Meditation the vital support of life.|
"Based on the lectures by Sri Bimal Mohanty"
In the last three chapters we have discussed various aspects of meditation trying to understand how it works and influences the entire physical, mental and causal body - the tan, man and chetan of the sadhaka and how eventually it assumes a state of natural process of evolution and development for every created being.
Those who practice meditation, understanding its ways in a logical manner, are likely to be rewarded with faster and better results. And who does not want faster results? What is more, the understanding helps us in maintaining our firmness - the dhrti - against temporary frustrations which each of us face.
It is therefore important that before we get into some more philosophical discussions, we summarise briefly what we have covered so far.
By definition, spiritual meditation, is concentration or deep fixation on a subject matter that will contribute to our evolutionary process towards a higher being, - a state of supramental consciousness.
The source of supramental consciousness happens to be Bramhan. Hence meditation is Bramha chintan. Bramhan is to be meditated upon.
The achievement of goal through meditation is achieved through personal efforts but always with assistance from Bramhan - the Supreme consciousness who is always present in the back ground of our thoughts.
Meditation begins being inward looking - antarmukhi- before it expands to encompass all and becomes vishwamukhi. It is the discovery of oneness of the individual self within us with the universal supreme self - the Virata.
From the beginning, meditation benefits our various layers of existence, gross and subtle. The first beneficiary being our physical body.
It is manifested by a sense of physical well-being. The body responds to and harmonises with the powerful influence of divine natural laws and acquires strength and resistance against decay.
Being an evolutionary process, the effect spreads beyond physical and affects next our vital sheath- the sheath of vital breath, the pranamay kosha.
Along with harmonized body, we acquire harmonized breath. The fruits are great physical health as well as stronger will force.
Harmonised physical state along with harmonized vital breath provide base for tranquility of mind.
A tranquil mind being more reflective and contemplative becomes ready to receive the knowledge of Self - the source of true happiness, rejecting the husk and going for the kernel, the Bramhan.
Following the divine law of the omnipotent spirit, the Bramhan which is the fountainhead of true knowledge reveals itself. The sheath of knowledge - the jnanamay kosha - is next activated and glows with the light of knowledge.
As veils after veils of ignorance gets lifted, we approach towards supramental consciousness- purna caitanya. The result is pure ananda- unlimited pure bliss as the individual self goes to unite with the Supreme Self.
As Sri Aurobindo explains, the governing principle of supramental lodged in the unity of all existence ensures this awakening for all. That is the promise of our very coming into existence.
Lives after lives, strengthened by the power of Yoga, is the very process towards fulfillment of this promise. The promise of uniting with Bramhan.
The discovery of oneness with Bramhan is indeed the discovery of the limited individual consciousness of its true potential by virtue of its oneness with universal consciousness which is vast beyond limits of comprehension. Ananta, without end, Apara- without boundaries, Achintya- beyond comprehension, Anirvacaniya- beyond description, Bhuma- all encompassing, Virata the great, Mahato Mahiyan- higher than the highest, all these descriptions which have been described in our scriptures with various interpretations- all these relate to the greatly expansive character of the Bramhan.
In order to be one with it and thus regain its original potential the jiva or the individual soul must expand shedding all limitations of narrowness, breaking all shackles that restrict it and keeps it tied down to petty desires and steals away its divinity. Only when the consciousness expands and engulfs the entire universe, there is mukti - true freedom, mokshya - the emancipation, nirvana - the deliverance - or whatever other name you may give it. They all mean the same.
Meditation is a very conscious practice of this expansion of mind , which is the seat of consciousness. That is why meditation is necessarily Bramha chintan- fixation of thoughts with Bramhan, meaning literally the great, the omnipresent, the omnipotent, the omniscient.
What practical message this holds in our day to day life?
If we analyse our own lives, the universal thing that will strike us is the fact that how much self centred we have been in every thing that we do or think."Me" and "about me" are of primary consideration- rest are all secondary.
This narrowness of thinking pervades all the dimensions of our living. Whether material related (Vastu sanjita), personality related (vyakti sanjita) or time related (kala sanjita).
We live our entire life identifying us with our immediate material surroundings- my house, my land, my possessions etc. When the Lord brought us into existence, He implanted us in his own creation as an essential element of this vast expansive viswa or universe. The fact that we all have a role in the running of the entire universe, seldom crosses our mind. Even a single act of ours - how insignificant it may appear, alters and influences some activity some where in this grand design. Earlier we talked in this forum the interconnectivity and interdependency of all constituents of this vast matrix, this creation. Does that not impose on us a responsibility to take into account what effect even a small action will have on another person, another life, another system of which I am a part? This is how the sanatana philosophy imagined shedding of all narrowness of mind. I see myself in the viswa and the viswa in me, I am the viswa, I am the Bramhan.
The concept does not call for total ignoring of ones immediate surroundings, which provide sustenance for life, but calls for a reorientation of mental attitude that we are a part of much bigger design.
The positive impact of such attitude governs, influences and eliminates many selfish actions that we do every day knowingly and unknowingly. That is how the quality of living gets refined. There will be fewer actions, which we instinctively do and regret later. The result is greater peace of mind. "I am the Vishwa" -"viswoham" does not then become a mere japa or meditational practice - but a moral guideline for practical living.
The other dimension of narrowness of mind which is closely related is personality oriented or vyakti sanjita. It is indeed strange that how, if we analyse our entire life, we find that practically everything that we have been indulging in, is to serve our individual self. Selfishness has always been the motive influence. Even when we say that we have been working for near and dear ones, our own family, the underlying motive has been me alone. There has always been an expectation of return even form our spouse, children, friends In our benevolence, and everything that we have done for them, has been with the expectation that they will serve my purpose. Even in doing charity we have been expecting a return for ourselves. Very rare indeed are people who are not afflicted with this disease of selfishness. All the wisdom of working for the Lord, service before the self etc are set aside once we leave the satsang or close the books of knowledge, and get immersed in this world.
Then there is the third dimension, which is the time related narrowness. Some people argue strongly that living life means living in the present moment only as if there is no past and there will be no future. This kind of animal existence snuffs out any endevour for self- improvement and bettering the quality of life. Where as looking life beyond the limitations of "present" opens up the vast vista of our existence beginning from the first spark of life - the first life we lived to the final goal traversing many many lives.
A set back on one occasion in life is so momentary that soon it is replaced by a victory if we work for it. A "nirashaa" or loss of hope can soon be replaced with hope and achievement in the next moment if we continue with determination. We have all the time as we need. To look at life as a continuous journey towards that ultimate bliss is the greatest comforting factor available to us.
Our existence - in whatever forms we exist- spans a vast expanse of time. A moment, a day or a life is insignificant in this larger canvas of time. A restricted and narrow mind dwelling only in the present, sitting over the little pile of material comfort and thinking only of himself is such a short sighted existence.
If we dwell in narrowness, narrow-minded we remain. If we dream of the sky, we rise to reach the sky, that is how the old adage goes.
Even after knowing fully well that narrowness in thinking brings unhappiness and an expansive mind is better equipped to face momentary pin pricks, what really prevents us from growing out of this narrowness?
The reason is our ego.
This ego that we have been nursing all our lives, is like an ignorant child. Unless trained and enlightened with knowledge its behaviour is much like a child. The toys that are in his hands, it will never let go of. Partly because it is ignorant of what may lie outside its immediate vicinity and partly out of fear of losing its control if it ventures into uncertain territory are the main factors which keep it so much clinging to its familiar domain over which it feels it has absolute control. It is not surprising therefore that paradoxically we complain about our miseries yet do not abandon our attachment to the miserable world.
Freedom from this predicament is what the entire Yoga sadhana or spiritual practice is all about. Constant meditation on the final solution, the parama nidaana, the Bramhan, trains our ego making it aware of its false powers and conform to the Divine.
A clear understanding of our essential characteristic in relation to the creation, this grand design of The lord shows us the path of liberation.
This understanding of our position is indeed the key. The wisdom in our scriptures has explained it in hundreds of ways. To put it in nutshell, consider these beautiful words:
Dehabudhyaa nimittattvam Jivabudhyaa bramhaansakam
Aatmabudhyaa tat tvam asi, etat hi paramam jnaanam.
This explains beautifully our essential character.
At the level of understanding at the physical body level, consider ourselves only agents of the Lord carrying out our tasks as ordained by him. Nothing more. No false pretentions of being the principal authority.
At the level of understanding of the individual self - jiva budhyaa - we are all part of the Bramhan itself, Bramhaansakam. And at the higher self level consider yourself as verily the Bramhan itself. No different from Him and possessing all the qualities and all the potential hidden within ourselves.
Realising this truth is Satchidanada, the state of mukti or liberation.
QUESTIONS FROM READERS
QUESTION 1 - From Mr Sri Vijaykumar - Cochin
Q : Would you please elaborate DHARMA KSHETRE KURU KSHETRE, SAMAVETA YUYUTSAVA, MAMAKA PANDAVACHAIVA, KIMA KURVATA SANJAYA - the begining sloka of Sri Bhagavath Gita. Would you plese decribe the difference between DHARMA KSHETRE KURU KSHETRE.
Ans : The use of the two words Dharmakshetra and Kurukshetra could be a thought provoking point to consider, especially in the spiritual context. Kurukshetra may simply mean the land of the Kurus.But to elevate it to the status of Dharmakshetra is to affirm that it is the place where you are witnessing the re-establishment of Dharma or righteousness (Dharmasansthaapanaa) and the destruction(vinasha) of those indulging in misguided actions(Duskrtas).
Taking a little liberty of imagination one can see that this word Dhramakshetra, removes the confines of a particular place, and lends a deeper meaning of universality. Wherever there is conflict between spiritual goodness and negativity born out of ignorance, there is this Kurukshetra, this Dharmakshetra.We constantly face this conflict day in and day out within the very inner heart (antahkarana) of ours.
Aham partha dhanurdhara ahamcapi duryodhana,
Mama chitta kurukshetra tatreiva sarathi Krishna.
We all have two facets of our character. I am indeed Partha the righteous one. I am also Duryodhana, the ignorant one committed to actions which are not my nature.I am a combination of both good and evil and shall remain so until my final emancipation. Till then I shall continue to fight the evil in me with the goodness that I possesss. In my heart of hearts this conflict of kurukshetra is raging all the time. This Partha or Arjuna is constantly trying to vanquish this Duryodhana in me. That is his nature.
Is Arjuna powerless?. No. He is dhanurdhara the one with a weapon(Dhanu) in hand. The weapon inside me is my manah (mind) and my viveka (the discerning power). And what is more? Even inside me I have Krishna -my Lord- as my guide (sarathi). If I can only recognise Him and follow His guidance, I shall win eventually.
QUESTION 2 - From Sri B. L Suri - Jammu
Q: I have already requested to clarify if human being remains always human being in births to come ? Is rebirth certain ? How long it takes from death to new birth .
Answer - Rebirth is certain till the "being" (jiva) reaches the level of consciousness, where, as its final goal, it merges with the Bramhan, whereafter he no more enters into the cycle of birth of death. Till such time as Adi Sankara wrote it is punarapi maranam punarapi janani jathare shayanam. Again and again death shall come and again and again shall the jiva return to a mother"s womb.
Why this happens? Because (as explained in the previous articles of Ahwan)each rebirth is God"s gift to us as another opportunity for atonement of our mistakes, spiritual development and progress towards final state of consciousness- The Satchidananda. Until that time The Lord in His grace will continue to provide opportunities after opportunities inspite of our mistakes, as our final moksha or liberation is also His wish. He, like the loving parent awaits the return of each of us to his arms.
Since the next birth is another opportunity, the type of form, environment and duration logically are entirely dependent on the level of consciousness we have achieved till the time of this changeover. It is determined solely by the fruits of our actions. That is why sanatana dharma stresses so much on right conduct at all times.
If we have done well in this life of ours, we deserve a better life form, a better environment, which is the most appropriate and conducive to our further progress.It is like in school, if a student does well he gets promoted or double promoted. If he does not do well he is retained or demoted to a lower class. All this is not as punishment but another chance to come up in progress. The Lord does not punish any one.
A human form, which is the highest physical base the nature has developed sofar, has been obtained by you and me as a result of great good work done by us in our previous lives. But there is no guarantee of this form or this environment in the next life. The future will be, the form most fitting for our further progress based on the presnt actions. If I have done well spiritually, I may again be human and born under better environment but if I have squandered away this opportunity, I shall deserve a lower form and an inferior environment.
Details of form, duration, characteristics of the reborn, whether past or future, is not in the knowledge of normal beings, human or otherwise. This is again a grace from The Lord. Since we are still imperfect and riddled with desires and its manifestations like Kama(attachment), Krodha (anger), Lobha (greed) etc., any such knowledge will greatly influence our own actions. It will drive us towards desperation, revenge or recklessness and to our degradation. But to those siddha purushas (enlightened souls) who have completely overcome their desires, all their past and future stands revealed. Because God knows that this will not affect their actions.
(Old articles in Ahwan is reccommended for further understanding about rebirth)
QUESTION 3 - From Sri Nandkishore Gaur - Surat
Q : Mechnanical chanting of Mantra or shloka daily - without knowing the meaning there of - Does it help in spiritual advancement in any way?
Ans. The answer to this question is not just a yes or a no.
Mantras are special kind of dialogues between the spiritual aspirant and The Lord. Special because they are purpose specific, address specific (addressing to the specific representative character of the one and same Divinity), time specific, and very exact in their content, form, mode of expression, pronouncement etc etc.
Each word in a mantra is carefully chosen, carefully positioned, carefully uttered so as to result in maximum benefit in one"s spiritual practice. There are many more related nuances about a mantra and this very complicated science is a study in itself. Also the feeling with which a mantra is delivered determines its power of effectiveness. There are also prescribed preparations for every mantra to be delivered.
Suffice to say that more one is aware of the total character of the mantra along with its true meaning (which is often very esoteric), the more is its effectiveness.
Thus as we can deduce, that a mere parrotlike chanting of the mantra without understanding its meaning and import can not be the ideal thing and yeild results.
But there is another beautiful aspect of the mantras which can not be undermined. The genius of our seers from whose mouth these mantras emanated was such that they saw that simple utterances of these mantras with or even without sound unleashes vibrations that have beneficial effects on all in this creation including the devotee. In the beginning one may not understand but if the feeling and perseverance and effort is there, sooner or later the meaning dawns and the effect multiplies. We know of the story of the great Rishi Balmiki who could not even utter the name of the Lord properly but in time became his great devotee. The story is an allegory to prove this point. Nothing harmful ever happens in uttering a mantra if the heart is simple and pure.
Author Bio :
From Ahwanm the spiritual approach to life by Sri Bimal Mohanty. http://www.ahwan.org/index.php
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