PRELUDES TO MEDITATION
Now on to preksha its order and process,
A detailed, authoritative, objective presentation:
Dawn, the last part of night, finds the seekers awake!
After routine ablutions, all gathered together!
The endless conflict of thought, day and night!
How to be free frmn that is the first consideration.
Q.You have already expounded the theoretical aspect of
preksha meditation. Is there a practical aspect, too?
Ans. Theory and practice---each method of sadhana is a current flowing between
these two banks. A technique which has no theoretical basis, cannot continue for
long and a theory which is not actualised in practice, cannot be of much use. No
one can say how many techniques of sadhana originated and then disappeared
because their theoretical or practical aspects were not well-founded. The
elements of preksha dhyana lie scattered in the Jain Agamas. The Jain Acharyas
have been making use of them from time to time. But somehow, they never gave it
all a stable practical form. That is why the current of dhyana developed only by
fits and starts. In order to remove the recurring stagnation, it was necessary
that the practical aspect be made manifest in a systematic way. The whole
sequence of preksha meditation has therefore been laid down. So that all can
practise it easily. For a critical evaluation of the procedure of preksha dhyana,
three things are necessary: a tranquil objective mind, authentic statement and
extensive portrayal of the essential elements.
In the normal routine of practice, the first thing is getting up in the morning.
After having slept through the night, it is proper to wake up at dawn. The
normal hour of awakening is the last part of the night. Those sadhaks who get up
at about 4 O' clock, are able to conduct their sadhana well. The daily routine
of those who keep irregular hours for sleep and waking up, or those who go to
bed late and rise late, is totally disorganised. Such people can never become
Q.Somebody asked Tana Faqir, "What is your sadhana?" The Faqir said, "When I
feel sleepy, I sleep. When I feel hungry, I eat. After having slept, I wake up.
If I feel like speaking I speak, otherwise I keep silent." What do you think of
this doctrine of Tana Faqir as regards sleeping and waking? If a person has not
had enough sleep by 4 O' clock and is obliged to get up, all his actions are
marked by languor, and if he sits in meditation, he begins to doze. In these
circumstances, will it not be proper for him to get up only when he has had
Ans. One who does sadhana on one's own, and has passed the initial stages,
becomes uncommitted in many ways. At an advanced stage, living in a natural way
can become a part of sadhana. But novices in this field who want to learn
something will do well to follow a regular and prescribed routine. The talk of
dozing and laziness if forced to get up at the appointed hour before one has had
one's full quota of sleep, has not much weight in it, because it is possible
through practice to create a healthy habit, which would make an individual wake
up from sleep at the right time, and fully rested. Otherwise one can go on
sleeping all the day long out of sheer laziness. It has been said:
Sloth, sex, sleep, hunger and
are five evil dispositions which
increase all the more with gratification.
Sleep is one of these. Experiments have been conducted in
this regard. An individual may sleep for 8 hours without any interruption.
However, while practising dhyana regularly, a person who normally sleeps for 8
hours, reaches a stage where 2-3 hours of sleep provides him the fullest
possible rest. The conclusion is that if you give sleep a free reign, it tends
to occupy more and more of your time, but with will-power and control, sleep can
be reduced to the minimum. A preksha sadhak is not required to reduce sleep to
the minimum, but at least he must arrange his life so that he can get up at
about 4 O' clock. A man with irregular living habits, may experience some
difficulty to begin with, but with practice he will soon form a new and
The 4 O' clock hour is most appropriate for the sadhak, because at that time the
atmosphere is full of atoms which stimulate freshness, joy and consciousness.
This hour of waking up is good both for health and meditation.
Q.Should one sit for meditation immediately on waking up, or do something else?
Ans. One may sit for meditation immediately on waking up, but during the period
of meditation there should be no bodily obstruction of any kind. That is why
evacuation and daily ablutions must be preferably attended to first. After
these, an individual feels fresh and alert and all lethargy vanishes of itself,
and the mind is ready for meditation. If one sits for meditation on the bed
immediately after waking up, the possibility of being assailed by the atoms of
sleep is very real. It is, therefore, desirable to perform one's ablutions
first, and then prepare to sit for meditation. Those who practise sadhana on
their own, sit alone for meditation, but the participants of a shivir practise
Q.Which is better, individual or group-meditation?
Ans. In ancient times, emphasis was laid on individual meditation. The Agamas
also support this practice.
That an individual cannot practise meditation on his own is nowhere laid down.
Where will those who conduct special experiments in meditation or practise
meditation in their homes, offices, etc., find large enough groups? Yet,
'group-meditation' is very much prevalent these days. The new learners in
preksha shivirs are made to practise 'group-meditation' at least four times a
day. One reason for it is that group-meditation favorably affects the whole
atmosphere of the place (the vibrations, etc.). A person practising dhyana
alone, feels uncertain and weak, and if he cannot get the right environment, he
is not able to concentrate. When many people sit together, the vibrations of the
life-force become stronger. One man's power is then available to another. From
this point of view, group-meditation has a special importance.
One requirement preparatory to meditation is a free, unoccupied mind. Even when
a man is by himself, from the ideological point of view, he is not alone --- the
conflict of thought goes on in his brain undiminished. The brain affects the
mind. The mind is full of contradictions. A mind caught in contradictions is not
fit for dhyana. Therefore, one must determinedly work to keep the mind free.