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 from 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 actualized 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 practice 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 disorganized. Such people can never become true sadhaks.
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 enough sleep?
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 wrath
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 whole-some habit.
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 practice sadhana on their own, sit alone for meditation, but the participants of a shivir practice group-meditation.
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 practice meditation on his own is nowhere laid down. Where will those who conduct special experiments in meditation or practice 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 practice ‘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.