Sri Bimal Mohanty
MEDITATION – THE DIVINE ELIXIR OF LIFE
Based on lectures by Sri Bimal Mohanty
There is a deep rooted dichotomy or paradox if you like, in the minds of people that inspite of the great strides made by the civilization, the scientific and technological advancements made, the information explosion, the great discoveries and achievements of mind and the so called progress made by us, life as such was more worthy and better in the past than it is today. There can be contradictory views and great arguments on this. But if you ask people, the concept of “good old days” continues to disturb a large number of people.
Do they have a point or is their mindset worthy of disdain as anti- progressive?. Whatever may be the arguments it is a point worth pondering. A little contemplation of the mess around us will convince many to wonder whether we are really on the right track. Has a course correction become imperative?
At the cost of sounding negative at times it is necessary to pause and take stock.
There are two groups of people in this world. One who think life is to be lived as enjoyably as possible, indulging all kinds of material comfort and exploiting the conditions around us in full measure and another who think that behind all the craving, all the progress and all the advancement there has to be an eternal purpose behind all existence. The aim of life has to be understood and strived for with no ambiguity and without faltering. Seeing all the pursuits of life as of very trivial value, wise men rightly concluded that such a grand endevour has to have and does have an equally grand purpose. When the sanatan philosophy gave it a name as satchidananda – the truth absolute, its realization and the ensuing bliss from that realization- it had that in mind. Nanya pantha vidyate – there indeed is no alternative.
Having that conviction, they also concluded that such an uplifting view has to be preserved and maintained in the minds of men. All lives within the creation must be dedicated to maintain this high ideal. But they also saw that there is a constant deterioration of life dedicated to this goal in the face of self destructive pleasure seeking.
The concept is strengthened by experience of many yugas (eras). From satyayugas when pure virtue predominates to kaliyugas when evil thoughts and actions take control, the wise men of sanatan philosophy saw a deterioration of times which disturbed them. In the best of eras we had Ravana and Kauravas, the evil personified.
But they did not succumb to negative resignedness. They knew there has to be a solution.
In The Bhagavad Gita Lord Krishna assured:
YadA yadA hi dharmasya glAnir bhavati BhArata
abhyuthAnam adharmasya tadAtmAnam srjAmy aham
paritrAnAya sAdhunam vinAsaya ca duskrtAm
dharma sansthApanArthAya sambhamAmi yuge yuge.
Whenever righteousness deteriorates into evilness, I incarnate myself to eliminate the evilness to protect the followers of righteousness and re-establish right conduct.
However, these words are often interpreted in a very simplistic way to suggest not to worry and the incarnation of Brahman the Lord will descend and make everything right time and again.
Such an explanation is too fatalistic and completely undermines the efforts of each soul in ushering back the principle behind the creation and the conduct by each in effecting the course correction and maintaining it.
Let us analyse this in more detail.
Firstly, evil deeds bring no good to any one. Every one will agree with this but ignoring dharma we still indulge in them. We suffer, make our own near and dear ones suffer, make everyone around suffer and perpetuate misery for all. The fact that we are the cause of the misery all around does not sink in. If the society suffers we have contributed to that suffering. If our friends and acquaintances suffer it is because of us. If I myself, my family, my children are in misery, my bad deeds are also to blame.
Till this truth sinks in, our eyes do not open and we continue with our omissions and commissions and keep blaming the Divine or haplessly keep on waiting for the Brahman to descend. In a wrong understanding of this concept of Brahman’s incarnated intervention the effort of the jiva towards his own control of conducts is invariably forgotten.
We blame Maya. We blame the world around us to be the reason for our predicament. Many who superficially admit that the phenomenal world is Brahman only, even conclude that Brahman is the cause of their suffering.
The esoteric truth that Brahman through his self expression as the creation is indeed drawing us towards Him as our salvation becomes too difficult to reconcile in our warped thinking. We enjoy the pulp and keep throwing away the kernel.
Why we keep doing that?
So captivating is the phenomenal display of Brahman as the outside world that our condition is like a child dazzled in a mela or fair. The ego self is constantly rushing to experience all that is around as if propelled by a madness of sort. As Yama explained to Nachiketa: there is good and there is pleasant. Blessed is he who chooses the good and does not veer away from the right thing. An ordinary mind (often explained as the surface mind) remains ever swallowed up by the dazzle of Maya.
It is indeed natural for all to be overwhelmed by the display of the creation to begin with and there is nothing wrong with it. As the colour, smell, taste etc of the pulp are there to lead the enjoyer to the kernel, so is the dazzle of outward world is there to attract and lead the jiva to the intrinsic essence which is Brahman and which is the ultimate source of all happiness, all bliss and the solution to misery. Brahman through his own creation provides us the path to satchidananda – the truth and bliss. For understanding the noumenon the start is from the phenomenon on which the noumenon is postulated.
This natural shifting from the phenomenon to noumenon is the character of a thinking and alive mind. It is also an imperative necessity. We have discussed earlier how we all are multi-dimentional entities, as physical, mental and psychic blended into one. To evolve and grow we need all round development in all our dimensions. Each dimension is sustained and grows with food and nutrition that it gets. The physical subsists with the anna or the food that we feed in. The mental subsists with primarily our transactional thought process. But the psychic can only subsist and grow with the exploration of higher knowledge – the adhyatma, that is associated with spiritualism.
Even in the Buddhist concept the Dalai Lama echoed similar thoughts as he said, as I read the other day ‘human beings are of such nature that they should have not only material facilities but spiritual sustenance as well. Without spiritual sustenance, it is difficult to get and maintain peace of mind.’
It is meditation alone that provides food for the psychic. Swami Vivekananda also felt that every time you meditate, you keep growing.
Realization of this truth is the first requirement of life- the dhAranA of yoga.
Then comes our effort to go after Brahman.
When we decide to go after Brahman we start thinking of Brahman or establishing a mental linkage with Brahman. That is the process of dhyAna or meditation. Establishing a linkage with Brahman through meditation is dhyAnayoga.
Our problems start here. As we proceed, we find that our boundary of cognizance is so limited and our ignorance of things due to inadequate understanding is so thick that we are unable to reach out to the complete and absolute truth, until we have expanded our boundary of cognizance.
Now behold here the unique character of the tool that is the mind (more precisely the antahkarana) –that we have received as our precious divine gift. No doubt we have this problem of limitation but the problem also comes with its own solution. As the mind gets absorbed in thoughts of Brahman it acquires its own strength to expand. It systematically transcends all limitations.
By meditation, the mind acquires strength. People who meditate, experience the gradual increase of mental strength within themselves. The outside world sees them as calm, intelligent, quick to grasp knowledge, internally happy, trustworthy and well meaning people. The ten characteristics of dharma that we have discussed before are revealed through their character. (See ‘What is righteous living’ Parts 1 & 2 in AHWAN in December 2000 and January 2001issues)
People who do not meditate are often, unstable, arrogant, conceited and selfish by nature.
But the most precious benefit of meditation is acquired spiritually. People often ask how to transcend from one’s physical dimension to mental and then to the psychic level. It is by meditation indeed. Mind attends what it seeks. Intelligent probing into the physical surroundings – the ‘whys’, ‘whats’, ‘hows’- automatically sharpens the mind and brings it nearer to the essence of all things and actions and thereby to Brahman. The mind is built that way.
We need the Divine grace no doubt but the grace descends when it is sought by our own efforts.
It is meditation that reveals the truth, making the truth realized within and gives us stability (sthitaprajnA). Meditation alone leads us to the end of misery.
(Suggested further reading: “On meditation” parts 1to 4 in AHWAN July to November 2001 issues).