Entering Meditation

And

The Second Essential Virtue

….Appreciation

  

Friends.  To describe how we enter meditation, I often use the simile of the bee seeking honey.  He buzzes and buzzes, just as when we are beginning meditation, our thoughts go buzzing around in our heads.  Then the bee selects  a flower, as in concentration we need a word, or thought, or object.  However, when the bee penetrates the flower and finds honey, the buzzing stops.  Now, the bee is all absorbed in what he has found, in his union with what he has discovered.  In the same way, when we reach meditation, beyond all thoughts we find joy, ecstasy, and bliss at our center.

Today we will enter meditation by concentrating on the virtue I call appreciation.  We first concentrated on amity.  Now we will concentrate on appreciation, the second of the four virtues that are essential if we are to grow to our full stature.  In the words of The Immortal Song,  “Many my heart sing with ecstasy at the sight of the virtuous, And may my life be an offering at their feet.”

Would life appear meaningful without those in the past who incarnate human potential  beyond aggression, self-interest and ignorance, and the present enablers and exemplars who show us something of what life can and shall be?  The great prophets, such as Adinath,  Mahavir, Buddha, Zarathustra, Christ, cast their light of hope and human glory far in time and space, but few of us have learned how to exalt life as they did!  Too often we profane it instead.  Yet how impoverished this planet would be if we did not have before us the example of those who have followed different imperatives than the poor souls who struggle merely to survive, or those who live merely to get ahead in the rat race, to acquire a few more possessions, a little more external good fortune and status than their neighbors – not caring whom they harm in the scuffle! 

Truly, how distorted our vision would be if only the conquerors, or he rulers, or the richest were held up before us!  Alexander the Great once went to see Diogenes, the celebrated philosopher.   “What can I do for you?” asked the conqueror of the world wishing to patronize him.  The philosopher thought for a moment, and then replied, “Please step aside, so you won’t come between me and the sun.”  A person of power blocks the rays of the sun and casts a shadow.  A wise man receives and gives light.  We need the great of the past who gave light, and also the great who have cast light in today’s world, such as Gandhi and Martin Luther King.  We need to show appreciation for those who put practice before preaching, who have the caring commitment and courage to confront current practices which conflict with the dictates of light and love.

However, appreciation begins with those nearest to us; as you want appreciation, give it.  Children, in their efforts to grow, need appreciation.  Husbands and wives, in their dedications to each other, need appreciation. Parents, whatever their shortcomings, need appreciation.  The mechanic who does an especially good job on our car deserves appreciation.  We must learn to appreciate and to show appreciation for the virtues and talents and efforts of all others.  And our appreciations must be the kind that flows from the heart, not the flattery which falls easily from the lips.  And when we meet a greatly accomplished person, a highly evolved soul, we must offer our time and services for the good causes he or she wishes to further. 

Some unfortunate people, in the grip of the small ego, tend to deny another’s progress and accomplishments.  Especially if the talented ones are only a few steps ahead, the envious are prone to berate and disparage them.  If someone sings better than one of  them, he thinks, “Well, he sings, but really he has no rich tone in his voice.”  If someone dances better, he thinks, “Well, this man dances, but really has no grace.” If someone gives a donation, the jealous one says, “He is hiding his ego behind  a mask of humility.”  If someone is outspoken and forthright, the envious one calls him blunt and impolite.  This is how envy and pettiness get in the way, although perhaps the envious are people who did not receive enough appreciation themselves when they were small.  Ask yourself whether you have any of this envy.  When we reach the larger Self, envy and competitiveness are gone.  Then we wish the whole world could be filled with the enlightened ones! These sometimes are called the super-human, but I regard them as humanity realized. 

In any age there is no dearth of people who run after wealth, power, or physical beauty.  Those who care for truth, love, meditation, commitment to  changing their own lives know it is not our worldly success or physical existence but, first of  all, what we are inwardly that counts.  Yet it is only these who throw a ray of light on the dark path to guide the misguided, the ignorant, the weak, and the seekers.  These few are the Torchbearers.  Appreciate them . . .  those who  have  realization of Self; those who are working to turn the world into a living paradise.

Our hearts should feel joyful at the sight of those who are some steps ahead of us.  Also, we must draw from them inspiration for our own progress.  Appreciation implies that as the other has found his purpose in life, his mission, we must find ours.  If we can avoid the snare of inferiority – of putting ourselves down – as well as the snare of envy.  And approach the outstanding ones with softness of heart, then we can bring forth our own virtues and talents, and shine with perfection.  Only we must be astute in selecting the guide in ourselves or in society  that will help us realize our Essence.  Pseudo-saints and Pseudo-yogis flourish in this era!  A piece of sugar and a piece of alum look exactly alike; both are white, both have the same shape.  But a fly will never be deceived by the similarity.  Likewise, a man whose Inner Light is active will reject the false guide.  Ultimately we must all depend on the master within; but before we can generate enough enlightenment, we need guidance of outside masters. 

Friends.  Those whom you feel are such outstanding and accomplished people are really not different from you.  Night and day, unnoticed, you are growing.  From a single cell, you have developed a physical form comprised of countless individual cells.  In the same way, an unnoticed process is going on in your inner life- it’s working on your, building within you.  Give yourself to it.  Let appreciation nourish it … and in the quiet of your meditation you will see your mission clearly.

Appreciation – we have been concentrating on its meaning, what effect it can have in our own lives.  And now we will go beyond intellect into meditation. . . 

In the silence, your awareness climbs to the moon, to the sun, and beyond. . . . .  Now that you are in meditation, you are open to the whole universe; there is harmony between you and the Cosmos; you are getting in touch with your divine Self. . . . . And you will return to your time and place with fresh insiration. . . .

 THOUGHTS

  • In  order to grow to our full inner stature, we must appreciate the great  human beacons of the past, present and future.
     

  • Let us show appreciation to those nearest to us-our children, our parents, a husband or wife, our friends and associates.  Let us also show appreciation to those whose labor gives us our habitat – not only the artists and architects and poets and musicians – but those who drive the buses, those who grow the grain and fruit we eat, those who clean the streets.
     

  • Let us show appreciation to those whose practice even more than their preaching helps us find our own mission.

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