By Satguru Sivaya Subramuniyaswami
Desperate states of mind are disturbing many people these days. They are caught in emotional turmoil and entanglement, scarcely knowing how to get themselves out of it, or even fully realizing what state they are in. This condition, which often deteriorates as the years go by until nervous difficulties and mental illnesses set in, can be alleviated by the simple practice of meditation. Those who are content to live in a mesh of mental conflict, which is not only conscious but subconscious, will never get around to meditation or even the preliminary step: concentration. But a person who is wise enough to struggle with his own mind, to try to gain the mastery of his mind, will learn the vital practice of meditation. Just a few moments each morning or evening enables him to cut the entangled conditions that creep into the conscious mind during the day. The consistent practice of meditation allows him to live in higher states of consciousness, with increasing awareness and perception as the years go by.
There are surprises, many of them, for the beginning meditator, as well as for those who are advanced–unexpected consequences that are often more than either bargained for, because on the road to enlightenment, every part of one’s nature has to be faced and reconciled. This can be difficult if the experiences of life have been unseemly, or relatively easy if the experiences have been mostly comfortable. What is it that meditation arouses to be dealt with? It is the reactions to life’s happenings, recorded in the subconscious mind, both the memory of each experience and the emotion connected to it. Buried away, normally, waiting to burst forth in the next birth or the one to follow it, these vasanas, or deep-seated impressions, often come forward at the most unexpected moments after serious meditation is begun. It is the shakti power of meditation that releases them. There can be no repressed secrets, no memories too woeful to confront for the serious meditator. These experiences can be scary if one is “in denial” about certain embarrassing or disturbing happenings.
When this upheaval occurs for you, and it will, combat the paper dragon with the deep inner knowing that the energy of the body has its source in God, the light of the mind that makes thought pictures recognizable also has its source in God, and nothing can or has happened that is not of one’s own creation in a past life or in this. Thus armed with Vedic wisdom, we are invincible to the emotions connected with the memory of formerly locked-away experiences. When they come rolling out, patiently write down the emotional impressions of hurt feelings and injustices of years gone by and burn the paper in an open fireplace. Seeing the fire consume the exposed vasanas, the garbage of yesterday, is in itself a great release. The experienced meditator seeks out the unwholesome areas within himself, endeavoring to expose and rid himself of each knot of karma. The beginning meditator may be shocked and shrink from even continuing the practice of meditation as his inner mind plays back unhappy thoughts that impose themselves upon his shanti. Many stop meditating altogether at this point and turn instead to the distractions of modern life for solace.
But true meditation happens because of soul evolution. We evolve into meditative practices from bhakti, the yoga of devotion. The transition is earned through past good karmas, not chosen as an intellectual or recreational pastime. As the transition of external worship to internal worship is made, the devotee has to face all bad karmas cheerfully and honestly in order to resolve them and move forward.
Sitting in a state of real meditation, one must be more alive and alert than a tight-rope walker suspended without a net, on a taut cable 300 feet above the earth. He must be the master of himself, all the while seeking to identify with his pure soul being, not allowing attention to be pulled here and there–to the physical body, to outside sounds, to thoughts of the past or to concerns about the future.
Upon entering a state of meditation, one may find that awareness is enmeshed in a struggle between two states of mind: the subconscious of the past and the conscious, external, waking state concerned with the present and future. The experienced meditator learns that he is the watcher, pure awareness. When concentration is sustained long enough, he dives into the superconscious, intuitive state of mind. It enables the meditator, in time, to unravel the mystery. An integrated, one-pointed state of being is the goal–a state of inner perception without vacillation, with the ability to move awareness through the mind’s various states at will. To become the ruler of the mind is the goal. To then go beyond the mind into the Self is the destiny of all living on this planet, for most in a life to come.
Meditation can be sustained only if one lives a wholesome life, free from emotional entanglements and adharmic deeds. Intensive, consistent meditation dispels the antagonistic, selfish, instinctive forces of the mind and converts those channels of energy into uplifted creative action. The same force works to make either the saint or the sinner. The same force animates both love and hate. It is for the devotee to control and direct that one force so that it works through the highest channels of creative expression. When this soul force is awakened, the refined qualities of love, forgiveness, loyalty and generosity begin to unfold. In this ascended state of concentrated consciousness, the devotee will be able to look down on all the tense conditions and involvements within his own mind from a view far “above” them. As the activity of his thoughts subsides, he begins to feel at home in that pure state of Being, released from his identification with and bondage to lower states of mind. A profound feeling of complete freedom persists.
Meditation is similar to watching the play of light and pictures on television. Identify with the pictures, and emotion is experienced. Identify with the light, and peace is experienced. Both light and energy forms have their source in God. Begin this evening, while watching the news on TV, by keeping awareness more within the light than the pictures. By all means, begin this ancient, mystical art, but as you progress, don’t be surprised when regrets, doubts, confusions and fears you hardly knew you remembered loom up one by one to be faced and resolved. Perform the vasana daha tantra: simply write down all the regrets, doubts, confusions and fears in as much detail as possible, then burn the paper in a fire place or garbage can. Claim the release from the past impression that this tantra imparts. Begin searching within now.
THE VEDAS SAY . . .
The Search Is Within
The mind, indeed, is this fleeting world. Therefore, it should be purified with great effort. One becomes like that which is in one’s mind–this is the everlasting secret.”
Krishna Yajur Veda, Maitreya Upanishad 6.24
One should meditate on the atman, which consists of spirit, whose embodiment is life, whose form is light, whose essence is space which changes its form at will, swift as thought”
Shukla Yajur Veda, Shatapatha Brahmana 10.6.3.2
The Self cannot be attained by the weak, nor by the careless, nor through aimless disciplines. But if one who knows strives by right means, his soul enters the abode of God.
Atharva Veda, Mundaka Upanishad 3.2.4
The cosmic soul is truly the whole universe, the immortal source of all creation, all action, all meditation. Whoever discovers Him, hidden deep within, cuts through the bonds of ignorance even during his life on earth.
Atharva Veda, Mundaka Upanishad 2.1.10
He who knows God as the Life of life, the Eye of the eye,the Ear of the ear, the Mind of the mind–he indeed comprehends fully the Cause of all causes.
Shukla Yajur Veda, brihadharanyaka upanishad 4.4.18
By austerity, goodness is obtain. From goodness, understanding is reached. From understanding, the Self is obtained, and he who obtains the Self is freed from the cycle of birth and death.
Krishna Yajur Veda, Maitreya upanishad 4.3