Do's and Don'ts During Vedantic Meditation and Dhyana/Nididhyasana Technique (49)
Do's and Don'ts During Vedantic Meditation and Dhyana/Nididhyasana Technique (49)

Summary:

Lesson 49 points out do's and don'ts during Vedantic meditation, and how to manage unceasing bombardment of thoughts/emotions in the mind. What exactly is to be meditated upon? Dhyana Meditation technique in 4 steps. Sravana, Manana and Nididhyasana revision. Remove doubts about what exactly? Problem of Habits overshadowing Self-Knowledge.

Source of teaching: Bhagavad Gita, Chapter 6, verse 24, 25, 26


Bhagavad Gita Chapter 6, Verse 24:

  • Verse 20-23, Krishna talked about Dhyānam-phalam. But isn't totally satisfied about the process/technique of meditation, so goes back to discuss Dhyānam-svarūpam. So verse 24-26 elaborate even further what exactly is practice of meditation? What should we be doing during meditation? What are we supposed to do during meditation?
  • Step 1: kāmān tyaktvā (drop future plans)
    • Turn mind away from worldly thoughts. External world, body, business, family.
    • “For next 20 min, I am seeker of truth alone!”.
  • Step 2: Answers “how” to step 1: saṇkalpa-prabhavān (born of intention/cooperation)
    • Any thought is not powerful in beginning. Like a ripple in lake. But how is a wave formed? Wave becomes bigger and bigger by the wind (thought). Similarly, future planning starts as ripple. But our thought (wind) makes it bigger. Thus DO NOT ENCOURAGE anātma thoughts.
    • Even Anger/jealously are all thoughts built up as result of our repetitive entertainment.
    • So what to do? At the seed level (of anātma thought), immediately DIVERT mind to ātma-related thoughts. Allow not thought to grow.
  • Step 3: indriya-grāmam viniyamya (restraining completely)
    • Withdraw sense organs which are gateways through which external world enters mind.
    • Thus close gateway so external world doesn't enter mind.

 

Bhagavad Gita Chapter 6, Verse 25:

  • Krishna says: Withdrawal must be done gradually. Can't suddenly go to Ātma, because Ātma is subtlest nature of mind. Just like going from 1st to ground floor. Can't jump the steps. There are intermediary steps in-between.
  • uparamed: One should gradually withdraw mind from anātma. Because in meditation, want to dwell upon subject (meditator). Meditation is upon the meditator (my own nature).
    • Meaning since it's a subjective meditation (regarding the subject, all other objects should be gradually eliminated.
    • Objects are divided into 3: All 3 are objects of my experience: External world, My physical body, My own mind.
      • Meaning, FIRST initially start of meditation, attention will be on world. Then shift attention to body. Then shift attention to mind. Finally shift attention to the very observer of the mind, the “I”, Awareness/witness consciousness principle.
      • Regarding Mind: All things one escapes from addressing in life, will surface in meditation. Escapism is one factor contributing to agitated mind, which shows up in meditation.
      • Meaning emotions/thoughts will come up in mind. However needs to recognize, “Whatever is presented to me, is not Me”.
  • How to deal with Emotions which arise during Vedantic meditation?
    • Do NOT control emotions (during meditation). But objectify emotions. Stand aloof from emotions. They do not belong to Me.
    • Even pleasant experiences in meditation should be objectified, as they belong to mind alone. Even pleasant experience belongs to Anātma.
    • In Māṇḍūkya Kārikā, Gaudapada ācāryaḥ says “Enjoying the pleasantness in Meditation, is also an obstacle”. He calls that obstacle: rasā-svādaḥ (perception of pleasure). It's an obstacle because pleasantness belongs to a quiet mind. Meaning it's still mind.
    • During meditation (dhyānam/nididhyāsana), we are ONLY interested in the witness of pleasantness, which was there before meditation, during meditation, after continues after meditation.
      • Meaning, I want to own up to the witness Ātma, and NOT enjoy the pleasantness of Meditation.
      • Vedantic Meditation is for actualizing Self-Knowledge that I am the witness, and not for any kind of experience.
      • If pleasant experience comes, tell yourself “I have nothing to do with this experience”. It's just like ice-cream.
    • Summary: Meditation becomes only worthwhile if one owns up the teaching in meditation.
      • “I am the witness of the mind and all it's ordinary/extraordinary experiences. None of them belong to me”.
      • Recognize that Body has it's nature. Mind has it's nature. And your (Self) nature is different from both of them.
  • Dhyānam-Svarūpam in 4 Steps:
    • Step 1: Turn away mind from gross objects in mind.
      • How? Remind Nothing in world belongs to me. All is given for my use, so I don't want to CLAIM anything”. The moment you stop claiming things from world/family, the mind is free for a fruitful ātman thought contempation.
      • All belongs to God (paramātma) alone, never forget! The moment you own up to this fact, attachment loses power.
      • Metaphor: Lizard upside down thinks “I am supporting the ceiling”. In same way, attachment to world causes one to think “Without me, family won't run. Society will suffer!”
    • Step 2: Dismiss each 5 kośas one by one, as anātma. Made up of matter only.
      • Body is gross. Mind is subtle > Mind is gross. Intellect is subtle. > Intellect is gross. Consciousness is subtle.
      • Be alert to NOT get carried away at any level of 5 kośas.  Keep moving to more subtle kośa.
    • Step 3: Withdraw the mind further by help of inquiry
      • How to withdraw mind from anātma? buddhyā
        • By the intellect alone which has Vedantic teaching behind it. And what teaching should be in such Intellect?
          • I am neither the mind, nor the experiences of the mind.
          • Before thoughts arrive, I AM.
          • When thoughts arrive, I AM.
          • After thoughts ends, I AM.
          • Thus, I AM the unchanging consciousness, witness of every thought.
        • That's why Vedantic meditation is only possible by student of Upanishads/Gita. Non Vedantic student can't practice meditation, other then types which only purify mind.
      • dhṛtigṛhītayā: Intellect must be supported by willpower.
        • If willpower isn't there, I'll get attached to pleasant experiences. They're all temptation. They're all anātma. Because they have arrival/departure.
    • Step 4: Entertain thoughts of your nature.  (ātmasaṁshaṁ manaḥ kṛtvā)
      • ANSWERS: What should be done after mind is withdrawn, tranquil and at peace?
      • Let mind dwell on Ātma by seeing different features of Ātma.
      • Having withdrawn from anātma thoughts, mind should then abide in Ātma.
      • How does mind abide on ātma?
        • When say pen is resting on desk, we know that pen at some point was NOT resting on desk.
        • But can we say “Mind is now not resting on Ātma, and after some process, mind is resting on ātma”? No. Because everything in creation already rests on Ātma (all pervading consciousness). Meaning, noone needs to bring mind onto Ātma. Because like space, Ātma is already everywhere. EG: Can't say “Keep the pen in space”. It's never not in space.
        • ANSWER to “How does mind abide on ātma?”: By entertaining thoughts centred on the object of meditation. Meaning mind resting/centered on Ātma. Thoughts are being entertained regarding nature of Self.
          • What kind of thoughts? Aham caitanyam svarūpaḥ asmi
            • I am of the nature of Consciousness. I pervade the body-mind as Consciousness. I enliven the BMI (Body-Mind-Intellect) as Consciousness. The BMI are only medium for my experience. And this medium can arrive/depart. Without this medium, I won't experience the world. But even without them, I consciousness continues to exist.
            • Just like in deep sleep, BMI not functioning, so I don't experience world. In waking, BMI medium functioning, and world is experienced.
            • I am consciousness different/pervading the body.
            • I am formless Awareness.
            • I am uncontaminated-pure Truth.
            • I am nirguṇa.
          • All thoughts centered on ātma are called: akhaṇḍa-ākāra-vṛttiḥ (no subject/object division)
        • Benefit? Integrates Self-Knowledge into subconscious so it's on auto-pilot.
      • SUMMARY: Let your thoughts be Ātma-centered thoughts. Or akhaṇḍa-ākāra-vṛttiḥ (Ātma related thoughts)
      • na kiñcid api cintayet: Don't distract yourself by entertaining any other thought by ātma-related thoughts.
        • Often falsely interpreted as: Total thoughtless. Sanskrit: andha (blind) / jaḍa (numb, dull) / ajñāna – samādhi.
        • Thoughtlessness has no spiritual benefit. Only psychological/physical benefit, eg: rejuvenation. So in Vedanta, we're not interested in abiding in a thoughtless/empty mind.
    • Even class śravaṇam is form of concentration/meditation. Because mind for at least 1.5 hours stops thinking world thoughts, and is given opportunity to exclusively entertain ātma thoughts.
      • Sureshwaracharya, one of Shankara's disciples said: One does not have to sit separately in meditation. Because repeated śravaṇam (teaching) itself is a form of meditation.
      • Thus think not of meditation as restricted to āsana. Because Vedantic meditation in general means: Mind consistently dwelling upon the teaching. (Whichever way is done by the aspirant).

 

Bhagavad Gita Chapter 6, Verse 26:

  • REMINDER: Whenever teacher says “You are consciousness”, student should deliberately convert this to first person “I am Consciousness”. Or when teacher says “I am consciousness”, this should be converted from your standpoint “I am consciousness”.
  • Verse 26 says: When mind is dwelling on teaching, distractions are bound to come.
    • Arjuna will complain later and say: Krishna, my mind is like a monkey. (6.34)
    • Krishna responds: Don't feel bad if mind is restless. Everyone's mind is restless varying degrees. Universal problem.
  • PROBLEM: niścarati manaścancalam: Restless/extrovert/volatile mind will go out. Because of “yato yato”, various sense objects distracting the mind.
    • Example: First hear horn of car. Then remember your first car. Then remember your 2nd. Then remember hearing funny joke in the car. Then remember person who was listening. So Ātma-dhyānam ends into Car-dhyānam.
    • It is natural for mind to stray away. Don't feel guilty thus.
      • EG: In Bhāgavatam, Jada Bharata gets distracted by a deer. He had so much determination that he gave up his kingdom and family.  And one deer become very deer to him. He brought deer up. All the time, thinking of deer. AT time of death, it's deer-dhyānam. Next janma, he becomes a deer.
  • SOLUTION: tatastato niyamyaitad: Withdraw mind from objects by telling yourself “Nothing belongs to me, thus nothing is worthy of being obsessed over”.
    • Obsession comes because of ownership. Which agitates mind in life/meditation.
    • Thus convert your ownership of spouse/children/house only “functional ownership“. It's only owned for sake of functioning in this short impermanent life.
    • And let it be remembered: “Nothing belongs to Me. Everything is a temporary gift from Isvara which He has blessed me. I should grow spiritually from the offered gifts. I should NOT fall in love/get-attached to anything”.
    • SUMMARY: Tell “O Lord, everything is yours”.
  • ātmanyeva vaśam nayet: Bring mind back to Ātma. (after tatastato niyamyaitad)

 

Revision of Dhyana Meditation Technique & Sravana, Manana, Nididhyasana:

  • Krishna is discussing Nididyāsanam, known as Vedantic meditation.
    • Nididhyāsana is relevant and meaningful only AFTER study of Vedanta (śravaṇam/mananam)
    • Meaning, the actual Self-Knowledge has to take place ONLY at time of śravaṇam. Systematic study alone has to produce the knowledge (I am the Self) in the mind.
    • Metaphor: Just as I look into mirror, if mirror is clean and placed correctly infront of me, I can get proper picture of myself. In the same way, guru presents Vedantic teaching, which is like verbal mirror kept infront of student. If teaching is properly presented, and listener has defect-free mind, the teaching CAN and WILL generate the knowledge in the mind.
  • Vedantic meditation is NOT for Self-knowledge to arise. The Self-knowledge has to arise during śravaṇam, and doubts with regards to Vedantic teachings, through mananam.
    • Meaning, any doubts REMOVED regarding: brahma satyam jagan-mithyā jīvo brahmaiva nāparah (Brahman is the substratum of the world. World is dependent on Brahman. Brahman is none other then myself.)
    • Since doubt belongs to intellect, and intellect nature is of reasoning, thus can only remove doubt by reasoning. Intellect knows only language of Reasoning.
    • Therefore niḥsaṃśaya-jñānam (doubtless knowledge) OR conviction regarding Vedantic teaching, HAS to take place through śravaṇam/mananam ONLY.
    • IF conviction has taken place through śravaṇam/mananam, then what is ROLE of nididhyāsanam?
      • Enjoying/appreciating the benefit of Self-Knowledge (aham brahmāsmi)
      • Our problem is: We seem to know and understand this teaching, but promised benefit doesn't seem to be in me. Because scriptures present that jñāni is free from various emotional problems (kama, krodha, moha, etc).
        • Meaning, when I look at myself from standpoint of those descriptions, we doubt our knowledge.
      • Krishna says, what we lack is NOT knowledge (after FIRST gaining/assimilating knowledge through shravana/manana), but BENEFIT of knowledge.
        • BENEFIT of Knowledge is: Freedom from emotions, anxiety, freedom.
      • Thus role of nididhyāsanam is removing block between jñānam and jñānam-phalam.
        • What is the BLOCK? Our habitual ways of thinking, looking at ourselves. Habituated to look ourselves as physical, emotional, intellectual person. Habituated to think in saṃsāric fashion.
          • Even how we respond to life events is habitual. Meaning the way we look at self, world, God is of Habit.
          • So the the problem is NOT ignorance, but habitual ways of seeing/responding/thinking.
            • EG: Australian, as passenger will habitually go on left side in Europe. Is this behaviour born of ignorance or habit? It's not of ignorance because Australian already knows Europe is reversed. It's a habit-problem.
          • These habitual responses are of endless janmas (births).
  • SOLUTION: Nididhyāsanam is to invoke my Vedantic personality, and relook into myself/family situation/religions in light of Vedanta.  Re-see world through googles of Vedanta.

    • Changing language can also change habits. Because language gives away our way of thinking. To change language is to change thinking.
      • EG: Deliberately, don't call a call family member a problem. But call it a “No problem!”.
      • “I am ok. You are ok.”
      • “All is well.”
      • “I am happy, not because of situations, but in spite of situations.”
    • Above example of changing language or re-looking the world differently through Vedanta googles is called: abibhavaḥ (you don't solve the problem, but dissolve it)
      • For example, when look at sky in daytime, are the starts present or not? Stars are always present. But in daytime, stars are NOT absent, but as-though absent, because their light is overpowered (abhibhūtam) by light of sun.
      • In same way, Vedanta gives one new vision/fulfillment, whose light is like the sun. Thus the problems (stars) don’t go away, but get overshadowed by new perception of myself.
        • For example, family members won't change because you study Gītā. But family issues become insignificant infront of one's new perspective of looking at the world.
        • If have physical/money problems, they'll continue also. But family issues become insignificant infront of one's new perspective of looking at the world.
      • Thus Vedanta does abhibhava (overpowering) of ego's problems. They become insignificant/small infront of pūrṇamtavam which one has discovered.
        • Example of usual way of thinking which produces suffering, “There is either success or failure”. But infont of Vedanta konwledge, your new way of thinking is, “There is only karma-phalam” (fruits of actions done by me in past).
        • Another example how our habitual responses generate suffering despite having fully assimilated “I am not this suffering Body-Mind”:
          • Person A (ajñāni) expected 10% profit. Person B (jñāni with old habits), 50% profit. Actual figure is 30%. That makes person A elated, person B depressed. This is result of habitual thinking/expectations/vāsanās.
    • Summary: Vedanta is a painful, time-consuming reassessment of our situations in life.
      • If above statement sounds depressing or discouraging, then ask “Depressing compared to WHAT?”. And whatever you answer to this question, then why hasn't that thing worked for you so far? Vedanta already has the answer: Because “that thing” didn't provide a permanent unchanging benefit. It was short-lived. Vedanta is TIME-CONSUMING, but it's results are PERMANENT (mokṣa).
  • abibhavaḥ is the job done in meditation.
    • One looks at every problem of mine, and see it as insignificant, to extent that it's as good as non-existent. Just like starts during daytime.
      • EG: Future continues to be unpredictable. Even jñāni's life is unpredictable.
      • But abhibhavaḥ overshadows the anxiety due to unpredictability. Thus anxiety is as good as non-existent.
    • Thus jñāni's freedom from anxiety is NOT because of predictability, but in spite of unpredictability. Called: jīvanmuktiḥ, which can be enjoyed ONLY if this nididhyāsanam exercise is done.
      • Meaning, studying own life again and again, in light of Vedantic teaching.
  • SUMMARY: Nidihyāsanam is not going to bring new flow of ānanda.
    • It is simply: Relooking myself and world, in light of teaching. Which changes perspective, thus brings peace of mind. For example…
      • In Bhāgavatam it was described how Krishna was looking at all the Jadavas quarrelling, fighting and killing each other. Krishna is Lord Himself, and couldn't stop his family members fighting and dying one by one. Bhagavatam describes Krishna's perception of that event as, leaning on a tree with his hands on his knees, looking at whole event with a smile. Because it's a choiceless situation, even for Bhagavan, the all-pervading.
      • A choiceless situation has to happen. But if there is a choice, jñāni will gladly take action where appropriate.
    • Conclusion: The change of a Vedantin is in the way of perception and response, which is illustrated by it's fullness in Krishna's peace (smile). And this smile is talked about in verse 27.

 

Credit for help in Bhagavad Gita teaching is given to Swami Paramarthananda

Recorded 14 May, 2019

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