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Mind, meditation and the goal

Swami Bhoomananda Tirtha

16 August 2021

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Do not be unduly enamoured of meditation. When the mind becomes pure, the worldly desires fall and the ego becomes extinct, meditation will automatically follow. The mind will automatically get absorbed into the Self.

Dhyāna or meditation is an important feature of spiritual life. Everybody knows it, and the seekers also take to meditation in their own manner. But, meditation is not the be all and end all of spiritual life. If we take up a question as to whether all seekers should, right from the beginning, take to meditation or not, the answer is not a uniform ‘yes’.

Meditation is necessary to realize the Truth, to experience the Self. But will all seekers practising meditation be realizing the Truth? Certainly not. Why is it so? It is because, the purity of the mind is very important for attaining meditational fruition. But then the question arises, “How can this purity be brought about?” Should a person take to meditation only after attaining the required measure of purity, or meditation will itself be helpful in purifying him? I think, it is both.

When you start practising meditation, you may think that it is for realizing the Self. But, if the mind is impure, then your meditation will not take you to the desired level of mind extinction. In that stage, the practice of meditation should serve the purpose of purifying your mind, enriching your mind. In Bhagavad Gita, Krishna says: Yogam Ātma-viśuddhaye – Yoga is to be practised for the purification of one’s own being.

What is this purity? How can one judge whether he is becoming pure or not?

First, purification means reduction and extinction of desires. The desires may be secular, worldly, or they may be spiritual, otherworldly. In Vedanta, vairāgya is defined clearly as:

iha-amutra-phalabhoga-virāgaḥ

— disinterestedness towards enjoyment of pleasures or rewards in this world as well as in the other world. So, the secular as well as the spiritual desires will have to fall completely. A mind which does not strive to eliminate desires cannot be considered as pursuing purity.

The second aspect of purity is the lack of ego. With the dawning of purity, the ego must steadily decline. And finally, there is a state of extinction of the ego. What is this ‘ego’? It is a strong notion about one’s separate identity ‘I’ with regard to anything whatsoever. “I will do this” is an ego. “I will not do this” is also an ego. It will be very much evident in your tone of affirmation. In fact, any sense of doership with regard to any action done or to be done, is ego.

The third sign of purity is a feeling of non-possessiveness nirmamatva. Possessiveness can be there only around the possessor — around the ego of possession. Any feeling of possessiveness with regard to anything – initially it may be worldly things and later on it may be with regard to even spiritual attainments – must gradually decline, and finally become extinct.

A Jeevanmukta initially becomes conscious of his mukti (freedom) as he was earlier conscious of his bandhana (bondage). After the bondage is eliminated by the new consciousness of freedom, the consciousness of freedom also gets eliminated. Thus the Jeevanmukta attains a beautiful state of no-bondage, no-liberation. In fact, bondage and liberation no more carry any significance for him.

Similarly, a seeker wants to realize the Self because he sees non-Self all around. But, once he realizes the Self, there will be no non-Self to be distinguished from the Self. For him, there will be no Self to be sought, after leaving any non-Self. It is a wonderful state which also means ego-extinction.

Whenever the mouth speaks, the mind thinks, and the intelligence understands, they can do so only with reference to the Subject within. That reference to the Subject will still continue, but there will be no ego, pride or a sense of causality.

So, the fall of desires, the extinction of the ego and the elimination of all possessiveness are coeval with purity. It is only to inculcate purity that all the religious and spiritual practices and disciplines have been evolved. Through all these practices, once purity is attained, meditational absorption will become easy and spontaneous.

Sometimes by listening to a talk or reading a book, people become interested in practising meditation. But they are generally so enmeshed in worldly thoughts that initially the meditation only helps to purify their being. May be years pass before their mind gets purified and the plural thoughts running after variety of worldly objects start converging. Only then they begin to get meditational absorption. Initially, while meditating, the object of meditation becomes the focus. But meditation fulfils itself when the object of meditation disappears and the meditator starts becoming conscious of his own mind-substance.

To summarize: Do not be unduly enamoured of meditation. When the mind becomes pure, the worldly desires fall and the ego becomes extinct, meditation will automatically follow. The mind will automatically get absorbed into the Self. May be absorptions will continue until at last you start enquiring about the absorption. “What is this absorption? Where am I getting absorbed? What do I get in absorption that I am missing at other times?”

That is the introspection which will finally lead you to the discovery and realization of the Self.

One must understand that meditation also is a transitory state. It begins and ends like anything else in the world. So, if you are looking for the realization of the eternal Truth, you must outlive the beginningful and endful meditation and get hold of the ultimate wisdom that tells you: “I am always the Self. I was the Self even before I knew it, and I will continue to be the same Self eternally.” The realization will hold good once and for all.

It may not be possible in one moment. May be long-sustained effort will be necessary for the emergence. But if you are sincere in your pursuit, some time or other the realization has to dawn! A wonderful dawning – which you will feel, can never be missed, can never be taken away from you.

यं लब्ध्वा चापरं लाभं मन्यते नाधिकं तत: ।
यस्मिन्स्थितो न दु:खेन गुरुणापि विचाल्यते ।

yaṃ labdhvā cāparaṃ lābhaṃ manyate nādhikaṃ tata:
yasmin-sthito na du:khena guruṇāpi vicālyate

(Bhagavad Gita 6.22)

After attaining which, you know that nothing superior is left aside. Being seated in which, you know that even the deepest sorrow or the heaviest calamity cannot dislodge or torment you any more.

That is the wonderful state of interminable Self-seatedness or Yoga.

Harih Om Tat Sat

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“ The purity of the mind is very important for attaining meditational fruition.”

“Purification means reduction and extinction of desires, lack of ego and a feeling of non-possessiveness.”

“Initially, while meditating, the object of meditation becomes the focus. But meditation fulfils itself when the object of meditation disappears and the meditator starts becoming conscious of his own mind-substance.”

“It is only to inculcate purity that all the religious and spiritual practices and disciplines have been evolved. Through all these practices, once purity is attained, meditational absorption will become easy and spontaneous.”

“One must understand that meditation also is a transitory state. It begins and ends like anything else in the world. So, if you are looking for the realization of the eternal Truth, you must outlive the beginningful and endful meditation and get hold of the ultimate wisdom”

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