Sunday, January 20, 2013

Why I do not conduct meditation classes: a lesson from Ramana on the difference between egotistic meditation and the real stuff:)

There has been a lot of requests from my students, for me to teach meditation. I feel however inadequate to the task simply because I myself struggle with meditation:) I have done the vipasssana courses thrice, and I feel that is the most authentic, frills-free meditation. I have come each time out of the experience, humbled by the way the practice reduces your mind and self to a seething oceanof patterns. The boat is still left rocking, the waves still tumultous and restless. If there is a calm in the eye of the storm, it comes in such fleeting moments as to be gone before it may be enjoyed:) But the difference between the one who meditates like that, in the austere vipassana fashion, and between the ones who use gimmicky stuff, is that the former technique is meant to expose you to yourself, while the latter is meant to hide you from yourself. Which is better, u decide:)  

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Unless u realise this, where is salvation? However, unless you are some great master, ur experience in meditation will always be incomplete simply because biologically we are designed to resist it. A lot of nonsense gets passes off as meditation these days,  and I myself, in the beginning of my teaching career, have been guilty of attempting meditation workshops. But I believe these are all just "meditation-shopping", good fun for a beginner in yoga, and nothing more. Pure meditation is an intensely personal experience, it must be always lonely, alone and involuted;   and notes must not be compared (even worse than discussing your bedroom or toilet secrets:) and that a pure meditative experience is not a destination but a journey. That the  keenness to conclude that one has reached some goal, as happens with all beginners is disgustingly egotistic and must be absolutely avoided. It is a very lonely, frightening, lunatic place.. that is what it is, meditation. I myself believe that unless you have the discipline of a strong hatha yoga practice you must not try meditation (unless u are a siddha, of course:) because this discipline would prevent you from completely becoming a dribbling lunatic!  Only a sadguru, if he gets into your mind space, can guide you. I myself believe a living person or guru, with all his/her human fallibilities, can only create manolaya, and not manonasha. For the latter, you need the real guru..even one who may be, technically, dead.  I believe Sadgurus, prophets, saints, these are the people, if u choose one to follow, who can control your mind waves, and help you .. It cannot be attempted without such grace. The mind, it is a mapless, unexplored territory, where even scientists are grappling. Only a pure soul can guide you.. 

Of course, sometime soon, I wish to start meditation classes, just to set people off on, in an inner journey. But I would be sitting at the sidelines..not pretending to offer them magic, but just to explain that the journey is stark, austere, funless, but full of joy and release. That  I intend to, for sure, when a particular hurdle I am facing in my meditative experience is transcended.. soon, I hope:)

Here is what Ramana, my favorite Guru, says about this big distinction between a fake meditative experience and a real one. 

This does not mean salvation; such a condition is termed manolaya or temporary stillness of thought. Manolaya means concentration, temporarily arresting the movement of thoughts; as soon as this concentration ceases, thoughts, old and new, rush in as usual and even though this temporary lulling of mind should last a thousand years it will never lead to total destruction of thought, which is what is called salvation or liberation from birth and death. The practicer must therefore be ever on the alert and enquire within as to who has this experience, who realises its pleasantness. Failing this enquiry he will go into a long trance or deep sleep (Yoga nidra). Due to the absence of a proper guide at this stage of spiritual practice many have been delude and fallen a prey to a false sense of salvation and only a few have, either by the merit of good acts in their previous births, or by extreme grace, been enables to reach the goal safely.
Sadhakas (seekers) rarely understand the difference between this temporary stilling of the mind (manolaya) and permanent destruction of thoughts (manonasa). In manolaya there is temporary subsidence of thought-waves, and, though this temporary period may even last for a thousand years, thoughts, which are thus temporarily stilled, rise up as soon as the manolaya ceases. One must therefore, watch one's spiritual progress carefully. One must not allow oneself to be overtaken by such spells of stillness of thought: the moment one experiences this, one must revive consciousness and enquire within as to who it is who experiences this stillness. While not allowing any thoughts to intrude, he must not, at the same time, be overtaken by this deep sleep (Yoga nidra) or Self-hypnotism. Though this is a sign of progress towards the goal, yet it is also the point where the divergence between the road to salvation and Yoga nidra takes place. The easy way, the direct way, the shortest cut to salvation is the Enquiry method. By such enquiry, you will drive the thought force deeper till it reaches its source and merges therein. It is then that you will have the response from within and find that you rest there, destroying all thoughts, once and for all.
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This temporary stilling of thought comes automatically in the usual course of one's practice and it is a clear sign of one's progress but the danger of it lies in mistaking it for the final goal of spiritual practice and being thus deceived. It is exactly here that a spiritual guide is necessary and he saves a lot of the spiritual aspirant's time and energy which would otherwise be fruitlessly wasted.

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