  eyes. . The  most  important  message  is   that  our  mind  is  our best  friend  and  our worst  enemy. , meaning , a  controlled  mind  is  one's best friend  and  an  uncontrolled  mind  is  one's  worst  enemy. . The  Gita  continuing  on this  topic  says  ,"  raise  yourself  by  yourself   and  do  not  allow  yourself  to  fall" . While  lifting  ourselves  ,we  must  lift  ourselves  in the  right  and  best way possible  using  righteous  and legitimate  means  to  come  up in life. . We  should  choose  such  options  that  suit  our  swabhava  . 

             We  all  do  have  ideals  but  it so  happens  that  we  always  fall  short  of our  ideals  . We  should  raise  ourselves  step  by  step   and  go  higher  and  higher  . If  and  when  we  find  ourselves  falling  from  our  goals  we must  become  conscious  and  take  steps  to  correct  that immediately. . One  thing  we  always  find  in our  life  is  that   when  we  sometimes  try to make  compromises  in our  life   we then  come  to feel  guilty  only  for  the  first  time  , after  which  the  mind , which  is like  a devil ,  gets  used  to  compromises  and  accepts  them  and  they then    become  a part  of  our  behaviour  . 

               The  Gita  says  that  we  should  never glorify  the  fallen  state  and  all  that we need  to do  is  to  come  out  of this  fallen  state  of  compromises   and  bounce  back  to  our  original  state  so that  we  continue  our journey  from there on. We  must carry  a clean  conscience  and  not  fall  in the  eyes  of others  nor in our own  eyes. . While  setting  goals for  ourselves  , we should  not get distracted  by  the  obstacles  which  might come  our way. Obstacles  there will  be, more so  in the spiritual  path ,  but  we  must remain steadfast  in  making  our efforts  reach  their  intended  goal. . We  should become  accountable  and  responsible  for  what we do in our  life. 

             The  Gita  gives  the  universal  call  to  us  not  forget  our true  nature   and  live  like  a mortal and  finite  being . The  call  of the  Gita  is  to  lift ourselves  back  to  our  immortal  and  infinite  nature and  we  , humans alone , can  realise  the  Truth. 

to  be  continued.....