Right Background for Meditation

Truth and non-violence; conduct generous and pure,

Non-acquisitiveness, artless behavior,.

The ideal of Anuvrat; freedom from addiction;

Good and natural living, sensitivity, magnanimity;

And when pride and the sense of ‘I’ are dissolved,

The groundwork of meditation is complete.

Q.Curiosity about one’s being is the starting point of meditation. Is the resolution of this curiosity enough in itself or is some other sadhana necessary for going into various aspects of dhyana?

Ans. The most important element for meditation is the purity of the heart. Without the observation of certain vows it is not possible to achieve mental purity. Vows are of two kinds—great and small (mahavrats and anuvrats). Of course, a vow is always great-it is beyond considerations of great and small. However, on the basis of the capacity of the individual undertaking a vow, it may be differentiated. There are five main vows—nonviolence, truth, non-stealing, brahamcharya and non-acquisitiveness. The practice of non-violence means freedom from attachment and aversion; its fruition is the feeling of goodwill towards the whole world. Freedom from attachment and aversion leads to veetaragta (freedom from affections and passions), and the feeling of goodwill leads to identification with the soul of the world. In so far as the realization of veetaragta and the feeling of goodwill increase the purity of the mind, the state of meditation is equally strengthened.

Truth is the symbol of straightforwardness. A sadhak who is simple and straightforward, does not accumulate filth. Telling an untruth stains the mind. A liar is always assailed by fear. To avoid a possible evil, he indulges in falsehood and when his falsehood is exposed. he becomes restless. Restlessness is productive of malice and the man loses his reputation. Fear, anger and duplicity cannot be separated from untruth. And wherever these tendencies grow, it is impossible for the mind to be pure. And in the absence of purity, the seed of dhyana does not sprout.

The third vow is non-stealing. Stealing is the culmination of the lack of discipline. A man who steals, violates other people’s rights. It is a ruthless act and the man indulging in it can never achieve self-realization. All his attention is turned to material things. A materialistic mind has no conception of purity, whatever. A man who takes the vow of non-stealing, rises above the world of matter, and progresses in the direction of mental purity.

The fourth vow is celibacy (brahmcharya). Brahmcharya is the worship of self-knowledge. It is an inexhaustible source of power. It is a kind of special discipline. One who practises brahmcharya is able to preserve both his physical and mental energy and becomes luminous. He does not allow his urges to grow licentious. Contrary to this, the lack of brahmcharya makes for uninhibited lust and creates difficulties in the path of inner observation. From the point of view of self-realization and preservation of energy, the practice of brahmcharya makes an important contribution towards the creation of the right background for dhyana. The fifth vow is non-acquisitiveness. The fruit of non-possessiveness is alert awareness. Unconsciousness is a bondage. An attached mind cannot be introversive. It remains identified with both body and matter. The thicker the layers of attachment, the more densely is purity clouded. In order to dissolve the layers of attachment, it is necessary to strengthen through constant practice the spirit of non-possessiveness.

Non-violence, truth, non-stealing brahmcharya and non-possessiveness are the means of keeping the purity of the mind intact and are therefore, called the fundamental virtues. It is on the basis of their strength that meditation can progress. A person whose conduct-is not absolutely guileless, does not deserve to be a dhyanee. Without the practice of a mahavrat or anuvrata, one’s conduct cannot be straightforward. Violence, untruth, stealing lust, possessiveness-all promote cunning and deceit. The ground of meditation cannot be cleared in the face of dodging and duplicity. Therefore, the observance of the vows has its own importance in a sadhak’s life.

Q.Even while living in a spiritual environment, why is a man’s mind assailed by evil tendencies like violence, untruth, etc.? Some sadhaks cannot rid themselves of these tendencies, despite their desire to be free. Why?

Ans. Sanskar, the past action, is the greatest cause of the continuance of evil tendencies. Long indulgence, combined with sanskar, further strengthens an evil tendency. Because of this powerful combine of sanskar and indulgence, a man’s mind is disposed towards violence. When the sanskars get ripened, they manifest themselves. Here, instrumental causes are very active. Violence does not manifest itself through one’s action alone; because of the conditioning factors, one’s mentality becomes violent. Wherever in space and time, the stimuli become strong violence erupts. In case of fewer stimulants, the consequences of action are proportionately fewer. In the Yogic Age, the incitements to violence, untruth, etc. were few. In consequence, man’s inclinations too, were not so wicked. In the present circumstances, there prevails from morning till evening, an atmosphere of violence. The newspapers provide an abundant fare of thefts, dacoities, bloody encounters and rapes. People read about or witness around them similar incidents. These are the outer causes. The inner causes such as the food for the body, the chemical fluids, etc. are also affected by the rampant evil. It is only when a sadhak makes an effort to free himself from evil influences flowing from within and without that he can succeed in sublimating his innate tendencies.

Q.Is the groundwork for meditation well laid by observing a mahavrat or anuvrat, or is something else required in addition to it?

Ans. Mahavrat (taking a great vow) is an excellent thing. A sadhak who has taken a great vow faces no external obstacle to his progress in the field of meditation. As regards an anuvrati sadhak, the first requirement is freedom from addiction. Nowadays, some people accept the use of intoxicants in the context of meditation too. Intoxicants like hemp and hemp preparations were used in earlier ages, and they are used even today. In the beginning they might prove to be good stimulants to dhyana, but later it becomes very difficult to deal with problems resulting from their use. In order to create and maintain a clean and wholesome atmosphere for meditation, freedom from all kinds of addiction is an urgent necessary. This also forms one of the main objectives of Anuvrat.

Even in an addiction-free life, two great obstacles to dhyana are pride and attachment to oneself. As long as the complexes of pride and attachment are not dissolved, it is difficult to achieve success in meditation, no matter how much effort is put in. The development of steadfast, unwavering concentration is essential for meditation. Man creates uncertainty through pride and attachment. Pride envelops a man’s consciousness and attachment conditions it. All man’s action is born of these. The development of passions also takes place because of pride and attachment. These are also the factors behind the deterioration and perversion of human nature. It is therefore, essential to conquer pride and attachment for creating the right background for meditation. When these two elements are under control, the groundwork for dhyana can be said to be well laid.

Some people are of the opinion that it is not necessary to spend time in creating an appropriate background for the practice of dhyana. According to them, one may start practicing dhyana at once, and the necessary conditions will come into existence of themselves. There is no need to disagree with the above opinion. Still it must be admitted that this is no ordered way of undertaking sadhana. In the case of farming, one resorts to a planned programme; in order to make the soil fertile the earth is manured, watered, cleaned and levelled and properly managed. This process then yields a good crop. Similarly, if the practice of meditation is done in a planned manner, it brings quicker results. A brief outline of dhyana sadhana may be as follows:

Dhyana means concentration of mind. For concentration, all uncertainty in the form of varying options must come to an end. In order to end uncertainty, it is necessary to evolve a pure, integrated consciousness. In order to cast off the many layers of dirt encompassing consciousness,.the observance of a mahavrat and anuvrat is necessary. The fruit of such observance is: goodwill, simplicity and straightforwardness, disaffection with material objects, self-realization and awareness By exposing the mind to these virtues, the complexes of pride and attachment get dissolved. With the dissolution of these complexes, the consequences of past sanskars surcease. Thus, a solid background is formed for the practice of meditation. With this background a sadhak, passing through the various stages of meditation, successfully reaches his goal.