This Is Meditation

This Is Meditation

  The mind is absolutely alone.  The self is in the mind. Bodily activity is ever temporary.  The moment you stop moving you are faced this first reality: the mind is alone. We are monads.

 

With nothing for the mind to relate to, it feels loneliness complete, as if it were the only thing in the universe.  It feels lost. Day after day, people fill their minds with thoughts of ‘people and things’, because facing a mind alone in the universe is overwhelming, frightening and world-negating.  In that sense, the act of thinking about ‘people and things’ is an escape, feeling good.  But temporary is temporary; the feeling good doesn’t last. It can’t. It has to be topped up with thoughts about more people and more things, with the resulting mind never learning to be still, and worse, always dependent upon something else for fulfillment.  By the natural processes of association and reinforcement, the mind spends its life inside the body never knowing peace.

 

“As above, so below”, say the ancients.  Every action has an equal and absolute reaction.  The mind, never encouraged to be still, for fear of coming face to face with itself in its aloneness, takes duplicate expression in the body.  All their lives people live in agitated bodies – bodies stirred to activity not by the real need of the moment, but by the fancied need of a mind afraid to be alone.  We surround ourselves with familiar things and people, and as long as they are somewhere near, we don’t ever have to face this reality: the mind is alone.

The aged who have lost near and dear familiars, are acutely confronted by this aloneness.  And those who have never been in the habit of voluntarily going into their aloneness (with death near – dying, the ultimate activity in which we must all ‘go it’ alone) either try to imitate youth or move about in a diffuse funk.  Purpose gone, death comes – as it will- but without active engagement.  The Yogic idea is that death is meaningless if there is no participation in this all-important process of leaving.

 

Finding out that the mind is alone is so well covered up that not one in a thousand understands it. Almost everyone has felt it: a few seconds’ recognition.  But without frequent voluntary review, knowledge of what this aloneness is about is lost, or never uncovered.

 

The knowledge is already there, but it is not what it seems to be at first: it is not pain.  Knowledge is never pain but comfort.  The first sense of aloneness is daunting because it takes away crutches, the comfort we’re used to, and we often do our level best to never repeat it.  We turn on the television, the radio, we smoke, read, eat.  Therein lies the mistake.  If we allow the experience of aloneness to carry on without interruption, the mind will flow naturally from activity inwards towards a universe inside itself.  Quite suddenly, one may feel a connection all-encompassing, the heart as well as mind comforted then and there.  Recompense comes: joyfulness, peacefulness, insight, a loss of fear and a general sense of well being never reached day-to-day.  This voluntary entry into a mind alone is called meditation.

 

Part 2

 

The rewards of meditation are so great, that if you knew them, you would start immediately and never give up.  The combination of joy, peace, insight and well being come not to be limited to the times when you are sitting and doing it; it trickles over into daily relationships, enhancing them all as the mind is transformed.  “As above, so below.” As the mind is changed it must take expression in and through the body so that all your activities take on a higher nature. But, since meditational transformation is like “emptying a dustbin with a teaspoon” (I don’t remember who said that – either Swami Vivekananda or Sri Ramakrisha, I think) your mind doesn’t go immediately into the stillness required to see itself clearly.  It takes time to lose interest in all the chattering thoughts that have held it entranced.  In fact, the chattering mind can become quite boring.  Instinct itself leads you to look for another state of thinking.

The time factor is the reason one should start as soon as possible, why there is a sense of urgency, and why you should never give it up.  The process of voluntary aloneness means bringing the ordinary thoughts to a halt by replacing them with a fixed thought.

 

This brings us to method, the how-to-do-it.  The attempt at fixed thought usually takes the form of visualizing, repetition or inner dialogue.

 

 

In order to do any one of these, it is best to form some sort of mental relationship: the mind needs relationships.  It functions best when it doesn’t feel alone.  You can make your relationship an object or person.  You can use the  ‘you’ form. You can turn an object into mother, father, loved one, teacher, friend, even child.  The important thing is to keep relating.  Focus on it/him/her.  Talk to it/him/her.  By personalizing, you concentrate the mind in such a way that it a) not only feels peaceful but b) develops the will power and c) takes away that dreadful feeling of aloneness.  It gives a sense of both being comforted and having company.

 

Don’t limit your meditating to the times when you sit.  When walking down the street, when things go wrong, when you’ve quarreled or feel misunderstood, go immediately to your relationship in the universe.  Make the mental connection and use a chosen ideal, a chosen technique.  Inwardly talk, repeat a word or phrase, visualize.  Everything you do is always taking place through mental connections.  Make them work for you.  What you are seeking is attainable human perfection.  The inner self is satisfied with nothing less.  That is what impels us to keep looking; we are all instinctively seeking the best.  In our very bones we’re all seeking perfection.  Don’t be afraid of the word.  It is attainable and it is human.

 

  • What are these perfect qualities that you can attribute to an ideal and yourself learn to uncover?  Basically, they are six and from them come all the variations, the more intense and the less intense.  They are peace, power, purity, knowledge, love and bliss, or utter happiness.
  • Peace brings calmness and tranquility; power brings energy and influence; purity leads to action untainted by selfishness; knowledge brings insight, clear thinking, wise decisions; love brings sympathy, flexibility, acceptance, rejection of nothing; bliss brings cheerfulness, joy, smiling, contentment.  The vocabulary of perfection is not as intimidating as many think.  It boils down to day-to-day applications.  Everything positive is always some form, some level of peace, power, purity, knowledge love or bliss.

 

  • This brings us to one more natural form of meditating: the thinking about ideas.  If you want to improve your life, train yourself to not think about ‘people and things’.  The ‘people and thing’ stream carries the mind away.  The mind is already too dispersed.  Thinking about ‘people and things’ spreads it too thin – like peanut butter – not only solving nothing, but also creating more thoughts along that line.  By such thinking you lose power.  Problems are solved when knowledge enters.  Why not meditate on knowledge; examining, thinking about it qualities and facets?  Think about the various aspects of any of the above mentioned qualities: peace, power, purity, knowledge, love and bliss.  They are the sum total of perfection and thinking about any one of them, especially relating it to an ideal-in-the-universe and using visualization, repetition or inner dialogue leads the mind into an intimate knowledge of itself and the problems that surround it.  Knowing oneself is almost the whole solution.

 

  • You may find yourself experiencing any one of these qualities, either as a flash as insight, or in daily living where problems seem suddenly solved.  Meditation leads the mind into an imitation of the quality, eventually taking on some aspect of the qualities of perfection.  It is self-learning in the highest, sometimes called self-realization.

 

  • When should you meditate?  Whenever you’re not in contact with people. Ideally you should make the time to sit once or twice daily, anywhere from ten minute to an hour.  It depends on your capacity and your circumstance.  But in order to reinforce the capacity as well the habit, to receive actual immediate mental benefits, (such as the lifting of your spirits), you should meditate whenever you’re not speaking.  If you think you’re going to walk into cars or wash the dishes inefficiently, you’re wrong.  You will become more mindful, more alert than before.  Meditation leads to efficiency, not cloudiness.  Cloudiness is the state we’re generally in, because the mind is going in so many directions at once it seldom focuses.  We learn to live on a low level of alertness, and we accept that as the normal.  As a result, the inner self suffers.  Your inner self is silent; it doesn’t talk.  But it is born instinctively knowing those six qualities as its very own; that perfection is actually a birthright, an inheritance.

 

  • When the ego dominates, it sits on those qualities.  The ego-self is shortsighted.  You can recognize the ego by its concern with a quality called ‘my-ness’: my house, my family, my ambition, my pride   The real self is silent and patient, and sits around waiting for the ego to give it a chance.  All it needs is the chance and it reveals itself in a beautiful peaceful character.  The ego seeks short-term satisfaction, instant rewards.  The self is a persevering, non-asking fellow.  The ego-self makes for the deep impatience that dominates most people and collectively, most societies.  As long as the ego dominates, you can never be happy.

 

  • I advise learning to meditate, but in the strict sense there is no learning to do; there’s just doing and watching, and making the doing a way of life.  It’s simple but not easy – because you’ve got to be there!

 

q  The mind is alone, yes, and the millions of minds, billions of minds are equally alone, made of the same stuff, possessing these same six qualities but in differing proportions, which is why we appear to be unequally endowed.  Made of the same stuff, a stuff incorporeal – after all, you can’t pinch peace or happiness – the mind can interrelate with other minds.  We can communicate and the other fellow knows what we mean.  Wonderful, I would say.

 

Yoga says this ‘stuff’, this ‘mind-stuff’ never dies.  It is always conscious; it always lives, it is immortal and eternal. And, probably most important, it is experiencable.  You don’t have to sit around and speculate, or take it on blind faith.  You can know that something is happening by direct perception.  Once you’ve experienced even a grain of non-bodily, conscious mental energy, a wealth of doubts disappears.  That experience alone is worth the effort.

 

q  So on one level we have aloneness and the voluntary going into aloneness leading to a new kind of knowledge (although I daresay it will feel familiar).  On another level we have the inter-relationship of minds, for all minds inhabit the same universe.

q  You may say that meditation is learning to forget the body, for it is by learning to temporarily ignore the body that you go into the mind.  Inversely, going into the mind leads to an ignor-ance of the body.

 

 

  • Some simple techniques:

There are an  infinite number phrases that help you to meditate: just two of them are ‘going up and coming down’ and ‘giving out or letting in’.  During the day, say, once an hour, practice throwing the mind up into a spot, a light in the universe.  Then bring it right back.  You momentarily go visiting in your mind’s eye, then immediately come back home.  I say “every hour” because it’s an easy way to develop the habit of voluntary inwardness.  Just look at your watch, decide that on the hour each hour you will ‘go up and come down’.  At first you forget more often than you remember.  But soon the habit takes over and you remember more often than you forget, no longer needing the watch or the enforced schedule.  Do the same with the concept ‘giving out and letting in’.  When you feel passive, weak, helpless, ignorant – any and all forms of dependency – let in the forces of your chosen ideal.  After all, the forces of perfection are benevolent; there’s nothing to fear.  Just sit mentally listening or mentally setting up a channel in which you are on the receiving end.  If, on the other hand, you’re feeling energetic, mentally talkative, like doing something, then give out: visualize light, for example and give it out. Send waves of any of the six qualities; talk to it.  It’s all mental; all within your control.

 

Watching your breath go in an out, getting involved in the feel of it without attempting to influence it is an excellent technique for learning to focus and concentrate.  Whenever all else feels too much of an effort, breathing is always with you and the easiest to apply yourself to.

 

Because you are changing all the time, what you do today you may not have the feeling for tomorrow.  Use whatever technique applies.  Discard what doesn’t.  What doesn’t apply today may be usable, even desirable tomorrow.

 

********************************************************

 

Nature owns this brain.

Nature owns this body.

I own my soul –

It is mine,

The only thing I really own

That never changes, never goes away,

Stays, is always here,

Always present.

Still, if I ignore it,

Which “I” is doing the ignoring?

The body-I?

It must be the body-I.

The soul would never willingly ignore itself.

Oh, to be attentive all the time

And see what comes of it.

 

Arlene Corwin

 

This Is Meditation

q  The mind is absolutely alone.  The self is in the mind. Bodily activity is ever temporary.  The moment you stop moving you are faced this first reality: the mind is alone. We are monads.

 

q  With nothing for the mind to relate to, it feels loneliness complete, as if it were the only thing in the universe.  It feels lost. Day after day, people fill their minds with thoughts of ‘people and things’, because facing a mind alone in the universe is overwhelming, frightening and world-negating.  In that sense, the act of thinking about ‘people and things’ is an escape, feeling good.  But temporary is temporary; the feeling good doesn’t last. It can’t. It has to be topped up with thoughts about more people and more things, with the resulting mind never learning to be still, and worse, always dependent upon something else for fulfillment.  By the natural processes of association and reinforcement, the mind spends its life inside the body never knowing peace.

 

q  “As above, so below”, say the ancients.  Every action has an equal and absolute reaction.  The mind, never encouraged to be still, for fear of coming face to face with itself in its aloneness, takes duplicate expression in the body.  All their lives people live in agitated bodies – bodies stirred to activity not by the real need of the moment, but by the fancied need of a mind afraid to be alone.  We surround ourselves with familiar things and people, and as long as they are somewhere near, we don’t ever have to face this reality: the mind is alone.

q  The aged who have lost near and dear familiars, are acutely confronted by this aloneness.  And those who have never been in the habit of voluntarily going into their aloneness (with death near – dying, the ultimate activity in which we must all ‘go it’ alone) either try to imitate youth or move about in a diffuse funk.  Purpose gone, death comes – as it will- but without active engagement.  The Yogic idea is that death is meaningless if there is no participation in this all-important process of leaving.

 

q  Finding out that the mind is alone is so well covered up that not one in a thousand understands it. Almost everyone has felt it: a few seconds’ recognition.  But without frequent voluntary review, knowledge of what this aloneness is about is lost, or never uncovered.

 

q  The knowledge is already there, but it is not what it seems to be at first: it is not pain.  Knowledge is never pain but comfort.  The first sense of aloneness is daunting because it takes away crutches, the comfort we’re used to, and we often do our level best to never repeat it.  We turn on the television, the radio, we smoke, read, eat.  Therein lies the mistake.  If we allow the experience of aloneness to carry on without interruption, the mind will flow naturally from activity inwards towards a universe inside itself.  Quite suddenly, one may feel a connection all-encompassing, the heart as well as mind comforted then and there.  Recompense comes: joyfulness, peacefulness, insight, a loss of fear and a general sense of well being never reached day-to-day.  This voluntary entry into a mind alone is called meditation.

 

Part 2

 

v The rewards of meditation are so great, that if you knew them, you would start immediately and never give up.  The combination of joy, peace, insight and well being come not to be limited to the times when you are sitting and doing it; it trickles over into daily relationships, enhancing them all as the mind is transformed.  “As above, so below.” As the mind is changed it must take expression in and through the body so that all your activities take on a higher nature. But, since meditational transformation is like “emptying a dustbin with a teaspoon” (I don’t remember who said that – either Swami Vivekananda or Sri Ramakrisha, I think) your mind doesn’t go immediately into the stillness required to see itself clearly.  It takes time to lose interest in all the chattering thoughts that have held it entranced.  In fact, the chattering mind can become quite boring.  Instinct itself leads you to look for another state of thinking.

v The time factor is the reason one should start as soon as possible, why there is a sense of urgency, and why you should never give it up.  The process of voluntary aloneness means bringing the ordinary thoughts to a halt by replacing them with a fixed thought.

 

v This brings us to method, the how-to-do-it.  The attempt at fixed thought usually takes the form of visualizing, repetition or inner dialogue.

 

 

v In order to do any one of these, it is best to form some sort of mental relationship: the mind needs relationships.  It functions best when it doesn’t feel alone.  You can make your relationship an object or person.  You can use the  ‘you’ form. You can turn an object into mother, father, loved one, teacher, friend, even child.  The important thing is to keep relating.  Focus on it/him/her.  Talk to it/him/her.  By personalizing, you concentrate the mind in such a way that it a) not only feels peaceful but b) develops the will power and c) takes away that dreadful feeling of aloneness.  It gives a sense of both being comforted and having company.

 

v Don’t limit your meditating to the times when you sit.  When walking down the street, when things go wrong, when you’ve quarreled or feel misunderstood, go immediately to your relationship in the universe.  Make the mental connection and use a chosen ideal, a chosen technique.  Inwardly talk, repeat a word or phrase, visualize.  Everything you do is always taking place through mental connections.  Make them work for you.  What you are seeking is attainable human perfection.  The inner self is satisfied with nothing less.  That is what impels us to keep looking; we are all instinctively seeking the best.  In our very bones we’re all seeking perfection.  Don’t be afraid of the word.  It is attainable and it is human.

 

  • What are these perfect qualities that you can attribute to an ideal and yourself learn to uncover?  Basically, they are six and from them come all the variations, the more intense and the less intense.  They are peace, power, purity, knowledge, love and bliss, or utter happiness.
  • Peace brings calmness and tranquility; power brings energy and influence; purity leads to action untainted by selfishness; knowledge brings insight, clear thinking, wise decisions; love brings sympathy, flexibility, acceptance, rejection of nothing; bliss brings cheerfulness, joy, smiling, contentment.  The vocabulary of perfection is not as intimidating as many think.  It boils down to day-to-day applications.  Everything positive is always some form, some level of peace, power, purity, knowledge love or bliss.

 

  • This brings us to one more natural form of meditating: the thinking about ideas.  If you want to improve your life, train yourself to not think about ‘people and things’.  The ‘people and thing’ stream carries the mind away.  The mind is already too dispersed.  Thinking about ‘people and things’ spreads it too thin – like peanut butter – not only solving nothing, but also creating more thoughts along that line.  By such thinking you lose power.  Problems are solved when knowledge enters.  Why not meditate on knowledge; examining, thinking about it qualities and facets?  Think about the various aspects of any of the above mentioned qualities: peace, power, purity, knowledge, love and bliss.  They are the sum total of perfection and thinking about any one of them, especially relating it to an ideal-in-the-universe and using visualization, repetition or inner dialogue leads the mind into an intimate knowledge of itself and the problems that surround it.  Knowing oneself is almost the whole solution.

 

  • You may find yourself experiencing any one of these qualities, either as a flash as insight, or in daily living where problems seem suddenly solved.  Meditation leads the mind into an imitation of the quality, eventually taking on some aspect of the qualities of perfection.  It is self-learning in the highest, sometimes called self-realization.

 

  • When should you meditate?  Whenever you’re not in contact with people. Ideally you should make the time to sit once or twice daily, anywhere from ten minute to an hour.  It depends on your capacity and your circumstance.  But in order to reinforce the capacity as well the habit, to receive actual immediate mental benefits, (such as the lifting of your spirits), you should meditate whenever you’re not speaking.  If you think you’re going to walk into cars or wash the dishes inefficiently, you’re wrong.  You will become more mindful, more alert than before.  Meditation leads to efficiency, not cloudiness.  Cloudiness is the state we’re generally in, because the mind is going in so many directions at once it seldom focuses.  We learn to live on a low level of alertness, and we accept that as the normal.  As a result, the inner self suffers.  Your inner self is silent; it doesn’t talk.  But it is born instinctively knowing those six qualities as its very own; that perfection is actually a birthright, an inheritance.

 

  • When the ego dominates, it sits on those qualities.  The ego-self is shortsighted.  You can recognize the ego by its concern with a quality called ‘my-ness’: my house, my family, my ambition, my pride   The real self is silent and patient, and sits around waiting for the ego to give it a chance.  All it needs is the chance and it reveals itself in a beautiful peaceful character.  The ego seeks short-term satisfaction, instant rewards.  The self is a persevering, non-asking fellow.  The ego-self makes for the deep impatience that dominates most people and collectively, most societies.  As long as the ego dominates, you can never be happy.

 

  • I advise learning to meditate, but in the strict sense there is no learning to do; there’s just doing and watching, and making the doing a way of life.  It’s simple but not easy – because you’ve got to be there!

 

q  The mind is alone, yes, and the millions of minds, billions of minds are equally alone, made of the same stuff, possessing these same six qualities but in differing proportions, which is why we appear to be unequally endowed.  Made of the same stuff, a stuff incorporeal – after all, you can’t pinch peace or happiness – the mind can interrelate with other minds.  We can communicate and the other fellow knows what we mean.  Wonderful, I would say.

 

Yoga says this ‘stuff’, this ‘mind-stuff’ never dies.  It is always conscious; it always lives, it is immortal and eternal. And, probably most important, it is experiencable.  You don’t have to sit around and speculate, or take it on blind faith.  You can know that something is happening by direct perception.  Once you’ve experienced even a grain of non-bodily, conscious mental energy, a wealth of doubts disappears.  That experience alone is worth the effort.

 

q  So on one level we have aloneness and the voluntary going into aloneness leading to a new kind of knowledge (although I daresay it will feel familiar).  On another level we have the inter-relationship of minds, for all minds inhabit the same universe.

q  You may say that meditation is learning to forget the body, for it is by learning to temporarily ignore the body that you go into the mind.  Inversely, going into the mind leads to an ignor-ance of the body.

 

 

  • Some simple techniques:

There are an  infinite number phrases that help you to meditate: just two of them are ‘going up and coming down’ and ‘giving out or letting in’.  During the day, say, once an hour, practice throwing the mind up into a spot, a light in the universe.  Then bring it right back.  You momentarily go visiting in your mind’s eye, then immediately come back home.  I say “every hour” because it’s an easy way to develop the habit of voluntary inwardness.  Just look at your watch, decide that on the hour each hour you will ‘go up and come down’.  At first you forget more often than you remember.  But soon the habit takes over and you remember more often than you forget, no longer needing the watch or the enforced schedule.  Do the same with the concept ‘giving out and letting in’.  When you feel passive, weak, helpless, ignorant – any and all forms of dependency – let in the forces of your chosen ideal.  After all, the forces of perfection are benevolent; there’s nothing to fear.  Just sit mentally listening or mentally setting up a channel in which you are on the receiving end.  If, on the other hand, you’re feeling energetic, mentally talkative, like doing something, then give out: visualize light, for example and give it out. Send waves of any of the six qualities; talk to it.  It’s all mental; all within your control.

 

Watching your breath go in an out, getting involved in the feel of it without attempting to influence it is an excellent technique for learning to focus and concentrate.  Whenever all else feels too much of an effort, breathing is always with you and the easiest to apply yourself to.

 

Because you are changing all the time, what you do today you may not have the feeling for tomorrow.  Use whatever technique applies.  Discard what doesn’t.  What doesn’t apply today may be usable, even desirable tomorrow.

 

********************************************************

 

Nature owns this brain.

Nature owns this body.

I own my soul –

It is mine,

The only thing I really own

That never changes, never goes away,

Stays, is always here,

Always present.

Still, if I ignore it,

Which “I” is doing the ignoring?

The body-I?

It must be the body-I.

The soul would never willingly ignore itself.

Oh, to be attentive all the time

And see what comes of it.

 

Arlene Corwin

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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