The Rules of Initiation

Temperance in food; in speech; universal goodwill;

Freedom from reaction-action natural and free;

And mindfulness for ever and in everything;

Five golden rules of sadhana are these.

Q.Does success in the practice of meditation come immediately after accepting initiation into preksha dhyana, or something yet remains to be done? What are the points about which a sadhak should exercise great care during the sadhana period?

Ans. The mere act of initiation can never be a guarantee of success in any field. Mastery in sculpture or any other art does not come easily. How could it be otherwise in the field of meditation? In meditation, there takes place a transformation of the inner disposition. This transformation does not occur in a moment. For this one has to pass through a definite period of time and follow a definite procedure. The sadhak of preksha dhyana initiated into it, acts in accordance with the rules of sadhana. The initiation into preksha dhyana is accompanied by the acceptance of five rules—temperance in food; temperance in speech; friendship for all; freedom from reaction; and mindfulness.

The first rule is temperance in food. Food is related to the body, and the body to the mind. To discipline the mind, it is very necessary to discipline the body. Control over food is even more important than the necessity of food for the body. Often fasting or hunger does not hurt a man so much as overheating. Over-eating is the greatest hindrance to meditation. A sadhak, if he exercises restraint in food, can go into deep meditation at any time. On the contrary, after excessive eating one’s state of mind is not at all conducive to meditation. Over-eating invariably, induces sloth and sleep. Meditation symbolizes a higher level of consciousness. From this point of view, the simpler, the more wholesome and the more frugal a man’s diet, the greater facility he enjoys in meditation.

The second rule of initiation is temperance in speech. Speech is a necessity of group life, because it is the means of expressing one’s feelings. A man who keeps alone, has little opportunity for speaking; he naturally falls silent. A newborn child, if kept in total isolation, would never learn how to speak. Speech has value only when there is with you someone who listens to you. But even in community living silence is more important than speech. In order to delve into the depths of sadhana, not only outer silence, but inner silence is necessary. It is a great weakness in man that he speaks too much. To use ten words or sentences where one would do, is a waste of time and energy.

It is desirable for the sadhak of preksha meditation to observe complete silence, even outside of meditation hours. Specially after taking a vow to observe silence, to keep on communicating with others through gestures is not useful. Speaking through gestures involves a greater expenditure of energy than speaking with the tongue. Therefore, a sadhak, if he cannot observe complete silence, must at least practice temperance in speech. The criterion of frugal speech is that a man should consider for a moment or two before speaking, as to how much speech is required. And after he has spoken, he should try to find out if it would have made much difference, if he had not spoken at all. Similarly, to speak with deliberation, to consider what kind of language to use, or whether to speak aloud or low, are other aspects of temperance in speech. By his sense of discrimination, a sadhak can avoid unnecessary speech.

The third rule of initiation is friendship. The plant of goodwill can only flower on the ground of equanimity; it is capable of identifying itself with the soul of the world. The more a sadhak is swayed by like and dislike, the more feeble his meditation is likely to be. Both attachment and aversion hinder friendship. For an individual attached to a particular person or thing, it is natural to be malevolent to another person or thing. Even if the vibrations of malice are not clearly perceptible, we have no reason to deny their existence. Similarly, parallel to disenchantment with things and persons, runs the vibrations of attachment. In these circumstances, compassion is a state which, transcending both attachment and aversion, takes an invidual to veetaragta (total freedom from passions). He who practises preksha meditation, must be suffused with compassion, otherwise his meditation cannot be self-revelatory.

The fourth rule of initiation is freedom from reaction. It has become man’s second nature to react all the time. From morning till evening a considerable part of his activity is reactionary. He who lives in reaction, loses spontaneity. He cannot even remember why he is doing a particular work. One man abuses another. Whether that abuse has any meaning or not, the victim finds it difficult not to react. Somebody benefits or harms another, both these activities evoke immediate reaction–goodwill for the benefactor and aversion for the enemy. It is a great weakness to succumb to reaction. A man finds it difficult to act independently. The occasion for independent thinking and action outside the conditioning of circumstances does not arise. In such a situation, to strive to lead a life of non-reaction is a great discipline. However hard that discipline may be, until it is successfully practised, one cannot expect desired results from preksha dhyana. Everyday, the sadhak should try to act and live in such a way as to be totally free from reaction. If one constantly examines oneself from the very beginning, one gradually comes to know whether one’s sadhana is tending. Also, it is necessary that this examination be conducted by the sadhak himself. One who learns not to act in reaction, is a deserving sadhak in the true sense of the word.

The fifth rule of initiation is mindfulness. Mindfulness is related to every activity of life. No action, however big or small, should be performed without the sadhak knowing it fully. Mindfulness means to give oneself totally to the thing one is doing without the least seperation between the door and the doing. Phrases like ‘with full consciousness’, ‘total engrossment’ ‘adequate response’, etc., symbolise mindfulness. It happens many a time that a person is engaged in some work but his mind is elsewhere. Such a situation arises for want of training in mindfulness, i.e. the mind, speech and action are not fully harmonised. Mindless action is a sign of unawareness.

Once a fly settled on the forehead of Mahatama Buddha. The mahatama’s hand lifted automatically and the insect flew away. After a couple of moments, the Buddha lifted his hand deliberately and turned it as if to remove the fly. The pupils sitting near the Buddha were surprised and one of them said, ‘0 Lord, what is it you are doing? Right now there is no fly or mosquito here. What makes you move your hand like that?”

The Buddha smiled and said, ‘0 pupils! I’m correcting a mistake. A moment ago a fly came and settled upon me. I did remove it, but not consciously. I was not fully alert at the time. My mind was elsewhere, and my hand lifted mechanically to drive away the fly. After becoming conscious of my lapse I am now rehearsing the act with full consciousness, so that the tendency to act unconsciously does not grow in future.”

The pupils listened to the Buddha and understood the secret of mindfulness. Mindfulness is the element which makes an individual aware of his bad habits and evil tendencies. Thus, if an individual gets angry, he must know that he is in a state of anger. Conscious anger is never so fatal as unconscious anger. It is by being fully aware of all that happens to us, good or bad, that our instincts can be sublimated. For the upward movement of consciousness or the sublimation of instincts, the practice of mindfulness is very useful.

Q.All these five rules of initiation are very practical and their utility is beyond doubt. But the problem is how is one to inculcate them in one’s everyday living?

Ans. Generally, all these five maxims accepted at the time of initiation, imply a movement against the current. To swim with the current is easy. A little piece of straw, when dropped in the flowing stream, would be carried along the current for thousands of miles. But, if it tried to flow against the current, its movement is stopped. Man, too, by nature swims with the current. To swim against the current requires extra strength and courage. When the sadhak of preksha dhyana accepts initiation into meditation, he thereby takes the pledge to move against the current. As his determination matures, the practice of the five rules mentioned above also becomes natural. With the weakening of one’s resolution, the practice of the rules appears to be very difficult and complex. In order to assimilate these five rules of initiation, the sadhak will have to commit himself to his objective. In the face of commitment to his aim, no situation can become a hindrance in the sadhak’s path.