Wednesday, February 23, 2011

What is meditation? And Ramana Maharishi's little tale ...

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This meditation question is a very tricky thing. I am a serious meditator. I am not saying a successful meditator, but a serious one. The raison d'etre of yoga for me is meditation. Most people think doing things calmly is meditating. That is a childish, though largely accepted belief. But meditatively simply means doing everything by being aware of your mind as it flows through your actions.

So, in classes, though I do visualisations quite a bit, that is not meditation. That is an entertaining, but relaxing exercise. Most people go back home believing it is meditation. Meditation is a MAD  place. There is nothing to teach. It is all about practice. Also, meditation is not possible for the indiscplined people. There are lots of good people. Lots of religious people. But meditation is another zone altogether. It is beyong being good... First criteria for meditation is discipline. A very severe discipline. Rest of it is all tamasha... u may do some seated posture for long,  listen to good lectures, feel good about being good. But that is not meditation. To meditate you must have immense discipline. After that u can aspire...

So, if you must put it down in fine print, it starts off essentially with watching the mind. Now u realise why meditation cannot be visualisation. In the latter the mind is relaxing, so there is nothing to watch. Meditation on the other hand is a very active place, buzzing, schizoid, mad, crazy.. The thing about meditation is to watch that drama, most of which is just crap. It is unbelievably boring. It is also unbelievably violent -- simply because the mind is like a raucous, bawling child which simply won't settle down to be watched.  However, as soon as this filters in, that the mind is mostly just a stream of thoughts, unconnected, disjointed, pretending to a non-existent cohesion, meditation falls in place. But the first stage is not possible for most people. They get bored.. because, as I said, the mind is a humdrum fool. So why meditate? Why to watch something that is so boring.. Simply because, my dears, to catch a thief you must watch him, na?? :) Atma vichara
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While watching the mind, the realisation that it is nothing but just scraps of thoughts sets in, then u become aware of something watching over those scraps.. . That is the thing u want to reach... In raja yoga (mind yoga) that still mind,  which watches over a wandering mind (which Vedanta says is like a drunken monkey whose tail is bitten by a scorpion:) is called Drushta.. So, in meditation the split between Drushta -- the witness and the active mind -- jiva -- becomes more and more obvious. When meditation settles into a 27 x 7 practice, you are actually happy about this split. At least, u can now dump that thing that has been hassling u!! So since Drushta  is like the trail of birds in the sky, and fish in the water, it cannot be discussed. So, that is where you are trying to go while meditating. To the Drushta.. But like the vetal with Vikram, the mind will cling to you, not refusing you a vision of That... there most people drop out, fall by the wayside. They seek visualisation and other props. But never reach the Drushta.. The real yoga of the mind is not for the timid:)
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Here is what Ramana Maharishi has to say about this entire thing:
King Janaka, the Indian king famous for being a true seeker who managed to tear through the veil of maya (or illusion), is thrilled at having caught the thief who has been robbing him till now and exclaims, "Now I can deal with him as I see fit."

The thief the king refers to is his own mind that has been sapping him of his spiritual strength with its non-stop thoughts. Since this thief is used to sorcery or recreating himself in different forms, the only weapon to completely annihilate him is atma-vichara (self-enquiry). Other methods may be used, but they are ineffective in the face of the thief's magical powers to resurface. Also, using other methods or practices to catch or annihilate this thief is ineffective because every other method uses the ego or the mind to catch itself.

That is tantamount to the thief pretending to be a policeman to catch himself!


Anila said...

"The real yoga of the mind is not for the timid:) " A quote to remember and experience!

Vishwanathan said...

Thanks for MS's Madhurshtakam, Ramana Maharshi on meditation and Shankaracharya on pranayama. All illuminating.