Overcoming Powerful Nature of Mind in Meditation by Viveka & Vairagya (52)
Overcoming Powerful Nature of Mind in Meditation by Viveka & Vairagya (52)

Summary:

Lesson 52 mentions 4 universal obstacles contributing to turbulent mind throughout life/meditation. Arjuna also speaks about nature of our mind (powerful & stubbornly firm). Then Krishna the only 2 proper solutions: Viveka (discernment between X/Y), and Vairagya (dispassion/detachment from lower to attach to Higher).

Source: Bhagavad Gita, Chapter 6, verse 33, 34, 35, 36


Revision of Bhagavad Gita, Chapter 6 – Dhyāna-Yoga:

  • Krishna completes Dhyāna-phalam (fruit or benefit of Meditation) by verse 32. So far order of chapter 6 goes like this…

 

  1. Bahiraṅga sādhana: General disciplines throughout day.
    • Which involves: Karma Yoga (living life consciously). And converting extroverted mind into introverted contemplative mind. That's the purpose behind Karma Yoga, because for most of us – mind has been habitually accustomed from early childhood to give priority to external world.
    • Karma Yoga is equivalent to Yoga Śāstra: Yama (Values to honor and be a role model for), Niyama (disciplines to abide by at whatever price).
    • Also need to develop Self-confidence in yourself (“I CAN! I WILL! No matter what. This is MY chance. Let me make most of it”). Also need to exercise Self-control over unhealthy habits, else they'll dominate your life and take priority over abiding in Self.
  2. Antaraṇga sādhana: General disciplines before meditation.
    • Find a spiritually pure place. Sit in preferred non-disturbing and sustainable āsana. Stabilize your breath, in order to stabilize the mind. Withdraw mind to withdraw the senses. Minimize external environment data input, like closed windows, noise cancellation headphones, etc.
  3. Dhyāna-svarūpa: Nature (or Process) of Meditation
    • Dhārṇā: Begin zooming in on thoughts related to self. Start with feeling body, then feeling mind, then start entertaining thoughts of Ātma-svarūpa. Meaning, begin creating statements which represent your nature as non-changing, imperishable/permanent (nitya), immortal, ever present, witness consciousness.
    • Dhyānam: This is is exactly like dhāraṇa, except by now mind's invested time on ātma-thoughts is greater then time invested on anātma-thoughts (as was case in dhāraṇa). This is simply because of momentum of firmly persisting to always put mind back onto ātma-realted-thoughts.
    • Samādhi: This is exactly like Dhyānam, except the struggle is completely gone owning to lengthy momentum of focusing mind on ātma-related thoughts. This is stage where the meditator forgets him/herself. Nothing mystical. Even a common chef achieves samādhi on a busy Saturday night, serving hundreds of dishes. His mind is focused on cooking alone.
    • In all 3 stages, you are dwelling upon Vedantic teachings received from guru. This means taking statements which were biggest “Aha's!” in class, and holding your focus on one of those thoughts. Stick to ONE SINGLE “Aha!” thought. DO NOT entertain more then one “Aha!” thought per meditation.
  4. Dhyāna-phalam: benefit of practicing.
    • Śravaṇam Knowledge TOTALLY assimilated into personality… to such level that it transforms core personality. Perception towards word/people undergoes change. Attitude change is result of Vedantic meditation.
    • For example, before transformation, world has capacity to unsettle me. But Vedanta says, I decide whether world is allowed to disturb me or not. Therefore Vedanta is not about changing world according to my likes/dislikes… but making world incapable of disturbing me. This is called: jñāna-niṣṭā (fully assimilated knowledge causing transformation).
    • Therefore śravaṇa/manana gives jñānam. And nididhyāsanam converts jñānam > jñāna-niṣṭā. Which leads to samadarśanam (vision of equality/oneness).
    • Another benefit is devotion to Īśvara reaches PEAK. Meaning your attitude towards world changes from judgement to child-like wonder.
    • One enjoys Universal compassion. And is no longer bound by world/people. Psychological freedom from own/others problems. Because looks all bodies with EQUAL detachment.
  5. Fifth topic is dhyana pratibandha parihārau: Obstacles and remedies to meditation. Covered in verse 33-36.

 

Bhagavad Gita Chapter 6, Verse 33:

arjuna uvāca
yō'yaṃ yōgastvayā prōktaḥ sāmyēna madhusūdana |
ētasyāhaṃ na paśyāmi cañcalatvāt sthitiṃ sthirām ||

Arjuna said: Oh Krishna! Because of restlessness, I do not see the steady existence of this (yoga) which Yoga was imparted by you as sameness (of vision).

 

In our scriptures 4 types of obstacles are mentioned. Discussed in Māndūkya kārika, written by Goudapādācārya. It has got four chapters at the end of the third chapter he deals with meditation in 10 verses, naming it mano nigrahaḥ (disciplining mind).

manaso nigraha yathaṁ abhayam sarva yōgīnām | duḥkha kaṣāya prabhōdasca abhyakṣya śāntireva ca ||

Because undisciplined mind is an obstacle to the Vedāntic study. If the mind is undisciplined, Vedāntic study remains intellectual, and it does not benefit me in my day-to-day life.

It is not the lack of knowledge, but it is the obstacle in the form of indiscipline of the mind, and therefore manō nigrahaḥ, mastery, management or discipline is prescribed.

Meditation is not for all, but only for certain people. And who are those certain people?

If I am able to enjoy the benefit straight from the study of Vedānta, it means I do not have the obstacle in the form of mental indiscipline.

But if I study Vedānta and it remains in one corner and in my day-to-day life, my emotional problems continue, then mano nigrahaḥ is needed.

Thus I have a got a double personality, one side one brilliantly declares, “Aham Brahmāsmi”. And is even able to  quote all the Upaniṣads left and right, give wonderful lectures also, and even becomes popular guru.

But suppose all these are there, but emotionally, I am frustrated, unhappy, tension, worried… that means there is a gap between what I know and what I am. If I have got these symptoms, my problem is not lack of knowledge, but lack of mental discipline. Therefore Vedānta says, you require a separate exercise for mental discipline called manō nigrahaḥ.

Now the question comes, how come only some people have this problem, and some people do not have the problem?

They listen to the scriptures, as even they listen and gain the knowledge, they enjoy the benefit of sthiraprajñā, duḥkheṣvanudvignamanāḥ sukheṣu vigataspṛhaḥ, they do not feel the necessity of meditation… why it is so for some people?

To this, text Tattva Bodha gives answer: sādhanā catuṣṭāya sampathi (qualifications for Mokṣa)

When a student studies Vedānta, with sādhanā catuṣṭāya sampathi, with the eligibility prescribed… for them nidhidhyāsanam is not necessary.

The rest of us,  go through the back doors without acquiring the qualification, we study Vedānta and therefore for the unqualified people, Vedāntic study should be followed by compulsory Vedāntic meditation.

This Śankarācārya makes very clear, in his commentary of Gaudapāda kārika and Krishna also gives this mediation, because Krishna knows Arjuna has the problem. And not only that, Arjuna himself confesses that I have this problem, I have the knowledge but I do not get the benefit that is promised.

And therefore in the Māndūkya kārika, in the name of mano nigrahaḥ, Vedāntic meditation is prescribed, and their 4 obstacles are mentioned.

They are: layaḥ, vikṣepaḥ, kāṣāyaḥ and rasāsvādaḥ. These 4 obstacles stand in between me and my meditation.

  • Layah: Dullness. Sleepiness. Sit for meditation = drifting off.
    • Don’t feel guilty. Universal problem. Tamas dominance.
    • CAUSES:
      • Bahu-aśanam: Over-eating. Blood stomach. Tired.
      • Ajīrṇa: Indigestion
      • Nidrā-śeśaḥ: Backlog of sleep.
      • Abhyāsaḥ: Mind goes to sleep by association. Close eyes = sleep. Pavlov law.
    • SOLUTION: (1) Karma Yoga, (2) remove cause of sleep, (3) practice.
  • Vikṣepa: Mind is over-active. Hyperactive. Thinks of all, BUT Vedanta. Extrovertendess.
    • SOLUTION: Practice (abhyāsa viveka) / Dispassion (vairāgyam).
  • Kāṣāyaḥ: Mind becomes non-functional. Neither asleep, neither wonder. Just doesn't function.
    • REASON:
      • In past, tragic event. Too much for mind to handle. STUNNED! Didn’t know what to do.
      • Shocking news was Unaddressed. Causing suppressed trauma (raga/dvesa) from past.
      • Hidden complaints, suppressed sorrows/jealousy which could NOT express for various reasons.
      • Just like body has ability to shut down pain mechanism when goes beyond threshold (Adrenalin). Mind same ability. Happens in Ashram.
      • Happens to many in gṛhasta āśrama. Occupied by present problems. Thus past can’t surface.
      • Adi Shanakara calls: rāha-dvesa-vīryam: strong raga/dvesa in potential form stuns the mind.
    • SOLUTION: Wait for suppressed emotion to surface. Thus don't have to search for it. If want to cry, do it. Release it. Shout on beach.
  • Rasa-vādaḥ: Meditation gives relaxation/pleasantness/pleasure. But joy is NOT ātmānanda because it's conditional (arrival/departure).
    • Ātmānanda definition: Sense of fullness/completeness which is there throughout all situations.
    • CARRIED away by pleasure? Becomes obstacle to meditation. Addicted to meditation to replicate pleasantness.
    • Vedāntic meditation purpose? Enjoy fullness of one’s nature in/out of meditation.
      If enjoy only in Meditation OR with withdrawing from world, problem = conditional.
    • SOLUTION: Instead of dwelling pleasure, dwell upon “I am ānanda not during meditation, but my true ānanda is owning to ātma jñānam”. Also tackle by discrimination (viveka). All pleasure is CONDITIONAL. “I am purnaḥ/asangaḥ not only during meditation, but all the time.”
  • Arjuna complains: Yo’yam yogastvayā proktaḥ: This Yoga imparted by you Krishna…
    • This meditation of DELIBERATE DWELLING in Vedāntic teaching…
      • I am Ātma/all else is anātma… mind/body belongs to the CHANGING world which I’m supposed to REPEATEDLY dismiss not-I (na iti, na iti)
      • …supposed to DWELL on my ever UNIFORM/same nature which is caitanya-svaūpa.
      • …supposed to OWN UP truth of me is witness consciousness which remains changeless, pristine, uncontaminated.
      • …anything known to me, is NOT Me….
      • .which I'm supposed to INVOKE repeatedly…
    • …my PROBLEM is: etasyāham shirām sthitim na pasyāmi (Do NOT see STEADY vision UNCEASINGLY because of mind’s agitation)
    • I am able to receive wisdom and understand. Because my intellect GOOD. BUT it does NOT remain. Reception +. Retention -.
    • This is why we divide students in 3 types:
      • Uttama Adhikāri (fit for): Reception + Retention. Even in worst crises. Shock-absorber. Immunity.
      • Adhama Adhikāri: Neither. Not able to receive teaching. Nor understand. Thus nothing to retain.
      • Madhyama Adhikāri: In-between. Majority. Reception present + understand. But it’s quickly overpowered by ego-I. Old personality returns.
    • Arjuna is madhyama. His problem not tamo guna, but rajo guṇa. In meditation, mind on world tour in 2 minutes. Free ride all over.
  • Complaint is expressed more clearly in next verse….

 

Bhagavad Gita Chapter 6, Verse 34:

cañcalaṃ hi manaḥ kṛṣṇa pramāthi balavad-dṛḍham |
tasyāhaṃ nigrahaṃ manyē vāyōriva suduṣkaram ||

Oh Krishna! The mind is indeed fickle, turbulent, powerful (and) firm. I consider its restraint to be very difficult like that of the wind.

 

  • Arjuna described the mind. Manaḥ cañcalam: Mind is highly active. Wander. Fickle.
  • It’s also pramāthi. Not only turbulent in itself. Makes other organs turbulent also. It churns entire personality. EG…
    • If emotionally disturbed > verbal activity increases. Meaning it churns not only vāk indriyam, but all indriya's.
    • Eyes wondering. Because mind wondering. Talking to someone, and they’re looking around. Inducing own feeling of unworthiness.
    • Walking up/down. Mind active > Body active.
  • Mind is: balavad. Powerful.
    • So powerful, can intellectually SAY “no point worrying”, but it continues.
      • EG: Intellect says, will NOT make difference overtaking or driving 3km faster, but mind does it!
    • Intellect says concern is useless. Mind does not obey.
      • Like telling stomach to not growl because it’s embarrassing, but it growls anyway.
    • Mind seems to conquer my wisdom/Intellect. Because of it’s habitual trenches.
  • Mind is: dṛḍham. Firm in it’s own field of worry.
    • Metaphor:
      • Initially DECIDE to drink coffee. Later body used to it. Later intellectually decide STOP, withdrawal symptoms at body level interfere with Intellect.
    • Similarly, decide to stop bad habit, mind continues doing it’s own thing. Firmly stubborn.
  • Balavad (strong) & dṛḍham (firm) both create split personality. Every Vedāntin goes through. For example, Intellect tells nothing worry. But mind keeps worrying.
  • Only SOLUTION two balavad/dṛḍham: Reorient mind. Painful process.
    • EG: Intellect decided stop drinking, but depression comes. Long time to sober.
    • According to Vedanta, all are drunk on emotional dependence. No habit broken suddenly. Lot of planning/time.
  • Process of slow sobering from firm grooves of mind is called: vāsanā kśayaḥ (annihilation).
    • EG: When philosopher first heard bad news about crushed ship, he had vāsana reaction “What”. Suddenly remembered Vedanta class. 2 min later > “So what!”.
    • Distance between “What” > “So what” becomes LESS.
      • Proportional to vāsanā-kśayah (annihilation).  Only possible by time investment. Until then it’s firm (dṛḍham).
  • Tasya nigraham suduṣkaram: Arjuna says….
    • Owning to habitual vāsanās: controlling my mind EXTREMELY difficult. Like WIND. Can’t be stopped because not concrete.
    • Similarly mind is subtle powerful instrument. Can not just order with “Stop worrying!”.
  • Krishna you have to help me! Take me out of habitual unhealthy responses. V35 says HOW…

 

Bhagavad Gita Chapter 6, Verse 34 – Part 2:

  • In Verse 33, Arjuna raises question regarding OBSTACLES and REMEDIES (dhyāna pratibandha parihārau).
    4 obstacles are discussed.
  • Arjuna complains about wondering nature of mind. Unable to focus in particular field.
    • Weak attention Childlike wondering mind. Called: vikṣepa (V33 – 2nd obstacle)
    • Meditation is about focusing mind, to dwell in Vedantic teaching for sake of mokṣa.
  • Arjuna also says:
    • I have sufficient mental steadiness to receive No problem understanding.
    • Arjuna is a, Madhyama adhikāri: Able to receive, unable to retain/hold. If Jñānam niṣṭa is not available. No personality transformation.
    • When attempt to handle mind, it’s like a slimy fish. SLIPS
    • So in desperation, Arjuna CRIES to Lord Krishna for help. “My mind is extrovert. Wonders. Outgoing. Goes as it decides. Highly fluid!”
    • Mind is so violent it overflows into body Called: pramāthi. Disturbs all sense organs.
    • Arjuna says, “I thought mind is my antah-karaṇam. An instrument I control. I thought I was master of my instrument. When try to be master of mind, I discover I am not it’s master. But HELPLESS servant. My mind is dṛḍham (Firm). I try to tell mind to go away from unpleasant topic. It refuses.”
    • Meaning, anātma (māyā) is very strong. Meaning anātma is…
      • Balavad: independably strong. And…
      • Dṛḍham: it’s HOLD on topic is FIRM.
    • If mind stuck in anātma, cannot channel to Ātma. Mind = SINGLE channel. Extrovert mind cannot practice. Thus can NOT attain mokṣa.
    • Therefore, Tasyāham nigraham: “Managing mind, I consider most difficult.” This is why scriptures say: mano jayah “You may conquer everything else, but have you conquered your mind?”
    • Therefore Arjuna says: Since I can’t conquer my mind, I require mind-conquering CONSULTANT…

 

Bhagavad Gita Chapter 6, Verse 35:

Śrībhagavān uvāca
asaṁśayaṁ mahābāhō mano durnigrahaṁ calam |
abhyāsena tu kaunteya vairāgyeṇa ca gṛhyate ||

The Lord answered – Oh Arjuna! Undoubtedly, the mind is fickle and difficult to restrain. Oh Arjuna, However, it can be restrained through detachment and practice.

 

  • Krishna presents remedy to vikṣepaḥ.
  • First, Krishna intelligently points out, vikṣepah is NOT unique problem.
  • Vikṣepaḥ (extorvertedness) of mind NOT problem of particular UNIVERSAL!
    • Big relief! EG: No power in house, check neighbour house. When see they are equally suffering, mokṣa!
  • Therefore, FIRST acknowledge Accept problem is present. Only then remedy has no fear of rejection approaching you.
    • EG: Alcoholics anonymous say: I accept I have problem and unable to come out of it. If I accept and surrender to my helplessness, outside help comes!
  • So Krishna consoles Arjuna, you are not alone. Psychology is: If others suffering, I relieved!
  • Mahābāho: Krishna indirectly teasing Arjuna…
    • “Power to conquer external enemies, but no inner strength to hand own mind. Better you develop inner”
  • Mano durnigraham calam: Krisna says…
    • Mind indeed is fickle. Outgoing. Not easily manageable. Accept this fact!
    • It’s difficult to handle. But NOT impossible. Big difference.
    • Means can handle if employ proper strategy (upāyaḥ) for mental discipline (mano nigrahaḥ)
  • 2 Upāyaḥ (strategies) for mental discipline:
    1. Abhyāsena: Proper practice.
    2. Vairāgyam: Dispassion, detachment.
      • Same in Patanjali: abhyāsa vairāgyābhyām tat siddhiḥ (with perfection)
  • Abhyāsaḥ: How to develop practice for discipline (mano nigrahaḥ)?
    • Mind always dwell upon anything, without distraction, which has INTEREST
      • EG: I Read romance novels > forget everything > absorbed > easily attain Nirvikalpa > no know hunger/thirst/nothing.
      • EG: Sports > full effortless concentration
    • Meaning if interest developed in a particular field, mind enjoys dwelling with 100% concentration, despite distraction. Meaning, everyone has concentration.
    • Then HOW to develop interest in particular field?
      • By knowing it’s value / greatness / superiority. How it’s wonderful for me.
      • Thus love in the subject, LEADS TO effortless
      • And how to develop LOVE for subject? Seeing and developing value in subject.
  • How to develop value (this is important) for subject?
    • Attempting to understand it’s superiority. Called viveka-abhyāsaḥ: Seeing superiority of something by repeatedly reading/talking about Sharing it. Develops value.
    • Example: Knowing greatness/value in mokṣa, naturally develop interest in dharma and mokṣa.
      • This is reason why Scriptures ALWAYS start out by talking superiority of Īśvara. And depending on God is the only worthwhile thing.
        • Of course later we understand that dependence on Īśvara is actually dependence on myself.
        • Because Īśvara is everywhere. But so is Awareness Reason why you’re always alert/aware. Thus Īśvara and Self are not separate.
        • Thus Īśvara dependence = Self-dependence = Independence = mokṣa.
        • Scriptures talk of order: World > God > Self
  • And what’s wrong with World Dependence?
    • Fluctuating. Fleeting. Perishable.
    • Analyse life sorrow. Comes from depending upon something, on which I should NOT have Like drowning man catching onto straw.
    • Thus must have discernment: strong/weak, nityam/anityam (imperis/persi), secure/unsecure.
    • Called: nitya-anitya vastu (thing) viveka, which śāstra
  • What does śāstra teach? Rely MORE on Īśvara (nitya). And LESS on world (anitya). Habit which can be developed. Thus religious life nothing but developing healthy habit of Īśvara dependence.  Naturally replaces unhealthy
    • Meaning, to de-addict yourself, form GOOD. EG: Śāstra / Vedanta reading = GOOD/HEALTHY addiction/habit.
  • Then what is UNHEALTHY addiction/habit? To depend upon perishable.
    • EG: Given perishable card board chair. Beautifully Attractive. Decorated. EXCEPT: Don’t sit!
    • So we’re not saying, destroy the chair. Just know only permanent/strong chair can eternally support your weight: Īśvara's chair alone!
  • CONCLUSION:
    • Sitting on strong chair = viveka (permanent/perishable).
    • Coming out of weak attractive chair = vairāgyam (dispassion/detachment). Coming out of emotional
  • Therefore Krishna recommends: abhyāseṇa (PROPER practice), dwell on śāstra & values.
    • Dwell on God as ultimate destination. On ātma svarūpa.
    • Meaning: Develop interest in śāstra. HOW? By dwelling upon it often as possible.
  • Newcomers often complain, Vedanta = DRY. But once learn to love it, most juicy subject in creation.
    • Rechannelizes mind from World > Īśvara.  |   Anātma > Ātma.

 

Bhagavad Gita Chapter 6, Verse 36:

asaṁyatātmanā yogo duṣprāpa iti me matiḥ |
vaśyātmanā tu yatatā śakyo'vāptumupāyataḥ ||

Dhyana yoga is difficult to be attained by one with unrestrained mind. But it can be attained by the self-controlled who strives through (proper) means — this is My view.

 

  • Clarifying verse 35 even further…
  • Viveka/vairāgya, 2 means by which mind changes interest FROM perishable (fake/anitya) to imperishable (real/nityam).
  • When viveka not practiced by mind, called asaṃyatāmā. Meaning MIND = unrestrained. From?…
    • Nitya > Anitya. Unhealthy > healthy. Artha/Kāma > Dharma/mokṣa
  • If mind is not restrained, mind goes to external CHARMS. For such person, yogaḥ duṣprāyaḥ, meditation impossible. Sits, but values cheap anātma. Or does Pūja, but mind begins entertaining thoughts on the unworthy/imperishable objects.
  • But when DO HAVE interest, we need NOT sit āsana, with close eyes. Wherever you go, mind effortlessly dwelling in the field of it's interest.
    • EG: New mother of first born. Even if at work/active, mind is on child at home. Should she sit in meditation to THINK of child? Nope. Her problem is, can not take child OUT of mind. Because LOVES/VALUES the child. “Because OF child, I enjoy motherhood”.
      • Similarly “Because knowing mokṣa benefit, I enjoy Vedānta study.”
  • In same way, controlled mind (vaśyātma), is result of viveka (priorities, discernment) AND vairāgyam (detachment from unimportant). Priorities in life are CLEAR. Why clear? Because…
  • yatatā: STRIVES (strived) to dedicate QUALITY TIME to Vedanta (nididhyāsanam). Why? Recognition of utility of Vedanta living in life.
    • Since Gītā/Vedānta does NOT give materialistic benefits, need sensitive mind to SEE the abstract benefits.
  • CONCLUSION:
    1. Meditation only possible through DISCIPLINED Developed by 2 upāyās: viveka / vairāgyam.
    2. Develop dependence on Īśvara’s permanent borewell of holy water. Not public water.
      • Later we fully assimilate that, Īśvara= Ātma = I AM.

 

Keywords: Abhyasah, Abhyasena, Adhikari, Ajirna, ananda, anatma, antakarana, antaranga, asamyatama, asanam, asangah, ashanam, atmananda, Bahiranga sadhana, Brahmasmi, dharana, dhyana, drdham, duhkhesvanudvignamanah, dushpraya, dusprayah, Gaudapada karika, gita, Goudapadacarya, guna, ishvara, isvara, jnana-nista, jnana-nistha, jnanam, kahsaya, kama, kasaya, laya, Mana cancalam, mano nigraha, moksha, nididhyasana, Nidra-sesa, nishtha, nista, pariharau, pramathi, purnah, rasasvada, sadhana catustaya, sadhana chatushtaya, samadarsanam, samadarshana, samadhi, sastra, shastra, shesha, shravana, sravana, sthiraprajna, sudushkaram, suduskaram, sukhesu, svarupa, Tasyaham, upanishads, Upaya, vadah, vairagyam, vak, vasana ksayah, vashyatma, vasyatma, vedantic, vedantin, vigatasprhah, viksepa, vikshepa, yatata

 

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

Recorded 4 June, 2019

 

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