The Object of meditation. |
"Based on lectures by Sri Bimal Mohanty"
While pursuing a Spiritual Approach to Life, a question that often haunts the mind, is what practical purpose meditation has in life? Every body says that meditation is a good thing. Every one must do meditation etc. We take this as an accepted fact. We seldom openly ask why should I do meditation? What changes it will bring in me which I can experience ? What special place meditation has in my spiritual practice?
An excellent issue but a very wide ranging issue also.
Every spiritual philosophy subscribes to the value of meditation. However it is the Sanatana philosophy which has the deepest insight into this powerful medium. This is simply because in sanatana philosophy you find the oldest documented ideas on meditation and the benefit of collected wisdom spanning over thousands of years. Naturally we can agree on its claim to a high degree of perfection.
Very broadly speaking, the simple definition of meditation is `concentrating on a single subject." Remaining focused to a subject, a deep fixation happens to be an essential aspect of meditation.
What we should understand from deep fixation or concentration? Let us see how Sri Aurobindo explains it. He says:
" The mind is a thing that dwells in diffusion, in succession; it can only concentrate on one thing at a time, and when not concentrated, runs from one thing to another- very much at random. Therefore it has to concentrate on a single idea, a single subject of meditation, a single object of contemplation .. In order to possess and master it."
Therefore, once an object of suitable appeal is found by us, where we feel comfortable to dwell, we have taken the first step towards meditation.
But mere concentration on any subject is not the spiritual definition of meditation. A mother may concentrate on thoughts of her child"s welfare, a lover may concentrate on tryst with the beloved, an evil man may concentrate on avaricious ways of acquiring things from another. These can not be in the category of meditation. Why?. Because they do not contribute to our evolutionary process, our upliftment towards a higher being.
Therefore, spiritual meditation has to be related to pursuit of a higher goal - our only goal, which is Satchidananda. The truth, its realization and the permanent bliss that results after realization.
What is that source of permanent bliss? The Sanatana philosophy recognizes Paramatman or Bramhan as this source and is of the view that this object of meditation is nothing but the Self, the Atma, beginning from Jivatma, the individual self and culminating on Paramatma or the Supreme Self , or The Bramhan.
Many people give many interpretations of what is meditation. This english word meditation really has no one-to-one translation in Sanatana philosophy. That is because the Sanatana philosophy looks at things from a very different standpoint, questioning everything from its root before accepting. Some say meditation is simply thinking of God, some say thinking of your own physical entity, some say simply imagining a source of light and removing all other thoughts. Some even say that making yourself totally mentally blank is meditation, some talk of introspection of one"s own acts etc. etc. However one of the appropriate definitions which covers all is what we can call "Bramha chintan"- contemplating on Bramhan the consciousness. Meditation is Bramha chintan, meaning thereby "fixing one"s mind on Bramhan".
Bramha Jnana or Bramhan Knowledge is described as Adhyatma. Adhyatma is the true knowledge.
Why go for Adhyatma ? Because, the very purpose of our existence is to evolve to the highest state of supramental consciousness, which is Satchidananda. The truth, its realization and the resulting bliss. Satchidananda sums up the highest aspirations of every kind.
To be able to reach Satchidananda it is imperative to understand and have the knowledge of the truth which happens to be the essential constituent of this highest state of evolution. This knowledge or the true Jnana or the Jnana of the ultimate truth, or the Adhyatma jnana is what we must acquire and what we seek. Nothing else but the Adhyatma Jnana which we must be after.
As a corroboration of this concept as to what is this true Jnana or knowledge? let us seek the answer from Lord Krishna himself.
In Kshetra Kshetrajna vibhaga Yoga in Bhagavad Gita, it is said:
Adhyatma jnana nityatvam tatva jnaanaartha darshanam
Etat jnaanamiti proktam ajnaanam yad ato anyathaa
The knowledge of the true reality and perception of the true source of knowledge is said to be real knowledge. And what is opposed to it is ignorance.
And what is the true source of knowledge ? It is The Bramhan.
Hence Bramhan is to be meditated upon. Meditation in true sense is Bramha chintan alone i.e fixing the mind on Bramhan.
Meditating on anything else may give a little benefit here and there, but is rather an exercise in futility.
This is unquestionably established in true spiritual pursuit.
Tadeva jneyam Tadeva dheyam paramam dhamam sarva shanti sukham.
"That" is the only knowledge worth knowing, worth contemplating upon. That is the final goal where you get all the happiness and peace of mind.
Bramha jnanahi kevalam tadjneyam tadashrayam
Ajnanadipita yogam nirarthnisphalam bhramam.
Only the knowledge of the Supreme is the knowledge. That has to be known, that is the final refuge. Because all knowledge has its origin in Him only. As Rishi Svetasvatara also says:
Tameva bhaantam anubhati sarvam tasya bhaasaa sarvamidam vibhati
All enlightenment is His light. By His light everything here shines.
Any yoga you perform which does not aim at this source of enlightenment, and is based on ignorance, is meaningless, does not yield results and is falsity.
And what follows interestingly from there ? Rememeber the words of Sri Aurobindo "All life is Yoga". Living life and Yoga are same thing really. Therefore if I go through the life without acquiring this knowledge, I am wasting my precious life.
Once this is understood, this goal has to be sincerely pursued. This ofcourse is not easy. Concentration does not come easily even for highly enlightened souls, what to talk of worldly people. But as again Sri Aurobindo suggests, " once there is sincerity in our approach, this problem of diverse thoughts- wandering of mind- works itself out by the general force of the supreme consciousness that is behind all our thoughts."
The effort is as much on the part of The Divine, as it is on the part of ours. He , the Divine is indeed the answer to that eternal question, that profound question of The Kena Upanishad:
Kenesitam patati presitam manah - Who directs the mind to go to the thought it thinks?
And the answer is given as "Yenaahuh manah matam, tadeva bramha." The Bramhan or The Divine is that by which the mind assumes its mental faculty, the mind of the mind. Being the essence of mind Himself, The Divine, once He takes charge of our minds, the very path of thought is traversed with His assistance only.
This intervention of the Divine is a very interesting observation. The supreme consciousness being always present in the background of our thoughts and coming to our assistance at our time of need, is well explained by the philosophy of Sanatana Dharma with its concept of the soul ascending and the supreme descending to lift it up. A great comforting thought indeed for all sadhakas. As we ascend, the supreme consciousness also descends - perhaps by two steps to our one step - to take charge like the mother of a toddler. The moment she sees that her crawling baby has stood up and taken one step, she forgets all work and rushes to assist the baby and herself takes several steps with the baby.
So meditation has to be understood as a state of deep concentration with the divine as the object. It is the basis of all Tapasya.. As it is said, meditation with concentration is merely an image of Divine Tapas.
Thus is explained the source object which is the basis of all meditation and from what, all benefits of meditation flows.
In the next chapters we shall discuss what happens while meditating and how the benefits of meditation are perceived. - to be continued.
QUESTIONS FROM THE READERS
Question 1 from- Sri Shakti Kapoor - New Delhi
Q: Where do you draw a line between destiny (prarabdha) and human efforts (purusarth) ?
Ans. You can not separate Purusarth (meaning the personal conduct) and Prarabdha ( generally known as destiny), because they are different facets of the same issue indeed. The so called destiny is always one"s own creation. Ignorants consider it as something handed down to them in which they have no contribution. The Prarabdha is the balance sheet of our own actions of the past waiting to take effect at the right time.
Q : How is the prarabdha formed?
As we conduct ourselves in a particular life, we create Kriyamana karma. The effect of this Kriyamana karma (our own action) which does not get atoned in the same life, gets carried forward for future effects to the next life. This residue (sanchita) forms the very basis of prarabdha. The Kriyamana of today is the Prarabdha of tomorrow.
Purusartha is the code of action in life, therefore is at the root of Kriyamana karma. So it is the Purusartha or our own conduct which determines our own destiny.
Agate visamandashan daivam arhayate narah
Atmanam Karmadosanca no socatyapanditah
When misfortune strikes man immediately blames the fate , but the fact that it is the result of one"s own wrongdoing eludes the unwise.
That is why every spiritual path emphasizes good conduct in life by following the codes of Purusartha. The Prarabdha takes care of itself.
Question 2 from- Sri Anand Awasthi
Q : The Vedantic Philosphy states that the Soul of all beings or the Atman is essentially part of the Universal Soul which is Brahman .. If the Soul of man or Atman is a part of Brahman, then why does Brahman who by nature is essentially perfect and FREE allows.bondage with the sole purpose of dragging them through the miserable cycles of life and death before liberation is attained . Why Brahman , the ultimate free object is a party to the bondage inflicted upon life forms ? Is association with any bondage not against its very nature ?
Ans : We all often make this mistake of assuming that the sole purpose of this creation before us is to bind us to misery. It is indeed the other way round. We come to existence with the first spark of life with a divine purpose and ordained task before us. We all are essential constituents of this dynamic creation. We return to the same source - of which we are a part- after successful completion of this divine purpose.
While doing our duty we have two options before us. Either we do it with spiritual detachment following the righteous path or we forget our divinity , our ultimate goal, and fall prey to the desires and gratification of our sense organs. The latter brings degradation and unhappiness.
It is not in the scheme of things of the benevolent Lord that we languish in misery. The world around us where both good and bad are experienced, is a class room where we have to learn our lesson. The wise and the faithful see through the undesirability of preyas ( the short term immediate pleasure with a tail of misery attached) and the disirability of Shreyas (the real happiness that comes eventually). Upon learning the lesson they turn to the right path. All that we see bad in this world lead us to understand what is good and long lasting happiness. If the world with its Maya were not there, how will one understand and realise truth? If darkness were not there, who will cognize light? What we in our ignorance see as the trap for bondage is indeed the path to understanding and liberation. He indeed sees who sees through all this. (Yah pasyati sah pasyati). Bramhan is neither a party to bondage nor to liberation. Having created the world He has withdrawn . It is upto us as to how quickly we recognise the right path.
( P.S. Please watch for an article "Maya is all positive" yet to appear on AHWAN)
Question 3 from- Sri Anand Awasthi
If liberation of all life forms is certain and if all Atman(s) will get dissolved into the Brahman , then why this zero sum game is being perpetually played ?
ANSWER: Please go through especially the second and third articles in AHWAN to get some idea about the very purpose of the `beings" coming into existence. We are all here , the humans, animals, plants and all everything else, with very defined roles to play in this dynamic creation. Without us there will be no activity, no creation, a total null. That indeed will be the real death, the big zero. That will reduce every thing including Bramhan into absurdity.
But activity is an essential facet of Bramhan side by side with absolute calm passivity. ( This concept of simultaneous existence of calm passivity and dynamic actvity confuses many until properly understood). So the activities must continue as an alternative to that absurdity.
It is also established that what comes out, must eventually return to its source after playing their respective roles. Jivas( individual souls) will continue to come to exist and continue to return back like paddy crops coming out from and returning to the earth ( see kathoponishad).
The question is not `why I am born" but `how best I justify my birth" and `how soon I return having done my job, protecting myself from desire laden miseries and sufferings.
Author Bio :
From Ahwanm the spiritual approach to life by Sri Bimal Mohanty. http://www.ahwan.org/index.php
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